As another year comes to a close and families throughout Prince George's County celebrate the holidays, what better way to ring in the New Year than by looking back at the Top 10 sports stories throughout 2013. Counting down from No. 10 …
While the Panthers carry a fairly proud athletics tradition, Parkdale has never been known much for soccer. That all changed this season after both the girls' and boys' teams made it further than they ever had in school history. The girls' reached the 4A South Region final before bowing out to Eleanor Roosevelt while the boys' team used an epic overtime victory against Bowie to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history. There the Panthers, led by former player turned coach Sadak Abukar, fell to James H. Blake, 3-2.
Though she was born in Pittsburgh, professional tennis player Alison Riske spends nearly every day in Prince George's County. She trains at Junior Tennis Championships Center in College Park and this year broke onto the national stage in a big way thanks to her strong performance at the U.S. Open. Riske scored a major upset by beating former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová in the third round. While she lost in the following round to Daniela Hantuchová, her star certainly grew bigger thanks to the stellar effort.
Prince George's County has long been a hotbed for boxing, and that was no different this year as two amateur boxers captured national titles in dramatic fashion. Both Lamont Roach, Jr. and Gary Antonio Russell won National Golden Gloves titles in Salt Lake City in May. Russell, who lives in Capitol Heights and trains with his father, Gary, was named the tournament's most outstanding boxer while Roach, Jr., who lives in Forestville and also trains with his father, Lamont, piggybacked his USA Boxing national title with another major win.
The fall sports season at Crossland High School, for two teams in particular, was something to behold. For the duration of the regular season, both the girls' volleyball team and boys' soccer team went undefeated. With coach Selina Smith leading the way, the Cavaliers ultimately bowed out in the volleyball playoffs at the hands of LaPlata. The soccer team, meanwhile, plowed through its 3A/2A/1A schedule and Andre Ferguson's team nearly upset High Point in the county title match before they fell to LaPlata in the playoffs, 2-1 in overtime.
It was a good year for Riverdale Baptist. The boys' basketball team kicked things off in the winter by winning the inaugural Capital Beltway championship with a 95-89 victory against Princeton Day. Nigel Johnson, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored 33 points in the win. In the spring, baseball superstar Matt McPhearson was drafted in the fourth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Riverdale capped off its tremendous year in grand fashion when the football team completed an undefeated (11-0) season with a 14-6 win against Perry Street Prep.
While no public school football teams in the county won a championship this season, that doesn't mean they weren't successful. Namely, Surrattsville, which reached its first state semifinal under the direction of Rob Harris and the remarkable running abilities of junior running back Amaru Major. The Hornets finished their historic season with a 10-3 record. Meanwhile, Suitland went undefeated all the way to the 4A state championship at M&T Bank Stadium only to see it come to an end one game shy of a title in a 33-16 loss against Northwest.
As if things couldn't get any better for the Bulldogs' dynastic track and field team following 2012's outdoor state championship, Bowie's girls' took things to another level this year. They first won a 4A indoor track and field title in the winter before doing it again three months later in the 4A outdoor championship by 28 points over Thomas S. Wootton. Rich Andrulonis' team was led by standouts Lexus Ramsey and Antonella Taylor. The cross country team then finished things off for Bowie with a county title in the fall.
DuVal wrestler Thierno Diallo's high school career would have been spectacular regardless of how he performed in 2013's state tournament at Cole Field House. But, after losing in the championship match his sophomore year, Diallo capped one of the finer seasons ever delivered by a Prince George's County wrestler with a 126-pound state title in a 7-1 win against Tanner Saluter. The win improved Diallo, now at Binghamton University, to 35-0 and accented a remarkable four years for the four-time county champion.
After what could be considered a “down year” in 2012, the Stags surged back onto the scene, at least championship-wise, in 2013. Sean O'Connor's baseball team downed Bishop McNamara in a thrilling three-game series. Dafydd Evans' soccer team edged Gonzaga for the conference crown and football coach Elijah Brooks led his team (11-1) to its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship since 2008 with a 31-10 victory against St. John's. In addition, former basketball star Victor Oladipo was drafted second overall by the NBA's Orlando Magic and running back Taiwan Deal was named the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year.
Eleanor Roosevelt's boys' basketball team saw its season end in the most heartbreaking way possible in 2012, coming up on the wrong end of a back-and-forth 4A state championship nail biter against Col. Zadok Magruder. Well, they got their revenge in 2013 with a 61-56 victory against the Colonels right back at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center. Brendan O'Connell's eighth season coaching the Raiders was also his most successful as they finished 27-1 and became the first county team to win a state championship since Largo in 2008.