Column: Time to move on from 2011, look ahead at 2012’s future
Baldwin High School and Baker University have a lot to live up to if they wish to repeat, or even build upon, the success of 2011.
Baldwin City might want to give itself the nickname of “Title Town.” BHS and Baker teams racked up league, conference and state championships all year. Baldwin City might not have what Green Bay, Wisc., has, but one of the major local stories of the year came from the Cheeseheads.
Baker alumnus Mike McCarthy caoched the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory last February. In his fifth season with the team, the 1987 Baker graduate made history again. As a Baker alumnus myself, it was amazing to watch and listen to the media talk about McCarthy and the Super Bowl.
I was lucky enough to meet him in 2008, when he returned to Baker for a hall of fame induction. Maybe one day, I can take a trip to Green Bay and talk to coach McCarthy or Packers' players. As a huge football fan, it would be a dream come true. As a journalist, it's conceivable as a fun story assignment.
Although many folks in the Baldwin City and Baker communities enjoyed the Super Bowl victories, there were plenty in town to celebrate, too. BHS won another cross country title ... ho hum. Just another championship for Mike Spielman. It's not only remarkable how many titles he has won, but it's amazing to watch his runners dedicate themselves to him and the program year after year. Once again, as a happy alum, it makes me proud to watch the BHS cross country program win year after year.
One of the most memorable moments of 2011 was the BHS track and field teams sweeping the state titles. Sure, they each split them with another school, but the Bulldogs had to finish high enough in the last race and receive some help to tie. There's something about the 1,600-meter relay and the Bulldogs at state. Simply remarkable when the pressure is the highest.
The sweep of state track and cross country titles in the same school year had never been accomplished in Kansas high school history. The Bulldogs made history. Congrats. You all earned it.
In case you missed this fall, the BHS and Baker soccer teams also made history. The first year for the BHS boys' program, which was co-ed until this year, was its best ever. Louis Joslyn will never forget his penalty kick and celebration in the regional final with dozens of home fans and students watching and joining the celebration. It was one of the top moments of the year, too.
Baker's soccer teams kept winning and winning and winning. The men's squad didn't drop a game until its conference tournament championship. Then the No. 3-ranked Wildcats advanced to the Fab Four for the first time in school history, but lost to the eventual national champion. Meanwhile, the women also won the conference regular season title and reached the Elite 8 in the national tournament.
I can't mention top moments of 2011 without talking about Justin Vander Tuig's perfect game against Eudora. It was a great outing by the senior pitcher. It was fun to watch and will remain in my memory for a long time.
Unfortunately, it's time to move on to 2012. We have to put 2011 behind us, but we hope the new year will be as good as the past. It will be a tough act to repeat, but many of the teams mentioned above are set up to do very well again this year.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new year without a couple resolutions from yours truly. I'll try and predict the Super Bowl. Last year I picked one team right. I'm having a hard time picking an NFC winner, but I'll go with the Packers to face the Baltimore Ravens with the Packers winning back-to-back titles.
It would be interesting to see the Harbaugh brothers play each other again if San Francisco and Baltimore make it that far. I'll be watching as my Raiders once again missed the playoffs, despite having a chance with a win last Sunday. There's always next year.
As far as college basketball, this will be the year John Calipari wins a championship. That Kentucky team is athletic and talented. If they hit a few free throws and possibly shave an infamous “unibrow," the Wildcats have a good shot.
I also foresee the BHS track teams earning two trophies at the state. Barring any injuries, those could be state title trophies again. The same can be said for the BHS girls cross country team. If the underclassmen work hard this summer, it should be sixth-straight for the Bulldogs.
Now let's just hope the world doesn't end Dec. 21, 2012.