By TOM WILLIAMS
2021 was not the greatest, most normal year. But it was a lot better than 2020 for high school sports. And, once again, Ocean City High School’s sports teams made the best of it.
There was no Ed Byrnes Memorial Award again because of the limitations of championships in some sports. But the Raiders had a good spring and a fabulous fall season.
The coaches play a big role in this success, especially because the strength of the programs continues even after graduation losses. But you have to have good athletes to put together a success story like this.
And Ocean City High School had them again in 2021.
In winter sports, Gannon Brady again led the CAL in scoring and was a repeat first team all star for a conference champion boys basketball team. He was joined on the all-conference team by Tom Finnegan. Marin Panico was an all star in girls basketball with Charley Cossaboone and Joe Garcia earning all star credentials on the wrestling mat.
Dolan Grisbaum was a first team boys swimming all star for the third year. Pat Armstrong, Steve Gooden, Nick Bianchi, Dom DiPilato, Parker Lapsley, Gavin Neal and Matt Woodside were also CAL all stars in boys swimming; Alex Antonov was that rare four-year all star in girls swimming and was joined on the all-conference team by Olivia Scherbin and Katie Barlow.
In the spring season, Brady, Joe Repetti and Matt Nunan were first team all stars on the state champion baseball team. Pat Grimley, Jake Schneider, Dylan Dwyer, Brady Rauner, Jake Inserra and Dan Reeves were all stars on the boys lacrosse team that won the South Jersey championship..
In girls lacrosse, Rachel Levy-Smith, Summer Reimet, Alexis Smallwood, Carly Hanin and Madison Wenner were CAL all stars. In softball, the all stars were Cristina Barbella and MacKenzee Segich. Charles Dicicco and Kraig Redmond were boys tennis all stars.
In boys track the all star nods went to Tyler Greene, Nick Scarangelli, Aodhan Daly and Dan Givens. And the girls track all stars were Alexa Palmieri and Birdie Stewart.
Moving to the recent fall season, in football the West Jersey League named Riley Gunnels, Sean Mazzitelli, Jack Hoag, Zach Mazzitelli, C.J. Conti, Brendan McGonigle, Mike Gray, Taylor Eget, Tom Schutta, Charley Cossaboone and Nasir Kelly to its all star team..
In boys soccer, John Lindsay and Ori Levy-Smith were first team picks in the CAL. In girls soccer it was Reimet, Hope Slimmer and Joy Slimmer. Field hockey all stars included Andy Helphenstine, Julia Neff, Carly Harin and Camryn Flynn. Alexis Allegretto was a first teamer in girls tennis.
In boys cross country, Owen Ritti, Nick Scarangelli, Chris Sardy and Nigel Collins were chosen to the first team. In girls cross country the Raiders selected as all stars were Grace McAfee and Chloe Care.
Pretty impressive list.
These were some of the many athletes who brought success to OCHS sports since 2021 began. But the purpose here is to recognize two of them – one male and one female – as the best of the year. It wasn’t an easy choice but two have emerged.
Gannon Brady was the first OCHS basketball player – male or female – to lead the CAL in scoring two straight years. And the first boy from the Ocean City to ever lead South Jersey in scoring. He made 52 percent of his shots and 72 percent from the foul line. He averaged 28.6 points per game – a school record – and finished his career as the seventh greatest scorer in school history with over 1,200 points. Had his senior year been a season of typical length, he would have seriously challenged the school career record.
One of his highlights came against Atlantic City, a team that allowed just over 40 points per game on average. Brady scored 38 against the Vikings himself, the most points ever scored in the Dixie Howell Gym.
Then came the baseball season. Brady batted .287 and was among the team leaders in hits, runs scored and RBIs. On the mound, he struck out 82 and allowed only 32 hits in 56 innings. That included 13 strikeouts in a one-hit shutout over Lacey Township to start the NJSIAA Group 3 Tournament and nine strikeouts and five hits in a 6-1 win over Mainland in the South Jersey final. As a sophomore, he was 6-0 on the mound, setting a new single-season OCHS record.
Summer Reimet was enjoying a nice lacrosse season for Ocean City last spring. She scored 34 goals for the Raiders and added 13 assists. But big things were coming in the fall. Reimet scored 62 goals during the soccer season, the most in New Jersey, and broke the OCHS record of 35 that she had shared with Faith Slimmer. She finished her career with 133 goals, breaking the old school mark by one-third. And she also set a new school mark of six goals in one game, doing it twice. In fact, she scored in every game but one this fall, scored the only goals in four games and had the three-goal hat trick 12 times.
Gannon Brady is in his freshman year at Fordham where he will play baseball. Summer Reimet is getting ready to take her soccer skills to Monmouth. For their success in another very unusual year filled with unique obstacles and as representatives of all the other outstanding OCHS athletes, they are the Ocean City High School Athletes of the Year for 2021.
Later this week – the 59th annual Ocean City Sportsperson of the Year.