This past Friday I wrote about some of the more bizarre moments during the 2021-22 high school sports year.
Today I want to reflect on the top 10 sports moments, for me, from this past year.
From first-time state champions to first-ever final fours, it was tough to rank them, nor should I. Who’s to say that a state championship in one sport ranks more than a state championship in another sport.
This past fall, there were four events that ended up in my top 10, highlighted by a pair of state champions.
A special thanks to correspondent Ricky Quintana, who kept us up-to-date with his weekly area cross country rankings.
Buchholz (Gainesville) made the top 10 twice.
The Lady Bobcats brought home the Class 4A cross country state title, its first since 2005, while the Buchholz football team advanced to its first state semifinal in over 30 years.
Quintana noted that the area has now brought home a state championship in each of the last three years and 13 cross country titles overall.
Meanwhile, it was a great season for the Buchholz football team, which lost at nationally-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale) in the Class 7A state semifinals. The Bobcats (12-2) did enough to finish as the No. 1 team in The Prep Zone Power Poll, which ranks the top 20 teams regardless of classification across 26 counties in Florida.
Santa Fe (Alachua) won its first volleyball state title in school history with a sweep of Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale), 25-16, 25-17, 25-14 in the Class 4A state championship match in Fort Myers. The Raiders (29-3) ended the season with a 16-game winning streak and they won 31 straight sets.
It’s hard not to put a team that played in its second straight state championship game in my top 10.
In fact, the Hawthorne football team was undefeated heading into the Class 1A state championship game.
A special shout out goes to Union County (Lake Butler) football, which was 12-0 entering the 1A-Region 3 Final, and Chiefland, which edged the Tigers in the region final to advance to the state semifinals.
Not to take anything away from the Hawthorne boys basketball team, which lost to Bradford (Starke) in the Class 1A state semifinals, but I put Trenton ahead of them in my top 10.
It’s always a big deal to make it to Lakeland but it would have been a bigger deal, in my opinion, if Trenton had advanced.
They didn’t, so credit to Hawthorne (11-4), which survived in double overtime, and advanced to the final four.
The year before, Trenton (18-11) had just won its first district title in 19 years, and they were seconds away from their first final four trip.
Speaking of Bradford, the Tornadoes (16-10) make my top 10 after winning their first state title in early March. They never trailed in a 64-44 win over Paxton to win the 1A state title.
Up next are the Keystone Heights boys weightlifting team. who won their second straight FHSAA boys weightlifting state title. We had the Indians on our high school show, “The Prep Zone,” in early May to talk about winning back-to-back titles.
Also in May, the Fort White softball and baseball teams advanced to their first final four in program history, along with both Dixie County (Cross City) programs.
All four get a top 10 nod but I put the two schools together, so both softball and baseball programs get two of my top 10 moments.
The Fort White and Dixie County softball teams met in the Class 1A state semifinals, followed by a heartbreaking loss by the Indians in the title game.
In baseball, the Fort White bats went silent in the state semifinals, while the Bears ran out of gas in the other 1A state semifinal.
And Columbia (Lake City) baseball won an exciting and wild region final against Lincoln (Tallahassee) to advance to its first final four in program history
An honorable mention goes to the Suwannee (Live Oak) Bulldogs, who advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals where they fell to eventual state champion Island Coast (Cape Coral), 9-2.
All in all, it was a great year of high school sports. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.
This is our final sports newsletter until Monday, July 11. Make sure to check out our first print edition, which is coming out on Wednesday.