In a word from the popular movie, we were blindsided often during the 2009 sports season.
Nationally, the two most shocking developments occurred in the latter weeks of the year when Tiger Woods fell into deep quicksand — and other stuff — after what initially seemed like a simple accident involving a fire hydrant. Then, Florida coach Urban Meyer resigns then changes that to a leave of absence while at the top of his profession. And a steady stream of athletes, because of steroids and/or performance-enhancing drugs, developed feet of clay.
But we also had surprises around every turn in our sports in Faulkner County.
When searching for the defining trend of sports in Faulkner County in 2009, we were surprised by surprise.
Here are some of the developments that snuck up on us with a "wow" factor.
• We’ll go into more detail in a story later this week, but five teams from Faulkner County reached state high school championship basketball games in four different classifications and three won titles. But the most surprising development there was the team almost everyone expected to reach the championship game — Conway High’s boys — didn’t make it to Hot Springs.
• Guy-Perkins’ boys, which had lost four straight times to Mount Vernon-Enola, won the one that really counted — the state Class A championship basketball game.
• Hendrix’s baseball team, which had never won a game in its conference tournament, made an undefeated run through it and claimed the first men’s Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title in any sport for the school.
• In June, we look up and see that Conway’s Bryce Molder, who had struggled as a pro and had only had a card for one year on the PGA Tour, was battling for the lead in the St. Jude Classic, taking it to the final holes. He finished tied for second, launching him on a strong run that secured his tour card for this year.
• Conway High fielded a wrestling team for the first time and had a female, Emily Stokes, letter and make history by winning a match by pinning a male opponent.
• Greenbrier advanced to the state Class 5A semifinals, and in the process, posted a better football record than the University of Central Arkansas, which has almost never happened.
• The UCA football team had an incredible run of frustration, losing seven games by a total of 23 points (no more than five in any game) on the way to a 5-7 season that stunned almost everybody.
• In looking for "scrapbook" games for a basketball team that was ineligible for postseason, UCA officials got the Bears in a tournament that placed them against Kansas, the No. 1 team, in the country (a first for the program to play a No. 1 team) following that shortly with a game against perennial power Memphis.
• Conway’s football team, in its first year under Clint Ashcraft, came on strong at the end of the season, stunning Fayetteville with a 45-42 victory in the first round of the state playoffs.
• Much of the fall attention for bragging rights at UCA shifted to volleyball, where the Sugar Bears powered to a 16-0 run through the Southland Conference schedule, claiming the regular-season title.
• Conway Christian, competitive in about every sport in its first year in the Arkansas Activities Association, began its girls basketball season in impressive fashion by defeated Class 7A Cabot and Class 5A Central Arkansas Christian before winning the Battle at the Brier title with a win over defending 5A state champ and previously undefeated Vilonia.
• Vilonia stunned Conway’s girls in winning the championship of the First Security John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational.
• The University of Central Arkansas women’s basketball team, of which coach Matt Daniel pretty much cleaned house after last season and put together the youngest lineup in Division I women’s basketball, went into this week with an eight-game winning streak.
• The UCA men, which began this season against tough opposition, upset Cal State Fullerton, which had earlier upset UCLA.
• Conway High’s boys soccer team, which seemed almost invincible after putting together a 43-game winning streak over two seasons, was upset in the Class 7A state title game by Little Rock Catholic, a team the Cats had defeated relatively easily a couple of weeks before.
In any year, there are going to be some surprises. But it seems 2009 was one of those special ones where you had to expect the unexpected.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)