Columnist looks back at 2014-15 Statesmen sports

Bennett Durando
Sports Columnist

BENNETTWell in case you missed it, it’s a new school year, bringing new sports seasons here at WGHS. We’re already well into the 2015-16 year, but before we get too far in, let’s take a look back at the successes of teams last year.

While every program at the high school had its great moments last year, we have here a ranking of the five teams whose success in their 2014-15 campaigns will be remembered most at WGHS in the years to come.

5. Men’s Basketball
This team had such an incredible season, one can almost overlook the cruel fashion in which it ended. Men’s basketball makes this list because it posted yet another 20 win season (24-6) under head coach Jay Blossom, who recorded his 400th career win during the season.

The team won its first 17 games versus in-state opponents, and went to Florida for a top national tournament and had success against some of the best teams in the country, going 2-2.

In addition, the team graduated six seniors, two of which will be playing Division 1 college ball this year (Alex Floresca at San Diego, Stephen Harris at Austin Peay). Oh what might’ve happened if a District Championship ref had counted to five correctly….

4. Football
Again, we have a team that had its life taken in impossible fashion.

A year after an unprecedented run to the Final Four, the football team was loaded and a top force in Class Five. It seemed bound for another deep playoff run when, with a seven-game win streak (7-1), it prepared to host Ladue in the District Championship. The streak seemed safely headed toward eight in the second half before quarterback/kicker Jack Fox and Ladue erased a 28-6 deficit for a stunning 34-28 win.

Like the men’s basketball team, devastating as the season’s ending was, it was a spectacular year for the team, which also graduated star receiver and defensive back Cam Hilton.

Hilton can now be seen playing SEC football as a safety for Mizzou.

3. Men’s & Women’s Track
It’s impossible to rank either of these teams over the other after their performances at State last year.

The women’s team took fifth overall at the meet, with (then) junior Carolyn Ross winning the State title in the triple jump event. Stacey Lambkins, in her last State meet, took second place in the 100-meter hurdles and broke a school record with her five-foot, three-inch high jump that earned fourth place.

The men’s squad was equally impressive, most prominently in the 4×800 relay, as Tyler Lawson, Lucas Bennett, August Bont and Billy Howells ran for a school record and a State championship.

Lawson medaled in two other events to help cement his place and the team’s place in school history.

2. Women’s Soccer
This team may fall short of the number one spot on this list, but the 2015 women’s soccer squad may have been one of the most dominant teams in any sport WGHS has ever seen.

It was led by (then) senior goalie Charlotte Kennedy and a lockdown defense that produced 24 shutouts… in 27 wins on the season.

At the peak of the team’s amazing season, it was headed to the Final Four in the midst of a 13 game winning streak that included 12 shutouts and held all opponents to a combined total of one goal.

The team also graduated Maddie Pokorny, now playing D-1 soccer at SLU.

It had just as much championship potential as the sport’s male counterpart, but another of Webster’s best teams met its end in heartbreaking fashion; this one in the State semifinal when Notre Dame de Sion capped a comeback with a game-winning goal at six minutes to play.

1. Men’s Soccer
The State Champs are the obvious choice for most successful team at WGHS last year. Their historic run after never having won State and not having won a district title since 1987 has them down in the history books already (John Conley hoisting the trophy backwards is becoming an increasingly iconic image in the WGHS community).

In a series of dramatic playoff games, (then) junior Sheriden Smith scored late game-winning goals twice, including his two goals in the last 15 minutes of the State semifinal to beat Smith-Cotton 4-2.

It doesn’t hurt either that former ECHO feature editor and cartoonist Willie Zempel scored the eventual winning goal on his header in the State title game.

The team may not be done; returning 11 seniors, there’s certainly potential for a repeat (see story by Jake Collins).
The sports year already in progress will hopefully produce more memorable moments and teams that can make a push to bring WGHS a State Championship.

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