Throughout the school year, the Mineola American, with its Athlete of the Week section, has featured many star athletes from Mineola High School, who showed that hard work and dedication truly pay off. Here is a look back on some of those superstar players from the 2018-19 school season.
Track star and senior Andy Chen took flight as a long jumper as part of the Mineola Mustangs track program. As a member of the winter and spring programs, Chen demonstrated dedication to the program by steadily improving his stamina, putting in the effort in practice and having a positive attitude. As a student, Chen was a physical education leader and took part in demonstrating positive role modeling for younger students in the school district. Chen will be attending Kings College in Pennsylvania in the fall.
Meanwhile, varsity volleyball and basketball player Victoria Venus flourished as a senior leader of two of the school’s most successful programs. As an All–County volleyball player, Venus played a middle hitter position and dominated play in many games. Her size, speed, athleticism and tenacity on the court helped lead the Mustangs to the county semifinals.
As an offensive player on the basketball court, Venus’ work ethic and strength made her an effective rebounder and shot blocker. This past season, the girls basketball team finished the regular season with a 15-4 record, made possible in great measure by Venus’ contributions. She scored 9.4 points per game, had 8.5 rebounds per game, dished out 2.5 assists per game to go along with 1.5 steals and blocks per game.
Speaking of volleyball, as a senior and second year co-captain of the Mineola varsity girls volleyball team and four-year varsity volleyball player, Colette Maloney was one of the most powerful hitters on the court. Maloney was often set in the back row, where she also had a high percentage of kills. Last year, Maloney was a key player in the team’s run to the county semifinals.
Student-athlete Nicole Genova, thrived as a member of the girls varsity soccer team and was a two year captain, who developed into a positive force in the soccer program. This year, she led the team to a quick start as her prowess as a player and scorer propelled the Mustangs. This past season, Genova scored six goals in her first three games and had two assists to go along with it. She had the go ahead goal with 16 minutes left to play in an early season victory over rival Glen Cove High School. As the team’s center midfielder, she was an anchor. The highly dedicated soccer player has committed to play at Manhattan College in the fall.
Jason Eccher was a three-sport athlete at Mineola and was starting quarterback for the school’s varsity football team. Eccher led the team to a 3-1 record with a pivotal game against Locust Valley at one point and completed 33 of 53 passes for a total of 423 yards and six touchdowns. With a 91.8 overall average, Eccher found the balance between excelling on the football field, basketball court and lacrosse field.
Soccer stars Christian Melendez and Manny Mirao led the boys varsity soccer team to an undefeated conference championship. Melendez, who was a four-year varsity starter and co-captain, was outstanding as an outside midfielder. Melendez, who tragically passed away late last year, had a great asset of speed.
Mirao, a four-year varsity starting goalie and co-captain, was one of the best goalies in the conference for several years. This year, Mirao compiled 55 saves, recorded five shutouts and had only given up 11 goals, which is less than a one goal per game average. In addition, he was a vocal leader who had been able to make some acrobatic saves in order to help lead the team to an undefeated season and earn them a conference championship.
Lastly, senior cross country captain Gabe Silva ran through the competition of section VIII in his quest to qualify for the NYS Cross Country Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park this year. He was already a two-time All-County recipient in cross country and won four out of five of Mineola’s league meets this season. Silva also placed 10th in the Brewster Bear Invitational earlier last month against elite upstate New York runners. As captain of the team, Silva did all the little things to make his teammates successful, such as organizing Sunday runs, filling the water bottles for practice and encouraging all of his teammates during their races.