TRI-STATE (WFIE) - From championships to heartbreak, it was a great year for sports in the Tri-State.
We’ll begin on the mats. Last winter, the Union County wrestling team did it again. The Braves won the program’s 11th state wrestling championship to give them the second-most team wrestling titles in the state of Kentucky.
In Indiana high school wrestling, Mater Dei’s 145-pounder Matthew Lee won an individual state championship.
On the hardwood, we had two schools make deep runs in the Kentucky High School Basketball State Sweet 16. The Madisonville North Hopkins boys advanced to the Elite Eight, while the Owensboro Catholic girls made the deepest run in school history by getting to the Final Four.
In March, the madness ruled for USI.
Led by Alex Stein and a clutch Mateo Rivera, the darlings of the west side pulled off two miraculous wins in the Division 2 Midwest Regional to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight at the Ford Center. With all of Evansville rallied around them, the Eagles proceeded to beat West Texas A&M to advance to the Final Four.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, their season did not have the magical end as they fell to Point Loma. But, none the less, it was truly an unforgettable run for USI.
Meanwhile, in women’s college hoops, Kentucky Wesleyan also went dancing in the D-2 NCAA tournament, but lost in their first-round game to Drury. Still, the Lady Panthers had an amazing season, winning the G-MAC regular-season championship.
In the spring, both Castle and North boys’ golf teams did well at state. Castle’s Adam Bratton placed 4th in the state, while North’s Stewie Hobgood, finished eighth.
On the high school diamonds, we had two schools play for state titles.
In baseball, Southridge went to state for the second straight season, but unfortunately, for the second year in a row came up short in heartbreaking fashion losing in the final inning to Alexandria Monroe. In softball, Tecumseh returned to state, but this time, they couldn’t bring home a title as Gordon Wood’s Braves fell by one run to Bremen.
In Kentucky, Madisonville and Daviess County softball were the only teams to make it to state with the Maroons going to the Elite Eight.
Over the summer, Castle grad Adam Bratton won the Evansville Men’s City Golf Tournament. His victory came a year after finishing runner-up in the tournament.
In pro baseball, the Otters won the Frontier League’s West Division title, but that’s where the fun ended. Evansville was swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Rascals.
In high school golf, the North girls made another historic run to state, but this time, came up 12-strokes shy of a state championship, finishing second.
Elsewhere, Owensboro Catholic grad and Vanderbilt golfer John Augenstein continued to shine. The Commodores’ rising senior star showed why he’ll have a chance to play professionally as he helped the United States win the Walker Cup this past fall.
On the pitch, the Mater Dei Lady Wildcats made history bringing home their third consecutive state championship. Bill Vieth’s Memorial boys’ squad also won state for the second time in three seasons.
Over in Kentucky, both Daviess County soccer teams had amazing runs. The Panther boys got to the championship match, but finished runners-up, while the Lady Panthers made it to the Elite Eight.
On the gridiron, four schools made headlines.
Memorial won the program’s second state championship in three years by beating East Noble for the class 4-A title.
Joining them at state, was Heritage Hills, who made it to Lucas Oil Stadium undefeated, but unfortunately left Indy with the runners-up trophy.
In Kentucky, Madisonville and Owensboro were both one win away from state, but ultimately their seasons ended one win shy of making it to Lexington’s Kroger Field.
Finally, the Aces are turning heads and they did so in a big way. UE showed the entire country just where and who Evansville when they shocked No. 1 Kentucky over in Lexington.
As the year comes to a close, we’re right back in the thick of the winter sports season. Only time will tell what stories will be told in 2020