Outsider’s perspective (by Kevin Trudgeon): Plenty of memories

Posted: June 28, 2013

The school year may have technically ended a while ago, but the sports season always drags on a few more weeks.

Between Spring All-Area Team selections, Player of the Year photo shoots and interviews and compiling all of the statistics and information for the past three months, at times it felt like we were less busy when all of the local teams were actually still playing.

But the finish line is finally within sight.

The spring season has officially been wrapped up and our Athletes of the Year stories that will run in Saturday’s paper, along with capsules and head shots for all of our runners-up, will serve as the final bow on the 2012-2013 high school season.

And what a season it was.

Beginning with the James Wood golf team placing highest among all local squads at the annual Curly Licklider Invitational at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club back on Aug. 2 and ending with the Sherando baseball team hoisting the state championship trophy in the air at Radford University on June 9, this season has had a little bit of everything.

State champions? Check.

The Warriors may have been the only team to win a state title, but they were joined by seven area individuals who laid claim to being the best in the state in Handley’s Lisa Meneau (track and field, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Jordan Dowrey (wrestling, 285 pounds) and Jessie Nolan and Kathryn Bock (tennis, doubles) and Clarke County’s Zach Campbell (track and field, 800 meters), Ben Wallace (wrestling, 170 pounds) and Ryan Huff (wrestling, 285 pounds).

Gutsy performances? Check.

Katie Houser managed to take second in the high jump at the Group AA state track and field meet despite leaping off what would later be diagnosed as a stress fracture in her left foot and Reid Entsminger stayed on the field for another four minutes after breaking his collarbone during the Sherando football team’s 21-0 win over Handley, but James Wood’s Kaitlyn Crane outdid them all.

Just three days after her older brother Hunter, a senior at James Wood, died in a car accident Crane not only took the floor for the Colonels girls’ basketball team, but played the best game of her life, scoring a career-high 15 points and leading James Wood to a 53-45 win over Handley.

Thrilling finishes? Check.

Handley’s Tre Brown (at Western Albemarle in the Region II semifinals) and Sherando’s Tanner Ruths (on the road against Millbrook) each hit game-winning 3-pointers at the buzzer, Millbrook kicker Tyler Gray nailed a 35-yard field goal to send the game into overtime and then converted the extra point to seal a 34-33 win over Harrisonburg and the James Wood volleyball team pulled out back-to-back five-set victories over Powhatan and Potomac Falls in the Region II playoffs to qualify for the Group AA state tournament for the first time in a decade.

Memorable moments? Check, check and check.

From the ecstasy of victory (Jame Wood softball’s shocking run to the district tournament championship) to the agony of defeat (Handley boys’ basketball missing a layup and two free throws in the final 10 seconds of a two-point loss to Bruton in the state quarterfinals) this season had more moments than you can count.

There was a mass coaching exodus that took five state championships and countless victories and years of experience with it, the approval of a new six-classification model that will completely change the playoff landscape in the coming years and the christening of Clarke County’s new gymnasium.

And the fact that it all ended with a Sherando baseball team doing something that had never been done in the program’s 20-year history seemed only fitting.

One last memorable moment in a season full of them.

— Kevin Trudgeon is the sports editor at The Winchester Star