NASCAR and Cow Harbor runners took figurative and literal laps around Northport this fall. They defined the sports scene. But it was the high schoolers who made a lasting impression. From Northport's state championship in girls lacrosse to Glenn's back-to-back Long Island football titles, these sports moments lifted our spirits in 2011:
NASCAR Rookie of the Year: Northport’s own Andy Lally, 36, didn’t win a race, but finished 33rd in points to earn NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors. Despite his success, Lally announced last month that he would return to the Grand-Am Series in 2012.
Back-to-Back Football Champs: won back-to-back . How do you top the 12-0 championship team from 2010, led by All-Long Island quarterback Ryan Rielly? You win another. The three-headed monster that was the -- led by quarterback Rich Czeczotka, running back Tom Forsberg and wideout Nick Wagner -- proved to be one of the most prolific in the state. Along the way, veteran won his 100th career game. Then Glenn went on a victory tour, winning playoff games against , rival and to repeat as Suffolk Division IV champs. The Knights capped an 11-1 season with a to earn the Long Island Class IV title.
State Volleyball Champs: senior Melissa Rigo was named . Rigo, a middle hitter who signed last month with Stony Brook University, took a greater leadership role this fall and raised her game. The result a 23-2 season capped by a . Allison McKenna was a force too. The previous three seasons ended in losses in the state tournament. This time Glenn and Rigo finished on top.
Girls Soccer Run: The girls soccer team pushed Ward Melville to edge in the , but the Patriots won, 1-0. Northport, led by seniors Kristi Abbate and Rosy Hayes, fired 15 shots on goal, including two point blank chances early for Hayes, one of Suffolk County’s leading scorers. “We clearly controlled that entire game,” Northport Coach Aija Gipp said. “It's just one of those games where it didn't fall in our favor.”
Cinderella Tennis Run: The unheralded No. 19 seeded girls tennis team elbowed its way into the Suffolk team championships. Riding the sister act of Mickey and Bridget Harding, the . Friday’s 4-3 semifinal victory over two-time Suffolk champ Half Hollow Hills West caught the attention of an entire county. Top-seeded let its depth carry the day to win the championship, 5-2. “Even though we’re a bit short today, the future looks very bright,” Northport Coach Peter Quinn said. “We have a lot of kids who want to play. This won’t be the last time we’re here.”
Memorable Homecoming: Northport football, staring down an 0-3 start, refused to lose against Bay Shore. Fullback in OT, leading Northport to a 20-17 win. Adding to the drama: Quarterback were honored at halftime. The 1991 Tigers won the Rutgers Trophy as Suffolk’s best team after a 28-9 win over Bellport to take the Large School championship.
Great Cow Harbor 10K: The will be remembered for record-setting performances. One of the nation’s top road races saw Mohamed Trafeh, 26, of Duarte Calif. win in 28 minutes 17.4 seconds, of 28:22 set by Ryan Hall in 2006. Trafeh became the first of the prestigious road race. Not to be outdone, the women’s winner shattered a 17-year-old race record. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, 33, of Rome, Ga. took the women’s 10K in 32 minutes, 26.4 seconds, beating the old course record of 32:32 set by Jane Omoro in 1994.
State Lacrosse Champs: It was the crowning achievement to a great coaching career. , one of the most respected girls lacrosse coaches anywhere, finally won her first state title. It took the girls lacrosse team 13 years just to get back to the state championship game, so waiting a few extra hours was no big deal, especially because their long, weather-plagued Saturday at SUNY Cortland ended with them holding a trophy. The Tigers scored twice in the final 5 minutes, 40 seconds of regulation to force overtime, then used goals from senior Shannon Gilroy and sophomores Allie Breitfeller and Cortney Fortunato, whose dramatic winner came with just 1.3 seconds left, to . Northport (20-2) savored its long-awaited championship after it was on the wrong end of one-goal state titles games in 1996 (5-4 to Cicero-North Syracuse) and 1998 (9-8 to Yorktown).
Girls Basketball Giant Killers: won the Long Island Class A girls basketball championship by to defeat , 51-42. Glenn got 21 points from junior forward Allison McKenna, one of the reasons why the Knights went unbeaten in League VI. The Knights will ultimately be remembered for finally ending the run of four-time defending Suffolk Class A champ and local rival Harborfields with a tough and .
Three Wrestling Champs: Despite the school’s small size, it’s no secret that Glenn is one of the giants in Suffolk County wrestling. The Knights crowned . After two days of wrestling in one of the most difficult county tournaments in the state, James Dekrone, Kenny Meinsen and Joe Giaramita all took home titles.