Thursday, December 29, 2011
The Top 10 Stories of the Year in New Jersey
By By Brandon Parker
The year 2011 is winding down to a close and what a year it was in sports. Here are the top 10 stories from the New Jersey high school sports scene:
10. Pin 'Em Down
Andrew Campolattano epitomized dominance on the mat, capping his prep career with a fourth state wrestling title (215 pounds). The Brook Bound senior also set a state record in career wins (178) and pins (117) and lost just once in four years. He's now a freshman wrestler at Ohio State.
9. What a Farewell Vincent Ascolese's final football game as coach on the North Bergen sidelines was one he'll never forget. Bruins wideout Debray Tavarez caught a 22-yard touchdown pass as time expired to stun previously undefeated Montclair, 14-13, in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 championship.
8. Gillie the Kidd
Michael Gilchrist may have fallen short of a perfect season and state title as a senior at St. Patrick, but one of the greatest players to come out of New Jersey still made his mark. Gilchrist earned Mr. Basketball USA honors before being named co-MVP at the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago. Now known as Michael Gilchrist-Kidd in honor of his late uncle, he's holding his own as a freshman swingman for Kentucky.
7. California Love
Kyle Anderson could have gone anywhere in the country to play college basketball, but on the day before his birthday (Sept. 19), the St. Anthony senior committed to UCLA. Anderson's decision was huge for the Bruins, who snagged the nation's fifth-best senior recruit.
6. No Gray Area Winning a state title is nothing new for St. Benedict's Prep — the Gray Bees copped their 23rd straight Prep A crown this past fall. But the Gray Bees ended a five-year drought atop the national standings by going 24-0 and finishing atop the POWERADE FAB 50. Christiano Francois led the way with 43 goals and 22 assists.
5. CBA Runs Away with State, National Titles Christian Brothers Academy tore through the regular season before winning its record 17th Meet of Champions crown and extending their national-record dual-meet win streak to 315 (and counting). The Colts went on to finish first at the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals meet with a meet-record 91 points and a course-record average of 15:58.99.
4. Perfect Saint
St. Anthony entered the season with a couple new faces, as Kyle Anderson and Myles Mack joined the Friars after Paterson Catholic was forced to shut down. The duo turned out to be the biggest reasons behind the Friars' 33-0 season, state title and top ranking in the final POWERADE FAB 50.
3. King Edward With the Rosa twins and Lukas Verzbicas gone, Edward Cheserek wasted little time picking up the baton as the nation's best cross country runner. The St. Benedict's junior harrier won all eight of his races this season, setting course records in the first seven before winning the prestigious Foot Locker Nationals meet.
2. The Don After beginning the year at No. 1 and with a bevy of tough opponents on the schedule, Don Bosco Prep's football team passed the test with flying colors. Led by a suffocating defense, the Ironmen went 11-0 en route to their sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 title and second national crown in three years.
1. Who's No. 1? Perhaps it's fitting the top story was the epic battle for the state and nation's top spot on the hardwood when No. 2 St. Anthony and No. 1 St. Patrick met in the Non-Public North B championship. The Celtics led for most of the way, but the Friars put together a late run in the fourth quarter to take control and win, 62-45, at the RAC.
Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.