SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming,” said the late John Wooden, whose 100-year life included his legendary basketball-coaching career of the UCLA Bruins, which yielded an unprecedented 10 national championships. Success abounds locally both individually and team wise and it is most certainly attributable to Wooden’s maxim. Succinctly put, our kids are giving it all they’ve got and the results are proportionately remarkable. Here’s a quick panorama that encompasses a cross-section of county schools and sports.
Boys golf: Sullivan West clinched its ninth consecutive Division IV title. Drew Billard finished fourth in the OCIAA championship and is vying this week in sectionals, hoping for a chance to make it to states. Fallsburg’s Richie Elliott, Eldred’s Dave Powers and Tri-Valley’s Jimmy Bernstein also made the cut at the OCIAA meet and join Billard in the Section 9 championships.
Softball: Sullivan West clinched its second Division IV title in the past three years as it posted a 7-1 league record. The Lady Indians of Liberty made sectionals for the first time in a decade.
Baseball: Monticello swept Liberty and Rondout Valley to win its third consecutive John Spear Memorials Tourney title. The Monties edged Liberty 4-2 and then beat Rondout Valley 8-0 with sterling pitching from Ben Kapito and Connor Briggs, respectively. Liberty bounced back to defeat Ellenville 4-3 in the consolation game. The loss to Monticello was Liberty’s first in the second half of the season. They are now 11-6. They won the first two games of their series against Sullivan West, which concludes this week. Tri-Valley faces off against Chester to determine the Division V champion. Tri-Valley senior Joe Mickelson has put himself on the radar as a viable candidate for Player of the Year both locally and statewide with his astounding pitching and batting statistics. Coming into this week, Mickelson was 6-0 with one save and an E.R.A. of 0.16. He has notched 63 strikeouts. His batting average is an uncanny .567 with 34 hits and 30 RBI. He has a .649 on base percentage.
Track and field: This past week marked the opening salvo of the championship cavalcade. Beginning with Sullivan West’s Donna Deppa Meet of Champions of May 15 and on to the OCIAA League Championship meet on May 18-19, local runners, jumper and throwers marshaled their best in preparation for the Section 9 championships on May 23 for classes B and C, which includes Liberty, Tri-Valley and Sullivan West, and on May 24 for class A Monticello and Class D Eldred and Livingston Manor. The Donna Deppa Meet of Champions is scored individually. For results from that meet, visit www.sportsinsightny.com  to read the story entitled “In Loving Memory,” which begins with a tribute to the late Donna Deppa, who devoted herself unselfishly to the Sullivan West track endeavors while supporting her daughters Rebecca and Rachel.
The OCIAA league meet features schools large and small and the talent pool on hand is greater than local kids will see with the exception of those who make it to states. Here are some highlights: Monticello’s Tino Taylor broke the record for the 400 with a time of 50.62.The prior record had been on the books for over 20 years. Liberty’s Peter Koval shattered the school javelin record with a heave of 153-11. Liberty’s Rebeccah Harman and Sullivan West’s Amanda Rosenberger were named as Sportsmanship Award winners at the meet. Eldred’s Hunter Proscia set new high water marks with his fourth-place finish in the 3000 steeplechase (10:06.90) and in the 3200 (9:33.55), in which he placed third. Tri-Valley’s Jimmy Bernstein marshaled a lifetime best in the 800 with a time of 1:59. Tri-Valley’s Mareena DiMilia finished second in the outdoor pentathlon with 2,414 points. Liberty’s Kane Sauchuk took fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.7) and the 400 intermediate hurdles (55.88). Teammate Kenny Jaycox was fourth in the long jump (21-087.25). Fallsburg’s Candhace Forrest was fourth in the 100 (13.0). Read “League Lore 2012” on sportsinsightsny.com for more on the meet.