Montgomery made impact in 2012 sports -- Gazette.Net


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As schools throughout the county close their doors for winter break and we get ready to ring in a new year, there is no better time to refect on 12 months of remarkable accomplishments in Montgomery County sports.

History was celebrated, past county stars shined in new venues, Olympic gold medals were won, MCPS teams collected 10 state championships, win streaks were started and some were broken.

Here are the year's top 10 storylines:

10. Quince Orchard's heartache ... take two

This time might have hurt more.

After surrendering a comfortable late-game lead to lose the 2011 state championship to Old Mill by one point in overtime, the Quince Orchard High School football team fought its way back to the state title game this fall against Prince George's County's Henry A. Wise.

This was going to be the Cougars' year with their first state title since 2007.

But Wise's 24-yard touchdown pass with 2:14 remaining in regulation erased that dream and clinched the Pumas' 12-7 win.

9. Northwest baseball, Sherwood softball win first titles

Northwest baseball was done, twice, in its first state final against Arundel in May.

An out away from defeat, the Jaguars scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase a 5-1 deficit.

Trailing 6-5 and on the brink of defeat again, Northwest rallied with two outs to even the score in the bottom of the 10th.

J.J. Jan's single broke the tie in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Jaguars their first state crown.

Perhaps the Sherwood softball team got sick of hearing that rival Gaithersburg won the county's last state title in 1999.

Or maybe it was just time.

In its third state final appearance in five years, and fifth state tournament appearance in six years, Sherwood finally defeated seven-time state champion Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County, 1-0, for its first championship.

8. State, league titles abound

Montgomery County won 10 team championships in 2012 and a plethora more individual ones.

This fall, the Thomas S. Wootton boys soccer team won its first championship and the Patriots golf team dethroned three-time defending champion Urbana to become the county's first team champion since Winston Churchill in 2008.

Per usual, all-county Region II dominated the spring's state tennis tournament by sweeping all five finals.

Walter Johnson and Poolesville's boys and Walt Whitman's girls won the county's first state championships in swimming.

Caroline Beakes' first-place finish helped the Bethesda-Chevy Chase girls to the state cross country title.

Academy of the Holy Cross volleyball won its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title, marking the first time in seven years county rival Our Lady of Good Counsel didn't take the crown. The Tartans' field hockey team also was victorious.

Good Counsel's girls soccer team won its second WCAC title in three years and eighth overall.

U-17 National Team forward Midge Purce scored both the Falcons' goals in that victory and ended her career with a program-record 101 goals.

7. Magruder boys, Gaithersburg girls win state basketball titles, streaks end

After a season-opening loss to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power DeMatha last season, the Col. Zadok Magruder boys basketball team reeled off 26 straight wins to claim its first state crown since 2001 in March.

But a 59-55 overtime loss to rival Springbrook on Wednesday snapped Magruder's win streak at 31. That doesn't mean the Colonels are any less the favorite to defend their title, but it won't be as easy as some might have thought.

Gaithersburg's girls basketball team clinched its second straight state championship last March with its 52nd straight win.

A win against Montgomery Blair to open this season put the Trojans within two wins of a state record.

But Gaithersburg lost its next two. Now, at 3-3, it seems the Trojans are human, after all.

6. Alex Holston

What else can be said about quite possibly the best girls volleyball player in state history?

The 6-foot-1 University of Florida signee was named Maryland's Gatorate Player of the Year for the second straight season.

She tallied a career-high 370 kills this fall in leading Sherwood to its third consecutive state championship.

Her 42 kills in a state semifinal win against Walter Johnson set a Maryland single-match record.

Oh, right, and she can also play defense, with 153 digs.

5. Stefon Diggs named Terps MVP

The former Good Counsel wide receiver made high school football look like child's play.

But the jump to NCAA Division I usually takes a little adjustment.

Apparently not for Diggs.

Named the team's most valuable player at the season-ending banquet, he posted the second-highest single season all-purpose yardage in University of Maryland football history to also earn Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Diggs came in second to Miami's Duke Johnson as ACC Freshman of the Year.

4. Wait, Bethesda-Chevy Chase lost?

There's a saying that “winning breeds winning.” And it must be true.

B-CC girls soccer might have been the state's best team by far when its run of a state-record four straight state championships started in 2009.

In recent years, however, there have been many state title worthy opponents in the Barons' path and time and time again B-CC managed to make something happen when it most needed to.

Not this year.

For the first time in five years, B-CC lost a postseason game by relinquishing a 1-0 lead in the second half of the championship game to South River before eventually losing in penalty kicks.

3. 40th Anniversary of Title IX

Although most people associate the 1972 law with sports, it is actually a gender equity rule that pertains to all educational programs that receive federal funding.

But it has played a major role in the evolution and acceptance of women's sports.

In 2010-11, 41 percent of high school girls participated in athletics, according to the National Federation of State High School Association's yearly participation survey. It is up from seven percent in 1971-72.

Young girls now train with a purpose with opportunities to seek athletic scholarships and pursue professional careers.

2. Tiger's victorious return to Potomac

Love him. Hate him. Love to hate him.

Tiger Woods is golf's biggest name and he was back at Congressional Country Club this summer for the first time since 2009.

He didn't disappoint the fans.

After a two-year hiatus while Congressional prepared and hosted the 2011 U.S. Open, the AT&T National, hosted by Woods, returned to Potomac for its fourth installment.

Woods erased an early deficit to become the first player to win multiple tournament titles.

1. Ledecky wins Olympic gold

Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart sophomore Katie Ledecky is your typical teenager.

Except for the fact, of course, that she won an Olympic gold medal in London during the summer.

Ledecky, 15, the youngest member of nearly 600 athletes who represented Team USA, turned in the world's second-fastest 800-meter freestyle time (8 minutes, 14.63 seconds) to win Olympic gold in August.

She is the second-youngest swimmer to achieve that feat and dropped nearly five seconds off her July 1 Olympic Trials swim time.

Last month, she was presented with two awards at the ninth annual Golden Goggle Awards, a ceremony which annually honors swimmers' achievements during the course of the year.

Ledecky won Breakout Performer of the Year and Female Performance of the Year.

Four other county residents joined Ledecky on Team USA: David Banks (rowing), Caroline Queen (canoe/kayak), Scott Parsons (canoe/kayak) and Julie Zetlin (rhythmic gymnastics).

jbeekman@gazette.net