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As you may have noticed by now, there is a bit of a theme for this week throughout The Orchard News.
As is the case with many people, the final week of the year is a time to reflect back on the previous 51 weeks. It’s a great time to look back and remember some of the better memories of the year and maybe even think back on a few things you’d rather not repeat.
Just like anyone else, now is a great time to look back and reflect for me as well. Personally, it has been a bit of a whirlwind year, what with moving to a new town, starting a new career and getting married. However, I don’t want to dwell on that too much here, as great as its been. If you want to hear more, stop in sometime and we can chat.
What I want to focus on is just how great it has been this year for Antelope County athletics. I know I missed a lot at the beginning of the year since I didn’t join the area until May. I missed some Cyclone records being broken in January, many state wrestling medalists in February and the Cyclone powerlifters performing well at the state meet in March. In April, more school records fell for Clearwater-Orchard, this time in track with Jagger Smith and Brooklynn Chipps.
In May, I showed up just in time to see 25 Antelope County athletes qualify for the state track meet. The state meet is always a great way to end the school year. It is one of the most well-run state championship events the NSAA puts on every year. The atmosphere is always fantastic and, for the medalists at least, it ends the year in championship fashion.
In June, things slow down a bit in the sports world. That is, unless you are like the Belitz family and have four kids playing baseball or softball at one time. Then it stays a bit busy. June is also the time for all-star games, and Antelope County was not lacking for outgoing senior all-stars. Few players had as good of an all-star season as Andy Kerkman, who earned top individual honors at two seperate games.
In July, baseball season really heated up when Neligh hosted district play. Clearwater-Orchard decided it was the right time to co-op middle school sports, except football, with Ewing. Cyclone powerlifters once again proved they were among the best at the Cornhusker State Games.
In August, I got a bit too excited as we drew closer to fall sports season. I couldn’t have imagined just how well area schools would do by the time November rolled around.
In September, we were interrupted by two fellas taking cops on a high-speed chase through the county. That’s not sports related, I know, but I’m still bitter those smiley guys caused me to come in on my day off. Back on topic, it was also homecoming season. Few weeks are as exciting for high school athletes as homecoming week.
In October, Neligh-Oakdale completed one of the most dominating football seasons in recent memory, despite not being able to finish it in the playoffs. In their place, the Cyclones went to their eighth playoff in nine seasons.
In November, Elgin Public/Pope John did something no Elgin squad had ever done, win a game at the state volleyball tournament. They went on to finish third, capping the best season in school history.
December hit and it was time for winter sports. The Wolfpack girls’ dominance rolled over to basketball, as did the Neligh-Oakdale boys. Elkhorn Valley looks once again like a state wrestling team title contender. The seasons are still young, but I feel confident that we’ll have plenty to cheer for come tournament time.
I hope you all have enjoyed the increased coverage among county sports and thank you for rolling with all the changes we have made to give you a better sports section. Thank you also for taking the time to read this column each week.