By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff ‘24
The Cheer Team has been seen around campus involved in various school community events. They were first spotted welcoming all students into the building on the first day of school. They have been helping out with the Oakland Recreation Cheer programs and they can be found within the community at events like the Oakland Achievers games on Sundays. By increasing involvement, the cheerleaders hope to “keep up the love and passion for cheer alive all the way to the high school level,” as junior Emma Locilento puts it. She continues, “I am most proud of the incredible bond that was made this past season and all of the advancements we were able to make over the last season. Between the advancements in tumbling and stunts, I couldn’t have asked for a better season!” Keep an eye out for the cheerleaders in January, when their first competition will take place.
The Indian Hills Cross Country team started early in the season with 1st place (Boys) and 2nd place (Girls) team wins at a meet at Six Flags Great Adventure in September. At the September 24th race at Six Flags, they took home the Bergen County Group C Team Championships for both the boys and the girls. Kayla O’Neil, senior, noted, “I’d say the competition that the team is most proud of would be our league meet at the Big North Championships where the girls’ and boys’ teams both took first place in the Patriot division. Before Indian Hills was changed to our previous division, Freedom, it had been a part of our school’s cross-country culture to win leagues every year, so we are hoping to start up the tradition again now that we moved divisions.” Kayla and other XC members attribute their success to consistent high attendance at summer practices. Coach Tuohy and several IHHS cross-country students have visited the middle schools’ meets to recruit new members for next season. The team is now gearing up for the Nike Cross Northeast Regionals and Garmin Running Lane National Championships in late November and early December. Kayla O’Neil adds, “I recently committed to Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA to run cross country and track, and I know that Annelise Barney is being recruited by an abundance of college coaches, however, she isn’t sure where she wants to go yet.”
The football team’s first game was against the Fair Lawn Cutters, where they secured their first win – it was only the 2nd season-opening win in the last 15 years. The varsity team finished with a record of 4-5 and the junior varsity team was undefeated with a record of 5-0-1. The team experienced some injuries to key players throughout the season, but their replacements stepped up, locking in victories. Outside of the programmed high school football schedule, the team is active in the community: “Our players attend Rec football practices and games throughout the season and we have many players that volunteer to coach the Oakland Achievers (Special Needs Football) on Sunday mornings,” says Coach Mulieri. Students interested in joining the football team next season should contact Coach Mulieri. Seniors Matthew Torres, Jackson Cole, and Joseph Cortese aspire to play college football but have not decided on a commitment.
The Gymnastics team ended their season with a 9-3 record, taking second place in the Bergen County Championships with a 0.075 lead over the third place team and third place at the League Championships. At the League Championships, most of the team qualified for state sectionals over the November 5th weekend and Carlin Fatuova, junior, earned a gold medal on vault. Coach Beck commented, “Every pointed toe and stuck landing counted which our team practiced diligently all season long!” Two gymnasts scored a 9.5 or higher this season: Lindsay scored a 9.5 on her floor routine and Carlin Fatuova tied the school record with a 9.55 on the beam. This year, there are no seniors on the team, setting them up for a strong 2023 season. “They have really come together as a family, their ability to have fun and win with grace and humility has been the best recruitment tool! The way they support and encourage each other speaks for itself both in and outside of the gym,” Coach Beck adds, “It has been an honor and privilege to coach the varsity IH Gymnastics team this season, which was such a successful and victorious one! Also, Captains Maddie Whalen and Lindsay Thompson were essential to the team’s success with their outstanding leadership.”
The Marching Braves, led by Drum Major Liam Gallagher, senior, put on their show, Wild Good Time, at the Hills football games, the Midland Park Junior-Senior High School’s Music in the Park, and the NJMEA Marching Band Festival at Wayne Hills High School. At Music in the Park, the Braves were an exhibition band because their assistant director, Dr. Riley, was a judge, creating a conflict of interest. Regardless, they put on a great performance with excellent music, visuals, and technique. At the Wayne Hills NJMEA Marching Band Festival, the band received a rating of silver and the clarinet section was honored for their role in Roar, one of the songs featured in the show. The band attended the football games this fall, playing a key role in keeping the pep up throughout the season.
Unfortunately, much like the football team, the Boys Soccer team has been plagued with a series of injuries. Despite this, Coach Mayer happily noted that the game he was most proud of was “[…] a Saturday morning game 9/24, early in the season. The injuries were piling up and we were down to 1 or 2 substitutes (and we started the year with 10). The boys lifted each other and played one of the gutsiest performances I have seen in my 10 years at this school.” Although the team did not make it into the NJSIAA Tournament, Coach Mayer believes that next year’s season has the potential to achieve new heights, saying, “As for our outlook, it’s hard to say. We thought we had a really good chance this year but injuries got the best of us. If we remain healthy we have an experienced group returning with many 3-year varsity players leading the way. If they can grow together as a group and remain healthy I think we can shock a lot of people.” To prepare for next season, the team will begin playing together on an indoor team during the winter and practicing once a week in the spring. They will also be training at a camp with a Ramapo College soccer coach in the upcoming summer and participating in some tournaments in between seasons. Best of luck to senior Sean Pillari who is looking forward to continuing his soccer career at an undetermined college.
Girls Soccer Captain Kristina O’Neil, senior, says, “We had a big win against Mahwah on their senior night, which really showed how much we’d improved together, and we also beat Leonia on our senior night. Our team made it to the state tournament as well, and fought hard against Pascack Valley, going into the second half with the score at 0-0. But we conceded a goal in the last five minutes of the match to unfortunately get knocked out of states.” The Girls Soccer team displayed a big-time highlight in the opening-round win against Cresskill in the Bergen County Invitational, but the team was knocked out in the second round. Despite some season letdowns, the team had a successful season – goalie Grace Stanley, senior, beat the school record of 107 saves, with a total of 145 saves this season. In addition to games, the Girls Soccer team has been working hard throughout the season to connect with younger players in the town recreation leagues. Congratulations to Kristina O’Neil for committing to Castleton University to continue her athletic career!
The Girls Tennis team has gained several new members this year. Captain Raina Saini, senior, said, “We were undoubtedly up against some challenging teams in a difficult division, but we were able to make the most of it and captured numerous team wins and many individual court wins. One of our team’s best games was our final game (and also our Senior Night) against DePaul Catholic where the Braves won 5-0. All players put their best foot forward and played an aggressive match.” The team made the NJSIAA State Tournament as a team, but lost to Mahwah early on. Coach Dunbar commented, “Their season ended early, but they are set up for a great season next year.” Saini agrees, adding, “The future of our team is bright! We have some great players and natural leaders ahead of us and our team will no doubt be in great hands for the next season. […] We encourage anyone to come try out for the tennis team as we are a welcoming yet dedicated group of students.”
The Girls Volleyball team won their Bergen County Tournament upset victory, the first team county win in a few years. This season was the best Girls Volleyball season on record at Indian Hills, with the season record ending at 14-12. The girls beat Ramapo twice – once on their senior night and once at a county game. Isabella Hernandez, junior, exclaimed, “We had a lot of fun and we all put in a lot of hard work!”