There are few things more enjoyable than watching a young athlete put their talent to use and achieve something remarkable.
Athletes from the Greater Niagara Region have won a host of awards and championships during the 2021-2022 school year. From sectional championship swimmers to wrestlers and runners, it’s been an impressive year of accomplishments.
Here are the top 10 individual athletic accomplishments in high school this year:
1. Starpoint’s Alyssa Armitage sets the state’s best pole vault mark: MVPs and player of the year awards can be debated, but tape measures and stopwatches leave no room for ambiguity. Armitage may not have been the best pole vaulter on the day of the national meet, but her higher rating indicates there was no one better in the state this season. The senior won her second straight Section VI, Division 1 championship with a 13-foot jump, breaking her own Starpoint record. No other female pole vaulter in the state has earned a higher rating this season. She was one of nine to clear 12 feet, which she accomplished three times during the outdoor season.
2. Sarah Woods of Lewiston-Porter Named State Player of the Year: The Lancers may not have won a state championship, but sportswriters in the state felt there was no class B women’s soccer player better than Woods. She was named New York State Class B Player of the Year after guiding Lew-Port to their first state final in 27 years. Woods was the second-highest scorer in Section VI with 94 points and the top in assists with 30. She was the only player in the section to have at least 30 goals and 30 assists this season. In the playoffs, Woods also scored 11 goals — scoring two goals in each of the first five games — and had nine assists.
3. Jaden Crumpler of Niagara Falls reaches the state final: Heading into the Division 1 State Wrestling Tournament, Crumpler was seeded sixth in the 118-pound class, but he picked up three straight wins before falling in the dying moments to Northport’s Matt Marlow in the title match. ‘State. The junior finished 32-3 for the season, stacking up 18 straight wins before falling in the final game. He was Section VI champion for the second straight season, while also winning a Class AA Section title by pinning all three of his opponents in the tournament.
4. Lew-Port’s Sophie Auer racks up the awards: A true dual-sport athlete, Auer was named the Niagara Frontier League Co-Women’s Soccer Player of the Year in the fall and won the league’s Co-Player of the Year for Women’s Basketball in the winter. The junior was the third Division VI scorer in soccer with 88 points and the eighth in basketball with 452 points. Auer was the first women’s hoop player from the Greater Niagara Region to be named to the States First Team in 10 years. Auer got the assist in overtime of the state semifinals and made the game-winning field goal in the class B-1 sectional final.
5. Mandy Hill of Royalton-Hartland has NO swimming record books: Although she never had the chance to compete in a sectional or state meet due to a split season, Hill found a way to make her mark. Literally. Hill finished with 10 Roy-Hart swimming records and seven Niagara-Orleans League records. The senior holds the league’s best mark in the 50-yard freestyle (24.72 seconds), 100 freestyle (53.93), 200 freestyle (1:57.42), 200 individual medley (2:15, 65), 500 freestyle (5:23.35), 200 freestyle relay (1:44) and 400m freestyle relay (3:49.19). She also holds school records in the 100 butterfly (1:01.84), 100 breaststroke (1:10.67) and 200 medley relay (1:59.17).
6. Matthew Schaffert of Lockport is the fastest man in Section VI: No Section VI sprinter has run faster than Schaffert this season. The senior was the Division 1 sectional champion in the 200 yards in 22.86 seconds, while his best time of the season (22.48) came at the NFL Championships. Schaffert may not have won the 100 in sections, but he posted the section’s best time (11.06) in the NFL meet. He also beat Clarence Section VI champion Tyler McGrath in the United States by running 11.19. Lake Shore’s Simon Connors ran 10.94 at the Division 2 state meet but had a tailwind of 3.8 meters per second. Wind aid is considered when it exceeds 2 meters per second.
7. Grand Island’s Brian Bielec Collects Championships, Records: No Grand Island wrestler has finished his career with more wins than Bielec, who amassed 197 in six years. Bielec broke the school record in the Class A competition en route to winning their fourth sectional championship. Bielec was also the Section VI Division 1 172-pound champion, scoring his third overall section title. He won his first 44 games of the season and finished 46-2, placing fifth in the state meet. Bielec ended his career with an 81-game unpinned streak.
8. Starpoint’s Veda Jauch sweeps the sectional throwing events: Jauch became the second Starpoint pitcher in three seasons to sweep the shot put and discus in Division 1 state qualifying. The eldest repeated as section discus champion with a throw of 121-foot-10. and won his first shot put title with a 36-4.75 lift. Jauch finished sixth at the Division 1 State meet, then rebounded fourth at the Federation State meet in discus and finished sixth in the Division 1 shot put with a career-best 36 -9. His best discus throw of the season was 122-3.
9. Niagara Wheatfield’s Tristan Davis leads Section VI: The junior was the Section VI women’s lacrosse leader with 80 goals, edging Lew-Port’s Sophie Massaro by one point. In her second college season, Davis had 97 points overall, which beat Lake Shore/Silver Creek’s Ava Tallchief by one. She scored one goal in all 18 games and scored at least three goals 16 times, including eight games of five or more.
T-10. Wilson’s Tyler Johnston ties Section VI strikeout record: In his first start of the season, the freshman struck out 20 in a no-hitter against Lyndonville on April 4. Johnston’s performance equaled a section record of 62 years set by Bob Hammond of North Collins. He was one step away from a perfect game and all but one went out by strikeout. Johnston managed to complete the performance on 84 pitches, including 71 strikes.
T-10. Medina’s Greg Thompson goes wild at Highmark Stadium: A snowy day proved profitable for Greg Thompson. In the Division VI Class C football championship game, Thompson rushed for 265 yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries as the Mustangs rolled Fredonia 58-6. In the previous 10 games, Thompson was used more as a receiver, rushing for 271 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts.
Honorable Mention: Niagara Wheatfield’s Collin Coughenour won his fourth Section VI Wrestling Championship this season, as well as his second Class A Section title. … Lew-Port’s Jake Lauzonis won two Section Swimming Championships and set three records school. … Paul Wissel of Wheatfield won the overall Section VI 50m freestyle championship and the Class A 100m breaststroke title. … Rocco Randazzo of Lew-Port won the Section VI and NFL golf tournaments, while finishing ninth in the United States. … Nichols’ former Lew-Port star Jalen Duff recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over Bishop Timon on Jan. 11.
Nick Sabato can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NickSabatoGNN.