The high school sports season is a nearly 10-month marathon. It just ended a little more than a week ago, and the first girls tennis matches of the 2017-18 school year are scheduled for Aug. 1.
So, to say that everyone who makes these games possible — athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, parents — deserves a rest is a vast understatement.
But even though it’s a marathon, this past year seemed to just fly by. It was filled with plenty of memorable moments, with the Grantsville softball team saving the best for last by winning the state title.
Stansbury’s Sami Oblad won three events at the state track and field meet. Grantsville’s Gavin Eyre, who is on his way to play football at Southern Utah University, took home the Class 3A boys javelin title as a parting gift before graduating from GHS last week. During the winter, Logan Gustafson became the first Stansbury wrestler to win a state title.
Grantsville tennis players Marissa Linares and Maci Jackson brought home the state championship at No. 2 doubles during the fall, with Linares winning for the second year in a row and setting the stage for a possible three-peat as a senior.
And Tooele’s unified soccer team, one of the more inspirational groups you’ll ever come across and one that reminds us that there’s so much more to high school sports than meets the eye, won its second straight state title by edging Hillcrest in overtime earlier this month.
Those are just the state champions — and there are even more tales of state champions to be told in the weeks to come. But there was plenty more worth celebrating this past school year.
Tooele’s boys and girls soccer programs have struggled to compete for years. But their most recent seasons were different. Both teams ended lengthy playoff droughts, but they weren’t merely just happy to be there. Instead, they made a statement by winning their first-round games and advancing to the quarterfinals.
The Stansbury football team broke its long-running curse that saw the Stallions falter in the state quarterfinals year after year, often in gut-wrenching fashion. In November, the Stallions put together one of their best performances ever in dismantling Park City, advancing to the state semifinals under the bright lights of Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time in program history. Now that they’ve gotten a taste of that stage, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Stansbury there a bit more often.
Stansbury’s boys basketball team came into the season having only played in one postseason game in seven years. The Stallions struggled against a difficult schedule loaded with road games, so their overall record looked decidedly underwhelming when they opened this year’s state tournament on the road at North Sanpete as a No. 3 seed. But first-year coach Joe White knew what he had, and he certainly got the most out of it as the Stallions edged the Hawks on a late 3-pointer from Jase Wanlass, gave Desert Hills all it could handle and toppled Carbon in a consolation-bracket game en route to a sixth-place finish.
Grantsville’s girls might not have placed at the state tournament, but the Cowboys’ experience paid off as they dominated Region 10 and were among the top-ranked teams in Class 3A all season. This, from a program that had completely bottomed out and gone winless three years prior. And just because a talented senior class just graduated, that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare at Grantsville as the Cowboys prepare to take on a completely new set of opponents thanks to realignment. Grantsville’s going to be just fine.
In fact, all of Tooele County’s teams will be. With the end of one high school season comes the optimism of another season fast approaching. While it may be a couple months before the Buffaloes, Cowboys and Stallions take the field again, the anticipation is already building.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. While he’s been around high school sports for close to 20 years now, seeing someone win a state championship is every bit as thrilling now as ever. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.