Shore Sports Network Readers’ Choice Award Winners
After 10 days of voting, you, the readers, have selected the 2017-2018 Shore Sports Network Readers' Choice Award winners.
Congratulations to all the teams and individuals who were nominated and the hundreds more who had great seasons.
SHORE SPORTS NETWORK 2017-2018 READERS' CHOICE AWARDS
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Devin Hart, Jr., Point Boro Cross Country/Track and Field
From cross country to indoor season to outdoors, Hart had an incredible scholastic year that added to his legacy as one of the greatest distance runners in Shore Conference history. This spring, Hart became just the third boy to repeat as NJSIAA Meet of Champions 3,200 winner when he ran a personal-best 8:58.58 to take home his second straight state title. Even more incredible was that less than 24 hours earlier, Hart competed in the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle, finishing sixth with a time of 8:53.36 before catching a red-eye flight back to New Jersey to compete at the M.O.C. Hart also captured the cross country M.O.C. title, the indoor two-mile M.O.C crown and won the Penn Relays 3,000. During outdoor season Hart also won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Group 2 meet and the South Jersey Group 2 sectional meet in what was truly an epic year.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Frank Malta, Jackson Memorial baseball
Frank Malta is one of the most accomplished and respected coaches in the Shore Conference, but he knew he needed to change things up with the team he had in 2018. Coming off two rare losing seasons, Malta applied a renewed emphasis on infield defense designed to back up a veteran pitching staff and the result was a fundamentally sound, 25-7 team whose best days are still ahead. The Jaguars won a share of the Class A South championship along with a loaded Toms River North team and won the South Jersey Group IV championship thanks to standout pitching and defense that shut out three of the four opponents in the sectional playoffs. Jackson Memorial finished the season unbeaten on its hitter-friendly home field despite not relying on the home run as much as in years past – a tribute to the overhaul of the pitching staff and defense executed by Malta and his staff.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Manasquan girls basketball
Any basketball team in New Jersey would sign for Manasquan’s recent success in girls basketball, even before the 2017-18 was in the books. Prior to this year, the Warriors had been to four straight Tournament of Champions finals and won one of them – the first team to ever reach the title game in four straight years. It was not, however, good enough for the players who came up one win shy of a title in both 2016 and 2017 and Manasquan came back this year by going 32-2, winning its third Shore Conference Tournament title in the last five years and capturing the Tournament of Champions title that eluded them in 2016 and 2017 by beating the same Franklin team that beat the Warriors at the buzzer to win the T of C one year earlier.