Rockets Review: MIAA Seeding and Gatorade's Player of the Year

A look back at Needham High School sports in the last week.


The Rockets made a few waves in the sports world last week, as one player picked up an award and a team has been seeded in an upcoming tournament.

Gatorade and USA Today's High School Sports section teamed up to award their Player of the Year award to a Needham Rocket last week.

For the 2012-13 season, Needham High senior forward Mac Steeves has been named Player of the Year by the paper and sports drink maker. He lead the team to a 21-1-3 record this year.

See more on Mac Steeves on the Patch piece from last week.

 The Mass. Interscholastic Athletics Association recently released its 2013 seed rankings, and Needham Girls Basketball is #13 for the upcoming tourhament. The first game is Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Needham High School Athletics sent the following announcement: 

Needham Girls Basketball is the #13 seed in the DI South Section for the upcoming MIAA State Tournament.

The Rockets will travel to play at 4th seeded Franklin on Wednesday night, February 27th at 7:00pm.

Please check http://miaa.ezstream.net/ for complete brackets and tournament schedules.


See the full Rockets Review (below) for more stories related to the Rockets Track, Swimming and Diving and Wrestling.

What follows was sent by Needham High Athletics:



After finishing the season with 6 wins in the their final 8 games, the NHS Girls Basketball Team has earned the #13 seed in the DI South Section and will play at #4 Franklin HS on Wednesday night (2/27) at 7:00pm.


 NHS put six wrestlers in the finals of the DII Metro Sectional and placed two others, as the Rockets finished third in the 12 team competition.  Leading the way for Needham was Senior Captain Mikhail Khibkin (138) who downed his finals opponent, 16-6, and was voted the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.  Also winning for Needham were Senior Captain Islam Baiev (152) and John Cronin (195).  Both came back late to put their opponents on their backs for the win; Cronin, down 6-3 to a returning State Champ, pinned.  The other finalists, Sophomore Dan Goldstein, Senior Tak Hirayama and Senior Captain Mark Carroll had impressive semi-final wins, though each fell to highly ranked opponents in the finals.  Carroll, who was in the sectional finals for the third time in his career, lost 5-4 to a top-ranked wrestler in New England. Having beaten his Reading rival in the past, it sets up interesting rematches for the ensuing weeks of the season.  

The other medalists, Freshman Lucas Goldman and Junior Zach Goldman, battled through tough brackets to take sixth and will join the team as alternates at the States.  Also giving the Rockets valuable team points were Sophomore Travis Szetela and Senior Chris Ptak who went 1-2, and Senior Andrew Kingston who went 2-2. Junior Ben Glickman, just returning from an injury, went 0-2 in two hard-fought losses.


The six finalists were the most of any team at the tournament and their efforts earned them a trip to the Division 2 State Tournament which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Marshfield.  Khibkin, Cronin and Carroll once again moved through the early rounds and advanced to day two of the event. At 138, Khibkin was the only Rocket to advance into the finals where he lost to the #1 ranked wrestler in the weight class from Dracut.  Cronin lost his semi-final at 195 in OT, while Carroll also dropped his 126 semi-final match as well.  Both managed to wrestle back through the consolation brackets to take 3rd place finishes.  As the top 6 in each weight class move on to All-States, all three will compete for titles on Friday and Saturday at Salem HS.  After winning the Sectional Title at 152, Islam Baiev lost in the quarter-finals at States, and although was able to move through wrestlebacks, dropped a hard-fought 6-5 battle to the South Sectional Champion from Duxbury.


Needham Wrestling sent three wrestlers to All-States hoping for medals and a spot at the New England Tournament...each left Salem High School as All-State Placers. Seniors Mikhail Khibkin, Mark Carroll and John Cronin move on the New Englands this Friday and Saturday in Providence, RI.  With three wrestlers moving on, Needham will have the most representatives out of any Bay State Conference school.

Khibkin led the way with a second place finish. Along the way, pinning a Division 1 placer from Springfield Central and a Division 3 champ in the quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal with Division 1 Champ Paolo Tavares from New Bedford.  Tavares, a returning two-time New England Placer, entered the bout with Khibkin sporting a 45-0 record this season. Khibkin handed Tavares his first lost of the year, 10-8.  In the finals, it was a rematch from the DII State Finals against the top-ranked wrestler in New England, Mike Stewart of Dracut.  Down 4-3 in the last seconds, Khibkin conceded a takedown for a 6-3 final score.
Carroll and Cronin both battled through thick brackets to take sixth place finishes.  Carroll (earning his second All-State medal and the fifth medal of his career) beat a Division 3 State finalist from Swampscott, 7-2 in the round to place. Earlier in the tournament, he pinned a top Division 3 finisher from Mt. Greylock and decisioned a sectional champ from Keefe Tech.  Cronin won a 4-3 decision over a sectional champion from Franklin to place.  Earlier in the tournament, he pinned a Top Division 3 finisher from Norton and earned a 9-1 major decision over a strong Milford competitor. 


NHS Gymnastics won the BSC Carey Division with a final 8-1 league record.  At the BSC meet the team placed 3rd behind Wellesley and Newton North with a team record score of 134.6. The team showed their strength with Yana Zubarev, Hannah Rudolph and Caitlin Tormey earning personal best scores on various events.  Most impressive were: Maggie Nieto's 1st place on beam and 2nd place on floor; Maria Smirnov placing 3rd on beam; Alex Goldfarb 4th on floor and MaryKate Hegarty earning 5th on bars and 2nd on vault.  The scores throughout the different leagues have been very high this year and even with the highest team average score of 133.85 for Needham, the girls just missed the cut for Sectionals, which came in at an amazing 135.25.

At the State Individual Meet, which sees the top 12 individuals average score qualifiers compete, Needham had three contenders: Maria Smirnov on Bars and Beam; Maggie Nieto on Floor, Beam and Bars; and MaryKate Hegarty on Vault.  Competing against over 100 competitors, Needham's athletes came away with 3 medals.  MaryKate Hegarty displayed her power and form on the Vault, earning a 9.375 and 1st place overall.  Maggie Nieto's elegance on Floor earned her a 9.1 and a tie for 6th place, while her solid 8.85 on Beam was good for a tie for 8th place.   With these outstanding results, MaryKate and Maggie both qualified to compete in the New England Interscholastic Championship Meet to be held March 9th at Algonquin High School!

At the end of the State Meet, it was also announced that Senior Maria Smirnov has been invited to compete with the Senior National Team in Florida in May!


Girls Track (information submitted by NHS Senior Noah Mertz)
The Needham High School Girls Track Team had an incredible season, finishing with a 4-2 BSC record. They participated in the Mass. Division 2 Invitational on Saturday, February 17. With challenging qualifying standards, it was only the best of the Division II runners from around the state. In the 55 meters, sophomore Samantha Forman ran 7.78 seconds in the preliminary round, placing 15th.

In the 300 meters, senior captain Robin Kelly took second in the division with a time of 42.26 seconds. She also qualified for the All-State meet, taking place this Saturday, Feb. 23. To qualify, one needs to place first, second, or third in the race at the divisional meet, and the next 22 fastest runners in the state in that race qualify as well.

In the 600 meters, senior captain Hallie Armstrong placed seventh with a 1:39.87, also making it to All-States. Also in the 600 were junior Kira Oberle (19th, 1:43.89) and sophomore Olivia Corkery (20th, 1:44.11). In the 1000 meters, sophomore Kaleigh Hughes took eighth with a time of 3:07.53. In the one mile race, freshman Sarah Armstrong placed fifth with a time of 5:19.49, qualifying for the All-State meet, and junior Sammy Lerner placed 13th with a time of 5:31.7. In the two mile race, freshman Margie Cullen placed fourth in the division with a time of 11:35.65, qualifying for the All-State meet.

Also in this race were freshman Julianna Donovan (8th, 11:51.73) and senior captain Caroline Turner (13th, 12:11.42). In the 55 meter hurdles, senior captain Christina Smith placed 17th with a time of 9.44 seconds. Junior Tasha Desir took 20th in the shot put with a throw of 29’1.5”. The four by 400 meter relay team of Kira Oberle, Olivia Corkery, Hallie Armstrong, and Robin Kelly ran a time of 4:12.85, and will also be moving on to the All-State meet.

This past Saturday, February 23, six girls ran at the Massachusetts All-State Meet. In the 300 meters, senior captain Robin Kelly placed 22nd in the state with a time of 43.12 seconds. In the 600 meters, senior captain Hallie Armstrong placed 18th in the state with a time of 1:41.06. Freshman Sarah Armstrong, Hallie’s younger sister, placed 19th in the mile with a time of 5:20.88. In the 2 miles, freshman Margie Cullen placed 13th in the state with a time of 11:32.58.

The four by 400 meter relay team of Kira Oberle, Hallie Armstrong, Olivia Corkery, and Robin Kelly placed 13th with a time of 4:10.98.

Boys Track (information submitted by NHS Senior Caroline Turner)
The Needham High School Boys’ Indoor Track Team finished up their season this past weekend at the MIAA Auerbach All State Meet. Junior Daniel Alpert competed in the 1000, and ran 2:37.07 for 16th place. Senior captain Tyler Hagen ran the mile in 4:30.83 for 11th place. And junior Adrian Amaya ran the 2 mile race in 9:38.46 for 8th place.


The Boys Swimming & Diving Team ended the regular season 6-3-1 and 3rd at the BSC Meet.  After Sectionals at MIT were cancelled due to weather, qualifying athletes took part in the State Championships at Harvard University on Sunday, February 17th.

At the State Championship. Needham placed 14th of 54 schools.  Highlights included Senior Ilie Tomac lowering his school record in the 100 Breaststroke to 1:01.17 with a 6th place finish and the 200 Freestyle Relay of Thomas Lively, James Yi, Nathan Lai, and Brendan Timmerman finishing 6th while breaking the old school record in a time of 1:31.21. The 200 Medley Relay team of James Austin, Ilie Tomac, James Yi, and Nathan Lai and 400 Free Relay of Thomas Lively, Nathan Lai, Ilie Tomac and Brendan Timmerman both finished in 12th place in season best times.  Other point scorers for the Rockets were Matt Suarez (14th Diving), Ilie Tomac (15th 200 IM), and Thomas Lively (13th 50 Free).  Richard Avrutsky lowered his time in the 100 Breaststroke by over 2 seconds to finish 18th.  Brendan Timmerman dropped a second in the 100 Freestyle and 1.5 seconds in the 200 Freestyle to finish 17th and 25th respectively.  James Austin had best times in the 200 Free and 100 Fly, finishing 29th and 28th in each.  James Yi was 26th in the 50 Free and 33rd in the 100 Free and Nathan Lai was 34th in the 100 Free. Full results can be found here:  http://miaa.ezstream.com/index.cfm?ChnID=314&SubID=-1&chncd=314,-1&itemid=7105&parid=-1&Org=MIAA&CFID=2412860&CFTOKEN=89410604


On Tuesday at the Berkshire East Ski Area, several Needham athletes will participate in the MIAA Alpine Ski State Championships.  Competing in the Boys Race will be Captains Emerson Boyd, Matt Chmielewski and Eric Silverman, while Jamie Milstein will travel as an alternate for the Girls Race.

Tuesday, 2/26

  • State Boys & Girls Ski Championships            Berkshire East Ski Area
  • MSTCA Boys Indoor Pentathlon                    Reggie Lewis Center

Wednesday, 2/27

  • MSTCA Girls Indoor Pentathlon                   Reggie Lewis Center
  • #13 NHS Girls Basketball @ #4 Franklin HS       Franklin HS 7:00pm

Friday, 3/1

  • New England Wrestling Championships             Providence Career & Tech. Center

Saturday, 3/2

  • Ski East Boys & Girls Awards Day Races          Waterville Valley
  • Dance State Championships                               Braintree HS (Time: TBA)
  • New England Wrestling Championships             Providence Career & Tech Center

Sunday, 3/3     

  • Cheerleading Regionals                                  Whitman-Hanson RHS (Time: TBA)



Needham High Athletics also sent the following statement : 

Announced over the break, NHS Senior Mac Steeves has been named the Massachusetts Boys Soccer Gatorade Player-of-the-Year as well as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) MA Player-of-the-Year!  He becomes the first Needham HS male athlete to win the prestigious Gatorade Player-of-the-Year Award (Needham's Emily Jenson won the award in 1998 for Girls Soccer).

In the fall, Mac broke the NHS Boys Soccer career scoring record, which had stood for 32 years, and helped the Rockets bring home the MIAA Division I State Championship.  He was named the Boston Globe DI Player-of-the-Year, and for his efforts in the postseason, both goals in the State Semi-Final win over Somerville and the lone goal in the 1-0 State Title win over Amherst RHS, Mac was also named the Tournament MVP!

Mac has signed his letter of intent to play NCAA DI soccer at Providence College in the fall.

Congratulations to Mac and to all of the Needham HS Boys Soccer Players and Coaches!


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