2013: The Year in Review

It was another banner year for local sports.

Several teams, players and coaches made plenty of news as they rose to the highest level of competition. Here are the top local sports moments for 2013, according to The Leader-Herald, along with several other notable events and performances.

1. Johnstown plays for state volleyball title

After a pair of winless trips to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships the Johnstown girls volleyball team broke out of pool play and into the Class B title game for the first time in school history.

Johnstown lost only one match in pool play on the opening day of the championship tournament and that was to Owego Free Academy.

The Lady Bills won their next four pool play games to set up a rematch with Owego in the championship match on Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Lady Bills were able to set up solid strikes, but a hustling Indians’ defense kept the ball off the floor allowing their hitters to find the openings they needed to sweep past Johnstown 3-0 on game scores of 25-12, 25-11 and 25-12 to claim their first Class B state championship.

En route to the title match, the Lady Bills overpowered Section V champion Honeoye Falls-Lima, then upset two-time defending Class B state champion John Glenn High School, forcing a three-way tie for first place in the Class B pool.

With Owego, Johnstown and John Glenn all posting 4-2 records, the tournament committee went to scoring differential to determine the top seed for the championship match.

The Lady Bills topped their opponents by a combined 31 points, enough to advance to the championship match.

“It is absolutely incredible,” Johnstown coach Heather McGuire said after being told the Lady Bills would play for the title. “We just weren’t on our game this morning [against Owego]. We have been here three times now and all I have ever asked the girls to do is play their game. I knew coming into this tournament that they could make it to the finals. I didn’t make any secret of it to them either. I told them you can make it to the finals.”

Johnstown battled inter-city and Foothills Council rival Gloversville in a five-game thriller, rallying from a 24-22 late Game 5 deficit to claim its third-straight Section II Class B title, 25-19, 25-19, 28-30, 13-25 and 26-24.

2. Brown wins state titles

Amsterdam’s Izaiah Brown brought home a pair of state championships in 2013.

The sophomore sprinter made the most of Amsterdam’s first entry into the indoor track season to run to the 300-meter dash championship with a time of 34.38 seconds.

He backed up his championship run in the spring, winning the state 400-meter championship with his time of 47.20.

Brown is not ready to rest on his sophomore laurels as he won the 300-meter dash at the prestigious Bishop Loughlin Games on Dec. 21, posting a time of 34.30 seconds.

Also reaching the state indoor track and field championship meet in 2013 was Gloversville’s John Knox III who placed ninth in the 3,200-meter run with his time of 9:29.59.

In the spring, Brown and Knox were joined by Amsterdam’s John Hardies, Broadalbin-Perth’s Mackenzie Ottati, Gloversville’s Chanel Thomas and Fonda-Fultonville’s Lindsay Therrien to compete for individual state championships.

Hardies finished 13th in the D-I 800-meters with a time of 1:56.39 and was named the Section II boys sportsmanship award winner at the meet.

Thomas placed 10th overall and seventh in Division I in the pentathlon with a total of 2,745 points.

Knox was 18th overall and 12th in Division I in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:37.03.

Therrien placed 14th in the Division II 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.07 seconds.

Ottati finished 26th overall and 12th in Division II 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:11.33.

Also making the trip to the spring state championships was the Amsterdam 1,600-meter relay team of Brown, Hardies, Anthony Stew and Brett Stanavich. They finished third overall with a time of 3:19.23.

3. Mohawks win again

The Mohawks’ rise from the cellar to the penthouse started in mid-June after opening the season with a 5-9 record. The team turned the season around with a 10-game win streak in a 14-1 run to climb out of the cellar into the lead in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League East and finish the regular season with a 31-16 record. The run continued through the postseason where Amsterdam posted a 4-2 record and claimed its fourth championship in five seasons under the leadership of coach Keith Griffin.

In the Best-of-3 championship series, Amsterdam defeated Elmira 6-3 before dropping Game 2 9-7 to send the series back to Shuttleworth Park for the third and deciding game.

Before a capacity crowd of 1,400 fans, the Mohawks stormed past the Pioneers 7-3 to secure the PGCBL crown.

4. Local wrestlers place at states

Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi made his third straight trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships, he continued his climb up the podium Saturday.

After placing third as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore, Lapi ended his junior season second.

Lapi, the No. 2 seed, dropped a 4-2 decision to Sayville’s Matt Leshinger of Section VIII in the Division I (large-school) 132-pound finals.

Dolgeville’s Danny Fox also reached the finals, competing for the Division II (small-school) title.

Fox, the No. 2 seed, came up short against Hoosick Falls’ Luis Weierbach of Section II in the 106-pound finals. Weierbach, the No. 1 seed, scored a first-period takedown and an escape in the second period on his way to the win.

Fox, who finished his sophomore season with a 38-3 record.

In addition to Lapi and Fox, Johnstown’s Joe Nellis and Amsterdam’s James Marquez finished on the podium.

Nellis finished fifth in Division II at 220 pounds, while Marquez was third at 160 pounds in Division I.

5. B-P girls sixth at state XC meet

The seven-runner Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots cross-country consisting of Jordyn DeNeuville, MacKenzie DeZolt, Sarah Naple, Victoria Opalka, Coreena Monroe, Cadey Nolan and Alex Opalka came through with a sixth place finish in the 11-team, 130-runner Class C field in November at the NYSPHSAA championship meet at Queensbury High School.

Bronxville (Section I) won the team title with 45 points, followed by HC Williams (Section X) with 71 points and Skaneateles (Section III) with 107. Akron (Section VI) placed fourth with 130, followed by Wayland-Cohocton (Section V) with 136, Broadalbin-Perth (Section II) with 146 and Friends Academy (Section VIII) with 148.

6. (tie) OESJ, Canjo girls soccer win titles

The Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville, Canajoharie girls soccer teams rose to the top of their classes to claim Section II championships.

OESJ captured the Class D championship in its first year of existence as a newly merged school district. The Lady Wolves defeated Fort Ann 3-1 at Stillwater High School.

Canajoharie claimed its first girls sectional championship in school history, shutting out Waterford-Halfmoon 3-0 for the Class C championship.

Both squads were defeated in the first round of regional play.

OESJ fell to Section IX champion Eldred 2-1 at Middletown High School’s Faller Field.

Canajoharie dropped a 3-1 decision to Section VII champion Northern Adirondack at Plattsburgh High School.

8. New promoters

After 17 years as promoter at Fonda Speedway, Ric Lucia called it a career and former modified track champion Matt DeLorenzo has taken over as the new promoter at the Track of Champions.

The change in promotership was announced at the end of the season and DeLorenzo was officially introduced as the new promoter at the speedway’s annual awards banquet on Nov. 3.

DeLorenzo is already putting his stamp on the venerable 1/2-mile oval. The new promoter has brought Fonda Speedway back into the DIRTcar fold for the upcoming season and has upgraded the facility by painting and repairing the covered grandstands.

Fonda Speedway was not the only local racing venue to see a leadership change heading into the 2014 stock car season.

Mike Sowle, a long time supporter and sponsor of dirt track racing, was awarded the promotership of Glen Ridge Motorsports Park in Fultonville.

Sowle takes the reigns from Pete and Matt Demitraszek.

Sowle announced The Ridge will switch racing to Sunday nights and will fly the DIRTcar banner for the 2014 season.

9. Dolgeville wrestlers claim title

The Dolgeville wrestling team won the Section III Class D title in February at Sandy Creek High School.

The Blue Devils sent eight wrestlers to the finals on its way to winning the Section III Class D Tournament title.

Noah Handy (99 pounds), Daniel Fox (106), Andrew Dillenbeck (113), Triston Engle (152), Richard Lyon (160) and Kasey Foster (182) all won titles for the Blue Devils.

Tyler Richards (138) and Jimmy Doolittle (170) also reached the finals for Dolgeville and both finished second.

Dolgeville won the team title by a 218.5-182 margin over host Sandy Creek.

Ben Nastovski placed third at 120 pounds for the Blue Devils, while. Steven Gross (126) and Austin Burton (195) both placed fifth for Dolgeville.

10. Stewart races at Fonda

For the second straight year, former Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart paid a visit to Fonda Speedway to race with the All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series in July.

Stewart finished second to Danny Dietrich in the 30-lap A-main, while Kenny Martin won the Hondo Carpenter Classic for pro stocks/


FC Athletes of the Year

Johnstown’s Joe Nellis and Gloversville’s Alexis Capasso were named the Fulton County Male and Female Athletes of Year during the 26th annual Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce Sports Awards Banquet in June at the Holiday Inn.

Nellis won a Section II Division II title in wrestling and placed fifth at the state tournament, finishis his senior season with a 33-3 record. He also led the Sir Bills’ baseball team to the Section II Class B title game.

Capasso, who was the fourth female athlete from Gloversville to win the award, compiled a .592 batting average for the Gloversville softball team to go with a .994 fielding percentage and a .710 slugging percentage. Her efforts earned her first-team Foothills Council all-star status at shortstop as well as the team’s top offensive and most valuable player awards. On the soccer field, Capasso was a standout goalkeeper for the Lady Dragons, recording 221 saves in goal, 199 of which came against Foothills Council competition. Her performance was reflected in being named Foothills Council first team goalkeeper and Section II Class A goalkeeper of the Year. Capasso also was selected Gloversville’s Most Valuable Player.

Area teams play for

volleyball titles

The Broadalbin-Perth, Gloversville, Johnstown and Mayfield volleyball teams all reached the championship in their respective classes this fall.

Johnstown outlasted Gloversville in five games to win the Class B title, while Mayfield lost to Waterford-Halfmoon in the Class D championship match.

Broadalbin-Perth lost to Voorheesville in the Class C title contest.

Solid showings

For the second straight year, the Northville boys soccer team lost to Fort Ann in the Section II Class D championship game.

The Cardinals posted a 2-1 win over the Falcons, who went 14-2-3 overall, matching the result from their 2012 meeting.

The Canajoharie boys bowling team placed third in the Section II Class C-D championships, while the Mayfield girls finished second in the Class C-D tourney.

The Broadalbin-Perth football team went 8-2 overall, losing to Schalmont 54-7 in the Class B championship game.

The Fonda-Fultonville boys and girls indoor track and field teams both placed second at the Section II Division IV championships.

Sir Bills end losing streak

After failing to finish the 2012 season due to low numbers, injuries and illness, the Johnstown football team ended a 16-game losing streak with a 28-24 win over Glens Falls on Sept. 27.

It was Johnstown’s first win over the Indians at Knox Field since 1996.

The Sir Bills finished the season 4-5 overall, their highest win total since 2008.

Fonda Speedway

Stewart Friesen claimed his second straight track title in the modified division at Fonda Speedway.

Friesen posted 10 wins on the season to easily defend his track title.

Dave Constantino claimed to 602 sportsman crown, winning four times on his way to the title.

In the pro stock division, Pete Broderson won his second straight title after posting five victories this season.

Rob VanAernam claimed his fourth career street stock title at Fonda Speedway, claiming the crown for the first time since 2010. VanAernam finished the season with six wins, tying Reuben Kennedy Jr. for the most in the division.

Ken Hollenbeck won all 14 features in the 4-cylinder single cam division to claim the track title, while his brother, Kerrie Hollenbeck, won nine times on his way to the 4-cylinder dual cam track title.

Glen Ridge

Bobby Varin claimed the modified title at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.

Varin won seven times this season on his way to the crown.

Brian Pessolano picked up the track title in the sportsman division, winning twice on his way to the title. Greg Pessolano led the division with three victories this season.

VanAernam won seven titles on his way to claiming the Glen Ridge street stock crown, while Shane Playford won eight times on his way to the cruiser division crown.

Aaron Burton posted five wins and earned the track title in the rookie sportsman class, while Billy Jaycox won the title in the Magsarus Racesaver sprint car class.

League titles

The Amsterdam wrestling team clinched its eighth straight Big 10 title and 20th league crown since 1984 last January with a 63-19 win over Schenectady.

The Fort Plain girls basketball team won the Western Athletic Conference North Division title last season, while the Canajoharie boys and Mayfield girls bowling teams both claimed the WAC regular-season and tournament titles.

The Dolgeville volleyball team claimed its 18th straight Center State Conference title last season and reached the Section III Class C-2 championship match before losing 3-0 to Morrisville-Eaton by scores of 25-21, 25-11 and 25-9.

The Fort Plain baseball team won the WAC North Division title and reached the Section II Class C title game before losing to defending Class C champion Voorheesville 14-4 at Joe Bruno Stadium on May 30.

The Amsterdam girls tennis team continued its dominance in the Big 10, winning its 18th straight Big 10 championship and extending its league win streak to 180 matches. The Lady Rams went 15-3 overall on the season, losing to Albany Academy, 7-0, in the semifinals of the Section II Class A tournament.

Amsterdam’s Caitlin Gannon and Arizona Santiago defeated teammates Tessa Filiberto and Gabby DiSalvi, 6-4, 6-0 to win the Big 10 doubles championship.

In addition to another Section II Class B crown, the Johnstown volleyball team won the Foothills Council title with a 13-1 league mark.

Area golfers fare well

Broadalbin-Perth’s Alex Bond and Brett Getman each shot 79 to tie for second at the Section II Class B golf tournament at Ballston Spa Country Club in October

Gloversville’s Josh Fonda and Johnstown’s Chris Geleta each shot 80 to tie for fifth.

All four golfers advanced to the Section II ABCD Qualifier at Orchard Creek.

Scotia-Glenville won the Class B team title with a total of 335, while Glens Falls (363) was second and Johnstown (373) was third.

Northville’s Jordon Fordyce also advanced to the Class ABCD qualifier, posting the low round of the day to win the individual title at the Section II Class C-D Tournament at Ballston Spa Country Club.

On track

Amsterdam’s John Hardies placed 20th overall and 13th in the Division I state track and field meet in Middletown in June, while Gloversville’s Chanel Thomas was 10th overall and seventh in Division I in the pentathlon.

Fonda-Fultonville’s and Broadalbin-Perth’s Mackenzie Ottati also competed at the outdoor state meet

Therrien, making her second straight trip to the state meet, placed 14th in the Division II 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.07 seconds.

In her third straight trip to the state meet, Ottati finished 26th overall and 12th in Division II with a time of 1:11.33.

Gloversvllle’s John Knox III placed 18th overall and 12th in Division I in the 3,200 meters at the state meet.

Knox also qualified for the indoor track and field state championships in March at Cornell University. Knox placed ninth in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:29.59.

Knox was also selected by the coaches as the recipient of the Section II sportsmanship award and represented the area in the meets opening ceremonies.

Santos earns state spot

Amsterdam’s Kristian Santos has already punched his return ticket to the state diving meet. Santos posted an 11-dive total of 457.85 to win the Bethlehem Diving Invitational on Dec. 14. Santos’ score also earned him an automatic bid to the state meet Feb. 28 and March at Webster Schroeder High School in Webster. Santos finished 19th at the state meet last season.

Huskies’ Fonda

qualifies for states

Gloversville’s Josh Fonda fired a round of 76 at the Section II New York State qualifier at Orchard Creek Golf Club to earn a spot on the Section II team in the state championship in October.

Fonda finished third overall with a two-day total of 153.

Shenendehowa’s Kyle Matthews took home medalist honors with a round of 73 to bring his two-day total to 151.

Fonda will be in a group of nine Section II players at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Golf Championship in June at Cornell.

It will be the second straight trip to states for Fonda, who made it last season as an alternate.

Fonda finished tied for 59th, posting a two-day total of 170. Fonda carded an 81 to finish the first round tied for 43rd and posted an 89 in the second round.

Shaker’s Davis Jensen won the individual title by three shots with a five-over-par total of 147 over New Hartford’s Alec Bard.

Section III won the sectional championship with a two-day total of 1,098, which includes the best seven-out-of-nine scores from both rounds. They finished seven shots ahead of second-place Section V and nine shots ahead of third-place Section XI. Section II finished eighth with a total of 1,169.

Ahrens, Bogdan

compete at states

Canajoharie-Fort Plain’s Jordan Ahrens placed 15th in the boys Class C race at the state cross country championships at Queensbury High School in November. Ahrens finished the 3.1-mile course in a time of 16:20.7.

Broadalbin-Perth’s Greg Bogdan placed 16th in the boys Class C race with a time of 16:28.7.

For Bogdan, the meet marked his third trip to the championships in four years. He also qualified in his freshman and junior years.

Askew swims at states

Johnstown’s Erica Askew improved on her 17th-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries to place 13th overall at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls swimming and diving championships at Ithaca College in November.

Askew posted a time of 1:07.33 in the finals, bettering her time of 1:07.80 during her preliminary swim.

Long Beach’s Margaret Aroesty won the event with a time of 1:04.10 in the final.

State skiing

Mayfield’s Tom McClellan finished 21st in the boys 10K classic race at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Nordic Skiing Championships in February at Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area.

McClellan posted a time of 35:40.8 in his second trip to the state meet.

Mayfield’s Mitch Akowicz finished 44th with a time of 41:51.5 in his first trip to the state meet.

Mayfield’s Lidija Nikollaj placed 26th out of 45 skiers with a time of 34:45.7 in her third trip to the state meet.

Marshall bowls at states

Johnstown’s Jimmy Marshall rolled a 1,247 six-game series, helping Section II to a third-place finish at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Strike N Spare Lanes in March.

Marshall rolled a 225 high game and a 631 series in the first session and a 239-616 in the second. Section II had a total pin count of 6,579.

Section XI won the tournament with a six-game pin count of 6,804.

Sectional track

The Canajoharie girls track and field team placed second in the team standings and Seth Ferguson was a triple winner for the Cougars at the Section II Group 5 championship meet at the Fort Plain Sports Complex in May.

Ferguson topped the field in the 110-meter high hurdles with his time of 16.20, the 400-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 1:00.83 and the triple jump with a leap of 39-08.0.

Jordyn Logan hit the line first in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:34.57.

The Cougars placed third in the boys standings, while host Fort Plain was sixth in the field that was won by Berne-Knox-Westerlo.

Middleburgh edged Canajoharie for the girls championship and Fort Plain was 11th.

Broadalbin-Perth’s Mackenzie Ottati and Anna Smith, Fonda-Fultonville’s Rebekah Hentnik and Mayfield/Northville’s Tom McClellan all won individual championship, while the Fonda-Fultonville boys 3,200-meter relay team scored a first place victory at the Section II Group 3 track and field championships at Knox Field.

Ottati took first-place honors in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles with her time of 1:08.91. She also placed fourth in the high jump at a height of 4-08.

Smith took top honors in the girls shot put with her toss of 35-02.25.

Hentnik cleared the bar at 8-06 to take home first place honors in the pole vault.

McClellan was first to the line in the 800-meter run with his time of 2:01.46 and also placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run in 9:43.33.

Omijah Piening, Tyler Angioli, Cameron Gilligan and Matt Hoffman teamed up to capture the 3,200-meter relay championship with their time of 8:19.2.

Schalmont won the girls team title with 78 points. Schuylerville was second with 61, Broadalbin-Perth was third with 55 and Fonda-Fultonville fourth with 53. Mayfield-Northville placed 18th with five points.

Fonda-Fultonville was runner-up to Chatham in the boys team standings, 142-94. Mayfield-Northville was 10th with 26.5 and Broadalbin-Perth was 11th with 23.

The Amsterdam boys track and field team finished second at the Section II Group 2 Championships at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk.

The Rams finished with 124 team points, trailing only Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, which won the team title with 135.5 points. Gloversville finished seventh with 34 points, while Johnstown was 10th with 13 points.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake also won the girls team title, finishing with 161 points. Holy Names was second with 118 points and Glens Falls was third with 64 points. Gloversville was sixth with 34 points, Amsterdam was ninth with 23 points and Johnstown was 13th with 3 points.

In the boys meet, Amsterdam’s Izaiah Brown won the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters. Brown finished the 100 meters with a time of 11.44 seconds, the 200 meters with a time of 22.93 seconds and the 400 meters with a time of 48.59 seconds. Brown also finished third in the high jump with a height of 5-10.

John Hardies won the 800 meters for the Rams, finishing with a time of 1:58.60, while Luis Laboy won the long jump with a leap of 20-6 1/2.

Amsterdam also won the 3,200 relay as the team of Hardies, Nick Raponi, Gabe Fernandez and Anthony Stewart finished with a time of 8:24.24. Amsterdam also placed second in the 400 relay and third in the 1,600 relay.

Brett Stanavich (50.42 seconds) was second in the 400 meters for Amsterdam, while Nick Raponi (4:38.91) placed second in the 1,600 meters.

John Knox III won the 1,600 meters for Gloversville with a time of 4:25.1.

Adam Sleezer set a new school record for the Huskies in the 3,000 steeplechase, finished second with a time of 10:20.1.

Matthew Rivera was third in the 400 hurdles with a time of 56.1 seconds and fourth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.4 seconds for the Huskies.

Johnstown’s Brandon Spaid placed third in the pole vault with a height of 12-0.

In the girls meet, Chanel Thomas was second in the long jump (16-6) and second in the 110 hurdles (15.1 seconds) for Gloversville.


In February, standout Kaitlin Wood surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career on the Broadalbin-Perth girls basketball team.

Johnstown baseball coach Aaron Mraz posted his 100th career win as part of the Sir Bills’ run to the Section II Class B title game.

This fall, B-P’s Katie Herba scored her 100th career goal for the Lady Patriots’ girls soccer team.

In December, Fonda-Fultonville’s Dom Mancini and Amsterdam’s Marcus Torres each recorded their 100th career win on the wrestling mat.

FC Sports Hall of Fame inducts second class

On Oct. 12, the Fulton County Baseball and Sports Hall of Fame hosted its second induction ceremony at Parkhurst Field in Gloversville. This year’s ceremony honored five players that played in Gloversville and Johnstown near the turn of the 20th century.

A vintage baseball game also was part of the festivities.

The event drew star power to the area, as former New York Yankees hurler Jim Bouton and local baseball icon Jack McKeon layed important roles in the daylong event. Bouton, 1962 World Series champion and author of the controversial memoir “Ball Four,” pitched for the Pioneers, while McKeon will be coming out of retirement to manage the A.J., & G team. McKeon managed the Florida Marlins to a championship over the Yankees in 2003, making him the oldest person to ever win a World Series. He was the first honoree to be inducted into the Fulton County Baseball and Sports Hall of Fame last year.

In between innings of the vintage game, the 2013 honorees were inducted.

The first inductee was Jack Chesbro. “Happy Jack” Chesbro, a MLB hall of famer, won 41 games in one season for the New York Yankees and played for the Johnstown Buckskins in 1895. Inductee Cupid Childs enjoyed a 13-year MLB career before joining the A.J., & G’s in 1902. George Bell is another former member of the A.J., & G’s who went on to play five seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Another inductee, Joe Birmingham played centerfield with the A.J., and G’s before going on to both play for and manage the Cleveland Naps in the early 1900s. Finally, Howard Earl enjoyed two major league seasons with the Chicago Colts and the Milwaukee Brewers before going on to play for and manage the A.J., and G’s from 1906-1921.

Following the game and induction ceremony, the Fulton County Baseball and Sports Hall of Fame placed a Sports Historical Road Marker on the Harrison Street side of the Gloversville Little League property. The marker will proudly designate that baseball has been played at the location since 1906.