Fall sports

Greenwich High hosts ceremony for college-bound Division I athletes

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich High School student-athletes attended a ceremony celebrating their commitment to playing sports at the Division I level in college. The athletes included: front row, left to right: Zachary Jelinek, Bucknell, track and field cross country, Bucknell; Andrew O’Donnell, University of Pennsylvania, track and field; Bianca Granitto, crew, UPenn; Annie Bingle, UPenn, diving; Zita Cohen, field hockey, Brown; Ella Moore, crew, Stanford; Marian Cracraft, crew University of Wisconsin; Lucy Barratt, crew Boston College; Andrew Cavanaugh, crew, Yale; Back row left to right: Chason Barber, football, Brown; Isabelle Ritchie, crew, Harvard; George Lathrop, crew, Princeton; Bella Schraa, water polo, Bucknell; Eva Anderson, crew, Georgetown; Izzy Blackburn, crew, Syracuse; Tessa Matson, water polo, Loyola Marymount; Liana Sarkissian, volleyball, Dayton; Taeshic Chung, crew, Columbia; Brendan Mark, crew, Northeastern.

A sporting event wasn’t being held at Greenwich High School’s gymnasium Wednesday morning, but a large group of student-athletes took a break from their respective classes to gather at the gym.

Athletes in their senior year, representing numerous sports appeared before coaches, family members and school administrators for a special ceremony honoring them for their commitment to compete in athletics at the collegiate/Division I level.

Chason Barber, who will play football at Brown University, attended the ceremony, as did Annie Bingle, a diver heading to the University of Pennsylvania. Zita Cohen, who will bring her field hockey skills to Brown, appeared at the ceremony, along with Zachary Jelinek (track and field Bucknell University), Bella Schraa (water polo Bucknell) and Tessa Matson (Loyola Marymount water polo). Liana Sarkissian, a volleyball standout headed to Dayton, joined her peers at the ceremony, as did Andrew O’Donnell (UPenn track and field).

Of the 19 Greenwich student-athletes honored Wednesday, 11 were rowers, who will join Division I collegiate crew teams next year. They included: Eva Anderson (Georgetown), Lucy Barratt (Boston College), Izzy Blackburn (Syracuse), Andrew Cavanaugh (Yale), Taeshic Chung (Columbia), Marian Crafcraft (University of Wisconsin), Bianca Granitto (UPenn), George Lathrop (Princeton), Brendan Mark (Northeastern), Ella Moore (Stanford) and Isabelle Ritchie (Harvard).

Photo by David Fierro: Chason Barber, left, will play football at Brown University. Andrew O’Donnell is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, where he will run track.

Barber, a wide receiver/defensive back on Greenwich’s football team, is looking forward to continuing his football career at Brown.

“It feels great being here with all these other athletes,” Barber said. “There’s a sense of accomplishment in the air over here and we’re all happy. I can’t wait, it’s a new challenge for me and it’s the next stage in my life and I’m more than ready for it.”

Playing football for the Cardinals and being part of the Greenwich High football community has helped prepare Barber to play at the next level.

“I’ve learned so much from playing football at Greenwich High,” Barber said. “I’ve developed so much from players and coaches and I couldn’t have done it without any of them.”

Currently, the Greenwich football team has a record of 5-3, heading into Saturday’s game against Stamford.

“It’s been a season full of ups-and-downs, we’ve had a tough schedule no doubt,” Barber said. “But everyone is pushing through, team morale is still high. We’re all excited, because we still have a shot of making the playoffs.”

O’Donnell had a breakthrough season for Greenwich’s track and field team this past spring and is excited for the next chapter of his athletic career.

“I have a huge sense of accomplishment, being here,” O’Donnell said. “It’s nice to be here with all my peers and friends. It feels great, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I’m looking forward to having a lot of competition each and every race. I’m excited to get going right away as a freshman.”

Zita Cohen will play on the field hockey team at Brown University next season.

Cohen has played on Greenwich’s varsity field hockey team since her freshman year. She’s one of the Cardinals’ captains this season and the team has advanced to the quarterfinal-round of the CIAC Class L Tournament. She’ll bring a lot of field hockey experience with her to Brown.

“It feels like it’s all coming together,” Cohen said of Wednesday’s ceremony. “It feels surreal, it’s all coming to an end now. It’s always been this idea that we’re going to college next year, now that we’re all signing together, it shows the unity within us and kind of makes us all excited for the future.”

Indeed, Cohen has learned plenty from being a part of such a unified Greenwich field hockey squad.

“Honestly, it’s different than every other team I’ve played for,” Cohen said. “It’s very much a family, it’s close. What happens on the field, it’s a whole team bonding thing and we are more like family and sisters than teammates.”

All-American diver Annie Bingle of Greenwich will soon be diving at the University of Pennsylvania.

A three-time NISCA All-America diver, Bingle has especially enjoyed her two seasons on Greenwich’s diving squad.

“I’ve only been here for two seasons, but it’s been an incredible experience,” Bingle said. “It’s more of a community of any other team that I’ve been on in the past and I’m excited about bringing what I learned from here and bringing it to college with me.”

Last week, Bingle placed second at the FCIAC Diving Championships. She’ll compete in the Class LL state diving finals Thursday.

“Senior season has been really fun,” she said. “Going from last season with COVID and not having championship meets has been a struggle, so I’m really excited that we get to have all three championship meets in the coming weeks. We had FCIACs last week and I got second place with one of my personal bests and LLs is tomorrow, so hopefully, that goes just as well.”

“I’m super excited about diving in college, I think GHS and diving for the Greenwich Y has prepared me well,” Bingle continued. “I’ve met a lot of the team at Penn and they’re all really nice and the environment seems great, just like it is here. Here at Greenwich, we have a huge recruiting class and I’m real proud of everybody. They all inspire me to work my hardest and I hope that I do the same for them. They all deserve where they are right now.”

Liana Sarkissian will play volleyball at Dayton next season.

Sarkissian helped power Greenwich to the FCIAC title last week. The Cardinals defeated rival Darien for the FCIAC championship, with Sarkissian playing a pivotal role with her outstanding play. The Cardinals will now seek to win the CIAC Class LL title.

“I’m really excited, everyone who I met at Dayton is super nice and super welcoming,” Sarkissian said. “I have gotten to know the other girls in my class and we’re all super excited to have it finalized.”

During her GHS volleyball career, Sarkissian has shown significant improvement each season.

“My freshman year I didn’t know anything,” Sarkissian said. “Sophomore year I was getting used to everything. The year where I improved the most was last year in between my junior year to this year. I focused on the fundamentals and working hard. I think that’s translated into how much I’ve improved in a short period of time. I want to continue that at Dayton.”

Bella Schraa will bring her water polo talents to Bucknell University.

A dominant force for Greenwich High’s water polo team in the spring, Schraa earned NISCA First Team High School All-America honors for the 2021 season. She was the Cardinals’ leading scorer this past spring and has been a dynamic playmaker throughout her career.

She was pleased to attend Wednesday’s ceremony for Greenwich’s college-bound athletes.

“It’s really exciting, because the past four years I’ve been waiting for this and hoping that I’d be on the stage,” Schraa said. “I saw all the photos from year’s past. So it’s definitely exciting to be a part of that and makes it feel like everything is worth it.”

Indeed, Schraa is eagerly anticipating college life at Bucknell.

“I am extremely excited,” Schraa said. “I actually went there last weekend and I watched some of the games and I’m just so excited to go. I think it’s going to be the perfect school for me. It balances academics, athletics and social life perfectly, so I’m just so excited to be there. Hopefully, this spring I’ll get All-American again and end the high school season with a bang.”

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