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Five Titans taking talents to college ranks


CRARYVILLE — Five Taconic Hills student-athletes have committed to playing their respective sports at the Division III collegiate level next year.

Grace Howard is heading to Skidmore College for swimming; Russell Beck to Dean College for basketball; Bliss Rhoads to SUNY Plattsburgh for track & field; Nicole Kernan to SUNY Delhi for soccer; and Mackenzie Sparacino to SUNY Delhi for softball.

Howard has been swimming on the varsity team for six years and holds the school record in the 100-meter breast stroke (1 minute, 22.31 seconds).

“It has been an absolute pleasure coaching Grace for the past six years,” TH swim coach Ryan Kendrick said. “Her excellent work ethic, strong leadership skills and gritty determination will certainly help her be successful at the next level. I am very proud that she is choosing to continue her swimming career at Skidmore. I am confident she will be successful in and out of the pool.”

Beck became the all-time scoring leader at Taconic Hills during his senior season and was named the Patroon Conference varsity basketball MVP.

“Russ Beck would be an asset to any basketball program,” TH hoops coach Tom Super said. “Russ has some of the best qualities needed to be successful — he exhibits tremendous effort and is always eager to improve. Russ has great leadership skills and plays the game of basketball with extreme confidence. Russ is also very punctual and dedicated, which makes him a role model for his peers and teammates.”

Since joining the track and field team, Rhoads has grown into one of the top throwers in the area.

This year, she posted a season-best shot put throw of 31-feet, 10-inches and a season-best discus throw of 96-8 — both top marks in the Patroon Conference this year.

“Bliss was wonderful to coach. She came to me as a junior with no prior track experience. She started the season knowing nothing about throwing,” TH assistant coach Jim Spock said. “I think she started the season throwing a respectable 70 feet in the discus. By the end of her junior season, she was a sectional champion with a throw of 102 feet. Needless to say, she was a quick study.

“She worked hard and was extremely easy to coach up. This year, she was a strong leader with the other throwers and became very good at helping others improve upon their technique. I will miss her, but I look forward to seeing how much more she will progress as she continues to throw in college.”

In Kernan, SUNY Delhi will be receiving an all-around solid, aggressive defender that started for the Lady Titans for two seasons.

“She is a solid defender and is extremely aggressive on the pitch,” coach Pat McDonald said. “She has solid ball control, striking skills and positioning. She sees the field well and distributes the ball effectively. She is very athletic, runs the field well and has good endurance.

“She often became part of our transition attack from the back field because of her athleticism and stellar positioning,” McDonald added. “I can say with confidence that Nicole is a dedicated individual who leads others by setting a strong example with her effort and intensity during practices and matches. Throughout the time I have known Nicole, she has displayed the moral character, discipline, organization and commitment necessary to become a successful leader both on and off the pitch. She would be an asset both athletically and academically to any college.”

Joining Kernan at Delhi, Sparacino should be an instant contributor for the softball team after batting .357 with two home runs and 23 stolen bases.

“Outstanding hitter, good combination of power and a good batter’s eye,” coach Tom Davis said. “Tremendous arm behind the plate and a threat on the base path.”

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