National sports stories over the past year too often flashed across TV screens like a horror movie on an endless loop.
There was tragedy around Penn State football. There were Bountygate and doping scandals that tarnished the feel-good themes of the New Orleans Saints and Lance Armstrong. Replacement NFL referees, an ongoing NHL lockout and the seemingly endless saga of college conference realignment remind fans that they are not a priority.
Thankfully for Gilroyans, the year’s top local sports story was enough to make any fan watching a certain professional boxer stand up and shout, “I’m from Gilroy.”
Here are the top five local sports stories of 2012:
No. 1: “The Ghost” dominates
Robert Guerrero, born and raised in Gilroy, won fans across the country because of his inspirational story, flair in the ring and class out of the ring.
“The Ghost” is the interim WBC welterweight champion, and his best could be ahead as a likely 2013 fight against Floyd Mayweather looms.
Guerrero won 12-round unanimous decisions over Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto to expand his fan base, but he deserves to be celebrated for more than just his boxing chops.
Just last week, Guerrero made significant contributions to a holiday food drive with the Cathedral of Faith Church.
No. 2: Local wrestlers win state
Gilroy High won its 10th straight Central Coast Section wrestling title, and Nikko Villarreal (132 pounds) and Willie Fox (145) won individual state titles to give the Mustangs their first state gold medalists since 2009.
Another state title went to Live Oak 113-pounder Isaiah Locsin, who wrestled with the Gilroy Hawks as a youth.
No. 3: Return of Rams
Gavilan College’s women’s basketball team returned this season after last playing in 2004-05.
Former Gilroy and Gavilan player Erik Nelson coached the Rams to their first victory, a 57-53 win over West Hills, on Dec. 11.
No. 4: No Prune Bowl in 2013
News broke in early December that the Prune Bowl, which had been an annual football game between Gilroy and San Benito high schools, would not be played in 2013 for the first time since 1967.
The game could have continued as a nonleague affair, but Gilroy, which lost the rivalry contest 70-0 last season, pulled out for player safety reasons.
No. 5: Little League glory
The Gilroy Little League 9- and 10-year-old softball all-star team won the California Division II title, outscoring opponents 112-10 in seven games.