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December 29. 2012 10:15PM

Kevin Gray's Gray Matter: 2012 was full of memories


 
From World Cup skiers to World Series champions, Granite Staters enjoyed an incredible amount of success in 2012. Much appreciated. As a sports writer, my job is to capture stories that inform, entertain and occasionally inspire readers.

New Hampshire athletes made it easy.

There's never a dull moment whether covering high school, college or pro sports - and a New Hampshire angle always slaps you in the face. A look back at 2012:

In January, Hanover High graduate Hannah Kearney dominated the World Cup freestyle skiing scene and won 16 consecutive World Cup events. The Dartmouth student went on claim the World Cup overall freestyle and moguls championships.

February and March are months for palm trees and big-league dreams - at least at baseball's spring training. On a trip to Fort Myers, Fla., I watched Salem High graduate Nick Poore, a reliever for Boston College, toss two shutout innings against the Red Sox. Farther up the coast, Jeff Locke from Kennett High of Conway impressed the Pirates and eventually cracked the starting rotation during the season. The southpaw picked up his first big-league win against the Braves.

Yankees minor-leaguer Jordan Cote, a Winnisquam of Tilton product, was assigned to the Gulf Coast League and won his professional debut against the Braves affiliate. Cote and fellow Yankees farmhand Joey Maher of Bedford soon will be heading to Florida to prepare for the 2013 season.

In April, Nashua North graduate Kendall Reyes was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Chargers. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive end has appeared in all 15 games for the Chargers, recording 25 tackles and 5 sacks. Last week, Reyes tormented the Jets with five tackles and 3 sacks.

In Manchester, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats took their lumps and fell apart under second-year manager Sal Fasano. In May, however, shortstop Ryan Goins set a franchise record with 41 hits for the month. The Fisher Cats stumbled to a 61-81 record and finished in last place in the Eastern Division.

Milford High's Morgan Andrews served as captain of the U.S. Under-17 women's soccer team and was named Gatorade National Player of the Year for high school girls' soccer. In the fall, Andrews led the Spartans to a 2-1 triumph over Souhegan of Amherst in the NHIAA Division II soccer final.

Remember the NHL? In June, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup with significant help from former Manchester Monarchs. Fourteen ex-Monarchs were part of the championship season: Jonathan Bernier, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Davis Drewiske, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Andrei Loktionov, Alec Martinez, Jordan Nolan, Scott Parse, Jonathan Quick, Brad Richardson, Slava Voynov and Kevin Westgarth.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Concord High graduate Guor Marial of South Sudan competed in the men's marathon, competing under the International Olympic Committee flag as an independent athlete. (South Sudan yet to be recognized by the Olympic committee.) He finished 47th.

Manchester's Joanne Dow, the oldest member of the U.S. track and field team at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, made an impressive bid at London before falling short and concluding her competitive career. At the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., the 48-year-old placed fifth in the 20-kilometer walk.

In the fall, Concord native Brian Sabean guided the San Francisco Giants to their second World Series title in three seasons. Londonderry High graduate Brian Wilson earned another World Series ring - making only two appearances for the Giants. The bearded wonder had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in April and vowed to return by opening day 2013.

In Durham, University of New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell captured his 100th career win in October - the same month in which Dick Umile won his 500th career game for UNH men's hockey. In November, senior linebacker Matt Evans became the school's all-time tackle leader.

Plymouth High football coach Chuck Lenahan (345-69-1 career record), whose teams have won 19 state titles and completed 13 unbeaten seasons, became the all-time winningest high school football coach in New England.

Happy New Year!

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Kevin Gray may be reached at kgray@unionleader.com.

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