Articles by

Joe Werkmeister

Featured Story
03/08/14 3:31pm
Shelter Island senior Nathan Mundy leans in for a short jumper against Coleman Catholic Saturday. (Credit: Beverlea Walz)

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Shelter Island senior Nathan Mundy leans in for a short jumper against Coleman Catholic Saturday.


As the reality began to set in, that one of the finest seasons in Shelter Island history had reached its end, the large contingent of Islanders in the SUNY New Paltz gym rose to their feet.

As Coleman Catholic celebrated its Class D regional final win Saturday afternoon and prepared to accept its trophy, the Shelter Island crowd erupted with a “Shelter! Island!” chant, filling the small upstate gym. (more…)

Featured Story
03/07/14 4:00pm

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Matthew Dunning going for two on the break in Shelter Island’s victory Tuesday over Clark Academy in Westchester County.

Preparing for an unknown opponent is akin to putting together “a jigsaw puzzle.”

Such has been the task for the Shelter Island coaches as the boys basketball team prepares to face Coleman Catholic Saturday afternoon in the Class D regional finals with a trip the state Final Four in Glens Falls on the line. Through newspaper articles, video clips and any other information they can find, the Island coaches have been busy setting up their game plan for tomorrow’s historic game.  (more…)

08/10/12 4:01pm

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island sailor Amanda Clark, background, finished ninth overall in the Women’s 470 competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

After eight days and 11 races through the waters off the south coast of England, Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark and crew Sarah Lihan concluded their 2012 Olympic competition Friday with a last-place finish in the medal race and 9th place out of 20 boats from around the world that competed in the women’s 470 two-person dinghy class.

A two-time Olympian, Clark topped her finish from Beijing in 2008, when she was 12th.

Referring to her previous crew Sarah Chin’s decision to give up competition in early 2011, not long before Olympic qualifiers were to begin, Ms. Clark commented Friday, “What motivated me to keep going in 2011 is that I love sailing. I really enjoy being part of the Olympic experience. I am so happy to be part of this and on this side of it. It’s been a great experience and definitely glad I didn’t stop in 2011.”

New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie won the overall Olympic women’s 470 competition as well as the medal race. They had a net total of 35 points. It was the third race they had won of the 11. They were second in three races.

Great Britain won the silver medal and Netherlands won the bronze.

“Our medal race was unfortunately not as breezy as the men had,” commented Lihan. “We had a lot of pressure coming in and out. When the pressure was in, the left was the favored side of the course, and when it was out, the right was favored. We didn’t line ourselves up with those trends and our scores reflect that.”

“Today when we saw the Brits with their double flares and the Kiwis upside down, and everyone celebrating, Amanda and I were pretty down, to be honest,” said Lihan. “I looked down and saw the Olympic rings on our pinnies and thought, ‘I represented the United States of America at the Olympics.’ I’m really disappointed with how we performed. I really wish we were able to get up on that podium and watch our flag raise — but we’re here and we did it.”

In the medal race on Friday, Clark and Lihan’s last-place finish added 20 points to their score for a net total of 98. The top 10 boats competed in Friday’s medal race — the 11th race of the competition, which began Aug. 3. In a medal race, points are doubled, so a 10th-place finish meant 20 points.  The boat with the lowest point total was the winner of the overall competition.

Clark and Lihan teamed up in 2011 and quickly saw their results improve, collecting medals at world cup events. They qualified for the Olympics on the final day of the 2011 World Championships in Perth in December. In a final World Cup pre-Olympic event that was held off Weymouth in June, they won the medal race and placed second overall, moving up from sixth place, and took home silver medals — but not the Olympic kind.

Clark announced in March in an appearance at the Shelter Island School that this would be her last Olympic competition. She said she hoped to continue to work with the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in some capacity to share her knowledge and experience.

07/30/12 10:51pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shelter Island’s Mike Bradshaw bats in Game 1 against Riverhead Monday.

In unison, the fans lining the field at Shelter Island High School rose to a crescendo, clapping and cheering their Bucks as they began the bottom of the ninth inning Monday.

Trailing by three runs, their season on the line, the Bucks needed a miraculous inning to extend their inaugural season. As much as the players wanted to keep their season alive, so to did the fans who passionately supported them all summer.

As the bottom of the ninth began, the fans could sense the end was near. No one wanted to see it come.

Except for the Riverhead Tomcats.

The No. 4 seed in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball playoffs, the Tomcats knocked off the top-seeded Bucks by sweeping a doubleheader in front of a big crowd on Shelter Island. The Tomcats won the first game 8-6 and clinched the first-round playoff series with a 5-3 victory in Game 2.

After more than six hours of baseball, the Tomcats punched their ticket to the finals of the HCBL playoffs, where they’ll face either North Fork or Southampton. Southampton won Game 1, 5-4, against North Fork Monday.

“We battle,” said Riverhead coach Randy Caden. “These guys don’t give up. They battle. We don’t hit much, but we hit when we’re supposed to.”

The Tomcats, despite some sloppiness early in the first game, outplayed Shelter Island throughout both games. They picked up clutch hits, got strong pitching and withstood the loss of their starting catcher midway through the first game.

Shelter Island finished its season with a 23-19 overall record.

“It was a good run,” said Shelter Island coach Joe Burke. “We didn’t play well in the playoffs. Hopefully we have another shot at it next year and we play a little better.”

The Tomcats (23-19) jumped ahead early in both games. They scored five runs in the first two innings of Game 1 and four runs through the first three innings of Game 2.

“Once you get runs the first inning, they’re always trying to get back at you,” said Riverhead shortstop Alec Sole, who’s often greeted before his at-bats with a chant of “hip-hip! Sole!.” “It’s a lot harder for them.”

Sole had a big day at the plate in both games. In Game 2 he was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk. He hit an RBI single in the second inning that made it 3-1 Riverhead.

One of the tricky parts about playing in the league, Sole said, is adjusting to different bats. The wooden bats often break, and with the season near the end, the inventory is shrinking. He began the day using a 33-ounce bat, only to switch to a 32-ounce bat later in the day after his first bat broke. He said he’s still not sure which bat he really prefers.

“I’ve been hitting really good with the 32,” he said. “I’m trying to figure that out.”

Either way, it worked out nicely for Sole. He was 1-for-3 with two runs in the first game and he walked twice.

The Tomcats lost catcher Jordan Parris in the first game when he got hit in the throat with a ball that bounced up off the ground in front of him. Parris was taken by ambulance to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

Caden said that Parris was doing OK.

Eric Weiner, who only joined the team a few weeks ago, came in to play catcher and did a superb job behind the plate. He walked and scored a run in Game 2 and also had a single. Behind the plate, he threw out two runners attempting to steal. The Tomcats will need him going forward, because Monday was set to be Parris’ last day with the team, even before he got injured.

“He’s a good hustler,” Caden said of Weiner. “He made some great plays today.”

Jonathan Cohen started Game 2 for Riverhead and threw six innings to earn the victory. He gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out four.

Collin McEnery pitched the final three innings, giving up just one unearned run in the ninth.

“They did a phenomenal job,” Sole said. “Couldn’t have asked for more.”

Cohen got into trouble in the fifth inning with the Tomcats leading 4-2. The Bucks loaded the bases with one out. But Cohen struck out Vin Guglietti on three pitches and then got Scott Donaghue to fly out to deep center to end the inning.

Caden said Cohen was at 104 pitches after six innings when he decided to take him out.

“I’ve been going with my gut lately with pitching,” Caden said. “I’ve been lucky going with gut.”

Zack Hopf started Game 1 and threw 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (three earned). He struck out seven.

“I took out Hopf before he could win the game because he had thrown a lot the last outing,” Caden said. “He was at 98 pitches and these guys are too valuable to hurt.”

Caden called on Matt Facendo to close out the game and he pitched the final 4 2/3 to earn the win. Facendo gave up one run and struck out four.

The Bucks, meanwhile, couldn’t match Riverhead on the mound.

“We did not pitch well,” Burke said. “We gave up 14 runs in two games. We didn’t have the starting pitching and defense.”

07/27/12 7:00am

The most important thing to remember when preparing for a fantasy Olympics draft is never to let patriotism get in the way.

OK, let’s back up a second. I know what you’re thinking. A fantasy what? Olympics?

With as much time as men (and women) spend in fantasy football, baseball, basketball and hockey leagues, is it really necessary to make up a fantasy Olympics league?

The answer is yes. It is.

Allow me to explain.

I got the idea before the 2010 Vancouver Games. I’m sure I wasn’t the first person ever to organize fantasy Olympics, but it’s not like you can just log on to and join a league. This required grunt work. Old school style. The league needed to be built by hand, from the bottom.

First task was to figure out what the rosters would look like. The good thing about the Winter Games is there are far fewer sports and events than in the Summer Games. So it was easy to craft a roster that in some way encompassed each sport. The scoring system was simple: five points for a gold, three for a silver, one for a bronze. In team sports, points were doubled, the logic there being that individuals can medal in multiple events, whereas a team like hockey can only potentially grab one medal.

So I got together with seven friends in February 2010 and we sat around drafting athletes like the Linger Brothers (luge), Kim Yu-Na (figure skating) and Petter Northug (cross-country skier). We had no idea who 99 percent of the athletes were we drafted. But it didn’t matter.

We never laughed more or had more fun doing a fantasy draft. And the Olympics were never more intriguing. We found ourselves glued to our TVs and computer screens following all the action. The England men’s curling team gave me more agita than the Mets have in years. I hung on to every move in Yu-Na’s gold-medal figure-skating routine like an anxious, proud parent.

I ended up winning the league when the Canadian men’s hockey team won the gold medal to cap off the games. Our league nearly came down to the gold medal hockey game determining our champion. But I had just enough points so that a silver medal for Canada would still clinch the victory, so I was able to allow myself to root for the U.S.

As the Winter Olympics ended, the countdown toward the Summer Games began.

Monday night, armed with Sports Illustrateds, newspapers and iPads, we gathered for our first-ever fantasy Summer Olympics draft.

We picked 12-person rosters consisting of two swimmers, two track athletes, two gymnasts, a canoer/kayaker, a beach volleyball team, a water polo team, a basketball team and a flex, which could be someone in any other sport.

The draft order was determined by picking names out of a hat. In many ways, this was the most crucial part of the draft. The top two picks were slam-dunks: swimming sensations Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, both of whom are practically guaranteed a bevy of medals.

Unfortunately for me, I got stuck with the fourth pick. So I grabbed U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber, a favorite to win gold in the all-around as well as a team gold. It was a risky pick for the first round. I could have gone with a sure bet like the U.S. men’s or women’s basketball team. But I liked the idea of an individual first.

For the second round I stuck with the Americans and drafted Rebecca Soni, a swimmer who’s favored in both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke. A three-time Olympic medalist, Soni is poised for a breakout Olympics.

And now back to my original point. Don’t let patriotism cloud your vision. If you want to draft all Americans, feel free. But don’t expect to emerge victorious.

As the draft evolved, I ended up taking only two more Americans: gymnast Gabby Douglas and track star Sanya Richards-Ross (who’s married to former New York Giant Aaron Ross).

I eventually made a move toward the Down Under, picking up both the Australian women’s water polo and basketball teams (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write). Both could end up facing the U.S. for gold. For my tennis player I went with the hometown hero, Andy Murray.

My fourth overall pick went to the Brazilian beach volleyball team of Larissa Franca and Juliana Silva. And if you wanted to leave this column now to Google image search their names, I wouldn’t blame you.

The tricky part of these drafts is pronouncing many of the names.

“We’ll take Liu Xiang,” my friend Pat hesitantly said at one point, unsure if anyone had already taken the 110-meter hurdler.

“No, I took Sun Yang,” Sean quickly replied.

Later in the draft Pat and his brother Ken selected Chinese gymnast Yang Wei.

“He’s 5-foot-3, 120 pounds and pure heart,” Pat told us.

All true. The only problem they later realized, Wei retired in 2009. Whoops.

Late in the final rounds, Ken tried picking a gymnast who had already been taken in the first round.

“Is this guy available — Ley-Bron James?” Grant said, mocking them.

That’s like trying to select Drew Brees at the end of a football draft, Grant added.

My final pick was for my flex position — meaning I could take just about anyone.

I settled on Im Dong-hyun, South Korean archer extraordinaire. With a name like that, how can you go wrong?