Press Box: School year saw success on several fields

News Tribune Sports Commentary

With the summer finally starting to hit stride, it means those of us in the sports department finally have a bit of time to decompress after a long 2013-14 school year.

And with that time comes some reflection and the conclusion that school year was a fun one to witness. The 2013-14 session saw a lot of plaques in the shape of Missouri — handed out by the Missouri State High School Activities Association to teams that finish in the top four of the various sports — given to schools in our coverage area.

If the schools around here come close to matching that haul in the 2014-15 school year, we here at the News Tribune could again be logging some serious miles tracking teams in their various marches through the postseason.

I’ve always said the best part of my job is I get to watch sporting events — AND THEY PAY ME FOR IT. (Please don’t call attention to this fact to my bosses at the paper, I wouldn’t want them to wake up one day and realize I’m getting the better end of this bargain.)

But a close second, and one I really appreciate as I get older, is an ongoing sense of change and renewal.

I have a job where you never get tired of what you’re doing. As opposed to many jobs, where you know what the day’s going to hold before you walk in the door, this is a profession where the main focus one month could be completely different the next. I always say that just about the time I’m getting tired of covering a certain sport, that season comes to an end and it’s time to worry about a different one.

And in this past year, those seasons often intertwined. Because of deep playoff runs in one season, it was a common occurrence for some sports to still be going on while those that were “on deck” were getting started. So while that meant for little time to catch our breath between seasons, it meant the staff had plenty of interesting things to keep us occupied.

Of course the state championships are the easiest ones to remember, and the staff got to cover five title-winning teams this past year.

Remarkably, four of them came in one day, as the state cross country meet brought home a bounty for mid-Missouri teams. The Fatima boys and girls swept the Class 2 team titles, a fact matched by the Russellville boys and girls in Class 1.

While that took care of the fall, there was a championship claimed in the winter courtesy of the Blair Oaks wrestling teams, which won it all in Class 1.

There were a couple other close calls, as four other teams were runner-ups in their sports. The Blair Oaks (Class 3) and South Callaway (Class 2) softball programs fell in state title games on the same day, while Helias football came in second in Class 4 and the Linn boys came in second in Class 1 cross country.

That leads us to the most common trophy claimed by area schools, as six teams placed third in the state in their sports. That includes baseball’s Linn (Class 2) and Fatima (Class 3), the Helias boys basketball team (Class 4) and three soccer squads — the girls from Jefferson City (Class 3) and Helias (Class 2) and the boys from Southern Boone (Class 1).

Fourth-place finishers included Jefferson City girls tennis (Class 2), South Callaway girls track (Class 2) and Eugene boys golf (Class 2).

It’s an impressive haul, and all the teams deserve special mention. I got to watch my fair share of those programs, and it made for a fun year.

And like I stated before, here comes that sense of renewal. While the baseball and girls soccer seasons seemed to get finished just a few days ago, it won’t be long before it will be time for things like softball, football and volleyball, to mention just a few.

Monday will mark seven weeks until the first official day of practice for fall sports. And that’s just the official start, as several teams have already been making the most of their allowed contact days in summer for camps and conditioning sessions.

With the right amount of work now, more plaques could be coming this way soon.

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