Another year has come and gone in Columbia County, and what a year it was. Great things happened in the county’s high schools, and it was also a great year for youth teams, individuals and, to some extent, the county’s recreation venues.
Here’s a snapshot of Columbia County’s 2012 in sports.
The Augusta Christian Lions finished a perfect 13-0 football season with a 21-14 win over six-time defending champion Hammond to take the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA title on Nov. 17. The Lions have improved their record in each of head coach Keith Walton’s four seasons. One week before the football championship, the Lions’ cheerleaders took the SCISA Class AAA Game Time Cheer Competition title.
Eunice Yi and Elizabeth Kim formed the Lakeside girls team that walked away with the AAAA state girls golf title. Kim was injured in the final round when an errant shot struck her ankle, but she and Yi still made it through and defeated Lambert by two strokes.
Augusta Christian also was represented in the winter and spring months. Wrestlers Jabari Odom and Alex Strother won SCISA state titles, while junior Grant Newman brought home state first-place trophies in the 400 hurdles and the long jump.
Greenbrier senior Nick Brown became the school’s first state swim champion when he won the 100-yard breaststroke Feb. 11. He also took second in the 200 individual medley.
Soccer teams made their mark during the 2012 season. The Augusta Prep girls came the closest to a state title, losing their first game of the season in the Georgia Independent School Association state final. The Lady Cavaliers finished 16-1-1 after losing 1-0 to Westminster in the final.
Both the Greenbrier boys and girls soccer teams had outstanding years, each winning a Region 2-AAAA title. Reid Norton and Bay Daniel were the region boys and girls players of the year while Wes Kendrick and Chip Wilkins were the region girls and boys coaches of the year, respectively. The boys finished with a 20-2-1 record after falling to Lambert in the state final. The girls finished 19-1-1 after losing to Marist in the state round of eight.
In the spring, Greenbrier’s baseball team won Region 2-AAAA and advanced to the state AAAA final, losing to Loganville in the final game in the best-of-three series. The Wolfpack finished with a 31-5 record with Jordan Hunt and Chris Wilkins named the 2012 Region 2-AAAA player and coach of the year, respectively.
The Greenbrier girls tennis team won the Region 2-AAAA title and advanced to the state’s final four for the fourth consecutive season before bowing out, finishing with a 14-1 record.
Winning Region 2-AAAAA titles were Greenbrier’s softball and volleyball squads, as well as Lakeside’s girls and boys cross country teams, while Harlem’s Lady Bulldogs took the Region 3-AA softball crown. In softball, both the Lady Wolfpack (30-8) and the Lady Bulldogs (29-9) advanced to the state’s Elite 8 before bowing out. Greenbrier’s Taylor Dupree and Garrett Black were named Region 2-AAAAA’s player and coach of the year, respectively, with Dupree also named the GHSA AAAAA Player of the Year. Harlem’s Mike Leverett and Amber Garrett were named the Region 3-AA coach and player of the year, respectively.
In volleyball, the Lady Wolfpack went 38-2 and advanced to the state’s Elite 8. Debbie Born was the Region 2-AAAAA coach of the year while DeJhana Cotton was the Region 2-AAAAA player of the year.
In cross country, after winning the girls and boys GISA Region 4-AAA championships, the Augusta Prep girls finished third in the state while the boys finished fourth. In GHSA cross country, the Greenbrier boys finished fourth in the AAAAA state championships while the Lakeside girls finished fifth.
In track, Lakeside’s Sid Vaughn was best in AAAA in the 3200 meter run, finishing first in 9:20.06 while taking third in the 1600 (4:19.73) Greenbrier’s Brandon Coombs topped Vaughn in the 1600, finishing second (4:19.55). Evans’ Myles McDavid was third in triple jump with a leap of 46-08. For the girls, Greenbrier’s Reyna Walker pole vaulted 10-6 for a third place finish while Lakeside’s Sarah Bowles finished third in the 1600 (5:12.07) and fifth in the 3200 (11:20.07).
The county was well-represented on the world’s biggest stages – the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 Paralympic Games. But it was Reese Hoffa who made a splash. The Lakeside grad competed at the Olympics, bringing home the bronze medal in the shot put.
In 2012, two coaches went over 500 wins for their careers: Lady Wolfpack softball head coach Garrett Black and Lady Wolfpack volleyball head coach Debbie Born. While recognized for their individual efforts, both would quickly say it wouldn’t have been possible without the play of their respective teams.
After a year and a half of planning between Columbia County, the Peach Belt Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Blanchard Woods Park played host to the 2012 NCAA Division II Soccer championships. While the eight teams were the main attraction, the field itself was in tip-top shape and production of the event was top-notch.
Wildwood Park also proved to be popular in 2012. Region 2-AAAAA cross country teams held regular season meets there as well as the region championship, amending the layout of the disc golf course to their needs. The course also was the site of the Pocket Disc Southeast Collegiate Open on Sept. 29. The top two teams in the men’s and women’s division earned automatic berths to the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships.
On June 23-24,Wildwood was the site of the American Powerboat Association’s Southeast Division Championships.