Finally, you can party like it's 1999. But don't forget 1998. The year offered many memories, both good and bad. The following is a quick review, alphabetically speaking.
A is for Aces. Lena Gloshinski, a 26-handicapper, got two holes-in-one during a round at Timber Greens Country Club. A 5-wood did it on the 118-yard eighth hole. A 7-iron was used on the 103-yard 13th. How difficult was her feat? Getting just one in a round is a 10,000-to-1 shot.
B is for Brad Baisley. The Land O'Lakes High right-hander dazzled us with a 90 mph fastball that seemed to get stronger in the biggest games and the more scouts came to watch. A $750,000 signing bonus with the Philadelphia Phillies, who made him the top pick of the second round of the June draft, wasn't bad either.
C is for Steve Cacciola. The Ridgewood wrestler went into last season's Class 5A tournament as a huge underdog. But the senior, in his first year in the sport, was steady and determined, winning the heavyweight title.
D is for Down But Not Out: The Pasco-Hernando Community College softball team trailed by a run with none on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. But a double and two singles _ Jessica Brown got the winning hit _ scored two runs, and PHCC came away with a 2-1 victory over Hillsborough and a spot in the state tournament.
E is for Eligible. Zephyrhills defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, one of the most recruited players ever from the North Suncoast, was able to play for Ohio State as a freshman after scoring an 890 on his third try at the SAT.
F is for final four, which is where the River Ridge boys soccer team ended up for the second consecutive season. The Knights went out in the Class 5A semifinals both times, but coach Dave LaRoach has elevated his team to a consistent level of success.
G is for Get What You Pay For. Ridgewood's Mike Rabelo, the Times all-Suncoast Player of the Year, kept us guessing. Would he sign with the Boston Red Sox, who selected him in the 13th round of the June draft or opt for a scholarship at the University of Tampa? The Red Sox didn't come up with enough green, so it was off to college, where Rabelo will catch.
H is for How Far Away Is That Game? Re-districting left Hudson in a district with five Pinellas teams, including well-south Lakewood. Ever try driving U.S. 19 at dinner time? The Cobras were eventually moved into a district with Pasco, Zephyrhills and four Hillsborough schools.
I is for Indefensible. That pretty much summed up the season of Zephyrhills midfielder Danielle Castro. The sophomore led the North Suncoast in goals and assists with 45 and 26, respectively, both school records.
J is for Jackie Pugh. The 6-foot forward/guard averaged 19.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.8 steals and was named the Times all-North Suncoast Player of the Year. She signed with Auburn after leading Pasco to three district titles and consecutive appearances in the Class 4A regional final.
K is for K squared. Siblings and River Ridge students Kevin and Kim Rumble were named, respectively, the Times all-North Suncoast Boys and Girls Swimmers of the Year. Kevin, a freshman, was named for the first time after finishing second in Class 5A in the 100-meter backstroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley. His sister was named for the third time after finishing fourth in the 200 IM and accepting a partial scholarship to the University of Florida.
L is for Looney Tunes. After a tumultuous year coaching the Ridgewood football team, Mike Looney quit to take a teaching position in Alaska, precipitating one of the most public coaching searches in memory. Parents lobbied. Assistant coach Wayne Parzik said if he didn't get the job, he would leave the school. Former coach John Castelamare wanted another chance. Parzik got the nod.
M is for Much Ado About Nothing. After countless newspaper stories and trash talk from both sides, the transfer of safety /receiver /quarterback Jaimie Sullivan from Zephyrhills to bitter rival Pasco turned out to be a non-event. The senior, one of the county's best athletes, had an ordinary season.
N is for National Ranking, which the Pasco-Hernando Community College men's basketball team achieved for the first time in the regular season. The Conquistadors, who finished tied for ninth at last season's national tournament, are ranked 10th nationally this season.
O is for Over the Top. Ridgewood's Char Foster, one of the nation's premier hurdlers, couldn't quite get her knee over a hurdle at the Florida Relays, slamming into it and prompting a bout of tendinitis, which ended her season before the district meet.
P is for Playing in Pain: Land O'Lakes senior Kristy Fuller battled a stress fracture in her hip, bleeding blisters and various other aches to become the Times all-North Suncoast Girls Runner of the Year. River Ridge's Tiffany Martin had a bum pitching shoulder, but that didn't stop her from being named the Times all-North Suncoast Player of the Year after batting .442 with 2 home runs, 39 RBI, 32 runs, 8 doubles and 2 triples.
Q is for Quote. "Eric, pull your pants up." _ Pasco boys basketball coach Willie Broner admonishing one of his players during a game for wearing his shorts too low.
R is for Record Setting. Saint Leo centerfielder Allen Dina set an NCAA Division II season record with 15 triples. The senior, who was signed by the Mets, was the American Baseball Coaches Association All-South Region Player of the Year. He batted .484 with nine home runs and 56 RBI.
S is for Soup Bone. That's what Saint Leo pitcher Desiree Croteau has for a right arm. The Land O'Lakes grad was named the Division II Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year after setting five school records, including most innings pitched (362), appearances (59), wins (24), strikeouts (192) and doubles (20). She also led the team in home runs (3), triples (3), RBI (37) and runs (26).
T is for Thirty. That is where the losing streak of the Ridgewood High football team stands after its third winless season. One more like that and the Rams will set a state record for consecutive losses. Thumbs up, though, to the Rams' fans, who made Ridgewood one of the top draws on the west side.
U is for Unsportsmanlike. In one week in December, there was a fight on the field during a Ridgewood-Springstead boys soccer game, a fight in the stands at a Ridgewood-Springstead wrestling match and a fight, in which an assistant coach was involved, at a Land O'Lakes-Gulf roller hockey game.
V is for Crystal Videgar. In one of the most dominating efforts of the year, the Hudson senior won the 200-meter dash, the 400, long jump, triple jump and high jump at the Pasco County track meet. Though the Cobras finished second, Videgar won more events than team champ Ridgewood.
W is for the Withlacooche River. The river flooded its banks during last winter's rains, forcing then-Pasco wrestling coach Nelson Page and his wife, Christina, to flee their mobile home and seek shelter at the Ridge Manor Hotel.
X is for X'ed Out. Within a week, River Ridge goalkeeper Dean Wortz stopped seven penalty kicks over three consecutive shootout victories to push the Royal Knights soccer team to the regional final. He followed that by backstopping Lindsey Wilson College to the NAIA championship.
Y is for You Make the Call. Was the FHSAA too harsh on Pasco wrestler Nate Newson? The state title contender at 171 pounds was not allowed to weigh in and was disqualified at the Class 4A meet because he left at home a doctor's note that cleared him to compete despite a small rash. Newson's mother was in a car 15 minutes from the Lakeland Center with the note, but the FHSAA said too bad. All doctor's notes must be presented before weigh-ins.
Z is for Zero. Happy New Year.