NEW ALBANY —
Thousands of coaches and athletes help make Southern Indiana sports what it is every year. Like every season, there were a select few who helped make it even greater in 2012.
Here’s a look at the top sports performers and personalities of the year:
1. Jermaine Parrish, New Albany track/basketball. Parrish blew away the field to win the 100-meter dash at the state finals in June, beating runner-up Dylan Collins of Merrillville. The junior’s time of 10.67 was .16 seconds faster than Collins. Parrish then finished second in the 200 meter, behind Lucas Wallace of Lafayette Jeff, in a blazing 21.91. Parrish has also been one of the top performing basketball players in 2012-13 as a senior guard for the Bulldogs, who are currently 4-3.
2. Aaron Daniel, Charlestown football/basketball. Daniel led the state’s best offense to an astounding 769 points during a 12-1 season that included the Pirates’ first sectional crown since 1996. The senior threw for 2,075 yards and 36 touchdowns and ran for 1,766 yards and 32 scores. Daniel is currently the basketball team’s second-leading scorer and leader in assists.
3. Zach Blankenbeker, Jeffersonville swimming. After winning four sectional titles, Blankenbeker finished second in the 500 freestyle, fourth in the 200 freestyle, and helped Jeff’s two freestyle relays teams to top-8 finishes at the state meet in Indianapolis.
4. Ben Hesen, swimming. The Jeffersonville and Indiana University grad finished fourth in the 100-yard backstroke at the Olympic trials in Omaha. In one of the fastest fields in Olympic trials history, Hesen finished just .17 seconds behind Nick Thoman for the final spot in the Olympics.
5. Joe Decker, Silver Creek baseball coach. After his wife, Stephanie, lost her leg when the couple’s house was hit by a March 2 tornado, Decker returned for the sectional at his wife’s urging. Decker helped lead the Dragons to an 8-7 win over Corydon Central and an 11-10, 8-inning victory over North Harrison for the program’s first back-to-back sectional crowns in school history.