Winter 2021-'22 NHS Sports Recap

Northwood Poms ace the high kicks and more at the County Division III Championships.

Senior Sean Colson leads Boys' Swim and Dive to a divsion championship and state ranking.

By Liya Tadesse and Michelle Reed Kretkowski

The spector of Covid, and it's restrictions, put a damper on most Gladiator winter sports team's seasons this year. But, most managed to find a way to rebound and shine one way or another.

Bocce (4-1)

This was one of the most prosperous Bocce seasons in recent Northwood history. Our Bocce team finished the season with a 4-1 record with a tie for first place in the division championships. "This team had a bond that was unbreakable. They always supported one another, win or lose. Each player embraced their role on the team and represented Northwood to the fullest each match," states Coach Dunn. Senior Abigail Gleason received the Gladiator Award for the season. She has been playing Bocce for four years while maintaining the title of the team's captain for the past two years. She is also the second member of her family to participate in Bocce at Northwood. Coach Dunn goes on to say, "She was the one who led us through this season and urged others to take part in doing so."

Boys Basketball (1-21)

Going defeated for 14 games, Varsity Boys Basketball faced a season that challenged their spirit. Although, their hardships didn’t stop there. Not being able to have a crowd due to the spectator restriction impacted the team. Senior Captain Alejandro Ramos Mabry says, “It definitely threw us off but we learned to keep playing.” He goes on to say, “Our season was highlighted with laughs in the locker room after games, it was so fun to bond with the underclassmen.” Even through so much struggle, their season did have its highlights. Many on the team said their first and only win, a nail-biting game versus the Poolesville Falcons, was that highlight.

Girls Basketball (8-12)

Persevering through injury, losses, and players leaving, our Lady Gladiators had a season that challenged them to be adaptive at all times. Stacking up their dubs, they’ve claimed wins against Wheaton twice, Poolesville, Einstein, Paint Branch, Watkins Mill, and Kennedy. Additionally, they got a new coach this year which was a wildcard for our Lady Gladiators. Senior Adelia Fontes says, “We had to adapt a lot this season, especially with the new coach, but it proved to be more beneficial than not.”


The squad appreciated its 2nd place win at the County Championship in November despite missing 1stplace by only one point. They collectively cherished the great strides they made building back after the year of Covid separation and reflected on what they are most eager to work on, show off, and hit next time. This may have been the oddest year ever for winter sports cheerleading because of Covid protocols prohibiting spectators at games. “Having no spectators was weird at first,” says Assistant Coach Maurico Angel, “but it allowed our squad to get comfortable in the game-day setting with the ability to analyze how ready, how loud, and how enthusiastic they were before presenting to a large crowd. We held our focus towards uplifting and energizing our fellow Gladiators on the court, knowing that no matter how big or small our stands may be, we will always have the team’s back.” The cheer team is now focused on building strength, flexibility, stamina, driven mindsets, and a cohesive team to propel them into next year’s seasons.

Indoor Track & Field

Battling through adversity, our Indoor Track & Field team gave it their all this season. The complications of Covid prevented them from having any indoor meets, leaving them only three Polar Bear meets where they had to compete outside. The change in setting proved to be a challenge as many Indoor Track athletes commented that factors like the weather, wind, and the track itself threw them off their game. Boys Captain, Senior Calib James notes, “We had a good turnout this season even with the unforeseen circumstances. With Covid and losing a coach, it was a great season pushing through all of those obstacles. It was definitely a season filled with more accomplishments than struggles.” More than a dozen from the team qualified for this year’s Regional Championships. The success of Senior Tai Hyunh, Senior Lamar Wilson, and Sophomore Alanna Hart led them on to the State Championships. Hyunh’s record-holding throw placed him fourth at states. Wilson finished second in both the 600-meter and the 800-meter events and Hart placed 8th in the 55-meter Hurdle.


Poms deserve a big cheer for their spectacular season this winter. They faced consistent challenges like wearing face masks throughout their performances. Many commented that the masks made it harder to showcase to the audience their emotions and challenged their ability to perform as it prevented them from breathing as well. Senior Captain Aliyah Avanell says, “We weren’t able to give our fans that ‘wow factor.’ However, I still feel like we persevered this winter.” They went on to place third at the Division III County Championships with their show-stopping performance.

Swim and Dive

Northwood’s Girls team finished their season with a solid, winning 3-2 record. “It was an exceptional season due to newcomers (to the team),” says Senior Girls’ Captain Alexandra LaDaca. The losses the team did have were close. A close loss to Paint Branch after winter break because of Covid was especially disappointing. “We had less than ten girls after break and we were not able to fill all the lanes,” she explained. The team bounced back in subsequent meets with strong showings in the 50-meter Freestyle, 100-meter Freestyle, and impressive, consistent performances in the challenging 500-meter Freestyle by Caya Cassaraba and Ella Leffler.

At the same time, Northwood’s boys Swim and Dive team really shined this year. Led by Senior Sean Colson, they not only took the Division IV Championship but also ended their season as the 9th best team in the state. Colson is now the reigning 50-meter Freestyle, and 100-meter Freestyle Regional Champion and placed 8th in the 50-meter Freestyle and 3rd in the 100-meter Freestyle at the State Championship.

The combined successful scores of the girls’ and boys’ teams this season mean that the Northwood swim program will move up to Division III next year, the highest division Northwood Swim and Dive has ever been in. Northwood’s Athletic Director Marco Fuggitti proudly reflects, “I can honestly say they are starting to be one of the more strong, consistent programs at Northwood. Each year they are doing exciting stuff.”


Northwood’s wrestling program completed another season with a majority of losses. The program’s main impediment is that the Gladiators have not filled all of the 12 weight classes in at least 10 years. This year, the team lost three wrestlers due to injury and Covid concerns early in the season, leaving the team with only four regular wrestlers. Senior Hose Haile points out, “Even if we won all our matches, we’d lose (the team meet) on forfeits.” The team did pull out wins over equally small teams, Parkdale and Gaithersburg. The wrestlers who remained until the season’s end were all newcomers who made big strides learning the sport by leveraging points and averting pins until the last period of a match. Moving forward, “The main way to win matches is to have people there to wrestle matches and practice with,” Haile says, “As Coach Hull would say, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’”

Gladiator determination outshines record.

Above: Senior Fatima Escobar receives a flat pass from her teammates.

By Liya Tadesse, NAA Intern

Our Varsity Field Hockey team had an intensely close season this fall. For a handful of games, they battled it out through multiple overtimes only to fall by one point in the end. Their record didn’t show it, but their games were captivating and proved that this team would fight to the bitter end.

The majority of the team was composed of underclassmen who only started in the sport this season. This was a factor in their very first battle against the Whitman Vikings that they ended up losing 12-0. They might not have started on the right foot, but they walked away from that battle with high spirits of what their season could still hold.

Their first overtime game was their first home game against the Seneca Valley Screaming Eagles. Scoring back-and-forth with the Eagles, our Gladiators marched into overtime with a score of 5-5. Senior Captain Lizzie Zoz led the victory scoring in the last 30 seconds.

Paint Branch was a nail-biting game to watch as our girls went into a triple-overtime ending with five rounds of a one-on-one shootout against the goalies of each team. The Panthers took the win by one point more, ending the game 2-1.

Facing the Wheaton Knights midseason was a contest that our girls battled ’til the very end. Each side of the field had equal possession of the ball the last quarter as the score was tied, 2-2. Falling 3-2 to the Knights who scored with a minute left on the clock, our girls’ spirits remained undefeated knowing their season wasn’t over.

Their game against the Kennedy Cavaliers was one to remember. The girls faced hardship the first three quarters; the Cavaliers took the lead with a 2-0 score. This didn’t stop our girls’ aim to push through the final quarter making a major comeback to come home victorious with a 3-2 win.

Their memorable Senior Night against the Northwest Jaguars was a hard-fought competition. Our Gladiators held their own the first three quarters with a score of 1-1 but unfortunately fell after the Jaguars scored in the final quarter.

All-in-all, our field hockey team has shown great perseverance when faced with the hardship of coming so close to a win but ultimately losing. That devotion to play their hearts out, no matter the previous losses, made it a season to be remembered.

Gladiators' 2021 Fall Sports Recap

Top left: The Varsity Cheerleading squad aces their stunt at competition. Botttom left: Girls Volleyball Captain Karina Salguero gets ready to serve. Right: Seniors Lamar Wilson and Nate Davis race at the Cross Country Regional Championships.

By Liya Tadesse and Woody Crisfield, NAA Interns

November 2021 - It was a challenging fall season for many of our varsity Gladiator teams but there were still many highlights. They included successful postseason action for Boys Soccer, Cheerleading, and Cross Country as well as an indomitable spirit cultivated by our players. Not to be overlooked was a strong academic showing by our athletes. One hundred and eight of our fall athletes received the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s (MPSSAA) Minds in Motion award for receiving a 3.25 or greater GPA while participating in athletics. Twenty-one were recognized for receiving a 4.0 GPA. Here is a closer look at what our Gladiator teams' fall season entailed…

Varsity Girls Soccer (4-6-3)

Varsity Girls Soccer got off to a fast start, winning their first four games. The team was victorious over Einstein for the first time in five years with Senior Heidi Clesner’s game-winning free-kick lifting them past the Titans 2-1 in overtime. Team Captain Amelia Eisenmann praised Clesner and her teammates, “The Einstein game was definitely our best. Our passing was on-point and our drive to win the game was exceptional.” For the rest of the season, the team valiantly battled on, keeping games close against tough opponents such as Rockville and Blake. “I’m disappointed in how our season turned out, losing close games is always tough. But overall, I’m proud to have been a captain and I’ll miss this team,” said Eisenmann. Senior Adelia Fontes adds, “The biggest highlight of the season was being able to both be with my fellow teammates and having to adapt to playing styles with them. We’re a team that simply enjoys having fun playing soccer together. I hope for the following seasons, the girls remember that.”

Varsity Boys Soccer (5-7-3)

Varsity Boys Soccer had a deep playoff run, reaching the 4A Regional Finals for the second time in three seasons. Facing a tough Sherwood team in the first round, the team fought for a 2-2 tie. Two overtimes later, junior Grant Farril scored the game-winning penalty kick and Northwood prevailed 5-4. “To react that fast from a 2-0 deficit and then follow through until the end in penalties was massive,” said Farril. The team went on to earn a decisive 2-1 victory over Einstein in the Semifinal before meeting their match in the Regional Final falling 6-2 to a formidable Blake team. When asked about the season, Farrill was satisfied,I’d say the season was definitely good, but we bit ourselves in the back against Blake causing our season to come to an end earlier then we could have dreamed.”

Field Hockey (3-10)

This fall, Field Hockey’s determination was a major factor as they kept pushing to the end through close games. A handful of games went into overtime and ended with a one-point difference. Senior Captain Lizzie Zoz states, “The biggest challenge of this season was continuing on with a losing streak.” This season has definitely been a test of spirit they’ve shown through their grit every game.

Girls Volleyball (1-14)

Girls Volleyball had a season that tested their spirits. Challenged with a losing streak, keeping their heads up wasn’t the easiest at times. Despite their record, the girls brought their all to every game. Senior Captain Ellen Isaacson says, “It doesn’t matter if we didn’t win most of the games, that doesn’t change the fact that it was a great season. We communicated really well during games and really grew together as a team. My proudest moment I would say was our game against Paint Branch. We really came together as a team and I feel like that marked a special moment of the season to us.”

Varsity Football (0-9)

It was a season of great adversity for Varsity Football, enduring a second winless season in three years. The football program didn’t have enough players to field a JV team. The Varsity team averaged 22-25 players suiting up for games when many of their opponents had at least 30-40. As a result, this season was especially exhausting and demoralizing. Each game this season was lost by an average of 45-points and their lone touchdown of the season was a kick return in their week two contest at Wheaton. Despite the disheartening record and statistics, each and every player stayed for the duration of the season, committed to their teammates and fighting until the very end. Senior Colin Parker explains, “The ‘Win The Now’ and C.L.A.M.P. mentalities (team core values of Commitment, Love, Accountability, Mindfulness, and Perfect-Effort) mean a lot to me. I also couldn’t give up on my teammates and a goal that I’ve been working on for such a long time.” Northwood’s Athletic Director Mr. Fuggitti added, “Prior to Covid we had a good core group of 45 players and I am hopeful we can recruit some students in the off-season to get back to those numbers.”

Cheerleading (County Div. II 2nd place)

Cheer held together very well as a unit this season. Because there was no JV football team, JV and varsity cheered together at varsity football games and brought what felt to be double the spirit to each game. Senior Captain Kayla Dixon says, “JV did really well even though they were freshly learning. There was really no separation, JV and varsity were one team which was really nice to have this season.” The varsity squad was most proud of achieving 2nd place at the Division II County Championships and going on to compete at the State Semifinals this season. Dixon added, “Tears were shed that afternoon, we all were just so proud that we put in our all on the mat.”


Poms had a season filled with new obstacles. Getting back into the groove of things post-Covid was a challenge within itself. Having ten squad members and two new coaches was an adjustment. “Our previous coach had built the Poms program from the bottom up, so being coached differently was a change we had to adapt to a lot. There was a lot more team bonding that definitely helped bring us together as a whole team,”

says Capitan Aliyah Dyer. Moving into the winter season, they have added six more members to their squad and are now preparing for four competitions in January/February 2022.


Led by Senior Captain Bennett Forville, Golf overcame a slow start to the season to finish 5th in their division of 11 teams, and as the top team in the Downcounty Consortium. Sophomore Luke Welsh expressed contentment with his performances: “We had a fun season. I played well as the season progressed and I’m looking forward to improving my golf game for the seasons to come.” Coach Michael Dunn commended his team for a strong finish to the season. He praised Forville, the team’s lone senior, the second female golfer in Northwood history, and the first four-year female golf captain. “I’ll miss having Bennett (Forville) on our team,” he says, “her leadership and athletic abilities are second-to-none.” His Northwood team pride is apparent when he adds, “With several up-and-coming talents on our team, I believe we’re poised to reach greater heights next season.”

Cross Country (Boys Consortia & Regional Champions)

It was another record-setting year for Varsity Boys Cross Country. The team won the MCPS Consortia Championship for the fourth consecutive year with five runners finishing in the top 15. Senior Lamar Wilson took first place in the Consortia with a time of 17:02 minutes. The girls also had a strong showing at the Consortia; Junior Maya Ducker finished third, and Senior Olivia Rosemond finished fourth. Ducker and Rosemond would follow up that performance by finishing with personal records and top 10 finishes at the County Championship in addition to Wilson who took fourth for the boys. “We improved from the beginning of the season. At the beginning, most of the runners didn't know what their goals were, what their place was, but by the end of the season we were all consistently getting faster and everyone improved overall,” said Wilson. The boys went on to win the 4A North Regional Championship for the third year in a row. Three runners finished in the top 10, headlined by Wilson whose time of 16:27 minutes was good for second place, Senior Nate Davis finished fifth, and Junior Ajibu Pascali finishing seventh. The Northwood Boys Cross Country team ended their season placing seventh overall at the State Championships.

NHS coach offers AFCA perspective on student-athletes' mental health.

Jan. 2021 - As Head Football Coach and Counselor, Northwood’s own Marcus Mayo has shared his unique training and perspective in the most recent issue of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) magazine. His article, “Win The Scoreboard Within,” shares his unique perspective on the importance of mindfulness and balance for the mental health of student athletes.

Acting Principal Dr. Jonathan Garrick says, “Even if you are not familiar with football or athletics, I believe you will find Coach Mayo’s work on mindfulness applies to all, from students to adults.”

If you’d like to read the article, it can be found on page 58 at:

The Northwood Athletics Association (NAA) is proud that Northwood’s coach and counselor delivers this kind of wisdom not only to our students and athletes, but to other coaches across the country too. We salute Coach Mayo and all the Northwood coaches for the care and support they provide in our athletes’ holistic development.

Northwood Athletics earns first in state of Maryland

December 2020 Northwood High School Athletics becomes the first school in Maryland to earn a Level 1 status in the NFHS Honor Roll by its coaches’ professional development. NFHS is the national governing body for all high school sports associations. Congratulations to our AD Mr. Fuggitti and to all of our coaches for their professionalism and commitment to Northwood. To read more, click here.

Varsity Bocce gains Northwood traction

Senior Christian Cordevez carefully makes his throw.
Senior Psalms Thomas throws as the gladator team looks on.

By Aniya Sebens, NAA Intern

March 2020

Bocce is an ancient sport. Although it is not well-known in America, it is slowly becoming part of American sports culture and has arrived as a varsity sport in Montgomery County. This year is the first year that all 25 MCPS high schools have fielded a Bocce team. Its popularity here at Northwood has risen too. More students are joining Bocce each year, and as a result, the Northwood Athletics Association (NAA) helped fund additional uniforms needed this year for the growing team.

Bocce (also known as bocci ball) is an international sport that goes from backyard fun to tournaments. Although the sport has been incredibly popular in European and Mediterranean countries for a long time, it has spread to other countries in recent decades. Bocce is a sport that can be played by people of all ages. There are many places that you can play bocce. You could find a bocce court at a local park, a senior living facility, in someone’s backyard, or even a local bar. Courts are made of different materials and typically have a wall surrounding the courts, not only to keep the balls in play, but to also bank the balls against the walls. The surfaces vary, but many courts are made of clay, dirt, grass, or even synthetic grass. MCPS holds bocce games in school gyms.

How to play bocce:

Bocce ball can be played with two, four, or eight players on each team. There is no limit to the number of players MCPS high school teams can have, but only four players can play/roll on each frame of a game. Frames begin by one team tossing the pallino, a specially marked ball, between the center and four-foot line within the playing area. Teams alternate tossing the pallino each frame, with the first frame determined by the winner of a coin toss. Each team underhand rolls the four balls per frame, but in Bocce it’s called a throw.

The team that wins the coin toss, throws the pallino then throws the first bocce ball. Next, the opposing team throws the first bocce ball. After the first two bocce balls are thrown, the team with the bocce ball furthest away from the pallino throws thee next ball. This pattern continues until all the balls are thrown, trying to throw one each as close to the pallino as possible. The team that has not yet thrown their bocce balls now throws their remaining balls, again trying to get as close to the pallino as possible. Hitting either the pallino or either team’s bocce balls is permitted. If they hit the opponent’s ball away from the pallino then it is an advantage, but they will not earn a point.

After all four bocce balls have been thrown, the team with the bocce closest to the pallino wins the frame. The score is tallied and the frame is complete. The balls closest to the pallino earn points. Those who have the most points win the match. The winning team begins the next frame. Each frame’s play begins from an alternating side of the court. The game is over when one team reaches a predetermined score (typically 12), similar to Volleyball’s scoring.

Northwood’s Bocce team

Bocce season is a short season that lasts from December to February and consists of five regular-season contests. Because it is a short season, Northwood’s bocce coach, Coach Dunn, was also able to serve as a Northwood assistant basketball coach. To juggle it he says, “I have to be very organized or else things tend to become more complicated than needed.”

Last year’s 2018-19 team had a lot of seniors and they made it to the county championship match but lost by one point. However, this past 2019-20 season has been a rebuilding one with lots of interest and new players. They ended their season with a record of 3-2 but didn’t make it far at the county championships this year.

Overall, Coach Dunn says the team is developing well. “We had six new players this year and out of those six we were able to get four freshmen. I am very proud of how things are looking for us next year. Currently we have 12 student athletes on our team and hopefully that number will continue to increase in the following years.” Senior Kelly Le sums up the experience and opportunity of the Northwood bocce team saying, “The season went well! We had some great wins, but also a few great losses. The thing about bocce is you can never be too confident because you never know how a game will go, which is what I love about it.”