R-C Sports 2006 in review
December 29, 2006
It’s that time of year again where we take a look back at the last 104 issues of The Record-Courier and pull out the headlines that stood above all the others in the last 12 months.
Douglas High School was once again competitive in all of its team sports, missing the playoffs in just one and saw a tremendous advance in its individual sports, producing three state champions after long droughts at the top of the state podium.
There were record-breaking athletes, upset wins, heartbreaking losses and a curious man we came to know as Big George.
Through it all, the face of Carson Valley athletics weathered another year and we decided take pause today to close one more chapter in the book.
The top 10 stories of the year were:
1. Big George Ventures
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Who would’ve thought the community would become so tied to this young development company in Northern Douglas County?
When former Google software engineer Raymond Sidney contacted the high school about making a donation to the long-running all-weather track project, Tiger athletics changed forever.
Sidney donated $1.6 million not only to complete the installation of the all-weather track but also to lay down artificial turf on the football field.
Crews began work in late March, completely tearing out the surface in between the bleachers.
Over the next seven months, the entire complex received a facelift, from paving and new chain-link fencing around the track to new goalposts and field equipment.
The winter weather set in before the track could be installed, but all the prep work left school administrators hopeful that the project could be completed by mid-spring.
2. The Road Warriors
Going hand-in-hand with the construction on the field was possibly the most triumphant story of the year.
The Tiger football team defied all odds, going on the road in each of the first nine weeks of the season and capturing only the second league title in the school’s Northern 4A/3A era.
Along the way, the Tigers played “home” games at Manogue, Galena and Whittell before debuting on the brand-new field in the regular-season finale against Wooster.
Douglas was spotless in league play, beating all seven Sierra League opponents with classic matchups against Reno, Hug and North Valleys along the way,
Coach Mike Rippee also picked up his 100th career win, coming against arch-rival Carson.
The Tigers were led by a stingy defense which included Northern 4A Defensive Player of the Year Brent Koontz and Sierra League Defensive Player of the Year Sean Molina.
Reese Kizer climbed his way up to eighth on the career rushing yards list with 1,553 in two seasons.
3. Miller takes state by storm
The Douglas wrestling program got a gift when senior Shane Miller moved back to the Valley from Southern California.
Miller had been with the Tigers as a freshman, lived with his father for two years.
The 189-pounder went an incredible 50-1 on the year, losing his only match to an athlete out of California late in the year. He won the Northern 4A and state 4A titles, won the prestigious Sierra Nevada Classic. His state title was Douglas’ first in 12 years.
He later competed in the national championships, advancing to the round of 16 before taking his exit.
4. Track resurgence
While most the thought the big news with the Douglas track team would be that it was finally getting its track, the real story turned out to be the athletes.
Senior Ryan Bertucci won the school’s first state title since 2000, leaping 6-6 in the high jump.
Just a week prior, the girls’ 4×400 relay team of Skylar Young, Sarah Hartley, Alicia Sturgess and Tina Dantin, none of which were seniors, won the Northern 4A Regional championship in impressive fashion, winning by nearly six full seconds.
Douglas had finished dead last as a team in 2005, but the Tigers took fourth at regionals in 2006.
5. Sapp wins skiing title
Douglas senior Holden Sapp was nearly unbeatable on the slopes during the Tahoe Basin Ski League season, and he parlayed that into the school’s first state title in the sport.
The NIAA invited the Tahoe Basin League to compete against the Nevada League for the state championship for the first time in 2006 and Sapp made a big statement, sharing the title with Wooster’s Matt Trabert.
Sapp’s combined runs were faster time-wise at the championships, but the title was awarded based on average place, meaning he had to share it with Trabert.
6. Upset Thursday
The Douglas baseball team, fighting for its life after losing in the opening round of the Northern 4A Regional playoffs to Galena, beat Reed in the elimination bracket to advance to one of the most unforgettable afternoon’s in recent memory for the program.
Douglas ended Sierra League champion and tournament-host Reno’s season with a 9-7 win. The Tigers didn’t much of a chance to recover as they had to take on top-ranked Galena that evening to stay alive.
Douglas pulled out an 8-7 win in that game, forcing a second match-up with the Grizzlies the following afternoon. While Galena won that game and eventually the regional championship, the Tigers had put together the most exciting storyline of the tournament.
Douglas was led by pitcher D.J. Brady, who threw two no-hitters during the course of the season, and slugger Ryan Laing, who finished the year with eight home runs and hit a state-record four home runs in one game against Hug earlier in the season.
Douglas soccer had the most potent goal-scorers in the region in both the boys’ and girls’ conferences this year.
Mike Gransbery broke the school record for goals in a career (60) and made a strong run at the Northern 4A record for goals in a season before breaking his toe late in the year.
He finished with 29 goals and nine assists and was named the Sierra League Offensive Player of the Year.
Morgan LeFever followed a similar storyline on the girls’ side, breaking the state records for goals in a career (56) and goals in a season (26).
She was named the Sierra League’s midfielder of the year.
8. Tiger football loses one of its best
Carson Valley was rocked by the sudden news of former Tiger football standout Kevin Lehr’s passing in late January.
Lehr was the school’s fourth all-time leading rusher with 1,805 yards. He scored a school record 27 touchdowns in his senior season in 1997 and holds the career record with 32.
He went on to play for New Mexico State and UNLV.
He died on Jan. 31 at the age of 26.
9. Olson signs with Northern Arizona
Douglas senior Keith Olson, a 6-10 center and four-year starter for the basketball team became the school’s first Division I basketball signee since Scott Hemsath signed with Pacific in the mid-80s, when he committed to Northern Arizona University of the Big Sky Conference.
He also received heavy interest from Utah State, Pacific, Montana and Portland State along the way.
10. Extreme riders
In one week, two Douglas High graduates found their way into the limelight of extreme sports.
Paul Basagoitia won the overall title in the Red Bull District Mountain Bike Free Riding Series in Nuremburg Germany in early August.
He won $15,000 euros and a brand new Ford pickup.
Matt Buyten won the Step Up event at the X Games in Los Angeles for the second time, beating Brian Deegan and Jeremy McGrath in the event that is best compared to high jumping on a dirt bike.
— Joey Crandall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.