Championship droughts which had stood for years crumbled in 2015 and Sedalia was introduced to a new football stadium and will soon have new college teams to root for.
It was a busy year in the world of sports. Here are the top 10 sports stories of 2015 as selected by the Democrat staff.
1. The Royals win the World Series
They were 90 feet away from tying Game 7 against the Giants in the 2014 World Series but as Kansas City returned to the Fall Classic in 2015, they would not need a Game 7 and would not be left 90 feet away from anything.
Kansas City went 95-67 in the regular season to win the AL Central. The Houston Astros had the Royals on the verge of elimination before Kansas City rallied back to win the Division Series. Wins over Toronto in the ALCS and the New York Mets in the World Series brought the Royals their first championship since 1985.
2. Smith-Cotton opens Tiger Stadium
The Tigers had a new home. The Sedalia 200 School District cut the ribbon on Tiger Stadium in March. The new stadium hosted a handful of girls soccer games and Smith-Cotton’s conference championship boys and girls track and field teams in the spring before Ryan Boyer’s football team took over the field in the fall.
The first football game at the new stadium saw Smith-Cotton beat Republic 42-14.
3. Smith-Cotton football goes 9-0
The Tigers celebrated the new stadium with a perfect regular season and a conference title.
Smith-Cotton capped off the perfect regular season with a 27-17 win at Center in Week 9 to clinch the West Central Conference championship, S-C’s first since 2009. The Yellowjackets came into the game undefeated and took the lead with a long run on the first play of the second quarter, but S-C outscored them 27-10 from then on with Blake Jackson reeling in a 38-yard touchdown pass with a diving catch to tie the game and Carlton Homan carrying 12 times for 180 yards.
4. SFCC adds four new sports
The Roadrunners have had a lot of recent success in mens and womens basketball, but soon those two teams will be joined by four others. State Fair Community College’s Bard of Trustees voted in December to add mens and womens soccer, baseball and softball.
SFCC is working to get those programs up and running, trying to find coaches and athletes who will represent the Roadrunners. Baseball will take the field at Liberty Park in 2017 with softball starting the same spring at Vansell Field. The soccer programs will open play in the fall of 2016 with an on-campus field.
The changes are the first to the sports department at SFCC since volleyball was eliminated in 2009.
5. Sacred Heart soccer taked third in Class 1
The Gremlins were back in the Final Four. After reaching the state semifinal for the first time in 2014, they only had to wait a year for trip No. 2.
A muddy overtime win over Laquey in the quarterfinal was followed by a controversial loss to Principia in the semifinal as goalkeeper Sebastian Aguerro was called three times for leaving his line early in the penalty kick shootout. Principia won that game and went on to win the state championship as the Gremlins beat Belle in the third-place game, Sacred Heart’s second third-place finish in two years.
In the win over Belle, Fransisco Rojas scored the lone goal in the 74th minute, tapping in a Josue Nunez cross after Belle had been reduced to nine men due to red cards.
6. Tipton girls basketball wins district title
The Cardinals had never won a district title before 2015. Tipton followed 2014’s conference crown with a repeat and opened the season 24-0 before dropping its final regular season game to North Callaway.
The Cardinals raced past Belle, Russellville and New Bloomfield in the district tournament and beat Sweet Springs 47-37 in the sectional game in Jefferson City.
Sadly, the Tipton run fell short of the Final Four as the Cardinals lost in the Class 2 quarterfinal to Northeast Cairo.
7. Smith-Cotton volleyball wins WCC, district titles
The Lady Tigers reeled off win after win in 2015.
Smith-Cotton went 26-3-1 including wins over Troy Buchanan and Battle to win the Class4, District 9 title, S-C’s first since 1979. Smith-Cotton also won the West Central Conference title, the program’s first since 1992.
S-C fell in the sectionals to Willard.
8. Smith-Cotton boys basketball wins WCC title
The Tigers had not won a conference title since 1996, but Brennen Scanlon’s team got off to a quick start in conference play and won the West Central Conference title.
The Tigers won their first seven WCC games of the season before a February loss at Center. The Tigers then clinched the WCC title outright with a win over Nevada before dropping the final game of the regular season at Warrensburg.
9. Lincoln football goes 9-0
The Cardinals did not even play a full varsity schedule two years ago, but in their second year back ran through the regular season unbeaten.
The season opened with a 40-0 win over Rich Hill, the first of five shutouts by the Cardinals defense. Lincoln’s offense was effective as well, scoring 50 or more points in six different games.
Lincoln captured the Kaysinger title, going 3-0 in conference play, and beat Appleton City and Windsor in the district tournament before falling to No. 1 seed and unbeaten Skyline in the district championship game.
10. Northwest and Warsaw reach the Final Four in baseball
Northwest was a sub-.500 team for most of the season but playing against a lot of Class 2 teams in the Kaysinger Conference more than prepared the Mustangs for the Class 1 tournament. Northwest survived a nine-inning district final against Green Ridge before beating Northeast Vernon County and Macon County to reach the Final Four.
The Mustangs lost the semifinal to Bell City and fell to Hurley in the third-place game.
For Warsaw, the season saw win after win from the start. After losing to Holden early in the year, Warsaw won 17 of its next 18 games including a three-game sweep of the Ozark Baseball Classic.
Warsaw beat Versailles and Sherwood to win the district title, scoring 26 runs in two games, then beat Holden and Summit Christian to reach the state semifinal before losing to Scott City and Lutheran St. Charles.