We would like to thank all who attended the 59th Annual Essex Awards Program
MOE Awardees of 2017 Bio Listed Below
Essex Award Winner: Cory Poole, East Orange Campus High School – STEM Academy
Cory Poole, who maintains a 3.3 G.P.A., is the 2017 NJ.com/Star Ledger Boys Winter Track Athlete-of-the-Year which follows last year’s selection as the 2016 NJ.com/Star Ledger Boys Track and Field Athlete-of-the-Year. One of the nation’s top recruits, this past spring Cory broke the 5-year-old New Jersey 55m hurdles record when he ran 7.13 seconds at the VA Showcase. “Going in, I knew that I was going to have to PR (set a personal record) to win," Poole said. "My coach (former Men of Essex Track Athlete-of-the-Year Lance Wigfall) and I changed up my start and everything. During the race, my start wasn’t all that great. Running that race, it didn’t feel that fast but I guess it was.”
At the Meet of Champions this year, Cory took gold in the 55m hurdles event (7.21). And, at the New Balance Indoor Nationals (his final scholastic indoor meet), Cory anchored East Orange’s historic shuttle hurdle relay team – including Akeem Lindo, Al-Tariq Dunson and Ibrahim Fobay that shattered the 2013 record set by Union Catholic (29.20) with a sizzling 28.62 time.
In 2016, as a junior, Cory became just the third student athlete in Meet of Champions history to win both the 400-meter hurdles (52.50), and the 110 hurdles in an Essex County record 13.71, which is No. 9 in New Jersey state history, and nearly won a third gold medal when he threw down a sizzling anchor PR of 47.0 and almost brought East Orange across first in a thrilling 4x400 as East Orange and Old Tappan each ran 3:15.43. Old Tappan was declared the winner.
Poole followed that with a great quadruple at the New Balance National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. He ran a 33.1 300 leg on East Orange's winning Swedish Relay in 1:54.88, led off the 2nd place shuttle hurdles team (58.82), placed second in the 400 hurdles in 51.56 (the 7th fastest time in state history), and split 47.49 to bring East Orange Campus across the line third in the 4x400 in an Essex County record 3:12.83, No. 10 in state history.
Arriving at this point in his illustrious career has been a family affair for Cory. His mom, Christie Newman, was a state champion hurdler at Cheltenham High School in Pennsylvania in the early 1990's, and went on to star at Essex County College in Newark. During his freshman year, sitting in math class, then assistant coach Lance Wigfall surprised Cory with a visit. "My uncle told coach Lance that I was fast from the neighborhood and stuff like that, so he told Lance that maybe I should run track,'' said Poole. "So, Coach Lance came to my math class and told me that he heard about me and felt I should come out and run track. So, I did.'' With the support and encouragement of his father, Cory Poole, Sr., the track superstar recently switched from an earlier commitment to Syracuse University to Florida University, where, beginning next fall, he will be blazing trails all the way to the Olympics in the future.
The Men of Essex are honored to present Cory Poole as the 2017 Essex Award winner.
MEN OF ESSEX
RASHEED BOYD (GPA: 3.42) Orange High School
A three-sport star, Rasheed was the captain of the varsity Football and Basketball teams. respectively, and ran track, as well. Boyd was selected for 1st Team All-Conference for football and basketball by NJ.com/Star Ledger. He was a member of the Boyz II Men organization at Orange High School. As of this writing, Rasheed was deciding between Bloomfield College and William Paterson University to attend in the fall.
DANIEL CARTER (GPA: 3.4) Bloomfield High School
This William Paterson University-bound, two-sport captain has received multiple honors during his high school career: for football, Daniel has been selected as the 2-time Honorable Mention ALL-STATE; 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-Essex, and 3rd Team All-Group from NJ.com/Star Ledger. For baseball, Carter received 2nd Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-Group honors.
GAYLE A. EDELSTEIN (GPA: 3.7) Livingston High School
The all-time career leader in Girls Volleyball assists at Livingston High School, Gayle garnered ALL-STATE; All-Conference; All-Group 4; and Athlete-of-the-Month honors in this, her senior year. Edelstein joins a national, all-star Junior Girls Volleyball team selected to represent the USA at the the Maccabi Games in Israel from July 4-18, 2017. Gayle, the 2-tme varsity captain and member of the Italian Culture Club, will attend McDaniel College in Maryland this fall.
JILLIAN JENNINGS (GPA: 4.1) Montclair High School
A three-sport star (Soccer, Basketball and Lacrosse) and a three-sport varsity captain, Jillian has garnered 12 varsity letters and a multitude of honors, including (Soccer) 1st Team All-SEC Conference, 1st Team All-Essex, and a 2-time High School All-American Watch List; (Basketball) 2nd Team All-SEC; and, (Lacrosse) two-time 2nd Team All-Conference (NUGLL and SEC). She is a National Honor Society member, and volunteers at Grace Presbyterian Church and Real Hope Inc. Women’s Shelter. Jillian will join several 2017 MOE Awardees at Boston College in the fall.
OLIVER ORTMAN (GPA: 3.3) West Essex Regional High School
In his senior year, Oliver was a two-sport star and varsity captain (Basketball and Baseball), who last played football as a sophomore. He was selected 1st Team All-Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division and travelled with the AAU Basketball team. Oliver received Honorable Mention Super Essex Conference honors for his exploits on the baseball field. A member of the Antioch Honor Society at Notre Dame R.C. Church, Oliver also volunteered at the Caldwell Community Center. He has not yet decided between Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Muhlenberg College.
CAMILLE PHAM (GPA: 3.95; 2260 SAT) Columbia High School
An accomplished Fencer with national credentials, Camille was selected 3rd Team ALL-STATE (Foil) and 2nd Team All-Conference by NJ.com/Star Ledger, placed 5th in the State Individual Foil tournament, and was the varsity captain of the 3-time District Champions (Foil). Camille was the Silver Medalist (Foil) at Nationals, and is ranked 55th by the USFA National Rankings. Camille, a National Honor Society member and Achieve Foundation tutor, was selected to the USA Fencing First All-American Team. She will attend Yale University in the fall.
JALIA SANTOS (GPA: 3.52) Bloomfield High School
Jalia played soccer, softball and basketball all four years in high school, earning 12 varsity letters. She earned 1st Team All-Essex and 1st Team All-League honors in both soccer and softball. Jalia was a member of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), the National Honor Society, and the Language National Honor Society. She will attend either the American International College or Rutgers University-Newark this fall.
ZOE STECK (GPA: 3.9; 2010 SAT) Nutley High School
Zoe completed her scholastic soccer career with 107 goals and 47 assists, and was New Jersey State’s Leading Goal Scorer with 41 goals her senior year. An ALL-STATE selection, Zoe is a 4-time All-SEC Conference selection, the 2016 SEC Girls Soccer Player-of-the-Year, and a member of the NJ.com 100 Goal Team. She was selected as to the Olympic Development National Team, the Under-18 Players Development Academy (PDA) O’Reilly 2-time National Finalist, and the Top Drawer Soccer Top 150 Players. Steck was a member of the Student Council, Key Club, and a Peanut Soccer Camp Counselor. Zoe will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall.
ISABELLA WAUNG (GPA: 4.067; 2260 SAT) Millburn High School
As the Captain of the Varsity Girls Tennis team, Isabella was a leader of the two times NJSIAA Champions. Waung and her doubles partner (Sara Jacobs) finished the season 19-1 and won the NJSIAA state doubles tournament. It was the second consecutive doubles title for Waung after winning last year with Syndey Zirlin. Isabella volunteers as an EMT at the Springfield First Aid Squad. She will attend Washington University (St. Louis) this coming fall.
TRAVIS J. WRIGHT (GPA: 3.71) St. Benedict’s Preparatory School
As the captain of the varsity Crew and Fencing teams, Travis was also a member of the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society. Athletically, he was selected as the N.J. State Boys Fencing Prep Champion. Travis volunteers with the Boy Scouts, as a section leader, and counselor. At the time of this writing, Travis was deciding between Cornell, Notre Dame and Rutgers University as his collegiate destination of choice next fall.
MEN OF ESSEX 2017
OUTSTANDING ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT
JACK ZYSKA (Baseball) Seton Hall Preparatory School
As a superlative outfielder last spring, Jack batted .500 with 33 hits and 19 RBI’s as a sophomore. Jack now in his junior year, has the arm strength plus speed to play centerfield at the next level. Zyska was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All Non- Public A in 2016 by NJ.com/Star Ledger. He helped to lead Seton Hall Prep to the Non-Public A state title last spring.
MYA BEMBRY (Basketball-Girls) West Orange High School
Mya, the NJ.com/Star Ledger Super Essex Player of the Year averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Her season best was 31 points against North Bergen. The 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore was named 1st Team All-Group 4 and 1st Team All-Conference-Liberty Division. Bembry led her team to the top of the Liberty Division for the first time in high school history, ending the season with a 23-4 record.
ELIJAH OLANIYI (Basketball-Boys) Newark East Side High School
The Stony Brook-bound Olaniyi paced the Red Raiders with 14 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. With Elijah leading the way, Newark East Side claimed the Essex County Tournament title and advanced to the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 final. The 6-foot, 4-inch senior was selected 2nd Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Group 4 by NJ.com/Star Ledger. Positioned as a small forward Elijah, the Super Essex Player of the Year will transition to the guard position at the college level.
LAUREN POTECHIN (Bowling-Girls) Millburn High School
Lauren, a senior, finished third in the state with a 209 average and dominated the Essex County Tournament with a 671 series in the qualifying round and a 216-158 win in the final round. In the postseason, Potechin placed seventh in the North Jersey sectional to qualify for the state individual tournament, where she finished in ninth. Lauren was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
KATIE DELIDOW (Cross Country-Girls) Millburn High School
As a junior last year, Katie won the North Jersey, Section 2 Group 4 title in 18:54, and ran 19:18 at the Shore Coaches meet at Holmdel Park. Delidow, now a senior, ran a 19:17.5 to retain her individual crown in the Super Essex Conference-American Division championship race at Branch Brook Park in Newark. Katie later placed second in the North Jersey Section 2 with a time of 18.53.3. Delidow earned 2nd Team All-Group 3 honors from the NJ.com/Star Ledger.
MATT GROSSMAN (Cross Country-Boys) Millburn High School
The Princeton-bound Grossman ran 15:59 to break the Branch Brook Park course record; won his second straight Essex County title in 14:59.8; repeated as the sectional champ; was second in Group 3 in 15:27; tied for 10th in Holmdel Park history; won his race at the Manhattan Invitational in 12:33; AND placed 4th at the Meet of Champions. Matt was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE, 1st Team All-Group 3 by NJ.com/Star Ledger and is a two-time Men of Essex Boys Cross Country Athlete-of-the-Year award winner.
JULIA THOMPSON (Fencing-Girls) Montclair Kimberley Academy
As a sophomore, Julia had an outstanding 21-1 record in dual meets for MKA. Thompson finished seventh in foil during the state individual championships buoyed by an 11-1 start over the first two rounds of pool play. This occurred after she had won first place for foil in District 5. Julia earned 1st Team ALL-STATE honors by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
AMINA TROUPE (Fencing-Girls) Montclair High School
Amina, a junior, finished fourth at the state individual epee championships with a 4-3 record in the final round of pool play after winning the District 4 epee title. Troupe also played a major role in the Montclair High School Mounties epee squad championship and finished 17-1 in conference dual meets. Amina was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
ZOHAIB MANNAN (Fencing-Boys) Millburn High School
Zohaib is the NJ.com/Star Ledger Fencer-of-the-Year. Bound for New York University, Mannan ended his scholastic career by winning gold in the state individual foil championship and going a perfect 31-0 in regular-season play. Zohaib was undefeated, 6-0, in the final round of pool play to claim the state championship. Regarded as one of the best foil fencers in the nation, Mannan finished in the top eight in the Junior Olympics in February. Zohaib was the first runner-up to the 2017 Essex Award.
JULIA RUSSO (Field Hockey) West Essex Regional High School
After a freshman year in which she showed her enormous potential, Julia emerged as a key member of the team during her sophomore campaign, scoring 28 goals and 18 assists. Russo, now a junior, had another stellar season in 2016, posting 35 goals and 22 assists. She is ranked as one of the top Class of 2018 recruits in the country, and has played a huge role for West Essex this past season. Julia was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
LIA SINISI (Field Hockey) West Essex Regional High School
Lia scored the historic game-winning goal in overtime on a penalty stroke for West Essex in the program's first-ever Tournament of Champions title win over Eastern. She finished 2016 with 31 goals and 27 assists, and ended her career with 101 career goals. Lia has committed to Michigan State University to continue her field hockey career. Sinisi was selected 2nd Team ALL-STATE in 2015 and 1st Team ALL-STATE in 2016 by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
JASIAH PROVILLON (Football-Offense) Irvington High School
The 6-foot-2 inch, 185 lb. junior wide receiver is a three-sport athlete. Provillon has football offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Wisconsin and several others. After two varsity seasons, Jasiah has 100 career receptions, 1720 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Provillon was selected 3rd Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
PAUL THEOBALD (Football-Defense) Seton Hall Preparatory School
Positioned at linebacker, the 6-foot-2 inch, 215-pounder averaged more than 16 tackles per game. Paul was one of the state’s most productive defenders. The Boston College commit finished with 165 tackles, forced two fumbles, and blocked a punt. Theobald was selected the Men of Essex Football-Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2016, and returns after another stellar year on the gridiron. Paul was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Non-Public by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
MEGAN LEFFLER (Soccer-Girls) Livingston High School
The Monmouth University-bound senior was the leader of a defense that only gave up seven goals during the season. Livingston captured an Essex County title and collected a North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 championship thanks to that strong back line, led by Megan. She was a four-year High Honor Roll student, and a member of the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, respectively. Megan was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Group 4 by NJ.com/ Star-Ledger.
MASON TOYE (Soccer-Boys) Seton Hall Preparatory School
Mason, the NJ.com/Star Ledger Boys Soccer Player-of-the-Year, was always there whenever the Pirates needed a key goal. Toye finished the season leading Seton Hall Prep with 21 goals and 12 assists. The University of Indiana commit added four goals and an assist in the run to the North Jersey Non-Public A title. Mason selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Non-Public A has speed, strength, great technical ability and can hit amazing lasers from anywhere. Toye has decided to forgo college for now to become a professional soccer player.
KELSEY OH (Softball) Mount St. Dominic Academy
This truly gifted right-hander was named NJ.com/Star Ledger State Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2015. Last year, Kelsey was named the New Jersey Gatorade Player-of-the-Year last season was 24-3 on the season with 364 strikeouts. She allowed just 19 earned runs in 149 innings pitched, good for a 0.89 ERA. Kelsey is arguably the most dominant force in New Jersey Softball history. She is committed to Boston College (along with MOE Class of 2017 awardees – Swimmer Natalie Della Riva, and Football Defenseman Paul Theobald), and was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE in 2015 and 2016, plus 1st Team All Non-Public. K.Oh is a 3-time Men of Essex Softball Athlete-of-the-Year recipient.
NATALIE DELLA RIVA (Swimming-Girls) Caldwell High School
Natalie was selected 2nd Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger in the 200-yard Individual Medley. She placed 4th at the state Meet of Champions in the 200 Individual Medley event. The secretary of her senior class, Natalie will be joining MOE Class of 2017 awardees footballer Paul Theobald and Softball phenom Kelsey Oh at Boston College in the fall. Natalie said, “Boston College has a great campus, academics, and is located near a city with many opportunities. When I went to visit Boston College I knew that the team and school was a great fit for me.”
ERIC WANG (Swimming-Boys) Millburn High School
Wang set his personal best with a 0:59.52 in the 100-yard breastroke to finish first at the Super Essex Conference meet after a narrow second-place finish in last year’s SEC. The sophomore later placed eighth in the 100-yard Breaststroke event at the New Jersey state Meet of Champions with a time of 0:59.7. As Eric gets stronger, it would not surprise the Men of Essex to welcome him back as an Athlete-of-the-Year in the future.
STEPHANIE SCHRAGE (Tennis-Girls) Millburn High School
It was another dominant season for the Princeton-bound Schrage, as she finished her outstanding career very strongly. Stephanie reached her third state-singles tournament final and won her fourth consecutive Essex County Tournament title. Schrage was an instrumental part of Millburn’s 4th consecutive undefeated season and Tournament of Champions title. Stephanie finished her career never losing a team match for Millburn. Once again Schrage was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Group 3 by NJ.com/Star-Ledger.
THOMAS ITO (Tennis-Boys) Newark Academy
Last year, Ito and his doubles partner, Noah Sellinger (who graduated in 2016), were undefeated together which included a run to the state doubles title. Their play helped Newark Academy post a perfect 32-0 record en route to the Tournament of Champions title and the Non-Public B crown. Together they were selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All Non-Public B by NJ.com/Star Ledger. Thomas, a junior this year, is a college top recruit as he transitions to a singles player.
KISHONA McCRAY (Track-Girls) Newark Central High School
After a stellar performance at the 2016 Outdoors Group Championships, Kishona won the Meet of Champions title in the 100M hurdles by running a career-best 14.06. She was also a silver medalist in the 400M hurdles. Kishona’s win was the first MOC title for a Newark Central athlete. McCray, who will compete next year at the University of Northern Illinois, owns personal best of 14.06 (100M hurdles) and 1:00.63 (400M hurdles). She also competes in the 100 meters and 200 meters with times of 12.31 and 25.03, respectively. Kishona, was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
WILLESLEY LINDO (Track-Boys) East Orange Campus High School
Lindo paced the East Orange 4X400M relay team that broke the Meet of Champions record last spring in a time of 3:18.26, which topped the previous record time of 3:19.70. Joined by runners Immyouri Etenne, Kishaun Richardson, and 2017 Men of Essex Award winner Cory Poole, Willesley ran a 48.76 in his leg of the race as they set out to make history. The quartet was named 1st Team ALL-STATE by NJ.com/Star Ledger. Willesley was also a member of the East Orange Boys’ Swedish Relay team that won the national title at the New Balance National Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.
CARLY WATERMAN (Volleyball-Girls) Verona High School
Carly, a junior, led the state with 464 kills, while leading Verona to a sectional title and a spot in the Group 1 championship game. She finished the season with 35 aces, 19 blocks and 207 digs. Behind Waterman, the Hillbillies won their first Essex County Tournament against a strong Caldwell team. Waterman improved from her sophomore numbers of 366 kills, and was selected 1st Team ALL-STATE and 1st Team All-Group 1 by NJ.com/Star Ledger.
ALCIDES DOS REIS (Volleyball-Boys) Belleville High School
Last spring, Alcides was selected 2nd Team All-North Jersey, Section 1 by NJ.com/Star ledger. The Belleville senior is being counted on to lead the way for his team this season after a 10-15 season last year. Dos Reis recorded a team-high 290 kills, along with 134 digs and 21 aces in 2016. With the 2017 season currently ongoing, Alcides had 179 kills as of April 27th. To a young man with a bright future, the Men of Essex wishes him well.
AIDAN MONTEVERDI (Wrestling) Seton Hall Preparatory School
Wrestling at the 170 lb. weight class, Aidan placed 4th at the NJSIAA Wrestling Championships in Atlantic City. Monteverdi, a senior, was named NJ.com/Star Ledger's Super Essex Conference Wrestler-of-the-Year. He finished the season with 32 wins, 3 losses with 10 pins. Bound for Binghamton University in the fall, the 2-time Super Essex champion finished his school career with 99 wins.