There were no team state championships for Milton in 2012, but there was plenty of success in a variety of sports and four individual titles in track and field, including a third straight crown for pole vaulter Karleigh Manfredi.
The most surprising success story of the year was the Yellowjacket softball team, which in the tough Metro Division managed just a 6-10 regular-season record but came up two outs short of reaching the Division II championship game last June.
After going to East Montpelier and pulling off a 9-3 victory over seventh-seed U-32, 10th-ranked Milton got a big gift from Hartford when the No. 15 Hurricanes stunned No. 2 Springfield in the first round. That gave the Yellowjackets an unexpected home playoff game in the semifinals, and they took full advantage with a 15-0 rout to move on to the semifinals against second-seed Lyndon Institute.
At Lyndon, each team had a turn coming out ahead in a dramatic seventh inning.
The Yellowjackets snapped a 3-3 tie in the top of the last inning on a pair of errors and a passed ball but escaped further damage on a tough call at third when a Milton player tried to advance on the second error. The third baseman mishandled the throw in from center field, but trapped the ball between her body and glove as she tagged the runner, getting the out call to end the inning with just one run across. It didn’t take Lyndon long to capitalize, opening the bottom half with a pair of singles and winning the game on Lily a one-out, two-run walkoff triple.
The same weekend, Milton had more success in the Division II track and field state championships.
Seniors Karleigh Manfredi and Kevin Mongeon swept the pole vault, state record holder Manfredi winning a third consecutive title and Mongeon taking his second in a row. Samantha Rock defended her state crown in the 300 hurdles and added second place in the 100 hurdles and triple jump, while a fourth senior, Scott Hitchcox, was champion in the 1500 meters and second in the 3000.
Other strong performances at Fair Haven came from then-sophomore Brooke Phillips (second in the 100 and 300, third in the vault); senior Nathan Fleming (third, 3000) and freshman Joe Badger (third, long jump).
In distance running this fall, a cross country season centered on rebuilding the program featured some superb performances from a host of young runners with more on the way.
Of the 13 Yellowjackets running in the varsity races at the state, there were just two seniors and one junior. The top four girls consisted of freshmen Katie Rayner (ninth), Brielle McDonald and Elizabeth Bashaw and sophomore Kaitlyn Brouard. The boys were led by sophomores Alex Lauzon and Taylor Wensley, with Jackson Hickey and Dylan Hemsted next and the only two seniors in the program.
Looking ahead to next fall, the team will be strengthened by current eighth-graders Emma Preiss and Ryan Joseph. The two swept the mostly Division II Randolph Invitational middle school titles in the fall, and Joseph had one of the best seasons of any runner statewide — winning the highly competitive Woods Trail Run in Thetford, finishing second in the U-32 Invitational, and then placing in the top 25 at a Junior Olympics qualifying race in New Hampshire (21st out of 127 runners) to earn a spot in the Northeast Regional Championships, where he placed 47th out of 105 athletes.
Milton almost pulled off a playoff upset after the long drive down Route 7, pushing No. 6 seed Burr & Burton deep into the game before the Bulldogs pulled away late for a 60-53 win.
After posting a 9-11 record in the regular season, including a late-season victory over Division I BFA-St. Albans, the Yellowjackets earned the 11th seed for the D-II playoffs.
That set up a first-round trip to Manchester to take on No. 7 Burr & Burton. Milton led late in the third quarter, 39-37, before the Bulldogs’ multi-sport star Jake Stalcup converted a three-point play. That started a 13-2 run for B&B, which went all the way to the semifinals before losing to Division II state champion Mt. St. Joseph.
As he had much of the season, junior Derryk O’Grady led Milton in the playoff game with 15 points, while seniors Caleb Harris (14) and Nik Couture (9) also had big nights.
A sensational comeback bid came up just short in the quarterfinals against the same Lyndon team that ended the Yellowjackets’ softball season.
Milton’s 14-6 regular season put it in the top four in Division II, ensuring home games in the first two rounds of the state tournament. Milton opened the playoffs with a lopsided win over Vergennes (61-38), but faced a stiffer test when the Vikings came to town for their March 9 quarterfinal.
There wasn’t much scoring but plenty of excitement in the second half in the crowded, loud Milton gym. Lyndon appeared on its way to a comfortable victory on the way to Barre, but the Yellowjackets stormed back into the game. Trailing 30-18, Milton got four points from Paige Johnson, a huge 3-pointer by Samantha Ryea, a steal by Nicole Menard and a pair of Katie O’Brien (16 points) baskets, eventually tying it up at 35 all. Samantha Rock’s steal and layup brought the crowd to its feet and put Milton in front, 39-38 with 19 seconds to go.
Lyndon showed its own poise, though, regaining the lead on a pair of free throws and sealing the win with two more from the line.
The Yellowjackets drew a tough seed for the Lake Division state tournament, their eighth-place finish in Division II setting them up to face No. 1 seed Northfield after an easy win in the first round.
Seth Amstein scored a hat trick before the end of the first period in the opening game at Highgate Arena, a 5-0 victory over Mt. Mansfield. Brandon Beliveau also scored in the Yellowjackets’ four-goal first period, and Cody Boyson finished the scoring early in the third.
Milton was not as fortunate in the quarterfinals against top-ranked Northfield, which cruised to a 5-1 win and reached the championship game before falling to No. 2 U-32.
Back-to-back wins midway through the season were a bright spot, but an eight-game losing streak to finish the regular season left Milton ranked 15th and the Yellowjackets were knocked out I the first round of the playoffs by No. 2 Vergennes, 9-3.
After starting the spring with just one win in its first six games, Milton came up with wins over Burlington (8-3) and North Country (7-6) two days apart in early May.
The Yellowjackets did pack a season’s worth of excitement into their May 3 win over North Country, though. The Falcons rallied from a five-run deficit to tie the game on a three-run homer in the seventh inning. But leadoff hitter Mike McClellan singled to start the bottom of the inning, stole second, and scored the walkoff winning run on Jeff Cook’s bouncing base hit into center field.
The young varsity team set a program record for wins with three. All of those victories came against Vergennes, whom Milton beat 6-5, 9-4 and 17-5. Hunter Goodwin led the Yellowjackets with 16 goals on the season, and Sam Noel was the assists leader with nine.
The Yellowjacket boys and girls had mirror-image seasons, each of which came to an end with quarterfinal losses 24 hours apart in Montpelier after struggling much of the season to find consistency.
The boys earned the seventh seed with a 5-7-2 record, and cruised to a 5-0 first-round victory over Stratton Mountain before falling 1-0 to the Solons. It was the Yellowjackets’ second straight 1-0 quarterfinal loss, matching their defeat at Burr & Burton a year earlier. In both those contests, Milton dominated play late with all kinds of scoring chances. Burr & Burton went on to win a second straight Division II championship last month, beating Montpelier 2-1 in the title game.
Milton’s girls had to work much harder to get to Montpelier, barely escaping their game against a ski academy in the first round. Green Mountain Valley took a 2-0 lead late into the match, but Brooke Phillips helped save Milton’s season with a sensational hat trick. Her first of the day came with just 11:09 left in regulation time, the second with only 3:33 to play, and the third 4:38 into overtime for the win.
But the Yellowjackets’ eighth seed (after an 8-5-1 record) was a tough one, sending the team to Montpelier to take on the eventual state champions. The Solons only loss all fall was to undefeated D-III champ Peoples Academy — a team that might have been the best in the state at any level — and their 2-0 win over Milton in the quarterfinals was the closest post-season call they had. Montpelier followed that with a 3-0 win over Spaulding and an 8-0 pounding of No. 2 seed Springfield in the title game.
Editor’s note: Sports not included here rarely or never had their results reported to the Milton Independent. To ensure coverage of all teams, coaches or others associated with the team should send results from events to firstname.lastname@example.org.