On May 29, the Columbia High School Boys JV Ultimate Frisbee team won the NJ State Division II Championships at Mercer Community College.
The CHS JV Ultimate team went undefeated in winning the 2016 New Jersey Division 2 High School Boys State Championship. The club team is comprised of boys from 8th-11th grade, all residents of South Orange and Maplewood and is coached by Chris Aguero and Gabby Cincotta.
The JV team swept pool play on Saturday defeating Morristown, Highland Park and Paramus Catholic. By virtue of winning their pool, they received an automatic bye to the semifinals on Sunday, where they defeated Paramus Catholic again in a close match before soundly defeating the previously undefeated Governor Livingston High in the finals, 13-6.
Next, the CHS Boys Varsity Ultimate Frisbee team will be playing in the NJ State Division I Championships against Westfield on Thursday, June 2.
The Varsity game takes place at 7:05 p.m. at Ranger Stadium at Drew University in Madison.
This will be the first time the state championships will be played at night, according to team parent Anne O’Malley, and represents a rare opportunity to watch the CHS team play close to home. O’Malley reports that the Varsity team won five straight games this past weekend to make it to the finals.
“It will be the last game for eight graduating seniors,” said O’Malley. She’s hoping that Maplewood and South Orange — the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee — turn out big for their team on Thursday night.
It’s been a great season for CHS Ultimate Frisbee teams all around.
The Boys Varsity team tied for third at the Northeastern High School Regional Championships in Slippery Rock, PA, the weekend of May 21-22 and came in second at the Amherst Invitational Tournament in Amherst, MA, the weekend of May 7-8.
The CHS girls ultimate team, dubbed Sparkle Motion, came in 3rd in the NJ High School Girls’ State Championships. Sparkle Motion also competed in the Northeastern High School Regional Championships and the Amherst Invitational Tournament.
One curious note: Ultimate Frisbee is technically a club, not an official sport, at Columbia High School — despite of the fact that the game was invented at Columbia/in Maplewood.
Nonetheless, there’s a lot of enthusiasm locally for the teams — and the coaches.
“This year is our beloved coach Chris Aguero’s last year coaching JV,” wrote Ultimate mom Kathleen Kargoll. “He has selflessly been volunteering for the past five years. Prior to that he played on varsity at CHS and was a legend.”
Indeed, Aguero (CHS Class of ’11) and Varsity Coach Ben Haim (CHS Class of ’98) are both proud Columbia grads.
“I love working with the boys and they were able to teach me so much about myself that I didn’t know,” said Aguero. “I made a lot of mistakes as a new coach and thought the boys needed to make a lot of changes for my coaching to take place. I was wrong, I had to make the changes for this to work. I am truly blessed to have been given this opportunity and proud to be their coach. This state title means more to me then any other state title that I have won as a player. Plus, the Gatorade shower felt amazing!”
Aguero added, “I hold very high expectations of the players. We would do difficult conditioning workouts at the beginning of practices so the boys would get used to being tired. I knew this would be of greater benefit at the end of games because finishing games is never easy.”
“Coach Chris Aguero has given the program five incredible years,” said Haim. “Players and fellow coaches will truly miss him. Tough shoes to fill.”
“The 2016 season has been a wild one with a second-place finish at the 25th Annual Amherst Invite and a semis appearance at the HS Northeastern Regional Championship,” added Haim, who said a win would represent a “repeat state championship and the team’s 15th state title in 16 years.”
“We would love for everyone to come to Madison and support your team!”
Kevin Griffith and Anne O’Malley contributed to this story.
Photos by Brian McNamara (click to enlarge):