Harvey's all-star start voted top sports story
The years pass and the stories get better. And 2013 was among the most memorable, a collage of championships, milestones, triumph, joy, loss and controversy.
Hope it was as fun to pick up the newspaper and log on to theday.com as it was to write it.
What follows are The Day's Top 10 stories of the year - limited to stories and events The Day covered - as voted on by our sports staff. The list flows in descending order (just to keep you in suspense):
No. 10: A first for Conn
Connecticut College senior Michael LeDuc won the NCAA Division III men's cross country championship in December at Hanover (Ind.) College.
Conn coach Jim Butler said LeDuc is the first cross country champion in program history, the second in conference history and the fifth from the New England region.
LeDuc, of Canton, won in a time of 24 minutes, 29 seconds on the 8K course, the second-fastest time in course history.
No. 9: It's up … and it's good (again)
New London High School freshman kicker Garrett Burdick won a pair of games in November for the Whalers with late field goals, leading New London to the state playoffs.
Burdick made a 22-yarder as time expired as New London defeated then-third-ranked Middletown at Cannamela Field before making a 40-yarder in the closing minutes of the Thanksgiving Day game at Norwich Free Academy.
Burdick was named The Day's All-Area kicker.
No. 8: From Coach P to Coach D
The most turbulent football season in UConn history featured a midseason coaching change and a local kid authoring three late victories.
Paul Pasqualoni was fired Sept. 30, replaced by interim coach T.J. Weist. It took Weist into November to lead the Huskies to their first win, but he did so with former New London quarterback Casey Cochran earning the start.
Cochran and UConn won their last three games. Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, was named head coach early last month.
No. 7: Farewell, Big East
UConn moved from the Big East to the new American Athletic Conference, leaving decades of memories from UConn's foray into the league that led them to national prominence.
UConn won numerous men's and women's basketball titles in the old Big East and a pair of football titles, one of which led to a Bowl Championship Series berth.
No. 6: Singing in the rain
During a rainy Saturday in May, East Lyme High School's softball team defeated Ledyard 15-5, giving coach Judy Deeb the most wins in state history.
Deeb broke the state record for victories by a high school softball coach, her 553rd at the time, eclipsing the old mark of 552-149 from former Hale-Ray coach Lou Milardo.
Deeb and the Vikings went 21-3 with a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title and the ECC tournament championship. She is 560-298 in 42 seasons, including the 1994 Class M state championship.
No. 5: Jeremiah was a bull
Montville High School senior Jeremiah Crowley set the state record for most rushing yards in a single game in late September.
Crowley gained 526 yards on 37 carries, leading the Indians to a 49-37 win over Stonington. He eclipsed previous record holder Alex Thomas of Ansonia, who gained 518 yards on 44 carries Sept. 27, 2007.
Crowley, who also scored seven touchdowns, broke Jamal Johnson's ECC record of 427 yards early in the fourth period on a 4-yard touchdown run. Johnson set the record for New London on Oct. 23, 1988.
"I was a little kid when Jamal Johnson went bonkers. I remember hearing about it all my life," Montville coach Tanner Grove said after that game. "To know we have a kid go for 500, it's like video games."
No. 4: They took the stairs
It wasn't an easy UConn men's basketball season, not with the specter of being ineligible for the postseason looming.
But the Huskies played quite well, winning 20 games overall and 10 in their final season within the Big East. UConn won several games late, including the season finale in overtime over Providence.
Coach Kevin Ollie, who once told the media, "we're gonna take the stairs, and not the escalator, because escalators are for cowards," called the season "fantastic," considering the circumstances.
No. 3: Firsts in Stonington, Waterford
The spring sports season ended with the Stonington High School girls' tennis program winning its first state title, a few months before the Waterford High School girls' soccer program did the same.
Stonington, was playing in its eighth straight final and ninth overall without a victory, falling to Weston in the final on five occasions from 2007-11. The Bears, coached by George Crouse, defeated Weston this time, 4-3.
Waterford defeated Haddam-Killingworth in the Class M soccer finals in November, the first for coach Rob Brule. Senior Melina Spanos was later named The Day's Player of the Year.
No. 2: Cheer, cheer for old … UConn
The UConn women won the program's eighth national championship. But it's the way the Huskies did it.
They lost to Notre Dame at Gampel Pavilion in January by a point. They lost to Notre Dame for the Big East title in triple overtime two month later. And they lost to the Irish in the Big East Tournament finals on the last play a week after that.
But they defeated the Irish at the Final Four behind 29 points from freshman Breanna Stewart. Two nights later, UConn defeated Louisville for the title.
No. 1: Harvey starts All-Star game
This was a unanimous pick by The Day's staff.
Mystic's Matt Harvey became the first athlete in the history of the region to earn such an honor. Harvey, who was the talk of baseball much of the season, started the All-Star game for the National League.
Harvey, a right-hander for the Mets, later watched his season end abruptly because of an injured elbow. He'll miss the 2014 season.
Other stories receiving votes (not in order): NFA girls' indoor and outdoor track teams won Class LL championships; Ledyard High School won the Class M wrestling championship; UConn-Avery Point baseball won the New England title; Fitch swimmer Christian Berg was named an All-American; Waterford High School softball won its third state title in the last five years; Stonington High School field hockey won its first title since 1987; Valley Regional/Old Lyme football enjoyed an unbeaten regular season.
Also, East Lyme's boys' and girls' soccer teams won ECC titles the same night at Montville High School; the Connecticut Sun finished 10-24, but won the No. 1 draft pick; John McDonald of East Lyme won the World Series with the Red Sox; Harvard's rowing team won the annual Yale-Harvard regatta in Gales Ferry but mourned the death of longtime coach Harry Parker less than three weeks later and New London High School graduate Jordan Reed earned a starting role with the Washington Redskins.
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