Franklin-Fulton superlatives: The best of 2016
Social media might indicate 2016 was a year to forget.
But for Franklin and Fulton counties, there were several stories, games and milestones worth remembering during the last calendar year.
Instead of simply counting down the top storylines of 2016, we're awarding "senior superlatives" to the best moments for area athletes and their teams.
Top storyline of 2016
Chambersburg's softball team gave everyone in the community something to root for as it made its run to the PIAA Class 4A semifinals.
The Lady Trojans finished with just three blemishes on their record in the regular season and used that momentum to push through a few nerve-wracking games. They eventually won the District 3 championship with a 1-0 victory over Penn Manor in extra innings.
Despite falling in the state semifinal to Hempfield by just two runs, the Trojans were awarded with countless postseason accolades. Leah Hunt was named the P.O. Player of the Year, and Chris Skultety earned Coach of the Year honors.
The good news for Chambersburg fans is the Trojans might be right back here next year. They graduated just one starter, Tara Harmon, from their team that finished 24-5.
Game of the Year
There was no question about this one.
Thousands of people swarmed Veterans Memorial Park for Shippensburg's District 3 Class 4A football clash with Bishop McDevitt, and boy, did the Greyhounds deliver a show.
With under two minutes to go, the Hounds trailed McDevitt by two touchdowns. Then they pulled off something amazing.
Clayton Stine grabbed two touchdown passes from Carter Van Scyoc in the final two minutes of the game, and Cameron Tinner plunged into the end zone for a two-point conversion that gave Ship an unbelievable 29-28 victory.
Best district championship
Pretty much all of Fulton County - and then some - tuned in when McConnellsburg and Southern Fulton met at UPJ for the District 5 Class A boys basketball final.
The game brought a standing-room-only crowd and a recording-breaking livestream audience, and the Indians, led by P.O. Player of the Year Dylan Gordon, earned a narrow victory over the rival Spartans.
Most stunning news
Although there have been whispers about it for quite some time, it was still the biggest stunner of the year when James Buchanan announced it was leaving its Mid Penn Conference schedule.
The Rockets, which have had two winless seasons in a row, have struggled for quite some time. They have managed just 23 victories in the last 20 seasons, and nearly parties involved felt it was best for JB to pursue an independent football schedule. Only one member school voted against the decision.
"I was really proud of our athletic directors and their support today," JB athletic director Larry Strawoet said at the time. "I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of guy. The biggest reason was the safety of our kids. We're just overmatched in games right now, and we're afraid of injury."
Best feel-good story
One of the best things about high school athletes is their air of innocence and their true value of sportsmanship.
Chambersburg wrestler Matt Strunk showed that off in amazing display. At last season's Wilson Duals, Strunk elected to forfeit his final match of the day. By doing so, he gave his opponent, Conestoga Valley's Lucas Ortiz, the 100th victory of his career.
If not for Strunk, Ortiz would have finished his career with 99 wins. Earlier in the season, Ortiz suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Rookie of the Year
This one didn't take much consideration either.
Greencastle-Antrim freshman Taryn Parks stormed onto the cross country scene in stunning fashion. She won countless races during the regular season, beating out some of the top competition across all classifications.
And her season didn't stop there. Parks collected gold medals at the District 3 and the PIAA Class 2A championships.
Parks' success will likely continue in the track & field season. Despite not having competed for the high school team yet, she already holds Kaley Field records in the 1,600 and 3,200.
If nothing else, 2016 was the year of the 1,000-point scorer.
During the calendar year, a startling seven local athletes scored their 1,000th career point in basketball.
Even more impressively, Shalom Christian's Lydia Harris and Jonah Stains scored their 1,000th points on the same night in a doubleheader against Grace Academy.
It was a banner year for Franklin-Fulton athletes on the recruiting front.
At least eight area student-athletes made at least a verbal commitment to NCAA Division I programs. Two of the most heavily recruited athletes were Chambersburg's Kelton Chastulik and McConnellsburg's McKenzie Gelvin.
After a slew of Ivy League schools came calling, Chastulik eventually committed to play football and compete for the track & field throwing team at Princeton University. Gelvin's success on the track landed her a full athletic scholarship to Temple University.
The Lady Trojans' softball success was felt by Laken Myers (Gardner-Webb) and Sam Bender (Iona) during the recruiting process. Other top area recruits included Shippensburg's Chandler Olson (Drexel, wrestling); Greencastle-Antrim's Campbell Parker (Brown, track & field) and Nathan Starliper (Maryland, baseball); and Waynesboro's Olivia Gardenhour (Central Connecticut State, golf).