Top local sports stories from 2012
It was another eventful local sports year in 2012. Athletes provided many memorable moments. There were also events away from the playing fields that captured headlines.
It's always tough to make a list like this because there is always an event or an athlete that doesn't make it and there is a compelling argument why it, or they, should be in the top ten.
Here we go with the 2012 list.
10. The retirement of Scottsbluff High School Activities Director Lee Dick. Nothing should take away from the countless hours Dick spent working for the students at SHS. However, some controversy followed him into retirement. SHS is on a one-year probation, issued by the Nebraska School Activities Association, after it was deemed Dick used SHS funds illegally to by a pass to the Field of Dreams practice facility for the golf and softball teams. Dick's replacement, Dave Pauli, is story 10a after jumping from the same position at Gering after just one year on the job with the Bulldogs.
9. Gering cowboy Dean Gorsuch continued to be a force on the pro rodeo circuit. He finished 6th in steer wrestling at the just completed National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The two-time world champ entered the competition 5th in the World Standings, earning nearly $140,000 during the season.
8. Local runners competed well at the State Cross Country Meets in Kearney. Even though the Scottsbluff boys did not capture a third straight Class B state title, the state's most successful program ever, was a strong second to Mount Michael Benedictine and the Bearcats had the meet medalist in sophomore Anthony Barraza. Junior teammate Anthony Parra added a third place finish. Also in Class C, Bridgeport's Cody Franklin captured the gold medal.
7. The Scotts Bluff Country Club hosted the Nebraska Amateur Championship July 26-29. It was the first time since 1994, and just the third time ever, the Club hosted the event. 129 golfers entered the tournament won by Greg Sohl of Wahoo. Mitchell Klooz of Laurel finished second and a number of area golfers dotted the leaderboard. Mitchell's Brock Ehler finished third, Paul Mohr of Scottsbluff was fourth and former Creighton University golfer Austin Miller of Gering tied for eighth. Club pro Chris Nowlen did a great job of hosting the event. Nowlen recently announced he was leaving the SBCC to return home to a new golf pro position in Montana.
6. The Scottsbluff High School football team turned in an unbeaten regular season. Matt Klein had a huge season pacing a Bearcat attack that had big road wins at state playoff teams McCook and Aurora on the way to a 9-0 season. Unfortunately the Bearcats, who earned the top seed for the 16-team playoffs, were eliminated in the first round by York.
5. The Scottsbluff High School wrestling team did well in its return to prominence. The Cats, directed by first year head coach James Miller, finished fifth at the Class B State Tournament in Omaha. Scottsbluff was paced by two individual state champions in 126-pounder Colton Adams and 138-pounder Tyler Nation. The sophomore Adams has won two championships in two years for the Bearcats. He finished the year 37-3. Nation became the Bearcats first three-time state champ. As a sophomore he won the 125-pound title and as a junior he won at 135. He finished his senior season 46-2 and is Scottsbluff's all-time leader in wins.
4. The Western Nebraska Cougar volleyball team continued its national prominence with a second place finish at the National Junior College Volleyball Tournament in West Plains, MO. Giovana Melo's crew finished the season 40-3. The Cougars downed the College of Northern Idaho in round two and Iowa Western CC in the semifinals, two teams they lost to in the regular season. However, in the finals they fell to the College of Southern Idaho, a team they had beaten during the regular campaign. Melo's career record after five years at WNCC is a sparkling 225-17. Danika Youngblood and Luiza Martins made the National Tournament All-Tourney Team.
3. Scottsbluff High School capped a three-state championship year by capturing the Boys Class B State Track and Field Championship in Omaha in May. The Cats outdistanced McCook 48-to-41. Senior Isaiah Castellaw led the way with a first place finish in the 300 IM hurdles. He was also part of the school's top placing 400-relay, joining two Matt Klein's and Luke Worden. Worden also earned a second in the 100-meters.
2. A midseason slump didn't detour the Gering Platte Valley Companies senior legion baseball team from its goal of Class B state championship. Doug Jones' team slipped below .500 midway through this past summer's campaign but rebounded with a run to a third straight state tournament. Gering fell to 14-16 June 23 after a doubleheader loss at Casper in which they were outscored 37-10. From that point on Platte Valley Companies went 16-4, including 5-1 at the State Tournament in Wahoo. Gering outscored their foes 35-5 at state, topping Omaha Roncalli 5-1 in the championship game. Zach Smith was the winning pitcher. He led the team in hitting and pitching all season and will continue his baseball career at WNCC. Current Cougar Grant Rimington was also on the team along with Nate Marquez, a third Gering player that will play for the Cougars next season. Marquez' dad, Tim, by the way played on Gering's last baseball state title team in 1982.
1. Speaking of the Cougars, three former Scottsbluff Bearcats are playing basketball for Russ Beck this season after leading the Cats to the school's first state title since 1955. Isaiah Castellaw, Zach Clemens and Rich Williams were part of a squad that went 25-3 for head coach Tony Siske. Scottsbluff was dominant throughout the season with losses to only Class A Norfolk, Sidney and McCook. Scottsbluff also owned wins over the Red Raiders and McCook during the campaign. Norfolk was a Class A State Tournament team. At state Scottsbluff held off Aurora in the opening round, made a big comeback against Beatrice in the semifinals, playing a perfect final minute to win by one, and downed perennial power South Sioux City in the championship game. Junior Michael Hadden had a huge state tournament and was named Nebraska's sixth man of the year in Class B. The team celebrated the state title with a special banquet that brought members of the three previous Scottsbluff title teams, from 1941, 1952 and 1955, together to help rejoice in the new crown.
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