Determining success is never an easy undertaking. Often, there's an element of luck involved when a team wins a title. A lot has to do with timing and being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, it's all about karma, which has been attributed to the success of professional teams during a Cinderella season. Part of it comes down to the old cliché, `On any given day,' in which a team may have an off-day at the worst possible time.

Despite falling short of winning a championship, the Staples boys lacrosse and tennis teams, as well as its baseball team, had a successful year.

The Wrecker laxmen were living proof of the "any given day" truism in that they compiled a 16-0 regular season record, 18-2 overall, but fell one goal short of making the Class L finals. They also lost to St. Joseph in FCIAC quarterfinals. St. Joseph lost to Weston -- a team the Wreckers manhandled in the regular season -- in the Class S finals. Moreover, winning the FCIACs was doable for Staples if it didn't have any bad days in the league tournament because Greenwich -- a team the Wreckers beat in the regular season -- won the FCIAC title.

The Staples boys tennis team was better in 2010 than 2009, despite finishing third in Class LL this year and second in 2009. The Wreckers were undefeated in the regular season this year and had two losses in 2009, plus they reached the FCIAC finals this year and were eliminated in the first round last year.

In addition, the unusual playoff system (many coaches and athletic directors disagree with it and it's been the subject of previous columns) played a role in that a first-round loss (in a tiebreaker) for one of Staples' top players cost the team some points.

Although the Staples baseball team lost in the first round of FCIACs and Class LL, it was 18-2 in the regular season and a better team than the previous two that won FCIACs. Even though the Wreckers had solid pitching and a better offense than the previous two years, they fell victim to off-days in the playoffs.

In fact, some coaches feel a loss can be a blessing in disguise. For example, Staples boys golf Coach Tom Owen felt this way about losing to Trumbull as his Wreckers woke up after that by winning the FCIAC and Division I titles.

One problem with suffering additional regular season losses in order to be primed for a championship run is that it can cost a team in the polls.

Take the Westhill softball team, which was voted No. 2 in the state because it went 26-1 even though it would handily beat 27-0 Waterford.

Staples girls track Coach Jesse McCray deserves credit for transforming that program. The Lady Wreckers had their best year of the millennium and McCray deserves to be Connecticut Post's All-Area team's Coach of the Year.