It’s been a wild year in general, and there was no lack of drama on the local sports scene as well. Here’s a look at the 10 biggest sports stories from 2017 in Johnson County:
Shepherd’s big summer
Still just 16 years old, Erica Shepherd continued to make her mark on the golf world. In late July, the Center Grove junior became the first left-handed player to win the U.S. Girls Junior championship, which earned her a second trip to the U.S. Open in 2018 (she qualified in 2016 as a 15-year-old).
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Then, in September, Shepherd made the cut at the Indy Women in Tech Championship at Brickyard Crossing, her first time doing so at an LPGA event.
It probably won’t be the last.
Top of the mountain
After a couple of recent near misses, the Center Grove boys golf team finally laid claim to its first state championship in June, blitzing the field on the second day to beat runner-up Carmel by 13 strokes. The Trojans’ team total of 573 established a new state record.
Junior Noah Gillard led the way for Center Grove with a 6-under-par 138, which earned him individual medalist honors for the tournament. Sam Jean (143) was third, while Ethan Shepherd (144) tied for fourth. Gillard and Jean each shot 66 on the final day of play to lead the Trojans’ closing surge.
Doublin’s power play
Kloie Doublin dominated her last powerlifting competition at the sub-junior level, setting four world records on the way to an easy win in the 72-kilogram weight class at the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, in June.
A senior at Franklin who also runs track, Doublin followed up with another commanding performance at the USA Raw National Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Florida in October, winning not only the teenage (18-19) national title but also the junior (20-23) national crown as well.
Double the success
Center Grove juniors Isabella Schoolcraft and Cassidy Hardin won the state doubles championship in June, posting a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Mia Toscos and Lauren VanWyngarden of Fort Wayne Carroll. The duo finished the season with a perfect 23-0 record.
The Trojan girls reached the state quarterfinals as a team before falling to Providence in a tight 3-2 battle.
It had been 27 years since Greenwood last won a regional championship in football — but with a senior-dominated team, the 2017 Woodmen were able to end the drought, holding off Mississinewa 34-27 to advance to the Class 4A semistate.
The Woodmen saw their season end a week later at East Central but still finished with an 11-3 record, the program’s first season with double-digit wins since 2005.
Making a bigger splash
Franklin’s boys and girls swimming and diving programs continued their rapid ascent, with the boys securing their first top-10 state finish as a team in 2017 and the girls narrowly missing out on the same.
Jacob Destrampe and Carla Gildersleeve both had top-three individual finishes at the state meet as sophomores, with Destrampe taking second in the 200-yard freestyle.
Covering their bases
Loaded with heavy hitters and solid pitching, Edinburgh and Center Grove both won regional titles in softball, advancing to semistate in Class A and 4A, respectively.
The Trojans’ Jordyn Rudd and the Lancers’ Sidney Beier both ranked among the state leaders in several offensive categories, including home runs.
Half of Johnson County’s six high school football teams had new head coaches in 2017, part of a wild year on the local coaching carousel. There also were six coaching changes locally in boys and girls basketball.
Among the notable departures were longtime Greenwood boys basketball coach Bruce Hensley, who retired after 28 seasons, and Indian Creek football coach Mike Gillin, a 300-game winner who is now coaching at Mooresville.
Franklin and Indian Creek also hired new athletic directors.
Whiteland’s Mackenzie Blazek and Center Grove’s Cassidy Hardin were both among the 18 players named as Indiana Junior All-Stars in girls basketball.
Both players also signed on to play college basketball in the Big Ten in 2018-19, with Blazek choosing Illinois and Hardin heading to Purdue.
Welcome to the party
After a few years lobbying for inclusion, Greenwood Christian Academy was finally invited to take part in Johnson County championship play across all sports in the 2017-18 school year.
The Cougars debuted at the girls golf championship and then turned in a fourth-place showing in the county volleyball tournament at Edinburgh.