Thursday marked my last day at The Tribune. I have been here a little more than 11 years, first as a sports and news copy editor, and since February 2008 as sports editor.
Here are the top local sports highlights in my 11 years here.
• 2014 Cal Poly men’s basketball. No one could have scripted the shocking run that saw the Mustangs win the Big West Conference Tournament as the No. 7 seed.
Cal Poly ended the regular season with a whimper, losing by 16 points at home to UC Santa Barbara. Less than a week later, the Mustangs opened the Big West tourney by routing the Gauchos by 31, and beat UC Irvine and CSUN to advance to their first NCAA Tournament at the Division I level.
Head coach Joe Callero then charmed the national media into the proper pronunciation of San Luis Obispo, and the Mustangs, despite a 13-19 record, defeated Texas Southern 81-69 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to join the 1955 Bradley team as the only 19-loss teams to ever win an NCAA Tournament game.
Cal Poly was then eliminated in the second round by undefeated Wichita State, 64-37.
• 2008 Cal Poly football. This Mustangs team was the best of the Rich Ellerson era. Cal Poly beat San Diego State and took Big Ten power
Wisconsin to overtime on the road before falling 36-35 in the regular-season finale. The Mustangs led the FCS in scoring and total offense and were ranked as high as third nationally. Led by All-American wide receiver Ramses Barden, quarterback Jonathan Dally and running backs James Nobles and Ryan Mole, the Mustangs were a trendy pick by some to win the national title after the narrow miss at Wisconsin. But Cal Poly lost a 49-35 home playoff shootout to Weber State to end the magical season 8-3. After the season, Ellerson left to take the head coaching post at Army, and Barden was a third-round draft pick by the New York Giants.
• Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton. The Arroyo Grande High and Cal Poly graduate was competing in her second Olympics in Beijing in 2008 when she stunned the world to become the first American woman since 1932 to win the gold medal in the discus. She finished 11th in her first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. And although she set the American record in 2012, she was unable to recapture golden form at the London Olympics, finishing eighth. Brown Trafton had a baby in 2013 and is working back into form, hoping to make her fourth Olympic team in 2016.
• Jordan Hasay. No Central Coast athlete has been more dominant over the past decade than the former Mission Prep and Oregon star. Her long list of accolades are too long to list here, but she’s basically been a star since she began running. She was a Junior Olympic national champ and record-holder before she enrolled in high school. She was a national cross country champ and unbeatable on the track in high school. At Oregon, she graduated as the most decorated women’s runner in the illustrious running history of the school. She led the Ducks to four NCAA indoor team titles in track and a team title in cross country. After graduating from Oregon, she ran in the 2013 world championships at age 21.
The next step for Hasay, who turns 24 on Monday, is to make an Olympics team. Don’t bet against her being in Rio next summer for the Olympics.
• 2011 Arroyo Grande football. Expectations were high for the Eagles entering the season after they had lost to Serra in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division championship game the previous season. And with four Division I football players on the roster — Oregon State’s Brent VanderVeen, Garrett Owens and Garrett Weinreich and Oklahoma State’s Seth Jacobs — the Eagles didn’t disappoint, winning all 13 of their games after a season-opening loss to Lompoc. Arroyo Grande had no trouble in the Western Division championship game, crushing Culver City 42-14. It was Arroyo Grande’s first Southern Section title since 1998.
• 2014 prep football. Last season was a banner one for the Central Coast. The PAC 5 dominated the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division with Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande and Atascadero all making the semifinals. Paso Robles defeated Arroyo Grande in one semifinal and hosted Newbury Park, a winner over Atascadero in the other semifinal game, in in the championship game. On a wet and muddy home turf, the Bearcats prevailed 13-10, led by three college signees in San Jose State’s Bailey Gaither and Josh Oliver and Northern Arizona’s Jonathan Baldwin.
The new Northern League also had great success in the Northwest Division playoffs as Templeton reaches the semifinals, and Nipomo won the first CIF-Southern Section championship in any sport in school history with a 22-19 home win over Arrowhead Christian in the title game.
• 2014 Cal Poly baseball. Just after the Mustangs made their improbable NCAA Tournament run in basketball, the baseball team was in the national spotlight most of the season, even reaching No. 1 in national poll. The Larry Lee-led Mustangs won their first Big West Conference title and hosted an NCAA regional for the first time in school history.
Unfortunately for Cal Poly, it’s season came to an abrupt hold at home, losing twice Pepperdine to have its most successful season ever end at 47-12.
• Mission Prep athletic scandal. In 2006, boys basketball coach and athletic director Tom Mott resigned, and the CIF stripped the Royals of two sectional championships, when the state’s governing body of high school athletics determined Mott was recruiting foreign players, a violation of CIF rules. Mission Prep’s athletic department was placed on two years probation. Mott is now the athletic director and boys basketball coach at St. Joseph High.