Sports took center stage in 2012

In London, the World Cup and here at home

It seemed like every time a sports fan turned around, there was something to catch his or her attention.

If it wasn’t John Teller on the World Cup Ski Cross tour, it was Stacey Cook, climbing to 10th in the world in women’s World Cup downhill racing, then nabbing her first two World Cup podium finishes on back-to-back days in Lake Louise in early December.

If it wasn’t Deena Kastor, who had to drop out of the 2012 London Olympic marathon because of injury, it was the ageless Meb Keflezighi taking fourth place. He was out of the medal race, but fourth fastest in the world? At age 36, that was really something.

The Mammoth Track Club came up big overall, and not just for the marathoners among them. Morgan Uceny was a heavy favorite for a medal in the 1500 meters but was tripped along the way and fell to the track. That was mitigated, somewhat, by Amy Hastings’ thrilling performance in the 10,000-meters in the Olympic Trials.

Hastings finished well back in London, but it was her race in the Trials that will remain her signature moment—until further notice.

Meanwhile, back at home, Elaine Smith, her husband Jim, along with Andrew Kastor and the members of the High Sierra Striders, finally put together strong donor support, Measure R funding, and political muscle to complete the town’s magnificent new running track at the Whitmore Sports Complex.

The Striders then immediately merged with the Mammoth Track Club, suddenly without his longtime coach Terence Mahon—he left to coach in England—to open high-performance running to anyone and everyone.

There were so many remarkable performances by so many different kinds of athletes—runners, skiers, snowboarders, cyclists and team sports players—that it would be hard to list them all.

But for high-school football star Matt Graeff, 2012 was especially poignant and triumphant.

Diagnosed with cancer shortly before the Mammoth Huskies’ season began, the team showed him support by shaving their heads before their first game, and then welcomed him on the field as captain for the Opening Night national anthem.

Whittier Christian took the Huskies to the woodshed that evening, but the blowout loss didn’t matter.

On wristbands distributed around town, the words “Fight the Good Fight” appeared on Graeff’s behalf. He fought the fight, continues to fight it to this day, and, we hope, finds more fight in 2013.