Taconic Baseball's Run Was 2017's Top Story
In a year of championship performances, one was at the head of the class.
The Class of 2017 at Taconic High School, which brought the school a football sectional title and a boys basketball sectional final earlier in the 2016-17 academic year, capped its run with the first Division 1 baseball title in the school’s history.
Here is a look at 2017 by the numbers:
1. Ace of diamonds
Izaiya Mestre was scintillating in his senior season on Valentine Road, and never more so than in Taconic’s run to the state crown.
Mestre pitched into the eighth inning of a 1-0, extra innings sectional quarter-final win at Pope Francis; came back four days later and threw a complete game against Minnechaug in the Western Mass final; worked an inning of relief in what was easily the game of the year, a 12-11, back-and-forth state semi-final out against Wachusett; and went the distance in the state title game against Wellesley -- all in a span of nine days.
There was little rest for the New Haven-bound hurler. Mestre went on to appear in three games with one start for the Pittsfield Suns in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
That quarter-final win, incidentally, was a road game because Taconic was seeded fifth in the Western Mass tournament thanks to the seeding committee’s “by the numbers” approach to ranking teams. The perceived slight helped motivate the team right through the tournament.
“Chills, honestly, it’s just crazy,” Mestre said moments after winning the big prize. “To win states, being the five seed and having everyone saying we don’t have a good schedule and all this stuff.
“They can’t say that now. We’re state champs.”
Mestre is just one of several members of Taconic’s highly decorated Class of ‘17 who have gone on to play football, basketball or baseball at the collegiate level. Those ranks swelled by one this fall as Drew DeMartino, a junior on the state title baseball team, graduated a semester early in order to enroll and play baseball this spring at the University of Hartford.
Before it left, Taconic’s Class of ‘17 brought home a Western Massachusetts football title in 2016 and a Western Mass basketball title game appearance.
2. Two finish second
Getting out of Western Mass is tough enough. Getting to the next level is rarified air, indeed.
State title games have become almost commonplace for the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team, which made its fourth straight appearance in March 2017.
In the fall, the Hoosac Valley football team matched the cagers, making it all the way to Gillette Stadium and the state final.
Although neither team came home with the hardware it really wanted, they knew that there were dozens of teams in their sports who would have traded places in a minute to have a chance to play on the final weekend of the season.
And the legacy of success they continued at the school will echo for years to come.
““It’s not about any one person,” football coach Dayne Poirot said after the state final. “It’s about how you set it up for the people who come later. That’s really what it is.”
3. Triple Crowns
The Mount Greylock skiing and cross country programs won three state championships in 2017.
In February, the Nordic skiers were sent north of the border to defend their titles at Vermont’s Prospect Mountain. And just as they did in Eastern Mass the year before, the Mounties swept the top spots on the podium.
For the girls, it was the second title in a row. For the boys, it was a magnificent seventh straight.
“It’s always fun,” senior Evan Arthur said after finishing third as an individual to lead the boys.
In November, the Mount Greylock girls added to their banner calendar year with a state cross country team championship.
4. Four for Fore.
The fall golf season saw two Berkshire County high schoolers capture individual Western Massachusetts titles in their respective divisions: Wahconah’s Nathan dos Santos in Division 2 and Lee’s Thomas Fraser in D3.
Dos Santos, a junior, will have a chance to defend his title. For senior Fraser, the win at the Orchards Golf Club was a dream come true.
““I’ve always dreamt of this, since I was a seventh-grader on varsity,” Fraser said. “It finally happened, so I’m excited.”
They were joined by two more county stars at the state tournament, where the field included Taconic’s Michael Kays and Mount Greylock’s Ben Gilooly, who were second and fourth at their respective sectionals. Kays already had one big title to his credit: the Berkshire Classic victory he earned in October at Stockbridge Golf Club.
5. Drive Completed
The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team deserves at least two spots on any list of the year’s best moments. The Hurricanes have given their fans plenty of great moments in recent years, including five straight Western Massachusetts championships.
This year’s was significant because, in a way, it was the first of a new era. The freshmen who were on that first sectional title team - Cassidy McMahon and Madison Ryan -- graduated the in 2016. The ‘17 squad was the first without a single player who was in uniform when the this title run started.
But the historical significance was not lost on the ones who completed the program’s “Drive for Five.”
“"It's a surreal feeling," 2017 senior Kailynne Frederick said. "You realize that the teams that you played aren't here anymore, and you're the last one that's left.
"Being here four years in a row and winning all of them is an amazing feeling."
Tanner Hill (Wahconah), slalom skiing
Mount Greylock, girls Nordic skiing
Mount Greylock, boys Nordic skiing
McCann Tech, bowling
Lindsay Aldam (Taconic), bowling
Hoosac Valley girls, basketball
Western Mass titles
Hoosac Valley, girls basketball
Pittsfield, girls basketball
Monument Mountain boys swimming, 200-yard medley relay team
St. Joseph’s girls swimming, 200 medley relay team
Monument Mountain girls swimming, 200 free relay team
Jessie Tobin (St. Joseph), 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle
Caroline Bissaillon (Monument Mountain), 50 freestyle
Ellie Field (St. Joseph), 100 freestyle
Emma Wilber (Monument Mountain), 100 breaststroke
Nate Cormier (Monument Mountain), wrestling, 145 pounds
Devin Pelletier (Mount Greylock), wrestling, 170 pounds
Shannon Meisberger (Lenox), track, 400-meter hurdles
Central/Western Mass titles
Victoria Gamberoni (Wahconah), track, 2-mile run
Shannon Meisberger (Lenox), track, 400 hurdles
Connor Meehan (Drury), track, 800 run
Western Mass titles
Mount Greylock, boys tennis
Monument Mountain, girls tennis
Mount Greylock, girls cross country
Hoosac Valley, football
Western Mass titles
Nathan Dos Santos (Wahconah), golf
Thomas Fraser (Lee), golf
Mount Greylock boys, cross country
Mount Greylock girls, cross country
Jackie Wells (Mount Greylock), cross country
Jesse Seid (Mount Greylock), cross country
Hoosac Valley, football
Lenox boys, soccer