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Year in Review: Miscellaneous

Everything but UVM and the high schools
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 4:37 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - With 2021 approaching its conclusion, the WCAX sports department has spent the past few days looking back at the year that was in our region. We’ve already covered UVM and the high school ranks, so today, we’re taking a look back at everything else.

The Winter sports season was a little bit messy with COVID at its peak early in 2021, but plenty with Vermont ties made the most of it: Shelburne native and former CVU gymnast Megan Nick claimed her first two aerials world cup wins. And Waitsfield native Ben Ritchie captured the US national title and World junior championship in the men’s slalom.

At the college level, Dartmouth, Middlebury, and St. Mike’s sat out the Winter sports season, while Castleton and Norwich played limited mostly in-state competition on the ice and court. The Spring would look a bit more normal.

UVM alumnus Dom Ducharme took over as interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens in February and helped lead the Habs on an incredible run to the Stanley Cup final, much to the delight of their fans on this side of the border. Unfortunately those fans couldn’t get across to watch their team in person...and Montreal would eventually fall to Tampa in five games, with another UVM alum, Ross Colton, delivering the Cup-winning goal for the Bolts.

As the weather started to warm up and vaccines became more readily available, the sports scene in our region thrived. Drivers revved their engines in front of fans at Thunder Road with limited restrictions in May before the track could welcome packed crowds in the following month. Jason Corliss again dominated in that 66 car, claiming his third straight King of the Road title.

The Vermont amateur titles went to a legend and a young gun. U-32 grad Bryson Richards out of the Country Club of Barre claimed the men’s am by eight strokes at Williston Golf Club. It was his first ever title. Up at Newport Country Club, Holly Reynolds once again reined supreme on the women’s side. Playing for the Copley Country Club, Reynolds would coast to a 6-shot win to claim her tenth career amateur crown.

The baseball diamonds were abuzz with activity again this Summer as well. After leading U-32 to its first state title, Owen Kellington would be taken in the 4th round of the MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The boys from Essex pulled off a sweep of the Little League and Legion state titles, with Essex Town Little League and Post 91 being crowned champs.

The Vermont Mountaineers and Upper Valley Nighthawks returned to NECBL action after sitting out the Summer of 2020, but it would be another collegiate summer ball team that made the biggest splash. After losing their minor league affiliation last Winter, the Vermont Lake Monsters were reincarnated in the Futures League this past Summer. After a bit of a rough start, the Monsters caught fire in July, setting franchise and league records with 14 consecutive wins. After earning the FCBL regular season title, the Monsters would finish the job in the playoffs, downing Pittsfield to earn just the second league championship in franchise history.

It was an emotional return to Little Fenway, Little Wrigley, and the Little Field of Dreams in Essex for the 20th and final Travis Roy Foundation Wiffleball Tournament in August. Roy passed in the Fall of 2020, and in his will asked for the foundation to take a step back from active fundraising efforts and put the money they had raised into a trust for spinal cord injury patients and research. But in one final hurrah as official sponsors of the tournament, the foundation set a record, raising more than a million dollars to bring the two-decade total north of $7 million. Best Weekend of the Year indeed.

The Shrine Bowl returned to Castleton in August as well after a year off, with New Hampshire once again claiming the win in a thunderstorm-shortened affair.

And after being pushed back a year due to COVID concerns, the Tokyo Olympics went on...albeit in pretty strange fashion with spectators barred. Three Vermonters competed in Japan. With family and friends watching in Keene Valley New York, Peru Vermont native Brooke Mooney was closest to a medal, her US women’s 8 finished just off the podium in fourth in rowing.

Burlington’s Ilona Maher and the US women’s rugby 7′s side was a force to be reckoned with. The former Seahorse star would record three tries as the Americans won their group, but would eventually fall to Great Britain in the quarterfinals.

And Montgomery native Elle Purrier St. Pierre delighted friends and family back at Richford high school by getting all the way to the final of the women’s 1500 meter run. She’d eventually finish 10th in the world, best among the three Americans who qualified for the event.

Back at the college level, Dartmouth football would once again earn bragging rights as Ivy League champions with a 9-1 campaign.

And in D3 field hockey, Middlebury reined supreme, completing a perfect season with their 4th consecutive national title.

With snow once again falling across our region, all eyes are back on the Winter sports. Burke Mountain Academy grad Mikaela Shiffrin took her fifth consecutive slalom win at Killington in November after the GS was canceled the day before. UVM grad Paula Moltzan would finish seventh.

And this past weekend, Lake Placid held US Olympic qualifiers in both Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined. It should be a fun next month to keep an eye on the ice and snow to see who with ties to our region will head to Beijing in February for the Olympics.

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