Its not easy. For all the success that area athletes have experienced this spring, narrowing it down to 10 is a tall order. But we tried. From Frewsburg's Thad Johnson and Silver Creek's Zeddie Williams setting state records to Maple Grove's Christina Walter claiming two sprint titles at the state meet, it's been, well, quite a run.
Clockwise, from the top, are Frewsburg’s Thad Johnson, Maple Grove’s Christina Walter, Frewsburg’s Sam Mott, Jamestown Community College’s Jake Yartz and Maple Grove’s Corey Wefing.
Photos by Tim Frank (Maple Grove track)
For fans of phenomenal pitching, there wasn't a better day to be at the ballpark than on April 25, when Westfield and Maple Grove put their aces on the rubber for an early season duel. With Westfield's Austin Alonge squaring off against Maple Grove's Matt Fowler, the game didn't disappoint, and when it was all said and done the two had nearly identical stat lines: 7IP, 8K, 2BB. The difference, however, was that while Alonge had held the Red Dragons hitless over those seven frames, Fowler had surrendered one hit - to Alonge no less - and one run in the bottom of the seventh to take the hard-luck, 1-0 loss. At the time, Westfield coach Doug Kaltenbach called it one of the best baseball games of the season. But while Fowler may have been smarting from the loss, he got redemption a little over three weeks later when the two went head-to-head once again. He scattered seven hits, walked one and fanned six to win, 9-4.
A pair of eighth-graders were the lone area representatives at the respective boys and girls state golf tournaments. Nolan Ditcher of Randolph advanced to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament at Cornell University on June 2-4 when he carded a 7-over-par 79 at Diamond Hawk Golf Course in the Section 6 qualifier. Ditcher wound up fourth for Section 6 and tied for 60th overall in the NYSPHSAA Golf Championships at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Cornell University after firing a two-day total of 169 on rounds of 87 on Monday and 82 on Sunday. Southwestern's DelMonaco, meanwhile, shot a 93 on consecutive days at the New York State High School Federation Girls Golf Championships at the College Golf Course at Delhi. Her 36-hole total of 186 tied her for 43rd in the field.
FALCONER GIRLS TRACK
The streak continues. Sporting an unblemished record in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association dual meets since 2001, the Falconer girls track and field team kept that winning tradition - now in it's 11th year - alive this season after putting together yet another undefeated campaign. Together the squad, which overcame the loss of a number of key contributers due to graduation last year, compiled a perfect record of 7-0 overall and 6-0 in Division 1. In the last dual meet of the season, the Lady Golden Falcons clinched their 11th consecutive Division 1 crown and won their 89th league contest in a row. "I wouldn't say there's any extra pressure," coach Mike LeBaron said of the continuing the streak, "but (the team does) understand and respect the tradition that's been built in the last ten years. They are very aware of what's been going on here."
Last fall, Jamestown Community College baseball coach Anthony Barone told his team that he expected it to be the best in NJCAA Region 3 Division III by the spring. The Jayhawks certainly played like it in the last month of their season. Spearheaded by outstanding pitching, JCC advanced to the regional Final Four and finished the season 25-22 after a 7-18 start. The Jayhawks' midseason turnaround began in early April, and after dropping a hard-fought game to Niagara County Community College, they proceeded to win 17 of their next 19 games, including the last 10 in a row, on their way to earning their first trip to the regional Final Four since 2004. ''They knew they belonged and it's a testament to the guys,'' Barone said. ''They've worked so hard this year and in the offseason. They bought into a system I wanted - pitching, defense and small ball.''
JCC GOLF TEAM
Special describes Jamestown Community College's performance at the NJCAA Division III National Golf Tournament where it finished in second place. Freshman Jake Yartz led the way by shooting 74-77-73-75-299 to finish fifth and capture NJCAA All-American first-team honors. Sophomore Casey Davidson, and freshmen Andrew Bird, Drew Chaddock and Brenton Wilcox also played well, capping a special season in which the Jayhawks finished first three times, second four times and had three third-place finishes in invitationals. Then, even though JCC received an automatic bid into the nationals as the host team, the Jayhawks earned their spot by finishing second at the NJCAA Region 3 Division III Tournament. The team was coached by Brett Mucheck, who was in his first year.
Before Frewsburg senior Thad Johnson could begin his postgame interview, Coach Jay Grann handed him a navy-blue T-shirt. Emblazoned on the front were five words: ''New York State Hit King.'' Johnson pulled it down over his head and made sure it fit just right over his No. 5 jersey. Like everything else in an incredible six-year varsity career, Johnson wore it well. Not wasting any time, he deposited a 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence leading off the bottom of the first inning for his state record-breaking 189th career hit, surpassing the previous mark of 188 set in 2008 by Adam Cutspec of Fort Plain. The home run - Johnson also tied the record with a tape-measure blast at Falconer - was one of three extra-base hits he had to lead the top-seeded Bears to a 17-5 victory over No. 8 Holland in a Section 6 Class C quarterfinal at the Robert H. Jackson Elementary School Sports Complex. Johnson, who would finish his career with an even 200 hits, led the Bears to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four.
As Samantha Mott strode to the circle on May 2 to square off against Silver Creek, Frewsburg coach Jon Blanchard jokingly called after her that should she reach the five-walk mark at some point during the outing, her day would be over. Just a day earlier, Mott had been uncharacteristically wild and though she earned the victory against Division 2 rival Cassadaga Valley, fanning 10 along the way, she had also handed out eight walks. On this day, it was different - very, very different. "Everything seemed great, and I just felt like it was going to be a really good day," Mott said. In fact, it was perfect. Mott sent down a career-high 15 Silver Creek batters on strikes, didn't allow a single hit or walk - or any baserunner for that matter - to hurl the first perfect game in Frewsburg softball history and lead the Bears to a 26-0 Division 2 victory. She needed just 94 pitches, 65 of which went for strikes.
For Christina Walter, her performance at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Track & Field Championships was as simple as 1-2-3-4. Really. The sophomore from Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School successfully solved her problematic starts, led from start to finish and captured both the Division 2 100 and 200 meters at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Furthermore, Walter became the first Red Dragon to depart with gold medals at a state meet, said assistant coach Doc Rappole. According to Rappole, Walter's lead was never challenged after her first four strides out of the block. After posting times of 12.26 (second place) and 25.29 (fourth place) in the 100 and 200 preliminaries, Walter posted winning times of 12.46 and 25.46 in the finals.
Corey Wefing had seen the times, and boy, were they fast. East Aurora's Sean Phillips held the top seed in all of Section 6 in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:29.47, and Nate Smith of Pioneer was right behind him at 9:29.92. Wefing was fast, too, of course. Fourth in the section fast. But he hadn't ever been that fast. That is, of course, until Friday. Wefing, who entered the Section 6 Track & Field Championships as the fourth-seeded runner - his time of 9:47.50 was over 17 seconds behind Phillips - surprised even himself on day one of the state qualifier when, after biding his time by staying with the pack over the first 2,900 meters of the race, he found that little something extra within himself to pull away and capture not only the race, but a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Track & Field Championships on June 8 and 9.
Since joining the Silver Creek varsity lacrosse team as an eighth grader, Zeddie Williams has racked up points at a pace faster than anyone else in New York State Public High School Athletic Association lacrosse history on the way to leading the Black Knights to three consecutive Section 6 Class C championships. So fast, in fact, that this past season he already managed to snap the 18-year-old state record for points in a career - as a junior. During his squad's Far West Regional game against Section 5's Penn Yan, Williams tied Casey Powell's 1994 record for most career points by recording No. 533 with an assist to teammate Marvin Curry at the 11-minute mark. Later that game, the standout moved into sole possession of the record when he fired a shot from 20 yards out to beat the netminder.