2009: Local sports, national impact

Posted 12/31/09

That summer sizzle took an abrupt turn in July when team head coach Jeff Young surprisingly announced his resignation following a tournament appearance in Billings during which the coach was confronted by a fan from the stands. Mike Jameson tagged …

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2009: Local sports, national impact


{gallery}12_31_09/trappers{/gallery}The Northwest College Trappers captured the Region IX North championship and posted a 1-2 performance at the NJCAA national championships in 2009. The team was just one of many Powell teams and individuals to make a national splash over the past year. Courtesy photo/ Cindy Christensen, Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil Achievements extend beyond community[Note: This is the second in a two-article series recapping the past year in Powell sports. This installment covers July through December 2009. The first half of the year appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 29 issue of the Powell Tribune.]Not all diamonds are forever, but baseball diamonds throughout Powell held onto their shine for as long as they could during the summer of 2009. The year may well have set the modern-day standard by which future summers will be judged. As the calendar rolled over to July, the Powell Pioneers were riding high atop a 13-game winning streak. After a hiccup against Brigham City, Utah, the team returned to its winning ways to reel off another seven consecutive Ws. Suddenly, a team that struggled to top the .500 mark in the season's first month was more than 20 games over .500 and resembling a regional power.

That summer sizzle took an abrupt turn in July when team head coach Jeff Young surprisingly announced his resignation following a tournament appearance in Billings during which the coach was confronted by a fan from the stands. Mike Jameson tagged in as the team's interim coach and the Pioneers hardly seemed to miss a beat.

At the first-ever joint Class AA and Class A post-season Legion tournament, the Pioneers announced their intentions with a stunning 8-5 victory over defending state AA champion Gillette. Powell followed that with a one-run win over tournament host Casper to earn a No. 1 seed at the state Legion tournament.

Although Gillette scored a measure of revenge by defeating Powell twice in Rock Springs, the Pioneers still left town smiling. With an 11-5 win over Laramie, the team wrapped up a 3-2 state performance and the Wyoming Class A title, earning a spot in regional competition.

Matt Baggett was named the Spirit of Legion award recipient for the tournament.

Not to be outdone, Powell's Babe Ruth all-star team was creating a buzz of its own as the team rallied for a win over Rock Springs in the state title game to qualify for a regional tournament berth of its own. Powell earned the honor after surviving through a string of four must-win games to capture the state title.

The unexpected state title forced a whirlwind fundraising effort as team members attempted to raise the $18,000 necessary to defray travel costs to the regional tournament in Washington. Despite strong play, the all-star team was eliminated from pool play and did not advance.

At the same time, the Pioneers were playing ball in Ogden, Utah. Powell began its tournament with a wild 17-16 victory over Bonneville, Idaho. In that game, the Pioneers fell behind 3-0 early before unleashing an 11-run inning to grab a sizable lead. Bonneville rallied to reclaim a 16-14 lead, only to watch as Auston Carter delivered a two-run, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to deliver a one-run win to Powell.

The Pioneers went on to win against Roseburg, Ore., and Laurel, Mont., but failed in two attempts against Kennewick, Wash. Overall, the team finished with a 48-17 record for the summer and earned third-place honors in the region. Jameson was later named the team's head coach for the upcoming 2010 season after guiding the club to a 14-5 record and state title.

Other summer diamond accomplishments included Powell re-establishing ties with the national Little League organization in the hopes of luring other Big Horn Basin communities back into the league. The community turned out in support when a planned four-team round robin youth tournament exploded overnight into an 11-team, multi-day event.

Shawnea Harrington earned the State Little League Sportsmanship award, the only one given in 2009 in Wyoming, for her demeanor during Powell's state tournament appearance. Former Powell baseballer Wade Elliott was named to the Boise Summer League's all-star game roster and also participated in the league's home-run derby.

The last half of the year also saw several major accomplishments take place inside various rodeo arenas.

Kanin Asay became the first Wyoming bull rider to capture the average title at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Asay scored five good rides during the 10-round event, including an NFR-best ride of 93 points on the rodeo's final night, to place second in the 2009 world standings and pocket in excess of $200,000 for the year.

Earlier in the year, Cowley's J.R. Vezain scored a national bareback title at the high school national finals rodeo. Saddle bronc rider Jake Griffin made the best of an otherwise bad rodeo season by riding his way to the title at the Mountain States Circuit Finals rodeo, setting up yet another appearance in early 2010 at the Dodge National Circuit Finals event.

Luke Robertson and Waleryan Wisniewski spent part of the summer participating in the annual Tour de Wyoming cycling event. Powell golfer Sue Edwards scored a runner-up finish in the Wyoming Women's Amateur golf tournament.

As summer edged closer to fall, a pair of Powell athletes created waves at the national level. Jesseca Cross, a participant in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, shocked everyone when she announced her intention to step out of retirement and attempt to earn a place on the 2012 Olympic team heading to London. Cross made the announcement while making a speech during her induction into the University of Wyoming Athletic Hall of Fame.

Gavin Mills learned early in the fall that he was named one of just five National Scholar-Athlete Award recipients in the nation by the National Football Foundation. Mills learned he had won the award during his freshman season at the Air Force Academy, where he'd signed a letter of intent earlier in the year.

The Powell High School volleyball and girls' cross country teams both began the fall with the weight of being defending state champions.

Both would fall just short of repeating as Wyoming champs, bringing home state runner-up trophies this year.

The Powell High School football team also appeared to be making some noise as the year started. The Panther boys reeled off a streak of four victories to rise to No. 2 in the polls before crashing back to earth with four losses to end the year.

The team was hit especially hard by the H1N1 flu late in the season. Facing a must-win game for a spot in the state playoffs, the Panthers found themselves practicing with fewer than 20 players for part of the week and without their head coach as the illness took its toll.

The Northwest College Trapper volleyball program had its own illness issues at times during the season, but was at full strength when it mattered the most. Head coach Flavia Siqueira's crew served notice of its potential during an October trip to Miami, where the team defeated a trio of top-20 opponents to top a loaded tournament field.

The Trappers returned to Wyoming for Region IX North play, knocking off nemesis Casper College in back-to-back contests to earn a place at the NJCAA national tournament. The Trappers opened national tournament play with a narrow loss to eventual national runner-up Missouri-West Plains, but went on to win their next match before losing a nail-biter to San Jacinto-Central.

Along the way, the team earned a spot in the national record book when its second Region IX North game against Western Wyoming resembled the Energizer bunny and kept going and going and going. By the time the Trappers prevailed to take a 2-0 lead in the contest, the scoreboard for the second game read 43-41 — the highest single game score in NJCAA volleyball history since the implementation of rally scoring.

As the year wrapped up, the Trapper men's basketball team was flirting with a top-25 ranking. The NWC wrestlers were ranked fifth in the nation. The college recently voted to add men's and women's soccer as sports, beginning in the fall of 2010.

Powell High School's girls basketball ended the year atop the Class 3A rankings as they look to improve on their ‘09 runner-up campaign. The Panther wrestlers are also ranked first in the state, pursuing a rare three-peat of state championships. Auston Carter is looking to join a rare club by becoming a four-time state champion.