By AARON SNYDER
Over the course of 366 days — remember, 2012 was a leap year — a lot is bound to happen.
Athletic feats and accomplishments number, well,
entirely too many to count.
Only a select few, though, are worth reliving.
From the unthinkable to the simply remarkable, the following countdown helps summarize 2012 for what it was — a truly diversified mix of magnificent moments.
Seven different sports are represented among the top 10 stories chosen by The
Independent sports staff.
1. Soccer Shocker
Greenup County’s boys soccer team pulled off an unimaginable feat. The Musketeers rolled off four incredible wins — three of them upsets — to capture the program’s first-ever region title.
It started in the 62nd District tournament with a surprise victory over West Carter. Then, after getting pummeled, 5-1, by East Carter in the district championship, the Musketeers’ magic began to mount.
First, Fleming County. Second, Russell. Finally, Boyd County.
Beating the Panthers marked Greenup County’s first region tournament win in its boys soccer history.
Russell had routed the Musketeers, 11-2, earlier in the season before Greenup County knocked off the Red Devils, 4-3.
In the championship, a long goal by Jonah Stanley was finally matched in the last few seconds of regulation. Wade Reed’s free kick goal lifted Greenup County to an absolutely stunning defeat of the Lions in overtime.
For the fourth time in five games, coach Andy Zabrieszack received the always refreshing Gatorade bath. Greenup County went on to lose to Pikeville in the semi-state round.
2. Fairview’s New State
“Program win” after “program win,” Fairview football took care of business in the fall of 2012.
That favorite description was uttered by head coach Nathan McPeek following the last couple wins of a memorable 14-1 season that ended on the state’s biggest stage in Bowling Green. The Eagles finally fell to Mayfield in the Class A state championship game.
The unforgettable journey comprised of record-setting rushers, an ever-maturing defense, a defeat of an archrival in front of thousands of fans, and a home state semifinal thrashing of Hazard.
3. Four-gone Conclusion
A special group of four softball seniors — Kelsee Hammonds, Jordan Hensley, Kat Jackson and Emily Preece — capped off their superb careers in captivating fashion.
Ashland had to get past none other than rival Boyd County in the 16th Region title game and it contained tons of drama. The Lady Lions nearly ended the Kittens’ streak of region crowns, but three unanswered runs in the eighth inning locked up the fantastic finish that led to a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance.
4. Whoa! Womack
Kennedy Womack returned to the tennis state semifinal round for the first time since 2009 with a bang.
Womack zoomed through to the KHSAA Tennis Championships singles match against Madie Cook of Notre Dame Academy in May.
Cook defeated the Rose Hill junior, but Womack clearly showed she deserved to be there.
Womack strung together five consecutive matches in straight sets while dealing with smothering heat and health issues.
Now a Fairview senior, Womack signed with Morehead State University this past fall.
5. Meade Amazes
Ashland’s own Jeffrey Meade used putting perfection to become the first Ashland-area player to win the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior in the tournament’s 29 years at Bellefonte Country Club in the summer of 2012.
Meade’s first round of 66 boosted him to the top of the leaderboard, and he never seized control.
Using two clutch birdie putts in the final round, Meade sealed an emotional win in the three-day event on his home course.
6. Pitching Fits
Ashland left-handed pitchers Sam Hunter and Logan Salow teamed up to lock down opposing offenses in the 16th Region tournament. The two paved the way to the first region title for the Tomcats since 2004.
Hunter fired a no-hitter in a 1-0 first-round defeat of East Carter.
To close out Ashland’s march to the state tournament, Salow piled up 171 total pitches in two nights. He tossed two innings of relief as Ashland beat Russell in the semifinals before striking out 13 batters in a complete-game victory over Boyd County in the final.
Hunter is now a freshman pitcher at Marshall University, while Salow will join the University of Kentucky’s roster as a preferred walk-on in the fall of 2013.
7. Rowan Repeat
“The Big Three” made it two in a row for coach Shawn Thacker and the Rowan County Vikings.
Jason Egan, D.J. Townsend and Adam Wing, who helped Rowan County advance to the state finals as juniors, returned to Rupp Arena as seniors. They were knocked out in the quarterfinal round.
The Vikings edged Ashland in a tight battle for the second straight year in the region championship game. A controversial no-call occurred when Egan batted the ball away from Ashland’s Ryan Whetsel beyond the three-point line as Whetsel tried to get a shot off.
Time expired with the Tomcats coaches, players and fans up in arms. Meanwhile, Rowan County was left smiling once again.
8. Untameable Kittens
Ashland’s girls basketball team enjoyed dominance mirrored by few others in 16th Region history.
The Kittens became the fourth girls team in the past 13 seasons to record undefeated seasons within the region. They went 22-0, beating opponents by an average of 32.2 points per game.
They beat Boyd County in the region tournament title contest to give coach Bill Bradley his first trip to the state tournament.
9. What a Day
In a season that saw Fairview seniors Mike Terry and Kayla Day reach 2,000 points in their illustrious careers, Day’s performance on Feb. 6 took the cake.
Day set the nets ablaze as she scored her team’s first 40 points in a home win over Prestonsburg.
She finished with 49 points on 15-of-25 shooting from the field and 14-of-22 shooting from the foul line. The guard also had 10 rebounds in the game.
10. Matney and a Miracle
For the second time in four seasons, Johnson Central thrilled a rocking home crowd with a one-point victory over Ashland. Both determined the district football championship.
The 2012 version, though, ended with a situation so improbable that Golden Eagles players and coaches thought something supernatural had just occurred.
Ashland had Central firmly pinned against the mat, but somehow the Golden Eagles arose. Ashland led 21-14 in overtime, and good defense put Central in a seemingly insurmountable fourth-and-goal situation from the 19-yard line.
The words “miracle” and “divine intervention” were used by quarterback Zach Gound and head coach Jim Matney when describing the two winning plays.
Gound connected with Dalton Adkins in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown before Jordan Young scored a decisive two-point conversion with a leaping effort across the goal line.
Other stories worth a mention:
-Morehead State hiring Kentucky “Unforgettable” Sean Woods as head coach.
-Ashland football winning its final game at “old” Putnam Stadium.
-Boyd County girls cross country winning the region after several years without a team.
-Lawrence County girls soccer advancing to the state’s final eight.
-Russell-Flatwoods 11-12-year-old softball All-Stars run to the national Central Region tournament.
-Boys tennis: Rose Hill’s David Bush winning his third regional championship and advancing to the state quarterfinals; Russell’s team taking the regional and sectional championships.
-Fairview’s Morgan McIntyre becoming a three-time state champion pole-vaulter as a sophomore.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.