Hightstown High School will welcome its newest class of Hall of Fame inductees on Oct. 19 during a luncheon at the Holiday Inn on Route 33 in East Windsor.
Inductees include the 1986 Group IV state finalist Boys Soccer team, softball player Donna Lacy DiBongrazio, girls soccer star Emeri Yarnoff, multi-sport star Gerald Gunnell, field hocky standout Justine Postorino, and multi-sport star Matt Schilling.
The induction ceremony will begin at noon on Oct. 19, with a special ceremony also to be held at the HHS boys football game later that evening.
1986 GROUP IV STATE FINALIST BOYS’ SOCCER TEAM
With twenty-four wins, (still the Mercer County and Hightstown High School records for wins in a season), only two losses, a CVC championship, the Mercer County Tournament title, the NJSIAA Central Jersey championship, and a state semi-final victory, the 1986 Hightstown High School boys’ soccer team is duly rewarded with induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame. Despite a loss to Westfield in the Group IV state final, in the rain at the College of New Jersey, the Rams, led by The Times of Trenton and The Trentonian’s Coach of the Year John Wagner, were ranked as the number one team in the area. They were also ranked the number four team in the state by the Newark Star Ledger and the number five team by the NJ Soccer Coaches Association.
Led by New Jersey Player of the Year and First Team All-American Jim Barlow, as well as Hall of Famers Jim Roberti, Rick and Jim Contiliano, leading scorer John Klena, and goalkeeper Al Meyers, the Rams finished the regular season with a record of 20-1. The only loss came to eventual Group III Central Jersey champion Nottingham by a score of 2-1. Klena scored 27 goals, followed closely by Barlow with 22 and Dave Taub with 18, while Meyers recorded 15 shutouts in goal. They defeated Cedar Ridge (5-1), Neptune (1-0) and Hunterdon Central (2-0) to win the Central Jersey Group IV title and Jackson (1-0) in the state semi-final. Barlow, Roberti, Klena, Meyers and Rick Contiliano were First Team All-County while Taub, Jim Contiliano and Mike DiChiara were Second Team and Darren Hazzon was Third Team. All of the above were named to various All-State teams.
Team members include: Rob Aldrin, Jim Barlow, Chris Brzezinski, Al Catalano, Jim Contiliano, Rick Contiliano, Mike DiChiara, Chris Dunham, Jason Geddis, Darren Hazzon, Steve Kaufman, John Klena, the late Dirk Kurten, Rob Langweil, Al Meyers, Gary Munch, Rob Murray, Jim Roberti, Kevin Stroff, Andrew Szymanski, Dave Taub and Brian White. Coaches: John Wagner, the late Joel Bean and the late Al Punk.
DONNA LACY DIBONGRAZIO ’75
Donna Lacy DiBongrazio joins an elite list of Hightstown High School softball players to be inducted in to the Hightstown High Athletic Hall of Fame. As a four year member of Coach Gwen Atwell’s teams, including the Mercer County Championship teams of 1974 and 1975, Donna won 22 games in her pitching career. This included two no-hitters in her senior year when she was the team Most Valuable Player and First Team All-County.
After finishing her freshman season with a perfect 5-0 pitching record, Donna was promoted to the varsity and finished that season with a record of 2-1. Following an injury shortened sophomore season with a record of 3-2, she managed a 7-2 record as a junior that included a Mercer County Championship. She also managed a .500 batting average during that season. It was in her senior year that she was most impressive, with a 10-1 record, a second Mercer County Championship, a team MVP award, and one of the most remarkable achievements in school history. During a ten day period, Donna pitched two no-hitters, a one-hitter, a three-hitter and a five-hitter that included 12 strikeouts in one game and eight consecutive strikeouts in another.
Following her graduation from Hightstown High School, Donna attended Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education as well as certification in Earth Science and Early Childhood Education. She then began a twenty-nine year career as an elementary teacher in Hamilton Township, NJ. She has been married to her husband, Bill, for thirty-three years and they are the parents of three daughters, all of whom were graduated from HHS.
Donna retired to Melbourne, FL in 2008 where she currently volunteers as the assistant to the director of Nana’s House, which provides a safe haven for abused, needy and abandoned children.
EMERI AUDRA YARNOFF ’96
Emeri Yarnoff becomes just the third girls’ soccer player to enter the Hightstown High School Athletic Hall of Fame following Jodi Miller in 1999 and Dianne Quattrone in 2000 and she does so by virtue of leading the Rams to their first Colonial Valley Conference championship in 1995 with a record of 15-3-1. Her twenty-one goals that year were not only a new school record at the time but also made her the leading scorer in the Colonial Valley Conference.
As a four year member of the Rams varsity team, Emeri was the top point scorer in both her junior and senior seasons with fifteen goals and eight assists as a junior and twenty-one goals and twelve assists as a senior. A broken ankle in her sophomore year forced her to miss half the season but she still managed to score three goals and assist on five others that year. For her efforts, she was named to the Second Team All-CVC as a junior and First Team as well as Player of the Year as a senior. She was also named to the Mercer County Elite 33 as well as the New Jersey Soccer Coaches Association All-State Team for both seasons and, finally, was named to the CVC All-Decade Team for the 1990’s.
Emeri attended Towson State University following her graduation from Hightstown High School. She played two years of varsity soccer, setting records for goals in a season and most consecutive games with a goal and being named America East Conference Rookie of the Year in 1996 in leading the Tigers to the conference championship. She then transferred to East Carolina University for her final two years where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Broadcasting. In 2008, she was accepted into New York University’s elite Interactive Telecommunications Program and received her Master’s Degree.
Currently a resident of Hoboken, NJ, Emeri is a User Interface Designer for various Internet, Phone Application and Social Web companies and builds and designs web sites and web applications. She still finds time to play soccer in a men’s league and on coed teams and volunteers as a youth soccer coach in Hoboken.
GERALD C. GUNNELL ‘63
Gerald Gunnell joins his brother Larry and his niece Linda as a member of the Hightstown High School Athletic Hall of Fame and he does so in much the same way as his Hall of Fame relatives, by excelling in a multitude of sports over a four year span. Gerald played four years of varsity baseball, three years of varsity basketball, two years of varsity soccer and a year of varsity track.
Under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coaches Russ Beaulieu in soccer, Cliff Brautigan in basketball and Ken Eiker in baseball, Gerald was named to several All-Delaware Valley, All-Area and All-State teams. He played on the 1961 and 1962 State Champion soccer teams and was the second leading scorer for both years. Gerald was named Second Team All-County as a junior and First Team All-Area and Honorable Mention All-State as a senior. In basketball, he was the leading scorer in his junior year, averaging 16 points per game and his 352 points broke the old scoring record set by Hall of Famer Joe Diefenbach. He was named to the Second Team All-Delaware Valley and was poised for an outstanding senior year, but a broken leg suffered at the end of the soccer season forced him to miss all but the final three games of his senior year. It was in his junior year that he lettered in soccer, basketball, baseball and track.
Gerald attended Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina where he showed his athletic versatility by playing three years of varsity football, two of them as the starting defensive end, and two years of varsity basketball. It was there that he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
Currently retired from IBM and Duke University, Gerald and his wife Brenda have lived for the past twenty-one years in Cary, NC. They have two daughters, Winter and Nina, and a grandson Sevec.
JUSTINE POSTORINO ’03
Justine Postorino enters the Hightstown High School Athletic Hall of Fame as the only field hockey player in school history to lead the team in scoring for all four years as well as the current record holder in career goals with forty three. She also joins her sister, Leah, in the Hall of Fame. Leah was inducted in 2008 and it was her career scoring record of forty-one that Justine surpassed in her senior year.
As a four year starter, Justine made her mark immediately by leading the team in scoring as a freshman and then went on to be named First Team All-CVC in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was named to the Second Team All Central Jersey Field Hockey Association (CJFHA) as a sophomore but was a First Team selection for the next two years. She was also Mercer County Player of the Year and team MVP as a junior as well as Mercer County Co-Player of the year and team Co-MVP as a senior. As a senior, in leading the team to the sectional finals with a 16-4-1 record, Justine was named Second Team All-Area, Second Team All-South Jersey and Second Team Group III All-State and in 2010 was named Second Team All-Decade.
Following her outstanding career at Hightstown High School, Justine accepted a Division I scholarship to attend Missouri State University in Springfield, MO where she played on the front line for the Bears for four years and, in 2006, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Administration.
Justine remained in Springfield following her graduation and is currently employed as the Director of Accounting at the University Plaza Hotel.
MATT SCHILLING ’90
During a high school career in which he earned nine varsity letters, three each in soccer, ice hockey and baseball, Matt Schilling secured his place in the Hightstown High School Athletic Hall of Fame by being named All-Conference in all three sports, team captain for all three sports, Most Valuable Player in soccer and baseball, All-State in soccer, and HHS Male Athlete of the Year. He was also a recipient of the HHS “3+3” award which goes to a three sport athlete with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Matt was the starting goalkeeper in soccer for three years, earning First Team All-CVC as well as Group IV All-State in both his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he was named to the All-State Third Team which placed him in the top fifty-four players in the state. He was also selected for the Hibernian All Senior Soccer Eleven. As a member of the 1989 Mercer County Tournament Champion ice hockey team, Matt scored the winning goal in the championship game and was also named to the All-CVC Team. He was also named to the All-CVC Team in baseball as a second baseman while serving as team captain in both his junior and senior years and participating in the Garden State Games.
Following a summer in which he led the Mercer County American Legion in hitting and was a gold glove winner, Matt enrolled in Mercer County Community College. There he played soccer and baseball for two years and was named All-Region XIX in soccer as a freshman and in baseball as a sophomore. He was also team captain of Mercer’s 1991 national championship soccer team and Mercer’s male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1992. After earning his Associate degree in Arts and Humanities, Matt transferred to Coastal Carolina University where he was a member of the soccer team that advanced to the final eight in the NCAA Division I tournament. He also played two years of baseball where he led the team in hitting both years, and, as a senior, was named team captain and First Team All-Big South Conference. He was also named the fourth best second baseman in the country by the Smith Award for National Player of the Year.
Matt currently resides in Myrtle Beach, SC with his wife Colleen and sons, Brayden (4), TJ (12) and daughter, Camden (6). He is the assistant baseball coach at Coastal Carolina University as well as the director of the school’s summer baseball camps.