SHERIDAN — Local sports featured multiple state champions in 2013, yet another big year for the already-successful Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo and plenty more.
Here’s a look at some of the year’s top sports stories in Sheridan County.
The Tongue River Lady Eagles completed a 28-0 season, defeating Thermopolis in the 2A state championship game at the Casper Events Center March 2. It was head coach Dianne Moser’s eighth title with the program. The Lady Eagles ran their impressive win-streak into this season at 33 games before falling at Lovell in late December.
Rams win state title
The Big Horn Rams won their first state title since 2004, beating Mountain View 47-22 in Laramie in November. Junior WR/DB Christian Mayer scored five touchdowns as the Rams capped a 10-1 season at War Memorial Stadium. Their one loss, at Burns in week three, was cited by coaches and players as the turning point of their season. Quarterback Connor McCafferty finished his career in astonishing fashion, throwing 32 touchdowns and only two interceptions all season. During their playoff run, the Rams knocked off the last two 2A state champions in Lyman and Lovell.
Fenn tops state — again
Sheridan High School sophomore No. 1 singles tennis player Julia Fenn won her second-straight state championship in Gillette in October. After again sailing through the season virtually untouched losing just 11 games during the regular season, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that it’s not known that any Wyoming high school tennis player has won all four years of their high school career. Fenn, in an interview with The Press, admitted that things were easier this time around but she does expect a tougher go of it next year as coaches and players adjust more specifically to her play.
Boots, chaps, cowboy hats
The Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo ran for yet another four successful nights, July 11-13, with ticket sales up to 19,354 from 18,587 in 2012. Payout grew as well, from $279,000 to $291,000 in 2013. “We had a great lineup of athletes this year,” rodeo board president Zane Garstad said. “Our reputation is getting better and better, and we’re more known, and I think more people are excited about coming here. We’ve really built up some momentum, and we want to keep building on that.”
New teams to cheer
Sheridan College announced the addition of men’s and women’s soccer teams Jan. 20, set to begin competition in the fall. The programs followed through with Dr. Paul Young’s promise of recruiting local talent, as the boys team initially signed seven Sheridan grads and the women’s team six. Teams worked with limited recruiting time, fighting through the inaugural season. The girls team didn’t win a game, earning a draw in its final competition at home in early November, while the boys secured their first and only Region IX win on the same day.
Support for Sheridan Broncs football coach and former Wyoming linebacker Weston Johnson continued to grow as “Never Flinch” approached 2,000 likes on Facebook. Sheridan and Big Horn high school football programs worked to raise money throughout the year, and now the effort has branched out into a wide-reaching cancer awareness campaign as Johnson’s battle with aggressive metastatic melanoma continues. The Broncs dedicated their season to Johnson. Brown and Gold “Never Flinch” T-shirts sold as part of the fundraiser are frequently seen around town.
Johnson maintains that it’s because of football that he’s fought as long as he has, explained coach Don Julian at the Broncs year end banquet. “There are going to be a lot of things bigger in life than the adversities we saw on the football field this fall. It’s our goal to help these guys become great men, it’s a little more than just football,” he said.
Sheridan represented on Cowgirls team
Lady Generals guard Jasmine Davis signed with the Wyoming Cowgirls April 24. She brought the Sheridan County total to four on Wyoming’s roster with Fallon Lewis (Tongue River), Hailey Ligocki and Kayla Woodward (Sheridan High School). On Nov. 8, the Cowgirls were showcased in their season opener in a special game at Sheridan College. They beat Montana State-Northern.
Sheridan falls to Cheyenne East in semis
On Nov. 8, Sheridan football fell 28-27 in a 4A semifinal to eventual state champion Cheyenne East. A missed extra point kept Sheridan out of the title game in which East topped Natrona 14-13. The Broncs have reached six straight semifinals under head coach Don Julian.
Lady Rams win spring season
The Big Horn Lady Rams golf team won a spring season state championship in May. Alex Eisele was state runner-up at the final tournament held in Sheridan at Kendrick Golf Course.
Jets score 61 runs in four games
The Sheridan Jets won their first state championship in more than 10 years in July, using a 61-run barrage over four games at Thorne-Rider Stadium hosted State B Championship.