Regardless, it was another memorable year. Here's my picks for the Top 10 sports stories of the year at the local level.
1. Megan Pacheco's three-point shot lifts Galesburg to 5th straight appearance at State
You can call it the Moline Miracle or one of the biggest shots in Silver Streak basketball history or lucky or whatever you want. But Pacheco's three-point basket at the buzzer that sent the Sectional Championship into overtime was undeniably the catapult that sent the Streaks and Coach Evan Massey to their fifth consecutive trip to Redbird Arena.
Galesburg struggled for most of the game against a Moline team that the Streaks had dispatched with ease just a few weeks earlier. Trailing by three with 13 seconds to go, a Maroon player missed the front end of a one and one free throw situation that would have certainly iced the game. Jaque Howard missed a three-point shot but Michelle Flaar got the rebound and found Pacheco outside the arc to launch another one.
Megan's basket not only tied the game but devastated Moline. Galesburg crushed them in the overtime and the Streaks eventually finished 4th in the Class AA Tournament.
2. Streak Golfers finish 4th at State
Coach Lorraine Gottenborg returned all of her golfers from a team that finished 9th in the State the year before. With just one senior, they won the Western Big 6, won the Sectional and improved to a 4th place finish this season.
This was a unique team, one that had no superstar. Different players paced the Streaks from week to week. More than that, they were a refreshing bunch that seemed to feel no pressure and enjoyed the spotlight.
Gottenborg has something special going on here. Keep your eye on this program.
3. The travels of Ryan Walker
For weeks, the saga of Ryan Walker -- a transfer student from Charlotte, N. C. -- captivated this basketball-crazy town. First, the 6'3'' junior was here and ready to play for the Streaks. We all heard about his abilities and that he was a welcome addition to Galesburg basketball. But in a stunning turn of events, Walker and his family moved back to North Carolina when his father lost his job.
The Streaks and Coach Geoff Falk regrouped and put on a bold front, ready to face the season without Walker. But then he was back, at practice and ready to play. Walker's emergence as a force was one of the factors in Galesburg's 5-2 start on the season.
4. Dan Calandro takes over at Knox
It isn't easy replacing a living legend but that's the task that faced Dan Calandro, the newest (and just the third) Athletic Director in the history of Knox College.
Hired because of the retirement of Harley Knosher, Calandro has sustained the positive image that Knosher has built over the years for the Prairie Fire. His hiring was crucial in terms of not just improving the overall athletic program at Knox but insuring the foundation built and nurtured by Knosher was continued.
5. Redington steers Streaks to respectability
Tim Redington had the toughest job of any new coach in the area. His Silver Streak soccer team not only finished the year before on a 21-game losing streak but the team had self-imploded. Their lack of effort and juvenile shenanigans had led to the resignation of former Coach Tim Mackey.
Redington was up to the task. While expectations were very low, the Streaks just missed the .500 mark, finishing with an 8-10-3 record on the year. Redington very quietly got the job done.
6. Caricia Conquers State
Silver Streak junior Caricia Andrews won the state long jump event and brought home a championship medal. What's more, Andrews is also a Streaks basketball cheerleader -- along with teammate and medalist Ardith Johnson -- which hopefully will put to rest the debate of if cheerleaders are really athletes.
7. Szalo controversy dogs Post 285
Galesburg Legion baseball is seldom controversial but the Y2K bug (remember that?) must have infected Post 285. Right handed pitcher Keiji Szalo, projected as the Streaks ace, had transferred from Galesburg to Kewanee Wethersfield before the high school baseball season started but there he was playing for Post 295 and Coach Mike Sturgeon.
Szalo played during the season but when tournament time approached, he was suspended from the team for infractions of his eligibility status. Sturgeon denied any wrong doing. The season ended with Szalo on the bench and Post 285 losing to Oneida in one of the most exciting games of the year by a 12-11 score.
8. Galesburg meets Victor Garcia
A freshman point guard from New Mexico, Victor Garcia guided the Knox mens basketball team into the Midwest Conference playoffs.
Garcia is really the total package. Good speed, great shooter, can make the pass and penetrate. He's one of the best kept basketball secrets in Galesburg. Go see this guy play if you can.
9. Beau makes the Tigers
Former Streak guard Beau Shay made the Clemson Tigers basketball team as a walk on as a freshman. I hesitate to make predictions because I'm not very smart. Nor do I use my column to give out fictitious presents because I'm not Santa Claus. But when Beau told me he was going out for the team (against very high odds) I knew he would make it. There was no doubt in my mind.
10. Monmouth keeps The Turkey
You hear all the time that when it comes to the Knox-Monmouth football game, it doesn't matter what the records are. This year it was true. Both teams had miserable seasons yet the game was a good one. The Fighting Scots won for the second year in a row and therefore keep the coveted Bronze Turkey Award.