Here are the top 10 local sports storylines of the year from the Bristol Press coverage area:
1. Bristol Eastern wrestling wins Class L title
The Bristol Eastern wrestling team completed a dominant and undefeated season on the mats with a state championship. Mike Barrett was a Class L champion at 160 pounds as a junior and went on to finish third in the State Open and third at New Englands. His teammate, Trinidad Gonzalez, was a Class L champion at 182 pounds. Other individual wrestlers who placed in Class L were juniors Bryce Beebe, Jordon Champagne, Hidekal Mangual and sophomores Carson Sassu and Justin Marshall.
2. Kendall Davis breaks St. Paul girls soccer all-time scoring record:
St. Paul senior Kendall Davis completed an outstanding soccer career this past season. All the work put in culminated in her breaking the all-time goal scoring record at the school with 63, eclipsing the previous mark set by Helena Periera. Davis played an integral part in the Falcons reaching the Class S semifinals and will be continuing her soccer career next fall at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
3. Former Bristol Central star Aaron Hernandez takes his life
Former Bristol Central football standout and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell at the age of 27. He hung himself two days after being acquitted for a double homicide and was currently serving a life sentence for the 2012 murder of Odin Lloyd. It was discovered that Hernandez suffered from one of the most severe cases of C.T.E, something that has impacted many former football players. He leaves a tarnished legacy.
4. Dathan Hickey finishes standout career at Bristol Central
Bristol Central football player Dathan Hickey helped the Rams retain the bell in the Battle for the Bell against rival Bristol Eastern. He ran for 328 yards and four touchdowns in the contest. He finished his career third all-time in Bristol Central football history for touchdowns scored. Hickey’s ability on the defensive side of the ball was equally impressive at defensive back and he has verbally committed to play collegiate football at Yale University in the Ivy League. Hickey was named to the Walter Camp All-Connecticut First Team.
5. St. Paul softball makes it to Class S final
It was quite the season for the St. Paul softball team, which made it to the Class S state final for the first time in school history. To get into the title game, the Falcons capped off an impressive rally in the semifinal game against Coventry, coming back from six runs down to reach the championship game on a 9-8 victory. It was St. Paul’s first semifinals appearance since 2000. Unfortunately, the Falcons faced the best pitcher in Class S, Holy Cross’ Sarah Lawton, and couldn’t figure her out as Lawton struck out 13 St. Paul batters in the 4-0 defeat of the Falcons.
6. St. Paul girls soccer reaches semifinals of Class S tournament, deepest run ever
Coming into the 2017 season, St. Paul girls soccer head coach Jim Husbands knew this year could be special, and it was. St. Paul, led by senior captains Kendall Davis and Briana Senese made the deepest tournament run in program history after a 2-1 overtime win over East Granby in the quarterfinals to reach the semis. The Falcons would end up falling short of a championship appearance with the 4-2 Class S semifinal loss to Old Lyme. Freshman goalkeeper Nina Zwolinski was named to the All-State team and played a big role in the deep run. The Falcons won the NVL championship and were seeded fourth in the state tournament.
7. Terryville wrestling has a pair of Class S state champions
Terryville had a pair of state champions - one at each end of the weight spectrum.
Cayleb Leclerc was the state champion at 106 pounds, while Jason Hume won the heavyweight title.
Leclerc, the No. 2 seed, picked up pins over Tyler Velazquez of Montville (4:57) and Michael Dalessio of Somers (4:22) before beating third-seeded Joseph Millbach of Ledyard by major decision, 16-4, to get to the championship match. There, he had his best result of the night, upsetting top-seed Jacob Marselli of East Catholic by pin in 1:08.
Hume, also a No. 2 seed, followed a similar path. He got a pair of pins over Dane Taylor of Griswold (5:50) and Richard Mullaney of Ledyard (3:28) to get to the championship match against top-seed Austin Daley of Morgan. It took several extra periods in that final match before Hume finally won 2-1 in an ultimate tiebreaker.
8. St. Paul's Christian Sturm wins boys state hammer throw title
St. Paul's Christian Sturm won the state boys hammer throw title, as the final CIAC events of the school year were contested in the annual state decathlon, heptathlon, hammer throw and steeplechase competitions.
Sturm tossed the hammer 158 feet, 5 inches in his final throw to set the standard. He had already bested the mark set by second-place finisher Charles Ritchel of Seymour (146-7) with his two previous throws, which went 152-10 and 153-5. He then went on to compete in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in Greensboro, N.C., placing 23rd in the Boys Hammer Throw Emerging Elite event with a toss of 151-2.
9. Terryville’s Alex Brandy Witnesses Super Bowl from sidelines as Pats cheerleader
With the New England Patriots trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 in Super Bowl LI, Terryville native Alex Brandy was on the sidelines as a Patriots cheerleader and history came in the time following. The Patriots completed the most remarkable comeback in Super Bowl history winning the game 34-28 in overtime. Brandy is back with the team this season as the Patriots once again seek a Super Bowl run.
10. Eastern and Central complete first seasons on new turf fields
For the first time in school history’s both Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central football played its complete home schedule on each of their new turf fields. The Rams finished their season 7-3 while the Lancers finished their season 2-8. It was the first time that the teams didn’t play their home games at Muzzy Field since the schools split. However, the two returned to Muzzy Field to battle out the annual Battle for the Bell Thanksgiving Day Game. Bristol Central got the best of Eastern with a 33-27 win in the 59th annual contest led by Dathan Hickey’s four touchdown runs.
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org