BY KAREENA PANDYA, JAMES GIFFORD, sophomores, and ANSH GUPTA, RAGHUL RAVINDRANATHAN, juniors
As the end of the school year approaches, the athletes of the Class of 2019 leave behind their achievements as Hawks. Their leadership in every practice, game, and season has displayed their dedication and passion for their team. Their work ethic throughout the years allows them to be exemplary role models for the next generation of athletes. Departing with their legacies, their committed and hardworking attitudes will continue to inspire those around them. With their accomplishments at JP engraved in school history, we are proud to recognize them as they move forward with their athletic careers.
Ava Dul has been an integral part of both the soccer and track team’s success throughout the entirety of her high school career. Though she discovered her passion for soccer at the age of four, she began running track after entering sixth grade. Her competitive attitude and drive has led her to earn the Captain’s Award, Best Offensive Player, and Best Sportsmanship for soccer, while leading JP Stevens to their first Red Division win in five years. Ava’s accomplishments extend on to the track as she qualified for the Meet of Champions in the 4 x 800m relay and placed 1st in the Distance Medley Relay during GMCs. Along with receiving the Sportsmanship and Distance Awards, Ava has earned honorable titles, including GMC Division All-Star Team and GMC All-Conference. Ava credits her successful journey to those around her as she explains, “My mother has never sugarcoated my performance, which has inspired me to work harder.” Although Ava can no longer wear a Hawks jersey on the soccer field, she will be taking her soccer career to the collegiate level at Rutgers University, where she is excited to see what the future holds in store for her.
Starting off his basketball journey at the age of six, Solomon Smith has come a long way ever since he first started playing. On and off the court, Solomon holds an ambitious personality and strives to become a better athlete. Ever since his brothers ignited his passion for basketball, Solomon has trained endlessly to become a better player and the results have shown on the court. He embraces the struggles that come with the sport and cherishes every moment with his teammates. Averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, Solomon has earned prestigious awards and titles, including Defensive MVP, Captain’s Award, and Offensive MVP. Despite his stellar performance during his four years at JP, Solomon will miss “the brotherhood and the bonds” he built during his highschool career. Solomon attributes his success to his teammates and mother for constantly pushing him to grow. Despite the remarkable success that Solomon has enjoyed during this basketball career at JP Stevens, he will be looking to aim higher as he pursues his athletic ambitions at Raritan Valley Community College this fall.
Morgan Dearing took up lacrosse at a young age. Though she recalls that “it was tough at first learning a new sport,” the years of practice have allowed her to be where she is now: one of the leading scorers for the team. In the beginning of her career, Morgan was a freshman swing player, but by continuously working on her game, Morgan was able to grow into a varsity captain and GMC Player of the Week by her senior year. Morgan attributes her success to her strong mindset before every game. Coach Toporek explains, “She would always come up to me and say things like, ‘Coach I’m gonna score X amount of goals today.’” With this determination and putting forth her best effort in every game, Morgan was able to set a career high of seven goals against East Brunswick and continue her high scoring streak during the season. Her notable contributions on the field included adding 38 goals in her senior season to her career total of 68 goals. Undoubtedly a remarkable figure for the Lady Hawks, Morgan Dearing is proud to continue her lacrosse career at Averett University.
Akshay Khanna discovered his love for tennis after playing for the first time in elementary school. Deciding to pursue the sport, he began practicing five times a week and looked up to his idol Novak Djokovic, who “inspired him during both the good and bad days.” Akshay started off by playing 5th doubles for the JV team during his freshman and sophomore years. His diligence in the offseason allowed him to go even further and achieve his goal of playing 2nd doubles in varsity. Leading the Hawks to success, the team won the county tournament and the Red Division title and qualified for the state doubles tournament. He received 2nd place in the GMC tournament for 1st doubles this year along with All-Red Division and All-Conference honors. By winning his match as the underdog against Westfield in the state sectionals, Akshay described the unforgettable moment as “the biggest win of [his] high school career.” More than just an inspiration on the courts, he was also able to demonstrate his value for team spirit by hosting eats throughout the season. Akshay plans to join the club tennis team at Penn State University.
After playing volleyball for the first time at a JP summer camp, Isabel Swatowski knew it was the sport for her. Practicing at clinics and landing a spot on JV as a freshman allowed Isabel to develop her game while playing alongside advanced competition. Looking to challenge herself and maximize her potential, Isabel joined the national club team Conquest Elite in her sophomore year. Citing the importance of maintaining an optimistic mindset during games, she explains that “when it comes down to it, volleyball is a mental sport.” Isabel notes that the team’s chemistry and persistence was key to their success. Individually, Isabel recorded an impressive 34 blocks throughout her high school career. Her time as a student-athlete at JP developed her game and character, allowing her to be a helpful teammate and positive role model. While Isabel places the most value on the memories and progress she made throughout her career, the team’s GMC championship team “[was] an added bonus” to her time as a JP athlete. She will attend Rutgers University in the fall and plans to play volleyball on the university’s club team.
Softball has been an integral part of Emily Tavares’s life ever since she first picked up a softball at six years old. Throughout her four-year varsity career, Emily has shown her dominance both at the plate and on the mound. Her accomplishments this past year include earning GMC Player of the Week and just recently eclipsing 300 strikeouts, a feat that is more impressive considering she only started pitching the previous two years. Coach Petty has praised Emily’s pitching ability, saying that Emily is “one of the best pitchers in the GMC if not the state.” With the bat in her hands, Emily is equally as impressive, with a .455 batting average this past season and a .393 batting average throughout her high school career. In addition to her excellence on the field, Emily embraces her role as a leader and is happy that her teammates “feed off [her] energy, which has helped [the] team.” As her coach states, “She’s just tough; she’s a captain and she’s the heart and soul of the team.” Emily will attend Seton Hall University next fall, and her accomplishments at JP Stevens will point her to success.
Cameron LaPlant showcased his athletic ability by excelling in two varsity sports during his time at JP. Falling in love with bowling at the age of eight, Cameron’s impressive work ethic allowed him to grow into well-rounded bowler. Cameron’s “[have] fun with it” attitude contributed to his development as a four-year varsity member and three-time boys bowling county finalist. Cameron applied the same hard work and determination into volleyball. Since being recruited to the volleyball team by Coach White as a freshman, Cameron has “never looked back.” Landing a varsity spot as a junior, Cameron’s high IQ was a strong factor during the team’s many victories. By perfecting his sets and increasing his vertical jump, Cameron amassed an impressive 125 kills and 90 digs while he played as the team’s opposite. His clear leadership and ability to motivate earned him the well-deserved title of captain for both bowling and volleyball, rounding out his spectacular athletic résumé at JP Stevens. Cameron plans to continue bowling at William Paterson University, where he will be attending in the fall.
Over his three-year varsity baseball career, Shiv Patel has exhibited leadership and skill as a pitcher and as a hitter. Being a co-captain and one of the most experienced players, Shiv motivated and inspired his teammates. His leadership was vital, as he guided the team to an impressive 18-9 record, which he considers his “greatest achievement at JP”. Individually, Shiv hit an incredible .412 this past season, certifying his place as one of the best hitters in the GMC. Coach Marzano attributes Shiv’s successful season to his ability to use “the whole field as a hitter.” In an important game against Monroe, Shiv had one of the best performances of his career. At the plate, he went three for four with an RBI, and on the mound he had nine strikeouts and only gave up two runs. These dominant performances were a regular occurrence in the season, as Shiv reached All-Conference. Shiv also made All-Red Division at three different positions—as a pitcher, first baseman, and outfielder—showing his impressive versatility. Shiv will be attending Rutgers University next fall, and hopes to play for the school team.