One of the best parts of this job as the Miner sports reporter happens at this time of year, when I have the opportunity to reflect on the previous 12 months and offer my top 10 favorite stories of 2014.
There are many that have been left off, and I think I could put together a top 25, but top 10s seem to rule the roost. I had a lot of fun compiling this list, and I hope you have fun reading it.
In countdown fashion a lot like last night, here we go:
10. MINER ISSUES FIRST ALL-CITY TEAM: The staff here at the Miner had a great time compiling its first all-city team comprised of football players from all three high schools. We're going to keep it going and include all-city basketball, baseball and softball teams. In the fall, not only will all-city football be named again, but volleyball as well.
9. ALLRED, SKANKEY REPRESENT KINGMAN AT STATE IN CROSS COUNTRY: Kingman had just two runners travel to the state cross country meets in 2014. Lee Williams' Brendon Allred and Kingman Academy's Sam Skankey took the cross country season to the very end.
Allred finished in 16th place at the Division III state championship meet at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix on Nov. 8. He ran the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 5 seconds. Allred earned his way to state with a 12th-place finish at the D-III, Section I meet in Holbrook on Oct. 31. His time that day was 17:21.
Skankey finished 50th in the D-IV state race at the same place and on the same day as Allred's race. He completed the course in 18:05 after having finished 23rd at the D-IV, Section I meet in 18:50 on Oct. 31 in Holbrook.
8. JOHN HERRERO EARNS FULL RIDE AT NAU: After completing his redshirt-freshman year at Northern Arizona, defensive lineman John Herrero (Kingman Academy 2013) was awarded a full-ride scholarship that covers his last three seasons of eligibility for the Lumberjacks.
Herrero not only saw significant playing time in 11 of the 12 Lumberjack games, he cracked the starting lineup in eight of them.
Herrero finished the season with 25 tackles and led NAU with six tackles-for-loss for 24 yards. He also had two sacks. He was named the Defensive Outstanding Freshman of the Year and Defensive Most Improved Player by the Lumberjack coaching staff at the team's year-end banquet.
NAU defensive coordinator Andy Thompson summed it up best why Herrero belongs on this list. "This shows that a kid from a small school can make it on a big stage."
7. KINGMAN ACADEMY BASEBALL MAKES ROUND OF 16 IN D-III STATE TOURNAMENT: After Tarik Skubal's perfect game (See No. 4) over Willcox (1-0) in Round 1 of the state playoffs for the Tigers, Kingman Academy fell to Page six days later and were eliminated, 8-4. It was the first year in the AIA for the Tigers after dominating the Charter Athletic Association (now Canyon) for years. The Academy finished 23-7-1, including winning streaks of six and seven games.
6. KINGMAN ACADEMY BOYS BASKETBALL REACHES ROUND OF 16 IN D-III STATE TOURNAMENT: These Tigers were the first of the Academy teams to gain entry into a state tournament. They finished 26-9 and the way the season ended can be summarized as a slight, very slight, disappointment. After beating Blue Ridge 75-51 in Round 1 of the playoffs, the Tigers fell to Show Low 57-54 in the Round of 16 at Payson when they faded at the end. This could easily have been an Academy victory, and with Show Low reaching the Final Four, it very possibly could have been a spot the Tigers found themselves in.
5. KINGMAN GIRLS BASKETBALL REACHES QUARTERFINALS IN D-II STATE TOURNAMENT: This was one of the best sports seasons in Kingman in quite some time. The Lady Bulldogs finished 24-5, including two thrilling wins in the state tournament over Canyon Del Oro (57-55) and Thunderbird (51-44, OT). The Lady Bulldogs' dream season crashed against Buckeye (39-29) at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
4. KINGMAN ACADEMY'S TARIK SKUBAL THROWS PERFECT GAME IN FIRST ROUND OF BASEBALL STATE PLAYOFFS: Books have been written about feats like the one Skubal pulled off on May 3 at the Surprise Sports Complex. Skubal faced 21 batters and sat all 21 of them down, including 14 by strikeout, with professional and college scouts in the audience to watch him pitch. He beat Willcox 1-0 to move the Tigers into the next round of the playoffs. Skubal is now pitching for Seattle University in Washington.
3. JOSHUA WHITE FINISHES 5TH NATIONALLY IN AGE-GROUP BMX RACING: Joshua White, 7, ended his Boys 7/Expert season finishing fifth out of nearly 800 riders in the National Age Group after taking fifth place at the 2014 USA BMX Grands Nov. 27-30 in Tulsa, Okla. Joshua also finished second in the Race of Champions event, pitting the state champions against each other. White was originally awarded fourth place, but a recount of points accrued moved him down a notch.
2. TWO HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAMS MAKE STATE PLAYOFFS: Before Lee Williams opened, the talk in local sports circles was that the talent in Kingman would be watered down with three schools. Football proved there are plenty of positions available for players and success to be found with Lee Williams and Kingman Academy both reaching the D-V state playoffs. Though both teams fell in the Round of 16, they gave Kingman's football fans a thrill when the Vols defeated the Tigers in the final regular season game in overtime, 14-8.
1. LEE WILLIAMS' GIANCARLO NARVARTE WINS HIGH JUMP STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Narvarte won the first-ever state championship for Lee Williams when he cleared 6 feet, 6 inches at the state championship meet in the spring at Mesa Community College. Just a sophomore at the time, Narvarte has a chance to become a multiple state champion for the Volunteers. He has set his goal for 6-10 this year.