While the calendar has been turned to a new year, let’s take one last look back on 2019.
In February, Westfield High School 145-pound wrestler Vitaliy Borodin went 3-2 at the state championships to qualify for All-States, ending a drought for the Bombers.
Westfield’s swim program also produced a medal-worthy effort from Tommy Russell, who set two records at the state championship by finishing first in the 100 backstroke (51.56) and posting a second-place finish in the 50 freestyle, losing by just 4/100ths of a second.
Russell teamed up with fellow mates Patrick Lurgio, Jack Beaulieu and Matt Morash for a third place swim in the 200 medley relay (1:39.75).
Westfield’s Brenden Laforest won the Division 2 indoor track state championship in the 600 meter race.
Later that month, the Whip City’s new Futures Collegiate Baseball League team, the Westfield Starfires, unveiled their team logo and roster to the public. The opening day roster was comprised of former Westfield High School baseball players Ryan Towle (Fitchburg State University pitcher), Sean Moorhouse (Westfield State University first baseman), Sean Murphy (Gettysburg College outfielder), Anthony Clark (American International College catcher) and Mason St. Pierre (AIC pitcher), as well as WSU pitcher Vincenzo Camera.
As a new season dawned in April so did a new era as longtime Tekoa Country Club Director of Operations Director E.J. Altobello stepped down to take over as the head golf pro at Springfield Country Club. Rick Leal, a former golf pro at Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke, assumed the golf pro duties at Tekoa.
Despite the change in seasons, LaForest continued to dominate the track and field scene, winning the 400 meter event in 48.67 seconds at the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championships at Holyoke High’s Roberts Field.
The Westfield Starfires made their season debut on the road against the Bristol (Conn.) Blues. In their home opener, Westfield starting pitcher Jack Fox (Emerson College) suffered a tough-luck loss to the Pittsfield Suns, 3-0. Fox, who went on to record a league record 79 Ks over 66 innings pitched, struck out eight Suns batters that day.
Six years after throwing out the first pitch at the Hagan Field dedication ceremony, alongside his father Jim and cousin Cameron at Westfield State, Westfield High baseball pitcher Jimmy Hagan tossed a 2-0 shutout against No. 5 West Springfield at Bud and Jim Hagan Field to send the top-seeded Bombers to the West Division 1 championship game. While Westfield eventually lost to the East Longmeadow Spartans in the title game 6-3, the school still managed to produce a champion when the Bombers boys volleyball team won its fifth straight Western Massachusetts championship with a 3-0 sweep of the Minnechaug Falcons in the finals. They would go on to capture their straight state title with a sweeping victory of the Natick Red Hawks in the D1 finals at Worcester State University.
In August, Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski announced the appointment of Ryan Dunphy to the high schools Supervisor of Athletics role. Dunphy, a Westfield High grad, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Operations Management from UMass-Dartmouth and a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Old Dominion University before becoming a soccer coach and teacher at Chicopee Comprehensive and finally landing the athletics director job at Westfield High.
On Kevin Sullivan night at the Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series, Westfield posted a spirited 7-3 victory over Janesville (Wisconsin) at Bullens Field. Connor Niemiec delivered a dazzling effort on the mound, striking out 10 batters and coming within one out of a complete game. All three Janesville runs were unearned.
A few days later Midwest Plains representative Fargo (North Dakota) completed an undefeated run (a 56-game winning streak) in the World Series by defeating Southeastern champ Greenville (North Carolina) 8-2 in the championship game at Bullens.
After the dust settled and the sun set on a baseball-filled summer, Westfield Little League announced the hiring of a new league president, Scott LaBombard, of Westfield. Before taking over the post, LaBombard had served as a board member, volunteer, umpire and coach for the city’s various youth baseball programs.
In the fall, milestones were reached as St. Mary’s girls soccer player Allie Goodreau recorded her 100th career point and Emily Martin logged her 100th career goal for the Southwick field hockey team. Southwick sophomore Matthew Garrity won the West Division 2 golf championship, leading the Rams to a silver-medal finish at the Country Club of Pittsfield.
The postseason produced a champion in the Westfield Bombers as Catie Bean scored the only goal in the West Division 1 girls soccer championship, a 1-0 win over top-seeded Minnechaug at Central High School’s Berte Field. Bean motored down the right sideline, kicked the ball ahead to herself, dribbled toward the end line and angled a low kick into the opposite corner of the net for the game-winner with 6:55 remaining in regulation.
The Westfield High School football team managed to earn a postseason spot behind some Patrick Mahomes-like outings from sophomore quarterback Matt Adamites. Their championship hopes were dashed though by the Minnechaug Falcons (twice). [The Bombers also fell to the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day.]
The year ended in grand fashion with longtime Westfield High School swim coach Tom Lewis reaching his 300th career victory. Will the swim team ride their wave of good vibes to a team title?
The Avengers series may have concluded at the movies, but several sports teams (hockey, baseball, gymnastics, football) from Westfield High will seek to restore order with a return to glory.
Can the St. Mary’s Saints overcome a numbers game to produce a champion from the small private school? Will Westfield Technical Academy finally overcome that final hurdle in sports like boys soccer and baseball to join Western Massachusetts elite? Who is the next hero to emerge from Southwick Regional?
These answers and more are ahead in 2020. Stay tuned!