2012: a look back at area sports
It’s about that time again.
The end of the year usually brings a look back at what has happened over the past 365 or so days.
Therefore, this column brought to you by the number seven — seven of my favorite or most memorable moments covering Henry County sports in 2012. A top five or top 10 seemed too cliche, so you’re getting my top seven.
One moment from the last 12 months was a runaway winner.
My favorite moment from the last year in sports was (drumroll, please)....when Mt. Pleasant basketball player Dalton Conrad hit the three-pointer that tied the state championship game, sending the contest into the second overtime period.
I had the opportunity to be under the basket while taking photos of the game, and from there especially, the moment felt like a little like watching the end of a typical sports movie.
Early in the season, fans weren’t sure what would happen with all new starters on the court.
But the group came together, bonded, and — after one road loss at the buzzer early in the year — just kept winning games.
They cruised all the way through the early substate games, entering the state tournament with the No. 3 seed.
After decisive wins in the first two games of the state tournament, staying alive in a close championship game came down to one final shot in overtime.
Now, when you’re on the couch watching this unfold in a movie, you can be pretty certain that the shot’s going to find its mark.
Watching it unfold live in front of you, that certainty is lacking — but it made the swish of the net that much sweeter.
Of course, the Panthers went on to take the trophy back to Mt. Pleasant. What an exciting season it was for me to cover.
Honorable mention moments from the past year include the following, in no particular order.
— At the district tounament in Iowa City, I watched six straight hours of wrestling. At the end, I got a chance to talk to state qualifiers Jayton Phillips and Colton Aplara, who were both pretty excited about a chance to wrestle in Des Moines.
— While melting in the sun on Drake University’s blue oval, I saw Brandon Moorman made up two places in a crazy-fast anchor leg to claim the Class 3A shuttle-hurdle state title for the Mt. Pleasant boys’ team, just minutes after Phipps had crossed the line in first to secure the Mt. Pleasant the girls’ title.
The finish of the boys’ race was so close that not even Moorman was sure the Panthers won until the finish times were posted on the scoreboard. When Mt. Pleasant was listed first, Moorman jumped in celebration all the way back to the finish line where his teammates were waiting to greet him.
— Later that day, Leslie Taylor claimed her third state track and field title by winning the 100-meter high hurdles. She had already taken part in the shuttle hurdle team’s win and also claimed first place in the long jump.
— Taylor was one of two Henry County 100-meter hurdle champions: Winfield-Mt. Union’s Cassie Kingery took the title in the Class 1A race. Her reaction was remarkably calm and collected, giving no indication that she had just made school history. Her victory was W-MU’s first-ever individual girls’ track and field title.
— IWC made the decision to move to the NCAA in October of 2011, but changes started to take effect in 2012. The school had to submit its application for membership by January, and the athletic teams started making their transitions to new conferences this year. This transition isn’t a moment, per se, but it does seem memorable.
— Parnell Davis won the Super Fight Semifinals during the first-ever MMA event I witnessed. It was a new experience for me, one I wouldn’t mind doing again— in fact, I’m planning to see Davis compete in his first-ever professional fight in January. For more information on that fight, see the Dec. 28 edition of the Mt. Pleasant News.
There were a number of close games or meets, tournament victories and interesting feature stories in Henry County in 2012. Thanks to area athletes and their coaches for a great year! See you in 2013.