This year in sports: Most impressive

Soccer takes third at state

The varsity boys’ soccer season started off with a bang when the Cougars defeated the BV North Mustangs 5-4. After a few more wins, the team lost a heart-breaking double overtime game to Rockhurst. Two more consecutive losses followed, giving the Cougars a 5-6 record and a bleak outlook on the rest of the season.

“You know, that was kind of gut-check time right there,” coach Todd Boren said at the end of the season. “That was going to be the time that the season was either going to completely implode, or we were going to try to screw our heads back on and get after it.”

The boys rebounded impressively, winning eight of their last nine games, including upsets over number one seeds Olathe East in regionals and Olathe South in the state quarterfinals. In the semifinal game, the exciting run ended with a loss to the eventual state champions, Washburn Rural.

The Cougars rebounded from the loss and defeated Dodge City the next day, 2-0, to earn the third-place trophy.

“I didn’t really expect to do as well as we did this year,” senior Jon Kankam said. “I thought maybe we’d make it to state, but I definitely didn’t think that we would end up making it to the final four.”

Ross Whitmore places second at wrestling state

The top wrestlers in Kansas traveled to Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena for the state tournament on Feb. 26 and 27. The Cougars placed 21st in the state competition, but the real story was how well their top-ranked wrestler junior Ross Whitmore performed. Whitmore placed second at the state competition, with a 3-1 record. For the entire season, he posted a 41-3 record.

“I actually had a good feeling that I was going to make the finals. I was ranked in the top two the entire year, and I trained hard all season for it,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore had one of the best individual performances of any Cougar athlete this season.

“When it was all over, I felt good.” Whitmore said. “Last year I placed sixth, so I was able to jump up four spots.”

With one more season ahead of him, Whitmore has the chance to improve next year.

Adam Giacalone pitches two perfect games

Senior pitcher Adam Giacalone threw the first perfect game in Shawnee NW history on April 20, 2010. In seven innings, the Cougar hurler struck out 14 of the minimum 21 batters faced to lead Northwest to a 5-0 victory against Olathe East.

Only 77 pitches (61 of them being strikes) were needed for Giacalone to do something no one in the school’s history had ever done.

“I was working the zone pretty well, and when they made contact with the ball, my defense was always there to back me up,” Giacalone said following the first game.

Just two weeks later, on May 3, Giacalone threw another perfect game, leading the Cougars to a 10-0 victory against Leavenworth.

“It was a really awesome feeling knowing I had done something no one else had ever done,” Giacalone said. “But I’m still focused on one main goal: winning a state championship.”