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Editorial: An historic high school sports season

  • Amherst's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs down the final stretch to a first place finish during the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs at the start of the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain in 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst Regional cross country runner Sophia Jacobs-Townsley


Monday, November 26, 2018

The Thanksgiving football games brought a close to the fall season for high schools in the Gazette coverage area.

And what a season it was.

History was made on the cross country trails, gridiron, soccer pitches and hardwood. Championships were brought home.

Amherst Regional senior Sophia Jacobs-Townsley became the first runner from western Massachusetts to win four straight sectional championships.

There have been many outstanding runners on the trails in our region, and several have won three times. But Jacobs-Townsley became the first since the championships started in 1975 to break the tape four times.

Meanwhile, Amherst Regional senior Jack Yanko won his second straight WMass Division 1 title, matching Owen Washburn’s feat from 2000 and 2001. With Jacobs-Townsley and Yanko out front, Amherst swept the sectional titles for the first time since 2013.

Not to be outdone, junior Chris Vayda became the first Hampshire Regional boy since Jim Hallet in 1978 and 1979 to win the Western Massachusetts Division 2 title.

The Smith Vocational football program struggled through its first five seasons, but the Vikings took a big step forward in year six.

Smith Vocational finished the season with a victory over Franklin Tech on Thanksgiving eve. Not only was it the Vikings’ first holiday football game, but the win gave them a 5-5 record. The five wins are the most in a single season in program history, and the team finished .500 or better for the first time ever.

The program has seen its share of coaching turnover. Vinnie Guiel is the fifth head coach for the Vikings, but his excitement for the future was evident after their last win. “My goal this year was four wins, and we got five, and next year we just raised the bar,” he said.

Last fall, the South Hadley girls soccer team won the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament for the first time. The Tigers took it a step further this season. They were undefeated entering the state championship, but fell short of a perfect finish following a 2-0 loss to Norwell.

The Granby girls soccer team continued its excellence. The Rams won the sectional title for a fourth straight season and, like South Hadley, reached the state finals.

Millis proved a step better, though, winning the Division 4 title 2-0 over the Rams.

Other western Massachusetts champions include Frontier Regional girls volleyball and Belchertown boys soccer.

Frontier won a 14th straight sectional title to extend its dominance in Division 3. Belchertown returned the top in Division 3 after two straight years of championship setbacks.

Congratulations to all the fall athletes on their successes this season. We applaud their efforts.