As we ring in the new year, let’s look back at 2014 and recall the top local sports stories of the year:
1 1. Kyle Larson Named Rookie-of-the-Year By NASCAR
The former Pleasant Grove High School student (who finished high school through independent study so he could start a professional driving career) was the youngest guy on NASCAR’s 2014 Sprint Cup circuit, the top group of stock car drivers in the country.
At age 22 not only did he attract the attention of his peers by driving for Chip Ganassi in the Target Chevrolet No. 42 car, but scored the eighth-most points this NASCAR season. That earned him the NASCAR Rookie-of-the-Year Award.
|NASCAR's Rookie of the Year, Kyle Larson|
He’s the first Elk Grove resident ever to drive on the NASCAR circuit and that fact alone earned him a key to the City of Elk Grove in July. (See video below)
2 2. Sheldon Boys’ Basketball Sanctioned By Section
In the thirty years of the Sac-Joaquin Section there had been only one heftier set of sanctions placed upon a high school sports program – the football recruiting scandal at Franklin of Stockton in 2007.
Sheldon’s boys basketball program drew the ire of Section officials when eight players transferred schools to play for the Huskies, the four-time defending Division I champions, prior to the start of the school year. Three of those boys were ruled ineligible for the entire season in December of 2013.
After an in-depth investigation by the Elk Grove Unified School District, five additional players were ruled ineligible for CIF play for one calendar year because of what Section officials said were false statements on their transfer paperwork.
The Huskies were ruled ineligible for the playoffs and are currently on probation. Head coach Joey Rollings was suspended for four weeks.
The situation fanned the flames of the debate on whether parents had the right to choose the best high school sports program for their child, no matter where the family resided.
3 3. Ryan Gomes Fired As Football Coach at Cosumnes Oaks
Gomes had more than thirty former Wolfpack players playing collegiately and had established Cosumnes Oaks as one of the most competitive football programs. In five seasons the Wolfpack was 33-22.
However in late summer came word that Cosumnes Oaks principal Patrick McDougall had fired Gomes. He never publically gave a reason for the action. Gomes told the Citizen he wasn’t given a reason for his dismissal, either.
Gomes’ long-time friend and assistant coach Derick Milgrim took over and led the Wolfpack to a Capital Valley Conference championship.
Gomes ended up on the coaching staff at American River College.