Blue Springs South High School had a tremendous year in 2018 when it came to success for its sports programs. The softball team won its first state championship in program history, the baseball team took third at state and the girls cross country team took fourth at state.

The year 2018 seemed to be the year of the Jaguars in Eastern Jackson County, but there were many other great moments in the area. The Van Horn boys soccer team made it to the state final four for the first time in program history; the Fort Osage football team advanced all the way to a second-place finish; the Oak Grove softball team took second at state in Class 2; the Lee’s Summit North boys swimming and diving team took fourth at state; the Blue Springs boys and South girls track and field teams took third at state; and Grain Valley moved from the Missouri River Valley Conference West to the Suburban Small Seven Conference . Let’s take a look at how 2018 unfolded for these teams:

Blue Springs South softball

The Jaguars have a unique story. They made it to the state championship game in 2016 and 2017 and lost to Troy Buchanan (4-3) and Marquette (2-0), respectively. Blue Springs South got a third crack at it this season with much younger players than the previous two final four teams.

The Jaguars made it work, led by seniors Easton Seib and Abby Sciara, and coincidentally faced Marquette in the semifinals and Troy Buchanan in the championship at state. They overcame a 4-2 deficit to Marquette by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead. Marquette scored one run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Jaguars hung on for a dramatic 6-5 victory.

Then in the championship game against Troy Buchanan, Seib pitched the best game of her career and notched a two-hit shutout in a 2-0 win. Instead of tears of sadness, South got to experience tears of joy. Third time really was a charm for the Jaguars.

Blue Springs South baseball

The 2018 version of the Jaguars wasn’t a team that was loaded with Division I college talent like in years past, but they played well as a unit and claimed third at state. Led by the consistent pitching from Will Heller and Brandt Lightner; and the slugging of Allante Hall, John Herrman, Jared Ravencamp and Brady Strickert, the Jaguars made their second state final four appearance in five years.

The Jaguars defeated Liberty 7-2 in the state quarterfinals to get there before losing to eventual Class 5 state champion Vianney 5-3. They rebounded to defeat DeSmet 4-3 in the third-place.

Blue Springs South girls cross country

In 2017, Blue Springs South finished fourth at state with now-University of Missouri freshman Tori Findley and Creighton freshman Danielle Hotalling leading the way. Findley and Hotalling finished first and second, respectively to help that team claim a state plaque.

This season, seemed like a rebuilding year on the surface. The Jaguars were ranked 49th in the state by MoMileSplit. That ranking was used as a motivation for a young Jaguars squad. Even after losing two star runners, they finished fourth at state against this year. They were led by Lauren Low, who took 14th individually. Jayme Opdahl almost earned all-state honors when she finished 27th overall.

Van Horn Boys Soccer

After having an undefeated regular season in 2017 at 24-0, the Falcons had high hopes to make it to the state final four. That didn’t happen as they lost to Kansas City East in the Class 3 District 15 championship for the second year in a row.

Van Horn returned many of its key players but lost first-team, all-state goalkeeper Daniel Orozco to graduation. The Falcons were still loaded with talent in 2018 and they made their best run in program history. Led by all-staters Angel DeAvila, Edison Rios, Julio Rios and Raynalso Jean-Pierre, Van Horn defeated Helias Catholic 4-1 in the state quarterfinals to earn a final four berth. The Falcons lost to eventual state-champion Fort Zumwalt South in the semifinals 5-2 and ended up tied for third place after a 0-0 game with Springfield Glendale.

Fort Osage football

The Indians had a tumultuous regular season. At one point, they had a losing record at 3-4 after a loss to Raytown, and things were looking bleak with nine starters not playing because of injuries. Even with so many players hurt, Fort Osage found a way to make a run late in the season.

Led by linebacker Von Young IV, quarterback Ty Baker, defensive lineman Giovanni Willis and cornerbacks Blake Murphy and Cahleel Smith, Fort Osage made a tremendous playoff run.

The Indians upset then-No. 1 state-ranked Staley 33-3 and topped Battle in the Class 5 state semifinals to make it to the championship game for the fourth time in school history. They lost to Vianney in the championship game 28-14, but still ended up with one of the best seasons in program history.

Oak Grove softball

The Panthers flew under the radar all season, but still had the talent to put together a great regular season and playoff run. They went 19-3 in the regular season and defeated Kearney 6-0 to win a district championship.

They then defeated Nevada in sectionals and punched their ticket to the state final four after a quarterfinal win over Savannah.

Led by all-state players Cheyenne Minnick and Bailee Martin, Oak Grove topped Hillsboro 8-5 in the semifinals before falling to Mexico 5-0 in the championship. It was the Panthers’ best finish in program history.

Lee’s Summit North Swimming and Diving

The Broncos didn’t have a lot of depth, but they had a lot of talent. Led my Daniel Worth, Grant Godard and J.P. Hynes, they took fourth with 201 points. Worth, Godard, Andrew Bennett and Hynes teamed up to win a state title in the 200-yard medley relay and that same team claimed the 200 free relay title. Worth claimed individual titles in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

Blue Springs boys and Blue Springs South girls track and field

It was another year and another state plaque for the highly-successful boys track and field program at Blue Springs. The Wildcats took third and got one individual title from Tre’ Wheaton, who finished first in the long jump.

The Blue Springs South girls finished tied for third with Liberty; and were led by Findley who finished the season unbeaten in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Grain Valley has first year in Suburban Conference

The Grain Valley sports teams are playing their first seasons in the Suburban Small Seven Conference and it started this fall. It meant an increase in competition for most of the programs having to face schools like Platte County, Winnetonka, Kearney, Raytown South and Grandview, along with fellow newcomer Smithville. The football team went 3-3 in the new conference, the soccer team was 6-6, the softball team was 7-5 and the volleyball team was 7-4-1, so some success was their for those Eagle programs.