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Plenty of magical moments and achievements by area athletes in 2014

The American team in the Mixed 4x50 freestyle relay won gold and set a new world record at the world championship meet Saturday in Qatar. From left, Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Avon's Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil.

The American team in the Mixed 4×50 freestyle relay won gold and set a new world record at the world championship meet in Qatar. From left, Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Avon’s Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil.

Thank you for being a part of our Collinsville Press.com family in 2014. Over 75,000 visitors came to the site in the past 12 months and viewed our stories and photos more than 181,000 times. We’ve shared some great athletic moments and achievements in 2014. We look forward to sharing additional outstanding achievements in the months to come. Let’s remember a few moments from the past 12 months.

1. Avon swimmer Madison Kennedy wins a world championship with the United States 4×50 freestyle relay team at the World Swimming Championships in Qatar. She also brought home two silver medals from U.S. relays and was fourth in the 50 meter freestyle.

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Canton's Mike LeDuc o Conn College leads the pack at the recent Hanover Pre-National meet in Indiana. LeDuc won the race.

Canton’s Mike LeDuc of Conn College leads the pack at the Hanover Pre-National meet in Indiana. LeDuc won the race.

2. Canton’s Michael LeDuc won two NCAA Division III national titles in his senior season at Connecticut College in cross country and the men’s steeplechase. LeDuc won three NCAA titles in his career at Conn College and earned All-American honors nine times in his collegiate career.

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Canton's Dan Delos (34) celebrates with his teammates after the Warriors  beat Avon in overtime, 27-24 to win a record ninth game and the Uncas Division title.

Canton’s Dan Delos (34) celebrates with his teammates after the Warriors beat Avon in overtime, 27-24 to win a record ninth game and the Uncas Division title.

3. It was a magical season for the Canton High football program –one of the best ever in school history. Just four years ago, they were 0-10. This fall, they went 10-2 and rallied to beat Avon in overtime to win its first league championship since 1958 and secure their first-ever berth in the CIAC state tournament. And they did it with just 27 players in the program.

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Avon's Riley Strassner, left, and Matthew Fuge (4) celebrate as South Windsor goalie Josh Inkel can only look at the ball in the net. Fuge's goal 1:58 into the game gave Avon a 1-0 victory.

Avon’s Riley Strassner, left, and Matthew Fuge (4) celebrate as South Windsor goalie Josh Inkel can only look at the ball in the net. Fuge’s goal 1:58 into the game gave Avon a 1-0 victory in the semifinals over the Bobcats.

4. The varsity soccer programs from Avon High had a memorable fall campaign. The girls soccer team tied Suffield for the league championship. The girls advanced to the Class L finals where they fell to Immaculate. The boys earned a share of their first state championship since 2000 by battling to a 1-1 double OT tie with Branford in the Class L championship game.

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5. Avon’s application to the join the Central Connecticut Conference was finally accepted in April. The Falcons will join the league in September 2015.

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Former Canton High coach Paul Philippon addresses his team after beating Ellington/Somers on a humid September afternoon.

Former Canton High coach Paul Philippon addresses his team after beating Ellington/Somers on a humid September afternoon.

6. After winning 24 games in three seasons including a Pequot Conference Uncas Division title and a berth in the Class S tournament this fall, Canton High football coach Paul Philippon resigned as the end of the season due to the uncertainly surrounding the program going forward. There are just 18 underclassmen in the program.

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Avon High sophomore Riley Strassner took second in the 200-yard freestyle at the State Open at Yale -- the best performance ever by an Avon swimmer at the Open.

Avon High sophomore Riley Strassner took second in the 200-yard freestyle at the State Open at Yale — the best performance ever by an Avon swimmer at the Open.

7. Just a few days after becoming the first Avon High swimmer to win a state title, Riley Strassner takes second in the 200 freestyle at the State Open with a school-record time of 1:42.34. Strassner won the Class M title in the 200 free.

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Keith Wilson, center, on the way to winning the 200 meter championship at the NCCC meet.

Canton’s Keith Wilson, center, earned All-England honors in the 300 intermediate hurdles this spring.

8. In track and field, Avon’s Maddi McHugh won a Class MM title in the 800 meters and was second at the State Open. Canton’s Keith Wilson won a Class S title in the 300 intermediate hurdles, was second at the State Open and fifth in New England to earn All-New England honors. Canton’ boys 4×400 relay also earned All-New England honors.

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Six of the seven Canton players on this year's Zone 1 champion Simsbury American Legion baseball team. From left, Kevin Gurry, Chris VandeBogart, Chris Enns, Jake Wood, Jeff Nedorostek and Peter Myers.

Six of the seven Canton players on this year’s Zone 1 champion Simsbury American Legion baseball team. From left, Kevin Gurry, Chris VandeBogart, Chris Enns, Jake Wood, Jeff Nedorostek and Peter Myers.

9. Simsbury outduels Avon for the Zone 1 championship in American Legion baseball. Post 84, with seven Canton players on the roster, advances to the Northern Division championships with a sweep of pesky Hartford and plays well before being eliminated by Tolland.

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It was a great day for the Avon High cross country program. The girls varsity won its second Class MM title in three years while the boys varsity finished second in Class MM.

It was a great day for the Avon High cross country program. The girls varsity won its second Class MM title in three years while the boys varsity finished second in Class MM.

10. Avon won its second Class MM girls cross country championship in three years by a tiebreaker. The Canton boys cross country team finishes second in Class SS.

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There were many other magical moments and achievements by area athletes in 2014. Our readers had different ideas. These are the top stories by number of visitors reading each story.

1. Football: Canton beats Avon with a thrilling overtime victory.

2. Simsbury High wrestling coach Ernie Goodwin steps down

3. Football: Ellington/Somers takes advantage to beat Avon in season opener

4. Wrestling: Simsbury dominates Southington in CCC West opener

5. Boys lacrosse: Late goal from Pagano lifts Granby past Somers in NCCC tournament championship

6. Canton High football coach Paul Philippon resigns after three seasons

7. Wrestling: Simsbury beats Farmington to win first CCC West title since 2001

8. Football: Avon focused and ready for 2014 campaign

9. Canton hires new athletic coordinator, Craig DeAngelis

10. Football: Granby can’t keeps hands on the ball in loss to Avon

11. Football: Canton hosts Avon in crucial late season matchup

12. Boys soccer: Avon punches its ticket to the Class L championship game

13. Rock Cats announce plans to build new stadium in Hartford

14. Football: Canton defense helps Warriors shut down Windsor Locks

15. Football: Canton hangs tough in humid conditions to beat Ellington/Somers

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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