At the end of each calendar year, some of the area’s athletes and coaches who provided sports highlights are asked about their favorite personal sports memories of that year.
This is their Prep Zone:
Tim Paddock, McHenry boys basketball coach: “Without a doubt, by far, it was winning the Class 4A Cary-Grove Regional championship. We lost a player, Alex Baer, who would have been a senior, in an accident before his junior year. Alex was still with us. After we won it, the next morning we took a piece of the net to his grave site. That’s not only my favorite moment of the year, but one of the best moments of my life.”
Ryne Blanton, Richmond-Burton baseball and football: “Winning the (Class 2A) sectional (4-2 against Rock Falls). I pitched the game and we won to tie the previous school record  for wins. We established ourselves as one of the best, if not the best, in school history and it was great to get to pitch in that game.”
Joe Cowlin, Prairie Ridge, cross country and track: “It was when I finished fourth at state (in Class 2A cross country). That culminated four years of hard work and all my friends, family, coaches, teammates and former teammates were there to celebrate it with me.”
Quinn Baker, Cary-Grove football: “It would have to be one of two (Class 6A) playoff games, either St. Patrick (a 49-21 win) or Lake Forest (42-21 win). Against St. Patrick, their fans were crazy and yelling all kinds of stuff. We scored on the first play and took it from there. From a personal standpoint, that was probably my favorite because I was just coming back after missing three games with a broken (left ring) finger.”
Alyssa Ehrhardt, Jacobs volleyball: “My favorite moment was our senior night. I was able to walk onto the floor for the last time with my parents (Dave and Toni) by my side. They haven’t missed a match throughout my four years of playing varsity at Jacobs. I’ll always remember pointing to them after my first kill in that match.”
Brian Bogda, Crystal Lake South baseball coach: “When I look back on our season, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride for the players on that team (which set a school record at 28-10, shared the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title and won a Class 4A regional). For me, competing against the other FVC schools each and every day makes it an even more remarkable feat. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach and work with an outstanding group of young men, and will always have fond memories of the spring of 2012.”
Tim Haak, Harvard football and wrestling coach: “It was Dan Stott winning the (Class 1A 170-pound) state wrestling title in 8:15, the longest pin in state history. It can only be 8:30. It was a 0-0 match, and that’s a record that may not ever be broken. There was a great picture of him getting his arm raised and celebrating and that’s usually not him. Having an athlete you coach achieve a goal like that is great.”
Olivia Jakubicek, Cary-Grove basketball: “My favorite memory will be sinking two free throws to beat South Elgin in the sectional semifinal game. That, and being named the Northwest Herald Girls Basketball Player of the Year. I’ve seen that award given to some great players, so it was really an honor to get it myself.”
Liam Kirwan, Marian Central football: “The Woodstock North (Class 5A second-round) playoff game was big fun for me being a Woodstock kid. I knew a ton of their players, and I had a pretty good game myself. I was throwing up on the sideline and quarterback Chris Streveler was out for a while, but we showed how much desire we have and the kind of team we were. That it was Woodstock North made it taste even better.”
Brian Loftin, Woodstock North football: “I really enjoyed before the (Class 5A second-round) playoff game at Marian Central. That’s something (playing a crosstown team) that may not happen again for a while. We warmed up about four blocks away and then walked together behind the Thunder truck to the field. There were fans pulling up for the game, pumping fists at us, it was a very cool moment.”
Brandon Creason, Richmond-Burton boys basketball coach: “We were at Burlington Central, both teams were 7-2, last game of the year, on the road for the outright (Big Northern Conference East Division) title. We won, 46-40. That’s what it’s all about right there. It was really fun … because we won. It probably could have been my least favorite memory of the year, too, if we’d lost.”
Delainey Peterson, Prairie Ridge girls golf: “I felt as though I had let my team down when I walked off the front nine at the sectional tournament with a 43. I was determined to turn that around on the back nine and, remarkably, I did do better and shot 1-under 34. It really showed me what a player I could be. As I walked into the clubhouse, we were biting out fingernails, waiting for the scores to come in. When we finally made it (for the first time in school history) to state, we were all hugging and crying. We didn’t have the greatest score, but we deserved it for the past four years.”
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.