By Greg Klein
---- — An Olympian who came just shy of the podium. A race enthusiast who found his way into the pits of NASCAR. A basketball team that made a state title run and a baseball team and pitcher that won its third straight league title. Those were the highest of the 2012 highlights in local sports. Here’s a look back:
The year began as it ends, with a team from Cooperstown being very good in basketball. The last chapters in the story of the Redskins girls basketball team will have to wait until 2013 to be written, but the Cooperstown boys journey has been recorded.
The Redskin boys finished the regular season undefeated in the Center State Conference. They won the Section Three title. They beat Notre Dame of Elmira in the sectional round and made it to the state tournament in Class C.
In the state semifinals against OTC Middle College in Glens Falls in March, Cooperstown led by one point in overtime with 10 seconds left.
A disputed foul call sent Cordell Torres to the foul line. Torres made both free throws and OTC won the game, 58-57.
The Redskins finished the season 21-2. Jay Davine won The Daily Star Player of the Year award and set the school record for assists in a season. Jeremiah Ford and Michael Moakler also made The Daily Star All-Star Team. Coach Dave Bertram won Coach of the Year honors, the third time he has won the award.
Other local teams had success as well. Cherry Valley-Springfield’s boys team won the Tri-Valley East. Milford’s girls team pulled off a big upset when it eliminated Tri-Valley champ Franklin from the Section Four Class D tournament. Cooperstown’s girls won their division and made it to the semifinals of the Section Three playoffs.
CV-S repeated as Tri-Valley East baseball champion after a three-way battle with Milford and Richfield Springs. The division title went down to the last week of the season, and all three teams had excellent seasons.
The Patriots got tremendous pitching all season long. Seniors Brett Adams, Scott Stiles and Andrew Bosc all threw no-hitters during the year and CV-S sent retiring coach Ed Dubben out with one final title — he won five in 10 years of coaching.
In the title game, Adams and his teammates beat West champ Edmeston. The lefty pitcher made his third start in a Tri-Valley title game, and won for the third time. The Patriots beat the Panthers,11-3.
CV-S ended the season 13-5 after losing in the second round of the playoffs to Hancock, the defending Section Four Class D champ. Hancock won the title again in 2012, defeating Richfield Springs in the section final.
Milford lost in the semifinals to the Indians, but the Wildcats had a strong baseball season. With a young team and a strong pitching staff, Milford could have another big year in 2013.
The Wildcats softball team just missed a Tri-Valley East title, losing a game and the title on the final day of the regular season to Schenevus. The Dragons went on to beat Franklin for the cross-over title as well.
Cooperstown softball also had a big year. The Redskins fell in the semifinals of the Section Three tournament, but not before several players set team records. Nicole Cring set the single-season record for victories and strikeouts. Alannah Hagerty and Maggie Hall each broke the single-season record for hits in a season.
With all three players back, 2013 could be an even bigger year for Cooperstown softball.
On the track, Cooperstown sophomore Lucy Ford made the state tournament and finished 11th in Division II in the high jump.
The summer of 2012 will be remembered locally for the London Olympics and former CCS student Sarah Groff.
Groff, or Groffy as she is known, the daughter of Dr. Gerald Groff and Jeannine Groff, qualified for the Olympic triathalon. Qualifying, however, was just the beginning for Groffy.
On Aug. 4, Groff competed in her event. She did well in the swimming and even better on the bike. Although the running portion of the event is not her greatest strength, she persevered. In the final lap, she was still in the lead pack of four runners.
In the final minute of the race, Groff fell off the lead pack. She finished fourth. Cooperstown and the region celebrated her success at making the Olympics and at coming close to a medal.
Groff, who attended CCS through 10th grade, finished seventh in the world in the women’s triathalon in 2012. She has stated her goal of competing in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and coming home with a medal.
An annual event in Cooperstown is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum inductions. In July, the Baseball Hall of Fame added two more members when Barry Larkin and Ron Santo were enshrined.
Larkin, a shortstop with the Cincinnati Reds for 19 seasons, made the Hall of Fame in his third time on the ballot with 86.4 percent of the vote. He won a World Series in 1990 with the Reds and was a 12-time All Star.
The Golden Era Veterans Committee elected Santo, the Chicago Cubs’ third baseman and announcer, almost one year to the day after his death in December of 2010. He made nine All-Star teams and won five Golden Gloves.
The induction weekend in late July, according to organizers, had about 18,000 fans attend — a slightly above-average number.
Another former resident made his mark in a very different type of race. Paul Wolfe, a 1995 Milford graduate, found himself in the middle of the NASCAR Chase for the Spring Cup. Wolfe, who was known for his love of racing even in his school days, worked his way up through the pits of NASCAR.
Three years ago, he got the job as a crew chief for Penske Racing. In 2011, he became the crew chief for the No. 2 car driven by Brad Keselowski. In their second year, the team led much of the Chase series, and ended up winning the Cup in the final race. To racing fans, winning the Spring Cup is as big as winning a Super Bowl or a Stanley Cup. For Wolfe, who started racing on upstate New York tracks as a teenager, the victory was the result of years of hard work.
High school soccer and swimming had some thrills in the fall, too. Milford, CV-S and Cooperstown all made the playoffs in boys and girls soccer, the only time all year that all the local teams ended up in the playoffs.
The top teams were the boys from Cooperstown and CV-S and the girls from Milford. All three were expected to have rebuilding years after big success in 2011, but all three rebuilt quickly.
The Redskins featured 2011 Daily Star Player of the Year Michael Rowley. Cooperstown lost most of the rest of its starters from 2011 but still tied Hamilton for the division title. Rowley won co-MVP honors in the Center State Conference. The team entered the Section Three Class C tournament as the No. 1 seed, but got upset in the semifinals by Manlius-Pebble Hill.
CV-S, the defending Section Four Class D champion, did even better in the regular season. The Patriots didn’t lose a game all season, winning the Tri-Valley East title again. They ended up losing in the Tri-Valley title game to Morris, but avenged the loss in the playoffs, before losing in the section semifinals.
The Wildcat girls lost their leading scorer and goalie to graduation. Then they lost their top two returning scorers to injuries. Although the team was heavy on eighth and ninth graders, Milford got better and better as the season went on. In the last game of the season, Milford clinched the Tri-Valley East title. Then the Wildcats tied Morris in the championship game, repeating as co-champions of the league.
In swimming, the Cooperstown girls won the Frontier League for the third year in a row. Diver Catherine Borgstrom made sectionals for the second year in a row.
As the winter season starts, the Redskin boys are looking just as good. Diver Aaron Idelson and swimmers Erik Mebust, Sean Mebust and Milford’s Luke Zenir are leading the way for a team that is undefeated and also likely to win the Frontier League.
Other teams to watch for are the Cooperstown girls basketball team, the CV-S boys basketball team and the Redskins volleyball team. While 2012 will be hard to top locally, it is looking like 2013 will be a good year for local teams as well.