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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 5 years ago

Top 5 moments in sports of 2012

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

Sarasota athletes made remarkable headlines in 2012.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve celebrated district, regional and state championships. We’ve watched our talented athletes and teams make school history, overcome injuries and adversity and rely on one another in the midst of coaching changes.

As another year comes to a close, we at the Sarasota Observer celebrate your accomplishments with inaugural Year in Sports 2012. Here, you will find this year’s Top 5 Moments in Sarasota sports.

With so many talented athletes, it was an honor to be a part of the Sarasota sports community in 2012, and we absolutely cannot wait to see what you have in store for us in 2013.
— Sports Editor Jen Blanco

1 Olympic Debut
No matter how hard she thought about it, there was just no possible way it could be done — it required such accuracy and precision.

At least that’s what Sarasota native Lacy Janson, a 2001 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, thought when she passed by the pole vault every day during practice.

Janson’s curiosity finally got the best of her. She decided to give the event a try and she hasn’t looked back since.

Sixteen years after watching Dan O’Brien pole vault in the decathlon of the 1996 Summer Olympics, Janson realized the improbable is in fact possible.

Janson cleared 14 foot, 9 inches to claim the final spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team June 24 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. — the site of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Janson made her Olympic debut in the women’s pole vault qualifier Aug. 4, in which she finished tied for 15th after clearing 14 feet, 4 inches.

2 Riverview Gold Rush
The Riverview High girls swim team starting making waves well before the season began, but it was even more apparent as the season went on just how talented this year’s squad had become.

After winning district and regional titles, the defending state champion Lady Rams powered into the Class 3A Swimming & Diving Championships Nov. 9, hoping to bring home even more hardware.

Behind senior freestyler Taylor Katz, who won a pair of individual state titles in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, Riverview scored points in all 10 of the events it qualified in to accumulate 256 team points to finish 102 points ahead of co-runners-up Orlando Dr. Phillips and Lithia Newsome.

Katz also swam on the 400 freestyle relay along with Hannah James, Spence Atkins and Niamh O’Grady, which finished first.

3 World Series Slugfest
The Sarasota Cal Ripken 10-Under All-Stars made headlines this summer with a season of miracle comebacks.

After defending its state title, Sarasota became the first area Cal Ripken team to capture a Southeast Regional crown after coming from behind to defeat West Raleigh (N.C.) 5-4.

With the win, Sarasota earned a berth in the Cal Ripken 10U World Series Aug. 10-17 in Bentonville, Ark.
Sarasota defeated Hopewell (N.J.) 21-13 in the quarterfinals Aug. 15, before falling to Northwest Bakersfield (Ca.) 11-4 in the semifinals Aug. 16.

The Sarasota All-Stars were awarded the third-place trophy for their efforts in the 10-team tournament.

4 Record-Setter
The Sarasota Christian School volleyball team spent this past fall living a record-setting dream.

The Lady Blazers captured the school’s first Class 2A-District 9 championship Oct. 25, to earn a berth in the regional tournament.

Sarasota Christian opened its postseason with a 3-0 victory over Naples First Baptist in the Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinals Oct. 30.

The Lady Blazers hit the road for the regional semifinals Nov. 6. After winning the first two matches, Sarasota Christian watched Southwest Florida Christian Academy battle back to force a fifth game. With their season on the line, the Lady Blazers rallied together to defeat the Lady Kings and advance to the regional finals for the first time in school history.

After losing the first match 25-22 Nov. 10, the underdog Lady Blazers hung with Lake Worth Christian and won the second match 27-25, before falling to the eventual state champion Lady Defenders 25-18 and 25-13 in the third and fourth matches.

With the loss, the Lady Blazers, led by seniors Nicole Wittmer, Janie Weaver and Paige Troyer, saw their historic season come to a close.

5 Prolific Passer
After spending a year-and-a-half as a backup, Evan Wilson took over the reins in the fifth game of his sophomore season against Bradenton Christian and hasn’t looked back.

Wilson led the Thunder into the postseason that same year and he’s been quietly making a name for himself over the past two-and-a-half years.

Wilson etched his name into the record books Oct. 12, as he surpassed the 5,000-yard passing mark for his career while leading the Thunder to a 27-14 non-district victory over the Imagine School of North Port.

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