By Joseph Hayes
It will surely be a year we all reminisce upon.
The year 2020 seemed to have it all. But along the way, there were great sports stories that captivated our attention.
Here is a look back on the top local sports stories of 2020.
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Big Reds basketball run
The Port Huron High School girls basketball team started the year with a bang.
Not only did the Big Reds have a historic regular season, going unbeaten en route to a conference title.
But Port Huron continued it with a postseason run. The team will surely be one of the stories to look back upon and one to also keep watch of going forward.
“I will remember how exciting it was for that group of girls to have such a successful season after all the effort and commitment they put into our basketball program over the years,” Port Huron High coach Becky Gilbert said.
“It was nice to see all of their hard work and dedication pay off. I am also so grateful for the community support at the end of our season. To see so many fans at a Port Huron girls basketball was amazing!”
Big Reds football run
Ladies come first, right?
After the Big Reds historic girls basketball season, who would have thought the Port Huron High football team would end the season with a historic season as well.
In the midst of a pandemic, the Big Reds enjoyed an unbeaten regular season, in which their coach Ryan Mullins became the program all-time leader in wins.
The Big Reds seemed to carry the feeling of family and community that we all longed for, as they brought joy to their school.
“I will remember the resiliency of the players, coaches and administration,” Port Huron High coach Ryan Mullins said. “Everyone took a chance by being a part of this season. It was well worth it!
“Football teaches great life lessons. The 2020 season provided a great opportunity for our players and coaches to prove their toughness. Thank you to everyone who gave us a chance to play football in 2020!”
After the season, Mullins stepped down after leading the program the past decade and a half.
Marine City football run
The Big Reds weren’t the only local program persevering through a pandemic to enjoy a sense of community.
It was hard to overlook the special season the Marine City High School football team also enjoyed; despite still going through the trials of the pandemic.
Marine City is still alive in the playoffs, despite having to overcome obstacle after obstacle. The way the community rallied around their Mariners will not soon be forgotten by the athletes.
“I am extremely appreciative and fortunate to have the opportunity I have,” Marine City coach Daryn Letson said. “The resilience, resolve, grit this staff and this team displayed is why we are where we are.
“They have consistently taken every step possible to be complete. These kids are a product of the families they have, the school, and community. Regardless of when or how this journey ends, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Jake Cronenworth takes off
No local sports story in 2020 probably captivated the attention of the Blue Water Area like that of former St. Clair High School graduate Jake Cronenworth; who went on to surprise many across the nation with his success as a pro baseball player.
Cronenworth would get off to a fast start with the San Diego Padres; and continued it throughout the season. He would eventually be named the runner-up as National League Rookie of the Year.
“What I remember most about Jake’s year is how he took advantage of an opportunity,” St. Clair baseball coach Dennis White said. “It started with the trade to San Diego and a chance to make the team in spring training, making the roster, successfully playing first base for the starter who was ill.
“Moving to second base for the slumping starter, and eventually being named to the All-Rookie All-Star team and runner up as the NL Rookie of the Year. All because he was prepared to take advantage of an opportunity!”