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The City Journals

It’s a wrap, the 2020 West Valley sports year in review

Jan 05, 2021 03:00PM ● By Greg James

Granger wrestlers won their third straight region title and Kina Koloa qualified for state. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The 2020 sports year has been filled with cancellations, postponements and unforgettable individual performances. As 2021 begins here is a look back on the year that was.

January

The Cyprus High School boys basketball team finished the year with a 7-3 region record, tied for second place. Quentin Meza led the team in scoring with nearly 18 points per game. 

The Hunter’s girls captured the Region 2 basketball title. They finished with a 9-1 record. Angel Lui led the team in scoring while Nevaeh Brown snagged the most rebounds. Hunter lost in the second round of the state tournament to Skyridge 53-42.

Feb. 12

Park Beeler from Granger High School finished fourth at the 6A state wrestling meet. He competed at 160 pounds and completed the year with a 39-5 record. Granger won its third straight region wrestling title.

Feb. 14

Sohnnie Wesemann from Cyprus High School placed third in the boys 100-yard breaststroke at the state swim meet. Hunter’s Angel Nunez-Ianza placed fifth in the boys 50 free and 100 backstroke.

March 11

The Utah Jazz game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA suspended the remainder of the season. Subsequently, two days later Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and closed in-person school. The Utah High School Activities Association paused all interscholastic sporting activities.

The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball followed suit and paused their seasons as the NBA had. The NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s Final Four basketball tournaments. 

The Salt Lake City Stars stood atop the NBA G-League Western Conference standings when the season was paused. They had a 30-12 record and had managed to attain the most wins in team history. The club was poised to appear in the playoffs for the second straight season. In June, when the season was canceled, head coach Martin Schiller was named Western Conference coach of the year. Bart Taylor was named executive of the year and Jarell Brantley earned a spot on the league’s all-rookie team. 

At its cancellation point, the Utah Grizzlies were poised to qualify for the playoffs for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons. Their .637 winning percentage was the best in franchise history. Ty Lewis led the team with 25 goals.

April 14

The Utah High School Activities Association officially cancels the spring sports season after a month-long hiatus. After parent protests, they reaffirmed the decision in May. Several spring sports teams played only a few games before the season was canceled.

May

National sporting events were canceled or postponed. The Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby normally held in May were postponed until later in the year.

June 26

The West Granite Quake girls tackle football team lost 12-0 in the girls high school division 2 championship. The team made up of girls primarily from West Valley and Tooele finished the season undefeated. The league included teams representing 17 high schools across the state.

“Girls are out here breaking barriers,” Quake assistant coach Crys Sacco said. “They want to play football.”

In November, Sarah Fuller from Vanderbilt became the first woman to play in a power five conference college football game. 

July 24-30

MLB, NHL and NBA seasons restart in varying manners. The NBA chose to play its games in a bubble in Orlando, Florida. 

Aug. 5

Former Olympic speed skater and SLCC baseball player Eddy Alvarez made his major league debut for the Miami Marlins. He collected his first hit four days later against the Mets.

Aug. 11

The Pac-12 conference canceled all fall sports amid the pandemic. It later reversed its decision. The University of Utah had its first two football games canceled.

Aug. 21

Cyprus High School cancels its football against Ridgeline because two players tested positive for COVID. In all, the Pirates had six players opt-out of participating before the season began.

“We have really focused on making sure our kids and coaches are safe,” Pirates head coach Tyler Garcia said before the season.

The Pirates beat Taylorsville and Granger this season for its only two victories.

Sept. 1

The Utah Jazz were eliminated from the NBA playoffs with a game seven loss to the Denver Nuggets, 80-78. The Jazz led the Nuggets three games to one before eventually falling. They finished the regular season sixth in the Western Conference with a 44-28 record. 

Sept. 7

Brigham Young University kicked off its football season with a 55-3 victory over Navy. The Cougars were ranked as high as 13th by the College Football Playoff Committee and quarterback Zack Wilson has received recognition as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.

Oct. 1

The Hunter girls soccer team lost to Kearns 1-0 in an attempt to win its third straight region title. The Wolverines eventually lost in the first round of the state playoffs. Senior Olivia Harding led the team in scoring with 18 goals.

Oct. 11

The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship over the Miami Heat four games to two. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was named the league’s most valuable player.

Oct. 23

Cyprus holds its first official lacrosse practice. In an attempt to gauge interest, Robert Goodick and a team of parents organized the Pirates team. They found coaches and started recruiting players. Upwards of 15 kids have participated and Goodick hopes this leads to fielding a team for the spring season.

“I want to support my kids. It is a heavy lift, but it could be good for the community,” he said.

Oct. 26

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series four games to two over the Tampa Bay Rays. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed mid-game of the final because of a positive COVID test. After the game he returned to the field for pictures and the trophy presentation causing extreme concern over his unwillingness to shelter away from his teammates. 

Nov. 9 

The Governor again paused all high school athletics for two weeks. Winter sports tryouts were pushed back to Nov. 24. 

Dec. 11

The Utah Grizzlies begin their 2020-21 season in Grand Rapids. Their first home was scheduled for Dec. 18 (after press deadline).