The year 2016 was historical and heartbreak- ing. We saw curses being snapped, the return of traditions, records being made, stars in the making, legends retiring and going to heaven.
What an amazing year it was for Richland with the return of the storied wrestling pro- gram. Coach Bill Neal and the Thunderducks got their feet wet by winning more than 30 matches. The wrestling team will return in January in their quest to win more events, in- cluding the state duals in Spring, Texas and the national tournament in Allen.
All of Richland’s athletic teams finished with winning seasons including the 2016 Na- tional Champion men’s soccer team.
As one curse ended in North Dallas, other curses ended in the Midwest. The NBA’s Cav- aliers delivered Cleveland its first pro sports world title in 52 years. Baseball’s Chicago Cubs broke the longest sports drought of 108 years by winning the World Series against the Indi- ans. The current longest title drought now belongs to the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
Big name players retired this year including David Ortiz, Marshawn Lynch, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. An awesome group of athletes were inducted into the hall of fame including Ken Griffey Jr., Kurt Warner, Allen Iverson, Sheryl Swoopes, Mike Piazza, Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Yao Ming, John Lynch and Shaquille O’Neal.
America lost some of the most powerful athletes of all time, including Arnold Palmer, who revolutionized golf and paved the way for great golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods.
Pat Summitt put Tennessee women’s basketball on the map and brought prominence and credibility to women’s basketball and women’s sports in general. Summitt holds the record as the all-time winningest coach in Division I.
Former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan was the mastermind behind the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears’ 46 defense in 1985.
Gordie Howe was in the first paragraph of NHL history as the greatest hockey player of all-time. Howe’s loyalty and longevity of play- ing more than 30 seasons is by far the longest playing career in sports history that will never be broken. Dwayne “Pearl” Washington was the heart and soul of Syracuse basketball and more importantly the Big East Conference.
Finally, we lost the greatest athlete of all- time: Muhammad Ali. The Louisville, Ky. boxer shaped the sport, advanced civil rights and shaped the world.
Despite awful conditions, U.S. Olympians brought home more gold medals from Rio de Janeiro than any other country. Michael Phelps swam his way to history, adding more medals to a legacy that will never be beaten.
This story wouldn’t be complete without the Dallas Cowboys. Plagued with injuries once again, quarterback Tony Romo passed the torch to rookie Dak Prescott. Since then, Prescott, along with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and veterans Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Sean Lee have made the Cowboys the hottest team in the NFL this season. The biggest goal is to get to Super Bowl 51, taking place just four hours south in Houston.
All in all, 2016 in the sports world had its moments of spectacular, sour and sad. Indeed, it was a Sweet ’16.