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SOUTHERN TIER SPORTS REPORT: LAWSON HEADLINES ALL-STSR COACH OF THE YEAR LIST (2022-06-22)

By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
It was a big-time year for area sports teams with STAC, IAC sectional and state titles being one by teams throughout the three sports seasons.

Behind all those great teams were some amazing coaches and it led to a great group of Elite Eight Coaches of the year.

The overall coach of the year this year -- Corning's Ray Lawson -- was also named the state coach of the year in one of his sports.

For the elite eight we’ll list five coaches in no particular order and then a second runner-up, a runner-up and the coach of the year.

JOE PICCO, ND, GIRLS’ SOCCER
Picco guided the Crusaders to an IAC Large School title, a Section IV title, and into the state semifinals. Notre Dame was unbeaten until the state semi-final game. Since taking over the program before last season, Picco has guided the team to the IAC finals last year (the game wasn’t played due to Covid) and then this year took them to the state final four.

Picco was the all-STSR girls’ soccer coach of the year.

TIM CROUT, HORSEHEADS, VOLLEYBALL; ELMIRA BOWLING
Crout directed the Blue Raiders to STAC and Section IV titles, while also reaching the regional final. The team played their best in the biggest moments, winning multiple five-set matches during the season.

Also coached the Elmira boys and girls bowling teams. The Elmira boys handed Corning its first loss of the year during the regular season this year and the girls were third in Class A sectionals.

JAMIE NICHOLS, CORNING, GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
Guided the Hawks through a season for the ages.

Corning made their first ever trip to the sectional final, and won their first ever sectional championship as a merged program.

The Hawks then won their first ever regional championship as a merged program and reached the state final four.

Corning, who didn’t have a player over 5-foot, 8-inches tall, or a scorer who put up more than 15 a game this year, played the epitome of team basketball all season long.

Nichols was the girls’ basketball all-STSR coach of the year as well as the overall winter sports coach of the season.

BRETT OWEN, HORSEHEADS, WRESTLING
Guided the Blue Raiders to STAC, Section 4 and Section 4 Duals titles.

Horseheads won the titles at the STAC meet and at the Section 4 Championships, and they won the Section 4 Duals title to earn a trip to the state duals.

Horseheads qualified four athletes for states on the season.

Owen was the all-STSR wrestling coach of the year.

CHRIS CLARK, CORNING BOYS AND GIRLS GOLF
The Corning Hawks won their first STAC title this season and coach Chris Clark was this year’s boys’ All-STSR coach of the year. Clark also coached the girls team to a runner-up finish at sectionals, and also qualified two girls for states, including a top 20 finisher at states.

SECOND RUNNER-UP:
JEFF LIMONCELLLI, HORSEHEADS’ BOYS’ BASKETBALL AND BASEBALL

Limoncelli led the Blue Raiders to a remarkable season. They went to Myrtle Beach, faced some of the best teams in the state and returned and never lost another game until regionals. After losing the second game of the season to Corning the Blue Raiders never lost another game in Section 4 all year, and they won the STAC West Division title, the STAC Championship and the Section 4 Championship. He was the All-STSR baseball coach of the year.

Led the Horseheads boys’ basketball team into the sectional semifinals this season.

Limoncelli was the overall spring sports coach of the year.

RUNNER-UP:
MIKE JOHNSTON JR., CORNING BOYS’ BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL & SOFTBALL

In football Johnston led the Hawks to a Section 4, Class AA championship, and played in the Regional finals. The Hawks had one of the best defenses in the Section, allowing just 11.1 points a game. Offensively the team scored 37.7 points a game, second most in Section 4, and ran for 3,695 yards. Over the past three seasons. the Hawks are 22-4.

In basketball helped guide the Hawks to the Section 4 title and a spot in the regional final.

Corning lost just one game in the regular season, and reached the STAC final, before beating Elmira in the sectional final.

Guided the Corning softball team to their first STAC title after claiming a division title. The Hawks made it to the sectional final.

Johnston was the All-STSR boys’ basketball and football coaches of the year.

COACH OF THE YEAR:
RAY LAWSON, CORNING XC AND INDOOR T&F

Lawson was named the state cross country coach of the year after an amazing fall season for the Hawks cross country team.

Lawson led the Corning boys to the state championship, the third state title for the boys in his coaching career. He had individual boys go first and fourth at the state meet. The Corning boys also swept the top five spots at both the STAC Championships and Section 4 Championships. He also guided the Corning girls to a fifth-place finish at States.

Corning had the second best team score in state history at cross country states.

Also led the Hawks in indoor track and field. The Hawks dominated their way to the team title at sectionals, and they had a dominant year sending 39 athletes to the indoor track and field state championships.

Corning wound up with two state champions — Ellie DeRosa and Jack Gregorski — and a state runner-up — Ashton Bange — this year.

Lawson was the all-STSR cross country and indoor track and field coach of the year. He was the overall Fall coach of the year.
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IN TOP PHOTO: Corning coach Ray Lawson. . . PHOTO BY BRIAN FEES.

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