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Mahler: The Letter Winners

  • Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth freshman quarterback Dayln Williams (10) took the Ivy League by storm, winning the Ancient Eight’s rookie of the year award, one of several highlight performances for various Big Green teams. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth freshman quarterback Dayln Williams (10) took the Ivy League by storm, winning the Ancient Eight’s rookie of the year award, one of several highlight performances for various Big Green teams. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Dartmouth freshman quarterback Dayln Williams (10) took the Ivy League by storm, winning the Ancient Eight’s rookie of the year award, one of several highlight performances for various Big Green teams. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

It has been a year of triumph and accomplishment for Upper Valley athletes and teams — from Olympic feats to collegiate glory, to the high school record setters to the dogged weekend warriors.

To honor all those, we offer a far-from-comprehensive list of some of the notable accomplishments from the past year as a way to acknowledge the success and participation of all those who have made the athletic scene the better for their involvement.

It’s just a little way of saying thanks and offering three cheers for all of you — because without you and your love of competition we would have nothing to write about.

So take a break from the holiday wrapping and read all about it. We call it the Alphabet Awards. Just pick a letter...

A: Adam Nelson. The former Dartmouth athlete and 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the shot put may yet earn his gold medal after the winner, Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, was disqualified after failing a drug test.

B: Marty Brown. The Lebanon native and long-time coach and AD at Kearsarge Regional retired after 28 years. The school’s basketball court was named in his honor.

C: Claremont. The Claremont kids on the city Cal Ripken team win the New Hampshire Cal Ripken state title.

D: Dartmouth. Big Green teams and individuals had strong seasons. Abbey D’Agostino, Dartmouth distance runner, won the NCAA 5,000-meter outdoor title in the spring and then followed that up by matching the all-time Ivy League record by placing second in the NCAA Cross Country Championships. In football, the team finished its third straight season with a .500 or better record, highlighted by the play of Ivy League Rookie of the Year quarterback Dalyn Williams. The women’s soccer team completed a remarkable turnaround, going from 4-12 in 2011 to 13-4 and a 6-1 Ivy record last season, while the women’s hockey team earned a 3-2 win over Providence in the Frozen Fenway matchup.

E: Equestrian. The Green Mountain Horse Association honored Mary Hutchins with the Constance Knight McCollom Memorial Stewardship Award. The award is given each year to the person who demonstrates exceptional dedication to the GMHA.

F: Field Hockey. The Lebanon girls won their second state title, dominating NHIAA Division II opponents. The Raiders completed a 15-1-1 season with a 3-1 win over Windham in the final. Lebanon outscored the opposition 63-17.

G: Grand. Gabby Diaz reached the 1,000-point plateau at KUA, becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer in the process with 1,225 points. Rivendell’s Dylan Pelletier also joined the 1,000-point club.

H: Kyra Herbert. The Lebanon scoring ace was named NHIAA Girls Hockey Player of the Year after a season where she became the fourth Raider to reach the 100-point mark. She finished her career with 88 goals and 49 assists.

I: Sarah Illingworth. The Hartford forward/center was named Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year for her accomplishments during the basketball season. Illingworth led the Canes to their first state hoop title, averaging 13.7 points per game and reaching double figures in all but four contests. Illingworth is now on the roster at UMass-Lowell.

J: John Olmstead. South Royalton boys soccer coach retired after 11 years.

K: Hannah Kearney. 2010 Olympic moguls gold medalist had a record-setting winter, taking 16 straight World Cup events and repeating as the circuit’s discipline and overall champion. She finished second in the U.S. freestyle championships.

L: Lifting. Corrinne Cassidy, an 84-year-old powerlifter from Hanover, set two world records at the New England Powerlifting Masters Championships. She lifted 148.6 pounds in the dead lift and 55 pounds in the bench press.

M: Lucky Mkosana. The 2011 Ivy Player of the Year from Dartmouth, Mkosana was drafted as the 23rd overall pick by the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

N: NCAA. The rules committee voted to overturn a decision that would have banned the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl football game from being played at Dartmouth. The game went on as scheduled, with New Hampshire winning for the 12th straight year, 62-24.

O: Olympics. The Upper Valley was represented by six athletes at the London Summer Games. Headed up by Norwich’s Andrew Wheating in the 800-meter run, the list included Hanover triathlete Sarah Groff, who placed fourth, and Dartmouth alums Anthony Fahden (lightweight fours crew), Evelyn Stevens (road cycling) and Erik Storck and North Pomfret’s Trevor Moore in the 49er sailing class.

P: Paddy Caldwell. The Lyme Nordic skier finished fifth in the cross country sprint at the first Winter Youth Olympics.

Q: Quenla Haehnel. The Rivendell freshman midfielder scored the lone goal of the game to lead the Raptors to a 1-0 victory, handing South Royalton its first loss of the season.

R: Richelle Dole. Stevens senior scored an Upper Valley-tops 41 points in a win against Monadnock. Dole finished her career as the first girl in school history to score 1,000 points.

S: Suicide Six. The North Pomfret ski area celebrated its 75th anniversary.

T: Kaleb Tarczewski. The 7-foot Claremont native and former Stevens hoopster has become a force under the basket for Arizona. The freshman center leads the undefeated Wildcats in rebounding.

U: UNH. The University of New Hampshire tendered a letter of intent for football to Lebanon High’s Alexander Morrill. The massive lineman was a redshirt this season.

V: Vermont. Green Mountain girls basketball titles went to Hartford in Division II and Oxbow in Division III.

W: Steve Ward. Vermont officials recognized the work of Ward as a basketball referee, voting him a co-recipient of the Darrell Sawyer Vermont Best Official award.

X: The strike mark in bowling. Shawn Fitzgerald, a Stevens High junior who had been bowling for only two years, rolled a perfect game. His previous high was 248. Hartland’s Katey Comstock, 14, also had a perfect game. She became the first teenager in nearly 10 years to roll 12 strikes at the Upper Valley Lanes & Games.

Y: Tonya Young. The Mascoma grad and former UVM standout flourished on the European hoop circuit after moving to a pro team in Slovakia. Young was named to the All-League team.

Z: Zach Pollard. The former Lebanon High golfer is happy to be alive after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in Boston. Pollard is currently on the golf team at Bentley College.

But wait — there’s more! A second edition of the Upper Valley sports year in alphabetical order comes tomorrow.

Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.