By Dan Guttenplan
---- — One of the best problems to have as a sports editor is trying to decide which of the state championships from the weekend merits prime billing in Monday’s newspaper.
This particular sports editor had that problem Saturday when the Newburyport girls soccer team’s state championship occurred only a few hours after Newburyport junior Nick Carleo won a Division 2 All-State Cross-Country championship.
Nine days remain in the high school football season for local schools, but for now, let’s hand out the superlatives for the fall sports season excluding football.
Most Likely To Break Someone’s Spirit: Nick Carleo, Newburyport
Talk to Carleo about running, and he almost sounds as if he’s describing hunting. “I wanted to sit on (my opponent) and make a move late ... I ended up breaking him somehow.” Carleo spoke those words about the favorite in the Division 2 All-State Championships, Burlington’s Paul Hogan.
Carleo has been blessed with running genes as the son of Tom Carleo, who qualified for the 1988 Olympics in the metric mile. He has the work ethic, as is evidenced by his 60 miles per week of training last summer. He has the smarts, as is evidenced by his ability to recite running times from meets that occurred two years ago. Of all Carleo’s traits, the one that may have pushed him to an All-State championship is his competitiveness.
Most Likely To Direct Traffic: Aly Leahy, Newburyport
Some may have found it strange to hear that Leahy was named All-New England for this reason: She was the center back for a team that rarely played in its own defensive end. However, if you watched Newburyport down the stretch, you saw that Leahy was a coach on the field for the Clippers, as well as an excellent positional defender. She also took many of Newburyport’s free kicks. Although it may seem that Newburyport’s last line of defense before the goalkeeper would not be very busy during a game, the opposite was true. Standing anywhere near Newburyport’s goal during a game resulted in a tutorial on position defense from Leahy.
Most Likely To Lead a Pep Rally: Michael Weisberg, Triton
The Triton first-year coach led the Vikings to a state-tournament appearance — and victory — for the first time in the school’s 30-year history. Somewhere along the way, he included much of the Triton student body in the team’s success. At each state-tournament appearance, Triton’s student section outnumbered that of its opponent. After the Vikings lost to Lynnfield in the Division 3 North semifinal, Weisberg called the students onto the field — to the chagrin of an MIAA official — and the team and Triton students joined for a final cheer.
Most Likely To Require Spell Check: Jacob Papanicolaou, Triton
If you’re scoring so many goals that your local sports editor learns to spell “Papanicolaou”, you’re doing something right. Papanicolaou returned to Triton for his senior season after choosing to play club soccer last fall. His impact on the team was immense. The Vikings qualified for the state tournament after going 5-27-4 the last two seasons. Papanicolaou led the team in scoring and was named All-Cape Ann League.
Most Likely To Be Asked If He Has a Twin: Cody Sedler, Pentucket
The Pentucket junior was one of the team’s best players on the field, as well as the team’s top goalkeeper. While splitting time in goal with Logan Sherwood during the first half of the season, Sedler found the scoring sheet in his limited time in the field with a goal against Triton and an assist against Hamilton-Wenham. Pentucket coach Christian Langlois had a decision to make after his team started 8-2-1. He needed to decide whether Sedler was more valuable in the field or in goal. He settled on Sedler as the goalkeeper, and the Sachems returned to the state tournament for the fifth year in a row.
Most Likely To Come Through In the Clutch: Caroline Marino, Newburyport
Marino, a junior forward on the Newburyport field hockey team, may have scored the fall season’s most dramatic goal. She scored the game-winner in Newburyport’s 2-1 victory over Marblehead in the opening round of the state tournament — after time expired. With Newburyport facing a potential overtime period in a state-tournament game for the second year in a row, the Clippers were granted one untimed short corner due to a rule that a game cannot end on a defensive penalty in the circle. Marino took a feed from Meghan Stanton and found the cage, setting off a celebration at Amesbury Sports Park.
Most Likely To Smile When Thinking About a Rat: Jon Seward, Triton
Jon “King Rat” Seward posted the high score (most points) at the River Rival Golf Championship, earning himself a makeshift rat plaque for eternity. Seward scored 31 points, besting all other golfers from Newburyport, Triton, Amesbury and Pentucket. Afterward, he actually admitted to spending the weekend before the match thinking about the King Rat.