As 2012 ends, it’s time to look back at, what I believe, were the year’s top 10 sports stories.

As 2012 ends, it’s time to look back at, what I believe, were the year’s top 10 sports stories.

This purely subjective list includes stories that have appeared in the News Bulletin. Some of you may have your own equally impressive list. I’ll be interested to hear what suggestions you might have for other stories on the list.

1. Bulldogs induct inaugural Hall of Fame class

Sept. 14 was a special day for Crestview High School athletics as the Crestview High School Sports Hall of Fame’s first members were recognized at an induction ceremony. Inductees were introduced during halftime festivities of the Crestview-Jacksonville Bolles football game that evening.

2. Baker track and field stars win state championships

The Baker track team continued to flex its muscles as the Gators produced two state champions in 2012. Ivory Smith won his second state title in 400 meters for the Baker boys; Morgan Jones won a state championship in the discus for the Baker girls.

3. Decade of dominance continues for Baker volleyball team

Players and coaches have come and gone, but the Baker volleyball has kept winning.

The 2012 season saw the Gators wrap up a 10th-consecutive district championship. For the second-straight year, the Gators advanced to the state final four.

4. Dakota Dean signs baseball scholarship with Louisiana State

Crestview shortstop Dakota Dean could have chosen to play baseball at just about any school in the nation. But he decided to sign with LSU, where his brother, Blake, was an All-American and played on the 2009 National Championship team.

Dakota is used to comparisons with his big brother, but shrugs them off.

“Blake is Blake and I’m Dakota,” he says.

The good news for Bulldog fans is Dakota still has one more season left on the Crestview baseball team this spring.

5. Six Bulldogs advance their football careers

The Crestview football team celebrated National Signing Day in style Feb. 1, when six Bulldogs signed scholarship papers to continue their football careers in college.

Earl Reed signed with Georgia Military Academy. Geo Hillsman and Matt Hutchison signed with North Carolina school Gardner-Webb, a Big South Conference member. Will Boler and Alex Campagne inked with Cumberland University in Nashville, Tenn., and Javaris Seastrunk signed with Elon University in North Carolina.

6. Liberty University connection

A pair of local athletes signed scholarships with Liberty University in 2012.

Former Baker basketball standout Chad Donley signed with the Flames after spending two seasons at Northwest Florida State University.

Crestview sprinter Asten Lopez also made her way to the Lynchburg, Va., school. She signed to run for the Lady Flames track and field team.

7. Staying local

Three local athletes chose to stay in Okaloosa County as they start their college athletic careers at Northwest Florida State.

Crestview softball standouts Hannah Day and Shelby Gainer signed to play with Northwest Florida State College’s Lady Raiders.

Baker pitcher Bucky Locke will throw strikes for the Raider baseball team when the season opens next month.

8. She’s back

A year after taking the Crestview volleyball team’s reins, longtime Baker volleyball and girls basketball coach Kathy Combest returned to the bench as the Crestview girls basketball coach.

Combest replaced Donald Campbell, who was relieved of his coaching duties at last season’s end.

9. Johnson takes over Baker baseball program

When Gary Taylor stepped down as the Baker baseball coach at the 2012 season’s end, there was plenty of speculation as to who might get the job.

Surprisingly, the Gators landed Scott Johnson, who just a few weeks prior resigned as the Choctawhatchee coach after picking up Coach of the Year honors.

10. Rise and fall of Dillan Lawson

Crestview football player Dillan Lawson was the talk of the town in February when, upon returning from a University of Florida Junior Day, he announced his commitment to sign with the Gators on National Signing Day 2013.

Lawson missed much of spring practice with nagging injuries that carried over into summer workouts, but he was on the roster and ready for preseason drills.

Lawson seemed off to a strong start in the 2012 season, but his history of discipline problems resurfaced before September’s end.

By October, the Gators pulled their scholarship offer to Lawson, whom the Bulldogs dismissed for breaking team rules.

Honorable mention

It is hard, if not impossible, to boil one year down to 10 top stories. Here’s a list of stories that just missed the cut.

•Crestview running back Micah Reed commits to play football at Central Florida.

•Bulldog assistant football coach accused of choking player during summer workouts.

•“Graffiti Gate”: Laurel Hill baseball coach Ronnie Smith paints Hobo dugout the colors of rival Paxton in attempt to fire up his team.

•Ken Meisner replaces Keith White as Crestview boys basketball coach.

•Baker girls basketball team wins district championship.

•Laurel Hill softball team wins district title.

•Dexter Day wins Home Run Derby.

OK, now — let the debate begin.

Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524