By Vern Hee
With a new year finally here, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the top 10 sports stories of 2012. Let the countdown begin.
10. Rodeo fading away
This was the year the rodeo was not around. It heralds the passing of a once popular pastime in the valley.
At one time, the rodeo came to town at least 10 times a year. Now there is usually only one a year, at the Fall Festival.
Kamryn Boucher is a sign of the times. He is one of the last of the junior rodeo set to step into the arena. He has been riding since he was 5 years old. There are others in town, but he is currently the best. He may not be the national champion in team roping, but Boucher has attended nationals twice and was state champion last year in this event.
The young cowboy wants to turn professional after his last high school season this year.
One of his teachers, a pioneer in the valley, was Gary Bowman. Bowman has been a teacher of many talented rodeo riders and admires the hard work the young star has put into riding.
“I know what it takes to do what he has done. It says a lot about his family and his character. His family deserves the credit because they had to haul him around a million miles,” said Bowman.
9. Swimming sensation goes to Olympic trials
2012 was the year the summer Olympics took place in London. The Olympics were a big story in itself.
The story for Pahrump was that the town had a swimmer who had been raised in Pahrump and who scored a chance to go to the London Olympics.
His name is Hannon Daigler. The swimming sensation was raised by his mother, Zolina Burson, and home schooled in Pahrump so he could attend swimming lessons in Las Vegas. In Vegas, he swam for the Sand Piper Club, a prominent power in swimming today.
Watching Daigler in the trials was not all about winning. It was about being able to follow someone who was raised in the valley, doing something he loved and doing it in front of the nation. Daigler finished 46th at the trials with a time of 4:25:87.
This will not be the last we will hear of him. He now swims for the University of Arizona.
8. The year of the student athlete
2012 was the year of the student athlete. Athletes from all over the region received honors.
From Pahrump, Megan Hamrick took top honors as salutatorian with a 4.5 GPA out of 250 students.
The NIAA also recognized Hamrick by honoring her as one of the top ten student athletes in Southern Nevada. With this honor, she received a $1,500 scholarship. While at PVHS, Hamrick played volleyball and threw discus and shot-put in track. In track at the state finals in Reno, she took fifth in the discus and seventh in the shot-put. Hamrick is attending Colorado State, where she is majoring in chemical engineering.
Beatty student athlete, Ana Martinez, a girl from Amargosa Valley, was the Beatty High School valedictorian for 2012. She graduated with a 4.02 GPA. The young valedictorian also received a four-year Navy ROTC scholarship to Arizona State.
Jerry Adcox, head Beatty track and field coach, said Anna was like no other athlete he has ever coached and she always put the team first.
Elaina Dunn was the salutatorian at Tonopah High School and is graduating with a 4.09 GPA in a class of 35 students. She said she missed the valedictorian spot by three B’s.
Dunn was an outside hitter in volleyball and four-year letterman in that sport. She also played softball and basketball. This year Dunn was chosen as all conference first team outfielder in the Central 1-A League. It was her first year in the outfield. Her softball team finished second at the state championship.
The young Mucker said she will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno next fall. There she wants to major in criminal justice with a minor in political science. She wants to go to law school to become a lawyer afterward.
7. Tonopah almost loses wrestling
The year was also a year when Tonopah High School almost lost its wrestling program because it failed to come up with the minimum district standard of 10 wrestlers.
Dale Norton, superintendent of Nye County School District, saved the program at the last minute after speaking with assistant coach Wade Ayers.
“All this happened over the weekend after conversations with Norton. What this means is Mr. Norton is sticking his neck out for us. And we have to have the numbers next year, which stands at 10 students. Norton said he will look at these numbers for next year. The minimum number could go down. If we do not recruit enough wrestlers next year, then we will not have a discussion about it, the program will be cut,” said Ayers.
6. The Call of the Service Academies
Two Pahrump seniors applied to service academies, Angelica Mcnerny and Amanda Head.
Both seniors are officers in the Trojan Junior ROTC Battalion. McNerny is the student battalion commander and Head is the executive officer.
According to Dr. Rob Roberts, former Nye County School District superintendent, the girls were the first to apply in ten years. Both girls are at the top of the class. McNerny just received a congressional nomination from Senator Harry Reid and she applied to the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. Head received one from Congressman Mark Amodei. She wants to attend either West Point or the Naval Academy.
5. Volleyball champs
This was the year the Muckers take it all and win the 4-A state volleyball championship. It was the first volleyball championship for the school and the first for their coach, Judi Boni. It was Boni’s 23rd year as coach.
It almost was not to be, when the Muckers lost a regular season match to Pahranagat Valley making the Alamo team league champs. Boni and her team would not give up though and took the division championship away from PV, 25-20, 25-15, 25-8.
Both PV and the Muckers then advanced to state with the Muckers taking the number one seed. To get to the finals, the Muckers had to beat Smith Valley. If they beat them they would face the winner of the Virginia City-PV match. Smith was dispatched in three sets and Tonopah advanced to the final with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-18 sweep of the Bulldogs, 16-9.
PV beat Virgina City in four sets, 25-14, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18. This meant the old rivals faced each other for the state championship.
The match was all Muckers and Boni said she knew by the end of the first set that things were going her way.
“About halfway through the first set, you could just see the confidence rolling off the girls. They knew everything was going their way. At about halfway through the second set I knew I had the state championship …” remarked Boni.
4. First time in playoffs since 2006
2012 was the year the Trojans football team not only won a game, but they won two games and in doing so they qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Joe Clayton, new head coach for the Trojans, brought a new game with a new attitude. This was his first year as head coach at the varsity level. He is best known for bringing Pop Warner football to the valley.
To get to the playoffs the Trojans beat two teams, the Western Warriors, 21-8, and the Clark Chargers,16-14. This gave the Trojans fourth place in the Sunset League 1-A division.
The Trojans lost to Moapa in the playoffs, 65-0, but to the Trojans the fact that they finished fourth and just made it there is the start of a new era.
“As a whole, I look at it as baby steps. Sometimes it takes four to five years to get a program going, especially if you are taking over a losing team. From that standpoint, we have had the best season in seven years. We went to the playoffs. It’s a great start from the coach’s point of view,” said Clayton.