The Branford dance squad competed against 85 teams from across the country at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 4 and 5. The Hornets competed in the Small Varsity Division for jazz and hip-hop at the meet. Coach Jacqui Montano’s team posted a 12th-place finish in the hip-hop competition and finished 15th for jazz. This marks the first time that Hornets made the finals for jazz in the Small Varsity Division and it’s the second straight year they’ve reached the finals for hip-hop. Overall, it was Branford’s most successful all-around showing at the national meet to date.
For jazz, Branford danced to Drops of Jupiter by Train in an emotional routine that engaged the audience and showcased the team’s technical skills, according to Coach Montano. For hip-hop, Montano said the Hornets danced to a “sassy and fun” mix of several popular songs in a fast-paced, action-packed performance that featured athletic tricks.
Branford’s senior captains are Lauren Driscoll and Sophie Smith, Hailey LaBonte is also a senior on the team. The Hornets’ other athletes are Casey Allen, Hannah Antonino, Melissa Brennan, Samantha Esposito, Jenna Juliano, Rachel LaBonte, Chloe Lourenco-Lang, Lily Milici, and Johnna Palmese, Bella Petrosino, Juliana Robinson, and Olivia Vitale.
Branford will next compete in the State Championship on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Shelton High School, where the Hornets will be looking to claim both the hip-hop and jazz titles for the third consecutive season.
The Branford wrestling team scored 49 points to finish in seventh place at the SCC Championship at Wilbur Cross High School on Feb. 11. Zach Cash finished second in the 152-pound weight class, Kyle Zalewski placed third in the 220 class, and HyunJin Lim finished fourth at 195 for the Hornets.
Cash, a junior, reached the title bout by winning a 6-0 decision versus Xavier’s Sousa Dylan in the semifinals. In the final, Cash lost a 15-0 technical fall against Mike Ross from Foran.
In the 220 ranks, fellow junior Zalewski was edged 5-4 by Xavier’s Collin Malloy and thus went to the consolation round. Zalewski pinned Fairfield Prep’s Campbell Halloran in 2:35, won by injury default versus Justin Fonacier from East Haven, and then won an 8-4 decision against Christian Westphal from Hand to take third place.
In the 195 division, Lim lost a 9-6 contest versus Xavier’s Christian Fragoso to go the consolation bracket. Once there, the senior pinned Antrim Lottick of Amity at 1:55 and then won a 13-7 decision over Hand’s Van Docker to advance to the final. Lim faced Fragoso for a rematch and took a 7-6 loss to finish in fourth.
Additionally for Branford, senior Noah Pantani won a match via pin in the 120-pound weight class, junior Jaden Wittingham won one match by pin and another by decision at 145, Camden Mascaro won a match by pin in the 160 division, and fellow sophomore Brandon Perez recorded a win by pin at 182. Freshmen Ayman Nasry (132-pound weight class), Cody McHenry (138), and Minsok Lee (170) also competed at SCCs for the Hornets.
Branford played one game last week and dropped a 53-40 decision at Hammonasset Division opponent Amity on Feb. 7.
Adrienne DiGioia scored 18 points to lead the Hornets in the loss. Emma Pierson added 13 points for Head Coach Justin Henry’s club.
Boys’ Ice Hockey
The Hornets were on the ice for one game last week when they faced off against New Fairfield-Immaculate at Danbury Ice Arena on Feb. 8. Branford was edged 1-0 in overtime by its SCC/SWC Division II foe to drop to 6-7 on the season.
Girls’ Ice Hockey
Branford-East Haven-North Branford skated to a 3-0 win over Stamford-Westhill Staples in a non-conference game at Terry Conners Ice Rink in Stamford last week. With the victory, the Wings improved their record to 7-10-1 for the year.