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Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Wenyen Gabriel '16, one of the most sought-after high school boys' basketball recruits in the Class of 2016, verbally committed to the University of Kentucky Oct. 1.

Accompanied by WMA Coach Mike Mannix, Wenyen made his announcement at ESPN in Bristol, Conn.

"It's been like a dream, and hectic," said Wenyen, a 6-foot, 10-inch, 195-pound forward. "Going into the summer, I didn't know what to expect. Having it go this way is great. I learned a lot from a whole lot of people during the recruiting process. It's done a lot for me but it's taken a lot of time, but it's obviously worth it in the end. I feel confident in my decision. At times it got overwhelming and I had to go away from my phone, but I'm happy where I'm at right now."

Wenyen, the #23rd ranked player in the senior class by ESPN, had narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Duke, Maryland, Connecticut and Providence before selecting the long-time college basketball giant and its Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach, John Calipari.

"I really likes Cal's vision for me and I like how he recruited me," Wenyen explained. "He took my recruitment into his own hands. It made me feel special how he recruited me. Also, I like how his vision . . . me going to Kentucky, I don't have to be a certain type of player someone wants me to be. I can be who I am and play how I play: play hard, block shots, defend and not get locked into a position."

"I think he made a great choice," Coach Mannix added. "With all five schools that were involved late, no matter what he decided he was going to pick a great situation. When it came down to making his choice, he wanted to go to a place where his vision and goals gelled with the head coach, and I think that's what he saw in Coach Calipari. I think in the end Wenyen went with his heart. Kentucky's a smart choice."

Wenyen said he appreciated the support and privacy the WMA administration, faculty and students gave him during the recruiting process, and he's ready to move forward and focus on the Academy's Boys' Basketball season.

"Tomorrow is a fresh start to the basketball season," said Wenyen, an honor roll student. "It's a new chapter. It's a whole new team this year. We have a lot of different players from last year. I'm ready to start a special thing this year."

Wilbraham & Monson Academy will continue one of its recent traditions when the Girls' Volleyball team competes against Ludlow High School in a Spike for the Cure event.

The sixth annual match will be held at Ludlow Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. Spike for the Cure is a national fundraiser in the fight against cancer.

"It's great we've been able to do this for six years now, even though there's a new coach at Ludlow," WMA Coach Donna Barone said. "The fact that it doesn't matter whether we're a private school or public school, it's all for the cause."

This year's proceeds will be raised in honor of a Ludlow janitor who died of multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells.

WMA and Ludlow collected approximately $10,000 in the first five years of the fundraiser.

"The team definitely has more fun with this match," Coach Barone said. "It's not about the winning. We can mix things up and everyone gets an opportunity to play. I think it's good for the fans that teenagers can do a charitable event and have fun with it, but still understand the seriousness of the mission."

Much like its first game of the season, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Field Hockey team broke a scoreless deadlock in the closing minutes to beat Hamden Hall Country Day School 1-0 Sept. 26 at the turf.

Sydney Liptak '16 scored off of a rebound with less than six minutes to play as the Titans pushed their record to 2-0-1.

"We're doing a very good job trusting our teammates," said Jenny English '17, who played all game with a high level of intensity at forward and midfield. "The team has been working hard on the field and has been giving 110%."

The Titans got 110% from four of their middle school players. Laurel Vartabedian '21, Charlotte Kindblom '21 and Charlotte Derose '21 gave WMA quality minutes, and defender Claire Thomas '20 cleared a dangerous ball away in the last minute. Goalie Megan Wells made eight saves for the team's second shutout in three games.

Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Football team made big play after big play on both sides of the ball as the Titans defeated St. Luke's School 31-22 Sept. 26 at the WMA turf.

It was the season-opener for WMA, which held the Connecticut day school scoreless in the second half.

"St. Luke's had already played a game two weeks ago and they won," WMA Coach Jeff Vartabedian said. "They had two weeks to prepare for us. They were a bowl team last year, and from what I can tell they had a lot of their top guys back. We knew we had our hands full but I thought our defensive front set a great tone in controlling the run game. That was our biggest focus for the game."

Quarterback Jack Faulstick '16 had a great game, throwing for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for another score. Steve Puzzo '16 (21 yards), Alex Claudio '17 (57) and Craig Green '16 (25) all caught touchdown passes.

There were just as many big plays on the defensive side of the ball, which ultimately determined the game. Tyler Lennon '17 intercepted a pass, and Alex and Inal Sibekov '17 forced fumbles. The Titans didn't turn the ball over.

"We were a little disappointed to go into halftime down (22-17) because we felt we should have been up before they scored with less than seven seconds to go," Coach Vartabedian said. "But the guys were confident in how we were playing, and our defense was relentless in the second half. We didn't give them any long plays, caused a fumble on the goal line, and the offense kept making explosive plays in the second half. It was never easy, never comfortable, but when we got a two-score lead we were able to burn some clock and the defense kept them at bay."

Alex and Nate Towle '18 both had seven tackles, and James Halloran '16 had six. Filip Vukelic '16 had two of the Titans' six sacks. Filip also kicked a 25-yard field goal, and made all four of his extra point attempts.

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