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