Winter Sports Recap

As the winter months come to an end in Buffalo so does the winter sports season at SEM. For the past four months SEM has been competing with four sports: basketball, bowling, squash, and fencing. Here’s a look back on all of the accomplishments each team has had.


SEM’s varsity bowling is on the smaller side figuring that the size of each school roster is capped at 10 people and the number of girls allowed to bowl for each game is 4 players. The varsity bowling team was made up of students from almost every grade level. Seniors Jenna Al-naji (captain), Maddy Leary, Lucy Marie Gaulin. Juniors Grace Heidinger and Sary Lyu. Finally the lone freshman Alex Galbraith was called up to bowl with the varsity team on occasion.

Michele Goldfarb
Varsity Bowling Team Picture
Maddy Leary ’17 in the zone.

Bowling started the season off a little slowly, pushing themselves through their competitions with one thing in mind:  All-Catholics on February 14.

Maddy Leary ’17 said the biggest challenge the team faced was not being able to practice at the same bowling alley we had matches at. Most of the time the team had practice at Tonawanda Lanes. This was difficult because the lanes were very different from where they compete at Classic Lanes.

In the beginning weeks of the season SEM’s varsity bowling team was ranked 7th in the Monsignor Martin League. This ranking was not good enough for the team and they kept winning match after match to bring themselves to 5th place with just weeks left remaining in the season. It wasn’t until their match against Mount Mercy Academy on January 19, when the season turned around. Mount Mercy was ranked 2d  in in the league and was expecting to get an easy win against the Red-Tailed Hawks. It was then when Mount Mercy realized SEM was not to be looked down upon as they tied the match and moved to 4th place.

SEM moving up in the rankings was not the only win they took the night they played Mount Mercy. Grace Heidinger ’18 also bowled her highest score of the season, 191. This score boosted the team’s confidence for all the remaining matches of the season and also for All-Catholics on . The results of the match did not meet all of the bowler’s expectations but they had a blast finishing the season strong in 4th place. This is the closest finish they have had to first place since they won the All-Catholics in 2015. SEM’s win to loss ratio was 40 to  44.


SEM’s squash team had another fantastic season. They finished in the Buffalo Squash Rackets Association with a record of 6 wins to 6 losses. The season ended at US Squash High School Nationals on February 12 when the team was named Division V Champions for the third year in a row. Members of the team are girls from all grade levels, which helped the girls challenge each other in practice. The team consisted of 3 seniors: Lara Sherris, Clare von Simson and Isabelle Schlehr (captain). There were 3 juniors: Cara DeRose, Rose McDonnell and Brooke Pohlman and 3 sophomores: Mary Curtin, Maia Dreishspoon and Erin Griffis and finally: freshmen Julia Beck, Petra DeRose and Jenna Pantano,

Michele Goldfarb
Squash huddle during Nichols match up.

The season was fun filled as the girls were able to make their way in the past rival Nardin Academy. Of the three times the teams were put up against each other it was twice the Red Tailed Hawks that came out as winners. Lara said “It was the best feeling. We haven’t been able to win against them in a long time. We win did it brought our team together as we celebrated the accomplishment.”

Squash team accepts their trophy for the third year in a row.





During the course of the season SEM traveled to play in the Mercersberg Tournament. There is when the team had a little scare. While playing in a match Brooke Pohlman ’18 was returning a serve and ran into the wall casing her goggles to cut her face. She was rushed to the hospital with head coach Phil Barth. This left the team without a coach for the remainder of the day. But this was not problem for the girls as captain Isabelle said, “The team rose to the occasion and cheered each other on and ended up winning the Consolation finals 5-4 against Mercersburg Academy.”

Now that the team is a three time national champion, Isabelle has advice as she passes the torch on to the next captain (who is yet to be announced. “Listen and practice. The most important thing in learning a sport is to listen and do. Make the most of the time you have practicing. Also if you want to improve take private lessons, semi-private lessons or do clinics.


Fencing blasted their way through competitions only having two tournaments their entire season. The first tournament the team headed to Syracuse where they faced individuals from all ages. Since fencing is a more individualized sport each girl competes for themselves. Seniors Dabin Han (captain), Olivia Miller, Miao Yu, Amber Ye. Juniors Yasmeen Collins, Melanie Tunkey, Zoe Liu, Christina Cai, Rebecca Li and Elf Dong. Sophomores Maddie love and Veronica Zhang. Rae Lewitsky completes the team being the only freshman.

Grace Gallagher
Melanie Tunkey ’18 facing team Veronica Zhang ’19 at the SEM tournament.
Michele Goldfarb
Large fencing team photo.

This year the fencing team was big which meant there was a lot of new girls who were starting off without a fencing background. The biggest challenge that the team faced was the teaching the new girls the correct techniques for fencing. Captain Dabin Han ’17 said that the girls were quick learners who listened to not only the coaches instructions but also their more experienced teammates. Dabin was also happy to report that there was no serious injuries to the team this year. Dabin said “The girls were proud to show off their bumps and bruises it showed all of the heart and effort that we put into each practice.”

The Red Tailed Hawks last tournament of the season was held here at SEM on February 25. The girls were put to the test each girl competing against people in all age groups and all around the Western New York area. The whole team can agree that this tournament was the best everyone has fenced the entire year. The final results of the tournament in the Foil category: Miao Yu ’17 3d, Veronica Zhang ’19 2d, and Dabin Han ’17 was 1st. 

“Don’t give up! Whether you’re not that good at it or you’ve hit a plateau, keep going. If you love the sport and you’re having fun, keep trying. I’ve hit plateaus before and I haven’t always been good. If you keep trying for just a bit longer, I promise you that you will find yourself out of it. “”

— Dabin Han'17



All smiles after the big win against Mount Mercy!

SEM’s varsity basketball team finished the regular season on a high note with a win at the senior game. Everyone on the team was exhilarated that they were able to win over Niagara Catholic, a rival to the team for the past three years. The four freshmen: Katie Gareis, Lilly Johnsen, Emma Donovan and Aleigh Coletto; sophomores Jenna Smolarek, Bridget Conboy and Kailyn Lane; lone junior Jiani Lu were beyond excited that they were able to help the seniors win their special game. The seniors are Sam Burlow, Alison Gareis, Grace Gallagher (all serving as co-captains) Hannah Garis, Fatima Siddiqui, Anastacia Earle and Justine Rodriguez.

This win was able to pump up the team for playoffs where they faced the same team as the senior game, Niagara Catholic. This game was a play in game that would help the team go further into the playoffs. Just as the senior game the team was ready for this match and won the game 28 to 15. Sam and this reporter each had 7 points. Alison scored 6 points and both Jenna and Bridget had 6 points. This win put the team in the semifinals, where they would face Mount Mercy Academy.

Michele Goldfarb
Defense was a key factor in the win against Niagara Catholic.

Sunday, Feburary 26 was the day that would determine the who would play in the championship Monsignor Martin league game. Going into the game everyone was ready but a little nervous since the first time that met their match SEM had lost by 16 points. This game was fast paced – the girls were running up down the court. “That was the most tired I have been all season was during the first half of the game.” said Bridget.

The score was neck and neck in the first half of the game. Mercy would get a basket and SEM would return the basket just as fast. With 1:20 seconds left Sam tied the game at 31. She was fouled at 36 seconds. Bridget stole the ball and made both free throws with 17 seconds left, putting the Hawks at 34- 31. a final foul occurred that put Sam on the line and she was able to lock-in the win. This is the first in 35 years the varsity basketball team has made it to the championship game. They were set to meet Nardin Academy on Saturday, March 4 at Villa Maria College. “We want the whole school to support the team this Saturday. So please bring you brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles bring your pets for all I care the more people the better!” said captain Alison Gareis ’17.