Look back at 2017 in Westport sports
WESTPORT — In a year that had incredible moments on the field, Westport athletics enjoyed much success during 2017, here are some of the best of the last year.
Year of champions
Staples athletics took center stage throughout 2017 as several different team hoisted the Connecticut State title trophy at the end. Led by the dynamic duo of Chad Knight and Ben Casparius, the Wreckers baseball team completed one of the year’s best upsets defeated three-time state champions Amity in the Class LL final for the title.
A season that started with a sour taste in their mouths after tying for a share of the Class L state title in 2016, the Wreckers Field Hockey team came into 2017 with a sense of unfinished business. Led by senior Christine Taylor, Staples held off Darien in a thrilling 1-0 win for the Class L title.
Other state championships in 2017: Staples boys tennis. Staples boys cross country. Staples boys outdoor track.
Big name players
While several team stood above the rest, two Wreckers individually performed at a higher level than anyone else in the state. In baseball, Ben Casparius finished batting .420 with 40 RBIs, including 10 home runs, and also pitched 47 innings with a 5-2 record, 2.20 ERA and 85 strikeouts to lead the Wreckers to the Class LL championship and FCIAC quarterfinal. He was also named CHSCA Player of the Year, FCIAC Player of the Year, and CHSCA All-State Class LL.
In tennis, Evan Felcher came out of the gates in his first season with the Wreckers and did not disappoint, the No. 1 singles player help to lead Staples to an undefeated season and Class LL state championship for the fourth year in a row. Felcher also won the Connecticut State Open and was named the Hearst Connecticut Media Boys Tennis MVP.
At the Helm
Strong coaching can go a long way in creating a winning culture, Staples Paco Fabian was able to do just that in both girls tennis and girls basketball. Fabian was named FCIAC coach of the year in both sports.
Saugatuck Rowing Club continues to roll
The Saugatuck Rowing Club’s women’s youth 8+ team won their third straight U.S. Rowing Youth National Championship and were given a hero’s welcome when returning home. Westport first selectman Jim Marpe invited the team to town hall and honored the members after completing a third straight undefeated season.
YMCA Gymnastics to Nationals
One of only two YMCA’s in the nation that have an exhibition gymnastic team that competes in USA Gymnastics events, Westport /Weston Family YMCA National Showtime Exhibition Gymnastic team headed back to the USA Gymnastics Gymfest National Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2017.
Soccer Dreams cut short
After fighting through the stacked FCIAC regular season, the Staples girls soccer team put themselves in position to be among the top teams in the state heading into the postseason. But two heartbreaking losses in both the FCIAC title game against St. Joseph’s and in the Class LL state title game against Ridgefield derailed what was otherwise an amazing season for coach Barry Beattie and the Wreckers.
Hoops into a business
Hoops Nation, the creation of Staples junior Buster Scher is a Facebook page turned website turned worldwide brand aimed at covering all levels of basketball, including the NBA, college, high school and overseas leagues, in a variety of platforms. A website, launched in December, primarily delivers content from writers. Its Facebook page, which began the project, serves as a massive forum for community members to share opinions and comment on the top news stories in the sport. Hoops Nation also has a quickly growing Instagram and Snapchat.
Student media take center stage
Staples student television and radio station have proven to be a cut above the rest at the high school level. Through hard work and hands-on experience, students have been able to perform a full studio production morning news show that airs during the beginning of the school day twice a week for the students and faculty of Staples.
While WWPT, the national award-winning student radio station, has continued to provide original shows, stories, and live coverage of Staples athletics en route to being named the best student radio station in the country at the 2017 Drury Awards in Chicago.
Local fencer wins at Junior Olympics
Westport native Delphine DeVore took top spot at the Junior Olympics in the foil competition held Feb. 17-20 in Kansas City, Missouri. DeVore, 15, took the top spot in a field of 212 fencers in a tournament and also won the foil competition at the U17 Junior Olympic Games. DeVore was selected to participate in the Junior World Championships, which took place on April 3 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
.ct.com; Twitter: @aronJohnson_