The year in local sports was partly Silver, Green and Gold
It’s that time again.
The 2019 sports year is coming to an end, and that means that tough job has to be undertaken to choose the top 10 local stories, purely subjective in nature.
We want the most memorable, the ones with the most impact. Heck, they all have impact, don’t they?
As we said last year, almost every time after “send” is hit, another possible addition to the list is recalled. So many stories, so little room, and a memory that always leaves something out. There were a lot of local championships on the youth and high school level, lot of achievements, lot of changes.
So here we go:
1.NASHUA SILVER KNIGHTS
Unfortunately the chief tenant of Holman Stadium didn’t get to the top of this list because of what happened on the field. The Knights lost in the playoffs after one game for the second straight year, and were basically a .500 year. But in late February, early March it all changed off the field when original owner Drew Weber took a look at the books and said he was done, immediately selling it to Worcester Bravehearts owner John Creedon, Jr.
Creedon, who has the shadow of the WooSox looming over his Worceter FCBL future, is taking it one step at a time in Nashua. He is, however, on his second general manager, but he’s the popular former player Cam Cook.
But the biggest news after the sale of the team, and a new lease with the city, was the retirment of VP of Player Personnel/field manager and local personality B.J. Neverett, who guided the team to three of its four FCBL titles. He was the longest-tenured team employee and it won’t be the same without him, but former pitching coach Kyle Jackson, another key local baseball figure, was a solid choice to replace Neverett. Here’s hoping 2020 is more about on the field than off it.
2.BISHOP GUERTIN GIRLS BASKETBALL
Brad Kreick has taken a program that was fairly successful and made it dominant, and last year the Cards went a perfect 21-0 en route to their fourth straight state title. They did lose two players to prep school last April, and saw their long winning streak come to an end with a 70-49 loss to national power Miami Country Day in a Naples, Fla.holiday tournament on Saturday, but they still are one of if not the most successful high school program in the area.
3.HOLLIS BROOKLINE WINS DIVISION II STATE FOOTBALL TITLE.
Anytime the area can celebrate a state football championship, it’s a big deal. The Cavaliers got hot in the second half of the season behind the Wimmer brothers, Quinten and Sander and put up points galore. They were able to zip by a bruising defending champion Plymouth team on a rain-soaked day fit for neither man nor beast. Say it to yourself: Hollis Brookline, Division II football champions. It’s a big deal.
4.NASHUA 14-YEAR-OLD BABE RUTH ALL STARS MAKE THE WORLD SERIES
Manager Todd Holbrook’s team was fun to watch, and they were for the most part competitive at the national level in the heat of Demopolis, Ala.after breezing through fairly non-competitive state and regional tournaments. They went 1-3, and were eliminated on the last day of pool play by West Linn, Ore. The locals just didn’t score enough runs, but boy was their run to ‘Bama a fun one.
5.NASHUA LEGION WINS STATE TITLE
Not only did manager Tim Lunn’s team win the program’s first state championship in some 20 years, they were able to do it on Holman’s hallowed ground. The Northeast Regionals was a hop, skip and a jump basically to Worcester, and Nashua should have probably beaten Lawrence in their opening game, losing a tough 1-0 game. The lopsided loss to Stamford, Conn.was a tough way to end a fabulous season.
6.NASHUA SOUTH GIRLS VOLLEYBALL GOES UNBEATEN FOR STATE TITLE
Coach Wayne Siejkowski’s team enjoyed its second straight undefeated season, but this time completed the process. The long awaited matchup with the Hollis Brookline dynasty never happened, but who cares? Siejokowski’s team won the match of the year with the rally of the year vs. nemisis Bedford in the quarterfinals, and then breezed to the title. A solid group of seniors leading the way, including arguably the state’s best player, Kara Kelliher.
7.CAMPBELL BOYS SOCCER REPEATS AS DIVISION III CHAMPION
Not only did the Cougars repeat as champion, they did so as an undefeated (20-0) title winner. Coach Bill Miller was masterful in getting a group of some upperclassmen and a ton of underclassmen to buy in to his system. And why not? The wins kept piling up and the state title game a 3-2 double overtime win over Mascenic, was a classic. But here’s the beauty of this team: A senior, Joaquin Heller, scored two goals and a freshman, Sam Gomes, got the game winner/golden goal.
8.NASHUA GIRLS BASKETBALL STARTS ANEW AT NORTH AND SOUTH
For the first time, the girls basketball programs at both Nashua North and South became open at nearly the same time and it marked the start of new eras for both with highly successful former Monadnock coach Curt Dutilley taking the North job and former South boys assistant John Bourgeois taking over the Panthers. It’s a historical mark of a sport that carries tradition in this city.
9.WILTON-LYNDEBOROUGH’S DENNY CLAIRE GOES OUT A WINNNER
This guy has met so much to the Wilton-Lyndeborough sports community for decades, but he goes out on top with a Division IV state softball championship win over Epping, capping a career that began with Warriors softball in 1988. Claire has coached hoop, too, and has made WLC athletics something special over the years. Enjoy retirement, Denny.
10.RIVIER UNVEILS NEW $4.5 MILLION ATHLETIC FACILITY
You want impact? How about a rennovated softball field, and the modernization – for lack of a better term – of Raider Field, now called Joanne Merrill Field. Stands. Press box, locker rooms, all part of Linda Robinson Pavilion. Not only will Rivier benefit from it, but so will the rest of the Nashua community, youth through high school through adults. It’s a great step, called a “game changer” by one of the school’s coaches as it looks to improve its overall compete level in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. This should help.
So there you go. We need to also mention these two for certain: the Bishop Guertin girls lacrosse title, its second straight, and then surprising coaching change at the start of the school year, and Nashua South graduating senior Nate Tejada recovering from cancer to play in the Shrine Game and wrestle for Springfield College. Also, BG boys swimming getting a second straight crown, Curtis Harris leading Nashua North football to an 8-0 regular season mark that became 9-0, but injuring his knee to end his season; Souhegan wins titles in girls cross country; Hollis Brookline’s Division II wrestling crown, and Bishop Guertin takes the girls indoor track crown. Nashua North’s Bryce Zimmerman’s golf title. Plus the return of the Nashua Hall of Fame. And that all is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s to an equally entertaining 2020.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, email@example.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.