Counting down the Strand’s top 10 sports stories from 2012

It isn’t easy to narrow down all the biggest sports stories into a single top-10 list, but who says life is easy. Here’s my top 10 from 2012. Feel free to tell us what we left out or misordered:

10) Former Coastal Carolina golfer and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin Johnson got off to a slow start in 2012 following offseason knee surgery, but by summer he showed his true colors by winning the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic and posting top-five finishes along the way. Johnson went an impressive 3-0 in his Ryder Cup matches but it wasn’t enough to bring home the big trophy

9) Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson wasn’t the only former Myrtle Beach High star to make some noise on the national level. Former Seahawk Ramon Sessions turned down a tempting offer to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers and signed a free-agent deal to come back close to home with the Charlotte Bobcats. Sessions is seeing playing time off the bench and has already helped the Bobcats win more games thi season than they did in all of 2011-12.

8)  The Carolina Panthers took a step closer to becoming the Grand Strand’s team by adding a pair of Coastal Carolina products to their roster. The Panthers drafted former Chant defensive back Josh Norman and signed ex-CCU fullback Mike Tolbert to a free-agent deal. Both players have had impacts for the Panthers, including a two-touchdown performance by Tolbert against his former team, the San Diego Chargers

7) South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier continued his mastery over Clemson counterpart Dabo Swinney, both on the football field and in one-liners. The Gamecocks defeated the Tigers for the third straight season, 27-17, and Spurrier has added insult to injury by acting like it’s not a big deal. He even took jabs at Clemson’s use of the term “Death Valley” for a stadium nickname already used by LSU. Swinney tried to hold his own, both on the gridiron and the comeback arena, but he’s no match for the master of insults.

6) Coastal Carolina has established itself as one of the big boys of college baseball. The Chants got their best chance to show what they could do in June, when they were invited to a super-regional hosted by South Carolina and also attended by Clemson. The Chants held their own with the two national powers before being eliminated by the Tigers, who were then knocked out by the Gamecocks. Two-time national champion South Carolina advanced to its third straight College World Series finals before falling to Arizona State.

5) The Carolina Forest softball team made an impressive run to the Class 4A state championship before losing the final two games of the three-game series. The heartbreaking finish capped an otherwise successful season for the Lady Panthers, who saw Alabama commitment Marisa Runyon, pitcher Rachel Lembke and several others play together and come within one win of delivering the school its first team championship in any sport. Adding to the disappointment was the surprise resignation of coach Sarah Minchew after the season.

4) Midway through Coastal Carolina’s football season it looked like the coaching change from David Bennett to Joe Moglia was a bad one, or at best, a push. The Chants had lost four in a row to fall to 2-4 on the season. But the light finally came on for Coastal in the second half as the Chants won six straight to end the season, capped by the school’s first-ever FCS playoff victory at Bethune-Cookman. Coastal also made a strong showing in the second round at Old Dominion.

3) The North Myrtle Beach volleyball team made no bones about it; the state championship was its goal. From Day One the Lady Chiefs kept their eyes on the big prize, pounding local rivals and eventually state powers in the playoffs to reach the Class 3A state championship game. For nearly two months North Myrtle Beach didn’t lose a set (not a match, but a set). Once at their ultimate destination, the Lady Chiefs didn’t flinch en route to a 3-1 victory and a state title.

2) Some would argue that Socastee football’s undefeated regular season should be first. After all, “first” is word that was tossed around a lot by the Braves, who became the first team in school history to win the region title and advance to the third round of the playoffs, just two of the many first-time milestones Socastee reached this season. The Braves did it old school, too, with a triple-option offense directed by Hunter Renfrow and a stingy defense that helped beat rivals Myrtle Beach and Conway in a single season.

1) The biggest sports story on the Grand Strand in 2012 didn’t even happen on the Grand Strand. But former Myrtle Beach High quarterback Everett Golson’s assention atop Notre Dame’s depth chart and his subsequent leading of the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship Game was on everyone’s lips all football season. As the first QB to lead the Irish to an undefeated regular season since 1988, when fellow South Carolinian Tony Rice took Notre Dame to the national title, Golson is in line to make history at a school that is synonymous with college football tradition.

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One response to “Counting down the Strand’s top 10 sports stories from 2012”

  1. John Leggett says:

    I do indeed think that Socastee should have been #1! Especially after all of the pre-season prognosticators declaring that the offensive line would be our biggest weakness! (My sophomore son being one of our offensive tackles at a whopping 165#!).

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