SALISBURY — Before Chris Myers can appreciate his fifth straight state tennis championship, he must look back to the very first one.
Susie Wear, Casey Collins, Hannah Lebowitz, Chris Leonard, Meredith Weisler and Ellen Emerson started this Salisbury High run of excellence back in 2008.
Four years later, the names had changed but not the result. Katelyn Storey, Sallie Kate Meyerhoeffer, Alexandra Drye, Madeline Hoskins, Anna Flynn and Kayla Honeycutt just carried on the tradition by wiping out Greene Central 5-0 in the 2A championship match.
The one face that has remained the same is Myers. The guy is always smiling.
Even during the preseason photo shoot, he seemed to know a fifth state title was on the way. When asked if Salisbury’s players expect to win every year, he said, “Not to sound overconfident, but they do.”
There were some big stories in 2012 but no one can claim a fifth straight championship. It’s why Myers and Salisbury are the No. 1 story of the year.
“Ultimately, that’s the goal every year,” Myers said. “But it’s not something you’d imagine happening.”
Each season, Myers has someone step up as the leader, the star. In 2012, it was Katelyn Storey. She was a regional champ, runnerup in the state in doubles and was named MVP of the champi onship match. She played for four years and waited her turn.
“There are very high expectations,” Myers said. “We’ve had a number of talented players who couldn’t break into the lineup. At no point have they felt entitled. They know they better work in the offseason if they want to be in the lineup. And we’ve got some great parents.”
Overall, counting boys and girls, Myers has over 400 wins. Only West Rowan basketball coach Mike Gurley can claim more among active coaches.
“To be in the same company as Mike Gurley is something to be proud of,” Myers said.
Believe this, Chris. Gurley would love to have five state titles. He has only three. And he may never catch Myers. For the record, four of his starters return and he has a slew of talented freshmen and sophomores.
State title No. 6 may be on the way.
Myers never envisioned all of this when he started at Salisbury as an assistant under Bill Lee back in 1998.
“It’s been wonderful,” Myers said.
With a chuckle, he added, “State championships help.”
No. 2: Catawba Baseball
Like Myers, Catawba baseball coach Jim Gantt has won his share of games, but in 2012, his Indians made an historic run all the way to the Division II World Series.
Catawba finished 45-17 with local players like Julio Zubillaga and Ryan Bostian playing key roles.
Behind Nick Lomascolo, Catawba defeated Indianapolis in its first game. It lost to Delta State, then defeated St. Mary’s 5-4. It was ousted by West Chester but Gantt’s team gave the fans a chance to watch their heroes on a national stage.
Zubillaga, a Carson High product, was named to the World Series all-tournament team.
No. 3: East Football
Is there anything else we can say about the season East Rowan had in football.
No, but it needs repeating.
The Mustangs were all of 1-9 in 2011 and then a big ol’ growling bear named Danny Misenheimer took over as head coach. There was no way he was going to allow his alma mater to stay doormats.
Before it was all over, that 1-win team, with many of the same faces, had won eight games, come within one play of the 3A West Final and had wins over the county’s two top programs in West Rowan and Salisbury. When West’s 44-game county winning streak ended in Granite Quarry 13-7, the Mustangs had officially arrived as a contender.
Playoff wins over Carson and Rockingham County propelled East into a clash with Concord, which won 21-20 in a controversial finish.
Seniors like T.J. Jefferson, Tyler L’Hommedieu, Dustin Mowery and the Dalton Gang, Moose and Bost, will go down in history as the ones who brought East Rowan football back to prominence.
No. 4: Coaching changes
Catawba’s head football coach since 2001, Chip Hester resigned as head coach and was replaced by a familiar face: former defensive coordinator Curtis Walker, who was also a former All-American linebacker at the school.
He had been on the great staffs of David Bennett, before heading to Coastal Carolina and then Western Carolina. He is now back where he belongs.
A mile down the road, Elvin James also resigned at Livingstone. He was replaced by Darryl Williams.
On the high school side, Misenheimer wasn’t the only new coach. Joe Nixon, a popular figure from his days as a Catawba All-American lineman, took over at North Rowan and increased the win total from four to eight.
No. 5: Moir Classic
The Moir Christmas Classic may not always be the biggest story of the year, but it is always the biggest sporting extravaganza. No event draws like the Moir. A fire marshal is always on hand to close the doors before the boys title game.
Davie’s boys and West Rowan’s girls won the 2012 championships.
But this year’s Moir was significant because of which team didn’t win — the Salisbury girls.
Earlier in the season, Carson stopped the Hornets’ 49-game county win streak. Shay Steele and West ended a nine-year run of titles in the Moir.
No. 6: NSSA
Salisbury has the unique distinction of hosting the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Weekend. This year provided some of the most recognizable faces on the national scene.
Bob Costas, fresh off covering the Olympics for NBC, showed up for the event. There was John Feinstein. Dan Shulman, fresh off a Sunday night game on ESPN, arrived with Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser.
Look around the room and you also saw Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, N.C. sportswriter of the year Tom Sorensen and sportscaster of the year, Duke’s Bob Harris of “Christian Laettner has just hit a bucket at the buzzer!” fame.
No. 7: Local golf
We dubbed Keith Dorsett the King of Golf in Rowan County and he made us look good in 2012.
First, the 33-year-old South Rowan grad took the Rowan Masters title at The Warrior, his seventh in 10 years, beating Phil Miller 4&3.
Next up was the Rowan Amateur. He defeated Steve Gegorek 4&2, sinking a 20-foot chip to wrap it up.
Dorsett did not win the Triple Crown of Rowan County golf, however. The Labor Day tournament was taken by country boys Chris Owen and Ken Clarke.
No. 8: Prep golf
Like Myers in tennis, Dale Snyder, the golf coach at Salisbury, is on a roll.
He now has coached three straight golf championships, counting the boys and girls. His boys team, led by Alex Nianouris, Eric Edwards, Alex Lee, Troy Beaver, Clark Alcorn and Joseph Rusher, was almost unbeatable in winning the state title in the spring. His girls team, led by names like Rusher and Yatawara, won their second straight title in the fall.
Isabella Rusher, only a sophomore, was the individual champ by 12 strokes. The team won by 60.
That’s right. Sixty.
No. 9: Bobby Parnell
It’s hard to overlook a pro athlete from Granite Quarry. Bobby Parnell used to think it was a big meal scarfing down hot dogs and Cheerwines at the Gas-n-Go. Now, as a New York Met reliever, he can afford a better meal.
The Mets weren’t very good in 2012, but Parnell, who made it to the bigs in 2005, had a good season. He still throws the 100-mph fastball and has a wicked knuckle-curve.
Pretty good for a guy who didn’t even pitch for East Rowan or the Rowan Legion.
No. 10: All-Stars
Rowan County has always placed a few players in the East-West All-Star games, but in 2012, the county outdid itself.
In basketball, Rowan had West Rowan coach Gurley and his county player of the year Keshun Sherrill in the game. North’s Pierre Givens joined them in leading the West to a 107-97 win. Sherrill scored 13.
In soccer, Rowan had three players participate. For the boys, Kenny Bonilla and Connor Miller, who led Matt Parrish’s Hornets to a state title, helped the West win 3-2. In the girls match, Allison Baucom of West played.
West Rowan lineman Greg Dixon, the NPC defensive player of the year, saw action in the football game.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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