2009 a Record-Breaking Year in Local Sports

BERLIN- With 2009 becoming 2010 this week, it’s a good time to look back and reflect on some of the top sports stories of the year on the local front.

As usual, the outstanding accomplishments of the local scholar-athletes dominated the sports pages of The Dispatch week in and week out, both as teams and individuals. It was another record-breaking year on the local fishing scene with six new state records caught in various species including a whooping 1000-pound-plus blue marlin during the White Marlin Open.

There were so many great sports stories this year that boiling a list down to a Top Ten was again difficult, so with all due respect to all of the area athletes who left their mark on 2009, here is a look at a handful of the top stories that captured the attention of local sports enthusiasts over the last year:

Massive Blue Marlin Topples 20-Year-Old Record

‘Wow’ is about the only way to describe the massive 1,062-pound blue marlin that stunned the big crowd at the 36th Annual White Marlin Open this year, toppling a state and tournament record that had stood for 20 years.

When angler Robert Farris and the crew aboard the “No Problem” pulled into the marina at Harbour Island with the tail of a monster blue marlin hanging out of the stern of the boat, the big crowd sensed it was about to see something special. When the fish was hauled out of the cockpit of the “No Problem” and hoisted up the scale, it topped out at an amazing 1,062 pounds, upending a record that had stood since 1989.

Dr. Jim Daniel, fishing aboard the aptly named “Memory Maker” with Captain Marty Moran, set the previous tournament and state record back in 1989 with an amazing 942-pound blue marlin and it stood the test of time for 20 years, but the record finally came down on Wednesday night of Marlin Week with the 1,062-pound caught by veteran angler Ferris and the crew aboard the “No Problem.” The blue marlin division was wide open going into Wednesday without a single qualifier weighed during the first two days of the tournament, but Farris and the “No Problem” crew all but settled the issue once and for all with the grander.

“Nontypical” Enjoys Remarkable Summer

Continuing a white hot streak that started back in May with the first mako shark caught in the waters off the coast of Ocean City and also included the first white marlin of the season and a new state record mako in the Ocean City Shark Tournament, Captain Terry Layton and the familiar crew on the “Nontypical” last week snagged a nice share of the White Marlin Open prize money, adding to the growing folklore of the memorable summer of 2009.

For Layton and the “Nontypical” crew, with a core group including Jim Hughes, Robert Phillips and Timmy McGuire, the summer of 2009 was anything but typical. In May, the crew caught the first mako of the year off Ocean City, setting the tone for what has become a remarkable offshore fishing season.

Layton, who owns and operates the family restaurant of the same name on 94th Street, followed that up by taking first- and third-place in the annual Mako Mania tournament. Three days after that, the “Nontypical,” a sort of sport fishing David in a sea of much larger Goliaths, caught the first white marlin of the season to add another feather in its already well adorned cap. The following weekend, angler Jim Hughes and the “Nontypical” crew made headlines again, this time by catching a new state record 876-pound mako during the annual Ocean City Shark Tournament to take top honors in that event.

In August, the “Nontypical” crew was at it again, weighing an 83-pound white marlin on the second day of the world-famous White Marlin Open just minutes after the eventual winner, a 93-pounder, was weighed. Layton and the “Nontypical” crew eventually got bounced to third in terms of weight by an 85-pound beauty on the tournament’s last day, but took home a large share of the white marlin division prize money.

Now, any one of those feats considered in and of itself would be a major accomplishment for most boats during a summer fishing season. Collectively, what collectively happened last summer was a monumental achievement by anybody’s standards.

Decatur’s Miller Wins Third State Title

Stephen Decatur’s Danny Miller, one of the most decorated athletes in the school’s history, punctuated an outstanding high school career last season with his third straight state wrestling championship.

Miller was one of six Seahawks wrestlers to compete in the state Class 4A-3A championship meet last weekend at Cole Field House at the University of Maryland and the only one to reach the finals and win a state championship. It was the third straight for the Seahawk standout, who won a Class 2A-1A title two years ago as a sophomore and won the championship again last year in the first season Decatur moved up in class to 4A-3A.

Miller was dominating again in the 189-pound weight class last weekend as he reached the finals again for the third straight year. The championship was just another feather in the cap of Miller’s outstanding high school wrestling career. He finished the season with 139 career wins, becoming Decatur’s all-time leader in career wins. He is now making an immediate impact on the Naval Academy wrestling team as a freshman.

Stephen Decatur Baseball Team Completes Perfect Regular Season

Stephen Decatur’s varsity baseball team ran the table last spring, going 15-0 to complete a perfect regular season.

Using dominating pitching and timely hitting, coupled with a stingy defense, the Seahawks were perfect all year and rarely tested, their only close call coming in a come-from-behind win over Parkside in their last at-bat in early May. However, the magical run ended for the Seahawks with a first-round loss in the state Class 3A-East regional tournament to Bel Air as they fell to the Bobcats, 4-0.

Worcester-Decatur Lacrosse Rivalry Produces a Classic

The latest installment in the annual Stephen Decatur-Worcester Prep lacrosse rivalry lived up to the hype with the Mallards edging the Seahawks, 5-4, in an overtime thriller in front of a big bipartisan crowd at Seahawk Stadium in April.

After the two teams played to a 4-4 tie through two knock-down, drag out periods of regulation, Worcester Prep’s Justin Butler scored a goal just minutes into the first overtime period to left the Mallards to a 5-4 win over their cross-town rivals. The heated contest was played in front of a big, sometimes hostile crowd at Seahawk Stadium, many of whom raced across town after watching the Decatur girls’ varsity lacrosse team take down Mallard girls, 7-4, at Worcester Prep in another installment of the annual rivalry.

If it’s true familiarity breeds contempt, the expression only applies between the lines on the lacrosse field for Decatur and Worcester. From whistle to whistle, both teams pounded each other, but after the game, players on both teams, many of whom compete together on various club and travel teams, shared handshakes and hugs. With Worcester playing in the ESIAC and Decatur playing in the Bayside Conference, there was little at stake in terms of standings or records, but the annual grudge match provides the winner with bragging rights for the entire next year.

Six State Fishing Records Fall

This year produced some remarkable results on the local fishing front with six new state records set during 2009 including the aforementioned 1000-pound plus blue marlin during the White Marlin Open and a 876-pound mako taken during the annual Ocean City Shark Tournament.

The amazing 2009 run began in June when two state records were set two days apart. Angler Jim Hughes on the “Nontypical” with Captain Terry Layton continued a red-hot early start to the season with an 876-pound mako caught during the shark tournament. The big shark topped the old mako record of 766 pounds set back in 1984.

It was later learned another state record fell a day earlier when angler Brent Applegit of Boulder, Colorado, fishing aboard the “Toy Boy,” landed a 642-pound thresher shark, topping the previous record of 613 pounds set by angler Don Lorden back in 2003. For Applegit, the record-breaking thresher was the first shark he ever caught.

The run of new state records continued in July when angler Chris Toner, fishing aboard the “Fish Finder” with Captain Mark Sampson, caught a new state record cobia, a 71-pounder taken in about 12 fathoms near the Great Gull Reef on July 25. the cobia topped the existing record, a 67-pounder caught by local angler Mike Horsey in 2007.

The White Marlin Open has produced its share of record-breaking fish over the years, but the 2009 event was certainly one for the books. On Wednesday of Marlin Week, two new Maryland state records were broken including a massive 1,062-pound blue marlin and a 254-pound scalloped hammerhead shark. When angler Bob Ferris and the crew aboard the “No Problem” pulled into the marina at Harbour Island with the tail of a monster blue marlin hanging out of the stern, the big crowd sensed it was about to see something special.

When the fish was hauled out of the cockpit of the “No Problem” and hoisted up the scale, it topped out at an amazing 1,062 pounds, upending a WMO and state record that had stood for 20 years. Dr. Jim Daniel, fishing aboard the aptly named “Memory Maker” with Captain Marty Moran set the previous tournament and state record back in 1989 with an amazing 942-pound blue marlin that stood the test of time for two decades. Almost lost among the hoopla surrounding the new record blue marlin was another state record caught on the same day during the 2009 WMO. Angler Jamie Gill, fishing about the “Lisa,” landed a 254-pound scalloped hammerhead shark on Wednesday of Marlin Week, which took the top spot in the shark category. It was later determined the hammerhead, caught by Gill at Massey’s Canyon was also a new state record for the species, topping the old record by 60 pounds.

Finally, in November, angler Steve Doctor and the crew aboard the “Angler” landed a 62-pound golden tilefish during a three-day excursion. The new state record cobia toppled the existing state record, a 59.2-pounder caught by local captain Ron Callis back in May 2007.

Worcester Boys Wrap Perfect Season

In October, Worcester Prep’s men’s varsity soccer team added icing to its perfect season cake, beating Salisbury School, 1-0, in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) tournament title game to finish with an unblemished record.

The Mallards wrapped up the regular season with a 13-0 record, leaving only the ESIAC tournament standing between them and a perfect season. The Mallards dominated all year on their way to a perfect regular season during which they outscored their opponents by 63 goals. The domination continued with a pair of wins in the conference tournament culminating with a narrow win over old rival Salisbury School in the title game.

Decatur Wrestlers Win Sixth Conference Title in Row

In February, Stephen Decatur’s varsity wrestling last weekend captured its sixth straight Bayside Conference tournament championship, sending seven wrestlers to the finals in their respective weight classes and winning two individual titles.

The Seahawks finished with an impressive 249 team points in the Bayside Conference tournament to easily coast to its sixth straight title. Easton was second with 204 points, followed by North Caroline (191), and St. Michael’s and Queen Anne’s (162) each. Decatur was dominating in the tournament once again, sending seven wrestlers into championship matches and collecting two titles, including Danny Miller at 189 pounds and Matt Doherty at 135 pounds.

The following week, the Seahawks made a great showing in the state Class 4A-3A East Region tournament, finishing second for the second straight year with six individual wrestlers advancing to the state tournament.

Decatur Girls Perfect Regular Season and Bayside Title

In May, Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team wrapped up a perfect 11-0 regular season and topped Kent Island, 14-9, in the Bayside Conference title game to collect its fourth straight title.

The Seahawks were dominating all season, running the table to finish a perfect 11-0. They continued their remarkable run with an impressive victory over Kent Island in the conference title match and earned to top seed in the state Class 3A-East region tournament. However, the Seahawks were upset in the first round by Annapolis, 7-5, after leading the contest 4-1 at the half.

Worcester Boys Regain Conference Crown

Worcester Prep’s boys’ varsity lacrosse team reclaimed its Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) title in May after taking a one-year hiatus from conference play.

The Mallards jumped out to an early lead and cruised to the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) tournament championship, beating visiting Gunston, 15-4, to win the title they had last won in 2007. Worcester did not play in the conference the previous year but returned to league play in 2009 and picked up right where they left off with another conference title.