Another year is in the books and quite the year it’s been.
There have been the highest of highs and lowest of lows and everything in-between, and if nothing else it certainly wasn’t boring.
There were multiple state titles that came home to rest here in Columbia County and the spring season was especially bountiful.
Lakeside High School walked away with two state championships in Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA competition. The Lady Panthers’ tennis team finished off a 22-1 year with a thrilling 3-2 win over Calhoun on May 11 to win its first state championship, and nine days later the girls golf team, led by low medalist and state player of the year Eunice Yi, brought home their second-consecutive state crown.
In the boys golf championships, Lakeside’s Emmanuel Kountakis shot 70, birdied the playoff hole and was low medalist and state player of the year.
Individually in track on May 4, Grovetown junior Darius Watkins brought home the state 200-meter dash championship, his and the school’s first. In South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA, Augusta Christian’s Grant Newman was state champ in triple jump and 400 hurdles, Bryson Ashmore was 110 hurdles state champ while Anna Motes was the long jump and triple jump champ.
Most recently, the Augusta Prep football team finished off an impressive fall season for the school as they walked away with the Glory For Christ League state championship, beating Johnson Ferry Christian Academy 28-21 in two overtimes. Augusta Prep came close to three other state championships in Georgia Independent School Association play, finishing as runners-up in volleyball and boys and girls cross country.
Other teams coming close to the top of the state pyramid were Harlem’s Lady Bulldogs softball team, finishing second in the GHSA Class AA state softball championships, and Greenbrier’s baseball team, taking second for the second consecutive year in Class AAAAA.
There were plenty of coaching changes throughout the year – voluntary or otherwise. A pair of Evans’ stalwarts hit milestones as Kevin Kenny won his 300th career basketball game in the winter followed by Colette Cassedy winning her 500th softball game on a Natalie Johnson no-hitter. Harlem softball coach Mike Leverett hit No. 150 as well.
Individuals hit basketball milestones. In January of 2013, Harlem sophomore Reggie Reid topped 1,000 points for his career with a 25-point outing against Jefferson County while Evans’ Jasmine Stone and Augusta Christian’s Motes topped the 1,000-point mark early in the 2013-14 season.
Good things continued to happen in the county as well. In conjunction with the Peach Belt Conference, the county successfully played host to the Division II men’s and women’s soccer national championships for the second consecutive year at Blanchard Woods Park. In the last week and a half, the county was selected to host the 2015 and 2016 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships.
I’m looking forward to what the New Year will bring.