By STU SWARTZ
SPECIAL TO THE GOSHEN NEWS
Local sports headlines are already being made for the new year after a rewarding parade of champions graced these sports pages in 2012.
If local “Athletes of the Year” were to be named they would have to be Westview High School spring graduate Skyler Carpenter and Indiana University freshman Femi Hollinger-Janzen, a Bethany Christian alum.
Carpenter capped her amazing Lady Warrior career by capturing three individual state championships at the Indiana track and field finals, running her career total to seven.
She won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.5 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 42.2 and long-jumped 18-10 1/2. Carpenter won the same three events as a junior and the 300 lows as a sophomore.
Now a freshman at Vanderbilt University, the pride of Westview also was a star in soccer with 39 goals and five assists for a state-leading 83 points. She also scored 1,048 career points in basketball.
Hollinger-Janzen ended his prep career for the Bethany Christian Bruins by being named the Indiana boys soccer “Player of the Year.”
He then journeyed to Bloomington and was a key figure in the Hoosiers’ run to an NCAA national championship.
Last winter, there were some standout swimmers participating in state finals at The Natatorium in Indianapolis with two winning state championships.
Northridge junior Austin Flager finished first in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 49.84, leading the Raiders to a third-place team finish.
Wawasee senior Brittany Robinson, now at the University of Louisville, captured a state title in the 100 butterfly with a clocking of 53.41.
In basketball, NorthWood’s girls won a Class 3A sectional and then lost a regional title game to Fort Wayne Concordia.
Boys sectional champions were NorthWood in 3A and Westview in 2A.
Both lost regional finals, the Panthers to Norwell and the Warriors to Bowman Academy.
Just before the calendar turned, Jim Buller of Bethany Christian became the winningest boys basketball coach in Elkhart County history while former NorthWood coach Dan Gunn, now at Edwardsburg in Michigan, notched his 500th career victory as did Al Rhodes at Penn, formerly of Warsaw.
Carpenter wasn't the only local track and field standout in a rewarding year for area performers.
Dillon Hinen of Fairfield was third in the boys 800-meter run, Trey Kennedy of Westview fifth in pole vault, Jason Spriggs of Concord sixth in discus, Grant Bass of Concord seventh in the 300 hurdles and Brandon Daniels of Goshen 10th in shot put.
On the girls side, Jeslyn Zimmerly of Westview placed second in the state pole vault finals, Corinne Cominator of Northridge third in the 1600 run and fourth in the 3200,
Becca Kropf of Fairfield was fourth in the 300 hurdles and teammate Sophie Brown sixth in pole vault after both had claimed regional championships.
Melissa DuBois of Concord finished sixth in long jump at the state finals while the Goshen Lady Redskins had Liana Yoder seventh in the 300 hurdles and Lauren Stutzman eighth in long jump.
The Northridge girls softball team enjoyed a remarkable spring, winning Class 4A sectional and regional crowns before being sidelined, 1-0, by Huntington in a semistate heartbreaker.
In girls tennis, Northridge won its fifth straight sectional and Fairfield its third. The Raiders then nipped the Falcons, 3-2, in a regional thriller.
Fairfield’s golf boys won a Northeast Corner Conference championship and the Northridge Raiders were third in the regional.
Tim Dawson, veteran Concord football coach, guided the Minutemen to a Class 4A regional title before dropping a semistate thriller to Mishawaka.
The Jimtown Jimmies won a Class 3A sectional.
Fairfield’s volleyball ladies, coached by Carla Herschberger, continued their incredible run with a 35-2 record and regional runnerup finish.
The Falcon boys tennis team also won a sectional.
In cross country, Northridge’s girls were eighth in team standings and the Raider boys 11th.
Individually, Joel Hartman of Elkhart Christian was the top local finisher with an 18th in the boys division.
Blake O’Dell of Northridge was 30th, Brandon Arnold of West Noble 40th and Luke Kauffman of Goshen 43rd.
Northridge girls leaders were Jennifer Schrock 31st and Olivia Golden 39th.
Who will be the stars of 2013?
We’ll find out in the next 352 days.