|Top sports highlights of 2012|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2013 15:31|
Area athletes laid claim to 29 individual crowns in track, tennis, and wrestling in the last year, but the more impressive accomplishments came in team competitions. The Central Cobblers brought home the state's top prize in gymnastics action, the first state title for the Cobblers in 12 years. The girls' cross country team added a state title to the trophy case as well. And the Cobbler girls also laid claim to a state track team title, adding to Coach Dave Dolan's revolving door of top flight talent. The Harding County Ranchers added to the trophy case, securing a 9-B state football title, just a few short months ago. The Lead-Deadwood boys put together two days of impressive work on the course to grab a State 'A' team title back in October. But one of the biggest team titles to come out of 2012 was the dominance of Saint Thomas More's girls' and boys' basketball teams last March. Caitlin Duffy led the Lady Cavaliers to the school's first girls' basketball title, only to add to the celebration when Skye Warwick's lights out three-point shooting led the Saint Thomas More boys to a Class 'A' title as well. 2012 was a year for change for area teams. All three area colleges oversaw coaching changes on the football field when Chadron State welcomed former Black Hills State head coach Jay Long, the Yellow Jackets promoted John Reiners, and former defensive coordinator Stacy Collins led South Dakota Mines onto the field this year. Rapid City Stevens witnessed a pair of head coaching changes as the boys' basketball team is under new management with Derris Buus taking over the reins and the Raider wrestling team greeting new head coach Gordon Bye. Both Rapid City American Legion baseball programs greeted new head coaches as Paul Pool assumed control of the Post 320 Stars, and for the first time in nearly half a century, the Post 22 ball club was led onto the field without head coach Dave Ploof. Mitch Messer brought a new look to the Double Deuces and a new attitude as the Stars and Hardhats faced one another in the regular season for the first time ever. Change also came to the CHL. After the Rapid City Rush found itself ousted from the playoffs early in April, the league announced the formation of the Denver Cutthroats a new regional rival for Coach Joe Ferras and company following the departure of the Colorado Eagles to the ECHL. The two clubs have already had some epic battles on the ice, and 2013 promises more of the same. The future of the Black Hills Speedway was in doubt for several weeks this summer as an ownership dispute devolved into a court battle between Rapid City businessman Shane Liebig and Gillette Speedway owner Ed Kirchoff. Former promoter Bill Keester stepped in to keep the cars circling the track this summer, but the dust has yet to settle in the showdown between Liebig and Kirchoff. But Olympic aspirations became reality for one area athlete as Sturgis native Paige McPherson found herself in the Summer Games in London, and powered to a bronze medal in Tae Kwon Do, and resolved to climb to the gold medal stand in 2016. These were just a few of the major moments that marked 2012. Thank you to the movers and shakers that made 2012 such a memorable year and we look forward to many more big moments in 2013.