Best Game/Meet (team): Hands down the 2-1 New Paltz baseball victory over Cornwall in the Section 9 Class A quarterfinal. The Huguenots went into the game as the number 8 seed in the tournament; Cornwall, the defending champion, was seeded number one. New Paltz lost to Cornwall in last season’s Class A Final, so there was a large heaping of revenge for the Huguenots. It was a sweet victory for Sam Phelps and crew.
Best Game/Meet (individual): Brian Busby’s tour de force performance in winning Section titles in the 1600-meters, 3200-meters, finishing second to teammate Hunter Bartlett in the 800-meters and running a leg on the boys championship 4 x 800 relay team.
Best of the Unsung: JT Ferraro (baseball): there wasn’t/isn’t anything Ferraro couldn’t do on the diamond, the archetypical “consistent ballplayer” with a great bat, glove, arm and foot-speed, the Huguenots MVP; Steph Wolfrum (softball): the best player on a mediocre team, would start for any other team in the league, top hitter for average and with power; Mikie O’Donnell (girls’ track): it was finally her year, winning the Section in the long jump and the MHAL’s in the high jump, her first visit to States after a stellar career; Erik Simonson (boys’ track): teamed with Adrian Climer and Brian Majestic to give New Paltz a dominant 400-meters and 400-meter hurdles trio; Marc Schwartzberg (tennis): played at number one singles against the MHAL’s best, held his own and then went deep into the MHAL championships; Thomas Hull (boys’ lacrosse): the heart of the New Paltz on-field defense, protector of goalie Noah Lynch, as the Huguenots picked up their defensive play behind the duo; Alexa Hartmayer (girls’ lacrosse): the heart AND soul of the New Paltz defense (and team), in goal for every game for all three years, finally tasting victory this year, kept the games closer than would have been without her; Mike Beck (boys’ golf) and Bernice Lee (girls’ golf): both just missed the cut for States, played consistent games throughout the season.
Best Defender: Ferraro and Eric Pesavento (baseball) formed the best left-side infield in the Section, both with vacuum-cleaner gloves and rifle-shot arms, making spectacular plays game-after-game.
The Angela Robins Zen Award (given to the player that just makes it all look so effortless): Boys’ track Hunter Bartlett, the MHAL, Section 9 and State Qualifier in the 800-meters, runs as fluid as he swims, which is impressive to say the least.
Best of the Future: Ryan Lamark (baseball): the boy can hit, and how, the next Big Bopper for the Huguenots, with that sweet Ted Williams swing; Britt Ormond (softball): came into her own this season, batting, running, fielding her position (third base) and most surprising of all, pitching, can do it all; Naomi Bouchard-Gordon and Cora Butler (girls’ track): Bouchard-Gordon has already arrived, capturing Section 9 titles in the high jump and 400-meter hurdles as a junior, while Butler, hobbled out of the 100-meters (were she ran 12.8 last season as a freshman) with a bad hamstring, still had a solid season in the long and triple jumps and threw 30-feet in the shot put at Sections; Adrian Climer (boys’ track): came out of nowhere (actually transferred from Texas) to win the MHAL 400-meters and has 100 and 200-meter speed; Aaron Getman-Pickering (tennis): with Schwartzberg and Trevor Nathan forms a most formidable singles trio for the Huguenots, should help New Paltz won their first MHAL title in nearly a decade; Andrei Shatalov (boys’ lacrosse) should lead New Paltz in scoring next season and possibly a break-even season; Kiley Murphy (girls’ lacrosse): should lead a very young and promising team to, like with the boys, a possible break-even season, she can score on anyone; Ryan Higgins (golf): closest New Paltz golfer to making the State cut, solid game all-around.
Best Surprise Season (new category): The New Paltz baseball pitching staff of Austin Pikulski, Brian Krebs, Kyle Hoffman, Mike Beck, Tyler Pece and John Ferrante, was supposed to be the weak-link in the Huguenots’ chances for a Section 9 title, and turned out to be surprisingly effective.
And now for the three BIGGIES...the drum roll (please)...
Best Team: The 2011 boys’ track team, who won the MHAL and Section 9 and sent ten athletes to the recent State meet, from top-to-bottom just a very talented group of runners, jumpers and throwers.
Best Coach: Boys’ and girls’ track Don Bartlett and Ann Gregory. Year-after-year they nudge, cajole, demand, give-a-wink-to and thoroughly enjoy this New Paltz tradition of top-flight athletes. This year was certainly no different and in some ways their “students” on the track showed more desire than ever.
Best Athlete: The Brian’s...Busby and Majestic, both of whom really came into their own this year; Busby in the 1600 and 3200-meters and Majestic in the high jump and 400-meter hurdles, both winning MHAL and Section titles and going to States.
Best of the Best in Highland
Best Game/Meet (team): Highland softball’s 4-3 win over two-time defending State Champion Rhinebeck and their two-time State Player-of-the-Year, pitcher Megan Michie, solidifying the Huskies hold onto first-place in Division 3 of the MHAL.
Best Game/Meet (individual): Baseball pitcher Max Cruz’s break-out opening game of the season performance in shutting out FDR on two hits and with 15 strike outs; and Carly Bilchak’s 12-strike out performance in the above-mentioned game with Rhinebeck.
Best of the Unsung: Gavin McCann (baseball): led the team in most major categories and played near-flawless shortstop; Jen and Steph Porter (softball): what will the Huskies do when these two are gone (they graduate this year)? Indominatable at the top of the lineup, drove opponents crazy on the base-paths, both hit over .300 and played superb shortstop (Steph) and behind the plate (Jen), “Where have you gone Porter Twins, a lonely clubhouse turns it eyes to you”; Megan McGrath (girls’ track): top point-getter for a very young track team, solid hurdler; Travis and Jarrett Distasi (boys’ track): top point-getters for the equally-as-young boys team, excelling in the 400, 400 hurdles and the jumps; Kevin Sweeney and Andrew Ward (tennis): took it deep into the MHAL championship as a doubles team, complimentary styles made it work; Will Purdy (lacrosse): high-scorer on a winless team doesn’t get you much notice, but Purdy can score on anyone and usually did.
Best Defender: Lacrosse’s Ben Smith was all-over the back-line protecting the goal, and like Purdy -- on a winless team -- didn’t get much notice, but he was the epitome of consistency out there on the field.
Best of the Future: Max Cruz and Chris Ranalli (baseball): Cruz, though just a sophomore, has already arrived on the MHAL stage and performed remarkably well; while Ranalli stepped in and became the Huskies ace reliever; Carly Bilchak (softball): like Cruz, the junior has already arrived, and this year put together a great season on the mound and led the Huskies in hitting; Halia Scott (girls’ track): literally came out of nowhere to place in the top-six in the 200 and 400-meters at Sections, next year a breakthrough?; Damien Stevens (boys’ track): just missed top three in Sections in 3200, close call should bring him back to run with next year’s elite runners; Lucas Canino (lacrosse): the junior midfielder was all over the field every minute of every game, a relentless attacker who fed Purdy most of his goals, best all-around player on the team.
The Christie Morano Zen Award (given to the athlete that makes everything look so effortless): Lacrosse’s Will Purdy. Just so fluid from his position upfront, subtle moves, big shot, surprising quickness for his size, a sense of non-chalance is deceiving to opponents.
Best Surprise (new category): Baseball’s Jared Babineau, who, out of nowhere, became the Huskies number two pitcher and went 3-1 on the season, helping Highland to a 9-8 record and a berth in the Section 9 tournament.
So, that’s it for the “minor” selections. Now we choose the Big Three for all of you faithful out at Pancake Hollow...
Best Team: Highland softball. The defending Section 9 champs didn’t quite defend their Class B title this time around, but it took three losses to two-time State Player-of-the-Year Megan Michie of Rhinebeck to do it. Even losing in the Final the Huskies did their usual scratching and clawing against Michie before succumbing to arguably one of the MHAL’s best ever.
Best Coach: Baseball’s Jim Delmar, who took over a team (he was the co-coach before this season) that lost most of its starting lineup from the year before, then lost three starters as the season wore on, wound up playing six sophomores and still wound up making Sections. A good season of discovery for the coach and one that he can build on the next few years.
Best Player: Even though she didn’t take them to the promised land of a repeat Class B title, softball flame-thrower Carly Bilchak did her part, winning 10 games and averaging over 10 strike outs per game. She also led the team in hitting. A big-time player who will need all her chops for next season (when graduation losses could undermine the team’s decade-long run of superb play).
So that’s it here at the New Paltz Times sports department. Congratulations to all the selections.