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What a year it was: Top 10 stories of 2016

What a year it was: Top 10 stories of 2016

What a year it was: Top 10 stories of 2016
First-year Union football coach Jeff Behrman led the Dutchmen to their first win since 2014.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Within the local sports scene, 2016 did not disappoint.

There were historic firsts, ends and everything in between. The year provided the championship victories to rally around, and even bigger moments that will always make 2016 stick out in our minds.

Through all of those memorable stories, here are the 10 that stood out the most to us in 2016:

10. SLIMMEST OF MARGINS

By just 0.006 seconds, Tucker West won his second Luge World Cup title this December in Lake Placid.

West, a sophomore at Union College, also won the world title in 2014.

9. UALBANY WOMEN’S HOOPS COACH, STAR MOVE ON

Weeks after the UAlbany women’s basketball program finished off a 2015-16 season that included winning its fifth consecutive America East Conference championship, coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson left for the University of Central Florida.

Also, Shereesha Richards, the program’s all-time leading scorer, graduated.

During her six seasons at UAlbany, “Coach Abe” went 146-47. Joanna Bernabei-McNamee was named her replacement.

8. UNION TEAMS SNAP SKIDS

With new coaches leading them, both the Union College football and women’s hockey teams broke winless streaks.

In September, first-year Union football coach Jeff Behrman’s team broke a 12-game losing streak with a 28-13 win against Western Connecticut State.

Then, with a 4-2 win in October against Penn State, new women’s hockey coach Josh Sciba helped the Dutchwomen end an NCAA-record 55-game winless streak.

7. TREMENDOUS TRIO GRADUATES

Three great local athletes finished off remarkable chapters in their respective careers during 2017.

Duanesburg’s Nick Gwiazdowski bid to win a third consecutive NCAA wrestling championship at North Carolina State came up one win short, but he later rebounded to help the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club to victory at the World Freestyle Wrestling Clubs Cup. Before joining a professional league, Niskayuna’s Kayla Treanor ended her Syracuse University career as her program’s all-time leading goal scorer. Meanwhile, Clifton Park’s Kevin Huerter wrapped up a memorable Shenendehowa High School boys’ basketball career with a nod as Mr. New York Basketball.

6. SPA RECORDS FALL

Bob Baffert pointed out that “performances like this are very rare.” How rare? Never-been-done-before rare.

The Hall of Fame trainer had a lightly raced colt named Arrogate entered in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, where they’ve been running thoroughbreds since 1864 at its current location. At 11-1, all Arrogate did was break General Assembly’s 37-year-old track record for a mile and a quarter, winning the Travers in 1:59.36.

Mechanicville native Chad Brown also broke a record, winning 40 races for his first training title at his hometown track.

5. FREIHOFER’S CHANGE

The $28,500 in prize money for the Freihofer’s Run for Women was limited to U.S. runners this year. That switch came with designs to support U.S. runners during an Olympic year, as well as to steer away from track and field’s international doping issues.

Colorado’s Brianne Nelson won the race.

4. THE STREAK ENDS

What started Oct. 5, 1990, ended Oct. 19 of this year for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball program when Shenendehowa topped the Spartans 25-20, 25-9, 25-17 to end their remarkable winning streak of 390 Suburban Council matches.

Burnt Hills head coach Gary Bynon, whose team later advanced to the state championship tournament, spoke proudly of his program’s athletes after the historic loss.

“It’s high school kids carrying the weight of 26 years,” he said. “I want them to always remember that they were part of a team that won 390 matches in a row when kids were sick, when kids were having a bad day, when kids were away, against teams playing their best match of the year.”

3. UALBANY HOSTS, SWEEPS ALBANY CUP

For the first time since Siena and UAlbany resumed playing basketball against one another in 2001, the Great Danes’ SEFCU Arena hosted the matchups.

Through the controversy and war of words surrounding the location of this year’s Albany Cup games, UAlbany won the women’s game in overtime and held on in the men’s game after a late Siena charge.

2. BIGGER THAN SPORTS

Communities came together in support of a pair of area programs hit hard by tragedy this past fall high school sports season.

First, area soccer teams, fans and more rallied around the Schalmont girls’ soccer team and freshman Davia Rossi, who was diagnosed shortly before the season with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Games were used as fundraisers, while “Rossi Strong” T-shirts and bracelets became a symbol of unity.

Later in the fall, a day before Holy Trinity was set to play its first-ever postseason game, a fire ripped through the team’s fieldhouse. Its equipment, uniforms and more destroyed, Holy Trinity still played the next day after donations poured in from around the region to get the team outfitted and ready.

1. NO. 3 IS NO. 1

Two days before his Shenendehowa baseball team won a state championship in walk-off fashion, star pitcher Ian Anderson was selected as the No. 3 overall pick in June’s MLB draft.

Weeks later, he signed a professional contract with the Atlanta Braves organization which included a $4 million signing bonus. Between two teams in his first season, Anderson allowed nine earned runs and struck out 36 batters across 39 2⁄3 innings.

In his senior season at Shenendehowa, Anderson allowed three earned runs while striking out 55 batters in 42 innings. In the team’s postseason run, he went 4-0 and did not allow an earned run in 28 innings.

ALSO CONSIDERED

Amsterdam boys’ basketball tops Scotia-Glenville, ends Tartans’ 52-game Foothills Council winning streak and 78-game Section II winning streak . . . Union College men’s hockey suffers first losing season since 2006-07 . . . Saratoga Springs gymnastics wins 15th consecutive area team title, Julia Van Horne wins third straight all-around title . . . Saratoga Springs’ Alpine skier Sarah Coombs wins solo state title, Queensbury boys’ team win state championship . . . Saratoga Springs boys’ indoor track and field teammates Tom Conboy (pole vault) and Aidan Tooker (3,200-meter run) win state titles . . . Schuylerville wrestling’s Orion Anderson wins state championship . . . Shenendehowa wrestling’s Kevin Parker dominates on way to second state title . . . Memorable career of UAlbany men’s basketball player Peter Hooley concludes.

New Jersey Devils sign three-year deal to keep its AHL affiliate in Albany . . . Albany Devils’ Rick Kowalsky named AHL Coach of the Year . . . Albany Devils lose in Calder Cup North Division final to Toronto Marlies in seven games . . . Niskayuna Rowing girls’ Junior 8+ boat wins state, Stotesbury and national championships . . . Duanesburg softball win 19th consecutive WAC title . . . Ballston Spa softball wins first-ever sectional title . . . Shenendehowa boys’ lacrosse ends Niskayuna’s 81-game area winning streak in championship game . . .

Rodger Wyland’s radio show’s 15-year run at WOFX ends with switch to WTMM . . . Fort Plain baseball wins state championship.
Shenendehowa baseball wins state title in walk-off fashion . . . In girls’ outdoor track and field, Cambridge’s Helen Mooney (high jump), Cobleskill-Richmondville’s Kaitlyn Klein (shot put) and Shenendehowa’s Hannah Reale (800-meter run) win state championships . . . Shenendehowa girls’ track and field 4x800-meter relay of Hannah Reale, Julia Zachgo, Emily Crounse and Danielle Jordan, as well as hammer thrower Jill Shippee, win national championships . . . Guilderland boys’ basketball product Andrew Platek commits to North Carolina . . . Tri-City ValleyCats named host of 2017 New York-Penn League All-Star Game . . . Amsterdam Mohawks win fourth PGCBL title in five years . . . Albany Athletics win AABC World Series.

Songbird sweeps the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama . . . Averill Park’s Rudy Winkler, UAlbany’s Grace Claxton compete in Olympics . . . Bob “Wolf” Wohlfeld’s short tenure as co-host of “Levack and Wolf” on WTMM comes, goes . . . Legendary high school football coach Joe Grasso dies . . . Stillwater football edges Mechanicville 29-28 in memorable Indian Bowl . . . Mohonasen girls’ soccer wins program’s first sectional title . . . Longtime WRGB sports director Doug Sherman leaves post to join ESPN full time . . . Shenendehowa field hockey completes undefeated season with a state championship . . . Niskayuna native Louis Serafini wins the men’s MVP Health Care Stockade-athon 15k, while Saratoga Springs’ Hannah Davidson takes the women’s race for the third time in four years.

UAlbany football narrowly misses spot in the FCS playoffs . . . UAlbany men’s lacrosse coach Scott Marr, legend Lyle Thompson visit Dakota Access Pipeline protests . . . Joe Girard III, a basketball star, leads Glens Falls football to state championship . . . Bumped up in classification before season, Troy football wins state title . . . MMA comes to Times Union Center . . . Saratoga Springs girls’ cross country’s Kelsey Chmiel named state’s top runner after winning state, federation titles . . . Shenendehowa boys’ basketball pushes league winning streak to 50 games . . . Union College hockey senior Mike Vecchione emerges as a favorite for 2017 Hobey Baker Award.

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