State championships were won.
Top individual honors were captured.
Adversity was overcome.
The last 12 months featured a number of notable high school sports stories and achievements in the Lansing area. Here is a look at some of the most notable stories from 2016.
PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA GETS FALL SWEEP
There are only two fall boys varsity sports offered at Pewamo-Westphalia High School. And both of those sports ended their fall seasons with state championships. The Pirate boys cross country team started November off by claiming the Division 4 state title at Michigan International Speedway. Bryce Thelen finished seventh individually to help top-ranked P-W leave MIS with its first state title. The football team gave the P-W community another title to celebrate in late November when it knocked off No. 5-ranked Detroit Loyola in the Division 7 state championship game at Ford Field. Record-setting senior running back Jared Smith led the second-ranked Pirates, who knocked off the other four teams ranked in the top-five of the final Associated Press Division 7 state rankings on their way to their first state championship.
WILLIAMSTON GOES BAUER STRONG
The Hornets got news in the early stages of the state tournament that coach Jason Bauer was out indefinitely after physicians discovered a brain tumor. Williamston rallied behind its coach to put together a magical state tournament run. Senior guard Riley Lewis led the Hornets to the Class B state semifinals. The Hornets took down defending state champion Wyoming Godwin Heights during its run to the Breslin Center.
CORUNNA SENIOR WINS TOP VOLLEYBALL HONOR
Corunna senior hitter and Michigan State signee Meredith Norris was voted the state’s Miss Volleyball by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association in November. Norris won the honor by the smallest margin in the history of the award, edging runner-up Alyssa Cummings of Novi by one point. DeWitt’s Lexi Nordmann was third in the voting. Norris guided the Cavaliers to their first regional volleyball title in school history.
CINDERELLA RUN FOR EVERETT
After a .500 regular season, Everett put things together in the state tournament and made an improbable run to reach the Class A state semifinals for the second straight year. It took down previously unbeaten East Lansing, who it had lost two twice during the regular season, to get back to the state semifinal. The Vikings became the first team since 2006 and the 22nd team in state history to reach the state semifinals despite suffering double-digit losses in the regular season.
BOWLING PROGRAM ENDS EASTERN’S TITLE DROUGHT
Bowling disappeared as a sport at Eastern High School a few years ago. It has made a successful return and in March the team captured the school’s first state championship since the Quaker softball team won a state title in 1981. Eastern defeated two-time defending state champion Flint Kearsley to capture the Division 2 title. The Eastern boys were one of three Lansing area teams to capture bowling titles in March. The Alma and Ithaca girls also won state bowling championships.
RULERS OF THE TRACK
The track and field season ended on high notes for three Lansing area girls squads. Waverly (Division 2), Ithaca (Division 3) and Fowler (Division 4) each captured team state championships. Tra’chele Roberts led the way for Waverly as it captured its first track and field state title and anchored the 400- and 800-meter relays and also won the 100. Her efforts helped Waverly finish two points ahead of Flint Powers. Ithaca also won its first track state title and was led by Erica Sheahan, who placed in the top three in all four of her events to help the Yellowjackets finish 3.5 points ahead of runner-up Adrian Madison. Fowler captured its third state title in four years behind Madison Koenigsknecht and Julie Thelen, who were each part of three state championship relays.
CLASSIC FINISH FOR LAKEWOOD SOFTBALL
The Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame took over the annual Softball Classic this spring and altered the format for the event. And the first year with a new format had a memorable ending. In a marathon contest that went 14 innings, Sierra Stoepker had a game-winning home run that vaulted Lakewood to a 10-9 victory over DeWitt in the championship game. Stoepker’s homer helped the Vikings win the Softball Classic for the first time.
DIAMOND CLASSIC ROYALTY AGAIN
The Dean Shippey Capital Diamond Classic has been ruled by the Grand Ledge baseball program. And that continued in June as the Comets rallied past past Holt to win the Classic for the seventh time in eight years and the 26th time overall. Grand Ledge scored five runs in the seventh inning to rally to a 7-3 victory over Holt, which had knocked the Comets out of the Division 1 state tournament a few days earlier.
REDWINGS RULE THE LINKS
St. Johns became the latest Lansing area boys golf program to capture a state title when it edged East Lansing at the Division 2 state final in June. Eric Nunn tied for individual medalist honors before falling in a one-hole playoff to help the Redwings finish four strokes ahead of East Lansing. Zach Rosendale also finished in the top 10 individually for St. Johns, which had a team total of 597.
CAVS FINISH ON TOP
Corunna senior standout Noah Jacobs had a perfect fall season, winning every cross country race he competed in this fall in the state of Michigan. And the University of Wisconsin-bound runner ended his high school cross country career by leading the Cavaliers to a Division 2 team state title at Michigan International Speedway. Jacobs, the individual Division 2 state champ, was one of three runners to place in the top 25 for third-ranked Corunna, which finished seven points ahead of top-ranked Fremont to win the team crown.
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.