Remembering the past year

On Tuesday — when the last of our holiday visitors left, the obsolete work calendars found the recycling bin, and I remembered to start writing 2011 — the fact that it really is a new year hit home.
By the immutable law of journalism, that means it’s time for one last look at 2010.
First, these were the local champions (and a few other noteworthy performers):
•  Otter Valley Union High School junior George Mitchell and Middlebury Union junior Bryan Ashley-Selleck won state wrestling titles. OV took third behind perennial champ Mount Anthony and runner-up Spaulding to once again become the unofficial Division II champion.
•  Vergennes senior Connor Merrill scored his 1,000th point on the basketball court.
•  The Middlebury College men’s hockey team won the NESCAC playoff title and reached the NCAA D-III final four.
•  The Panther men’s basketball team hosted an NCAA regional for a second straight year and won its first-ever March Madness game. 
•  The Panther men’s tennis team won the NCAA D-III title.
•  The Panther men’s lacrosse team fell in the NESCAC playoff final, but reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
•  The MUHS girls’ lacrosse team earned a berth in the D-I final.
•  The Mount Abraham baseball team won the D-II baseball crown.
•  Mount Abe junior Cassie Marion won the girls’ triple jump at the D-II championship track meet, while Orwell resident Chelsea Montello won the girls’ 100- and 200-meter races and the long jump to help her Fair Haven team win the overall championship.
•  The Vergennes Champs’ 8-and-under boys’ swim relay team of Robbie Bicknell, Jeffrey Stearns, Max Konczal and Aiden Gardner won two relay titles at both the league and state championship meets.
•  For the Middlebury Panthers swim team, Max Moulton won one league title and two state titles, sister Kess Moulton won one league title, and Grace Pyne won one state title.
•  The MUHS football team compiled an undefeated regular season and reached the D-II final.
•  The Otter Valley field hockey team earned a berth in the D-II final.
•  The MUHS boys’ cross-country team raced to the D-II title, the school’s first in the sport, and junior Stuart Guertin submitted his best performance of the season at the state meet to win the individual D-II race.
•  The Panther men’s soccer team won the NESCAC playoff title and reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
•  Panther senior quarterback Donald McKillop broke every school passing record in the book.
•  The Panther women’s cross-country team won the NESCAC and NCAA D-III titles. The Panther men won the NESCAC crown and qualified for the NCAA race for the first time.
Hey, not a bad year.
Of course, the titles don’t tell the story of the kids who were hurt and sadly had to sit, or the bus rides in January to Brattleboro or Newport, or a sudden burst of laughter at a Saturday morning practice.
For me, I’ll never forget the stunned looks of disbelief on the faces of the VUHS baseball team after their playoff loss. The umpires called one potential VUHS winning run out at the plate — he might have been safe — and then made two proper rulings (something no one was sure of at the time, but they were right) that called back two later runs that had already crossed the plate, all on three consecutive plays. The Commodores later lost in extra innings. Talk about heartbreak.
Less than two weeks later the Mount Abe baseball team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the D-II final when senior Sam Lieberman made a couple costly seventh-inning errors. A 4-1 lead quickly turned into a 5-4 deficit.
But the Eagles rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the frame, and two innings later Lieberman led off with an infield single and eventually scored the winning run on Ethan Heffernan’s two-strike squeeze bunt.
Sam also wore a stunned look of disbelief after that game, but it didn’t look anything like the Commodores’ expressions.
Those are the things reporters remember.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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