Six candidates are up this year for county sports Hall of Fame

Official ballots due out on August 24

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  • The wall at the Hall

  • Shannon McEvoy in action at High Point Regional HS in 2007. She is nominated for outstanding performances in track and field and in soccer.

  • Ryan Olsen, a Vernon High swim star, who passed away in 2008

By Laurie Gordon

— The Sussex County Sports Hall of Fame honors those deserving athletes, coaches and sports benefactors each year with induction into the Hall. This year's ballots are due by August 24th, and there is a list of very deserving candidates.

This year's candidates are: Connor Fox, Kevin Pokrywa, Ryan Olsen, Joe Pilewski, Shannon McEvoy and Alexis Johnson. You must be a member of the Sussex County Sports Hall of Fame to vote.

Fox is a 1998 graduate of Pope John XXIII High School. He graduated from Rutgers University with honors in 2002. Fox is nominated for his accomplishments in high school in cross-country, basketball, and track; and at Rutgers for basketball. At Pope John, Fox was a four year varsity starter in cross country and the only runner to finish in the top ten at the Sussex County Championships four years in a row, All Area first three times, and captain twice. In basketball, he was a three-year starter, two time leading scorer, and All West Jersey first team twice, and West Jersey Player of the Year as a senior. In track, Fox was a four-year varsity athlete. He was one of the few Sussex County athletes to compete in the prestigious New Jersey Meet of Champions in two separate events, the high jump and the 400-meter, in different years. He was twice captain, twice leading scorer, and twice MVP. At time of graduation, he was number one or number three in seven different events.

His cross country and track coach Brian Corcoran, said “Connor was a tenacious team-focused athlete who loved competition and the thrill of helping his teams to victory.”

At Rutgers, Fox was a four time scholarship letter winner, the only Pope John basketball player to play in the Big East Tournament besides Troy Murphy of Sparta, and was on three Rutgers NIT teams. Fox is part of an accomplished Sussex County sports family. His brother, Jamie, and sister, Bridget, were both 1,000 point scorers at Pope John, and his sister, Erin, was the scholar-athlete at Morris County College. He currently is a resident of Rutherford, where he lives with his wife, Christina, and daughter Dylan, and works in Manhattan.

Pokrywa is a 2001 graduate of Newton High School, and a 2005 graduate from Villanova University, where he earned his bachelor’s degrees in History and Business, and attended Western Carolina University where he earned his Master’s Degree in Construction Management. He competed in football, basketball, and baseball at Newton High School, and football at Villanova. As a junior, Pokrywa led the Newton High School basketball team in scoring, averaging 15 points per game and earning second team All League and all-area selections. As a senior, Pokrywa averaged 20 points per game leading Newton to a 21-5 record, Sussex County Interscholastic League (SCIL) tournament championship, and runners up in Group II Section 1. In the state playoffs, Pokrywa averaged 24 points per game with a game high 27 points in the Group II Section 1 Finals against Linden. Pokrywa earned numerous awards during his senior year including First Team all-league, First Team all-area, First Team all-West Jersey, and Second Team all-state Group II. Pokrywa earned all-tournament team honors as a Junior and Senior at the Randolph Holiday Tournament, and at the SCIL Festival Tournament. Pokrywa was team captain and team MVP during his Junior and Senior seasons and was selected to the Morris/Sussex Senior All-Star game where he led the Sussex County team in scoring.

On the baseball field, Pokrywa played varsity for three years playing both outfield and first base. The team reached the state playoffs all three years. During his senior season, Pokrywa helped lead the Braves to the SCIL team title, sectional title, a 19-0 start where the team was ranked #1 in the State and advance to the state finals. Pokrywa earned all-league and all-area selections. Pokrywa currently resides in Carlsbad, California with his wife, Katie, and six-month-old son, Chase. He works as a Project Director for Kitchell CEM.

Pilewski is a 2002 graduate of Pope John High School and a 2006 graduate of Marist College. He is being nominated for his accomplishments in swimming in both high school and college. At Pope John, he still holds three individual team records out of the eight individual events. Those team records include the 200 individual medley (1:58.52), the 100 butterfly (:52.97) and the 100 breaststroke (1:02.62). As a senior, in 2002 at the Sussex County High School Swimming Championships, he won the 00 individual medley setting the meet record with a time of 1:58.95 and also won the 100 butterfly in 59.24. In his freshman, sophomore and junior years, he never finish lower than third at the County Meet in his six individual events taking four silvers and two bronze medals in those years. At the New Jersey High School Meet of Champions in 2002, he was third in the 100 yard butterfly. He is generally regarded as the best male swimmer in Pope John history going back to 1981.

At Marist College, Pilewski was the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) Champion in the 200 individual medley (1:52.13) and 100 breaststroke (:56.97) in 2006. That same year he was the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) Champion in the 100 breaststroke (:57.68). He is fourth on the Marist College All Time Top Times list in the 100 breaststroke (:56.97) and third on the list in the 200 individual medley (1:52.13). After College, Pilewski coached the swim team at the Randolph (West Morris) YMCA from 2006-2011. He occasionally participated in swim meets with his swimmers in open events. He is currently Director of Product Development for Nutri-Force Nutrition, and he lives in South Miami, Florida. Pilewski and his wife, Alicia, had their first child, Ivette Janet, on August 17, 2017.

McEvoy is a 2007 graduate of High Point Regional High School. She is nominated for her accomplishments as an athlete in two sports: track and soccer. She holds the record at High Point for her triple jump set in 2007 (35’7”), shares the 3 x 400 record from 2005, SCIL record in 100 HH in 2007 and Team Triple Jump and Team Long Jump record holder for High Point and the SCIL. McEvoy was an integral member of the 2004 soccer team as SCIL Champions (the first in HPRHS History). Shannon continued her athletic accomplishments at Moravian College as the 2010 Captain of the Soccer Team, playing NCAA Division III National Championship and ECAC Division III Post season. On to track; McEvoy ualified for ECAC Division III Championship meet in 2008, 2009 & 2011 both indoor and outdoor. She continues coaching, life-guarding, teaching swim, and is the adviser for a Boys Running Club all while teaching Kindergarten. McEvoy finds the time to run, hike, bike, snowboard and play soccer.

Olsen was a 2004 graduate of Vernon High School. He lived in Sussex County from 1986 until his passing in 2008. He is nominated for his accomplishments on the Vernon High School swim team from 2000-2004. He is nominated by Bob Trenz, his four-year swim coach.

Trenz said, “I have obtained permission from Dan Cleary to edit the article written by him after Ryan’s passing. I feel it best captures the essence of Ryan’s love for his sport, his teammates and his passion to compete.” The quote from Cleary reads: “The first time I interviewed Ryan Olsen was probably during the 2002-2003 swim season. I can’t remember the specific meet but if I recall correctly, it was a state tournament dual meet at Sussex Tech. The Vernon’s mighty boys swim team had just sailed past some unsuspecting lower seeded team and Ryan, then a Junior, was his usual dominant self as he won both sprint freestyles. As I approached Vernon swim coach Bob Trenz he asked me who I wanted to talk to for my article for the local paper. I said a couple of names and then Ryan’s, he just smiled and gave me a little warning but with no malice toward him. I had the chance to interview Ryan several times during his outstanding high school career and always found him to be funny and warm-hearted and completely devoid of ego. Here is a kid who could beat almost everyone he went against in the pool without batting an eye and yet he was completely unaffected about his talent and the hype that surrounded it. It was that charm that won over all of his teammates, foes and coaches. When he won the school’s first Meet of Champions crown in 2003 after he took home the gold in the 50 free, I remember Trenz telling me before they went down to South Jersey for the meet Ryan had the mindset and the talent to do it. One thing about Ryan, Trenz said, was that once he hit the water, nothing was going to stop him. For as light-hearted and goofy he may have been out of the pool, he was that intense once that gun sounded until the time he tapped the wall to record another victory. Ryan proved he was no one-race wonder the next year and not only defended his 50 free title with a sizzling 21.30, he added the 100 free to his resume with a winning time of 46.40 to achieve All-American status in each event; quite an achievement.”

Johnson is a 2001 graduate of Newton High School. She competed in both field hockey and basketball, earning numerous awards throughout her high school career. In 1998, her sophomore year, she was selected to First Team all SCIL league and Second Team all-area. She led the team in scoring and finished second in the SCIL scoring charts. In 1999, her junior year, she was selected Second Team all-state, First Team all-area, First Team North Jersey and West Jersey and First Team offense group II.

Johnson set the new single season scoring record with 64 points and was selected as Star Ledger ‘forward of the year’ and led both Morris and Sussex County in scoring with 27 goals and 10 assists. Johnson was selected Channel 8 Sports Player of the Year, and she also participated in many indoor hockey leagues and participated in the 1999 National Hockey Festival in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2000, her senior year, she was selected First Team all-state, First Team all-area, First Team North Jersey, First Team West Jersey and First Team all SCIL.. Johnson was known for scoring goals, setting the SCIL scoring record with 34 goals and 15 assists for 83 points. She was ranked Third in state for scoring during her senior year.

Johnson was also the point guard for the varsity girls’ basketball team for four years. Her junior and senior year awards included; First Team all-area, First Team all SCIL and she was a co-captain. In the fall of 2001, Johnson received a scholarship to play division one field hockey at the University at Albany. She started almost every game throughout her career and led the team in scoring. In 2003, she was selected America East Second Team all-conference. She participated in the America East conference tournament in 2004 and was a co-captain her junior and senior year. She was also nominated the University of Albany 2005 Chancellors Scholar-Athlete. Johnson currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with her husband Seamus and two sons Grady (5) and Ryland (3). She works as a deputy for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Ballots will be opened and counted on Tuesday, August 28 at 7 pm at the Newton VFW. All are welcome to attend. Ballots must be received by August 24. The Sussex County Sports Hall of Fame is a a Non-Profit Corp. 81-3267906 a Public Charity/donations/ad costs are tax deductible under section 501 (c)(3)

The annual induction banquet will be held Saturday, November 10 at the Lake Mohawk Country Club, on the Boardwalk. Hold your seat for the banquet or direct any questions to: Catherine Stone (973) 534-2114 or Maryann Roe (973) 383-4230 or contact: No seating will be available at the door. Reservations will be accepted until October 28 . The cost per person is $60.

To become a member of the Sussex County Sports Hall of Fame, contact Catherine Stone at (973) 534-2114. Annual dues are $25 and membership entitles you to nominate deserving athletes, coaches, sports benefactors, vote for your choices for annual induction, pride in the museum located in the Cochran Building and support the Scholar/Athlete program for local High School athletes. You must be 18 to join.

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