What a year

I made my return to the Times Observer a little more than a year ago. I knew coming in the county had some high caliber athletes.

Little did I understand just how good they are.

Having arrived just after the end of the 2017 spring sports season, I was sure I’d have to wait until August to get my first chance to see what all the hype was about.

Nope.

The Post 135 junior legion team decided they wanted to welcome me back in grand style and made a fantastic run to a third-place finish in the state tournament.

Once the varsity season got underway, the performances just kept getting better. Rachel Wilson finished as the ninth best golfer in the state . . . after competing as the only female on the boys team during the regular season and often carding scores in the top three.

Though admittedly not a big soccer fan (sorry futbol players), it was amazing to watch as three of the four county teams competed in postseason play. Faith Johnson put on a goaltending display during Eisenhower’s 2-1 win over Mercer.

Warren volleyball nearly won its first District 10 title, and despite the title game loss, their performance in the semi-finals against Villa will go down in volleyball lore. Trailing 2-0, the Dragons battled all the way back to earn a berth in the title game. In the process, the esteemed Flannel Panel showed exactly how big a force they can be as they made McDowell feel like the friendly confines of the Joseph A. Massa Memorial Gymnasium.

As the weather outside began to cool, the performances inside started heating up. Two standout basketball players, Jaydon Hayes and Margo Loutzenhiser, reached the 1,000-point plateau, and a number of wrestlers left their mark on the mat. Warren sent a record 10 grapplers on to the regional tournament, while Eisenhower sent a pair on to the state tournament. Jaquay returned with a state medal while Head came up just shy of the medal stand.

Speaking of states, nine county athletes punched their tickets to the state track and field meet in the spring. Eisenhower’s TerryLee Talasky capped off her phenomenal high school career by earning her second and third state medals (in the 100 and 200). Youngsville freshman high jumper Jake Hogg put everyone on notice that he is likely the next great county track athlete by breaking the school high jump record, set by Olympian Mike Shine, on his way to a D-10 title.

On the diamond, a pair of Warren pitchers dominated their opponents all season and both Adam Irwin and Ellie Lobdell were named Region 6 Pitcher of the Year for their efforts. Sheffield softball ended a three-year drought and picked up a pair of wins this season and should be primed for more with a large underclassmen contingent set to return.

To recap: In the 2017-2018 fall, winter and spring seasons, Warren County had three state medal winners, more than a dozen individual District 10 champions, four region champions (team), and a plethora of region all-stars.

Not a bad haul.

To the graduating seniors: congratulations and good luck in everything you do. I hope you all continue to take the same approach to life that made you successful on the field/court/track/etc.

To the underclassmen: The bar has been set pretty high, but I have absolute confidence that you will all rise to the occasion and make 2018-2019 even better.

Brian Hagberg is a Times Observer Sports Reporter and columnist. He can be reached at bhagberg@timesobserver.com

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