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The Sports Buzz for May 23 - 29

The Fastest Three Minute in Brookline Sports.

Well, it's Monday, and you know what that means. It's time for the Sports Buzz, the fastest three minutes in Brookline sports coming your way right now:

We start with boys volleyball, and playing the top seed in the Division 1 South quarterfinals, No. 9 Brookline gave Barnstable all it could handle, before succumbing to the Red Raiders, 3-2 (16-25, 19-25, 26-24, 25-17, 10-15) to finish its season at 9-9.

Like they did in the first round against Needham, the Warriors rallied from a 2-0 deficit in games, but this time just missed in completing the comeback.

“Having been in the same situation the week before there was no panic and we were able to take the game back to them,” Brookline head coach Mike Frank said. "We were playing hard but making some unforced errors in games 1 and 2. In game 3, we cut our errors and began to really key on their hitters with our block. Game 4 was the same thing as Barnstable got a bit tight and made more errors of their own.”

Brookline senior captains Ben Notelovitz and Justin Soohoo each had six blocks to add to their strong frontcourt games. Notelovitz also had 21 kills, while Soohoo had 13.

Junior Nigel Stuart Gongora continued to shine in his unfamiliar role as setter with a whopping 30 assists. He also had four blocks and served two aces.

Meanwhile, senior Jacob Saltzman was again strong in the back row, recording 12 digs for a 2.5 passer rating out of 3, “so that’s good,” Frank marveled.

"[We had] good passing and a solid block that neutralized their hitters," the coach added.

The Warriors solid play was good enough to get them to a fifth and deciding game.

“Game 5 was close up until the last few points,” Frank said. “Our serve receive wasn’t as focused as the previous games and as a result we made more hitting errors which put us in a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

Barnstable, which advances to the semifinals against Newton South, was led by its star trio of Paulo Pinho (17 kills, 3 blocks), Ryan Kennedy (16 kills, 3 blocks), and Jon Canon (5 kills, 2 blocks). 

To the diamond we go, where the Brookline baseball team (7-10) finally stopped the bleeding and got back in the win column with a 2-0 victory over host Weymouth.

Not much has gone right for the Warriors as they have dropped their last seven before this past win, and they lost star pitcher Campbell Narron to an injury after he was hit in the face with a baseball. 

Erik Dumas did an admirable job on the mound on Monday with a complete-game, two-hitter to earn the victory. 

This has been the longest and probably most painful stretch of games in Joe Campagna's coaching career. The Warriors haven't been getting blown out in their losses either, making it even more frustrating for the team.

Andrew Cogan struck out 14 hitters in a 10-inning effort against Newton North, but a couple errors in extra innings led to a 4-0 loss.

The Warriors boast two pitchers in Dumas and Narron with two of the top ERA's in the Bay State Conference, but the lack of offense if rearing its ugly head again for Brookline. The Warriors have only scored four or more runs in a game twice over the last nine games, and have been held to one or fewer runs in three of those contests. 

"We are wasting tremendous pitching," said Campagna. "It's not often that you see a losing team with the two top pitchers in the league."

To track and field, where Brookline made a strong showing at the recent Bay State Conference meet.

For the boys, senior captain Romey Sklar was the big winner, taking the 800 meter and mile runs in 1:57.81 and 4;30.81, respectively. Sklar was also part of the fifth-place 4 x 400 relay team with teammates Nick Bessire, Aaron Klein, and Will Jackson.

Junior Chernet Sisay placed second in the two-mile, crossing at 9:31.64, while senior Christian Sampson and junior Mark  Perry finished third and fourth in times of 9:44.34 and 9:45.98, respectively.

Junior Leon Scott finished third in the javelin throw with a toss of 155' 3.

Freshman Nicholas Scott placed second and third in the high jump and long jump with leaps of 6' 6 and 21' 10.50, respectively.

The Warriors also finished fourth in the 4 x 800 relay with Jesse Fajnzylber, Ben Hoff, Matt Goroff, and Zane McInturff doing the honors.

For the girls, junior Amanda Jew won the javelin throw with a toss of 119' 8. Senior Sarah Jabour placed fourth in the shot put with a heave of 34' 2. 

And how about this? The Brookline High rowing team is sending three boats to the USRowing National Championships after intense racing at the recent USRowing Northeast Junior District Championships in Lowell.

It will be the second trip to the Nationals for lightweight double scullers Lena Randle and Beth Kazimer, who finished fourth in the nation last year in Cincinnati.

Joining them this year for the championships June 10-12 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will be boys' lightweight eight and a boys' pair rowed by Jack Ruske and Ari Zimmet.

Ruske and Zimmet placed second in their first heat, five seconds behind Bromfield. But they turned things around in the next heat in a nail-biter, finishing ahead of the Bromfield pair by less than a second. 

The boys lightweight eight finished second in the first round  to earn a berth in  finals. The crew finished third behind Community Rowing and New Canaan in a race that saw a seven-second spread among the top three finishers.

 “We had raced against some of the competition the previous weekend, so we knew that we would be competitive, but I don't think any of us thought that the entire squad would qualify,”  said boys coach Katy Ruderman, who took the helm of the boys team this season after working with girls coach Joel Skaliotis for several years. 

“This provides the team with fantastic momentum going into next year,” she said.  “We have a very young team, with plenty of novices eager to join the varsity as well.  I think this bodes very well for the future of Boys Rowing at Brookline High School.”

Masuzyo Mhango, who rows in the lightweight eight, said he was initially skeptical about Ruderman’s early prediction that Brookline boys would qualify for Nationals this year.

“During winter training, we had a long discussion about our chances in the spring,” he said. “I felt that we all, meaning the whole team, were surprised when Katy said we had a shot at Nationals. Almost all of us were coming from an unusually successful novice year, but we knew that competition on the varsity level was much more intense.”

Randle and Kazimer defeated New Canaan handily in the first heat, crossing the finish with a lead of nearly 12 seconds. In the next heat, the race was closer, but the Brookline girls still placed first by two seconds over Saugatuck in the semi-final. In the final race, the boat finished second, seven seconds behind Community Rowing, to win a berth in the Nationals.

“I feel that this year is very different from last year in that we are stronger both physically and mentally,” said Kazimer.

“We have an amazing team full of extremely talented rowers and coxswains,” she said. “[The] races were so close, and everyone who raced performed beautifully and really demonstrated their talents and how hard they have been working.” 

Tom Layman and The Friends of Brookline Rowing contributed to this report.

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