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Roll Call of Excellence

A Baker's Dozen plus one of outstanding student-athletes at the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools -- 8 at one school and 6 at the other -- have earned the attention and admiration of school officials and of The Odessa File. Here is its Roll Call of Excellence.

By Charlie Haeffner

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 2, 2022 -- Last year, after stepping away from an honors team called the Top Drawer 24 -- a program which I had co-founded and in which I'd been heavily involved for 15 years -- I returned to its roots with a new program. I focused strictly on Schuyler County student-athletes.

I initially called it Magnificent Sevens, since seven honorees were selected from Watkins Glen High School, and seven from Odessa-Montour High School.

But rather than get locked into a specific number -- the Top Drawer program, for example, has grown this year to 60 student-athletes in school districts around the region -- I have settled on those students who grabbed both my attention and that of administrators and coaches in our two school districts, no matter the number.

This year, we coincidentally have 14 honorees again, but the split is eight from WGHS and six from O-M.

Where the Top Drawer program during my stay was open to students in grades 9 through 12 -- although only one freshman was honored, and that in our first year -- this one is open to students in grades 10 through 12. Last year, the honorees included three sophomores, three juniors and eight seniors.

This time, there are no sophomores, but there are seven juniors to go along with seven seniors. There are six repeat honorees -- senior Camille Sgrecci and juniors Hannah Nolan and Tori Brewster at Odessa-Montour, and seniors Cameron Holland and Owen Scholtisek and junior Faye Mooney at Watkins Glen.

Most of the honorees were recommended by school coaches or administrators. In addition to those recommendations and the honorees' grades and athletic prowess, an important factor in the selections was character and determination -- whether an honoree is believed to possess not only the personality and drive to succeed in life and on the playing fields, but also the will to keep striving for excellence ... even in difficult times, such as during a pandemic.

Grade-point averages cited are the most recent ones available. This year's Odessa File Roll Call honorees, by school but in no particular order, are as follows:

Odessa-Montour High School:

From left: Camille Sgrecci, Daniel Lewis and Hannah Nolan.

From left: Katie Adams, Mackenzie Cannon and Tori Brewster.

Camille Sgrecci:
A senior, she carries an average of 95.8 and is ranked first academically in her class. She is a five-year member of the school's varsity soccer and track teams, and was an Odessa File first-team All-Star this year in both sports. She plans to attend Lycoming College and play soccer there. In the words of Track Coach Skip Strobel: "Her desire to do anything that will help the team is her best quality. She is a true leader in every sense of the word. Her leadership and ability to motivate others is her true calling."

Daniel Lewis: A junior, he was a member of the school's varsity football and basketball teams and an outstanding catcher and pitcher on the varsity baseball squad, where he earned an Odessa File First Team All-Star berth. He carries a 91.4 average academically. He is described by his baseball coach, Jason Westervelt, as "a dedicated, hard working, charismatic student-athlete" who is "always striving for the betterment of the team, and has done an amazing job taking younger, less experienced athletes under his wing. Over the past year, Daniel has become one of the elite pitchers in the league."

Hannah Nolan: A junior, she is an outstanding soccer player (she has the school career record of 59 goals), was a key member of the varsity basketball squad -- and was an Odessa File First Team All Star in both sports. She carries a GPA of 96.7. A member of U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program, she was also an Odessa File co-Athlete of the Year at O-M in her sophomore year, and an Odessa File Schuyler Fall MVP this year. As Track Coach Skip Strobel put it, Nolan is "a consummate competitor; someone who will do anything in her power to make herself and teammates better. She competes with a fiery drive like I've never seen before." Added Coach Burton Brewster: "Her excellence in athletics is a reflection of the character she brings to every practice and game."

Katie Adams: A junior, she is highly praised by her coaches for her character and determination. A member of the school's varsity soccer, basketball and track teams, she is No. 1 academically in her class with a 98.9 grade-point average. Her coach in soccer and track, Burton Brewster, said she is "a very good soccer player" with "an incredibly strong kick." In track, she is the team's top runner at 400 and 800 meters who "scored a lot of points for us this year." Adds Track Coach Skip Strobel: Adams is "a silent assassin -- unassuming but as competitive as they come. She refuses to back down in any circumstance. She puts a ton of pressure on herself to succeed and if she doesn't the first time, or second time, I can assure you that she will not stop trying until she does find that success."

Mackenzie Cannon: A senior, she excels academically, carrying a 93.8 average that ranks her sixth in her class. A member of the school's National Honor Society, she has played varsity soccer and basketball, and was also the pitcher on the varsity softball team. Said her softball coach, Jordan Mensch: "Mackenzie is a leader" who "sets a great example for younger athletes, and they look up to her and try to match her level of devotion, ambition and competitiveness. In my opinion, pitching is one of the most difficult positions in all of sports. Pitchers are on an island by themselves and there is a level of mental fortitude that is required to be successful that most people simply don't have. Mackenzie has it."

Tori Brewster: A junior, she is an outstanding student with a 97.7 average and ranked third in her class. A key member of the successful varsity soccer team, she was also a starter on the varsity basketball team and a record-setting member of the track team -- setting the school mark in both the 100 Meters and 200 Meters and consistently winning the Long Jump. She was also an Odessa File co-Athlete of the Year at O-M in her sophomore year, and its Schuyler Spring MVP this year. Says Track Coach Skip Strobel: “I've never seen anyone work harder. Her desire to succeed drives her to be the best. She is talented, but coupled with the fact that she works harder than everybody else, it makes her a dangerous foe."


Watkins Glen High School:

From left: Cameron Holland, Daniel Ely, Faye Mooney and Jenna Solomon.

From left: Melanie Wysocki, Owen Scholtisek, Adam Pastore and Katrina Ricca.

Cameron Holland:
A senior on the basketball, football (where he played quarterback) and baseball teams, he carries a 99.11 average and ranks third in his class academically. He was an Odessa File First Team All Star in all three sports, and honored with the regional Joel Stephens 5C Award this year. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, and vice-president of the Senior Class. He is, said his baseball coach, Jason Westervelt, "an all-around package: leader, competitor, sportsman and scholar," and an "outstanding role model." He is also, the coach added, "one of the few three-sport athletes in the school."

Daniel Ely: A senior, he is an outstanding football player and golfer, earning First Team All Star status in both sports from The Odessa File. An excellent student, he carries a 93.11 average, is a member of National Honor Society, and plans to attend Hartwick College and play football there. He is highly praised by administrators, and by his football coach. Having Ely, along with honorees Cameron Holland, Owen Scholtisek, Daniel Lewis and Adam Pastore, on the football team, says Coach Trevor Holland, has been "an absolute pleasure. Their pursuit of excellence can be summed up with four words we lived by as a team: Work Hard. Be Great."

Faye Mooney:
A junior on the Section IV champion swim team and a doubles player on the varsity tennis squad, she carries a 4.06 average, tied for third in her class. She was an Odessa File Co-Athlete of the Year as a freshman for her swim accomplishments, as well as an Odessa File Schuyler Fall MVP this year, when she qualified for the State swim meet. She is a member of National Honor Society -- and is, in addition, an outstanding violinist. Says swim coach Jason Westervelt, she is "one of the most level headed, poised and controlled student athletes in the area. She is one of the strongest athletes I have ever coached, mentally and physically. She is always smiling, laughing, and creating a positive environment."

Jenna Solomon: A junior, she carries a 4.06 average, tied for third place in her class. She is also a member of National Honor Society. Solomon rose to prominence on the basketball court this year, leading her team in scoring and earning an Odessa File First Team All Star berth. Her basketball ascension began on a night in which her team was struggling, down 25-15 after three quarters. As described on The Odessa File: "Then Jenna Solomon happened. The basketball veteran suddenly (figuratively) donned a cloak normally reserved for fictional superheroes, and carried her team to the cusp of victory, scoring 13 of its 16 fourth-quarter points and putting it ahead by two points with 1:25 to go." That the team lost "did not diminish the impact; the surprise and pleasure" experienced in watching the comeback -- nor in watching her subsequent team-leading performances.

Melanie Wysocki: A senior, she was an exceptional member of the school's varsity volleyball team. She carries a 96.19 average academically, and is a member of National Honor Society. She was the school's Homecoming Queen this past fall, and had the lead in the school's popular spring musical, Cinderella. According to Michelle Benjamin, who co-directed the play, Wysocki is "a hard worker -- we never had to worry about her knowing her blocking or lines -- with a strong, vibrant personality. She is adventurous in that she’s willing to try anything ... Melanie is a fine actor with a phenomenal vocal range -- from tenor to 2nd soprano. She is a team player and leader, with a sarcastic wit and a penchant for positivity. Melanie is an individual who doesn’t hesitate by testing the waters before enthusiastically jumping into the deep end with a wry smile on her face."

Owen Scholtisek: A senior and an outstanding player on the school's successful basketball and football teams, he carries a 94.08 average. He was an Odessa File First Team All-Star in both sports this year, and an Odessa File Athlete of the Year at WGHS in his junior year. Says football Coach Trevor Holland: “Owen ... is a pleasure to have on any team no matter what sport it may be.” Having him, along with honorees Cameron Holland, Daniel Ely, Daniel Lewis and Adam Pastore, on the football team, added Coach Holland, has been "an absolute pleasure. Their pursuit of excellence can be summed up with four words we lived by as a team: Work Hard. Be Great."

Adam Pastore: A senior, he was the leading scorer on the school's highly successful varsity basketball team, and was named an Odessa File First Team All-Star as a result. He was also a starter on the football and baseball teams. Praised by administrators for his strong work ethic, he has carried a 3.7 average academically this year. Said his baseball coach, Jason Westervelt, Pastore is "one of the greatest stories of any athlete I have coached. From his 9th grade year to his 12th grade year he went from a ? to an ! He is a natural athlete, good at anything he decides to do."

Katrina Ricca: A junior, she leads her class academically with a 4.09 average. A key member of the school's varsity soccer team, she was praised by her coach, Scott Morse, for her "tough, aggressive play. She is so athletic that I ended up using her all over the field. I loved coaching her and knew she would bring tremendous effort. She is a great student and a nice young lady." She was also a starting doubles player on the varsity tennis squad and is a member of the school's first-year Trap Shooting club.


There you have them. And to paraphrase from articles I used to write annually regarding the Top Drawer 24, I close with this:

That's all of them -- fourteen notable people who share at least one thing in common: by excelling in unique and impressive ways, they have earned the admiration of teachers, coaches and administrators and a seat on this team. They have successfully embraced many athletic, academic and social opportunities in high school, and thus prepared themselves for life's many challenges.








© The Odessa File 2022
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869