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From high school to Little League, 2010 was a truly glorious one for the Blackstone Valley, as several teams and indviduals captured state championships in their respective sports. Hereâ€™s a quick rundown of the highlights of this past year:
The winter season was a magicial one for the region, as five of its high school teams captured state championships.
The Mount St. Charles Academy boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ hockey teams pulled off a nifty double by winning their respective state championships. Itâ€™s the first time since 2003 that the Mountiesâ€™ squads both captures titles in the same season.
For the boysâ€™ team, which swept La Salle Academy in their best-of-three series with a 4-3 overtime victory in the opening game and a 5-2 win in the clincher, it was their third straight championship, 41st in the programâ€™s storied history, and 29th in the last 33 years.
Tournament MVP Brian Campbell scored a pair of goals in the deciding game, and All-State forwards Trevor Plante and Evan Hoffman, goaltender Ryan Simoneau, defenseman James Golden also played big roles in the Mountiesâ€™ superb 21-0-1 season.
The girlsâ€™ team, meanwhile, found itself having to overcome a season-long battle with longtime rival Bay View Academy to win the championship, and the Mounties did that by coming back from a 1-0 loss to win their best-of-three title series by taking the next two games by 3-1 and 5-0 scores.
It was the first championship in three years and fifth in eight seasons for the Mounties, who were led by the play of All-State goaltender Kayla DiLorenzo, forward Katie Loiselle, and defenseman Cait Bray.
No championship game was as dramatic as the Division III boysâ€™ final between Central Falls High and Johnston High at URIâ€™s Ryan Center, which saw the Warriors, thanks to Antonio Menaâ€™s free throws with no time on the clock in regulation, posting a heartpounding 76-73 overtime victory.
Mena and All-State teammate Robert Alers were the heart and soul to a C.F. team that won ther regular-season title with a 19-1 record, and after falling in the Division III championship game in 2006, â€™08, and â€™09, the Warriors finally came through this year for the programâ€™s first title since 1987.
The Warriorsâ€™ girlsâ€™ basketball team also made plenty of noise with its 16-0 march through the regular season, but in the Division III playoffs, it was the North Smithfield High girls that took home the coveted prize.
Led by Tori Fracheschi and Anissa Robitaille, the Lady Northmen won its first state championship since 2001 by defeating Mount Pleasant High, 35-32.
The Cumberland High wrestling team also returned to the top of the mountain after a five-year absence by capturing the team championship. State champions Shaidai Lariviere (112 pounds), Shoneil Lariviere (119), and Cam Glad (171) enjoyed exceptional seasons for the Clippers, who were 16-0 in dual meet competition and 89-5 over the last six years.
Cumberland freshman standout Courtney Kent and Mount St. Charles senior John Vatkevich provided the highlights of the swimming season by taking first place in their respective events at the state championship meet. Kent captured the girlsâ€™ 500-yard freestyle with her time of 5:06.45, and Vatkevich won the boysâ€™ 200-yard freestyle in 1:46.99.
The spring high school season saw the Mount St. Charles baseball team repeat as Division II state championships by holding off Shea High and Tolman High in the playoffs. Led by Chris Ford, Garrett Hayward, Brian Campbell, Tyler Geffert, the Mounties went 17-1 during the regular season.
The Woonsocket softball team made the most out of its only season in the Division III ranks by winning the championship with an 18-1 record that included a convincing sweep of Central High in their best-of-three finals. Shortstop Nicole Boucher and catcher Kelsey Boucher were the Novansâ€™ star players.
There was no stopping the Cumberland boysâ€™ tennis team in its quest for its second straight unbeaten season and Division II championship. All-State singles player Alex Werchadlo had a marvelous senior season by going 21-2 overall and reached the quarterfinals of the singles tournament.
The Mount St. Charles boysâ€™ volleyball team was also a repeat Division II champion. Like the Clippers, they were unbeaten during the season, but their victory of Cranston East in the finals gave them their third straight title and fifth of the decade.
All-State setter Marc McKenna dished out over 500 assists to spark the Mountiesâ€™ attack, and middle hitter Colin Russell also had a season to remember.
There were also plenty of individual standouts that won state championships in track and field. Ponaganset Highâ€™s Nick Keeling defended his javelin championship with his winning throw of 205 feet, 8 inches, and Central Fallsâ€™ Steven Vazquez tied Charihoâ€™s Innocent Jacob for the best leap at the state meet in 6 feet, 8 inches.
But the athlete of the spring was without question Central Fallsâ€™ Aleide Fernandes, who captured three events at the girlsâ€™ meet, the hammer (154 feet), shot put (39-1.5), and discus (118-10). She also won the hammer at the New England Championships (157-4) and took sixth in the event at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina.
One of the surprise performances of the year was turned in by Woonsocket freshman high jumper Kaylynn Pitts, who won the state championship with her 5-foot-3 leap. Pitts will be an athlete worth keeping an eye on in the coming years.
The story of the summer was the Cumberland National Little League baseball team, which not only won the state championship, but came so very close to winning the New England Regionals and advancing to the Little League World Series. Cumberland National lost the title game in a 1-0 heartbreaker to Connecticutâ€™s Fairfield American.
Several other Little League teams also won state championships, such as the Cumberland American 10-11-year-old baseball team, the Cumberland 9-10 and 13-14 softball teams, and the Burrillville 15-16 softball team.
The fall high school season also had its share of champions, starting with the Woonsocket football teamâ€™s repeat as Division II Super Bowl champions. The Novans avenged a 6-0 regular-season loss to Tolman by topping the Tigers, 28-14 behind the heroics of Super Bowl MVP Geo Heredia, Jalen Evans, Jessie Charette, and Kevin Reyes.
The North Smithfield girlsâ€™ tennis team landed its first-ever Division III title by downing Rogers High, 4-3, int the finals. No. 4 singles player Megan Mandeville scored the decisive point in that match, and Laura Arciniegas also had a superb season for the Lady Northmen.
Two local boxers also won championships this year. Manfredo Gymâ€™s product Peter Manfredo Jr. realized a lifelong dream by winning the International Boxing Organization (IBO) world middleweight championship on May 22 with a 10th-round TKO of Angel Hernandez at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Light heavyweight Joe Gardner, who returned to boxing after a 7 1/2-year absence, also became Woonsocketâ€™s first champion in several decades by winning the Eastern Boxing Association (EBA) title. Gardner was a six-round unanimous-decision winner over West Warwickâ€™s Keith Kozlin.