After the year in sports that was 2016 – Cavs win! Cubs too! – I can’t help but dream big for the year ahead.
And I don’t have to stretch my imagination too far to come up with ostensibly fantastical scenarios of state championships for Forsyth County athletes and teams in almost any sport.
The following is my dreams run wild for 2017 and high school sports in Forsyth County.
Basketball: Lambert girls head coach Jaime Fisher, who is pregnant and due during the state playoff schedule, has an interesting dilemma: after winning the region title, the Lady Longhorns go on the best playoff run in team history, losing in the state quarterfinals. Fisher goes into labor the next day.
Swimming: Lambert girls win a fifth consecutive state title, becoming the first girls team to ever accomplish the feat in the state’s highest classification, and they do it for the second straight season without a single individual champion. Some of last year’s close calls (Ashley Cesario, Jack DalMolin, Bayley Frierson, etc.) break through for individual titles.
Wrestling: With key injuries, North Forsyth finishes third at the GHSA Team Dual Wrestling Championships, but those injuries eventually heal and the Raiders rebound to win the Class 7A title at the Traditional Wrestling State Championships led by individual state champions Paul Watkins, Conner Carroll and Brantley Little. The county produces six individual champs in all, including Forsyth Central’s Sebastian Legarra, Lambert’s Eric Kohlins and West Forsyth’s Hunter Jolly.
Baseball: The last impressive run for Forsyth Central was in the mid-1990’s, when the Bulldogs were led by head coach Mike Pruitt – who now is in charge at West Forsyth. And wouldn’t you know it, a deep Wolverines team led by ACC commits Hank Flood (Georgia Tech) and Bryar Hawkins (Clemson) defeat Central, led by its SEC commits Mitchell Gross (Georgia) and Ethan Hankins (Vanderbilt), for the Region 5-7A title.
Golf: Lambert girls win a fifth consecutive state title, but instead of last year’s breakout star, Kate Owens, leading the way a new one emerges in Navy signee Christine McDonnell as the Lady Longhorns endure the state championship’s new two-day format.
Gymnastics: Forsyth County dominates the state championship – Central, runners-up last season, pull through for the team win (pushed by Lambert), while West Forsyth sophomore and Missouri commit Sienna Schreiber wins the individual all-around title.
Lacrosse: Pinecrest Academy ends the regular season with a bang, as the boys and girls teams, led by dynamic duos of Jack Binkley and Carson Holler and Molly Dankowski and Sarah Di Fazio, respectively, win to clinch the first-ever state playoff appearances in the programs’ brief histories.
Soccer: Forsyth County has put a girls’ team in the state championship each of the past two seasons (Lambert in 2015, West Forsyth in 2016). This time, Forsyth crashes the whole party, as South Forsyth and its six Division I commits edge defending state runner-up West Forsyth and its three D-I commits. Meanwhile, Pinecrest Academy girls reach its first state championship game ever led by D-I commits Erin Houlihan (Furman) and Ashley Triplett (West Virginia).
Tennis: After graduating just two seniors from a team that reached the Class 6A state semifinals, the Lambert boys team goes even further, making the Class 7A state championship led by Dayton signee Will Harper.
Cheerleading: For a second straight year, Forsyth County dominates Class 7A at the GHSA Cheerleading State Championships, sweeping the top three places. Only this time, the order switches, with South finally edging rival Lambert as well as West Forsyth.
Cross Country: Some more déjà vu. Lambert boys and South Forsyth girls each defend their Class 7A state championships, while Lady War Eagles senior Kaylee DuPont is second to none this time and is the girls individual champion.
Football: North Forsyth quarterback Ben Bales throws 30 touchdowns, wide receivers Ben Bresnahan (West) and Tyler Gillis (Lambert) each catch 20 touchdowns, Lambert defensive backs Marcus Chatelain and Ken Dicks combine for 15 interceptions and South Forsyth running back Jared Honey averages one bulldozed defensive back a game.
Softball: After missing her junior season to injury, North Forsyth outfielder and South Carolina commit Haley Simpson returns to hit over .450 and steal 50 bases to give Forsyth County two teams in the GHSA Softball Championships for the second straight year, joining Lambert after Kassidy Krupit and Brooke Miller combine for 30 home runs.
Volleyball: Lambert finishes off rival South Forsyth in the area championship this time, and the county sweeps all four state playoff spots again (welcome back, West Forsyth).
Brian Paglia is sports editor at the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at [email protected], 770-205-8976 or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.