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Purks: Eastern Hillsborough's Top 5 prep stories from 2012-13

Now that the 2012-13 school year in prep sports is officially closed, it's time to rank the top five stories from eastern Hillsborough County, because, after all, almost everybody enjoys rankings (even those who might disagree with the choices). Here we go, in descending order: 5. Newsome's Maddie Hess and the Wolves' girls swimming team. Newsome's girls swam nearly perfect at the Class 3A state swim meet and finished tied for second, becoming the first team from Hillsborough County to finish as high as a runner-up since Plant's girls in 2000.
Hess led the way with individual titles in the 100 freestyle (50.88 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (55.01), while helping the Wolves' 200 medley relay to a victory in 1:46.94 and the 400 free relay to a third-place finish in 3:32.06. 4. A perfect regular season for Durant football. The Cougars' regular season was not good, it was unprecedented - at least when it comes to the history of Durant High, which opened in 1995. That's right, for the first time the Cougars went 10-0 through the regular season, which included victories over a stout Wharton club (13-12), a solid bashing of arch-rival Plant City (22-7) and another sound beating of rival Newsome (38-28). Durant went on to defeat Tampa Bay Tech 34-7 in the playoffs, before losing in the second round in a rematch with Newsome, 21-14. Team leader? That would be running back Jamarlon Hamilton, who rushed 191 times for 1,349 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hamilton, who committed to Florida A&M, will be most difficult to replace. 3. The turnaround for Newsome football. The Wolves got off to an ugly 0-3 start, but never lost faith. No, Newsome's record was not as good at as Durant's, but the Wolves did end up 8-5 and they did beat the Cougars when it counted most (see item 'No. 4' regarding playoffs). That gives Newsome the edge in this ranking. Like Durant, however, Newsome has some huge shoes to fill with the departure of quarterback/linebacker Will Worth to Navy. Worth, the Tampa Tribune's football player of the year, finished his senior season with 1,051 passing yards, 1,537 rushing yards, 20 total touchdowns and a team-leading 104 tackles. 2. Brandon wrestler Kevin Norstrem. First of all, Norstrem won a record-tying five consecutive individual state wrestling titles, taking the championship this year at 138 pounds. Secondly, there are Norstrem's match records to consider: He went 61-1 in his senior year, 186-1 in his last three years and 290-4 in his last five seasons. Norstrem, headed for Virginia Tech, leaves behind his brother, Kyle, who, by the way, is a rising sophomore who won his second consecutive individual state title this year. Kyle's goal? "I want to win five state titles like my brother." Word of advice: Don't bet against a Norstrem. 1. Durant pitcher Tyler Danish. Danish's ERA speaks volumes: In 94 innings, Danish did not allow one earned run, meaning his ERA was 0.00 - a feat that has never been accomplished by a Hillsborough County pitcher. Danish also struck out 156 hitters and walked only 16, and he did all this against some great hitting teams, including Plant, Alonso, King, East Lake, Timber Creek and Hialeah American, the latter that came into the Class 8A semifinal hitting .362 as a team. But against Danish, American collected only one hit, struck out nine times and had only two balls get out of the infield in a 6-0 loss. American coach Ricky Gutierrez summed up Danish pretty well: "Phenomenal . Unbelievable." Earlier this week, Danish became a millionaire after signing a contract with the Chicago White Sox, who selected the Durant grad with the draft's 55th overall pick.
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