It's hard to imagine, but we are officially on to 2019, as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to say. With that, the sports department at The Berkshire Eagle decided to take a look back at the best of the best sporting moments from Berkshire County, and rank them. The list was compiled via a points system, with all three writers (Geoff Smith, Mike Walsh and Howard Herman) picking an individual top 10 list. The lists were then combined and given a score of 10 (the top moment) through 1 (the No. 10 moment), and the resulting points tally led to this list.

We also took some liberties in creating the list, most notable the putting together of some accomplishments with each other, in order to squeeze in a few more top moments.

Now, it should be noted, that this list could be 50 memories long if we wanted to. There have been many column inches dedicated to the success of athletes in the county at all levels, and each accomplishment is worthy of a shout out. In an attached fact box, we have listed all of our state champions, state finalists and Western Mass. or sectional champions from MIAA-sanctioned sports.

The honorable mentions list are other events that were either in our individual top 10s, or just outside of them.

Take a look, and feel free to let us know what you thought was the best sports moment of 2018 by emailing the sports department at

Happy New Year to everyone, here's hoping for a 2019 that features just as many accomplishments!


1. Pittsfield American Little League team reaches New England regional final

In the summer, the boys of Pittsfield American rallied a whole city, county and state to their cause as the Little Leaguers advanced through all of the brackets to reach the New England Regional tournament. Pittsfield made it to the championship game before eventually falling to Coventry, R.I. The Pittsfield American team lost only two games all summer, and the team was able to avenge one of those losses when it beat Joe Schwartz Worcester to win the sectional tournament. They went on to win the state title in walk-off fashion.

Fans were able to tune in for the New England tournament on ESPN's streaming services, and the Beacon Cinema hosted viewing parties for several of the games, due to the demand from people across the city. Hot Harry's in Pittsfield featured several signs shouting out Walker Abdalla, who went by the "Burrito Basher" throughout the summer, and gave the burrito chain some love on the ESPN broadcast.

As Howard Herman writes in his year-ender column: "That the Pittsfield American All-Stars came up one game shy of making a trip to Williamsport, Pa., ultimately was not as important as how those 13 youngsters galvanized a city, and Berkshire County."

2. Taconic boys basketball team wins Western Mass. Division II championship, advances to state title game

Programs that graduate all but one returning player, include the entire starting five of a sectional finalist, are supposed to rebuild. It's part of the cyclical nature of sports. Coach Bill Heaphy's Taconic boys basketball team defied that. With lone senior Javier Osorio the lone returning player, Taconic stunned Division II in Western Mass., coming from the No. 6 seed to edge No. 1 Northampton by one point in the title game. It was Taconic's first title since 1977. The Braves reached the state finals with a win over Shepherd Hill in the D-II semis, and captured the end of the winter season entirely. The public was clamoring for stories and content on the team. New names and faces were introduced to the Berkshire County basketball landscape, and Osorio's name was etched into Pittsfield hoop lore. For Heaphy, in his 18th season leading the program, it was a validation and accomplishment of the highest order. The Braves wrapped their school year by earning The Berkshire Eagle All-Star Gala's Boys Team of the Year award.

3. Josh Billings RunAground event organizers successfully re-route course after algae bloom at Stockbridge Bowl

The Josh Billings RunAground has become an annual tradition in Berkshire County, drawing competitors from across the country and around the globe to the triathlon in south county.

But the 42nd Josh will go down as one of the most infamous, if not most memorable.

Just over a week before the event, Stockbridge Bowl — the Josh's typical paddling lake — was deemed unsafe for recreational sports after an algae bloom took over the lake. Left in a scramble, race director Patty Spector got to work with her team of volunteers, and thanks to some good, old-fashioned cooperation, the Josh went off without a delay.

Instead of going to Stockbridge Bowl, bikers went to Richmond Pond, after the town graciously stepped up at the last second. While the course dimensions changed, the Josh was still able to be a full triathlon.

"It's been absolutely unbelievable busy, hectic, but the really good thing about it is that everyone has been willing to help us and be cooperative and going out of their way to help us," Spector said in an interview with The Eagle.

Despite the changed course, the Allen Heights Veterinary team of Josh Kipka, Tom Keefe, Ben Pigott and Steve Monsulick won their third straight Josh title. Kent Lemme was the Ironman champion for the fourth straight time, and Joanna Wang was the Ironwoman champion.

4. Pittsfield softball claims Western Mass. Division I championship

State-wide Division I sports are becoming a rarity in Berkshire County, and success in those fields nearly obsolete. Save for the Pittsfield High softball program under the direction of coach Greg Marchbanks. Marchbanks has run a superior outfit for the better part of a decade, but the Western Mass. D-I title was continually out of reach. Until 2018, when led by a senior trio of Hayley Tobin, Giuliana Pierce and Britney Perkett, the Generals got over that hump.

"The second-place trophies had been collecting dust in my living room for a really long time," Tobin told The Eagle after knocking off Northampton 11-3 at UMass on June 16. "So it was nice to bring home the first-place one. This one won't be getting any dust on it."

The win made PHS 22-0, as they were untouched in Berkshire County, and then the wider Western Mass. area. With Pierce in the circle, Tobin behind the plate and Perkett patrolling centerfield, Pittsfield dominated the spring sports headlines in 2018. The Generals' lone loss came in the state semifinals.

The title was Pittsfield's first in 18 years, and the run wrapped up with The Berkshire Eagle All-Star Gala's Girls Team of the Year award.

5. Lee and Hoosac Valley golf teams win Western Mass. team titles; Hoosac's Henry Sniezek wins individual title in D-II; Lee's Thomas Fraser goes undefeated en route to D-III individual crown

The golf teams of Berkshire County dominated at the Western Mass. level this year, as the Hoosac Valley and Lee programs won Division II and Division III team titles, respectively, while Hoosac's Henry Sniezek was the medalist for D-II, and Thomas Fraser was the medalist in D-III.

Sniezek formed a 1-2 punch with with Derek Alibozek to help capture the team title. Sniezek was the medalist with a 78 — securing it with a birdie on the last hole — and Alibozek tied with Southwick's Matt Garrity with a 79. Hayden Grimes and Corben Craig were the other two scoring golfers for Hoosac in the win. Hoosac scored a team total of 341, beating Frontier by six strokes.

And while the Hurricanes put on an impressive performance for their win, Fraser had a season that will be tough for future golfers to top. The lead man for the Wildcats won every match he played in this year, recording 13 medalist honors in the regular season, a Berkshire Classic title at the Country Club of Pittsfield, and the D-III title at Waubeeka. Fraser shot an even-par 71 in Williamstown to medal in the D-III championship, with Lee edging Monson by a team score of 349 to 351. Dylan Boomsma, Cam Redstone and Dylan Ely rounded out the scoring four for Lee's win.

6. Taconic wrestling closes out high school gym with Western Mass. Division II team title; Dylan Burke goes on to win D-III state title

The gym at the old Taconic high school was host to countless memorable events, and the Taconic wrestling team helped close the gym out by claiming a Western Mass. Division III team title back in February. The Braves romped to the team title, scoring 228.5 points to Sabis' 165.5. Taconic had three individual champions on the day — Tanner Hastings, Zabion Powell and Shawn O'Shea — and had three second-place finishers, and three third-place finishers.

"We won it two years ago when I was a freshman and part of that team. I didn't win it like I did today," said Powell at the time. "So it's nice to be one of the leaders of the team and win."

The following week at the state Division III meet, Dylan Burke added another piece of hardware to the postseason haul when he won the title at 170 pounds.

"I don't know, it still hasn't set in yet," said Burke. "I'm just excited. I just won the state title as a sophomore."

Powell finished as a runner-up at the state meet, as well.

7. Mount Greylock girls Nordic ski team three-peats as state champions; Greylock cross-country teams successfully defend Western Mass. titles

If there's one thing that 2018 reaffirmed in Berkshire County sports, it's that Mount Greylock is where endurance athletes go to thrive. While the Greylock boys Nordic team finished runner-up at the state meet, the Mounties girls team, under the direction of coach Hilary Greene, earned its third consecutive state crown. Margo Smith placed fourth overall, leading four Greylock girls in the top 10 at Berkshire East. In the ensuing school year, Greene took over the cross-country program from longtime coach Larry Bell. That team was coming off a Western Mass. and state title of its own, and the Mounties did just enough to repeat. Led by Josie Smith and Jackie Wells, Greylock edged local rival Lenox by a mere two points at Stanley Park in November. On the same day, their counterparts on the boys team chewed up the Western Mass. competition. Coach Scott Burdick's crew, led by Jesse Seid in second and Josh Cheung in fourth, beat second-place Hampshire by 53 points. It was the ninth straight sectional banner for the Greylock boys, and this particular iteration backed it up by placing third at the state meet a week later. The girls weren't quite able to repeat on the state level, but settled for some more hardware with a runner-up trophy.

8. Wahconah, Hoosac Valley football teams defend Western Mass. championships

All high school sports should be cyclical, but especially football which requires such a tremendous number of physically and mentally strong, experienced athletes to be successful. Time at the top should be short-lived, before rebuilding begins for another run. Yet, at Wahconah and Hoosac Valley the general gridiron rules don't apply. The Warriors and Hurricanes repeated in 2018 as Western Mass. champions in Division VII and VIII, respectively. For coach Gary Campbell's team in Dalton, it was the third straight sectional title and made the Warriors 9-1 on the year. They found dominance behind a strong line and power running back Conner Noyes. Senior quarterback Tim Clayton had an incredible year throwing the ball to a wide assortment of receivers, tight ends and backs, and Campbell yet again proved his program's value with a 46-14 win in the title game over South Hadley.

Given what graduated from Hoosac Valley's 2017 state finalist team, coach Dayne Poirot's program seemingly had no business repeating as Western Mass. champions. Yet, after a slow start, Poirot and his team doubled-down on what they did well. The Hurricanes leaned on an experienced and gritty offensive line and hard-hitting defense. They threw the ball just twice in a 12-6 road win in the sectional semifinals, and then rushed for a two-point conversion in overtime of the Western Mass. final, beating Berkshire County rival Lee 16-14 under the pouring rain on a neutral field at Williams College.

9. Williams women's soccer team goes back-to-back in NCAA Division III tournament

The Williams women's soccer team did it again. Michelyne Pinard's team claimed its second consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament championship in the fall, as the Ephs topped NESCAC rival Middlebury on penalties to earn the 2018 crown. In the final, senior goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill made two saves, including one on Clare Robinson that clinched the title for Williams.

The Ephs have now won three of the last four national titles.

Featuring on the team was Pittsfield product Ilana Albert. She reflected on the journey to our Howard Herman when the team returned to Williamstown.

"Going into this season, we felt like we deserved a chance to be back here, but not necessarily proved ourselves to be deserving of that," Albert said. "Seeing our team grow from thinking we deserved a spot to showing that we had to prove it, and actually going to deserve that spot in real time, that was probably the biggest transition."

10. Taconic baseball wins second straight Western Mass. title, advances to second straight state championship game.

Another team bucking the rebuilding trend and another longtime coach proving his immense value. Coach Kevin Stannard and the Taconic Braves backed up a Division I state title with another Western Mass. crown in 2018. A lower enrollment total pushed the Braves back into Division III, but Stannard runs a D-I program through and through. The result after a 16-4 regular season and No. 1 seed in the Western Mass. D-III bracket, was a slaughter. Led by big-swinging Cedric Rose and fellow senior Austin Rachiele, the Braves won their three tournament games by a combined total of 28-6. In a 6-1 win over Frontier in the championship, Rose swatted two home runs. He finished the tournament 6 for 12 with five extra-base hits and eight RBI. Rose homered again in a 5-3 win over Auburn in the state semifinals, as the Braves made a return trip to the Massachusetts state title round.

Honorable mentions: Ellie Field wins Central/Western Mass. title in 50-yard freestyle; Berkshire Force softball team plays in Babe Ruth World Series; Lenox boys soccer team defends Western Mass. Division IV title; Mount Greylock girls lacrosse team reaches first Central/West Division II championship game; Wahconah girls basketball team ends Hoosac Valley's Western Mass. title streak; Hoosac Valley boys, girls lacrosse teams reach Central/West semifinals; Mount Greylock track teams win Western Mass. titles; Unified sports programs begin play in Berkshire County; Gene Dellea Field opens on the campus of Berkshire Community College; Wahconah bowling wins state championship; John Field wins Western Mass. D-III wrestling title, named Most Outstanding Wrestler of tournament; Zach Lupiani of Mount Everett, Sam Cormier of Monument Mountain win Western Mass. wrestling titles; Lee girls tennis team goes undefeated en route to Western Mass. Division III title; Mount Greylock track team wins three Central/West Division II events;