Over the past 12 months, area fans have been treated to several outstanding performances and achievements.
Below are some of the top highlights of the 2018 calendar year.
• Mikayla Reed — Washington’s senior distance runner had one of the most dominant state meets in area history, claiming for Calss 4 state titles and helping Washington finish second in team standings.
Over two days, reed won the 800- and 3,200-meter run titles. She ran a leg of the winning 3,200-meter relay along with her sister, Mia Reed, Caire Ayers and Morgan Holdmeyer.
Washington got other top performances as well. In many year, Ayers would have been the top news with a second-place finish in the 800-meter run and third in the 1,600-meter run to go with the championship in the 3,200-meeter relay. Morgan Gratza added a point for eighth place in the high jump.
Reed had already graduated from Washington High School at the top of her class and signed with the University of Missouri. With the Tigers this fall, she made the all-SEC Freshman team, was honored as runner of the week by the league and placed 30th in the NCAA Regional.
• Lucky 13 — Linda Lampkin’s Hermann Lady Bearcats won their state-bet 13th MSHSAA title in November, topping Arcadia valley in three sets to with the Class 2 crown.
Hermann (33-5-2) won, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17, to extend its record. Senior setter-hitter Allison Stiers, the Four Rivers Conference player of the year, led the way with 14 kills, 17 assists and 23 digs in the championship match.
Hermann wasn’t the only area team in Cape Girardeau. Borgia defeated Pleasant Hill to win the Class 3 third-place match.
• Champion Crosspoint — the Crosspoint Christian School soccer Lady Cougars captured the MSCAA Division I state title, going 14-2 on the season. Crosspoint defeated Tower Grove Christian for the title in Joplin, 2-1.
Corsspoint’s two standout forwards Emily Branch and Emmi Woods were named to the all-state first team along with goalkeeper Sara Blackburn. Forward Lydia Young was named to the second team.
• Cheer Champs — Borgia’s cheerleaders won their sixth MCCA state championship in a row and seventh overall title by winning the Class 3 Large title at Lindenwood University in December.
The competitive cheerleading season changed to a fall-winter schedule as well. Unlike past years, when the regional competition took place during the summer and the state event happened in November, this year, the regional was in November with the state event in December. Sandi Gildehaus and Borgia hosted the St. Louis Regional event this year.
• Summer State Success — In recent seasons, Washington Post 218 has become a major player in Missouri American Legion baseball. While Post 218 didn’t add to its collection of state titles, all three Post 218 teams ended the season at the state level.
The Post 218 Freshmen of Joe Kopmann finished second to Ste. Genevieve Post 150 at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field. This snapped Washington’s two-year run as Freshman state champions.
Kent Getsee’s Junior Legion team finished third in the state tournament in Warrensburg.
Mike Gardner’s Senior Legion team placed third in the state tournament in Sedalia. Washington was able to defeat the eventual state winner, Jefferson City Post 5, multiple times during the season.
• Have Ball, Will Travel — It was a massive spring season for the Union soccer Lady ’Cats. Matt Fennessey’s Lady ’Cats was the class of area teams, dominating the regular season. The Lady ’Cats won the Four Rivers Conference title without giving up a goal and also won the Union-Washington Tournament championship over defending winner Troy.
In the postseason, Union defeated last year’s champion Washington, at Stierberger Stadium to begin a soccer odyssey.
Over the next two weeks, Union racked up the frequent driver miles while trying to avoid bus lag as the MSHSAA Class 3 playoffs sent them to Springfield Glendale for the sectional round and Bolivar for the quarterfinals. It was the first time in program history Union won a sectional match.
After the win at Bolivar, Union went to Swope Park in Kansas City and played scoreless with Incarnate Word until the final 10 minutes. The Red Knights edged Union and Kearney then beat the Lady ’Cats the following day for third place, 3-1.
Union had many standouts, but it was freshman forward Emily Gaebe who earned much of the praise, finishing off a school record 62 goals while frequently fending off multiple defenders heading to the goal.
• Going Green — It was a great year to be a fan of the New Haven Shamrocks. Both the girls track and boys cross country teams ran to third place in their respective state meets. The girls were in Class 1 during the spring while the boys, defending Class 1 champions, were shocked to be boosted to Class 2 for the fall campaign.
The track Lady Shamrocks had four second-place finishers with Kate Ruediger taking second in the javelin, Emma Engelbrecht finishing second in the triple jump, the 400-meter relay team of Makenzie Munsinger, MacKenzie Bauer, Grace Faris and Engelbrecht and the 1,600-meter relay team of Ruediger, Bauer, Munsinger and Engelbrecht.
New Haven’s cross country Shamrocks finished third in Class 2 with Joseph Rethemeyer (12th) leading the charge.
New Haven’s girls basketball team made a run to the Class 2 quarterfinals during late winter, winning the district in Elsberry and the sectional in Hannibal before losing a close game to Northeast (Cairo) in Moberly. Doug Peirick used the “Iron Five,” seniors Lauren Gerlemann, Ruediger, Bauer and Emily Scheer, during most of the games.
• Pacific Parties in Winter — It was the best of times, and the worst of times. The year 1982 was big for Pacific. In the late winter, the boys basketball and wrestling teams claimed district titles. Later in the year, massive flooding happened on the Meramec River.
The year 2018 was similar, but without the floods. For the first time since 1982, the boys basketball and wrestling teams won district titles.
John VanLeer’s basketball Indians captured the Four Rivers Conference title and then beat defending district winner Borgia to advance in the playoffs. The Indians lost in the sectional round to Parkway Central.
John VanLeer was named the Missourian All-Area coach of the year while his son, Cameron, was the player of the year.
In wrestling, the Indians captured both the FRC and district titles and advanced two, Jay Anding and Ben Courtney, to the state title bouts in their respective Class 3 weight classes. Anding was the All-Area wrestler of the year while Head Coach Rob Schimsa was the coach of the year.
Also at the state meet, a third wrestler, St. Clair’s Jason Landing, reached the Class 2 championship bouts. The Bulldogs were seventh in the team standings. Borgia’s Dylan Hellebusch placed third in Class 2, the school’s top finish in the sport.
• Hear Her Roar — Girls sports made a big splash in 2018 with the addition of a separate wrestling championship at the MSHSAA level and the addition of girls teams around the state.
MSHSAA announced it would have a separate girls wrestling championship this year and starting with the 2020-21 school year, girls wrestling would be separated from the boys. For the next two years, girls still can wrestle with boys during the regular season and certain tournaments.
During the transition period, there have been several girls-only tournaments and a few dual meets so far. Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair, Sullivan, Owensville and St. James are fielding girls squads from this area and St. Clair will host the inaugural district meet.
MSHSAA had initially planned to have two districts, but had to extend to four due to the popularity of the sport.
St. Clair’s Randi Beltz has been the only female to medal at state wrestling and she did so twice with a top finish of third as a senior.
St. Clair also added girls golf during the fall and the area’s lone state qualifier was Maria Bozada. An All-FRC golfer during the boys season in the spring, Bozada carried her momentum into the fall and was usually the medalist in most of her meets.
• Borgia Coaches Honored — They both started as head coaches in 1987.
And the 2018 calendar year saw Borgia football and basketball Head Coaches Dale Gildehaus and Dave Neier in the spotlight.
Gildehaus was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in November during a ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis.
Gildehaus also led his Knights to a 10-2 record and second-place finishes in the Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division (to Class 3 runner-up Cardinal Ritter) and in Class 4 District 5 (to Camdenton).
Neier reached milestones during the 2017-18 season. With a win over Kirkwood in the Union Tournament semifinals Jan. 26, 61-45, Neier reached the 700-win plateau. Borgia won the title the next night over Rockwood Summit, 55-50.
With a win Feb. 6 over Westminster, 71-56, Neier equaled the career mark of his high school coach, Ray DeGreeff at 703. He moved past DeGreeff Feb. 9 in a 66-48 road win at St. Dominic.
Neier also surpassed 900 games in charge of the Knights during 2018.
In the new season, Borgia won the Turkey Tournament title for the first time since 2015 with a win over Pacific.
• Top Blue Jay Passes — For many years, Jim Scanlan was Washington High School.
The longtime Washington coach and athletic director passed away March 29 at the age of 82. Scanlan coached the football Blue Jays from 1965 through 1986 and led the Blue Jays to the Class 3A state title in 1973. His overall record was 151-48-2 during that time.
As a track coach from 1963-74, Scanlan led the Blue Jays to nine conference and three district titles.
Scanlan also coached other sports at Washington and was the athletic director for much of his tenure with the school. He was a member of the Truman State University, Missouri Football Coaches Association and St. Louis Metro Football Coaches halls of fame. He also served on several boards for athletic administrators.
• Eckelkamp Excels on the Links — While Kayla Eckelkamp has made her career in nursing, she still finds time to play golf at a competitive level.
The Borgia and Maryville University graduate won the Missouri Women’s Mid-Amatetur title, defeating Kathy Glennon of St. Albans on the first playoff hole at Glen Echo Country Club in Normandy. It was her second Missouri Women’s Mid-Amateur title as she also won in 2016.
Eckelkamp placed third in the Missouri Women’s Amateur in St. Joseph and went on to win her first two matches at the USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships at Norwood Hills Country Club. Eckelkamp went into match play seeded 60th and made it to the round of 16 before losing.
• Milestone Madness — A number of area basketball players reached 1,000 points for their careers during 2018. The list included three members of the Washington Lady Jays, Nichole Brinker, Jackie Arnold and Reese Arnold. New Haven had a pair of 1,000-point scorers with Lauren Gerlemann and Emily Scheer both reaching the milestone along with Borgia’s Cassidy Moss in 2017-18.
Already in the 2018-19 season, another player has joined them. Sullivan’s Cody McKinney scored his 1,000th point in December.
Pacific’s Cameron VanLeer went over 1,500 points before he graduated.
• 50 Years of Football — St. Clair, Pacific and Owensville were among schools celebrating 50 years of high school football in 2018 and all had ceremonies to mark the milestones.
It also was the 45th anniversary of Washington’s state title and 25th anniversary of Borgia’s state crown.
Pacific became the final Four Rivers football program to convert its field to turf and the renovation started following the football season. It’s hoped to be completed prior to the spring sports season.
• Borgia Swim Success — Splitting to two classes in MSHSAA swimming was a benefit for the Borgia swim program as two athletes, Emily Reuwer and Robert Halsted, both earned state medals. Reuwer was the first Borgia girl to medal at the state meet.
• Playing for a Cause — Not all sports highlights involved competition. A number of different teams pitched in to raise money for charity. The Rivals for a Reason softball game between Washington and Borgia showed that teams can be competitive and friendly while helping others and spotlighted Borgia graduate Stephanie Lindemann and Washington senior Paige Babbs, who are fighting cancer. A large crowd watched the Lady Jays defeat Borgia at Lakeview Park.
Sullivan continued its Homers for Hope program, which was started by Hannah Cox. This year’s benefactor was Kasen Halbert. Sullivan went 28-5 and finished third in the Class 3 state tournament and hit 32 home runs for the season.