2013 – The Year in Sports

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By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

Well, we made it through another one. 

Earl Weaver, Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Deacon Jones, Ken Norton and Todd Christensen, we wish you could have made it with us. Other notable losses during the year included George Jones, Jonathan Winters, Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker and Harold Camping.

Harold who? If you’ve never heard of Harold Camping, he was a radio preacher in California who more than once disappointed his small following by incorrectly predicting the end of the world. He passed away in early December. No word on whether or not he saw that one coming.

What I foresee is a brief look back at the year that was. What it was, was 2013.


Galax bullrider Billy Robinson won the Chicago Invitational in the sport’s top touring series, putting up a career-best score of 92.5 astride a bull named Smackdown. Hillsville native Jim Shockley was inducted into the Roanoke-Salem Baseball Hall of Fame after an illustrious career in the sport. Shockley was an umpire for 19 years, a former commissioner of the old New River District and coached Blacksburg High to more than 200 wins. Later in the year he would be inducted into the Bruins’ hall of fame as well. Ryan Gravley became just the sixth Carroll County boys’ basketball player to score 1,000 career points. Three points away, Gravley was force-fed the ball behind the arc by his teammates, but after four missed 3-point attempts Gravley did it the same manner that made him the Region IV player of the year, driving the lane and putting in a pair of pull-up jumpers among the trees.


Carroll County won its 18th straight game before falling to Virginia Episcopal. Chandler Quesenberry’s whirling 25-foot 3-pointer led Galax to a stunning double-overtime win over season champion Grayson County in the Mountain Empire District tournament semifinals. Grayson would drop another double-OT loss two games later, falling to Graham in the region semifinals. Carroll County’s regional fortunes couldn’t have been better. The Cavaliers won their first Region IV boys’ title in 32 years, whacking eventual state champion Salem by 18 points. Cody Keith was 9-for-9 from the floor, 4-of-4 from the foul line and scored 22 points.


The Salem Civic Center staff forgot to remove the lid from the basket for the state tournament. Carroll County missed 20 straight shots at one point and lost to E.C. Glass in the state quarterfinals. Tied at 20 with six minutes left in the first half, the Cavaliers wouldn’t make another field goal until the final seconds of the third quarter. Galax opened baseball season by establishing a theme for the Maroon Tide, which scored all of its runs in the top of the seventh to edge Floyd County 3-1. A week later Galax trailed by eight runs in the seventh but eventually brought the go-ahead run to the batter’s box before falling to Pulaski County 10-8.


Cheyenne Strickland clubbed three home runs in the final three innings as Carroll County ran away from Galax, 22-3. Carroll led 4-2 when Strickland hit a two-run shot in the fifth. She added a pair of three-run homers in the seventh, which saw the Cavaliers push 13 runs across. The better-late-than-never m.o. continued for the Galax baseball team. The Tide overcame a six-run sixth-inning deficit and topped Floyd 15-14 on Chase Garvey’s walk-off single. Nine days later Galax scored six times with two outs in the top of the seventh to rally past Pulaski 21-19.


Josh Fridley and Lacey Brown were the winners of the 15th annual Dr. Ed Dannelly 10K and Grayson County belted nine home runs in two games to win the one-day MED softball tournament. The Galax boys’ soccer team improved to 13-0 with a win at Grayson County and in baseball, the Maroon Tide pulled off another seventh-inning miracle. With the season on the line, Galax came back from five runs down in the seventh inning to nip Narrows 11-10 in the MED semifinals. Grayson County loaded the bases in each of the first four inning and got just two runs out of all the noise but defeated Galax 6-1 in the tournament title game.


Galax was five minutes away from a region soccer championship but Radford tied the match with a late goal. Five seconds away from the end of the second overtime and with the match headed for penalty kicks, Radford scored off a corner to end Galax’s 20-match win streak, 2-1. In the Division 2 state baseball quarterfinals, Grayson County took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh but needed a game-ending double play with the bases loaded to hang on for a 7-5 win. Galax and Grayson were both silenced in the state semifinals. George Mason limited the Maroon Tide to three shots in a 4-0 win while Wilson Memorial held Grayson to five hits in a 6-1 victory. Both George Mason and Wilson Memorial went on to win state championships.


Lots of little kids played lots of ball and devoured lots of Little Debbies and Juicy Juices.


Tyler Worrell of Woodlawn recorded two eagles in one round of golf. The teenager marked down a 3 on the par-5 third hole at Blue Ridge, and followed that with an eagle 2 on the par-4 13th later in the round. Ty Cannaday, playing in his first competitive football game, caught 13 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns in Grayson County’s 41-28 win at Alleghany, N.C. In Salem, Steven Peoples didn’t make it to the end of the game but he nonetheless embarked on one of the greatest seasons in Virginia high school football history. Peoples ran for 152 yards in a little more than a half before suffering a concussion that would keep him out of the following game as well. Joseph Dixon filled in admirably and rushed for 223 yards, all in the second half, in a 42-41 loss to Glenvar.


Grayson County was three points away from dropping a five-set loss to Galax but won the final eight points of the night to take the set, 15-12, and the win. In the first week of a brutal three-game stretch, Galax fell to eventual Group 1A state champion Altavista 43-21. Galax racked up more than 380 yards of offense, including 249 yards on 29 Peoples carries. The loss began a string of defeats to three teams that would combine for two state titles and a state semifinal appearance.


Former Grayson County standout Mandy (Smith) Miller was inducted into the Emory & Henry College hall of fame for her exploits as a Wasp softball player. Galax won the inaugural Conference 46 golf tournament and placed second in the Region 1A West tourney and Connor Lundy threw for 327 yards, 160 of it to Chris Marshall, in a loss to Christiansburg. On a sunny Saturday in Bluefield, Steven Peoples scored seven touchdowns and ran for a state-record 502 yards in a 54-7 win over Graham. Peoples ran for 190 in the second quarter alone and went into the half with 329 yards on 11 carries. He broke the record on his final carry of the day, a 27-yard touchdown with more than 11 minutes still to play.


What a month.

Grayson County ran 46 offensive plays in the first half while Galax’s playbook consisted of an incomplete pass and nine Steven Peoples carries, good for 297 yards and a 28-0 lead in the Tide’s 49-8 win. Carroll County amassed 735 yards and ended its season with a 77-28 win over Patrick County. Connor Lundy ended his football career with more than 4,300 passing yards as he threw for 318 yards and ran for another 147, accounting for seven touchdowns. Tom Hale, Carroll’s coach for the past 15 seasons, announced his resignation following the game.

Haysi took an all-day hammering from Galax but survived to claim a 40-25 win in the 1A state quarterfinals. Steven Peoples rushed for 339 yards and four touchdowns to finish with the second-highest single-season total in state history – 3,078 yards in a little more than 11 games – and concluded his career with 5,817 yards. Joseph Dixon also topped 1,000 yards for the season. With a trip to the state final four on the line, Galax and Eastside were tied in the fifth set at 11, 12, 13 and 14 before Galax won the final two points and the Region 1A West semifinal match.

Cliff Conley won the individual championship and Galax claimed the team title in the Group 1A cross country meet. A transfer student, Conley arrived in town too late to play football so he ran cross country for the first time as a means to stay in shape for basketball and ended up a state champion. The Maroon Tide held off Radford by two points to win its first state title in the sport.


Ty Cannaday and Connor Lundy both surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for their careers. Carroll County skunked Christiansburg in the first quarter, taking a 27-0 lead en route to an 86-40 win, and Galax bounced back from a 12-point loss to Carroll a week earlier to stun the Cavaliers 52-47. In the final Twin County sporting event of 2013, Carroll County ended Radford’s 28-game winning streak as Gunnar Beamer hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 49-46 win in the First Virginia Bank Classic title game. Radford’s last loss was in the same game a year earlier.


So there it is – 2013, Cliffs Notes-style. Could have been better but it could have been a lot worse, too. Just like most of them. Here’s hoping your 2013 was a good one and your 2014 will be an upgrade.

Happy New Year.

––Craig Worrell