Saint Stephen’s is excited to announce that Dragos Alexandru has agreed to become the new head coach of the developing Falcon Rowing Team. Alexandru was a member of the 1980 Romanian Olympic rowing team that participated in Moscow and is a very recognizable name throughout the rowing community. He was one of the first advocates for the development of the current Benderson Park as a world-class rowing facility and played a very significant role in eventually bringing the World Rowing Championships to the area. He will now lead the Falcons as they continue to develop a competitive team. SSES rowing was launched in 2015 and has spent the past two seasons building skills and preparing to compete. You can read more about Coach Alexandru in this story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The Falcons are tops in Class 3A in the state. The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has released its final Sunshine Cup all-sports points standings for 2016-17. Saint Stephen’s Athletics ranks 7th in the combined 3A/4A classification and is the top-ranked 3A school. The SSES boys finished first and the girls were third overall. Falcons student-athletes had a record-setting year on the fields and courts, winning 10 district, five regional and three state championships. See the final Sunshine Cup points standings here: http://www.fhsaa.org/…/alls…/2016-17/class_4a-3a_private.pdf
The Falcons followed up their first-ever district and regional titles with a Class 1A state track & field championship on May 6 at IMG Academy. Saint Stephen’s ran to a second-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay – the final event of the two-day meet – to finish with 42 team points and tie Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy atop the standings, earning a share of the 1A crown. The Falcons won the team title despite not taking the top spot in any single event. SSES received second-place performances from Andrew Csubak in the 800, Letherio Jones Jr. in the 400, the 1,600-relay team and 3,200 relay. Csubak, who also ran both relays, added a bronze medal in the 1,600, and Henry Howell scored points with a fifth-place finish in the 800. The Falcons appeared to win their first gold medal in the 100 relay, cruising to the finish line in 43.46 seconds, but SSES was ultimately disqualified for an early handoff in the first exchange zone. Had Saint Stephen’s victory in that event stood, the Falcons would have been the outright champions — although the same could also be said about Westminster, which was also disqualified in the event for stepping out of its lane in the third exchange zone.
Saint Stephen’s has announced the hiring of former collegiate All-American Sheri Hart to lead its swim/dive program in 2017. Hart was a standout at Worthington High School in Ohio, winning a team championship and three individual state titles. She finished her prep career as the national record holder in the 100 backstroke (a mark eventually broken by Natalie Coughlin) and went on to become an All-American at the University of Southern California (1990-91). Hart was an Olympic Trial finalist in 1988 and semi-finalist in 1992, and has set more than 20 masters swim records. Her coaching resume includes serving as an assistant on a state championship team at The Hockaday School, a girls’ college prep school in Dallas, Texas. Hart has also been Event Director for Swim Across America, raising more than $1.25-million for cancer research by hosting and preparing swimmers of all levels for Open Water Swim events. Hart takes over a Saint Stephen’s program that found success in and out of the pool in 2016. The boys team was recognized by the FHSAA as state Academic Champions with a combined grade point average of 3.785. The Falcons established four new school records and qualified for the state meet in two individual events and one relay.
Saint Stephen’s tradition of excellence on the tennis courts continued Tuesday, April 11, when the Falcons boys and girls captured their respective 1A-District 9 tournament titles. On Monday, SSES advanced to the finals in all 14 brackets (singles and doubles), and went on to win 13 of those matches the following day at the Saint Stephen’s tennis complex to leave no doubt. The Falcons will next host regional matches on Tuesday, April 18. The boys won their 14th district title and will be seeking their sixth regional championship. The Falcons also boast five state crowns, the most recent in 2015. The girls captured their 17th district title and have won seven regional and state championships. Their most recent state win came in 1992.
A state championship for the football Falcons provided a storybook ending to not only a record-setting campaign on the gridiron, but to the entire fall athletic season at Saint Stephen’s. It was a story of unprecedented success. Of the eight varsity teams competing in the fall, five won district titles, three were regional champions, and six qualified to compete at their respective state championships
One year earlier on the same field at The Master’s Academy, the football Falcons had been humbled in a shutout loss to Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic in their first-ever trip to the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Championship Game. The second visit appeared to be headed in the same direction until SSES scored three touchdowns in a span of 6:02 of the fourth quarter, turning a 14-point deficit into a 21-14 victory over Vero Beach Saint Edward’s School. The win earned Saint Stephen’s its first independent state football title and capped a thrilling 11-1 season.
The boys golf team completed an undefeated regular season in dominating fashion, winning by an average of nearly 22 strokes per match. They then went on to win their sixth overall district championship, third consecutive and fifth overall regional championship, and finish third at the state tournament. The Falcons also captured the Manatee County Golf Championship for the first time, with junior Ryan Kinkead taking the individual title. Junior Massimo Mbetse shot 69 to take medalist honors at the regional tournament in Fort Myers for a team that looks primed for the future. On the girls side, the Falcons won their fifth consecutive district and regional titles and finished 13th at the state tournament. Senior Vanessa Yan paced the team all season to finish her stellar career as one of the best all-time at Saint Stephen’s. She shot 72 to finish second at the regional and posted her third straight top-30 individual finish at state. The regular season included lopsided tri-match victories against Braden River and Cardinal Mooney (by 37 strokes) and Manatee and Out of Door (by 36).
The cross country teams made school history by winning district championships for the first time in both boys and girls meets. They then followed that up by finishing second (boys) and sixth (girls) at the regional run to qualify for the state championships. The Falcons eventually placed 17th (boys) and 19th (girls) in Tallahassee. Senior Andrew Csubak was a standout throughout the season and became the first Falcon to win two events in the same campaign, leading the pack across the finish line at two of the biggest meets of the year – the Venice Invitational and the District Championship.
Under first year Head Coach Jeff Logsdon, boys swimming broke four school records and qualified for the state meet in two individual events and one relay. The Falcons finished the season in 29th place at state.
Saint Stephen’s tallied three touchdowns in a span of 6:02 of the fourth quarter to turn a 14-point deficit into a 21-14 victory over Vero Beach Saint Edward’s School in the Third Annual Florida Bowl at The Master’s Academy in Oviedo on Nov. 19. With the victory, Saint Stephen’s claims the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Championship billed as the Florida Independent State Championship. Junior quarterback Fred Billy led the way for the Falcons, rushing for 206 yards on 25 carries, including 112 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He also passed for 74 yards and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. The victory put a cap on a historic season for SSES. After losing their opening game, the Falcons won 11 straight on the way to their first-ever championship.
After an extensive search that began in May, Saint Stephen’s has announced the hiring of Jeff Cole as the new head coach of its boys lacrosse program. Cole is a graduate of St. Lawrence University in New York, where he played lacrosse and football. In 2014, he was hired to lead the Manatee Lacrosse Club. Cole took over a floundering program that in his first season finished 2-13. Two years later, the team went 13-2. For his efforts, Cole was named the Florida Gulf Coast Lacrosse League Coach of the Year in 2016. Saint Stephen’s will enter just its fifth season as an FHSAA-sanctioned program in 2017. The Falcons finished 6-11 in 2016. Cole continues to play lacrosse competitively and travels throughout the year to play in tournaments throughout the state. He lives locally in Bradenton with his wife Cynthia and is a retired U.S. Secret Service Agent.
Saint Stephen’s cross country made school history on Thursday, Oct. 20, as the boys and girls teams both captured their first-ever district titles at G.T. Bray Park to qualify for regionals on Oct. 28 at Holloway Park in Lakeland. Senior Andrew Csubak (pictured) and junior Henry Howell finished first/second overall for the boys as the Falcons outdistanced 11 other schools for the championship. It was the second individual title of the season for Csubak. The boys will be looking to make their third straight state meet appearance and improve on last year’s fifth-place finish at regionals. Junior Baylee Barker was third overall to lead the Falcons on the girls’ side. Saint Stephen’s placed five girls runners among the top 13 at the meet to advance.