Sports Editor’s playbook, Oct. 30, 2013


Patrick Newell

Hard to believe time has flown by so quickly, and it seems one sports season blends into another. I was still in the mindset that Norwich varsity tennis players Breanna Cashman and Jennifer Borfitz were still juniors, and had another year to compete for a sectional championship.
I snapped out of it when head coach John Stewart called Monday afternoon as a follow-up to his phone message Sunday. “Those two “seniors” and their impact on the program the past three years is still being felt,” Stewart told me.
Cashman and Borfitz were Johnny-come-latelys to tennis after playing other sports through their freshmen years. In their first year, 2011, they played as Norwich’s top regular season doubles team, and posted a nice winning record on a club that had Class B champions Bryn Loomis and Sophie Stewart.
With graduation comes promotion, and the two netters moved up to second and third singles a season ago. Again, winning records followed, and the duo made a nice run at doubles in 2012 sectional play.
Borfitz and Cashman jumped to first and second singles for all but a handful of matches his year on a team that lost just one match the entire regular season, and one in the STAC playoffs. Norwich won a division championship, and was one point from winning a Class B sectional title. Not a bad finish for a Tornado team led by a pair of seniors who never played competitive tennis until two-plus years ago. “I just wanted to say goodbye to my seniors because they made a big difference in our tennis program,” Stewart said, who added that Norwich may not have been a .500 team without them. “It will be sad to see them go.”

Wrestling, similar to every other sport these days, is a 12-month commitment to attain excellence. Evidence: Norwich junior Tristan Rifanburg. Rifanburg added to his prodigious list of accomplishments winning “The Freak Show” out in Las Vegas this past weekend. Facing many of the best high school wrestlers west of the Mississippi, Rifanburg dominated the competition winning five matches by a combined 36-2 score. Those victories were capped by a 6-0 decision in the 138-pound high school elite finals. The story appears in Wednesday’s sports report. Rifanburg, a state champion as a seventh-grader, was just a few seconds away from a state title this past winter, and he should be considered a favorite this coming season.

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