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Coaches Receive Top Honor

Windsor’s Ladue, Dartmouth’s Wielgus Enter N.E. Hoop Hall

Windsor — One still coaches, the other isn’t at the moment, and both are heading into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame next month.

Longtime Windsor High School boys basketball coach Harry Ladue and Chris Wielgus, the recently departed women’s basketball coach at Dartmouth College, will join the incoming class during a June 22 ceremony at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. While Wielgus has been twice honored before, it will be Ladue’s first experience with the hall, which began as an offshoot of the Rhode Island-based Institute for International Sport in 2002.

“Obviously, when I heard about it, I was obviously thrilled,” Ladue said in a recent phone interview. “I think I’ve been around for a long time and had some fair amount of success and some good players, so here I am.”

The 59-year-old Ladue was honored by the school last winter for his 30 years in charge of the varsity boys hoop program. Prior to taking the Yellowjackets’ top job, he guided Windsor’s freshman and junior high teams for nine seasons.

The Jacks have won the Vermont Principals Association Division II championship four times under Ladue’s watch, making the finals eight times and the semifinals on 11 occasions. A member of the Vermont Basketball Coaches Association hall of fame, Ladue graduated from Windsor in 1971, representing the school in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl football game that year.

While coaching at the high school level remains his passion, Ladue keeps a hand in at lower levels of the game. As Windsor’s town recreation director, he oversees a youth basketball program in which his high school players serve as coaches.

“I think a lot of our kids are good kids, and when I see them 20 years later on and they have their own lives but still remember Windsor, that part of it is probably the most fun,” Ladue said. “There’s a connection I have with so many people.”

Wielgus will be honored at the hall for the third time, having been named as New England’s Division I women’s basketball coach of the year in 2004 and ’09. The suburban New York City native won 393 games over two stints covering 28 years at Dartmouth, winning 12 Ivy League championships. She resigned in mid-March after back-to-back 6-22 campaigns.

This will be the hall’s sixth induction class and first since 2009.

Peer Review: The feeling of basking in the glow of his peers’ favor never gets old for longtime Hartford High football coach Mike Stone, who was honored as the state’s top coach for the 2012 season by the Vermont chapter of the National Football Foundation at its annual dinner at Castleton State College.

Stone earned his 10th state championship of his 26-year coaching career in the Hurricanes’ 35-27 title win over BFA-St. Albans in November. It capped Hartford’s second straight undefeated season, the second time that has happened under Stone’s watch.

“You’re representing a lot of good people out there, folks that are trying to teach the game,” Stone said recently. “You’re humbled. Everybody works hard, and to be recognized is nice.”

There were plenty of other honors to go around for Hartford.

Michael Dulac, the Canes’ Bryant University-bound offensive lineman, was the Division I representative for the Pride of Vermont award, which is also determined by a vote of the state’s coaches as well. Although Dulac didn’t get the honor — it went to Burr & Burton quarterback Jake Stalcup, who will attend Middlebury College in the fall — Stone still considered it noteworthy that Dulac was nominated from D-I.

“He had to give a speech, which was really cool,” Stone said. “He did a good job. It’s good that he gets recognition. Academically, he’s does really, really well. He’s a good person, and obviously everything he does to get himself ready to play is important.”

A former Hartford football player also received a special award for the courage shown in overcoming a disability.

Owen Connor, who severely injured his right arm in a mountain biking accident and later had the limb amputated, received the chapter’s most courageous athlete award. Connor has taken his competitive energies to the bowling alley, where he led the Hurricanes to a state title this winter. Despite having to learn the game on his non-natural left hand, Connor carried a 161.9 average over 14 games — fifth-best in the Vermont regular season — to help set up the Canes’ championship effort.

Other honors included an achievement award for Oxbow coach Mark Palmieri and his family, all of whom have been integral in the growth of the Olympians’ program.

Go Fish: The NHIAA’s inaugural high school bass fishing tournament, held Thursday on Lake Winnipesaukee, drew 56 teams, caught more than 200 fish and didn’t result in a single penalty.

Newport, Sunapee and Kearsarge all sent two tandems to the tournament, which was held over a pair of six-hour flights. Teams were allowed to catch a maximum of four largemouth or smallmouth bass, but faced the potential of a weight penalty should they fail to keep any of their catches alive.

Exeter’s Connor Farrington and Cam Steritt won the tournament, their four-largemouth catch adding up to 12.43 pounds, more than a half-pound better than that of Moultonborough’s Jacob Cox and Brandon Smith (11.86). John Stark’s Zach Gagnon and Matt Richard took third at 11.69 pounds, including the heaviest largemouth of the event at an even four pounds.

Among the Upper Valley participants, Sunapee’s Chris Peirce and Matt McAlister had the best day, finishing ninth at 10.16 pounds, all smallmouths. Newport’s Derek Pare and Cody Hodgdon were the only other Upper Valley competitors to crack the top 25, taking 23rd place with 8.62 pounds. Taylor Cochran and J.J. Marsh had Kearsarge’s best day, finishing 30th (7.97).

In all, the 112 anglers in the tournament caught 201 fish weighing a grand total of more than 424 pounds. All catches were released alive after the post-tourney weigh-in.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.