This week in local sports (11/24/21)

(L-R) Matt Murtagh (St. Thomas Acquinas), Ethan Conrad (Marist College), Marciano Neglia (Dominican College). (Kristine Conte/Ulster BOCES)

Three Saugerties student-athletes sign letters of intent

This week, three Saugerties High School seniors who’ve been a crucial piece of the varsity baseball team’s success, signed letters of intent to continue playing at the collegiate level. Matt Murtagh, Marciano Neglia and Ethan Conrad will be staying relatively close to home, choosing St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican and Marist respectively. 

The trio all signed their letters of intent during a ceremony held in the Senior High library on Monday, November 22. They’ll get one last season of Sawyer baseball together before they go their separate ways in college. 

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Sawyer varsity baseball coach Michael Pugliese said Murtagh, Neglia and Conrad are fulfilling the program’s goal by playing in college. 

“The first goal that we have in the program is to make sure that these kids are prepared to play in college and be leaders on college baseball teams,” said Pugliese. “For all three of them, I feel like they’ve hit that goal. All three of them really love baseball and all three of them are really good people. They’re good students, they come from good families.”

Pugliese said the current crop of Sawyer seniors have gone through a lot together.  

“(Assistant) Coach (Jeff) Riozzi and I feel very close to this senior group,” Pugliese said. “Two summers ago coming out of COVID we were able to have a really good summer program with this senior group. With all three of the kids, and the other seniors, we have years and years that are going to culminate with this season.”

Murtagh is a shortstop and pitcher ranked by Perfect Game among the top 50 players in New York, top ten among shortstops and top 300 across the nation. In addition to playing for Saugerties High, Murtagh also excels with the Northeast Pride, the top-ranked travel baseball team in Pennsylvania. Murtagh said he was first contacted by St. Thomas Aquinas after an event with Northeast Pride. 

“I’ve always heard of the college and they’ve always struck an interest in me,” Murtagh said. “From what I understand, their baseball program is amazing. They make multiple tournament appearances, and that’s just something I’ve always wanted to be a part of ever since I went to that first baseball event.”

Murtagh said he was impressed with the school during two campus visits, including time spent with his future Spartans teammates. St. Thomas Aquinas competes in the East Coast Conference of the NCAA’s Division II. 

“My coaches brought me around,” Murtagh said. “I’ve been to inter-squads and it was really nice to meet some of the players.”

Murtagh plans to study criminal justice with an eye on a law enforcement career as a state trooper or investigator. St, Thomas Aquinas is located in Sparkill, a town in Rockland County, and Murtagh said he was pleased he’d be able to stay close to home. 

“My family is my number-one support,” he said. “I definitely wouldn’t be where I am with my achievements today if it wasn’t for my family.”

Murtagh said he has high hopes for his final season with the Sawyers. 

“Ultimately I want to win,” he said. “I want to do something the school has never done before, and I want to do it with my teammates that I have now.”

Neglia has played third base, second base, shortstop and pitcher, both with the Sawyers and the Kingston-Saugerties American Legion baseball team. To be able to continue playing baseball in college, and possibly beyond, means a lot. 

“Growing up, playing baseball all my life, it’s always been a goal to take it as far as I can go,” Neglia said. “The first step was to play in college, and I completed that goal. Now I’m just going to work hard and hopefully get to the next level after college.”

Like Murtagh, Neglia was convinced he’d made the right collegiate choice after meeting with coaches and players at Dominican, where he’s play NCAA Division II ball in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. 

“When I went there for a practice, they made me feel like I’ve been a part of the team for a long time,” said Neglia. “They were very welcoming. (Head coach Rick Gianetti’s) coaching style is very old-school and I like that.”

Neglia just completed his senior season playing quarterback for the Sawyers’ varsity football team, and he’s about to begin his final run as a varsity basketball player. In college he’ll focus on baseball and earning a physical therapy degree. But before then he’ll have one last season of Sawyer baseball. 

“I’m glad we have this last year together to make a run,” Neglia said. “I believe that we have a team that can go pretty far. I’ve been playing with them my whole life, so being able to accomplish this with them is great.”

Ethan Conrad is primarily a first baseman, but he’s also pitched and played the outfield during his time with the Sawyers, as well as with his summer travel team, the Greene County Outlaws. Last summer he switched to the Northeast Pride, where he played alongside Murtagh. 

Like his teammates, Conrad is glad he was able to stay close to home at Marist, where he’ll play in the NCAA’s Division I in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. 

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“That was one of the big things was to stay local and kind of represent where I’m from,” Conrad said. “It means a lot to be able to do that for me family and all my coaches that got me there and helped out along the way. It’s just great that I can stay where all my supporters can go out and see me play.”

Conrad was convinced to sign with Marist following a recruiting visit to the Poughkeepsie campus. 

“Honestly, the thing I liked the most was the two coaches how they brought me in and made me feel like I was important and not just another number,” he said. “And all the players too were really welcoming. It felt like home. It already felt like I fit in really well.”

Of his final run with the Saywers in the spring of 2022, Conrad said it’ll mean a lot because of who he’ll be playing with. 

“I’m just looking forward to getting that last year in with all the kids I grew up with,” Conrad said. “All the kids on the team are my friends since I was 5, 6 years old playing tee-ball. It’s just going to be great to get that last year together and try and win a sectional championship.”

Kingston High School swimming and diving

Kingston High School senior Emily McCord wrapped he final season as a member of the swimming and diving team over the weekend competing in the consolation round of the New York State tournament at Ithaca College. 

McCord placed 28th in the 200-yard freestyle on Saturday, November 20, finishing in 1:59.23. Her finish was exactly the same seed as the previous day during preliminary heats, though she finished in 1:59.14 on Friday. 

McCord earned her spot in the state tournament during the Section IX meet earlier this month when she finished in 1:57.21, breaking a 16-year old school record set by Kayla Tegeler.

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