BRATTLEBORO - While Michael Phelps was doing his thing in the pool and gymnast Gabby Douglas was often putting on a show in the air, Jacob Ellis was dominating on the ground.
And all three of them were named 2012's best, with the latter earning the Reformer Student Athlete of the Year award.
Ellis, who participated in cross country running, Nordic skiing and track while at Brattleboro Union High School, struck gold in the 800 and 1500 at the State Meet last spring. Even more impressive is that his success on the oval came after his leg was run over by a car in the fall.
The top team of the year may have been Brattleboro Blue in youth girls basketball, as Rachel Rooney scored 13 points in the finale and they finished up with a perfect 8-0 mark. The Brattleboro Vipers, Brattleboro Blaze and Brattleboro Mallers also had success on the court with AAU titles, while the Brattleboro Generals won the Pop Warner Super Bowl behind Zeb Lesure's two rushing touchdowns.
The next Phelps could be Atticus Nordmeyer, who broke the Vermont records for the 25 Fly and 50 Free when helping the Brattleboro Swim Team place second in the Division 2 States. And Ella Warner might be the next Douglas, as the Woodman Athletics gymnast had the highest all-around score at the Green Mountain Invitational.
The shot heard 'round Vermont took place in January, when Drew Guild sank a 3pointer with two seconds left in Bellows Falls to give the Terriers a 44-41 victory over Twin Valley. One month after Guild launched it, Brattleboro's own Spencer Knickerbocker launched off the Harris Hill Ski Jump to win the Pepsi Challenge Open Class. After that, West Dover snowboarder Kelly Clark earned silver in the US Open Halfpipe at Stratton in March, Rich Steria had a 700 series in Brattleboro Senior Bowling League action in April, BUHS softball pitcher Kayla Wood fired a no-hitter against Springfield in May, Skadie MacDeath carried the Elm City Derby Damez to victory at Memorial Park in June, Putney handcyclist Alicia Dana qualified for the Paralympics in London and the Brattleboro Little League Stars won the District 2 Championship in July, Ron Parenteau of Putney reeled in a 24-inch brown trout in August, 113 Rouleau-Holley martial artists competed in the 22nd Vermont Nationals in September, Jamie Moore of Bellows Falls won the Division 3 cross-country championship in October, 92-year-old George Whitney completed the annual three-mile Turkey Trot road race in Brattleboro in 46:45 on Thanksgiving Day, and Bellows Falls field hockey coach Bethany Coursen went 12-3 in Week 16 to take the lead in the Reformer NFL Picking Derby in late December.
"There's something inside me that makes me want to fight for it," said BUHS Nordic skier Halie Lange, who said determination was the key to her success after winning her first four races of the season.
Joining Lange as Reformer Athletes of the Month were: Hinsdale backcourt mates Skylar Bonnette and Allison Scott, Brattleboro basketball player Tommy Heydinger, Leland & Gray hurler Nicole Sherman, BUHS pitcher Kayla Wood, BUHS tennis player Isaiah Ungerleider, and Ellis.
"I think her location is what makes her so valuable," said Colonel softball coach Kelly Markol of Wood. "She continually hits the corners."
Markol's team, which had won consecutive State titles, lost to BFA-St. Albans 2-1 in the 2012 semis. And speaking of talented groups, Colin Lozito led the Twin Valley boys soccer team all the way to the Division 4 final before they lost to topseeded Proctor 4-3. The Brattleboro baseball team went 15-1 during the regular season, and the Bellows Falls stickers went 11-2 after going 4-7-3 just one year earlier.
It was a former Terrier, Kealy Chipman, that had the greatest success at the next level. She led the conference with 27 goals and was named the NAC Player of the Year as a senior at Castleton State College.
Johnson State College's Mary Richardson of Vernon has also been on fire, as she averaged 21.5 points and six rebounds to earn NAC Rookie of the Week honors. Twin Valley grad Scott Hayford racked up 19 points and 11 boards for Nazareth to make the All Tourney Team early in the season.
Also in 2012, Bellows Falls got new lights for their athletic field and Hinsdale High School held a cross-country meet for the first time - Pacers Roxy Toussaint and Tanner Nichols each won their heat.
And it was Brattleboro's Michelle Immler and Townshend's Elizabeth Linder that made racket on the courts, winning the New England Tri-Level tennis title in Enfield, Conn. Bellows Falls-Hartford wrestler Nolan Viens also took care of business, going 4-0 in the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals in Syracuse, N.Y.
On the roads in Brattleboro, Serge Pouliot took advantage of an Australian start to win the final Fun Run of the year. In the annual Firecracker 4-miler on July 4, Jason Porter and Heather Conarroe each defended their title.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.