Men of Essex give virtual awards to county’s best athlete scholars

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Men of Essex Inc. selected Irvington High School football phenom Mikai Gbayor as recipient of the 63rd annual Essex Award. Gbayor was a standout linebacker for Irvington High School and was named a 2020 All-American candidate by Sports Illustrated. He was named to the USA Today All–New Jersey first team. He was also a nominee for the 2020 USA Heart of a Giant Award. He will attend the University of Nebraska in the fall on a full football scholarship. 

The 63rd Essex Awards Ceremonies was saluted virtually, due to COVID-19, via a podcast by D-1Media. The program was to be held Wednesday, June 30, at 7 p.m. 

Since 1959, the Men of Essex have honored only the very best Essex County high school athletes and scholar-athletes for their achievements on the athletic field and in the classroom. It is recognized statewide as a prestige salute and annual rite of spring in Essex County Scholastic Circles. 

In addition, the newly formed Women of Essex Inc. presented the inaugural Gideon Awards to honor the outstanding achievements to students with documented learning differences. 

Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, a lifetime member of the Women of Essex, was to deliver congratulatory remarks, while legendary Olympic hurdler Edwin Moses was scheduled to deliver the keynote address. 

The Men of Essex selected the following scholar-athletes: Abigail Clothier, Montclair Kimberley Academy; Brett Janifer, Montclair High School; Richard Morris, Montclair Kimberley Academy; Nicholas Rizzi, Bloomfield High School; Lucy Rubin, Montclair High School; Sydney Topf, Montclair High School; and Stephanie Webb, Montclair High School.

For outstanding athletic achievements, the Men of Essex selected: Kiley Capstraw, basketball, West Orange High School; Zakai Zeigler, basketball, Montclair Immaculate; Kieryn Knox, bowling, West Orange High School; Maya Greenstein, fencing, Columbia High School; Victoria Kuznetsov, fencing, Millburn High School; Torata Mishima, fencing, Newark Academy; Konrad Czyzewski, fencing, Newark Academy; Alexandra Shizas, field hockey, West Essex Regional; Anthony Bilotta, football, Cedar Grove High School; Locksley Burke, football, East Orange Campus High School; Ava Lozito, golf, West Essex Regional; Garrett Kessler, golf, West Essex Regional; Claire Manning, soccer, Montclair High School; Lucas Ross, soccer, Seton Hall Prep; Travis Burnett, soccer, Glen Ridge High School; Ari Rosu, soccer, West Orange High School; Alexa Raphael, softball, Mount St. Dominic Academy; Ela Habjan, swimming, Montclair High School; Jaeden Yburan, swimming, Seton Hall Prep; Paulina Feoli, tennis, Millburn High School; Denae Hill, track, West Orange High School; Quincy Hendy, track, West Side High School; and Jack Wilt, wrestling, Seton Hall Prep. 

The Women of Essex selected the following recipients: Reginald Ziah, Gideon Award, North Star Academy College Preparatory High School; Samaya McSeed Fenderson, Striver Award, North Star Academy Preparatory High School; and Pedjina Osias, Phoenix Award, East Orange Campus High School.