Top Local Sports Stories of 2016

The past year saw some exciting beginnings, major accomplishments, but also frustrating disappointment in local sports. The sports staff of Cache Valley Daily and KVNU 610 AM/102.1 FM voted on what they felt were the top sports stories of 2016. The following is our top 10. Do you agree with the list and its order?

<ol><li><strong>USU football going 3-9</strong>. After five straight trips to bowl games, the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Utah State football team</a> failed to reach one in 2016. In fact, the team suffered its worst season since 2008. The football team struggled in close games and only won one conference game. Frustration continued to build as the season went on and, at its completion, Athletic Director John Hartwell had to <a href=”” target=”_blank”>issue a statement</a> about the stability of Matt Wells’ position as head coach, promising changes would be made to the football program.</li><li><strong>Return of Travis Seefeldt</strong>. While the football team suffered a frustrating and disappointing season, one bright spot was the return of defensive lineman Travis Seefeldt after being <a href=”” target=”_blank”>involved in a terrible traffic accident</a>. Seefeldt not only returned to the line-up for the Aggies, but also <a href=”” target=”_blank”>received accolades from the Mountain West Conference</a> for his play on the field.</li><li><strong>Maverik Stadium renovations</strong>. Construction of a new press box and luxury suites at Maverik Stadium was finally completed this summer, just in time for the 2016 season of USU football. The <a href=”” target=”_blank”>West Stadium Center</a> featured improvements for the press and fans, and also for student-athletes with a new training table and nutrition center.</li><li><strong>Mike Favero and Mark Wooton step down as football coaches</strong>. Within days of each other, the two coaches from Logan and Mountain Crest high schools announced they would be stepping down. <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Favero stepped down</a> after winning his fifth state championship and 17 years at Logan High. The following week Mountain Crest head football coach <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Mark Wootton announced he would be leaving</a>. Wootton brought one state championship to Hyrum and finished second three different times during his 12 years at Mountain Crest.</li><li><strong>Preston Indians win 4A state basketball championship</strong>. The boys basketball team won their first state championship since 2004 and their seventh in program history. &lt;You can listen to an interview with head coach Tyler Jones and players with the attached audio podcast&gt;</li><li><strong>Funda Nakkasoglu transfers from USU women’s basketball.</strong> Arguably one of the best women’s basketball players at USU in a generation, Nakkasoglu announced at the end of the season that she would be <a href=”” target=”_blank”>leaving the team</a> and transferred to Florida. Nakkasoglu was named to the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Mountain West Conference first team</a> as a sophomore after leading the Mountain West in scoring and won <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Freshman of the Year</a> honors the year before.</li><li><strong>Local high schools will be in same region</strong>. This fall the Utah High School Activities Association announced that all Cache County high schools, plus Bear River, would be in the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>same classification and the same region next year</a>. With the creation of Ridgeline and Green Canyon, student populations at all Cache County high schools and Bear River will be fairly similar, making for an exciting region for years to come.</li><li><strong>Ridgeline sports begin</strong>. The newest public, non-charter high school since Mountain Crest opened in the mid-1980s was instantly competitive in sports and generated a lot of <a href=”” target=”_blank”>excitement from fans and boosters</a>. The school’s tennis team won their region and the football team made it to the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>3AA quarterfinals</a>. Football player Levani Damuni has become the most highly-recruited football player in years after a successful career at both Mountain Crest and Ridgeline. Additionally, basketball player Jaxon Brenchley announced his <a href=”” target=”_blank”>commitment to play for the University of Utah</a> basketball program.</li><li><strong>Sky View golf finishes 2nd in state</strong>. The Bobcats achieved their highest finish ever in golf, completing their season as <a href=”” target=”_blank”>runners up in the 5A boys golf state championship</a>. Kohner Knowles finished tied for 3rd individually.</li><li><strong>Spencer Nelson returns to USU</strong>. Tim Duryea announced that <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Nelson would be coming back to his alma mater</a> after a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>successful career playing internationally</a> and a brief stint as a broadcaster for the Utah Jazz. Nelson was a fan favorite while at USU. During his final three years at USU, he helped the Aggies to a 73-21 record and won Big West tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 and 2005.</li></ol>

Honorable mentions: Logan High girls soccer finishes 2nd in state soccer championship; six Aggie football players made it on NFL rosters following the 2015 season; Aggie football player Brady Holt severely injured in a traffic accident and his slow recovery; Koby McEwen commits to play for USU basketball, perhaps the highest rated recruit ever to sign with the Aggies; the passing of former Aggie player and BYU football coach LaVell Edwards.

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