What's Lincoln Thinkin': Top 10 Local Sports Stories of the Year
Another great year of sports, with some exciting stories, and some heartbreaking ones. These are the the Top 10 Sports Stories of the Year, specifically for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. No Marlins, Dolphins or Heat stories here.
First, some Honorable Mentions: Boynton's Lamar Jackson is a Heisman Trophy Finalist, Jupiter resident Rickie Fowler wins the Honda Classic, Glades Central's James Blackman steps in at quarterback for FSU as a true freshman, and the Palm Beach Marathon returns, after a year off and some uncertainly about its future.
10. Koepka wins the U.S. Open – The West Palm Beach native dominated at Erin Hills, winning our nation’s championship by four strokes for his first major victory. The Cardinal Newman graduate ends the season ranked in the top 10 in the world.
9. Trio of Palm Beach stars retire – Three of the best from the area ever to suit up in the NFL all retired this season.. Pahokee native Anquan Boldin signed with the Bills, but retired before the season. Santaluces grad Vince Wilfork retired in the offseason via a charcoal commercial, and Suncoast grad Devin Hester decided his comeback was over. All 3 may be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
8. Collins goes in the first round – The area hasn’t produced many NBA players lately, but Cardinal Newman grad John Collins blew up at Wake Forest and in draft workouts, and then was selected 19th overall by the Hawks. He’s proving to be a good investment, averaging 11 and a half points and 7 boards a game as a rookie.
7. Rollie Massimino dies – The college basketball coaching icon became legend with his championship as Villanova’s head coach.. but he kept teaching and impacting the lives of young men at Keiser University in West Palm Beach for the last 11 years of his life. He died in August at the age of 82, after a bout with lung cancer.
6. Richt makes magic at the “U” – Boca Raton native Mark Richt came home to his alma mater in 2016.. but in 2017, he made the Hurricanes a national contender again. Miami was in the Final Four conversation right up until the ACC Championship (the canes first appearance in that game ever). And Miami earned the right to represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl.
5. Tebow plays for St. Lucie Mets – The Mets brought Tebowmania to Tradition Field in 2016, but in 2017, Tim Tebow became a fixture there.. playing outfield all season for the St. Lucie Mets. The team’s average attendance was up 50 percent.. and attendance in the Florida State League was up overall, because of Tebow.
4. Williams Sisters Drama – 2017 was a year the Palm Beach Gardens sisters will never forget. In January, Serena beat Venus in the Australian Open Final, breaking the record with her 23rd career grand slam. At 37 years old, Venus made multiple grand slam finals for the first time since 2003. But she also was involved in a car accident in Palm Beach Gardens, that led to the death of a man. Serena, meanwhile, got married and gave birth to her first child, Alexis.
3. Ballpark of the Palm Beaches Opens – The Astros and Nationals now call Palm Beach County their Spring Training Home. Catapulted by their new stadium, the Astros won their first World Series in 2017. Playing a major part, was reliever Brad Peacock, a Palm Beach Central and Palm Beach State graduate.
2. Tiger’s Nighttime Drive – The mug shot seen around the world was taken in May in Jupiter. Tiger Woods was booked after losing consciousness behind the wheel of his vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office announced he had traces of five different drugs in his system. Woods plead guilty to reckless driving, and he’s back on the course.
1. The Lane Train – Lane Kiffin’s first year as FAU’s head coach was the best year in FAU football history. The Owls won 10 games in a row, won their first Conference USA title, made their first bowl game since 2008, and won it, on their home field, in the Boca Raton Bowl. Plus Kiffin gave national headlines to a program that’s never had any, even raising out of state applications to the university by 35 percent.
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