Jake Johnson, Zech VanFleet, Bryson McGowan and Kyla Holmes all came close. Individual titles were within their grasps, but all four fell short in a year marked by players and Cherokee County teams coming up just short of championships in 2013.
But for a year void of any titles, 2013 was quite a memorable one in the athletic realm.
Johnson finished third at the Class 5A state golf tournament at Tulsa Country Club in May. McGowan rallied to finish third at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament in March.
Zech VanFleet and Amy Hembree both sported third-place finishes at the Class 5A state cross country meet in October. The two runners also led both Tahlequah teams to second-place showings on the medal stand.
Holmes — like the Tahlequah runners a week after her — finished third at the Class 3A state cross country meet.
The Sequoyah softball team steam-rolled its way to the Class 3A fastpitch finals in October, only to fall in the championship game for the second straight season.
“We have had trouble getting to the championship game,” said Sequoyah softball coach Jeff Turtle, whose team lost to Washington, 5-3, in the title contest. “Now we are getting there; we just have to finish once we get here.”
Perhaps 2014 will be the year that yields a crown — or crowns — to local and area teams. But before we shift gears to a new calendar year, let’s look back at the top storylines from 2013:
(In chronological order)
• McGowan, 2 Tahlequah wrestlers pick up bronze (Feb. 23)
Hulbert’s Bryson McGowan (195 pounds) rallied after a 14-3 major decision loss to Barnsdall’s to win his next two matches to finish third at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament in Oklahoma City. McGowan posted a 2-1 victory over Vian’s Cale Mays to pick up the bronze at the State Fair Arena.
“That helped cap the season off on a good note,” McGowan said. “As far as I know, that’s the last time he’ll wrestle, so he’ll have to think about that the rest of his life.”
Tahlequah had two wrestlers finished in third place: Reese Davis (138 pounds) and Hestin Lamons (145). Davis posted a 9-3 win over Coweta’s Justin Shrum for the bronze, while Lamons beat Lawton MacArthur’s Colton Jump for the second time in the tournament to finish in third after an 8-1 decision.
For Keys, Seth Fritts became the first Cougar to qualify for the state tournament, but he did not finish in the top four at 138 pounds in Class 3A.