Seeds were sown for unusual spring
An unusually cold, wet and endless feeling in April — with a few leftover snow showers sprinkled in — summed up the high school baseball season perfectly: Unusual. So it was quite fitting then that Franklin, the last team selected for the Super 8 field, would capture the championship as a seven seed. Or that Archbishop Williams, which was 3-7 in the Catholic Central Large during the regular season and entered the D3 South bracket as the 12th seed, would register three extra-inning victories en route to the championship. Or that the last team standing, Needham, would erase a 5-1 deficit in the seventh inning of the D1 state final on the way to a 6-5, eight-inning conquest for the program’s first championship. Kind of shovels that snow and ice into the rearview mirror.
No denying Nash this time
Emily Nash christened her state title at the MIAA girls’ individual golf tournament in June with the trophy ceremony she so rightly deserved. After being denied hardware, despite notching the lowest score at the Division 3 Central boys’ championship last October at Blissful Meadows, the Lunenburg junior exacted revenge on the powers that be with a 1-over par 75 at Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton. Nash took flight as her competition cratered, nearly sticking a chip for eagle on No. 18, then calmly sinking the ensuing birdie putt to put the finishing brush strokes on a four-shot victory. This time, Nash rode home with a prize.
Reading stars can see their future
After the Reading boys’ lacrosse team rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the Division 2 North final for a 10-7 win over Winchester, the Rocket players were mobbed by supporters on the turf at Woburn High. The smallest of those fans were the most boisterous, as Reading youth lacrosse players rushed to hug junior Joe Bean, a midfielder and faceoff specialist who umpires their games. Each stop along Reading’s journey to the first state title in program history and a 16-7 season, the youth lacrosse contingent was well represented, filling the stands and surrounding their favorite players to ask for autographs following each win. As Reading coach Charlie Hardy put it, “These kids are the future stars of Reading lacrosse.”
Wellesley, Norwell put trust in team
On the way to netting the program’s first state title, the Wellesley girls’ lacrosse team throttled top-seeded, and once-beaten Notre Dame Academy, 15-7, in the Division 1 South final. In the state final, against Bay State Conference rival Walpole, the Raiders responded emphatically to a pregame query from senior Caitlin Chicoski, ‘Who wants to be a state champion today?’ with a 7-5 statement win. It was all grit, will, and trusting every teamate. The same mantra applied to the Norwell girls, who captured their third championship in four years, but with 23 “new” players, with coach Kara Connerty noting “it takes all 25.” The Clippers followed the lead of captain Murphy McDonough, the proud daughter of a former Marine officer who has already moved 18 times with her family. Her motto: “It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.”
He kept Eagles in flight
Stopwatch in hand, John Normant took the helm of the BC track program a year before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in the summer of 1969. Class of 1964, Normant knew his way around the Morrissey Blvd campus and the cinder track at White Stadium. He was an Eagle through and through. On May 16, after 50 years as a coach at his beloved alma mater, Normant told his boys that he was done as a teacher (math, of course, times and distances!) and coach. He’ll miss his BC High kids. The feeling is mutual. “I don’t think BC High is losing a track coach. I think they’re losing a member of their family . . . If I told you who a BC High man is, it’s Mr. Normant,” said captain Chris McCarthy. As AD Jon Bartlett aptly pointed out, his specialty was “everything . . . sprints, field events, long distances.” These days, that’s a rare bird.
Softball’s future in good hands
Holy Cross-bound Kelly Nelson, the state’s softball Player of the Year, dominated at Norton on her way to a 20-2 season and an MIAA-record 1,331 career strikeouts. But even with her departure, along with three-time D3 Player of the Year Logan MacDonald (Austin Prep), the circle is still stocked with talent, particularily rising sophomores. Freshman Kelsey White compiled a 1.36 ERA and a 15-2 record in pitching Taunton to the Division 1 championship. At Greater New Bedford, freshman Madison Camara stepped in for injured sophomore Jenna Sylvia in the state semis and final, and with just two previous varsity starts, hurled the Bears to their first Division 2 championship. Coach Mark Collins called the title an “unexpected” victory. At Plymouth South, freshman Amelia Freitas (19-3, 212 strikeouts, 0.67 ERA) was stellar. And there were more, forecasting a promising future.
Friborg learns to love her sport
After being diagnosed with iron deficiency and anemia last spring, Samantha Friborg wasn’t able to run the 800 meters for Acton-Boxborugh at the 2017 All-State meet. In 2018, the Yale-bound senior returned with a vengeance, cruising to first at All-States in 2 minutes, 7.27 — just five days after her time of 2:07.75 at the D1 meet— the second-best time in the nation. At season’s end, she was the state’s Gatorade Girls’ Track & Field Runner of the Year. “It was really tough at the time but one of the most valuable learning experiences for me,” she said. “I learned how important running is to me, completely removed from the results or my times. I learned how much I love training, how much I miss it when I’m unable, and what steps to take in my training to maximize it, improve my times, and make it as efficient as possible.”
Point is, Rockets’ fought to the end
In what was the final match of a magnificent 24-2 season, the Needham boys’ volleyball team took the Division 1 state final against defending champion Westfield to the very last point — plus. Trailing 2-1 after three sets, and overcoming a 3-point deficit in both the fourth and fifth sets, the Rockets nearly completed their improbable comeback. Back-to-back blocks from sophomore Joe Chamoun tied the fifth set at 13, and a third Westfield spike deflected off Chamoun’s hands, leading to an easy Needham point. Ahead, 14-13, Needham needed one point to seal the win. But the Rockets could not block the next point, and eventually were outlasted, 18-16. “It’s great to get here,” said coach Dave Powell. “I know it’s tough to have that perspective after you suffer a heartbreaking loss, but I’m proud of the way we fought and the resiliency we showed.”
Max effort in Schuermann’s title pursuit
In the midst of his convincing 6-2, 6-1 victory for the MIAA individual boys’ tennis championship in mid-June — one that had eluded his grasp a year ago — Max Schuermann started to have a few doubts. His mind wandered back to his three-set loss to Westborough’s Sumukh Pathi, before telling himself, “You’ve worked hard, you’ve improved every part of your game, and this is really your moment, so you’ve got to take it,” he said. The recent Dover-Sherborn grad is a perfectionist. Exhibit A: his 93-4 career mark. His focus the past year? Working on his game, and specifically, his stamina. No third-set losses. And in the process, according to coach Jon Kirby, he raised the bar for all of his D-S teammates, who advanced to the Division 3 state semis.
A fresh start for A-B tennis
A year removed from not qualifying for the MIAA Division 1 tourney, the Acton-Boxborough girls’ tennis team did not lose a match all season, completing its perfect run with a 5-0 sweep of Westborough in the final in Shrewsbury. Coach Mike Gardner realized pretty quickly that when freshmen Sahana Rama, Ashleigh Parlman and Lindsay Ristaino stepped into the three singles’ spots, the season could be special. With his seniors holding their own at doubles, Gardner was right. Newcomers also paved the way for D3 champion Manchester Essex, with Olivia Mariotti and Sophia Pratt dominating at singles in their debuts, resulting in a 5-0 victory over Hopedale in the final. And the Martha’s Vineyard girls (just how many courts are on the island?), marched to their fourth straight championship — but first in Division 2, stepping up with a 4-1 win over Winchester.Compiled by Karl Capen, Craig Larson, Owen Pence, Josh Schaefer, Nate Weitzer, and PJ Wright.