April 27, 2023

AHA Athletic Director, Student Competitors Earn County Honors

Six shining stars from the Academy of the Holy Angels just received top honors from Bergen County. AHA Athletic Director Patti Gorsuch earned the Dr. Rose Battaglia Award from the Bergen County Women Coaches Association in appreciation of her extraordinary contributions to the development and promotion of girls basketball in Bergen County. Five Angel athletes also earned First Team All-County honors, including Samantha Serrano (’24) of Nanuet, New York, basketball; Gina Certo (’25) of Wyckoff, winter track; Breanna Hetzer (’23) of Nutley, bowling; and Lauren Tong (’24) of Old Tappan and Sophia Lee (’25) of Allendale, fencing.


“I was totally surprised,” Gorsuch said of her honor. “This award is given once a year, and almost always to a coach. I have always been an advocate for girls and women in sports. As a three-sport athlete (volleyball, softball, and basketball) at Fordham University and then as one of the first female directors in Network Sports Television, you could say I was sort of a pioneer. My position at Holy Angels for the past 15 years has given me the opportunity to promote and work diligently for all the high school girls in Bergen County. To receive this incredible award truly is very special to me. I am retiring at the end of this school year, but I will never stop being involved in high school athletics. It’s a passion.”


Just five years after she started fencing, Sophia Lee earned the district championship, county championship, and state individual sabre championship. She has dominated in competition, losing only one bout this year, and going undefeated in the Santelli Tournament, which includes fencers from across New Jersey. Lee is a two-time Most Valuable Player at AHA, and brought home First Team All-County, First Team All-League, and First Team All-State honors.


“What I enjoy most about the sport is that it requires speed, dedication, determination, and effort, as well as physical and mental strength,” she stated. “It presents physical and psychological challenges and gives me the opportunity to be creative.”

Lauren Tong picked up her sport in the fifth grade and is now an experienced tournament competitor with a C rating. This season, she won the County Epee Championship, finished undefeated in the A slot at the district event (while her team finished first), placed 13th at the state individual tournament, and served as her team’s captain.

“I enjoy the strategic side of fencing the most,” she shared. “It is a game of trying to guess what move your opponent will take and preparing actions to counter that.”

Sam Serrano has been playing basketball for about four years. She was recognized for scoring 20 points per game this season, and a game high of 37 points. She is known for deep three-pointers and her ability to drive and break down her defender in the paint and finish at the basket. Serrano also has a knack for stealing the ball from her opponent. She has already received interest from Division 1 colleges, and has been interviewed for several publications.

“What I enjoy about my sport is competing with others and showing everyone out there who I am as a player and as a teammate,” Serrano said. “I love to be on the court and love when people talk to get in my head, but I let my talent show for itself.”

Breanna Hetzer started bowling around the age of seven, and was soon involved in a youth league and a father-daughter league.

“I enjoy bowling because of the amazing community it created for both me and my teammates,” Hetzer said. “Over the past four years, I have made so many friends from different teams, and my team became my family. The bowling alley became my second home and my university.”

This year, Hetzer had the high game of Bergen County — a 286 in the Angels’ final game against Bergen Tech. (The teams were tied going into the third game.) In the team state-semifinals, she finished third for the individual series. As an Angel, Hetzer received First-Team All-League three times, the Coach’s Award during her junior year, and Most Valuable Player during her junior and senior years. Hetzer has achieved First-Team All-County twice, and was named First-Team All-North Jersey as a senior.


Gina Certo, who is now involved in her fourth season of winter/spring track at Holy Angels, is particularly proud of her 400-record-breaking time this past winter.


“The 400 was a race that I didn’t even run at the beginning of my track career,” Certo said, adding that it soon became a big part of her daily workouts. “I also ended up running it at all meets toward the end of the season. I ran a 63-second 400 in the middle of this winter track season, and then dropped my time to a huge personal record of 56.84.”


Certo also posted a personal record in the 55-meter dash. “At the beginning of my sophomore year winter track season, I ran the dash in 7.54 seconds. I managed to drop that time all the way down to my current personal record, 7.26,” Certo noted.


“One of my most exciting achievements this winter track season was my group state champ win in the 400-meter dash. I was in the unseeded heat and projected to run well, but not finish first.”


The predications were wrong. She ran a 57.69, making her AHA’s first state champ in this event.