2012 was a busy year in Utah high school sports, both on and off the field of play. Here are the top 10 stories of the year.
Mountain View's Ashleigh Warner, East's Natalie Shields and North Summit's Erica Birk all break the state 1,600-meter record in the same race at the BYU Invitational.
Bingham pitcher Brady Lail was drafted by the Yankees and signed.
Brighton swimmer Long Gutierrez breaks two swimming records.
Davis boys and girls win 5A state track titles.
Olympus wrestler Brandon McBride goes undefeated and wins fourth state title (two in Utah, one in Idaho and one in Illinois).
Skyline baseball wins first state title in school history.
Manti trifecta: Templars win 2A softball, boys tennis and boys soccer state titles on same day.
Duchesne football wins third straight state 1A title, extends winning streak to 34.
Syracuse's girls basketball caps perfect season with 5A state title.
Region 9 dominates 3A boys basketball state tournament, advancing four teams to semifinals.
Brighton boys tennis ties state record with 7th straight state championship.
Lone Peak's Kizzy Willey named to Under Armour All-American volleyball game.
Maple Mountain's Grant LaMont wins national title in Greco-Roman at USA Junior Nationals.
American Fork's boys turned in the best season in state history for any cross country team — ever.
It started with a third straight 5A state championship in October, but the highlight was a second-place finish at the Nike Cross Country Nationals in Portland on Dec. 1.
It was the best finish for a Utah team ever, surpassing the third-place finish by Davis High last year.
American Fork finished just 14 points behind eventual national champion Arcadia High out of California.
Brayden McLelland finished eighth for the top finish by the Cavemen, followed by Connor McMillan (19th), Zac Jackson (38th), Caleb Thompson (72nd) and Tyson Green (78th).
After 59 years, Orem's boys basketball team finally has a championship banner to hang in the rafters.
Led by three underclassmen, Orem dominated the 4A landscape all season, finishing with a 24-1 record and winning the 4A state championship with a 58-50 win over Olympus in the title game.
Among those 24 victories was a 57-51 win over eventual 5A state champion Lone Peak back in the preseason.
Orem's only loss of the season was a 78-71 victory by West Jordan at the Great Western Shootout.
"I can't even tell you how amazing this feels. This was our goal and we worked hard every day to get here. Now that it's here, it's just unreal," said Orem sophomore Dalton Nixon.
After 35 years as head coach, 301 career victories and eight state championships, Skyline football coach Roger DuPaix, 70, called it a career earlier this year to serve an LDS Church mission with his wife.
DuPaix won his 301st and last game on Oct. 28, 2011, but he didn't announce his retirement as the Eagles' head coach until January 2012. He's one of 92 coaches nationally to win 300 games in their career.
DuPaix spent the first nine years of his coaching career at Highland and the last 26 at Skyline. He racked up a 301-112 record during those 35 years, including a 67-25 playoff record.
His last state title came in 2005 when he guided the fourth-seeded Eagles to an unlikely championship.
There have been some dominant high school football teams through the years, and the 2012 Jordan Beetdiggers deserve to be mentioned right alongside them.
Led by sophomore quarterback Austin Kafentzis, the 2012 Mr. Football winner, Jordan easily won the 5A state championship this year, finishing with a 12-1 record. Its lone loss was a 34-33 setback against St. John Bosco, Calif., at Rio Tinto Stadium back on Sept. 29.
The final scores of its four playoff wins were 56-7, 49-13, 35-14 and 58-2. The 56-point victory over Syracuse was the second-biggest blowout in state championship game history. Incredibly, Syracuse had only given up 70 points all year prior to the 5A championship.
"I'm just really happy for our kids. This is incredible what they've done — the amount of time and effort that they've put forth into this season," said Jordan coach Eric Kjar.
Jordan finished the year ranked No. 21 nationally, according to MaxPreps.
When Snow Canyon's baseball team was forced to forfeit four region victories for using an ineligible player last April, suddenly the No. 2 team in 3A was in danger of missing the playoffs completely.
The reality of the situation stung even more because the ineligible player was just a backup who only appeared in a handful of games.
The adversity fueled an improbable run to the state title. Snow Canyon won its final three region games and then a Region 9 play-in game to qualify for the state tournament. In the playoffs, the Warriors beat Juan Diego twice and Spanish Fork once on its way to winning the 3A state championship.
"With the forfeit thing, it made us come together closer as a family more than ever," said Snow Canyon's Michael Jensen. "We had to buckle down and we knew we could do it, and we came through and got it done."
The mystique of Alabama was just too much for Cooper Bateman to pass up.
With offers from more than 50 schools, including the likes of LSU, Auburn and Florida, Bateman made big local news back in May when he verbally committed to defending BCS national champion Alabama.
Utah has produced highly recruited offensive and defensive linemen through the years, but never a quarterback quite like Bateman. Bateman said the pressure of playing quarterback in the SEC is something he's very much looking forward to.
"You can feel pressure any place you go. It's life or death down there, but I think that's a good thing," Bateman said back in May. "There might be people who think I can't play because I'm from Utah. But what I'd like to do is come out and prove them wrong."
Bateman graduated from Cottonwood early and will enroll at Alabama this January.
The three-year starter finished his high school career with 6,697 passing yards and 63 touchdowns.
Without much controversy or opposition, the UHSAA approved adding a sixth classification in just football, beginning with the 2012-13 school year.
The change primarily only affects Class 3A, which was basically split into two classifications — 3A and 3AA. The change was proposed to create smaller ratios among the schools in each of the five classifications.
Many believe the change will water down the 3A state championship, but smaller 3A schools like Delta and Juab don't seem to mind. They've been outspoken about the inequalities in 3A for several years.
In the newest football realignment, Hillcrest, Herriman and Westlake were all bumped up to 5A, while Kearns fell to 4A. Ogden and Spanish Fork made the jump to 4A.
The two 3A classifications are divided into North and South regions.
3AA North: Bear River, Ben Lomond, Juan Diego, Park City, Stansbury, Tooele and Uintah
3AA South: Cedar, Desert Hills, Dixie, Hurricane, Payson, Pine View and Snow Canyon
3A North: Carbon, Emery, Grantsville, Judge Memorial, Morgan and Union
3A South: Canyon View, Delta, Juab, Manti, North Sanpete and Richfield
What started out as an issue at Timpview High forced changes in the way all public schools deal with donations and fundraising money.
Several audits revealed financial issues in Timpview's football program in February, which led to one of the state's most successful coaches, Louis Wong, being forced to resign as part of a settlement with the Provo School District.
In the wake of the issues raised about how fundraising money is accounted for and how it can be used, other schools were audited and other issues raised.
In Granite District, Cottonwood instituted a rule that big-money donors could not hold decision-making positions, paid or unpaid, in school programs. It led to the football team losing longtime offensive coordinator Scott Cate, as well as much of the equipment he donated to Cottonwood during his time there.
Audits by the state showed there were similar accounting issues at schools in other districts and more training was necessary to ensure coaches and teachers followed state law when it came to fundraising and accounting.
Currently the state school board is drafting a new rule that would uniformly give direction to schools about how to handle finances associated with extracurricular activities.
In two different counties in the same month, the state's top two 4A football teams revealed they'd used ineligible players in multiple region games. Hearings at the region level only imposed fines, although Timpview was stripped of last year's region wins and region title because one of the players played in all games last year.
In a hearing of executive committee members, which took place the last week before playoffs, both teams were forced to forfeit every game in which those players participated.
For Timpview, it meant dropping from a No. 1 to a No. 3 seed. For East, it meant the undefeated Leopards were eliminated from the tournament.
A hearing two days later in front of the Board of Trustees changed East's punishment slightly as it gave the Leopards the last playoff spot from Region 6, meaning they didn't forfeit one region game against Cyprus.
The move put the state's top four teams into one bracket, and Timpview and East met in the semifinals where the eventual state champion T-birds defeated East. The issue has prompted a proposed change in the UHSAA by-laws that will be discussed and voted on in January and March.
No story captured the attention of the high school sports community in 2012 quite like Lone Peak's boys basketball team this past week.
Ranked No. 6 in the preseason by MaxPreps, the Knights were thrust into the No. 1 ranking the week before Christmas — the same week it traveled to Florida to participate in the prestigious City of Palms Classic. It was the first time a Utah team has ever been ranked No. 1 nationally in basketball, football or baseball, according to MaxPreps — and likely any other publication either.
Lone Peak didn't disappoint in Florida, either.
It beat Callaway, Miss., No. 3 Chester, Pa., and No. 5 Southwind, Tenn., to advance to the championship game of the Palms last Saturday. The Knights eventually ran out of gas in losing to Montverde Academy, Fla., in the title game, but they succeeded in putting Utah basketball on the map during their four days in Florida.
Even though the No. 1 ranking only lasted a week, it was definitely a rarity for a team from Utah.