I say it every year. Maybe I’m even becoming a bit cliché’ with it. But the fact is, I’m not exaggerating when I say the past 12 months have been special as it pertains to sports in Havre and all along the Hi-Line.
And while I say it right before the calander turns to January each year, and while it’s hard to come up with new and exciting ways to express the magic of the last 12 months in sports, it doesn’t make the memories made over the last 365 days an
y less wonderful.
In looking back at 2012, there are so many things that stand out to me, it would take much too long to list them all.
That's what makes covering sports around here so great — there is literally more great sports than two people can cover full time and that's actually a great problem to have.
But, when I narrow things down, there are a few moments from this past year that will forever be etched in my mind.
At the top of the list is the night of March 5. That night will live in infamy for me as the Montana State University-Northern men’s basketball team beat UM-Western to capture its second straight Frontier Conference postseason crown.
But the game itself isn’t what I’ll always remember. In fact, the game is like a blur to me now.
Instead, it was the emotion and intensity from a sold-out Armory Gymnasium that will stick in my mind until eternity.
I’ve seen a lot of great nights in the grand old Armory, but the way the Havre community, the Northern family and the MSU-N students came together on that night is something that will be hard to duplicate. It was loud, it was emotional and it was as good as it gets around these parts.
Not far behind on the memorable meter was a chilly night in February in Billings. I’ve covered high school wrestling for the better part of a decade now and have seen many great Montana high school four-time state champions. But I’d never gotten to cover one from our area.
That all changed in 2012 as Chinook’s Ben Stroh captured his fourth consecutive Class B-C state championship inside the Billings Metra.
Stroh was about as heavy a favorite to win his fourth in a row as there ever has been, but that fact didn’t make it any less dramatic. And the fact that his good friend and teammate, Robbie Kilngaman was his final opponent of his prep career, it made it something right out of a fairy tale.
Other notables from the last year include the run the MSU-N volleyball team made this season. The Skylights weren’t just improved this year, they were one of the Frontier’s best, and wow, was volleyball a lot of fun to cover this year. I’ll also never forget watching MSU-N and former Blue Pony Evan Hinebauch wrestle for the final time. It’s been an honor and a privilege to cover Hinebauch for eight years, and it was a bitter-sweet night when I saw him on the mat for the last time.
Big Sandy’s run to the Six-Man state football championship game was memorable for me, as was the District 9C boys and girls basketball tournament. There’s just something about that tournament that never gets old, and it makes the month of February one of the best month’s of sports each and every year.
This year held some personal triumphs for me in the sports world too.
As the coach of the Havre High tennis team, I saw Justin Jensen cap a great career by placing third at the state tournament last May in Great Falls. He made a great run, beating three players he was a combined 0-10 lifetime against on his way to a medal. As a coach, and a sportswriter in Havre, I couldn’t be more proud.
I was also fortunate enough to get my golf game in good enough shape to have a small part in Havre Ford’s run to the men’s league golf championship, while I also got myself in good enough physical condition to finish the summer ranked 10th in the Montana Tennis Association Men’s Open Division. Truthfully, I’m still playing for my decision to get back into competitive tennis, because five months later, I’m still sore.
Yes, for me, for the fans, the players and the coaches, 2012 was another great year in sports. I know, I say it every year, but that’s not my fault. It’s the fault of everyone involved in sports in our great little corner of Montana, because the sports around here are so good. The sports here create magical memories and special moments that literally end up frozen in time.
So as 2012 draws to a close, and 2013 brings new triumphs and more great moments, it won’t be long before I’m right back here, writing the same old boring drivel about how great 2013 was.
But that’s life in Havre and on the Hi-Line. It’s a sports-crazed area, and the memories will just keep coming, and I’ll keep writing about how special they were.
Note: Don’t miss Monday’s Havre Daily News sports section as we present the Top 10 local sports stories for 2012.