by Larry Austin
The Grand Island fall sports teams are off to great starts in their respective seasons.
The girls soccer team is 5-0 in the Niagara Frontier League, the girls volleyball teams is 4-0, and the boys soccer team is 3-1 with its only loss in overtime. The boys volleyball team and the girls swimming and diving team both began their seasons by winning their first two contests. The golf team is 3-2.
The football team is 3-0 after its Homecoming game win against Starpoint, and the girls tennis team is also off to a strong start with a winning record.
The Vikings tennis team was 5-9 last year and has already made a strong start toward improving on that mark by winning four of the first six matches on the schedule this year.
GI tennis coach Julie Neville has 18 players on the roster, with one more on the way before she goes on maternity leave. Carley Antonelli will take over the coaching duties at that point.
Mia Villani is set at first singles after moving up from second singles last year and is among three returning starters. The other two veterans, Annie Corrao and Liana Buscaglia, along with Zaineb Khawar and Emelie-jo Scheffler will see action in a rotation between second singles, third singles and first doubles, Neville said.
"They're very similar players, so we just have to kind of settle in and figure out who's best at singles and who's better at doubles," she said.
"As far as doubles go, I need two girls that work well together," she said. "And then in singles I need some girls that are a little more consistent."
Jason Bibler's girls and boys cross country teams all have 18 athletes each. They prepped for their league season at the Oakfield-Alabama Invitational, which Bibler described as a "fun kick-start to our season" because of its relay race format (three runners covering two miles each) and its "arena-type atmosphere" with runners competing at night under portable lights.
Bibler said the team learned a lot about its rookies and its fitness levels.
The overall goal is "always to do the best we can, because ultimately we really can't control what anyone else does. But hopefully our best will allow us to have a chance at the NFL title, and maybe place high in the Sectionals, maybe get a couple individuals to the state championships," Bibler said. "We've definitely got a big job ahead of us if we want to catch East Aurora and Starpoint in the sectional picture. If we're up to the task and we want to do the work, it gives us a chance, and that's all we ever ask for."
Andrew Masiello and Nick Pino will lead the Vikings, Bibler said, and have done a nice job over the summer in "increasing their workload and their understanding of what it takes to be successful in this sport."
Six individuals on the girls side on any given day could be a No. 1 runner for GI, Bibler said.
We have this "great tight-knit pack" on the girls side with a strong core of seniors that include Taylor Marino (a first team All-League runner), Ayla Marino, Ellen Lutnick, and Rachael Ruszkowski.
Grand Island High School golfers opened the season with a pair of wins.
On Sept. 5, GI beat Kenmore West, 266-276. The Vikings were led by junior Kevin Borowicz, who parred the River Oaks Golf Course with a 36. Senior Aaron Schauger followed with a 39, Jake Lawley had a 45 and Tom Corrao, a 46.
The Vikings improved to 2-0 on Sept. 7 with a convincing 259-281 win over Lewiston-Porter.
Borowicz was medalist for the second time with a 37. Schauger finished with a 39, Jacob Sweeney had a 44 and Corrao had a 45.