When the Center Grove boys golf team closed its campaign with a sixth-place finish at the IHSAA state finals, it closed the curtain on what was yet another special year for Johnson County sports.
During the 2013-14 school year, three local athletes won state championships. Several others enjoyed success beyond winning seasons, as did a number of local teams.
Leading the charge — or rather, the barrage — was the Franklin wrestling team.
On a day that saw the Grizzly Cubs boast four state-placers and the Mental Attitude Award winner, senior D.J. Smith and junior Jacob Stevenson capped a historic run at the IHSAA
Wrestling State Finals by earning state championships.
Smith, a four-year standout, won the 113-pound title by rallying from a 2-0 deficit for a 5-3 decision against Garrett People of East Noble.
Later in the evening, Stevenson earned the 170-pound championship with a 7-3 win against Penn’s Chase Osborn.
In the process, Smith and Stevenson became the third and fourth wrestlers, respectively, in Franklin history to win state titles. Smith concluded the season 39-1; Stevenson was 40-1.
But that wasn’t all the Cubs had to celebrate.
Senior Connor Tolley placed third at 220 pounds and closed the year 22-6. And senior Sklyer Lykins finished sixth at 138 pounds and was the recipient of the tournament’s Ward E. Brown Mental Award.
By night’s end, the Cubs — ranked No. 1 heading in — placed second in the team standings, their best finish in team history.
But wrestling wasn’t the only sport that produced a local state champion.
This month, Center Grove senior Justin Veteto won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles title at the IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals. He did so with a time of 36.85 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in state meet history.
But that was a highlight to an all-around magnificent night for the speedy Veteto, who would go on to earn the Daily Journal’s Male Athlete of the Year award for 2013-14.
On the same night he won the 300, Veteto finished second in the 110 high hurdles and anchored the final leg of the Trojans’ fourth-place 1,600 relay team.
Largely behind the strength of those performances, Center Grove finished third in the team standings.
As impressive as three state champions in a single school year were, the county nearly produced a couple more.
In the fall, Greenwood senior David Dalton finished second at the IHSAA Boys State Cross Country Meet.
In the winter, Center Grove senior Dan O’Brien placed second in the 100-meter butterfly at the IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals.
And last Saturday, Woodmen senior Jade Kawamoto finished runner-up in the IHSAA Girls Tennis Singles Finals.
But all of the above were but a sampling of local achievement too numerous to list, ranging from the Center Grove football team’s narrow loss in the Class 6A semistate to sectional championships for Greenwood Christian Academy’s boys soccer, basketball and baseball teams to a amazing postseason runs by the Franklin softball and Whiteland baseball teams that ended in heartbreaking losses in the regional finals.
In all, it was yet another special year to celebrate in Johnson County.