For almost three years you have welcomed my columns into your home and hopefully enjoyed the coverage given to the area teams.
For the last two years, a column highlighting the top 10 local sports stories of the previous year has appeared on my sports page.
#10. The Big 8 adds a ninth. Big 8 Conference high school principals voted unanimously (8-0) on Dec. 11, 2012 to add a ninth member, McDonald County, to the conference. The Mustangs had been without a conference since 2007 when the Southwest Conference dissolved. The Big 8 last had a conference school change in 1981.
#9. Monett invests heavily in its sports future. The City of Monett, Monett High School and the Monett Youth Baseball and Softball League combined to raise over $1.5 million to improve the existing sports infrastructure. The groups installed new lights at Burl Fowler Stadium, North Park baseball and softball complex and the high school gym. Monett High School purchased and created the Monett Athletic Center (MAC) and the new Monett Area YMCA is scheduled to open this year which could increase the number of sports programs offered at the high school.
#7. Monett football Cubs earned a 10-6 district title win over Cassville. The Monett defense made the Cassville Wildcats turn the ball over on downs twice in the game's last five minutes and held on to earn a hard fought victory over the unbeaten Wildcats on Nov. 5, 2012. The victory was the first for the Cubs at Wildcat Stadium since a 21-20 overtime thriller in 2007. The win also ended Cassville's 42-game winning streak over Big 8 Conference opponents and its 27-game home winning streak. The contest also marked the first time Cassville had been held to single digit scoring since Monett's 13-7 victory in the 2008 regular season.
#6. Pierce City claims third straight softball district title. The Pierce City Lady Eagles softball team won its third consecutive district softball title, defeating College Heights 8-0. Pierce City pitcher McKenzie Moreland no-hit the Lady Cougars and struck out eight batters in seven innings of work.
#5. Monett soccer wins the district title. The Monett Cubs erased over a decade of frustration winning the Class 1, District 12 title over Cassville. The Wildcats had ended the Cubs' season three consecutive years. Eddie Aceves scored three goals for the Cubs, but it was his final goal in the 12th minute of overtime that gave the Cubs their first district title since 2001.
#4. Monett softball makes historic run. In 2011, the Monett Lady Cubs softball team was just happy to make the playoffs. In 2012, they wanted to make a push in the playoffs. Monett won the prestigious Springfield Tournament, claimed its first Big 8 Conference title, a second consecutive district title, set a school record in victories and advanced to the quarterfinal round.
#3. Ten area high school athletes sign letters of intent to play collegiate sports. Only one in every 1,500 high school students will sign a national letter of intent to play college athletics. No matter what level a student athlete chooses to play it is still "college ball." Monett had five athletes sign to play elsewhere next season. Chris Renteria enrolled at Central Methodist University, in Fayette, and is running cross-country; Jarred Witt, agreed to play basketball at Ozark Christian College, in Joplin; Travis Thompson joined the golf team at Evangel University, in Springfield; Tyler Green also sign to play football at Evangel; and Raigan Ratliff was pursued and signed by Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar to play softball. Purdy High School had three students sign pledges with colleges. Reese Stevenson signed the dotted line to play baseball at University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.; Garen Nelson hit the links for Independence College in Independence, Kan.; and Phillip Roller agreed to play golf for Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Pierce City had two players sign letters to play volleyball at the next level. Krishna Merriman will play for Missouri Southern State University next year, and Brianna Zebert committed and signed with Missouri State University at West Plains.
#2. Addy Roller. Every once in a blue moon a school will be blest with a great athlete. Even more rare is the athlete that rewrites the school's record book. Roller was the latter type of player. She currently holds four state records and is in the state's top 25 in 19 categories. Roller, became the states most prolific 3-point shooter. She was invited to a national 3-point competition and had her jersey retired at Purdy. If you never saw her play, you missed a great talent.
#1. The Monett Cubs football team. If I would have told you in July 2012 that the Cubs would win 10 games, advance to the Class 3 semifinals and possess one of the area's best defenses, you wouldn't have believed me. However, that is exactly what Monett's gridiron gang accomplished earning the nickname "Purple Haze" in the process. The Cubs showed ferocity on defense, especially in the playoffs that led them double-digit victories and a #4 state ranking.