From the Fringe...
Thanks to modern technology, everything can be digitally stored these days, and that includes great moments in sports.
Even in the newspaper business, it’s no longer necessary to make a trip to the public library to find your great local sports moment on microfiche and microfilm. No, the internet certainly changed all that. And that’s really why there’s no reason for me to run through my favorite local sports moments of the past year. If I need to remember, a quick Google search will do just fine.
Make no mistake, though, I’m not blowing off the last 365 days. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the last year in sports has been as great and as exciting as it’s ever been in Havre and on the Hi-Line. But modern technology gives me the capability to rehash the year that’s gone by anytime I want and well into the future.
So, as 2014 dawns, I thought I’d try to go forward instead of looking back. I know, having covered so many great sporting events and moments for so many years now, that even without a crystal ball, the next 365 days will hold as many memorable moments as the last year has.
Here’s just a sample of the many things I’m looking forward to seeing over the next year.
Havre High and MSU-Northern wrestling: Winning state championships is nothing new to the Havre Blue Ponies, and the Montana State University-Northern Lights have had their share of glories on the mat too. But 2014 could truly be a “title town” type of year for Havre wrestling. The Blue Ponies will be a heavy favorite to repeat as Class A state champs when the All-Class State Tournament rolls around in February, so much so that it may be more a question of just how many points the Ponies will score in Billings. And the Lights have a great shot to join the party come March. Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge has transformed the Lights back into an NAIA national power, and MSU-N has a great shot at bringing a national title back to Havre this spring.
But regardless of how it all unfolds, I love postseason wrestling. The All-Class State Tournament is one I won't miss again. And I can’t wait for it to get here.
Ben Stroh: Speaking of great wrestling, I will be fully tuned in to the NCAA championships this spring too. That’s because former Chinook great Ben Stroh is having a monster freshman season for the Wyoming Cowboys, and I will be excited to see just how far Stroh can go in his first year at what is the highest level of competitive wrestling in the United States.
Havre and Rocky Boy squaring off: Rocky Boy moved up to Class B six years ago, and now local fans get a real treat as the Stars and Morning Stars take on the Havre Blue Ponies twice this winter. It’s a matchup I’ve wanted to see on the schedule for a long time, and now it’s happening. The first games are set for Jan. 18 at the Havre High gymnasium, with the rematches scheduled for Feb. 15 in Rocky Boy.
Postseason basketball: Havre, the Hi-Line and all of Montana always generate some great March Madness of its own every year, and this season should be some of the best. The District 9C tournament in Havre and the Northern C Divisional in Great Falls are two of my utmost favorite events to cover each year. And with the Box Elder boys, Chinook, North Star and C/J-I girls all looking very good so far, the Hi-Line will be well-represented come tournament time. And, for good measure, it will be really fun to watch the Havre High girls make a deep postseason run yet again. Of course, both MSU-N hoops teams will be in the thick of the Frontier Conference title race, so I expect late February and March to be a very exciting time for me.
Prairie Farms construction: Not a sporting event in itself, but I couldn’t help slip in some golf in my future excitements. So of course, I’m excited to see the back nine construction project at Prairie Farms continue to unfold this summer and fall. I’m fascinated by golf courses, and getting to watch one being built is something that is pretty exciting for a golf nut like myself.
MSU-N’s Zach McKinley: I’ll admit, at the start of the 2013 MSU-N football season, I had no idea running back Zach McKinley was as good as he is. But 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns later, I was fully educated. Now, I’m yearning for football already because I can’t wait to watch McKinley, a year older and more experienced, bulldoze his way through opposing defenses next fall.
Cat-Griz 2014: Every year, the annual showdown between Montana and Montana State seems to get bigger and better. The 2013 Brawl of the Wild was another great one, with the largest crowd to ever see a game in Bobcat Stadium gathered in Bozeman back in November. The scene will shift to Missoula next November, and expect Washington-Grizzly Stadium to set a new attendance mark of over 27,000. Add to that two teams who should again be vying for an FCS playoff berth and possibly a Big Sky championship, as well as the Griz most likely donning a never-before-seen uniform combo in what will be Jordan Johnson’s last game in Missoula, and you have the makings for possibly the biggest sporting event to ever take place in the Treasure State.
Now, those aren’t the only moments in 2014 I’m looking forward to. In actuality, I’m looking forward to every moment of every day in the coming year. From winter sports, to coaching tennis and playing golf, to taking my dogs swimming, to watching tons of football and volleyball in the fall, there isn’t much I can say I’m not looking forward to.
I’m looking forward to it because I know it’s going to be a great year and because I love my job and I love sports. And I know 2014 is going to be great because every year around here is. So Happy New Year everyone, and get your popcorn ready, because 2014 is going to be special.