The Salem News
---- — Two local football players are having great seasons at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. Swampscott’s Andrew ‘A.J.’ Baker is a sophomore wide receiver while Beverly’s David Pope, who attended St. John’s Prep, is a sophomore kicker and field goal specialist.
Last week the Dutchmen beat Merchant Marines, 27-14, as Baker caught a 60-yard touchdown pass and Pope kicked field goals of 28 and 31 yards.
“Baker has good speed and jumping ability to go up and make the catch,” said head coach John Audino. “His versatility includes work returning punts and kicks.”
Baker, a political science major, is the leading punt returner on the team with 13 for 111 yards. He has also caught 18 passes for 249 yards. Pope is majoring in economics and is 20-for-23 on PATs with 39 kickoffs and nine field goals.
Union hosts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this weekend looking for its fourth win of the season.
Steve Czarnecki has decided to step down from his cross country coaching job at Bishop Fenwick, a job he’s held since 2002.
His last event is today, watching Arianna Maida run at the All-State Meet for the fourth year.
“This is it for me,” said Czarnecki. I think it’s time after 30 years coaching between Fenwick and Salem State. I’ve been very blessed to work with some great people and outstanding athletes, both at the college and high school level.”
Czarnecki served as an assistant coach under Carl DiMaiti for several years before taking over as head coach of Fenwick’s indoor and outdoor teams in 1983.
The Crusaders’ track coaching staff will be brand new, because winter and spring coach Jay Smith resigned a few weeks ago.
“Fenwick has a great program with fantastic facilities,” said Czarnecki. “Nobody has a cross country course like ours. Indoors the kids run at the Reggie Lewis Center (in Roxbury), and outdoors we have one of the few 8-lane tracks around. It was a hard decision for me, but in the long run I felt it was time to go.”
Czarnecki will still be very involved in track and field as the MIAA representative for District 8, something he has been doing for the past three years.
Freshman Catarina Rocha finished 12th overall at the NCAA Northeast Regionals for Providence College yesterday afternoon. The former Peabody High star finished the Van Cortland, N.Y. course in a time of 20:34 and was the fourth member of her team to finish as the Friars won the race with 44 points.
Last weekend Rocha was seventh overall and the fifth runner for her team in the Big East championship. It marked the sixth time Providence (currently ranked No. 2 in the country) has won the Big East crown and first since 2002.
Topsfield’s Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth was brilliant in winning the race in 19:48. The former Masconomet star led the Big Green to a second place finish behind Providence. Her junior teammate, ex-Hamilton-Wenham star Alison Lanois, also had a strong race (21:05), finishing fifth for Dartmouth and 27th overall.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.