As 2011 comes to a close, it's time to look back at what made news in Union County sports. Here are some of the most memorable stories of the past year. Keep reading this week for more of our "Year in Review."
Athletes Making History
March 7, 2011: Barber State Wrestling Champ After Thrilling Final
Christian Barber, a 152-lb senior at Westfield High School, became the most successful wrestler in Westfield history as well as the first state champ in a generation.
June 8, 2011: Murray Drafted by Houston Astros
Westfield High School senior AJ Murray was drafted by the Houston Astros. Ranked as the 77th high school player nationwide, Murray, a catcher, was a 48th round pick during the Major League Baseball draft.
Aug. 8, 2011: Scotch Plains Native Competes in China for USA Mens Team
On Aug. 8, Ashton Gibbs boarded a plane to China to compete with the USA Men’s Basketball Team in the World University Games.
Oct. 5, 2011: Delpopolo Has Sights Set On Olympic Team
Nick Delpopolo, son of Cranford High School teacher Joyce Delpopolo, earned a gold medal at the GB World Cup and jumped all the way to the No. 16 spot in his particular Judo ranking class.
Dec. 3, 2011: Cranford Makes Football History
The Cougars captured their first NJSIAA title with 27-0 victory over Parsippany Hills. Junior quarterback Reggie Green rushed for 124 yards and scored twice including a 41-yard TD run which set the tone for the day in Cranford’s 27-0 triumph over Parsippany Hills in a North 2, Group III state tournament championship contest on the Kean University turf. The shutout dropped Parsippany Hills to 8-4 and denied the Morris County school a chance to win its first state title.
Dec. 13, 2011: Clark Pop Warner Cheerleaders Bring Home National Trophy
For the first time in Clark Pop Warner history, a Clark cheer squad, the Midget Large Novice team, earned the privilege of competing in the National Pop Warner Cheer Championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The team earned 4th place in the competition.
Coaches in the News
June 23, 2011: New Providence Coach Retires After 53 Years
The long time Pioneers golf and baseball coach retired after 53 years at the school including 32 years as the head baseball coach. Miller was so successful that the Pioneers now play their games on “Paul Miller Field.”
May 13, 2011: Johnson Football Coach Nick Gregorio Not Rehired
In the halls of Arthur L. Johnson High School, news spread quickly regarding the school board's decision not to rehire head football coach and gym teacher Nick Gregorio for the 2011-2012 school year. The news led players and other students to react swiftly, passing around a signature petition to keep the second-year coach. Ultimately, the board's decision was upheld, and in June...
June 3, 2011: Mike Mancino Named Johnson Head Football Coach
The Clark Board of Education unanimously approved Mike Mancino to replace former head football coach Nick Gregorio, whose contract was not renewed this year.
"We're ecstatic about this decision," said Johnson Athletic Director Gus Kalikas. "Mike's been part of the program since 1993, and he's been part of two state championships and five conference championships."
Feb. 17, 2011: Three Johnson Athletes Sign Letters of Intent With Colleges
PJ Franciotti (football), Gabi Levine (swimming) and Jacob Stockl (golf) know how to win on their sports teams and in the classroom. The three students from the Class of 2011 signed with Colgate, St. Bonaventure and Rutgers, respectively.
July 22, 2011: Fuschetto Leads All-Stars to Victory in Snapple Bowl
Another win for the Pioneers football program. Coach Frank Bottone led graduating seniors Vinny Fuschetto and Richard Nelson into the Snapple Bowl, the annual Union vs. Middlesex county football all-star showdown. The Union County squad snapped a five-year losing streak with a 28-6 win over their opponent.
Sept. 24, 2011: NPHS To Be Honored With ShopRite Cup
The Shop Rite Cup is presented to six top high schools each season. NJ schools earn points by finishing in the top four of their group in the 32-NJSIAA-sanctioned sports.
May 12, 2011: Mustangs Bring U-10 Baseball Championship Back to Mountainside
The boys of the Mustang Travel Sports Club U10 baseball team took home the title of Wooden Bat Challenge Tournament Champions earlier this year from Chester, NY., finishing the four-game tournament undefeated. Read full story: http://patch.com/A-htsF
June 4, 2011: Flashmob Breaks Out at Race Track
Jockeys join in fun and fundraising all for a good cause. Watch video at: http://patch.com/A-jtpX
May 15, 2011: Cranford Dominates in Baseball Final
The top-seeded Cranford Cougars baseball team captured its second straight crown in the Union County Tournament, defeating second seed Governor Livingston Highlanders 14-1 at Kean University’s Jim Hynes Stadium.
The Raiders had made it to the State Championship six times before but on February 27, the Raiders defeated Princeton 90-80 on in the NJSIAA Public B Final at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
The title was the team’s sixth in seven years. The girls went on to beat Somerville for the State Sectional Semifinal title.
Feb. 13, 2011: Dayton Girls Hoops Winning Streak Comes to an End
The Lady Bulldogs had a season marked by a number of highlights on the court. They battered opponents in the regular season with an eye-popping 13-game winning streak. They kept up the act in the onset of the playoffs, dominating Brearley in a 65-32 win in the first round of the NJSIAA North 2, Group 1 state playoffs before falling to New Providence, the same team that ended their winning streak, in the next round.
May 12, 2011: Alexa Williams is Aiming High
April 26, 2011: Girls Track Sets New Medley Record at Westfield Relays
Boys again won the title at the Dodgertown relays. Girls set a medley record at the April 16 Westfield Relays. Several Hilltoppers had record-setting outings at the Penn Relays. Five athletes qualified for the Tournament of Champions. Girls won a sectional title.
Sept. 24, 2011: Summit Remains Undefeated
Oct. 27, 2011: Summit Girls Win Cross Country Championship
For the third year in a row, the Summit girls varsity cross country team took first place in the team and individual categories at the Union County Cross Country Championships at Warinanco Park.
Dec. 3, 2011: Westfield Boys XC Talks Post-Race From Oregon
Seven members of the Westfield High School boys cross country team traveled to Portland, Ore to compete in the Nike Nationals, an invitational race. Westfielders were able to track the athletes' progress with the help of Nike's Runnerspace.com website. NATIONAL