(Dec. 28, 2018) From records to stellar season performances, here are some of the top sports stories for 2018:
• Beck school record:
Kevin Beck not only placed fourth in the 800-meter run during the 3A indoor track state championship meet at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover at the end of February, but he also broke the Stephen Decatur High School record for the event.
“I was seeded ninth. I did better than expected,” Beck said. “I was hoping to finish top seven and beat the school record. That’s what I was going for.”
Josh Zobenica set the school record of 2:02 in 1998.
“It was a tough record to beat,” Decatur Coach Jody Stigler said. “Josh was a really good runner [and] three-time state champion.”
Before the state race, Beck said he was nervous, but excited to compete.
“I knew it was my last race of the year, so I wanted to go all out and do my best,” he said.
He crossed the finish line in 2:01.89, good for fourth place.
“They were all fast. They pushed me to go faster,” Beck said. “It was great to end the season on a high note.”
He added it was “cool to see all the fast runners in the state” competing.
“It was an honor to be part of that,” he said.
“I knew he had a good chance to place, but my goal was for him to run his best time, which he did by two seconds,” Stigler said. “His goal was to break the school record in the 800 for indoor and he did that as well, so I think we were definitely pleased with the performance. He was also the top-finishing underclassmen, so he has high expectations next year.”
Beck, as a junior, captured the Bayside Conference title in the 800-meter race a few weeks earlier.
• Three-time champs:
The Stephen Decatur boys’ basketball team finished the 2017-18 season with an 18-8 record and captured its third consecutive 3A East Region championship.
“I thought we had a great season. I feel like this team overachieved. The kids came together as a unit,” Coach BJ Johnson said. “It was a great run for our kids. To three-peat and for the seniors to be able to hang up a banner as regional champs is a great success.”
The Seahawks had hoped to bring home a 3A state championship title, but they came up a bit short of their goal, falling to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, 63-46, in the tournament semifinals, in March at University of Maryland College Park Xfinity Center.
• Regional champs:
After coming in second or third place during each of the past five years, the Stephen Decatur boys’ swim team finally brought a regional title back to Berlin in February.
“It was awesome. Almost all the times were faster than their seed times – relay and individual,” Decatur Coach Steve Deakyne said. “We had a number of firsts and if we weren’t first we were usually in the top three.”
Easton led after the first event of the 3A/2A/1A East Regional meet, but then Decatur took over and never looked back.
“It was relatively close for the most part, but the gap kept getting wider as the meet went on,” he said.
Decatur scored 364 points in the victory. It was the first time the Seahawks have won a regional title since 2012. They won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. Since then, the squad came in second place in 2013, 2015 and 2017, and third in 2014 and 2016.
“I’m proud of how everybody swam,” Deakyne said. “The majority had their best times, which shows how hard they’ve been working lately.”
The boys’ squad finished the 2017-18 season with an 8-1 record. The group was undefeated against Maryland schools.
• Career wins list:
Stephen Decatur senior captain Caleb Bourne finished the 2017-18 season with a 32-2 record and 101 career wins overall. He is the 18th Decatur wrestler in program history to earn 100 wins.
Bourne also captured both Bayside Conference and regional titles. In addition, he became the first wrestler from the school since 2012 to win a War on the Shore – presented by Decatur – tournament title.
Bourne was 29-0 going into the state tournament in early March. He pinned his first two opponents. His second pin was extra special, as it earned Bourne his 100th career victory.
A number of his family members were in attendance to see him get his 100th win, which was also announced over the loud speaker.
“That was exciting. Everyone was going crazy,” he said. “It was fun.”
He finished in fourth place overall in the 220-pound weight class.
Despite not winning a state title, Bourne was happy to earn a medal. He said he has come a long way since stepping on the mat as a freshman.
As a sophomore, Jagger Clapsadle came in second place in the 106-pound weight class. Clapsadle finished his first season competing for Decatur with a 28-5 record. He won both Bayside Conference and 4A/3A East Region titles.
“My first season went really well. There were some tough losses, but I think I peaked at the right time,” he said.
• Successful White Marlin Open:
A record $5.45 million was awarded to the winners of the 45th annual White Marlin Open, held Aug. 6-10, and about half of the purse was presented to the Weldor’s Ark crew for Pascual Jimenez’s 83-pound white marlin.
The Puerto Aventuras, Mexico angler landed the fish on Aug. 10, the final day of the tournament. The marlin actually tied with Gregory Giron’s (Virginia Beach), who boated his 83 pounder aboard Under Dog, the day before.
However, according to the White Marlin Open rules, “in the event of a tie in the weight of a white marlin, the fish that is not gaffed will be considered the winner of the two.”
This rule was implemented years ago to prevent fish from being needlessly killed and to conserve the species, said Jim Motsko, White Marlin Open co-director and founder.
Giron’s marlin was brought on board with the assistance of a gaff – a pole or stick with a hook on the end used to stab the fish and lift it into the boat.
The Weldor’s Ark crew did not use a gaff and was presented $2,584,260 – a new tournament record. The Under Dog team won $129,784.
In addition, more than $1.3 million was awarded in the tuna division this year – a new record.
A total of 382 boats registered for this year’s tournament.
Overall, Motsko thought the tournament was “excellent.”
“We had great weather and that was the key to us getting a few more smaller boats. Marlin fishing wasn’t fantastic, but it was pretty good,” he said. “We had the biggest single winner this year, a record payout, no major incidents. I’m very happy with it.”
The 2019 tournament is scheduled for Aug. 5-9.
The Worcester Prep boys’ soccer team not only won its Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference semifinal game on Oct. 24, but sophomore captain Vincent Petrera also broke the school scoring record for a single season.
“He’s a special talent. You don’t find many players like this around here and, when you do, you want to step back and marvel at his skill level,” Prep Coach Terry Underkoffler said. “The speed, the technical level and his ability to score is outstanding.”
Going into the week, with three games remaining in the season, everyone thought Petrera needed nine goals to break Nate Merrill’s record of 35 goals set in 2004. Turns out, Underkoffler found out the day after the semifinals it was actually eight.
“I was focused on winning and getting into the finals and if I could get in there and score I would,” he said.
Petrera said netting the shot to break the school record “was just an important goal and one I’ll always remember.”
Two days later, the Mallards shut out the Salisbury School Dragons, 2-0, to win the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship. Petrera scored both goals for Worcester.
“Vincent is such a dynamic forward. He’s hard to keep off the scoreboard,” Underkoffler said. “He is just a hard person to stop and our other players up top kept attacking, putting pressure on them. They kept giving us attacking options besides Vincent.”
Petrera was named Conference Player of the Year. He finished the year with 39 goals and six assists.
The Worcester Prep girls’ soccer team finished undefeated, 11-0, this season and captured the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship title.
“We played tough. It was a battle and I knew it was going to be a battle,” Prep Coach Carol Hartnett said after the Lady Mallards’ 2-1 victory over the Salisbury School Dragons in the ESIAC finals on Oct. 26 in Berlin. “Every minute was fought as hard as the last minute. There wasn’t any letdown on either side.”
The team scored 58 goals this year and only gave up one – in the championship game. Hartnett said to end the season undefeated is “huge.”
“It was a perfect season. It does not happen,” Hartnett said. “As I told them when we were taking a picture after the game, just savor this because these moments do not come often in life, just enjoy it and have a great weekend and think of all the hard work you’ve done since August to get here.”
Hartnett said she would sum up the season the way the Mallards started – “working hard, playing hard and succeeding together.”
“That’s what it’s been from the beginning,” she added. “When I talked to them the other day, I said ‘this is why we were out here in 90-degree weather, drilling and training and coming together as a team.’”
• Berlin Little League champs:
Vice President of Baseball Operations Ron Knerr in October praised players, staff and volunteers throughout the league, saying, “It doesn’t happen by chance that in one year the Town of Berlin – tiny little Berlin on the Eastern Shore – has two state champions … that is just a phenomenal fete.”
The Berlin Little League girls’ all-star softball team won District 8 locally and then captured the Maryland championship trophy, finally playing in Bristol, Connecticut during the Eastern Regional tournament.
It was the first state championship for a Berlin softball team, but the boys’ 11-12-year-old all-star baseball team stole many of the headlines, also winning District 8 and the state championship, and finishing as the runner-up in the Eastern Regional tournament.
It took a perfect game to keep the Berlin baseball All Stars from a return trip to the Little League World Series, and that’s exactly what the Mid Island Little Leaguers from Staten Island, New York got from their starter during the Mid-Atlantic championship game on Sunday, Aug. 12.
Coach Cameron McDonough said the team “played their butts off” during the entire Mid-Atlantic Tournament.
“Every team we played up there was top notch, and the kids really competed well and really did a great job,” he said. “I was super, super happy with how we performed.”
Overall, it was the most successful season since 2014 for the boys’ program, when Berlin made it to the final game of the United States Little League World Series in Livermore, California.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were honored during a special ceremony in October in Berlin.