By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The 2015 calendar year was filled with athletic success from teams and individuals in the Packet area.
As is the case every year, there was individual success as well as team success for the athletes and teams in the area. Here, in reverse order, is a look at the top 10 achievements this past year.
10. Young gun: As a junior, Cameryn Benz became the youngest basketball player in Montgomery High history to reach 1,000 points for her career. In becoming the first junior to achieve the milestone, she finished her season averaging 17.9 points and 9.8 assists per game for the Cougars.
Benz, who will play at Lehigh University next year, has started her senior season off just as well as she finished her junior year, helping the Cougars to a 5-0 start. She is on pace to finisher her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
9. National success: The Hun School boys lacrosse team opened the season with 19 straight wins and along the way played well enough to draw attention in the national rankings. The Raiders won the state Prep A championship with a 14-6 win over Lawrenceville and also reached the finals of the Inter-Ac tournament before falling to the Haverford School, the top-ranked team in the country.
The Raiders, who finished the season with a 19-1 record, received a remarkable 56 goals and 49 assists from Chris Donovan. They finished the season ranked as the No. 6 team in the country by Laxpower.
8. Finishing in style: Montgomery High senior Allison Hering had gotten better and better as a golfer during her career with the Cougars and she saved her best performance for last as she shot a 1-under par 71 at the Tournament of Champions to finish just one shot off the lead.
Hering, who was shooting over 100 as a freshman when she started the sport in high school, became one of the top girls golfers in the state. As a senior, she posted top four finishes at the Somerset County and Skyland Conference tournaments and was ninth at the South Jersey sectional before finishing just one shot off the lead at the TOC.
7. Queens of the Court: The Montgomery High and West Windsor-Plainsboro High South girls tennis teams made a name for themselves as two of the top programs in the state this past fall. Montgomery used its depth to win the state Group 4 championship as well as the Somerset County Tournament championship. The Cougars reached the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions before falling to eventual champion Millburn.
WW-P South, which won the Mercer County Tournament title, also saw its season come to an end against Millburn. The Pirates lost to Millburn in the North Jersey, Section 2 Group 3 tournament. Senior Claudia Siniakowicz won the first singles flight title at the MCT and advanced to the semifinals of the state singles tournament.
6. Continuing the run: West Windsor-Plainsboro High South senior Tim Bason was determined to continue the legacy of success the school’s cross country team has enjoyed. This year he did just that as he won the Mercer County championship, the Central Jersey Group 4 championship, and finished ninth at the Meet of Champions.
Bason also became the second straight Pirate to qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals, where he ran to a 35th-place finish in the meet held in Portland, Ore. A year ago former Pirate Nikhil Pulimood qualified for the meet.
5. Double threat: Making it to the state tournament finals in Atlantic City is the ultimate goal of any high school wrestler and this past year two wrestlers from West Windsor-Plainsboro earned their way to the ultimate showcase. Vinnie Porecca of WW-P North and Nick Maher of WW-P South both reached the state TOC.
Porreca, a senior, finished 34-4 and at the TOC avenged one of his losses when he beat Nick Goff of Monroe, who had beaten him in the district and region finals. Maher, a junior went 36-8 and also earned his place on the mat with the best wrestlers in the state.
4. Diamond gems: There is always a sense of pride when a former Princeton University standout makes it to the Major Leagues. That sense of pride grows when PU coach Scott Bradley can watch one of his former players in the post-season. This year that pride went to a whole different level as three former Tigers reached the playoffs and one came away with a World Series title.
Chris Young helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series, He started the fourth game of the series against the New York Mets and helped the team to a 5-3 win. In the post-season Young pitched in four games, two as a starter, and was 1-0 with a 2.87 earned run average. Two other former Tigers also played in the post-season as Will Venable and Ross Ohlendorf were part of the Texas Rangers team that took the Blue Jays to five games in the playoffs
3. Quite a pair: Zach Anderson and Nikil Pancha of Montgomery entered the state doubles tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Montgomery High duo came away from the tournament with the school’s first state doubles championship on the boys side after Kim Szakats and Emily Roeper had won the girls title the previous fall.
Anderson and Pancha, who upset the top seeds from Livingston in three sets in the semifinals, topped the second-seeded team from Newark Academy, 7-6, 7-6 to earn the title.
2. Monty swimming: The Montgomery High girls swim team had been close to a state championship the year before. This time the Cougars left no doubt as they captured the win state A Division title with a 98-72 win over Bridgewater-Raritan.
The Cougars had lost to Hunterdon Central in the final the previous year. But this time they roared to the title as Kara Lydzinski and Julia Bland each won a pair of individual events. It was the Cougars’ first state title since 2004.
1. National darlings: The Princeton University women’s basketball team went on the kind of run that makes the whole nation take notice. The Tigers won their first 31 games of the season before falling to Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament. They beat Green Bay in the opening round of the tournament after completing the regular season 30-0.
Princeton reached No. 13 in the national rankings and advanced to their fifth NCAA tournament in the last six years with their fifth Ivy League title in six years. Blake Dietrick was the Ivy Player of the Year and helped the Tigers to a 30-0 regular season in which they won 28 of those games by double figures.
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor