2002: The Sports Year in Review

Sports / Jan. 2, 2003 12:00am EST

2002: The Sports Year in Review

The year that just drew to a close had many, many sports highlights. The Patriots won the Super Bowl with kicker Adam Vinatieri authoring a series of clutch field goal kicking performances for the ages. The Boston Celtics made a resurgence, although they fell a bit short. The Salt Lake Winter Olympics were a great success, and the Sarah Hughes story was positively Cinderella-esque. Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong won the grueling Tour de France —again—and finally was recognized as male Athlete of the Year. Barry Bonds followed up his unforgettable 2001 home run year with an even better, more well-rounded season in which he won the batting title and set all kinds of records for walks and on base percentage, but he and his Giants were dumped in a great, seven game World Series by a low-budget, over-achieving California Angels club.

Ted Williams, Jack Buck, Daryl Kile and Ned Martin were among those sports figures who passed away leaving behind them memories irreplaceable for millions of us. Emmitt Smith set rushing records, Jerry Rice kept adding to his receiving records, and Bret Favre kept on winning. And so it went. So many inspirational moments. So many milestones. So many memories.

For many of our local athletes, 2002 was certainly a year to remember. Two fledgling programs won state championships in their first year of varsity status. Chelsea girls took the Division Two lacrosse title but only after the Lady Red Devils competed against— and soundly defeated—teams from schools with four to six times the total student body that Chelsea has. Becky Dumont, only a freshman, took to the game like a duck to water and became her team's scoring leader.

The SoRo track club finally received varsity status from its school board and the girls promptly rewarded that recognition by winning the Division Three state title against schools with long established track programs. Senior Sarah Mattern paced the team by repeating as state champion in her two specialties, javelin and 300 meter high hurdles. However, the group success came in the number of third, fourth and fifth place finishes earned by Coach Jeff Moreno's deep squad. Both of Chelsea High School's soccer teams, boys and girls, reached the finals of the soccer playoffs, although they both came home with runners-up hardware. Ironically each club played against its counterpart from Wilmington. The boys pushed the Warriors into overtime before finally bowing.

A more storied program, that of Whitcomb baseball, won another state diamond title for its school. Coach Jim Hewitt's charges caught the wave and rode it all the way to Centennial Field where Matt Hunt gutted out another of his many fine pitching performances. Battery mate Adam Wright caught Hunt's "high heaters" and first base slugger Nate Ward carried the offense with a sensational display of timely hitting.

South Royalton's baseball team went undefeated in the regular season, but to do so had to get by an undefeated Chelsea diamond team. The Royals had to be content with a CVL title as they got bounced from the playoffs in the second round.

Whitcomb and South Royalton softball teams each had excellent years. The Lady Hornets made an early season, come-from-behind win over the Royals stand up to become CVL champions. Unfortunately, both teams were upset in the playoffs by lower seeded opposition. Royals pitcher Heather Impey hit nearly .500 and had an ERA around 1.50, a great season by any standard.

Basketball star Brad Johnson graduated, leaving as Chelsea's all-time leading basketball scorer. He and his teammates made it to the AUD, as did the Red Devil girls. Although both teams were eliminated in the semi-finals, each fulfilled a dream that few Vermont high school hoopsters experience.

Sharon Academy began to make its presence known in Division Four athletics, especially on the soccer field. Boys' striker Dey Moore was far and away the area's leading scorer.

South Royalton's soccer girls won a playoff game for the first time that anyone could recall, and boys goalie Jamie Kinnarney earned first team All-CVL honors for his outstanding play.

Finally, a group of 11- and 12-year-old girls—eight from the Royalton area, four from Randolph, and one from Bethel, won the state Little League Softball championship.

Last, but certainly not least, there was one grown-up who had a significantly noteworthy sports accomplishment: Bethel's Bob Dean was inducted into the National Horseshoe Pitching Hall of Fame.

All in all, a darn good year for Central Vermont. Would that 2003 should be so kind to our athletes, young and old, as was 2002.

By Dick Tracy

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