The best moments and achievements around Lake of the Ozarks

There was plenty to celebrate around the Lake in 2017 as unforgettable moments and memories were created that will be cherished by those who had the privilege of witnessing it or being a part of it.

Lake area athletes went above and beyond, raising the bar for future athletes to follow, and some even reached the pinnacle of achievement by being the best in the state of Missouri. Without further ado, here are the top 10 sports stories of 2017 in no particular order:

1) Eldon girls’ basketball wins conference, Osage advances to state quarterfinals

The girls’ basketball teams from Eldon and School of the Osage racked up plenty of wins on the hardwood. The Mustangs finished the year 21-5 and went a perfect 7-0 in conference play to earn the title of outright Tri-County Conference Champions for the first time in at least 20 years. Meanwhile, the Indians (21-6) put together the best postseason run in school history as the team claimed its second district title in three years and advanced to the Class 3 state quarterfinals for the very first time. It was a season both programs will not soon forget.

2) Lake area wrestlers earn state medals, Eldon makes history

The Lake area was well-represented at the state championships in Columbia this past February as Eldon, Versailles, Osage and Camdenton all had at least one grappler in the biggest tournament of the year. Eldon made history placing 11th as a team in Class 3 for its highest finish ever while the Mustangs saw the first three medalists in program history take the podium including Trenton Dillon who claimed the program’s first district championship and went 54-2 with a second place finish in state. Versailles sent seven wrestlers to state with Willie Schotte and Michael Trotter both finishing fifth, Osage sent three wrestlers with Ian Schaumburg finishing third and Austin Magnuson earning fifth and Camdenton’s Zion Vasquez went to battle for the Lakers.

3) Camdenton girls’ track and field claims first state title, Osage’s Edwards claims javelin crown

Camdenton added another state trophy to its display case, but this time it did not have a football attached to it. The girls’ track and field program became the latest program to reach the pinnacle of high school athletics as the Lakers captured their first team state title in school history. Natalie Basham, Kylie Meier and the 4x100 relay team all stood atop the podium while every Laker who competed earned a state medal in Class 4 competition. As a result, the Lakers edged out defending champion MICDS by a single point in the standings. Another Lake area athlete also went out on top as Osage’s Jason Edwards won the Class 3 javelin title and set the Missouri Class 3 record in the process while finishing All-State in two other events.

4) Osage’s Krantz and Camdenton’s Wilson finish All-State on the links

Osage senior Jacob Krantz and Camdenton senior Amber Wilson played at a high level on the golf course in 2017 and earned their places among the best golfers of Missouri in their respective classes. Krantz finished fifth in the Class 1 state tournament to earn the best finish by an Indian male golfer since 1989. Meanwhile, Wilson finished her Laker career as the second best Class 2 golfer in the state this past fall and concluded a high school career that included two straight Ozark Conference titles, four All-Ozark Conference selections, three straight district championships, four All-District selections and three straight All-State honors. Both Krantz and Wilson will continue their golf careers in the college ranks next year.

5) Lake Valley Golf and Country Club celebrates 50th Anniversary

It was a milestone year for Lake Valley as the golf club by Highway 54 celebrated its 50th season. What was once a 135-acre farm in Camdenton soon became a lifeblood of the community over the next five decades as people still get together for a round of golf and enjoy other social activities. PGA Pro and Lake Valley General Manager Todd Nicklas said that membership was the root of the club’s success and this was especially true early on as time and effort were needed to overcome some obstacles the club faced in its early days. The club continued to grow and thrive over time since it began in 1967 and currently has 220 active members today. However, the club is open to the public as well as it seeks to be a continued resource of local fun and fellowship for all.

6) Climax Springs cross country makes first trip to state

A new school was among the ranks at the state cross country meet in 2017 as the blue and white uniforms of Climax Springs made their first ever appearance at the Class 1 state meet in Jefferson City. A pair of Cougar freshmen in Paige Orr and Abigale Wolfe became the first state qualifiers in school history and the school showed its support as a pep rally was held at the school the day before the race. Wolfe finished 89th out of 154 runners while Orr took 148th respectively. The young program just completed its second season and Coach Tim Thebeau will look to have the Cougars be a continued presence at state as he seeks to grow the program’s number of participants.

7) Camdenton’s Bernabe becomes first Laker to qualify for state swim meet

Just a year removed from entering the pool for the first time in school history, Camdenton produced its first state qualifier in its second year of operation as Laker junior Josef Bernabe became the first swimmer to qualify for the final race of the year. Bernabe took on some of the best Class 1 swimmers Missouri had to offer in the 50 Freestyle and finished 32nd in the race with a time of 23.69 seconds. However, he will be back in the pool for his senior season and Coach Anna Leezer will look to have more swimmers join him as the program also nearly qualified some of its relay teams as well.

8) Osage softball claims first district title, Camdenton wins second straight

A new banner hangs in the halls at School of the Osage as the Indians claimed their first district championship in program history this year. Osage nearly accomplished the feat a season ago, but would not be denied in 2017. The Indians finished the year at 13-11 after bowing out in sectionals to a perennial powerhouse Sullivan team, but they will look to be back next fall after taking another step forward. Camdenton had little trouble securing its second straight district title after the Lakers shutout rival Lebanon 10-0 in the championship game. Despite losing some talent to graduation, Camdenton did not skip a beat as the program showed its depth with new players stepping up and making big plays. The Lakers finished the year at 21-10 after bowing out in sectionals and it was the third straight year the program has accumulated 20 or more wins. With plenty of key returners coming back, Camdenton will seek to continue its winning tradition and reach new heights.

9) Eldon football rallies around injured teammate and puts together historic season

On September 20, everything changed for the Eldon football program when junior Hunter Bushnell suffered a serious spinal injury in practice. The team, the school, the town and surrounding communities came together in support of Bushnell and the football team itself responded by putting together eight straight wins and making a run to the state quarterfinals after securing its first district championship since 2013. A stiff defense and a relentless rushing attack led Eldon to a school-record 11 wins as the team broke multiple other records along the way. When tragedy struck, Eldon and the surrounding communities showed what they were made of on and off the gridiron.

10) Camdenton’s Burton ends Laker tennis career with singles district title

Camdenton senior Grant Burton saw plenty of success on the tennis court over his four years as a Laker. Burton earned numerous honors and accolades as the No. 1 position player for Camdenton the past four years which included two straight doubles district titles with two different partners. In 2017, Burton captured a singles district title and finished the year with an impressive record of 20-4. His efforts and contributions to the program will certainly not be forgotten.