Where Are They Now: Labor Day Edition

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Lauren Berman battles for possession in a game last year against Duke. (Maryland Athletics photo)

Lauren Berman battles for possession in a game last year against Duke. (Maryland Athletics photo)

Tomorrow marks the start of Labor Day weekend and with it comes the unofficial end of summer. But it’s also a time of new beginnings — especially in the world of sports — and a perfect time to check in on some of Canton’s many rising stars within the collegiate ranks.

Looking back on the recent spring season, perhaps the biggest feel-good story from a local perspective was that of Canton native and former Thayer Academy standout Kyle McKenzie, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 20th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft after a dominant senior season as a reliever for the Tulane University Green Wave.

A former Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, McKenzie was originally drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees but opted to attend college rather than immediately turning pro. He went on to appear in 55 games for Tulane as both a starter and a reliever, ending his career in the top 25 in school history in games finished, opponent batting average, and strikeouts per nine innings.

Kyle McKenzie

Kyle McKenzie

Today, McKenzie, 23, is chasing his dream as a member of the Rays organization, having split time this summer between the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League and the Hudson Valley Renegades of the Class A New York-Penn League. He is off to a strong professional start, compiling an ERA of 1.52 with 26 strikeouts and just seven walks in 23.2 innings of work.

Meanwhile, as McKenzie was wrapping up his collegiate career in the Big Easy this past spring, another Canton native, Olivia Kenyon, was busy rewriting the record books in Brookline as a member of the Newbury College softball team.

A former three-sport star athlete at Canton High School, Kenyon won a school-record 14 games for the Nighthawks in 2014, punctuated by a 5-2, comeback victory over Elms College in the opening round of the New England Collegiate Conference championship. She finished the season with a career-best 3.56 ERA and was named to the All-NECC second team as a pitcher. At the plate, she was arguably even more dominant, batting a team-best .427 with eight extra-base hits and 27 RBIs.

Besides the dominance of McKenzie and Kenyon on the baseball and softball diamonds, the recent spring season also saw the emergence of several CHS track alumni, led by Class of 2011 standouts Radiya Buchanan (St. John’s) and Matthew Sidney (Villanova).

Buchanan, a two-time Big East All-Academic Team selection, was one of the Red Storm’s top jumpers in 2014, claiming first place in the high jump at the annual SJU Monday Meet and placing in the top ten in three different events at the Big East Outdoor Championships.

Sidney, a former MIAA state high jump champion, also had a strong season for the Wildcats as he followed up a fifth-place finish at the Big East Indoor Championships with a third-place showing at the Philadelphia College Classic with a jump of 1.95 meters.

Radiya Buchanan

Radiya Buchanan

Also competing at the highest levels of collegiate track and field this past season were CHS graduates Victoria Tondre (University of New Hampshire) and Obi Nwankwo (Boston College). Tondre, a former state long jump champion, placed sixth in the triple jump at the UNH Wildcat Invitational, while Nwankwo wrapped up a strong debut season with a personal-best time in the 200 meters at the ACC Championships.

Looking ahead to the fall season, there are plenty of local stars to be excited about, headlined by Xaverian alumnus Maurice Hurst Jr. (University of Michigan) and Canton High’s own Lauren Berman (University of Maryland).

Hurst, a 6’2”, 282-pound defensive tackle who was recruited by several top football programs, has been turning heads in training camp and is expected to be a key contributor for the Wolverines this season after redshirting last year.

As for Berman, expectations remain sky high after she played in 20 games last season as a freshman and tallied 11 points (3 goals, 5 assists). A former soccer All-American and a three-time Hockomock League MVP, Berman will compete for a starting midfield spot as the Terrapins make their move from the ACC to the Big Ten.

Over on the West Coast, another highly touted Canton soccer star, Alex Ainscough, will make his collegiate debut for Stanford this season after honing his skills with the FC Greater Boston Bolts of the U.S. Development Academy League. Ainscough, a 2014 Canton High graduate, is the son of longtime Northeastern University men’s soccer coach Brian Ainscough — a former college soccer star in his own right whose coaching resume includes successful stops at Providence College and Bowdoin College.

In addition to the aforementioned top recruits, a few Canton athletes have been named captains of their respective teams for the upcoming season, including Scott Levy, a junior forward for the Bentley College men’s soccer team, and Michelle McNeil, a junior midfielder for the Holy Cross field hockey team.

Levy was the Falcons’ leading scorer last season and was named to the All-Northeast 10 Conference first team, while McNeil started all 17 games and finished second on the Crusaders in goals scored.

Alex Ainscough commits to Stanford (Stanford Athletics photo)

Alex Ainscough commits to Stanford (Stanford Athletics photo)

This season, McNeil will be joined by another Bulldog alum, 2014 graduate Casey Considine, who joins the team as a defender after a stellar four years at CHS.

Just a few hours away in Durham, New Hampshire, the University of New Hampshire’s field hockey team also boasts a pair of CHS alums: starting forward Emma Compagna, who begins her third season with the Wildcats, and assistant coach Claire Grogan, who played for the team from 2009 to 2012.

For fans of volleyball, there are at least two former Canton High stars to keep an eye on this fall — Julia Murphy (CHS ’13) and Avery Devoe (CHS ’14), winners of the last two Hockomock MVP awards. Murphy became an instant star last year at UMass Boston, earning numerous awards and accolades — including Little East Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year — while Devoe will look to make a similarly strong impact in her first season at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

In other fall sports news:

* Senior linebacker Chris Tamasi returns for a fourth season on the Amherst College football team after leading the Lord Jeffs in tackles in 2013. The Xaverian Brothers graduate was an All-NESCAC first team selection last season and was recently named a finalist for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

* Chris Murray, a junior midfielder on the WPI men’s soccer team, returns for a third season after starting all 17 games and finishing third in total points in 2013.

* Rory Donovan, a Cardinal Spellman alum and a former Catholic Central League MVP, will suit up as a wide receiver for the UNH football team.

* Kellie Stigas, a 2014 CHS graduate and a former Hockomock League MVP, will play forward/midfield for the Northeastern University field hockey team this season.

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avatar Posted by on Aug 28 2014. Filed under Beyond CHS, Featured Content, Sports. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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