Jared Lankford: All-Decade Top Ten

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Late night talk show host David Letterman made millions of dollars off one simple little skit – The Top 10 list.

A few years ago the idea was commandeered by The Monett Times and at the end of the year, the Top 10 news and sports stories from the previous year are released.

As the news of my departure has been spread many have asked what I remember the most of my tenure.

I have spent some time compiling my list.

Some are games that stood out, or watching how programs were established. Others are people who touched the lives of those who they came into contact with.

My hope is that these memories bring back some good feelings and honor those who allowed me to cover them.

Never have I enjoyed a job more than the one as sports editor. Following are items 6-10.

10. Burl Fowler Stadium

It’s funny that a football stadium makes the list. However, the stadium has made itself a story numerous times over the last 10 years. One of the most unique features of Burl Fowler Stadium is the fact that it is not on the high school campus but prominently displayed in the town. It is truly a beautiful venue and addition to the community. Just to summarize what has happened during my tenure: The field house was renovated, turf installed, the turf was named after Kenley Richardson, new LED lighting installed, new scoreboard, new fencing, renovated concession stand and new decorations namely in terms of the district championships won by the soccer program and football team. Not to mention a new state championship number added to the back of the press box.

One thing that carries sentimental meaning to this writer is that there are words written by myself that grace the side of the locker room about Burl Fowler and Richardson. Just a few feet away from that marker resides another marker that contains the names of those that made the turf at the field possible. Inculded in that list is the names of my parents.

9. Carrasquillo sinks Purdy in final seconds

The Ozarks 7 Conference in the 2010-2011 season was loaded on the boys and girls side. No less than 23 players who were a junior or senior that season would ink college letters of intent. When only 2.5 % of all high school athletes land a scholarship, the talent that the conference possessed then was unbelievable. In 2010, the conference netted a state champion in Purdy for Class 2 and Exeter finished runner-up in Class 1. One of the best games of the season occurred on Feb. 10, 2011 when 9th ranked Verona visited No. 1 ranked Purdy.

Rarely do games live up to the hype, but this one did in a game where each possession was pivotal and featured two teams that had nine of the 10 starters play ball in college and six of the 10 named to the All-State team.

Trailing 64-63, the Lady Wildcats inbounded the ball, after a timeout with 11.4 seconds left. Verona’s Jenna Chadd took the inbound pass, dribbled to the top of the key then dished the ball to the right elbow to Tristan Carrisquillo who attacked the lane pulled up from eight feet, her shot found nothing but the bottom of the net. Verona won 65-64. The rematch went to Purdy though in a game that was moved to Aurora in order to hold all the fans.

8. Pierce City goes four overtimes to beat Mt. Vernon for district title

Pierce City basketball became must-see over the last decade with Matt Street at the helm. Twice he guided the Eagles to the cusp of a final four berth, but what he did in transforming a football school into a perennial district title hoops contender should not be overlooked.

Of all the Eagles games in the last 10 year, a fan would be hard pressed to find one as memorable or as hard fought as Pierce City’s 77-72, four-overtime district title victory over Big 8 Conference basketball blue-blood Mt. Vernon.

What made the win even more impressive was the fact the Eagles were the No. 6 seed in the tournament and dispatch No. 3 seeded East Newton, No. 2 seeded Clever and the No. 1 seeded Mountaineers. All the experience that Street had garnered over the 11 years at the helm paid off in spades as his team never trailed by more than 3 and held a lead most of the game.

Both teams walked away from the game and for once — without any hyperbole — fans, coaches and media knew they had left every ounce of energy on the floor.

Senior guard Aaron Garner who delivered the timeliest bomb, a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc with 49.8 seconds left to give the Eagles a 73-72 lead, which they did not relinquish.

7. Still leaves a bad taste in the mouth

Not all the memories of a decade-long tenure can be happy or just simply glossed over.

When you talk to long-time Monett fans, they still view Aurora as the school’s biggest rival. However, that began to change right after the turn of the century as Cassville began to rise up the conference power charts.

A heartbreaking playoff loss to the Wildcats when Monett was ranked No. 1 in football brought the rivalry to boil and what happened in March of 2013 brought national attention upon the two schools.

After the Lady Cubs traveled south for a conference basketball game. It was revealed a few days after the contest that some of the Lady Wildcats player had added urine to the Lady Cubs water.

The jokes, administration heat and stories came fast and furious. The two programs had their 15 minutes of fame in a rivalry that the nation was introduced to. Luckily there were no ill-effects due to the prank. To this day, Monett still takes its water when it goes on the road to Cassville.

6. Cubs Soccer

No program in any school in the bi-county area can claim the continued success that the Monett soccer team has enjoyed over the last nine seasons. Monett has won 10 district titles in its program history, including nine-straight.

Talent had never been a problem for Cubs soccer, however, harnessing that talent and creating a team was always a difficult task. Two men deserve a tremendous amount of credit for taking a programs of kids just happy to play and turning it into one of the more feared and respected team sin the state of Missouri.

Dan Janssen won the Cubs second district title by instilling a structured disciplinary system. He stepped down form the head coach role to take over the swimming program, but his assistant head coach Cristobal Villa stepped right in and took the team to heights un-imagined. Villa convinced player to buy into the program and created a summer league that gave the team needed time to coalesce.

The results include eight district titles with him at the helm and a second and third place state finish in a sport dominated by private schools.

Villa has been named Public School Coach of the Year, had the Missouri Player of the Year in Justin Puente and Missouri Goal Keeper of the Year in Joshua Patino. Those awards and athletes were a pipe dream 10 years ago.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of The Monett Times. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or at sports@monett-times.com.

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