The Blues weren’t in action Friday, but that didn’t stop “Gloria” from being played in Washington.
Thanks to the St. Louis hockey team’s 2019 playoff run, the song released by Laura Branigan in 1982 has become synonymous with victory in the St. Louis area.
Friday, it joined Queen’s classic “We Are the Champions” on the playlist as the St. Francis Borgia faithful gathered at the high school’s pavilion and celebrated its latest state championship team, the first in the history of the baseball program.
Borgia played a virtually flawless game against Westminster Christian Academy in the championship final at CarShield Field in O’Fallon, winning 13-1. Borgia committed no errors while making Westminster pay for its four errors.
All in all, it made for an exciting two hours of baseball and a drive home that was just as exciting.
The Knights received a hero’s welcome upon their return to Washington with the team bus getting a police and fire escort through town, culminating with fans gathered at the high school pavilion to receive the new champions.
The championship game was the latest in a series of big games and moments that I’ve gotten to witness in my first two years in Franklin County and the second where one of the area teams brought home the big trophy.
The area has been spoiled in terms of teams making lengthy playoff runs or having big state showings in these past two academic calendar years.
This spring alone, Borgia baseball and Union girls soccer both advanced through the playoffs to the state tournament and St. Clair’s girls soccer finished just one win short of doing the same.
Since the start of the fall season in 2017, 28 Franklin County teams have been able to claim the distinction of MSHSAA district champions.
Two of those teams have gone on to win a state championship — the 2019 Borgia baseball squad and the 2017 New Haven boys cross country team.
Three other teams have finished second in the state — the 2017 Washington boys soccer team, 2017 New Haven girls cross country team and the 2018 Washington girls track and field team.
Additionally, five teams have brought home trophies for finishing either third or fourth in the state — the 2018 Borgia volleyball team (third), 2018 New Haven boys cross country team (third, despite moving up from Class 1 to Class 2), the 2018-19 Pacific boys wrestling team (fourth), and the 2018 and 2019 Union girls soccer teams (both fourth).
Just outside of Franklin County, the Hermann volleyball team brought home a state championship this past year and finished third in the state in 2017.
Including MSHSAA affiliates, Crosspoint Christian School has claimed three state championships in that same time frame, two in girls soccer and one in boys soccer.
So, area programs as a whole are definitely not lacking in success, and that’s not even taking into account summer programs.
On top of that, individual athletes have also delivered in a big way. Just 11 days ago, three area track and field athletes climbed to the top of the podium after winning individual state championships.
St. Francis Borgia’s Adam Bell won the 110-meter high hurdles, Union’s Demetrius Clark the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and Washington’s Claire Ayers the 800-meter run.
For Ayers, it was the second state title of her career. She also won the 3,200-meter relay state title last season with Mikayla Reed, Mia Reed and Morgan Holtmeyer.
That same season, Mikayla Reed won not just one, but four state championships in the 800-meter run, 1,600-meter run, 3,200-meter run and 3,200-meter relay. In the academic year before I started at The Missourian, Mikayla won three individual state championships (one in cross country and two in track), making seven for her career.
In wrestling, three more individual state championships were claimed by area athletes this past winter. Union’s Haiden Meyer won the 220-pound championship in Class 3 and St. Clair’s Herman brothers, Ryan and Aaron, each won an individual title in Class 2. Ryan Herman was also a state champion in the 2016-17 season before I arrived.
Too many area athletes to count have claimed other individual state medals in cross country, track, wrestling, golf and swimming during those seasons.
These athletes and their coaches have put in the hard work to make all of those successes possible and in the case of many of these programs, they’re showing no signs of letting up.
I can only hope that my next two years here come with at least half as many memorable moments and success stories as the first two have had.