When North Woods touched the wall to completing the 400-yard freestyle relay at the State Open last Saturday, it officially closed the winter season at Staples High School. It was a winter that saw outstanding individual achievements from several standouts, and team performances that ranged from satisfactory to excellent.

Here's a look back at the 2014-2015 winter season and the Westport News picks for most valuable players on each team.


Record: 8-13

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MVP: Nick Esposito

It was a tale of two seasons for the Wreckers, who started out 8-6 before dropping their final seven games. It began with a 52-49 upset win at Fairfield Ludlowe and climaxed with a 53-40 win over New Canaan that kept the team firmly in the FCIAC hunt.

But then the slide began as the quality of opponent increased. The regular season ended with blowout losses to the two FCIAC finalists, Norwalk and Westhill.

Staples did return to the Class LL tournament after a years' absence, but fell to eventual semifinalist Hillhouse 63-47 in the first round.

The Wreckers took to the court with a nice blend of youth and experience. Seniors Nick Esposito, Harry Kohn and Connor Whelan delivered big performances, while sophomores Ben Casparius, Justin Seideman and Sean Pritchett were just as valuable.


Record: 9-12

MVP: Abby Lustig

The female hoopsters also had their season split into two, but peaked down the stretch to qualify for the Class LL tournament. Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Wreckers gave No. 7 Career a severe scare in the first round before falling in the second half.

New coach Paco Fabian implemented an up-tempo style that required an adjustment period, but the benefits were visible by the end of the season. Staples routed Danbury and defeated Darien down the stretch to reach the postseason.

The Wreckers were led by mostly seniors, including Abby Lustig and Madeline Schemel. Fabian integrated a number of juniors and sophomores into the rotation with an eye to the future.


MVP: Margaret West

The Wreckers stayed in the middle of the FCIAC pack all season long, and came home sixth out of 11 teams at the FCIAC meet. Margaret West, a sophomore finished 15th overall in the all-around with a score of 31.45.

Staples got valuable contributions from other underclassmen, including Hannah Rose, Mary Fitton and Chandler O'Reardon. Rose scored an 8.5 on the floor at FCIACs and an 8.025 at the Class L meet.

Staples went on to finish eighth of eight teams at the Class L meet at Pomperaug. West led the Wreckers with a 32.125 in the all-around, including an 8.3 on the vault.


Record: 12-10

MVP: Ryan Johnson

Without a senior on the team, Staples-Weston-Shelton won a postseason game for the second straight season, but lost to Division III champion E.O./Smith in the quarterfinals.

Par of the Division III course, the Wreckers' contests featured plenty of scoring at both ends of the ice, including scoring eight goals on four separate occasions. Freshman sensation Sam New led the team with 32 goals while forming an excellent top line with juniors Ryan Johnson and Jesse Greenspun.

The Wreckers posted a record above .500 despite having five Division I powerhouses on the schedule and 14 freshman on their roster. Staples also hosted its first ever regular season game in Westport on New Year's Day.


Record: 15-6

MVP: Claire Parry

A season of firsts for the Stamf0rd-Westhill-Staples co-op culminated in the first postseason appearance of any kind for the short-lived program.

The team doubled up in the playoffs, competing in both the FCIAC and state hockey playoffs. While an elusive postseason win is still the target, the group has plenty to look back upon.

An influx of talented younger players helped compliment the senior star power of Cassie Miolene and Meg Fay, who anchored the top line and supplied much of the offense.

In her first full season as a varsity starter, Parry starred in net for the co-op. She had several 40-save games and withstood a barrage that helped seal the program's first ever win over New Canaan this season.

Co-coaches Eli Williams and Phil Miolene guided the team through its inception and into its completed product.


MVPs: Hannah DeBalsi, Anthony Bravo

Both the boys and girls teams had stellar seasons, with the boys finishing in a tie for second and the girls winning their first FCIAC title.

Hannah DeBalsi didn't get a chance to compete for a national championship due to illness, but swept three events to help Staples win FCIACs, then won two more in helping the Wreckers place second at Class LL.

She finished her season with a dominating performance at the New England meet in Boston.

High jumpers Elizabeth Knoll and Bridget van Dorsten also scored points for Staples while Erica Hefnawy earned points in the 1,000.

On the boys side, senior Anthony Bravo had a breakout winter. He scored points in the 55 meter dash at the FCIAC and Class LL meets, and obliterated the competition in the high and long jumps. He set a new school record in both events.

Behind Bravo, a number of distance runners including James Lewis, Oliver Hickson, Ben Foster, Chase Gornbein and Brandon Harrington all contributed to the cause. The Wreckers almost stunned Danbury for the Class LL title and finished fourth at the State Open.


Record: 8-3

MVP: Daniel Williams

Despite losing a formidable senior class, the Wreckers still broke records and won more meets than they lost. The group finished fourth at FCIACs, fifth at Class LLs and eighth at the State Open.

Daniel Williams starred in the 500 freestyle, winning the FCIAC championship. Williams saved his best for last, winning a share of the State Open title as he and Cheshire's Karl Bishop crossed the line at the exact same time. (4:35.61).

North Woods was also a rock for Staples, consistently delivering points in the 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and relays. He was fifth (59.59) in the 100 breaststroke at the State Open.

Dobson Cooper and Zachary Cooper also emerged as freshman divers for the Wreckers this season as both placed in the top 20 at Class LLs.


MVP: Charles Lomanto

The Wreckers had trouble filling out the weight classes this season, but the ones they did were potent. Despite the short numbers, Staples placed seventh at FCIACs -- it's highest finish in several seasons.

Luke Montgomery (113 pounds) placed sixth in his weight class, Justin Ludel (138) was fifth in his, and Charles Lomanto came closest to an FCIAC title with a runner-up spot in the 160 pound weight class.

Lomanto, who had a 19-2 record during the regular season was seeded third in the Class tournament, but suffered an injury and was unable to make a deep run in the tournament.