Top sports stories of 2011, pt. 1

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 11:17 am on Saturday, December 31, 2011

A look at the final kickoff at Black Field on Oct. 14. Greenville lost to Lowell in the last high school game at the historic field.

As 2011 comes to a close, The Daily News is taking a look back at the top 10 local sports stories of the year. We will count down from 10 to four today and reveal the top three local sports stories of the year tomorrow.

Today’s stories feature six teams from four schools, three individuals from two schools and a football field that played host to its final high school football game.

No. 10 Belding takes home volleyball district title

The Belding Redskins have dominated the local volleyball scene the last few years.

This year was nothing new as the Redskins won their third district title in four years with a victory over the Chippewa Hills Warriors at Tri County High School in October 25-12, 25-23, 17-25, 25-14.

Despite a small lineup for most of the year due to injuries the Redskins finished the year 19-19 overall.

Belding’s run fell short in the regional semifinals against Grant 25-19, 15-25, 13-25, 15-25 at Central Montcalm. Grant lost to eventual Class B champion Fruitport in the regional finals.

No. 9 Greenville’s Bailey Parmelee runs and runs

Greenville’s Bailey Parmelee made a transition during track and field that turned out to be one smart decision. Parmelee made the switch from sprinter to runner and it was a switch that followed with a record breaking season in both track and cross country.

In the spring, Parmelee won the O-K White Conference titles in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. She won regional titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 and then placed sixth in Division 1 in the 3,200. It’s a good bet she would have placed in the 1,600 had she ran, but temperatures in the 90s called for running one event.

Parmelee also broke two school records in the 1,600 and 3,200. Both previous records were held by Chelsea Prahl, who is now running for the United States Military Academy (West Point). Both records were broken in a span of 48 hours.

Her best in the 1,600 stands at 5:00.39 and 3,200 at 10:56.62.

Parmelee continued her running success by passing on volleyball to participate in cross country for the first time. She went on to set another school record with a time of 17:56.9 and placed seventh at the Division 2 state finals with a time of 18:01. Parmelee was named to the O-K White first team and was second at regionals.

Now a senior, Parmelee will have the chance to compete once more in track and field.

No. 8 Tri County captures basketball district title, baseball team wins 28 games

Two of the Tri County Vikings boys sports programs saw great success in 2011.

First, the basketball team earned its first district title since 1987 while the baseball team, although falling short of a second consecutive district title, won a school record 28 games.

The Vikings defeated Morley Stanwood by a score of 73-45 at Sparta to win the basketball district title. They fell in their next game to state ranked Muskegon Heights 67-50 at Central Montcalm.

Tri County led the powerful Tigers at halftime 31-30. They finished the year 17-7.

The Vikings baseball team won a school record 28 games while tying for the Lakes 8 Conference championship. The Vikings batted .339 as a team and had seven players earn all-league honors.

Chippewa Hills ended the Vikings season in the district final 7-1. The Vikings won the district title in 2010.

No. 7 Central Montcalm wins district titles in baseball and softball

One of Central Montcalm’s spring ball teams was expected to compete for the district title. The other was not. Turns out both the baseball and softball programs won a district title.

Following a 5-2 win over Hesperia — courtesy of a Shane Miller complete game — the Hornets defeated Morley Stanwood 13-11 to capture their first district title in 13 years. Miller again led his team to victory with a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning breaking an 11-11 tie.

In the regional semifinals at Lakeview the Hornets lost 4-0 to Reed City. They finished the year at 9-16 overall.

The softball program had been on a steady rise the last four years, two of them under coach Jason Johnston.

This year’s softball team finished second in the CSAA, had seven players earn all-league honors and won their first ever district title with a 4-3 win over Morley Stanwood.

Central Montcalm finished the year with 22 wins, but had its season end in at regionals 1-0 to Leroy Pine River.

No. 6 So long Black Field

Greenville High School began playing football games at Black Field in 1916. The final game was played on Oct. 14 this year against the Lowell Red Arrows.

Despite Lowell winning the final game at Black Field it does nothing to diminish the long history of the field. The Greenville Rocket football program will continue to play football at the location, but high school play will now take place at a new field on the school’s campus beginning in 2012.

The field was donated by Dr. Duncan K. Black in 1915 and was formally dedicated as D.K. Black Athletic Field in 1936. Over the years the field was used, not only for football, but baseball, softball, track, basketball, soccer and tennis.

The field was home to one of the longest rivalries in the state between Greenville and Belding. The field hosted undefeated teams and saw playoff victories. Mulitple generations had the opportunity to play at Black Field.

No. 5 Thomas/Dittenber win state wrestling titles

Two area wrestlers earned the right to say they were the best in 2011.

Greenville’s Jordan Thomas did so for the second time while Carson City-Crystal’s Kenneth Dittenber did so for the first time.

Thomas took home the Division 2 title at 171 pounds when he defeated Holly’s Shawn Scott 6-3.

He finished the season a perfect 62-0 — the first perfect season in Greenville history — and had a career record of 172-3 coming into his senior year.

Thomas, who will wrestle for the University of Michigan in 2012, helped his team to a 33-3 record and a state runnerup finish.

Dittenber claimed his Division 4 state title at 103 pounds when he defeated Chase Siersema of Hesperia 5-4.

He finished the year with a record of 54-1 and has a career record of 83-18 in two years.

Both wrestlers also won conference, district and regional titles in their respective weight classes.

No. 4 Greenville’s girl golfers place 3rd in Division 2

The Greenville Yellow Jackets’ girls golf program had another dominating season in 2011.

Greenville won its 11th consecutive O-K White title, placed second at the Division 2 regionals and tied a school best third place finish at the Division 2 state finals.

Only Birmingham Seaholm and Muskegon Mona Shores were better than Greenville. Mona Shores won its third straight state title.

They also earned many accolades over the season.

Greenville had four golfers — Britta Bernth, Jessica Bohner, Jessica Meloche and Tori Sanders — place in the top 10 at regionals. Meloche was named all-state for the second straight year while Bernth earned honorable mention. The team earned academic all-state honors while coach Nancy Johnson was named the Division 2 golf coach of the year by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association.

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