Sports Editor Tim Goodwin makes his Winter predictions
peterborough, conval, nordic ski team, practice
jaffrey, conant boys basketball v prospect mountain, Division lll semifinals
I’m not sure I have ever told you this before, but I love this part of my job.
There is nothing better than sitting down, looking at all the teams, players and scenarios for a season and trying to come up with a balanced idea of how things are going to play out.
While I am not perfect in my quest to predict the future — and you know that if you have read any of my previous sets of picks — I do believe I have made a strong case for keeping this tradition alive.
Outside of a few forgettable seasons, I feel like my predictions have worked out pretty well. Just this fall I had what I would consider a successful season of strong picks.
So after making a list, I took a step back. A few days later I revisited the list, crossed out a few possible predictions, added a couple more and finally settled on a strong group to move forward with.
I would like to think that all of them will come to fruition, but I would all but guarantee that will not be the case.
Really I just hope to make a solid showing.
DJ Colburn: Can he repeat as champion?
Last February, Colburn was the only ConVal wrestler to win his weight class at the Division II meet. Colburn swept the 113-pound competition at the divisional meet with three victories, all by pin. And while I’m not about to predict the same kind of domination, Colburn will once again be the top seed in the 113-pound weight class and repeat as champion.
Mascenic Girls Basketball: Can the Vikings win a game?
The Vikings have been mired in an awful losing streak since the tail end of the 2006-07 season. In that span, the program has also been led by six different coaches. That’s five straight seasons without a single win, but that is all going to change. Mark my words, Mascenic will win a game in the 2012-13 season. The team has its entire starting lineup back and is coming off a fairly successful summer schedule. The Vikings don’t have the easiest list of opponents, but should be able to scratch out at least one victory in 18 games.
Conant Basketball: Can both teams make it to a neutral site?
With such a basketball-rich tradition, one of the two Conant squads is usually among the favorites to contend for a state title. Sometimes both are in the discussion. And that will be the case again this year. The boys are coming off a disappointing semifinal loss last season and are ready for some redemption. They are loaded with talent, including Division III Player of the Year favorite Devin Springfield, and hungry for a state championship. The girls have just eight players in the program, but should still be one of the top teams in the division. They have a nice mix of size, athleticism and ability, which should make it very difficult for opponents to match up with the Orioles on both ends of the floor. And they have freshman Madison Springfield, the younger sister of Conant’s all-time leading scorer Brooke Springfield, who will be a dominant force from day one. Both will make it to the Final Four and from there anything can happen.
Sydney Michalak: Can she qualify for Meet of Champions?
Last year, after Michalak proved to be a talented skier as a freshman, I predicted she would make it to the state Nordic meet as a sophomore. But Michalak, now a junior at ConVal, was just shy of qualifying, finishing two spots out of the top 10 in the freestyle race. This year will be different. Michalak will advance past the Division II meet and move on to Meet of Champions. And hopefully she will not be the only one, as ConVal senior Jeff Lent will try to make it for the second straight year to the state race, something I believe will happen.
WLC girls basketball: Can the Warriors host a playoff game?
The Warriors should be better in 2012-13. They finished last year as the 12th seed with an 8-10 regular season record, but that came after beginning the year with five straight losses. WLC lost just two seniors from last year’s team and one did not play in the second half of the season. It will take a team effort for this group to battle some of the tougher teams in Division IV, but the Warriors should do enough to finish in the top eight and play their first playoff opener at home.
How will the indoor track season play out?
Last winter, Conant’s Katie Tonyai qualified for the New England Championships in both sprinting events and followed it up with a strong spring season as well. She was in the top three in the 300- and 55-meter sprints at the Division II meet in February and should be among the favorites to bring home an individual state title this year and will win of the two events at the D-II Championships on Feb. 3. Mascenic senior Elizabeth McGurk was just two spots shy of advancing to New Englands in the 3,000-meter last year. But after an impressive fall cross-country campaign, McGurk is running at her best and it should translate into a strong winter campaign, where she will finish in the top six of a distance event and make it to New Englands.