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College Round-up: Storm’s Coffey captures hammer throw crown

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Nicola Coffey didn’t concern herself with the clutter usually bouncing around her head. The St. John’s fifth-year senior wasn’t thinking about finding an apartment, or getting a position as a graduate assistant or finals. The only thing in Coffey’s mind was breaking the Irish national record in the hammer throw.

And with her first throw in the Big East Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Bauer Track and Field Complex at Rutgers University Sunday, the County Meath native did just that. Her throw of 58.48 meters also broke a St. John’s record as she easily captured the Big East crown.

“I’m proud of myself. It was 2 meters ahead of my personal record and I had a 6 meters improvement over the last two weeks,” she said. “I wanted to break the record really bad. I just gave it all I got.”

Coffey, whose throw is also an NCAA provisional qualifying mark, returned from a fractured elbow she suffered during Christmas and a third knee injury last year.

“Last week I thought about giving up,” Coffey said. “This is my fifth year and I’m always second and third in the hammer. This is my event and I’ve always been so close.”

But on Sunday, no one was close to Coffey, who hopes to compete at the World University Games in China this summer. St. John’s junior Sheba George placed second with a throw of 55.26 meters and Waduda Nurul-Islam from Connecticut rounded out the top three with a throw of 54.68 meters.

“She is unbelievable. She’s been working hard all year,” George said of Coffey. “She deserves it.”

In addition to her second place finish in the hammer, George won the Big East title in the discus Saturday with a throw of 48.88 meters. Rutgers’ Tamara Pellien finished second with a throw of 45.94 meters and Dore DeBartolo from Notre Dame was third with a toss of 45.40 meters.

“That is the one event I didn’t think I’d win,” said the Brooklyn resident. “I don’t really like it that much, but coach thought I would be good at it. I’m liking it better now.”

Coffey and George led the St. John’s women’s track team to a respectable seventh place finish, the team’s best finish since 1996 when the Red Storm placed fifth.

It was especially a good result considering the women fielded an undermanned team. For the first time in conference history, the athletes had to qualify for the Big East Championships.

“The limited amount of athletes explains it all,” said Hollis native Tiehise Shell, who had to run in the 100 and 200 meters and the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays. “St. John’s did a great job dealing with adversity.”

Shell took fourth place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.93 and was sixth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.51.

Also on the women’s side Renee Castelo took sixth place in the high jump with a 1.64 meter mark. The senior from Santa Barbara, Calif. also placed second Friday in the heptathlon with 4,935 points. Mariah Mauer earned all-Big East honors, taking third place in the triple jump with a mark of 15.04 meters.

The men didn’t fare as well, finishing 10th in the 14-team field. Leading the charge for the Red Storm were a pair of throwers. Jason Goulart, who was the defending Big East champion, took second in the hammer with a throw of 55.16 meters behind Sean Flynn from Georgetown. Ed Hausdorf was edged out of third place by UConn’s John Barth, who had a throw of 55.06 meters. Hausdorf, a Bellerose native, had a throw of 55.04 meters, good for fourth place. He also placed fifth in the javelin with a personal best 62 meters.

Next up for St. John’s is the Metropolitan Championships at Southern Connecticut University in New Haven, Conn. this weekend.

York men win CUNY track crown

Uriah George garnered MVP honors as York captured the CUNY men’s track crown, finishing with 163 points at the championships held at the Jamaica school. Medgar Evers finished second with 123 points and Hunter was third with 112 points.

The York women’s team placed second behind Lehman (203 points). The Lady Cardinals had 170 points while Medgar Evers was third with 100 points.

Holy Cross soccer commitments

Three members of the Holy Cross city and state championship squad will play their college soccer at The College of Mt. St. Vincent in Riverdale, Knights coach Paul Gilvary confirmed Monday.

Midfielder Michael Massa, a two-year starter who had six goals and seven assists last season, defender Antonio Nitolli and midfielder/forward Antonio Cicero, who had five goals and seven assists last year, have all opted to join former Cross standout Michael Giancola and signed with the Division III Dolphins, who play in the Skyline Conference.

Another key component of last year’s title team that went 21-5-1, diminutive midfielder Marcial Alzugaray, has committed to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point while speedy forward Jimmy Theodoropoulous, who had 32 goals and four assists for Cross, has signed with Hofstra, joining former Knights teammate Shawn Higgins on the Pride.

Bell headed for Boston U.

The leading scorer in the Catholic High School Athletic Association this past year, St. Francis Prep’s Rashad Bell, has verbally committed to play basketball for Boston University. Bell, a 6-foot-6 senior out of Hollis, averaged 27.7 points per game for the Terriers this season. He will be reunited with former teammate Kevin Fitzgerald, who is finishing up his freshman year at the school.

The decision ends months of speculation as to the future of the talented swingman, who, though he played most of the time in the paint, was also adept from the outside, once hitting nine three-pointers against Christ the King. Bell chose Boston University over such other Division I schools as Rhode Island and St. Peter’s.

Boston University is coached by Bayside native Dennis Wolff.

Gridiron commitments

Three members of the Springfield Gardens football team have also made college commitments. Truesun Thomas, the Golden Eagles quarterback who transferred from St. Francis Prep, inked with Wagner of the Northeast Conference. Rayon Richards, a defensive back/cornerback, will attend SUNY-Albany while Kashaun Williams, who rushed for 501 yards and six touchdowns while making 71 tackles, will play for New Haven next season.

Baseball

St. John’s 3, C.W. Post 1. Junior Marc Goldberg and sophomore Geno Orsogna combined to pitch a five-hitter as the Red Storm (29-18) won its third straight game, 3-1 over C.W. Post Saturday at The Ballpark at St. John’s University.

Freshman Mike Rozema went 2-for-2 with an RBI and senior Eric Potts had a single and an RBI for St. John’s. The Pioneers (12-28) were led by Brian Mitchell, who scored in the eighth inning.

After non-league games against Manhattan and New York Tech during the week, St. John’s closes out the regular season with a critical three-game weekend set at Rutgers. The Red Storm is in fourth place in the Big East standings, 22 percentage points ahead of Seton Hall. The Pirates host West Virginia Saturday and Sunday. Only the top four teams make the Big East tournament.

Queensborough Community College 12, Bronx Community College 2. Jason Lessa went five innings, allowing one earned run and Ricky Cruz provided the offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Tigers last Thursday. QCC (9-13 Region XV, 5-7 CUNY) has won eight of its last 11 games.

Scharf makes NCAA Championships

St. John’s men’s tennis standout Erik Scharf, the Red Storm’s No. 1 singles player, has been selected in the 64-player field to compete for the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Singles crown. The competition will take place at the University of Georgia from May 23-28.

Scharf, who was one of four players selected from the Northeast Region, compiled a 31-4 record during the 2000-01 season. Scharf also competed in the NCAA Championships last year, falling to the top seed in the first round.

Men’s Tennis

Brooklyn 7, York 2. Jeff Chen defeated Beighton Hobbs, 10-1 at No. 4 singles and Eugene Girshtel and Stan Yurynets won 6-1 at No. 2 doubles for Brooklyn (6-6).

SJU’s Lee named NCAA Fencer of the Year

St. John’s sophomore Ivan Lee has been named one of six winners of the NCAA Fencer of the Year by the United States Fencing Coaches Association.

The Brooklyn native received the award in the men’s sabre competition. Lee won the gold medal at the NCAA championships, leading the Red Storm to its first fencing national championship and its second team title in school history. He was also named first-team All-American for a second straight year.

Svoboda climbs golf rankings

St. John’s sophomore golfer Andrew Svoboda was ranked No. 69 nationally in the latest edition of the GolfStat Collegiate Rankings. He also appeared at No. 2 in District 2 in the MasterCard Collegiate Rankings.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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