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Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 6 months ago

Prose and Kohn: An open letter to the 2020 Sarasota sports scene

A new year means new possibilities.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Dear 2020,

What an act for you to follow. 

2019 brought its A-game, especially late. Boom. A knockout. A team state championship and four individual state titles? That's incredible stuff. I think you can match it, though. 

How? That's up to you to decide. 

Some of the individual champions – Cardinal Mooney High swimmer Michaela Mattes and Riverview High girls golfer Jacqueline Putrino – will be back and itching for a chance at back-to-back titles. The Cardinal Mooney volleyball team, too, will have eyes on repeating, as difficult a task as that is. Will any other teams equal the feat? The Riverview volleyball team, perhaps, or the Cardinal Mooney boys lacrosse team? The ever-dangerous Sarasota High baseball program? The beauty of a new year is that all possibilities are just that: Possible. 

Jamar Johnson. Photo courtesy IU Athletics.

Maybe none of those things come to pass. Maybe you, 2020, will be the Year of the Alumni. Former Riverview swimmer Austin Katz is thriving at Texas, and current Riverview senior Emma Weyant will have the chance to join him in the collegiate elite at Virginia. Former Rams defensive back Jamar Johnson will be a year more experienced in the Indiana secondary, and former Booker High wideout Talik Keaton will build on his All-Conference USA performance as a punt returner at Marshall. Former Tornadoes running back Marlon Mack will continue to make his mark with the Indianapolis Colts, as will former Rams weapon Richie James with the San Francisco 49ers. 

Of course, there is also Spring Training. The Baltimore Orioles were bad in 2019, and they will likely be bad this year, too, as they continue their ground-up rebuild. Baltimore's Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias and skipper Brandon Hyde have said as much. That does not mean Spring Training will be boring. Quite the opposite, actually. It is a chance for fans to see the team's newly acquired young players, such as catcher Adley Rutschman, the first overall selection from June's MLB First-Year Player Draft. He played college baseball at Oregon State, and he arrives as the team's most-heralded prospect since it drafted Manny Machado in 2010. 

Also available for watching will be right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, who held a 2.68 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with the A-level Delmarva Shorebirds last year, and left-handed pitcher DL Hall, who actually managed to allow fewer hits (53) than he did walks (54) in 2019, while maintaining a 3.46 ERA with the Advanced A-level Frederick Keys. 

Are you excited for Nathan Benderson Park to host another major rowing event, this time the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials in April? I am. This will be a chance for the public to watch rowers at the highest level duke it out for a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in July and August. Any time there is an event such as this at Benderson Park, I look forward to it, because Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) and USRowing do a wonderful job of hosting and putting on a show in a difficult spectator sport. If anyone reading this has never been to a rowing event before, this is a great opportunity to get on board. 

What I am saying is this: 2020, you have a chance to be special. You have a chance to be better than 2019, which was better than 2018, which seemed impossible. It always seems impossible, and it never fails to get done. So the thing I am looking forward to the most, 2020, is how you surprise us once again. 

Thanks for reading, 

Ryan Kohn

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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