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Column: Picking apart the Sports Editor’s fall picks

  • Division III Golf State Tournament at Newport Golf Club in Newport, NH<br/>Mascenic and Conant
  • ConVal girls volleyball vs. Raymond<br/>Played at South Meadow School

When I set out to write my predictions for the season, I feel they are really done with one eye open.

That’s because I really only know half of the equation.

Over the years, I have developed a pretty decent grasp of the local sports landscape. You have to when you are the only one covering it. I know what local teams have to work with, what players are coming back and which ones are no longer with the program. But the wildcard — when it comes to these picks — is what the rest of the state has been up to.

It would be impossible to gauge which teams have gotten better and which have dropped in the ranks. So to be fair, I make these picks suited toward what I know of the locals.

And this may sound like I am setting up why I did so bad this fall, but I’m really not. I actually did pretty well. A couple I got right, a few others I was real close and one I would rather not even write about.

Really I was just giving you a sneak peek into how I go about my choices. The list starts relatively long and then I narrow it down.

This fall, I settled on six. Two dealt with individual athletes, while the other four centered around team success.

I will go in order to keep the integrity of the column. It may just look like I am stacking the deck to list my successes at the top, but that is not the case.

Can Jocelyn Ojala win the girls individual title?

In each of her first three seasons, Ojala was fourth in the girls tournament. She hadn’t shot better than an 11-over 82 at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands in Salem, the annual site for the event. But I felt this was Ojala’s year. It was her final chance to win an individual state championship to go along with two team state titles she owned, and something told me she would not be denied. And with an even-par 71 on Sept. 29, Ojala won the 2012 girls crown by defeating the two-time defending champion Collette Schmidt of Lebanon by two strokes.

How many games will the ConVal football team win?

After back-to-back one-win seasons, this was one I thought long and hard about. The only team the Cougars had defeated in the last two years was Pelham, and the Pythons were not on the schedule for 2012. Yet I had an inclination that this group would do better, or maybe I drank the Kool Aid first-year coach Ryan McCartney was handing out prior to the season about how this team would be much improved. Whatever it was it worked. I thought the Cougars would jump to three wins this season and that wasn’t even enough. ConVal finished the year with a record of 4-6.

How will the season play out for the Conant golf team?

The Orioles were coming off the best finish in program history in 2011 after placing third in Division III. Conant had lost quite a bit from that team, but I thought they would have enough to battle for a top four finish at this year’s team tournament. And it was close. The Orioles placed fifth overall in the regular season and did the same in the one-day tournament, finishing just eight shots out of fourth.

What will WLC boys soccer do for an encore?

The Warriors entered the 2012 season as the two-time defending Division IV champions. And while they had a number of key positions to fill from those teams, I still felt they could fight their way into the semifinals for a fourth straight year. But I was wrong. The Warriors finished 14th overall and were eliminated in the first round of the D-IV tournament.

Can the ConVal girls volleyball team win its first varsity match?

In the first two seasons at the varsity level, the Cougars were a combined 0-30. But after dropping down to Division III for the 2012 season, I felt the team was in its more natural place and it would translate into the program’s first ever win. I did not predict how many matches ConVal would win, but by the end of the season, the team owned a pair. The big one came in a 3-0 sweep of Raymond on Sept. 17. And just for good measure, the Cougars added the program’s first road win with a 3-2 victory at Trinity on Oct. 10.

Will Mascenic senior Elizabeth McGurk contend for the Division III cross-country title?

McGurk was seventh in 2011 and had trained real hard over the summer to make sure she was ready for her best season yet. So I had no problem saying that she would be in the top three at the Division III meet. And after seeing what she was able to do over the course of the season, I felt even more comfortable with my pick. And I was just one place and seven seconds away from nailing it, as McGurk finished fourth at last weekend’s D-III meet.

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