The latter array usually attracts moms, dads, grandparents, boyfriends and girlfriends, and not hundreds/thousands of fans.
However, these so-called “minor” sports do create their share of “major” thrills. On this final day of the year, I’d like to share a few of those with you.
- Tupelo sophomore Tim Hartigan rolled three consecutive strikes in the 10th frame to give the Golden Wave its third straight state championship.
“That’s like hitting a walk-off homer,” said Hartigan’s father, Kevin, the owner of Tupelo’s Rebelanes and Yankees fan, of his son’s feat.
- Katherine Steinman, a senior, battled all season with a younger teammate, eighth grader Christina Daniels, for the top spot on Tupelo’s girls cross country team.
Daniels usually won out, but not on the final day of the season.
Steinman, who won a state title in 2007 as a freshman, defeated Daniels and a talented field to capture the state championship on the 4K course in Clinton.
- Northeast Mississippi is loaded with talented prep golfers, including a surprising eighth grader from Ingomar, Molly Hale, who lost the state medalist title by one stroke in the Class I tournament.
“Nerves,” Hale said, as her reason for losing a five-stroke lead to a junior, Jessica Parker, from St. Patrick’s. “Hopefully, I’ll qualify and be back next year.”
Bank on it.
- Corinth soccer standout John Mathis scored 40 goals during the season for the Warriors, but he still had a few remaining when his team needed them most.
Mathis scored three goals to lead Corinth to a 5-0 win against Hattiesburg Sacred Heart in the Class 1A-2A-3A state championship game in Clinton.
“All the credit goes to my teammates,” he said. “They were getting me the ball.”
- Talk about making a splash. Tupelo swimmer John Servati swam to state records in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke, and was a member of two record-setting relay units to power the Golden Wave to a fourth state championship.
“John Servati had an unbelievable day,” THS coach Lucas Smith said. “To win four events and set four state records. You can’t get any better than that.”
Servati signed a scholarship with Alabama following the season.
- Oxford won its third state championship in tennis and its 107th consecutive match when it defeated West Jones 5-2 for the 5A title at the Ridgeland Tennis Center.
What’s even more amazing is the fact the Chargers won without the services of two suspended starters.
- Houlka sprinters – Ranesha Townsend, Shainece McKinney and sisters Jeannie and Erica Knox – burned up Pearl High School’s track with a high-octane performance in the Class 1A state meet.
The talented foursome, which includes two freshmen, raced to victories in the 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter relays while Townsend, a sophomore, captured the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Jeannie Knox, the lone senior, also won the 300-meter hurdles.
One opposing coach remarked the girls likely had “Speedies instead of Wheaties” for breakfast.
- The volleyball season didn’t have a happy ending for Tupelo, the defending state champion, but Lady Wave coach Clint Jordan was pleased with his team’s fortitude in 3-2 loss to Hancock.
THS fell behind Hancock 2-0 in the state title match before rallying to force a Game 5. Jordan used last year’s match – Hancock rallying from a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 loss to THS – as inspiration to keep his club fighting.
“I told them they did it to us last year,” he said. “I told them to push it to five, make them earn it. We did.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.