COLLEGE SPORTS NOTEBOOK 5/2/13

The College Sports Notebook is compiled by veteran sports writer and columnist Marc Maturo, a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The notebook will be published every Thursday. Please send items of interest to marcmaturo@aol.com.

Stephens leaps to school record at Big Red meet

Amber Stephens, Division III national leader
Amber Stephens, Division III national leader

Joining 19 teammates in reaching East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) standards, SUNY Cortland senior Amber Stephens of Stony Point set a school record in the triple jump at the Cornell University Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Big Red Invitational in Ithaca.

Stephens, an alumna of North Rockland HS, turned in a triple jump of 38-feet 4 and a quarter inches, or 11.69 meters. The leap broke the existing standard of 11.54 meters, which she established last season and which was previously hit by Jennifer Sponenberg in 1994. Stephens ranks 11th nationally in Division III in the event.

The meet was Cortland’s warmup for the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships, which two-time defending league champion Cortland is hosting on May 3-4. The meet will start at 2 p.m. on May 3, and at 9 a.m. on May 4.

Stephens was also one of five Cortland long jumpers to reach ECAC standards. She was named SUNYAC Women’s Track Athelete of the Week.

North Rockland grad gets NFL call

Joe Casarella, longtime coach and athletic director at North Rockland High School, has seen a few decent football players during his storied, successful and venerable career leading the Raiders.

Seven or so one-time Raiders not only starred at the collegiate level, but then moved to the big-time, performing on the big stage in the National Football League.

Brandon Hepburn, Lions prospect
Brandon Hepburn, Lions prospect

The latest prospect, despite being a seventh-round selection by the Detroit Lions, on the 245th pick, is Brandon Hepburn, who hopes to one day help bring cancer to its knees as he has done to many an opposing running back.

“Now you know why I’m a great coach; I’ve had many great kids,” offered Casarella, largely downplaying his own but hugely important role in the process.

“I spoke with him, and he’s really excited. Who wouldn’t be,” said Casarella, noting that if nothing else, Helpburn will merge brains and brawn on the football field.

The inside linebacker, who played at Florida A&M, was quoted as saying “It’s been a roller-coaster ride and I’m glad I landed in a good place.”

Hepburn said the Lions had shown interest in him throughout the entire draft process, and the Lions also called upon Casarella as part of the background checking.

“I know him (Hepburn) well, he comes from a good family. His sister was a state champion in track and field,” Casarella continued. “He played for me, and was very unselfish. For us he played at tackle, but he was a better linebacker. He’s just a marvelous kid. The seventh round (pick) is tough, but he’ll do fine.”

Casarella also related how the highly intelligent Hepburn, who is involved in cancer research, responded when questioned about his educational background, and what would happen to it if he went into the NFL.

“He said,” related Casarella, “that he can be a micro-biologist when he’s 40 or 50,  but he can’t play in the NFL at that age.”

Hepburn is expected to visit Detroit shortly, and prepare for rookie camp.

“I was extremely excited and humbled by the entire opportunity that I’ve been given,” Hepburn was again quoted as saying. “Now it’s time to make the most of it.”

The last North Rockland HS graduate to play in the NFL, with both the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, was Syracuse alum and middle linebacker Kelvin Smith of Spring Valley.

Perhaps the linebacker position won’t be the only link between Smith and Hepburn.

Red Dragons on fire going into playoffs

Tara Monaghan, set for playoff opener
Tara Monaghan, set for playoff opener

“I’m a little nervous but excited. We’re ready,” said freshman midfielder Tara Monaghan of Stony Point, as the once-beaten SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team looks forward to its opener in the SUNYAC postseason playoffs.

The Red Dragons, with 16 wins and only a loss to non-conference foe Salisbury in the fourth game marring a perfect season, host either Brockport or Oneonta on May 3 at 12:30 p.m. The title game is on May 4, also at top-seeded Cortland. Also in the field are third-seeded Geneseo and second-seeded Fredonia.

Monaghan, who started the sport as a fifth-grader, played four years of varsity ball at North Rockland HS, winning a sectional crown in her senior season.

Monaghan apparently has made a seamless transition playing at the collegiate level, finishing the regular season with 24 goals and four assists for 28 points, sixth-best on the nationally ranked team.

“The college game is a big difference,” observes Monaghan, whose parents Jackie and James are her biggest fans, attending each game and leading the rooting section (her brother James is also a fan, although he played on the golf team at North Rockland).

“The players (in college) are a lot bigger and stronger; the game is faster,” Monaghan continues. “I got in better shape, which helped me adjust.”

Mike Abelard on the run for STAC
Mike Abelard on the run for STAC

Spartans on the run: Sparked by Mike Abelard of Spring Valley and George Erazo of North Babylon, the St. Thomas Aquinas College men’s track and field team placed second at the East Coast Conference (ECC) Championships. The women’s team, helped by Keeley Bateman of Pearl River and Allison Borriello of Montgomery, placed sixth. Abelard, a Ramapo HS graduate, won the 200, placed second in the 100 and was third in the 400. Erazo led the opposition in the 400 dash and 400 hurdles, and was runner-up in the 200. Matt Buell took 5th in the 1500 in a new personal best time of 4:08.92.  Frankie Colon of Suffern, who took fourth in the triple jump and in the 400, was part of the victorious 4×100 relay team along with Erazo, Ed Oswald of New City and Abelard.In the Relays the men took 1st place in the 4×100,4×400 and 4×800. The championship 4×800 team of Joe Chegwidden of Hamburg, N.J., Mike Kraus of River Vale, N.J., Matt Buell of Staten Island and Garvenchy Nicolas of Brooklyn established a school-record time of 7:59.30. On the wome’s side, Bateman clocked a personal best in the 1,500 with a time of 4:57.89, good for fourth. She also took sixth in the 800 in 2:25.98. Borriello was runner-up in the 800 in 2:21.41. The 4×400 team of Borriello, Gina Funaro of Queens, Rebecca Fortoul of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and Gabriela Sloezen of Westwood, N.J., finished fifth with a clocking of 4:15.90.   

Paul Moreau, closes collegiate career with a goal
Paul Moreau, closes collegiate career with a goal

QUICK HITTERS: Paul Moreau of Pearl River capped his collegiate playing career with his eighth goal of the season as the Manhattan College men’s lacrosse team stunned regular-season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Marist College, 14-12, at Gaelic Park in Riverdale. The victory was the first in the MAAC for head coach Steve Manitta. …

THIS & THAT

Boulders ready to roll: The Rockland Boulders, who have placed individual game tickets on sale to each of their 50 home games at Provident Bank Parkin Pomona, open at home this season against the Newark Bears on May 16. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. The Boulders led the Can-Am League in attendance with 161,375 fans last year and were named the league’s “Organization of the Year.” This year’s highlights include an opening night Fireworks Extravaganza, the Friday Night Boulder Bash, featuring $1 beer, and Sunday Family Day, allowing kids to run the bases following the game. For more on the Cam-Am League, and Independent League baseball in general, visit www.WirzandAssociates.com or  www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.

Pearl’s wisdom: Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, former New York Knicks superstar, will be at Books & Greetings in Northvale, N.J., a stone’s throw from Tappan, on May 2 at 7 p.m. signing copies of his new book. Monroe, the NBA rookie of the year in 1967, has combined with Quincy Troupe on “Miles, The Pursuit of Happiness.” Books & Greetings is located at 271 Livingston Street.

The inaugural Sports PR Summit will be held at the MLB Fan Cave in New York on May 22. The half-day event will give sports communications executives from the various pro sports leagues, the collegiate ranks, sports corporations and PR firms will have the opportunity to come together in one location for panel

discussions, strategy development and networking. Seating is limited. For details contact Brian Berger at brian@brianbergerpr.com.

The Flagship Golf Tour (www.flagshipgolftour.com) a professional developmental (mini) tour is looking for experienced sales representatives with a proven track record to sell sponsorships and “signature” events for nationwide Pro-Am tournaments. For information or to submit your resume, contact

Jeff Flees at jeff@flagshipgolftour.com