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SJCS Athletic Hall of Fame Set to Induct Its First Full Class

The St. Joseph's Catholic School Athletic Hall of Fame will induct its first full class on Saturday, May 21.

The seven new members are former athletes Chris Carino (Class of 2004), Nicole (Coia) Carey (Class of 2005) and Alex Burnikel (Class of 2011); former girls cross country and track coach Marie Kernell; and long-time supporters Paula and Stan Bikulege and Dave Estes.

They will join Jan Carino, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 after 17 years as the school's athletic director. She remains the Knights' volleyball coach and has led the team to 10 state championships.

The 2022 induction will take place in conjunction with the annual coaches' appreciation dinner on May 21 at 6:30 PM in the school's gymnasium. Ticket information and more details will be announced in the near future.

The following are bios on the newest members of the SJCS Athletic Hall of Fame.

ALEX BURNIKEL

Alex (Class of 2011) was a four-year soccer standout for the Knights, but his influence on the program cannot be overstated. Coach Frank Kucinic gives Alex credit for both attracting players to the program and jumpstarting the team on its run of five consecutive SCHSL state championships from 2012-2016. He set a standard of excellence on and off the field and others followed his example. Alex was All-Region on the last of the Knights' SCISA state championship teams in 2007. The next year he was All-State, Team Captain and the Knights' leading scorer. As a senior, he was nominated to play in the state All-Star game. He also lettered for one year in wrestling. Alex was on the A/B Honor Roll throughout high school and was a member of the National Honor Society. He was the first SJCS student to receive an athletic scholarship to Clemson University. Upon graduation, Alex attended the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, and he currently works as an orthopedic surgery specialist for Prisma Health in Greenville.

NICOLE (COIA) CAREY

Nicole (Class of 2005) earned four Varsity letters in soccer, two in basketball and one in swimming. In soccer, she was a two-time SCISA State Player of the Year and a three-time team MVP, leading the Knights to three state finals and two state championships. In basketball, she made the SCISA Region All-Tournament Team in 2002 and was team MVP in 2003. Nicole recorded the highest GPA in her class and received a partial academic/partial athletic scholarship to attend Villanova University. She played soccer for four years at Villanova and had six goals, including four game-winners, and six assists. Nicole also was a two-time Big East Academic All-Star and was named to the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area team and to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine All-District squad in both 2006 and 2007. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Villanova and earned an International MBA degree from the USC Darla Moore School of Business. Nicole currently works for Manhattan-based S&P Global, with roles in finance, analytics and project management.

CHRIS CARINO

A decorated multi-sport athlete, Chris (Class of 2004) earned 13 Varsity letters at St. Joseph's. He was a Varsity starter for five years in soccer, four in baseball and two in basketball. In baseball, he was All-State as a senior and a two-time All-Region selection. In soccer, he was a four-time All-Region selection and a two-time Region Player of the Year. As a senior, Chris served as Student Council President, was the recipient of the Outstanding Christian Athlete Award for his class and was presented the Governor’s Citizenship Award by Governor Mark Sanford. Chris received a scholarship to play baseball at Furman University. After a year at Furman, he played two more at Division III St. Thomas (Minn.), where he started in center field, batted .333 over two seasons and was Academic All-Conference. Chris is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Tribe513 & The Onyx Group, and he was recently listed among GSA Business Report's 2021 Forty Under 40, for individuals doing "exceptional work in their professions and for their communities."

MARIE KERNELL

Over the course of her 14 seasons as the girls cross country coach at St. Joseph's (2007-2020), Marie and her teams never left a state meet without a trophy. She led the Knights to a state-runner-up finish in SCISA in her first year and then to back-to-back SCISA state championships. Then Marie led the team to a SCHSL-record nine consecutive state titles (six in Class A, then three more in AA) — completing an incredible run of 11 state championships in a row. The Knights were runners-up in each of her last two years. Marie started the track program at St. Joe’s in 2012, a program that has won three boys state championships, three girls state runner-up trophies and one boys region title. She volunteered for the S.C. Track and Cross Country Coaches Association for a number of years and was inducted into the SCTCCCA Hall of Fame in 2021. She also served as assistant coach and then head coach for the Shrine Bowl Run. Most important is the love and care Marie showed for her girls, the guidance she provided and the lasting impact she made on the school and its students over the years.

PAULA & STAN BIKULEGE

Paula and Stan Bikulege were instrumental in the development of the athletic program at St. Joseph's, especially the football program. Paula was heavily involved with a number of programs (wrestling, soccer, lacrosse) as Team Mom, setting a standard for that position, but she was responsible for everything outside of coaching with regard to the football program for the first 10 years of its existence. She was always thinking of ways to creatively obtain new equipment, gain additional donations and have fundraisers to ensure that athletes had the best experience possible. With academics her No. 1 priority, Paula organized events such as "Day in the Life of an Engineer" so that students could explore possible career paths. Stan provided the financial support necessary to get the football program started, helping to purchase shoulder pads and helmets and making sure the stadium was large enough for SCHSL requirements. He made numerous other financial donations and contributed in so many other ways, setting the tone for doing whatever was necessary for the players and coaches. If not for Paula and Stan, St. Joseph's -- and the athletic program in particular -- would not be where it is today.

DAVE ESTES

The original "Voice of the Knights," Dave stepped in to announce the Homecoming football game in 2009 and went on to serve the school in that capacity through 2016. He announced on a volunteer basis at all JV and Varsity football games, all Varsity girls and boys basketball games, all Varsity baseball games, playoff soccer games and occasionally softball games. Dave's service to the SJCS family added legitimacy to our up-and-coming football program and an athletic department that was transitioning from SCISA to the SCHSL. By announcing and playing music at games, he helped to create an exciting atmosphere for SJCS athletes, families and fans. Always active in the community, Dave served on the Greenville Tech Charter High School Board; as a lector and athletic director at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church; on the Rotary Club of Greenville; and in local leadership for the March of Dimes. He continues to serve as a basketball referee for the Greenville Church Basketball League. He is employed as a Mortgage Loan Officer for Founders Federal Credit Union in Clinton and Clemson.