It was another banner year for local sports.
Several teams, players and coaches made plenty of news as they rose to the highest level of competition. Here are the top local sports moments for 2012, according to The Leader-Herald, along with several other notable events and performances.
1. JHS volleyball reaches state semis
The Johnstown volleyball team poses with its plaque after winning the Section II Class B championship over Schalmont on Nov. 2 at Stillwater High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
The Johnstown girls volleyball team powered its way through the Section II and Regional Class B competition to make its second straight appearance at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships on Nov. 17 and 18.
Although leading in all of their pool play games, the Lady Bills came up short, dropping all six games to place fourth in the Class B state championships for the second straight year.
Johnstown fell to defending Class B state champion John H. Glenn (Sect. XI) 25-17, 25-14; Skaneateles 25-22, 25-19 and Pelham 25-17 and 26-24.
The Lady Bills rolled through the Class B post-season competition to reach the state final four for the third time in six years.
Johnstown swept Schalmont 25-22, 25-22 and 25-22 and backed it up with a four-game win over previously unbeaten Section VII champion Beekmantown, 25-20, 25-22, 22-25 and 25-18.
The Lady Bills earned their second-straight trip to the Glens Falls Civic Center by sweeping Section X champion Massena 25-20, 25-13 and 25-12.
At the state championships Annie Stock recorded 21 kills and 16 digs on the day, while Zara Hyde finished with 27 assists, 13 kills and 14 digs, Elizabeth Hayward had 23 digs and Jerica Holland contributed 15 assists.
Hyde and Hayward were the lone seniors on the Lady Bills 2012 squad.
Hyde and Stock were named first-team Foothills Council all-stars, while Hayward, Alyssa Nellis and Brianne O'Rourke earned second-team honors. Jerica Holland was named honorable mention. In addition to their Foothills Council honors, Stock (first team) and Zara Hyde (second team) were named to the Class B all-state team.
2. Johnstown ends football season early
After starting the season with 19 players on its varsity roster, the Johnstown football team was forced to cancel the remainder of its varsity season after three games.
After a 6-0 loss to Tamarac in which the Sir Bills only suited up 17 players on Sept. 14, the Johnstown coaching staff found they only had 12 healthy varsity players the following week in practice. Unwilling to bring JV players up before they were ready, superintendent Robert DeLilli, coach Matt Benton and athletic director James Robare decided to forfeit the remainder of the varsity season. Varsity teams are required to have at least 16 active players to play.
The Sir Bills played three games, going 0-3 and were outscored 108-29.
Despite losing the remainder of the 2012 season, plans have moved forward and plan for a varsity season in 2013 if the numbers are their to support it.
3. FFCS XC wins another title
The Fonda-Fultonville boys cross country team won its fourth straight Section II class C championship at Saratoga Spa State Park on Nov. 2.
FFCS put three runners in the top 10 on its way to the team title.
Hoffman cruised to the Class C win with a time of 15:34.44 for the Braves besting runner-up Jordan Healy of Maple Hill by more than 17 seconds.
Tyler Angioli was seventh for FFCS with a time of 16:21.73, while Jimmy Westman (16:38.82) was 10th.
FFCS finished with a team total of 53 points, while Maple Hill was second with 88 points.
In addition to the Fonda-Fultonville boys team, Mayfield's Lidija Nikollaj, Broadalbin-Perth's Greg Bogdan, Fonda-Fultonville's Kimberly Geniti and Jamie Kasza, Mayfield's Tom McClellan and Gloversville's John Knox also earned spots at the state meet at Elma Meadows, near Buffalo.
Kasza won the Class C girls race with a time of 18:24.74, while Schuylerville's Ashley Watson (18:39.23) was second.
The Braves finished second at the state boys meet, where Hoffman finished fifth in 16:22.5
McClellan finished sixth in the boys Class D race with a time of 16:37.3
4. Mohawks win title
The Amsterdam Mohawks won the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship Aug. 8 with a 13-6 win over the Glens Falls Golden Eagles at East Field, completing a two-game sweep.
The previous season, the Mohawks were swept in a doubleheader at Shuttleworth Park by the New York Pilots in games 2 and 3 of the PGCBL championship series.
Their victory in August gave the Mohawks their third championship in four seasons, and they got there on the strength of a seven-run fourth inning and a gutsy pitching performance by their ace Chandler Shepherd, who pitched five innings on three days rest to seal the title.
Amsterdam was the PGCBL's top seed in the playoffs as the Mohawks compiled a 35-12 record and at the end of the season were ranked second in Perfect Game USA's Summer Top 30 poll.
Griffin, who recently announced he would return for a sixth season as manager, was named PGCBL manager of the year and Shepherd was the league's pitcher of the year.
Shepherd and fellow pitcher Rocky McCord were named to the PGCBL first-team along with outfielder Ed Charlton, infielder/catcher Zak Colby, infielder Chase Green. Pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. and outfielder Evan Stephens were named to the second team, while outfielder Jeff Boehm, pitcher Chase Williamson and pitcher Matt Pirro were named to the rising stars team.
Shepherd led an Amsterdam pitching staff that was best in the PGCBL. The Mohawks led the league in earned run average (3.34), wins (35), shutouts (five), innings pitched (428.1), fewest hits allowed (347), fewest runs allowed (194), fewest earned runs allowed (159), strikeouts (420) and opponents' batting average (.223).
McCord and Shepherd also were named No. 1 and No. 2 "top prospects" by Perfect Game USA. Eight other Mohawks also made the top 30: Matt Gage (10), Demarcus Henderson (12), Matt Pirro (14), Mark Leiter Jr. (19), Connor Kaden (24), Nathan Gomez (26), Jeff Boehm (27) and Ed Charlton (30).
5. Funding struggles
Between a 2 percent property-tax cap and very little mandate relief coming down from New York state, it was a difficult budgeting season as various school districts passed budgets that included varsity sports, but not the lower levels, leaving booster clubs to pick up the pieces.
In late September after leaving it out of the budget, the Northville Central School District Board of Education allotted $4,000 to add JV boys basketball to the budget. An additional $4,000 was approved to fund JV girls basketball, but there was not enough interest within the school to warrant a team.
The Mayfield Central School District Board of Education continued to keep JV sports out of the budget for the second straight year and as of late September, the Mayfield sports booster club has raised enough money to save the fall, winter and was finishing up by raising money to fund the JV and modified sports in the spring.
The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District cut JV sports from the 2012-13 budget and the booster club has so far raised enough money to provide the program for the fall and winter sports seasons.
Modified sports programs were cut from the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District budget after the initial proposal was shot down, but the school booster club was able to raise enough money to bring those programs back for the fall and winter seasons.
However, things got even more severe in December as the Board of Education - faced with a sudden $500,000 budget shortfall - voted to save $60,000 by eliminating all spring sports for the 2013 season.
6. Stewart races at Fonda
Fonda Speedway is known as the "Track of Champions" and on July 19 another champion added his name to an impressive list of drivers to compete at the track.
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart joined the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions 410 sprint cars for their third annual visit to the speedway.
Stewart started fourth in his heat race and picked up the victory over hometown favorite Jessica Zemken.
"Smoke" started ninth in the 30-lap A-main and found the high side of the speedway to his liking as he picked his way through traffic for a third-place finish behind series regulars Tim Shaffer and David Gravel.
Jimmy Davis won the companion 40-lap modified feature.
7. Dolgeville takes title
After winning its 17th straight Center State Conference championship, the Dolgeville girls volleyball team kept rolling.
The Lady Blue Devils posted a perfect 8-0 record against CSC Division II teams before fighting back top-seeded Beaver River, in a five-game thriller for its fourth sectional title in six years and swept past Class C-I champion Tully to claim the overall Section III Class C title for the second time in three years.
Several Lady Blue Devils earned Section III honors including veteran coach Barb Allen, who was named Class C Coach of the year after guiding Dolgeville to a 19-2 overall record.
Lora Allen, Charli-Rose Seeley and Ashley Mettler earned first-team Class C Section III all-stars, while Allen and Seeley were named the all-Central New York all-star team for Dolgeville.
8. Benton gets No. 300
Amsterdam wrestling coach Ken Benton, a Gloversville resident, posted his 300th career victory on Friday as the Rams defeated Rome Free Academy, 66-19, in the Mountain Duals at Dolgeville Central School,
Last season, Benton and the Rams went 31-6 overall.
Amsterdam won its seventh straight Big 10 title last season and the 19th in program history. It also was the 10th Big 10 title for Amsterdam coach Ken Benton.
The Rams also finished second at the Section II Class B tournament and fourth at the Section II Division I tournament.
9. St. JOE saga
After a failed merger vote in late 2011, the combined St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah sports teams went their separate ways for the winter and spring sports seasons.
The schools joined forces again in the fall, dropping the St. JOE title and playing soccer under the St. Johnsville banner in Section II, with a Class D designation, and have continued to do so through the winter season with the boys and girls basketball teams playing in the Western Athletic Conference and Section II, while the volleyball team competes in the Center State Conference in Section III.
On Dec. 11, a second merger vote was taken that overturned the 2011 result of a 458-400 defeat by the Oppenheim-Ephratah voters, to pass the merger of the two school districts by a 385-366 margin.
10. FC Sports Hall of Fame inducts first class
The Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame hosted its inaugural induction ceremony and dinner on May 5 at the Johnstown Moose Club.
The ceremony honored five of the Fulton County's finest former athletes with induction into its newly formed hall of fame.
The 2012 induction class included former world champion skier Jack Johnston, former NFL great Dave Smukler, and former Gloversville Glovers Robert Sise, John Coakley and Jack McKeon.
Both Johnston and Smukler were born and raised in Gloversville, while Sise, Coakley and McKeon came to Fulton County to play professional Baseball for the Gloversville Glovers.
Sise and McKeon were on hand for the event, while the families of Johnston, Smukler and Coakley represented and accepted the induction plaques.
McKeon, a two-time National League Manager of the Year Award winner (1999, 2003) who guided the Florida Marlins to the World Series championship over the New York Yankees in 2003, was the keynote speaker for the event.
Lanzi wins title
Amsterdam's Antonio Lanzi captured the New York State Public High School Athletic Association title in the 200-yard freestyle at the New York State's Swimming and Diving Championships March 2 and 3 at Erie Community College.
Lanzi finished second in the championship heat with a time of 1:38.70, was out touched at the wall by Canisius' Jack Boyd who won the Federation title with a time of 1:38.27.
Both times were worth automatic All-American status.
The Rams' Lucas Santiago placed 21st overall in the 100-free with a time of 48.62. His time placed him 16th in the NYSPHSAA standings.
The Fonda-Fultonville girls track and field team won the Section II Class B championship May 25 with six first-place finishes.
Kim Geniti (800-meter), Jamie Kasza (1,500-meter), Katie Wisniewski (400-hurdles), Sarah Wyzomirski (shot put and discus) and the 1,600 relay team of Caitlin McGuirk, Wisniewski, Geniti, and Kasza all took first place, which allowed the team to finish 39 points better than second-place Broadalbin-Perth.
Also, Lindsay Therrien took second in the 100 hurdles (16.67) and triple jump (33-04), Rebekah Hentnik took second in the pole vault (8-0), and Kasza placed third in the 800 (2:26.19). FFCS' 3,200 relay team took second.
Therrien picked up three event wins to lead the Fonda-Fultonville girls indoor track and field team to the Section II Division IV team title Monday at the University at Albany.
Therrien won the 55-meter hurdles (9.86 seconds), long jump (15-2 1/2) and triple jump (32-3) for the Lady Braves.
Fonda-Fultonville finished with a total of 130 points, while Greenwich was second with 71 points.
Kimberly Geniti won the 1,000 meters for FFCS with a time of 3:13.01, while Camryn Savoie won the shot put with a throw of 30-2 1/2.
The Lady Braves 4x800 relay team of Jamie Kasza, Carly Littlejohn, Samantha Phelps and Allana Clough won with a time of 10:40.04, while the 4x400 relay team of Kasza, Clough, Katie Wisniewski and Geniti won with a time of 4:30.03. Fonda-Fultonville also placed second in the 4x200 relay.
Mike Mahaney opened Fonda Speedway's 60th consecutive season with his first career victory at the Track of Champions by winning the 40-lap Ice Jam and then closed out the season with his second career win, capturing $12,000, 112 lap Honoring Legends Tribute to Jack Johnson race victory.
In between Mahaney's victories, Stewart Friesen dominated the modified division opening the points chase with four straight victories en route to an eight- win season and the modified track championship in his first full season of competition at Fonda Speedway.
Also claiming 2012 track championships were Cody Bleau (602 sportsman), Pete Broderson (pro stock), Chuck McSpirit (street stock), while Ben Righi and Ken Hollenbeck respectively won the double and single cam 4-cylinder titles.
Jeremy Wilder capped off a consistent three-win season by winning his first career modified track championship at The Ridge by 46 points over veteran Bobby Varin.
Wilder posted three modified feature wins at The Ridge
Rocky Warner edge Chad Edwards by two points to capture the sportsman title. Dave Grace (rookie sportsman) and Chuck Wainright Jr. (cruiser) also were crowned champions, while Rob VanAernam locked up his third straight street stock championship along with the Harry's Auto Series title.
A solid turnout of top-shelf drivers turned out at The Ridge on Aug. 14 for the track's first mid-week Race of Champions modified series.
Twenty-seven modifieds made the trip, many for the first time, with Ryan Godown picking up the victory.
The end of the season also marked the end of an era as promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker opted to not return as promoters at the quarter-mile dirt track.
After a disappointing turnouts during the months of April and May for Friday night racing at The Ridge Romano and Spraker made a bold move switching their racing to Sundays.
The plan was to run three weeks and then re-evaluate the situation to see if they would keep the gates open or not.
With sponsor-enhanced purses and a little house cleaning, the experiment worked, and The Ridge remained open and continued to run on Sundays for the remainder of the season.
FC Athletes of the Year
It was a sweep for Johnstown High School athletes at the 25th annual Fulton County Sports Awards banquet on June 6 at the Holiday inn.
Brynn Hlozansky and Mitch Vdoviak were selected the Fulton County Female and Male Athletes of the year.
Hlozansky was a Foothills Council all-star selection in all three of her sports, volleyball, basketball and softball, since she was a sophomore. During her senior she was named second-team all-state for her play on the volleyball court.
Vdoviak was a Foothills Council all-star in golf, led the Foothills in scoring in basketball with 17.5 points per game and was a Foothills all-star at first base and on the pitching mound.
Tom Ciaccio and Katrina Springer, the inaugural award winners in 1988, were the keynote speakers and were honored by the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the sponsors of the annual award.
Ruggeri rolls 300
Johnstown sophomore Morgan Ruggeri rolled a 300 game in a Foothills Council match at Perry Lanes on Dec. 10 against Queensbury.
Ruggeri recorded her 300 in the first game and started the second game with six straight strikes for a total of 18 strikes in a row.
Ruggeri finished the second game with a 245 and posted a 234 in the third game for a 779 series.
Area racers shine
Gloversville's Rocky Warner used a late-race charge to move from third to first and claim the sportsman main event at Super DIRT Week XLI at the New York State Fairgrounds.
Canajoharie's Otto Sitterly and Johnstown's Kreig Heroth picked up track championships at Oswego Speedway.
Sitterly claimed his fifth asphalt supermodified title and fourth in the last five years. Sitterly also won his second-straight Budweiser International Classic 200,
Heroth picked up his first career SBS track championship edging Mike Bond by six points.
The Glove Cities Colonials celebrated their 50th season of semipro football with a run into the Northeastern Football Alliance semifinals before falling to the Troy Fighting Irish, 49-20.
The Colonials finished their Golden Anniversary season with an 8-4 overall record.
The Amsterdam Zephyrs semi-pro football entry in the Empire Football season finished with a winless season and did not enter postseason play due to a low player count.
White second at states
Amsterdam pentathlete Matthew White placed second at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association track and field championship meet on June 8 and 9 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
White, a senior, set the tone for the final event, the 1,500 in which he placed fourth (4:51.4) by winning the shot put (44-04) and long jump (21-10), while finishing fifth in the 110 high hurdles (15.16) and fourth in the high jump (6-03).
Sarah Wyzomirski of Fonda-Fultonville was sixth in the D-II shot put, while Dolgeville's Nichole Bliss placed seventh in the D-II shot and Gloversville's Liz Hogan placed 12th in the D-I shot put.
Fonda-Fultonville's Lindsay Therrien was 14th fastest among D-II competitors in the 100-meter hurdles and Canajoharie freshman Mariah Pettit turned in a season's best time of 12.71 to place 14th overall in the D-II 100-meter dash.
Broadalbin-Perth's Austin Becker placed seventh in the D-II 800-meters with a time of 1:57.57, and Mackenzie Ottati was 13th in the D-II 400 meter hurdles with a time of 1:09.2.
Amsterdam's Izaiah Brown was top seeded in the D-I 400-meter but finished fourth in his heat and sixth overall with a time of 49.2 after suffering a quadriceps injury.
The Fonda-Fultonville boys 4x800-meter relay team of Matt Hoffman, Michael Scott, Cameron Gilligan and Tyler Angioli turned in a season-best time of 8:07.5 to finish seventh in Division II and 21st overall.
Bartlett sixth at states
Erica Askew and Meghan Bartlett of the Fonda-Johnstown swim team both posted solid showings at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association swimming and diving championships at Ithaca College.
Bartlett placed sixth in the 1-meter diving competition, while Askew placed 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries.
Bartlett, a senior, posted a total of 428.65 in the 11-dive competition.
It was the fourth trip to the state meet for Bartlett. She placed sixth, 15th and 16th in her previous three state-meet appearances.
Askew, a junior, qualified 16th in the preliminaries with a time of 1:08.47. She posted a time of 1:08.89 in the B final, which also placed her 17th in the Federation Championships.
Skiers compete at states
Four Mayfield skiers competed at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Nordic Skiing Championships in February at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.
Tom McClellan placed 28th in the 10-kilometer skate race with a time of 32:03.7, while Dave Krutz (32:16.4) placed 30th in 32:16.4.
In the girls 7.5-kilometer skate race, Lidija Nikollaj placed 23rd with a time of 29:39.7, while Sarah Montgomery was 26th with a time of 29:59.4.
Lapi fourth at states
Amsterdam sophomore Brandon Lapi finished fourth at the New York state wrestling tournament on Feb. 25 at the Times-Union Center in Albany.
Lapi finished his season with a 50-4 record, pushing his career win total to 164 and winning his third straight Section II Division I title, a 6-0 win over Shenendehowa's Joey Porter.
Amsterdam's Mike Garrison and Johnstown's Brandyn Ainsworth also qualified as wild cards for the Division I and Division II tournaments, respectively, but both were eliminated from competition on the tournament's first day and did not place.
Ainsworth and Garrison came up short in the 160-pound Division II (small-school) and Division I finals at the Section II Tournament.
Four area teams made it to the Section II championship games in their respective sports in the fall.
The Amsterdam football reached its second straight Section II class A championship game, but this year, the Rams were wiped out by the eventual state champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Spartans, 48-6, at Shenendehowa High School.
The Broadalbin-Perth girls soccer team reached the Section II Class B championship game, but failed to advance any farther when the Lady Patriots (16-4 overall) were beaten, 3-0, by top-seeded Schalmont.
The Johnstown field hockey team fell short in the Section II Class B tournament and failed to repeat as Section II champion when the Lady Bills lost 3-1 to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the title game. The Lady Bills also won the Foothills Council championship.
The Northville boys soccer team reached the Section II Class D soccer championship where the Falcons fell to Fort Ann, 2-1, due to two goals by Chris Jackson. The Falcons finished their season with 10-7-2 record and beat St. Johnsville and Argyle earlier in the tournament.
The Northville girls soccer team had its run to to a fifth straight sectional title ended in the semifinals when it suffered a 2-0 loss to Fort Ann in the sectional semifinals.
The Broadalbin-Perth boys and girls soccer teams both earned a share of the Foothills Council titles in 2012.
The Patriots posted a 10-1-1 record to share the crown with Scotia-Glenville. It was the Patriots third Foothills title in four years.
The Lady Patriots finished in a four-way tie for the title with Queensbury, Scotia-Glenville and South Glens Falls. All four teams recorded 11-3-0 against Foothills Council competition.
The Fort Plain boys soccer team claimed top honors in the Western Athletic Conference Central Division with a 9-3-2 record, while the Canajoharie girls soccer team claimed the WAC Central with a perfect 14-0 record.
The Fort Plain and Canajoharie basketball teams also enjoyed success on the basketball court.
The Canajoharie and Fort Plain girls teams tied for the WAC North division title with identical 11-1 records, while the Cougars and Hilltoppers tied for the same title on the boys side with 10-2 records.
The Amsterdam girls tennis team won its 17th consecutive Big 10 championship in the fall.
The followed up the league title by defeating Queensbury 6-1 in the opening round of the Section II Class A tournament before falling to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the semifinals. The Lady Rams finished with a 14-2 overall record.
Christina Johnson won the Big 10 singles title for the Lady Rams, while Brittany Durose and Veronica Marsh claimed the league's doubles crown.