To keep a young tradition alive that started at IndySportsNation.com last year, I posted part one of the second-annual Fox 59 Sports Best of IHSAA Awards last night.
To tell the truth, it's probably one of my favorite stories to write each year because it:
A. Showcases the rather large body of work that we at Fox 59 Sports put into high school sports during the eleven month season.
B. It actually gives me reason to use all of the old archived footage that has been taking up space on my hard drive.
C. It keeps me in an air-conditioned office all day long. You tend to enjoy these days when you know in a month you'll be chasing around football players on a 103 degree day with a television camera.
However as a running joke that started with our one and done try at seasonal football awards in 2009, I had written this:
"The winner of each award gets a nice pat on the back and the realization that on Twitter you are #winning. In return, we hope to one day pick up a college program from an event, and in the winner's biography section it states "In 2011, Cody Zeller won a Best of Fox 59 Sports IHSAA award."
So it was pretty awesome when fellow Fox 59 Sports comrade Larry Hawley had come across the middle of former Zionsville product Blake Lueders' Stanford football profile:
...Indiana Football Coaches Association and Associated Press first team all-state selection...named Mr. Indiana Football as a linebacker...Indy Sports Nation Defensive Player of the Year...also selected to the Indianapolis Star's Super Team...
That folks is what I considered #winning. Onto part two...
The Closest Thing To Hoosiers We Will Ever Have Again Award (Coolest Boys Sports Story) - Indianapolis Metroplitan Boys Basketball
Here is what we knew about the Indianapolis Metropolitan Pumas heading into their Class A State championship against Triton (a squad playing their third championship game in four years) back in March:
- Entering the 2010-2011 season, Metropolitan (21-6 at the time) had never finished a season with a winning record.
- The Pumas listed eight athletes on their rosters, seven seniors and one freshman. The lone underclassman had only taken three shots all season long.
- Head Coach Nick Reich had known that the squad depended so much on public transportation to get to school, that he was afraid the team wouldn't make the bus for the 10:00 a.m. Regional at Martinsville. So Reich, who lives in a three-bedroom house with his family, laid out the sleeping blankets and air mattresses the Friday night before.
- The team not only managed to survive Southwestern 47-44 in the morning session, but they became a viral video frenzy and ESPN SportsCenter top play when Jerrbryon Graves hit a full-court football heave to drop Shawe Memorial at the buzzer.
-No miracle shots were needed in the 61-50 victory over North Davies in the Semi-State, however the magic this time around came off the court. Knowing that the Metropolitan would have little fan support, 30 or so students from Martinsville packed the fans and became adopted Pumas for the day, cheering on each shot as if it was their own school.
So it was completely understandable that the boys from Metropolitan caught the hearts of Hoosier Hysteria across Central Indiana, and win or lose, they would have been the darlings (well, darlings not named Butler) of State championship Saturday.
What could the Pumas possibly due to one-up themselves? Well they found just a small bit of magic left in that old hat, defeating Triton 59-55 to win the IHSAA Class A State Championship at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"Anything is possible, anything can happen," said forward Anthony Jackson. "It doesn't matter, if you play with your heart, if you play your game, and you do what you have to do, anything is possible."
The Least Celebrated State Championship Winning Putt In History Of Sports Award (Also the Best State Championship Event) - Brebeuf Jesuit Boys Golf
Standing along the 18th green at the Legends Club at the IHSAA Golf State championship finals on June 14th, the fans and athletes representing the Brebeuf Jesuit Braves and Columbus North Bulldogs saw one of the craziest finishes in the history of the event.
Down to the final golfers, Brebeuf held a one-stroke lead over Columbus North as Braves Senior Jacob Gould faced off against Columbus North's Alex Knapp on the final hole. If Gould holds on to the lead, the team wins back-to-back State championships. Seems pretty easy, right?
But that's where things got a little crazy.
Gould wasn't exactly oozing with confidence at the moment. The Braves Senior had just missed a two-foot shot on the seventeenth to bogey the hole, and found admittedly himself shaking in nerves now that he was in a much more difficult position than anticipated. But there Gould was, after Alex Knapp had settled for par, with a 15-plus foot shot to win or lose the tournament.
Or at least, that's the impression the Braves were under. The Brebeuf Jesuit squad had believed that if they tied Columbus North, due to the Bulldogs fifth-player on the final day having finished with a final score, the Bulldogs would be the 2011 IHSAA State champions if the contest went to the tie-breaker. However, IHSAA rules state that the tie-breaker takes a combined fifth score from the golfers on BOTH days, and the Braves in reality had a three stroke lead.
So there was Gould, standing over the ball, with his heart-pounding at rates never felt before. If this was a Tiger Woods video game, his controller would be vibrating at the most violent rate possible, but this was in fact real life. And yet Gould put A perfect stroke put on the ball, and you could hear the momentum and collective breaths of the Braves squad prepare to shriek in excitement as the ball rolled straight at the hole.
"I was ready to pull out my Tiger fist-pump," said Gould with a smile.
However, the game of golf can be cruel.
"Oh my gosh," screamed a woman in horror.
Gould's body sank as the ball lipped out of the hole. With a heart fully smashed by the cruel tendencies at the game of golf, Gould tossed his putter lightly to the ground and then tapped in the ball to finish for bogey. On the sidelines, the Braves squad were completely silent, hands on their heads in a disgusted astonishment of what had just taken place. Gould himself, didn't take it much better.
"I went to the bathroom and was crying," said Gould, clutching onto the State championship trophy during the entire interview. "I had thought we had lost."
But the tears turned to cheers once his teammates found Gould in the bathroom, letting him know that they had in fact won the tournament after all despite the 591-591 tie.__________________________________________
The Ben Roethlisberger Award (For the football player that is so tough, not only can he not get tackled, but he's a really good wrestler too.) - Indian Creek's Trey Reese
True story: Indian Creek Senior Trey Reese might be the only quarterback in the state of Indiana that could beat up each and every single one of his linemen.
First props has to be given to Indian Creek Senior Trey Reese's play on the football field. A year to be remembered in Trafalgar, where Reese threw for a 43 TD's, 8 INT's, 3,172 yards, 5 rushing TD's, 562 rushing yards, and led an Indians offense to an average of 42.5 points per game. The high flying Indians offense helped lead the team to it's first Regional championship with a 45-35 victory over Evansville Bosse, and an overall record of 12-2 after losing to eventual Class 2A State champion Bishop Chatard in the Semi-State (in which Reese battled through the game with an injured ankle).
But of course, I better say nice things about Reese's football season. Because if not, he might pin me into submission.
When Reese wasn't taking snaps he was practicing his takedowns on the mat, and on February 19th, Reese pinned Perry Meridian's Logan Cooper in the second round for the 215-pound IHSAA State championship. With Cooper in control of a re-start, Reese used a reversal to put Cooper on his back, and from there Reese used all his leverage to sack Cooper's shoulders down.
"I've dreamed about this since I was six-years old," said Reese. "I've been coming to the State finals every year, and it has finally come true."
In retrospect, maybe the Indian Creek offensive linemen were protecting opposing defenses from what Reese could have done to them.__________________________________________
The Team That Wins So Much The Fire Department Probably Has Given Them The Keys To Their Truck For The Parade Around Town Award (Most Team State Titles) - Carmel
Without digging into details, I would have to believe that Carmel Greyhounds athletics as a whole would like to think 2009-2010 never happened.
So how do you bounce back?
Well, first you need Mike Bostic's boys tennis team to go from a team that couldn't even advance out of the Sectional, to defeating Brebeuf Jesuit 4-1 to cap off an undefeated season in the State championship.
Then you need girls cross country Head Coach Mark Ellington to win the program's first State championship since Chuck Kloeppen retired, with returning juniors Sarah Bennett (3rd, 18:29.2) and Renee Wellman (18:36.8) leading the way.
This one was practically a given, but then you need the girls swim program to win it's 25th straight State championship, a dominating 382 point performance again, with Sophomore Lacey Locke leading the way with four individual titles.
Just for kicks, the boys swim team could win back-to-back State titles a week later, with Senior Matt Gerth winning two races and finished second in another.
Not to be out-done by the boys squad, the girls tennis team then fought back from down 2-1 against Evansville Memorial to finish their own undefeated season.
And then just to break their own IHSAA record, the girls' softball team defeated Avon 1-0 in an extra-innings classic to win the Class 4A State championship.
Yes, it was a pretty good year for @carmelathletics, and WXIN Fox 59 was there for all of it.__________________________________________
The Jimmy Chitwood Moment Award (Most Clutch Performance By An Athlete) - Lawrence North's Ashley Spencer\
It was easily the gutsiest thing that I've seen on a field, court, pool, mat, track, and anything else IHSAA athletics can be competed on over the calendar year. And most importantly, it was done with a State title on the line.
With an estimated distance of 25 meters between her and Fort Wayne Northrop Senior Whitney McDonald, Lawrence North Senior Ashley Spencer made a decision almost halfway through the final leg of the 1,600 meter relay.
"I just didn't want to see her back anymore," said Spencer with tears of joy rolling down her face.
Spencer ran the anchor leg of a lifetime, a 52.2 to pass up McDonald on the final turn and clinch a share of the State championship for the Wildcats with Northrop, putting the teams in an even tie at 42-42 on the very final race of the night.
"It was just great for Ashley," said Lawrence North Head Coach Hilary Church. "I know she tripped in the 300's, and I know that she wanted to do everything that she could for her team. I felt like if it came down to the four by four, I'd feel pretty good for our team going in."
Of course though Spencer's leg was great, her teammates in Majaica Brooks, Antonio Franklin, and Chelsey Miller helped put Spencer in position to finish with a State record time of 3:47.37, capping off what was a memorable day for the Wildcats. Along with the first-place finish in the 1,600, Brooks, Spencer, Alyssa Walker, and Christa Hammond finished with a first-place in the 400 meter relay with a time of 47:02, and Spencer finished with two second-place finishes in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
But Spencer's final push during that final leg was a sight to be seen. I'm not sure anybody there that night would have predicted Spencer had any shot at catching McDonald, and the roar of the crowd, the excitement running through the air when it happened, the pantheon-push from a stellar athlete on her way to not only winning her tenth individual title, but a team title in the process, was everything the IHSAA is about.
Now let's just hope 2011-2012 can be just as fun. Well, and that the Hobart Brickies football team can finally turn things around.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times