As another year ends and another one begins, here are five sports stories that captivated Lincoln County in 2013:
1 Post 455 makes history: The year 2013 will be one the Lincoln County Cardinals will never forget. For the first time in their history they advanced to the N.C. American Legion State Tournament after they eliminated powerhouse Cherryville Post 100 in a semifinal series of the Area IV tournament. While it didn’t win any games at the state tournament in Wilson, Post 455 had a few more firsts last season: It won its first semifinal series game, played for its first Area IV title and sported its first Area IV Player of the Year.
2 Wilson fulfills NFL dream: C.J. Wilson’s odds of playing in the NFL were, according to pro scouts and general managers, so slim that he wasn’t drafted. Having nothing to lose the Chicago Bears signed him to an undrafted free agent contract in May, and in August he showed he belonged in the NFL after a solid preseason and was placed on the Bears’ 53-man roster. Wilson spent the better part of this season on the practice squad, but his rookie contract with the Bears made him the second from Lincoln County and first since Dennis Byrd in 1968 to start a regular season with an NFL team.
3 Year of the individual: The outgoing year saw many great individual performances in just about every sport. East Lincoln sophomore Chazz Surratt set a county record with 62 total touchdowns and had 4,151 yards of total offense in one of the best offensive prep football seasons the county has ever seen. Lincoln County Cardinals’ Danny Sullivan led the Area IV in battling at .469, and hit .519 with 24 RBIs during the playoffs to lead Post 455 to its first trip to the state tournament and himself to the Area IV Player of the Year. East Lincoln’s Frances Massey tore up the cross country trails as a freshman en route to being named the conference female runner of the year, and helped the Mustangs win their first state title. Lincolnton defensive end Darian Roseboro is such a high commodity that North Carolina came to see him in a helicopter and Duke in an 18-wheeler. West Lincoln’s Clay Alguire and East Lincoln’s Jeremy Tarleton won individual state titles in wrestling. And East Lincoln’s Darin Salter pitched a perfect game.
4 Memorial Stadium gets facelift: As Lincoln County as the Apple Festival, Lincolnton’s Memorial Stadium –– home of its football team –– began the task of going through a two-phase renovation project in which the track was resurfaced, a new scoreboard erected, and a monument placed below it to honor the one responsible ––Von Ray Harris –– for making the stadium and the football program as influential as it is today. The second phase of the project –– upgrades to the field house and visitor’s seating –– are expected to be completed in Aug. 2014.
5 Mustangs grab state cross country title: Behind a speedy freshman and a group of girls who knew the importance of staying together the Mustangs captured their first cross country state championship in November. They placed five in the top 29, including a fifth-place finish by freshman runner Frances Massey, to give East Lincoln a state title in girls cross county to go along with the one won by its boys in 2009.