HANCOCK COUNTY — As we rely down the final remaining days till the calendar lastly flips, it’s troublesome to disregard the multitude of sports activities triumphs realized regardless of the immense adversity the previous three hundred and sixty five days.
And, as everyone knows, 2020 introduced a number of obstacles (an apparent understatement).
From a world pandemic to the general sports activities shutdown this previous March and the on-going uncertainty because the 2020 fall sports activities season commenced, athletic success has include nice sacrifice this yr.
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However with every hurdle cleared, there was a fair sweeter satisfaction.
In a yr outlined by “fortitude,” Hancock County student-athletes, coaches and directors have and proceed to personify resilience: adapting, adhering, overcoming and persevering within the face of immeasurable odds.
As we glance again on a yr like no different, we congratulate each single student-athlete (at each stage and in each sport not talked about), mentor, athletic director, coach, neighborhood chief, the volunteers, the position gamers, the dad and mom and every supporter.
We applaud all of you!
Right here’s to a different yr within the books and a hopefully a brighter future forward for everybody in 2021.
Now, in no explicit order, let’s take a second to look again at a few of the greatest sports activities tales of 2020.
No Stopping the Marauders
Mt. Vernon boys tennis coach Gabe Muterspaugh known as his 2020 Marauders the very best workforce he’s ever had the privilege to steer.
By no means one to mute his perspective, Muterspaugh, the 2020 Hancock County boys tennis coach of the yr, wasn’t disregarding his earlier boys groups’ accomplishments. Nowhere close to.
As an alternative, he was merely declaring the plain. A senior-laden workforce centered on successful every match as if it might be its final, the Marauders practically did.
Mt. Vernon received 18 straight matches en path to retaining the Hancock County Tennis Championship workforce title, ending second within the Hoosier Heritage Convention and repeating as sectional champions.
At 21-2 general — a single-season report for wins — the Marauders claimed their thirteenth sectional workforce title in program historical past and repeated within the event for the fifth time in historical past, which marked a 3rd time in Muterspaugh’s 26-year tenure.
The Marauders ended their run by reaching the workforce regional finals for the primary time in boys program historical past after defeating Lawrence North 3-2 within the semifinals.
One thing to Show
Whereas we’ll by no means know the way far they might have gone, because of the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the IHSAA boys basketball state event, however the New Palestine Dragons undoubtedly achieved their purpose.
Getting into the 2019-20 season with one thing to show after some onlookers known as their sectional title run in 2018-19 a fluke, the Dragons dug an early gap this previous season solely to beat a 3-9 begin to repeat as sectional champions.
At 14-12 general, the Dragons led by this system’s all-time profession scoring chief, Maximus Gizzi (1,612 factors), utilized workforce chemistry, in-season improvement and aggressive fireplace to seize the HHC title and this system’s ninth sectional championship all time.
The Dragons earned an invite to the Southport Regional for a second straight yr, however sadly, the pandemic led to the first-ever cancellation of the IHSAA state event days prior.
Whatever the heartbreaking finish of the boys basketball season, the Dragons made their mark, successful their final 4 video games, and extra importantly, their closing contest of the 2019-20 marketing campaign towards Muncie Central, 54-53, within the sectional finals.
12 months of the Dragons
New Palestine women basketball coach Sarah Gizzi had no thought what the 2019-20 season would deliver.
A yr after falling in need of their purpose of a sectional repeat, the Dragons got here in with extra questions than solutions within the winter of 2019.
A number of new starters crammed out the varsity lineup, and there have been many ups and downs main as much as the postseason, however when it mattered most, the Dragons discovered their groove.
At 18-8 general, the Dragons put collectively a late cost in February to seize this system’s sixth sectional title all time and second in three years.
The important thing for the Dragons was studying from their setbacks and making use of that data, which was a focus towards rival Mt. Vernon.
Dropping maintain of their HHC title aspirations after falling to the Marauders within the common season, 44-25, on Dec. 19, 2019, New Palestine regrouped at hand Mt. Vernon its first loss in 21 straight video games in the course of the sectional event.
The Dragons defeated the state-ranked Marauders, 41-32, within the opening spherical of the sectional after which went on to beat HHC foe Pendleton Heights, 58-50, within the semifinals, and Anderson, 64-53, within the finals.
Marauders Set a New Normal
The Mt. Vernon soccer workforce garnered little respect regardless of its semistate run in 2019.
Unranked and neglected the yr prior, the Class 4A Marauders modified voters’ mindsets shortly in 2020 by establishing a brand new program normal.
The Marauders ran roughshod over the HHC in 2020 to win the convention title, prying away each the league’s touring helmet trophy and the Boundary Rail from rival New Palestine.
Mt. Vernon set a brand new faculty mark with a 12-1 report, received the HHC for the primary time since 2012 and seized back-to-back sectional titles for six general.
Whereas the top-ranked Marauders have been upset by No. 4 Roncalli, the eventual state champion, within the Regional 11 championship, 35-14, the workforce’s seniors set the bar excessive with a 23-4 report the previous two years.
Cougars Push Two By
The Greenfield-Central wrestling workforce was barely overshadowed by rivals Mt. Vernon and New Palestine in 2019-20, however as soon as the postseason arrived, the Cougars caught to what they do greatest.
With two wrestlers reaching the IHSAA state finals this previous February, each seniors Dylan Dorman and Cooper Noehre made essentially the most of their alternatives, shifting into the medal rounds at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Dorman (38-9), a first-time state qualifier, received his opening-round match at 138 kilos to advance into the event’s second day the place he positioned eighth general within the state.
Dorman misplaced to eventual state champion Blake Boarman of Evansville Mater Dei by main resolution 16-2 within the morning’s quarterfinals on the second day earlier than competing within the comfort bracket.
Slowed by the flu, Noehre issued no excuses.
The 2018-19 state runner-up at 152, Noehre misplaced to the state’s 160-pound state runner-up in 2019-20 on the second day by resolution 6-2 within the quarterfinals, ending his pursuit at a state title.
Noehre (36-3), who was ranked fourth within the state by IndianaMat, clawed again within the comfort bracket to position fifth general at 160 behind an 11-4 resolution and a 10-8 resolution.
Swimming Success All over the place
There have been and are so many storylines across the pool this yr that’s its exhausting to select only one.
When considering final yr’s regular-season and postseason and the present girls and boys marketing campaign, it could be negligent to miss all of them.
This previous January, the Greenfield-Central boys swim workforce made it a decade of dominance within the HHC, claiming the workforce title for a tenth consecutive season. The women received their second straight.
This month, each runs got here to an finish, partly resulting from COVID-19 quarantines, however nonetheless, the Mt. Vernon boys, who’re at present unbeaten, lastly overtook Greenfield-Central to seize this system’s first-ever league workforce title.
Led by a stable group of senior swimmers and several other proficient underclassmen, the Mt. Vernon boys are constructed to contend, particularly with Aiden Tierney streaming in direction of one other run on the IHSAA state finals in 2021 after setting three particular person faculty data within the 200-yard IM, 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke in 2019-20.
At state in 2020, Tierney positioned twelfth within the 200 IM and was sixth within the 100 breaststroke whereas breaking his personal faculty report time.
In the course of the 2020-21 women HHC diving championships, Greenfield-Central’s Reagan Crouch received her first-career particular person league title, and regardless of being unable to compete within the HHC meet this month, Cougars’ Travis Black stays a contender within the sprints.
Black helped the Cougars’ boys end 14th general on the state meet in 2020 as he positioned fourth within the 50 free and twelfth within the 100 free.
To not be forgotten, New Palestine’s Colin Stacey completed third general within the 1-meter diving competitors at state in 2019-20 with a rating of 470.40.
So many success tales to spotlight.
Cougars Go Again to the Future
For the primary time since 1994, the Greenfield-Central women golf workforce reached the IHSAA state finals.
Years within the making, if not many years, the workforce’s seniors made sure this fall would signify the tip of this system’s drought, they usually completed their quest with a thirteenth workforce finale at state.
Led by workforce captain Caroline Gibson at Prairie View Golf Membership in Carmel, the Cougars shot a two-day complete of 748.
Gibson shot a 163 with a first-round tally of 78 — a profession greatest — and concluded the state event with an 85 on the ultimate 18 holes to tie for twenty second general. She tied for thirtieth in 2019.
The workforce’s 2019 sectional title end marked the primary for this system since 2011-12. The Cougars shot a school-record 340 in September to win a second straight and eleventh sectional all time.
On the Lapel Regional, the Cougars lastly broke via, capturing a 345 for third place, in the end clearing a hurdle this system hadn’t soared over in 26 years.
No Higher Method to Retire
Steve Williams knew he would step down sooner or later. The Mt. Vernon women soccer coach simply hoped when that point got here it could finish on a optimistic observe.
His Marauders made certain of that as they gifted the long-standing soccer coach this system’s first sectional title since 2015 and third general.
Asserting his retirement at season’s finish, Williams’ squad went all-in, successful 10 consecutive video games out of its closing 11 contest to almost attain Class 3A’s closing 4 in October.
Mt. Vernon outscored its foes 47-8 via 19 video games and completed the yr 16-3, which tied the single-season wins mark.
Williams coached the Marauders’ boys workforce till 2008 earlier than he retired for the primary time. He’s coached a mixed 16 years as head coach of each the girls and boys packages at Mt. Vernon.
In honor of its coach, Mt. Vernon achieved it’s major purpose of successful sectional, practically added this system’s first regional title since 1996, and regardless of falling quick within the Hoosier Heritage Convention at 6-1 for second, his closing group got here via.
New Palestine’s Grace Shanahan wished to have enjoyable in her closing gymnastics season in 2019-20.
No stress, simply enjoyment.
She achieved her purpose and likewise received within the course of to achieve the IHSAA state meet, which was performed at Ball State College with out spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This yr, Shanahan posted a stable efficiency on the Connersville Sectional to win the beam and place third within the all-around.
On the Columbus East Regional, Shanahan positioned third within the all-around competitors. She was fourth on vault, fifth on flooring, seventh on bars and tenth on beam to change into the primary New Palestine gymnast to achieve the state finals since 2017.
On the state meet in March, Shanahan completed sixteenth within the all-around along with her greatest putting at eighth on vault.
Shanahan’s outing was the very best state finals displaying by a Dragon gymnast since 2015 when Regan Elsea positioned third general and was runner-up on vault.
Troublesome to Replicate
Sooner or later, anybody going via the New Palestine women cross-country report books might be exhausting pressed to not discover the identify Brenna Shaw.
A four-time Hancock County champion, three-time regional winner and a state qualifier thrice in her highschool profession, Shaw cemented her place as one of many all-time greats in Dragons historical past.
A Purdue recruit, Shaw received a pair of HHC crowns in her profession and is now a fixture amongst legendary names equivalent to Emily Husted and Courtney Edon after setting the 5K report in 18 minutes, 27 seconds as a senior.
Along with a college report, Shaw received her first-ever sectional title her senior yr and positioned within the high 20 at semistate for a 3rd straight time.
At state this fall, she was the lone county consultant and completed seventy fifth general on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Nation Course in Terre Haute.