High School Sports: Gerstell 'thrilled' to be joining IAAM

Carroll County Times

Entering her second year as the athletic director at Gerstell Academy, Christine Hryzak has access to a new window of opportunity.

Starting in the fall, Gerstell will officially join the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, the premier private-school girls conference in the state.

The Falcons joined the IAAM as a provisional member in 2017 and while they did not feature in any of the specific A, B, or C conferences, their teams scheduled as many future conference opponents as possible while coaches and athletic staff participated in all preseason and postseason meetings.

Four sports — soccer, basketball, lacrosse and cross country — will accompany a crowded field with some of the state’s biggest and most accomplished teams, a challenge for the Falcons, who have about 60 girls at the upper-grade level.

But that hasn’t halted any excitement for a program that’s itching to compete for championships, a rarity for the Falcons because they were playing mostly an independent schedule.

“The girls and coaches are thrilled,” Hryzak said. “To be a part of that group as a new fully instilled member is a great opportunity and they’re even more excited to get the 2018-2019 school year started so they can be in the A, B and C conferences.”

The 31 schools in the IAAM are separated into the A, B and C conferences, which vary in skill level from the top down. Basketball’s C conference is divided into X and Y divisions, while the lacrosse conference is broken into Gold and Red.

Gerstell’s junior varsity and varsity girls soccer and lacrosse teams will compete in the A conference, while girls basketball JV and varsity will be in the B conference and cross country in the C conference.

The Falcons recently completed a successful sports year for both girls and boys.

Girls soccer went 15-5 last fall and had a pair of Times second-team all-county picks in Maddie Bauhof and Jillian Wilson, while boys soccer qualified for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference playoffs. Nate Dresin earned first-team all-county honors.

In the winter, the Falcons’ girls basketball team won 12 games — Wilson was an all-county second-teamer — and the boys made a run to capture the MIAA B championship. Colin Rimel joined the Times all-county first team.

This past spring, the girls lacrosse team finished 8-5 while the boys won their first MIAA B title. Wilson earned first-team all-county honors; Seth Higgins and Michael Ippolito landed on the all-county first team.

Gerstell’s girls are preparing to face IAAM competition from programs such as McDonogh, whose lacrosse team’s 198-game win streak ended this spring. Notre Dame Prep won the A Conference title in girls lacrosse.

McDonogh took the girls soccer A Conference crown last fall, and St. Frances won the girls hoops A Conference crown.

While Gerstell’s schedules have been ever-changing over the years, Hryzak said one thing that has stayed consistent for the school’s girls sports is the talent level, and they fiercely rival their male counterparts.

“We have a lot of fantastic athletes, especially on the girls side that are competitive in a variety of sports and multi-sport athletes,” said Hryzak. “Giving them the chance to showcase their skill set and compete against girls of varying skill levels gives them the same exposure that the boys have and that sense of pride not only in their school community but in general competition.”

Gerstell puts an emphasis on providing academics first for all of its students, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, with the three pillars of their motto, “Leadership, Honor and Courage” stamped across the front page of the school’s website.

But Hryzak said she understands the boost that joining the IAAM provides athletically.

Not only does it give the academy a chance for both boys and girls sports to now compete at a championship level, she said, it grants positive exposure to a student body of 415 tucked away in Finksburg.

“Having that feather in our cap will attract other students who are either local or interested in competing at a high level and allow top student-athletes to consider Gerstell,” Hryzak said.

jschiller@baltsun.com

410-857-7896

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