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The top 10 Forsyth County sports moments of 2015
FCN BESTOF 010315

10. Lambert girls swimming wins third state championship

Lambert’s third consecutive girls swimming state championship had been a long time coming — 13 years, to be exact. And, given the circumstances surrounding the Lady Longhorns this time around — coach Kerry Langley was diagnosed with cancer prior to the season — it may have been the most meaningful one yet. There was no need for late heroics. Lambert led wire-to-wire and finished with 433 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Brookwood (355 points) and third-place Lassiter (326.5). “It’s been a long season, but this makes it worth it,” senior captain Blaire Berto said. “Coach Langley put herself aside for us. We wanted to bring her joy and give her a bright spot.”

9. Lambert golf sweeping state championships

Both the Lambert girls and boys golf teams took home the Class AAAAAA state championship in May. The Lady Longhorns won their third consecutive title, led by a 75 from Lauren Lightfritz and 77s from Kayley Marschke and Christine McDonnell. The boys team, which placed 11th the previous season, made the haul with a 68 (-4) from Jake Fendt. Lightfritz was a shot short of medalist honors, while Fendt finished second in the boys field. All four participants for the girls team return for this coming season.

8. Lambert’s Beer decides to leave early for Clemson

There really was nothing left for Lambert senior outfielder Seth Beer to accomplish. He helped the Longhorns win the Class AAAAAAA state championship 2014, been named a high school all-American, twice been the county player of the year. It became clear this past summer that Beer wasn’t going to return for senior season at Lambert. The question for Beer was: go pro or go to Clemson? Despite being projected as a mid-first round pick in this upcoming summer’s MLB Draft, Beer decided to sign with Clemson. “The [pro] list just went on and on for going to college,” Beer said.

7. Wacky final days of Region 6-AAAAAA baseball

In a 48 hour span, the Region 6 baseball standings shook up. Lambert, 14-1 in league play, looked like a lock for the No. 1 seed before dropping a double-header to South Forsyth and West Forsyth. South was the biggest winner of the day, using an upset win and a win the following night against Chattahoochee to tie and win a tie-breaker over Johns Creek for the fourth and final playoff spot. Lambert needed a win, which it got to the tune of 19-4, over Habersham Central to keep its top seed. Eventually, all four Forsyth schools from Region 6 ended up in the state playoffs.

6. Lambert wins Director’s Cup

The Director’s Cup in the state’s largest classification had belonged to Cobb and Gwinnett County – the Waltons and Brookwoods and such of the high school sports landscape. But Lambert had been making a steady climb in contention since it opened in 2009, finishing sixth and fourth in AAAA in 2011 and 2012 then fourth and third after joining AAAAAA. Finally, the Longhorns broke through this past May finishing with 1,125.5 points. “I think it’s a great thing for our school, for our county, for our community to be able to win that,” Lambert athletic director Drew Ferrer said, “and to be able to celebrate the whole year of hard work by our athletes and our coaches and our community.”

5. Myers, Staiti signing with Maryland’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class

On Nov. 11, the University of Maryland hauled what many national media outlets billed as the top women’s basketball signing class in the country. Two of those players who signed hail from Forsyth County—South Forsyth’s Sarah Myers and West Forsyth’s Jenna Staiti. Both Myers, a versatile wing player, and Staiti, a towering 6-foot-5 post who can fill the stat sheet in a hurry, committed to the Lady Terps earlier in their careers, but made the commitment official during the early signing period.

4. North Forsyth’s Chalmers drafted and signed by Oakland Athletics

Dakota Chalmers, who spent his senior season at North Forsyth after previously attending Lakeview Academy, used a low ERA (1.50) and high strikeout rate (82) to land as the 97th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Chalmers was originally committed to play at the University of Georgia, and despite a later selection than expected, he still managed to sign at a second-round-slot asking price of $1.2 million. Chalmers’ minor-league tour’s first stop happened to be with the AZL Athletics, which compete in the same league with the AZL D-backs, where childhood friend Michael Branigan was stationed.

3. New classification means Central joins other FoCo public schools in same region

Forsyth Central met the enrollment requirements necessary to make the cutoff into the newly-created Class AAAAAAA under the GHSA. Naturally, the committee joined all five Forsyth public schools together into Region 5-AAAAAAA, set to go into effect at the beginning of the 2016 fall season, while adding Milton—a convenient travel partner to West Forsyth. The Bulldogs had not competed in the state’s highest classification since the 2006 and 2007 seasons, when they were in Region 7-AAAAA with North Forsyth and South Forsyth. West Forsyth began playing a full schedule the next season, and Lambert two years later.

2. South Forsyth football’s storybook season

South Forsyth tied its best season in school history by finishing 9-1 in the regular season and reaching the state quarterfinals, but what made the story even greater was the obstacles in front of them. After a 31-7 blowout in an essential region title game against 8-1 Lambert, the War Eagles defeated Norcross and Tucker—both have two state championships since 2010—to earn the right to host Colquitt County. A standing-room only crowd witnessed quarterback Davis Shanley, receiver Jalen Camp and the rest of the War Eagles put up a valiant effort against the eventual Class AAAAAA champs and USA Today No. 1 team in the country. South was the only team to lead the Packers in the fourth quarter during the playoffs. Head coach Jeff Arnette was named the Region 6 coach of the year, while Shanley and defensive end Cameron Kline were named the offensive and defensive players of the year.

1. Green’s DQ breaks FoCo Internet

On Nov. 9, West Forsyth cross country runner John Green was the third runner out of 226 to cross the finish line at the Class AAAAAA state championship race at Carrollton High School. Soon after collapsing from his effort and offering handshakes and high fives to opponents, he found out he was disqualified from the race. The reason: a headband, adorned with a personal inscription across the front. Green’s attire was approved by two GHSA officials before a third told him to turn it inside-out before the race. Even though he did so, the writing was still visible. Even though there were no explicit rules in the GHSA’s seven-page handbook regarding headbands and writing on equipment, Green was disqualified without a detailed explanation. The story became national news when many discovered the writing on the headband was a Bible verse—one many athletes subscribe to because of the complementary message.