Here is a top 40 list of sports stories for the calendar year 2012. The list is subjective and there are sure to be arguments about exclusions, inclusions and the order.
The order of the stories is not so important. Every story is important to the athletes involved. Most of the stories on the list are about the high school seasons, teams and players at Pittston Area and Wyoming Area, though there are non-scholastic stories, too.
Because the list covers a calendar year it includes parts of two school years, the winter season of 2012 in January and the fall and first part of the winter season of the 2012-13 winter season.
Thus you'll see stories of two wrestlers who reached 100 wins, one who did it in February and one who did it in December.
If there is one theme that stands out is the success for girls teams at Pittston Area.
Look for PA swim, field hockey and girls soccer teams. They put up a lot of Ws.
1. Nick O'Brien – The Wyoming Area senior was the All-State 2A quarterback and Times Leader Player of the Year. He rushed for a school record 5,175 yards, the third-most in Wyoming Valley Conference history.
As a senior he rushed for 1,437 yards and 21 touchdowns during the regular season, and his passer rating of 190.85 led all quarterbacks. He also returned three punts and an interception for touchdowns.
O'Brien also won a District 2 gold medal for the javelin throw.
2. Mia Hopkins – A thousand-plus points, a WVC Player of the Year selection, an all-state selection, a Division I scholarship. Mia, the first D-1 female scholarship player from Pittston Area, is going to Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.
The 5-foot-11 senior honor student has a basketball pedigree. Her grandfather, John Hopkins, was a legendary boys head coach at GAR for more than two decades. Last season Mia had a career-best 39-points against Holy Redeemer on Jan. 16 and scored 20.3 points-per-game, second in the WVC. She also averaged 14 rebounds, five assists four steals and three blocks per game last season.
This season she is on track to better those numbers.
3. Wyoming Area football team -- Wyoming Area defeated Lakeland 20-7 for this year's District 2 Class 2A championship. It was the school's first district title in football since 2003. After starting 1-2, they won nine consecutive games. They finished 10-3.
Coach Randy Spencer was the WVC 2A coach of the year.
4. Stephanie Jallen -- Stephanie, a downhill ski racer and Wyoming Area student from Harding, won Silver and Bronze Medals in two separate Slalom races December 10 through 14 at the 2012 NorAm Races in Copper Mountain, Colorado. A member of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Ski Team, Jallen competed against athletes from 12 other countries. The points she earned put her one step closer to her goal of competing in 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Her next event is December 31 through January 4 in Winter Park, Colorado.
5. Chuck Parente – In November Chuck Parente - Pittston Area class of 2008 – was the winner of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre baseball franchise Name the Team contest. For submitting the name RailRiders, Parente won a no. 13 RailRiders jersey with his name on the back, a Rail Riders cap and two season tickets for the 2013 season. He was also invited to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day, April 4.
6. Andy Schutz – Earlier this month Andy Schutz joined the Wyoming Area Century Club. He became only the fourth wrestler in the history of the Wyoming Area program to win 100 bouts. Schutz, a senior, got his 100th win at the Friends of Sem Wrestling Duals at Wyoming Seminary. Schutz is a three-time defending District 2 champion.
7. Ryan Tracy -- Pittston Area senior golfer Ryan Tracy won the Pre-District 3A Individual Tournament was a first team WVC all-star and the WVC 3A MVP.
8. Jamie Scarantino – Scarantino, who graduated from Pittston Area in June, left as a member of the Pittston Area Century Club. He won his 100th bout last February. He also won the District 2 3A championship at 106 pounds, his third consecutive District championship.
9. Joe Starinsky – The Pittston Area senior wide receiver led the Wyoming Valley Conference 3A division with 37 receptions. He had 667 yards and 18.0 yards per catch average. Against Wyoming Area Starinsky, 5-7 and 160, caught six passes for 110 yards and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
10. Pittston Area girls swim team – In February the PA swimmers won a second consecutive Wyoming Valley Conference Division III championship. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons Pittston Area won the division and with a 20-0 combined record. In March they won 11 district medals and freshman Mia Nardone won a state medal in the butterfly.
The team is off to an undefeated start again this season.
11. Serra Degnan – Serra will graduate in June as an all-time Wyoming Area great. She's a four-year starter in basketball, softball and field hockey. She was all-state in field hockey and has a scholarship offer from Syracuse University.
12. Wyoming Area softball team – The Lady Warriors won the first WVC title for the program since 1991 when they beat Berwick 4-3 with 2-run rally in the bottom of the seventh for the WVC Division 1 West crown in May. Serra knocked in Nicole Turner with the winning run. Alex Holtz was the winning pitcher. The team reached the District 2 championship game where they lost to Valley View. They were 12-5 overall.
13. PA-WA Football game – One of the most exciting games in the history of the series. Wyoming Area won 27-20, but PA had the ball at the WA 11 with 39 seconds left, when Falcone MVP winner Nick O'Brien intercepted a pass in the endzone.
14. Girls Soccer teams - In the same week in the middle of May the Wyoming Area and Pittston Area girls soccer teams got historic accomplishments in a historic season, the last spring soccer season. WA won Wyoming Valley Conference Division 4 Championship, only the second WVC title of any kind in the program's history and the first since 1997 with a 10-2-1 record and Pittston Area won the first WVC title of any kind in the history of the PA program when they finished 10-3 in D-3.
15. Allie Barber - The PA freshman was a slam dunk Division MVP in the spring soccer season when she led the WVC with 37 goals.
Back in action in the first fall season in the final game against Meyers she had a hat trick before 16 minutes were up and by the end had a double hat trick scoring six goals in the Lady Patriots 7-0 win which gave them a 12-3 record and a trip to the District 2A Championship Tournament.
Allie is also a starter on the basketball team.
16. Wyoming Area cheerleaders - The Wyoming Area cheerleaders earned an invite to perform at the Capital One Bowl -- a major college football New Year's Day bowl game in Orlando, Florida – with their performance at the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Pine Forest Trail's End Cheerleading Camp in August. The girls were invited to the bowl based on the team and individual awards they won at the Trail's End camp. They placed first in the home pom dance and cheer division and were second in the extreme routine division.
17. Pittston Twp LL hosts state tourney – Pittston Township Little League hosted the Pennsylvania State 10/11 Boys Little League Baseball Tournament in July and August. League president Carmen Sciandra and Tom Tigue, Brian Elko, Gary Baiera, Nick Cardinale, John Walsh, Tom Connors a handful other volunteers and the Pittston Township Little League Ladies Auxiliary organized the tourney of eight teams, one from each of the eight Pennsylvania Little League Sections. Former major league pitcher Andy Ashby threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
18. Pittston Area girls cross country team – Led by all stars and District 2 medal winners, Catherine Lombardo and Tara Johnson, the team won the Lackawanna County Cross Country Invitational in September and finished the regular season with a 15-2 record.
19. Jeff McCabe - McCabe, 28, a former Wyoming Area runner for Exeter, won his fifth Tomato Festival 5K in 16:30. In March at The Honda Los Angeles Marathon McCabe finished in 2:29:22, 10th overall out of 18,841 runners, eighth out of 11,484 males, and fourth out of 1,332 runners in the 25-29 age group. Though it wasn't an official category, McCabe was number one among Americans.
ield hockey teams – The good news for the Lady Patriots was they finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. The bad – it wasn't good enough to get them in the District playoffs.
Meanwhile playing in a tougher division the Wyoming Area team finished 6-8 and made the playoffs. Then they proved they belonged by upsetting 13-3 Dallas in the first round 4-3 on an overtime goal by freshman Bree Bednarski. In beating Dallas the Lady Warriors defeated a team that had beat them five consecutive times, including 4-0 on September 17 and had eliminated in the playoffs the two previous seasons.
21. Frankie Redmond – On September 2 Frank Redmond, 23, the former Wyoming Area and Misericordia all-star from Harding, earned the Fastest Man in the Valley honor by placing second in the River Street Mile, the final race of the Valley's Fastest Person series. Redmond's overall time was 16:17 for the three races in the series.
22. Brandon Matthews – Pittston Area golfer Brandon Matthews graduated from Pittston Area in June as a two-time state medalist and one-time state champion. In May he accepted a Division I scholarship at Temple University. At Temple last Fall he averaged a team best 71.9 per 18 holes.
23. GP American Legion – In July the Greater Pittston Senior American Legion baseball team won the Wyoming Valley League championship for the ninth time, winning three consecutive games.
Historically the 2012 title is the program's ninth and second in three seasons. GP won the Wyoming Valley League in 1983, 1990, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010.
24. Madeline Dworak – In February Pittston Area senior field hockey player Madeline Dworak signed a letter-of-intent to attend Kutztown University, an NCAA Division II school, on a field hockey scholarship. Dworak is Pittston Area's first student-athlete to receive a field hockey scholarship.
24. The Bridge Award – Pittston Area won its fourth consecutive and sixth of eight Bridge Awards beating Wyoming Area head-to-head 13 times and losing only five in the 2011-12 school year.
25. Grace O'Neill – Grace graduated in June from Pittston Area where she was a four-year starter for the Lady Patriots basketball team, a four-year starter for the softball team and number one academically in her class. She never had a grade less than A. She scored 2,200 on her SATs, was elected class president in every one of her high school years and was on the homecoming court.
Her parents both died in their 40s of natural causes when Grace was in seventh grade.
26. District 2 Track and Field Championships - Two boys and one girl won gold medals at the District 2 3A championships in May. PA's Ronnie D'Eliseo won golds in the 100 and 300 hurdles. WA's Nick O'Brien took first in the javelin throw.
PA's Olivia Giambra, a freshman in May, won gold in the triple jump and silver in the long. O'Brien was a triple medalist. He won a silver for running a leg of the Warriors second place 4 x 100 relay team. O'Brien also won a fifth place medal in the 200 meter run. For WA Isaiah Peoples, Sharrieff Hale, Cody Schmitz and Ryan Flynn were medalists.
PA's Mike Harth also won a medal.
Also for the PA girls Allison Parrent, Catherine and Kristen Lombardo, Katilynn Kutcha and Bianca Bolton and Elizabeth Waleski won medals. For the WA girls Emily Shemanski, Sarah Radzwilka and Haley Stackhouse were medal winners.
27. Little League/Youth softball/baseball– The Jenkins/Pittston Township/Duryea combined Junior Softball All stars won the District 16 championship. The Duryea/Avoca/Pittston Township 9-10 All-Stars won the District 16 championship.
Greater Wyoming Area won the District 16/31 Senior Teeners championship
28. Richard (Dick) Callahan – Callahan -- an Avoca native who was a public address announcer for the NBA's Golden Warriors for 19 years and is the announcer for the Oakland A's baseball and California Golden Bears football teams -- was the featured speaker the for the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick 98th Annual Banquet on Saturday night March 17. In May, 2010, on Mother's Day, Callahan announced Major League Baseball's 19th perfect pitched by Dallas Braden.
29. Benefit sports events – Three events raised nearly $30,000 combined. In August the Curt Hannon Whiffle Ball Tournament at the West Pittston Little League benefited Joe Rubino and his family. Rubino, a father of three and a West Pittston Little League dad, was critically injured on June 13 while working on a construction. Also in August a softball tournament benefited the John Anthony Beno Borzell Scholarship and the Fallen Warrior Scholarship.
In October the inaugural Steph's Fall 5K run benefited the Stephanie Godri -Johnston Memorial Scholarship fund
30. Andy Ashby Baseball Game – Former major league pitcher Andy Ashby handed out the 15th annual MVP award that bears his name for the Wyoming Area - Pittston Area baseball game to WA pitcher Dylan Maloney. Maloney pitched a complete game giving up five runs with nine strikeouts in a 15-5 win.
31 Jordan Thomas – A 14-year-old Wyoming Area student from Harding, Jordan Thomas raced karts for nine seasons through 2011, when he won the PA Dirt Kart State Championship and retried with a list of fast-time awards. For the 2012 season Jordan moved up to sprint cars and was one of the youngest sprint drivers in the country. Jordan competed in 11 sprint events at 10 different speedways and qualified for 10 main events.
32. Casey Bohan - Wilkes University volleyball player Casey Bohan, the all-time kills leader at Wyoming Area, set the record for single-season kills at Wilkes University on November 2 in the team's final match of the season. She finished the season with 406 kills. She was selected to the First-Team All-Freedom Conference, leading the Freedom with 389 kills.
33. Skate Game – The Pittston Area Patriots defeated Wyoming Area 8-1 in ice hockey at the Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston Twp. In February. The win stopped a three-game losing streak to the Warriors in the annual Blue ‘n' Gold Skate game. Jerry Scatena and Rich Weinstock each scored two goals for PA.
34. Super Bowl predictions -- 561 readers offered Super Bowl predictions in the Dispatch. Taylor Crawford, 26, represented Giants fans and Alex Gross, 12, represented Patriot fans in a front page picture.
35. Junior Football - The Wyoming/West Wyoming/Exeter Panthers C team completed an undefeated season by winning the Wyoming Valley West Junior Football and Cheerleading Conference Superbowl, defeating Kingston Township. In the A game West Pittston A defeated Back Mountain, also completing an undefeated season.
36. Bob Duliba - Wyoming Area baseball assistant coach and former Major League pitcher Bob Duliba, 77, was invited to the 100th anniversary celebration of the official opening of Fenway Park. The invitation included travel expenses, accommodations for two nights and a game ticket paid for by the Red Sox, a reception and on field introduction. Duliba pitched for the Red Sox in 1960.
37. Fred Lokuta – The 51-year-old weight lifter from Dupont set a new state bench press record in the Master's Division 148 lb. weight class on July 14 at Brown's Gym in Clarks Summit at a USA Powerlifting sanctioned event by benching 276 pounds. Lokuta topped his own record later in the year.
38. Yatesville Bocce Tourney – The Yatesville Bocce club inaugurated a Yatesville Fall Classic tournament. Thirteen teams entered from Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties and Easton and New Jersey.
Aneill's of Jessup defeated the Yatesville 4, Doc, Ralph and Jon Campanella and Paul Lefty Santarelli, in the championship game.
39. Joe Lipperini - Pittston's Joel Lipperini won the Total Performance Showcase Race in the GRAND-AM Series Championship at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CN in his Grand AM debut. Lipperini, 42, is a four-time Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) series national champion. Lipperini and his brother Dan operate RaceLabz on Parsonage Street
40. Flying A Golf Tournament -- The 50th Anniversary Flying A Golf Tournament at Emanon Country Club drew 100 golfers some from New Hampshire and North Carolina. The tourney was first organized in 1962. Many of the golfers who played in the A in the 1960s returned for the anniversary. Jerry Zezza was on the original committee and the 2012 committee.