YAIAA season in review: Part One
Just like that, it was over.
With the Bermudian Springs baseball team's Class AA state championship victory Friday, the 2009-10 scholastic sports season officially came to an end. It was one filled with peaks and valleys. With sensational athletes and unforgettable performances. With indelible triumphs and can't-miss games.
Personally, I'll never forget the cold December night with William Penn and J.P. McCaskey burned up a basketball court in Lancaster. The end product, a 98-94 victory by the Bearcats, was one of the most exciting hoops games I've seen at any level.
Nor will I forget an even more frigid night about a month earlier, when West York and Susquehanna Township played about the most enthralling, 7-6 football game I've ever seen.
Those are just a few examples, a few gems wrapped inside this long scholastic season. I could go on all day recounting the memorable games and stunning individual performances I've seen the last ten months.
Instead, I've tried to compile the Top Ten YAIAA-related stories from the 2009-10 season. You'll find Part One -- with stories six through ten -- after the jump.
10. Four score...
June 3 and 4 might have been one of the most important stretches in the history of YAIAA baseball. In that two-day span, four York-Adams schools played for district championships. No matter that only one -- eventual state champion Bermudian Springs -- actually won a district title. This was still a boon for YAIAA baseball, which has not always been known to perform well on a district and state level.
For teams like West York and South Western, just making it to this game was quite the achievement. West York had graduated seven starters from a sub-.500 team in 2009. South Western had scuffled through parts of their season before eventually winning the YAIAA championship. The Mustangs made it all the way to the PIAA quarterfinals.
As for Bermudian Springs, they used a 15-4, district title game victory against to catapult them to greater heights. More on that later.
9. Get ready for some futbol
Dallastown did something no YAIAA girls' soccer team had ever done: Qualify for the PIAA Class AAA semifinals.
Of course, the Wildcats' run crashed to a halt in the semis by virtue of a 4-0 loss to Cumberland Valley. But that doesn't make Dallastown's journey any less notable. Said coach Barry Barbush after his team's semifinal loss: "I think we left a mark with people. I think they know next year Dallastown is a team that will be around."
Meanwhile, West York and York Suburban both reached the Class AA state quarterfinals. The Bulldogs figure to be stacked next year, led by sensational freshman Shyanne Kimbrough, who scored 38 (yes, 38) goals this season, along with versatile sophomore Bre Schlemmer.
8. Running down a dream
No YAIAA track athletes won state championship this year. But there were still several names who stood out during the postseason.
Bermudian Springs senior Rachael Kotula set a District 3 Class AA record in the javelin throw, and also won a pair of state medals. Dover's Laura Rowlands won district gold in the AAA high jump, then earned a pair of medals at states (high jump and triple jump). The Delone girls' won their second straight District 3 Class AA team title.
One of my favorite interviews all season was with eventual Class AAA district 110 hurdles champion Braheem Harvey. At some point during the district semifinals, the William Penn junior's right shoe flew off. He still finished the heat in first place.
When I approached him after the race, Harvey still had a big smile splayed across his face. "I lost it about the third hurdle," he said, holding the shoe in his hand. "I felt it go and was like, 'Well, got to keep going.'"
7. Small comes up big
It was the perfect way to cap an outstanding career.
In front of jam-packed Giant Center on March 13, Delone Catholic senior Tyler Small fulfilled four years of toil by winning the 125-pound, Class AA state wrestling championship. Small beat Benton's Coltin Fought, 10-4, in the final.
In his three previous trips to states, Small had lost in the preliminaries each time.
Small was the YAIAA's only state champion; Bermudian's Brad Farley finished runner up at Class AA 103 pounds. Small, who will attend Kent State, finished his high school career with a record of 153-24.
6. How 'bout them dogs?
Even in a team sport, York Suburban cross country coach Ron Herman has always preached a team concept. That philosophy has helped the Trojans win nine district titles in Herman's 22 years as coach.
On Nov. 7, Herman's group achieved something even grander: A Class AA state team championship.
The Trojans five senior runners all finished within 39 seconds of each other, led by Nick Schrading (16th place, 17:10). That finish was more evidence of the pack mentality Herman preaches to his runners -- they typically stay together on the course and urge each other on. Their team total of 76 points was 23 better than the next closest team.
You can't help but feel good for Herman, one of the most colorful and genuine coaches you'll ever meet. After winning the district championship last fall, I remember Herman being simply giddy and repeating "How 'bout them dogs?", a reference both to Suburban's pack philosophy and desire to, as Herman said, "run with the big dogs."