The year 2017 was full of big moments. From championships and awards to untimely deaths, here are the ones we ranked as our top 10:


Columbus East football wins state title

The Olympians were Class 5A state runner-up last season and did one better this fall. A stunning 42-13 semistate upset of Indianapolis Cathedral set up a second consecutive trip to Lucas Oil Stadium on Thanksgiving Weekend. Three East backs rushed for more than 100 yards — the first time that’s ever happened in state finals history — to lead the Olympians to a 42-28 win against Kokomo and their third overall state title. East finished 14-1.

Story continues below gallery


North, East, Columbus Christian athletes honored

The Republic conducted its inaugural Bartholomew County Athlete of the Year Gala in June at The Commons. North football and track standout Mitchell Burton and East three-sport star Cortney VanLiew won the Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards, and Columbus Christian’s Levi Sallee won the Josh Speidel Spirit Award. Sallee, who suffered a traumatic brain injury the previous year, returned to the basketball court and scored a basket at the end of his first game.


Stewart wins in return to fairgrounds

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart made his return to the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds a winning one in July. Competing at the fair for the first time in four years, the Columbus native drove a car built by Jason Setser and Ronnie Combs to victory in the main feature in the King of UMRA TQ Midgets race. Stewart also won the quick qualifier and the first heat race.


North gymnasts finish runner-up

The Bull Dogs just missed winning their second consecutive gymnastics state championship, finishing only three-tenths of a point behind Valparaiso. But Claire Thompson won the beam title and was runner-up in the all-around competition, and Ashley Holliday captured the vault and was named the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner. Columbus East’s Adi Minor overcame a severe ankle injury to win the bars title.


Hauser volleyball finishes as state runner-up

The Jets advanced to the Class A state finals for the first time in school history. After beating Barr-Reeve in the semistate at Columbus East, Hauser fell to top-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic in three sets in the final in early November at Ball State to finish the year 35-5. Senior standout Sydney Schoen won the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award.


Ali Patberg transfers from Notre Dame to Indiana

After a rough two years at Notre Dame, Ali Patberg decided to transfer. The 2015 Miss Basketball from Columbus North landed at Indiana University, where she is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. But she did get to play during the Hoosiers’ trip to Italy in August. Patberg had missed her entire freshman season at Notre Dame after tearing an ACL in preseason practice and played only 7.7 minutes a game while battling illness a couple times last year.


Rick Weinheimer retires as North cross-country coach

Rick Weinheimer became synonymous with Columbus North distance running over the past four decades. He led the Bull Dogs to five boys and one girls state championship in his 39 years as cross-country coach before announcing his retirement in January. In June, former runners held a celebration for Weinheimer at Ceraland, and Columbus mayor Jim Lienhoop declared June 11 “Richard A. Weinheimer Day” in a proclamation.


North football endures late-season turmoil

Columbus North went 9-2 this football season, but had a rocky end to its year. Head coach Tim Bless and assistant Aaron Karrer were involved in a sideline altercation during the regular-season finale at Southport. Both were suspended for a week, and Bless was banned from coaching games the rest of the season. Then in the sectional final, quarterback Trenton Kelley sustained a ruptured spleen on the opening drive in a 20-14 loss at Center Grove and ended up having the spleen removed four days later.


East football, baseball player Abbott Garn dies in car accident

The Columbus East football program went through a time of grief after then-sophomore Abbott Garn died following a car accident in February. According to the accident report, Garn was either getting into or out of a car driven by friend and teammate Jonah Wichman when he was struck. The Olympians wore “AG” stickers on their helmets this fall, and Wichman carried Garn’s jersey through the medals line after East won the Class 5A state championship.


North assistant golf coach John Carmichael dies

John Carmichael was about to enter what was going to be his final year as an assistant boys golf coach at Columbus North when he fell ill while in the Bahamas. The 68-year-old was medevaced to the critical care unit at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, but never recovered. Carmichael played basketball at Columbus High School during its heyday in the mid-1960s. His first year as an assistant golf coach with the Bull Dogs, they won the 2014 state title.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.