This isn’t the way the weekend was supposed to go.
You weren’t supposed to be reading a sad story this morning about how the year in local high school sports has reached its end. You were supposed to be reading a big preview story hyping up today’s Class A softball state championship game between defending champion Hauser and surprise finalist Frontier.
I’m supposed to be on my way to Ben Davis High School in Indy this morning to watch the Jets finish off a repeat with their 37th consecutive victory. Alas, the Jets’ journey ended six days early with an emotionally exhausting 4-3 loss to Borden (who, if it’s any consolation to Hauser, should win by a lot today).
Baseball season also seemed to end way too prematurely — both Columbus East and Columbus North were ranked in the state’s top 10 in Class 4A at different points this season, yet both were knocked out in the sectional by Bloomington South.
Golf season offered similar promise, if not for East or North as teams, then at least for a couple of individuals — particularly the Olympians’ Austin Proffitt and the Bull Dogs’ Bryce Turner, both of whom came into the regional with high hopes of advancing to state only to fall just a couple of strokes short.
I’m sitting here singing “Could’ve Been” by Tiffany in my head right now, and it’s really bugging me. (That ‘80s reference probably landed with about a half dozen of you. You’re welcome.)
Mind you, I’m not trying to make it sound like the entire postseason experience was one giant letdown. There were success stories, too.
The North girls tennis team vanquished nemesis Bloomington North in a regional thriller and wound up advancing all the way to the state quarterfinal, the Bull Dogs’ first state trip in six years.
East’s Rhett Myers, who will be taking part in football workouts at the Air Force Academy just days from now, capped an excellent senior track and field season by placing second in the state in the discus and fifth in the shot put, both slightly better than expected. He was one late Center Grove discus throw away from a state championship.
Despite those successes, the Columbus area emerged from the spring season without a state title of any sort. And yet despite the lack of a title run, I can’t say enough good things about my first two-thirds of a school year in this city.
During the winter, I got a chance to witness the passing ability of East’s Parker Chitty and the tenacity of North’s Elle Williams, both equally impressive for different reasons. I had the opportunity to see Columbus North catch lightning in a bottle and turn in the greatest team gymnastics performance in Indiana history. I saw the Rooks brothers, Cayden and Graham, dominate on the wrestling mat for Columbus East. I experienced Super Saturday, which lived up to its name in every conceivable way.
And this spring, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Hauser softball star Leslie Sims doing Leslie Sims things. I’ve covered a lot of great athletes over the years, including future NBA lottery picks and Olympic gold medalists, but very few whose talents have qualified as unique. Sims was one of the few.
Next year, she’ll be at Indiana State, and many of the other stars I’ve watched during the past six and a half months will move on to the college ranks as well. But beginning in August, a new crop of stars will emerge to take their place. Such is the circle of life.
This time, I’ll be here for the entire cycle. And if this partial year was any indication, I’m in for a treat.
Ryan O’Leary is the sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com.