By Mike Phillips
Picking the winner of this fall’s Sedalia News Journal Fall Sports Coach of the Year was like placing a bet on the Kentucky Derby winner with six Secretariats running neck-and-neck coming out of the fourth turn.
Green Ridge volleyball coach Lori Larimore won the award after her Lady Tigers went 30-4-1, won the Kaysinger Conference Tournament for the third straight year, went 9-0 to win the Kaysinger Conference regular season, took second in the Willard Tournament, third in the Versailles Tournament and took second to Osceola in the district.
“That’s a great honor,” said Larimore, who has a 158-76 record in six years as the Lady Tiger head coach. “I really appreciate that because we have a lot of great coaches in this area in all sports. To be compared to them is quite an honor.”
Larimore was quick to point out the great contribution of assistant volunteer coach Bob Stone, who took over the varsity coaching spot in 1973.
“There is no way I would have taken this job six years ago if I knew he wasn’t going to be there and I would not have been around this long without knowing he wasn’t going to be beside me,” said Larimore, who played for Stone back in the 80s. “I can remember some things he said to me seven years ago that I didn’t understand,” she said. “Now that I think about those things, I do understand what he meant.”
In her six years at the helm of the Lady Tigers, Larimore’s teams have won three Kaysinger regular-season titles, won three straight conference tournament titles from 2010-2012 and made three sectional appearances.
“We won 30 this year but I think the girls should be proud that we did that after we stepped up the schedule two years ago,” said Larimore. “We started going down to the Willard Tournament last year and finished second with all those good teams down there. We lost twice to Willard.
“We took third at the Versailles Tournament and lost to Rosati Kain. We had the confidence to put our girls out there against the good teams,” said Larimore, who won her 100th win in the 2011 season opener.
The Lady Tigers’ season came to an abrupt end with a loss to Osceola in the district championship match, Green Ridge’s only loss this season to a Class 1 school.”
“That’s what good teams try to avoid, the one big loss,” said Larimore, whose team had beaten Osceola in three games earlier in the season at Green Ridge.
Larimore has to replace five seniors before next fall.
“I said when I first started that I planned on coming back,” said Larimore. “Now after six years, I have no plans to step down. I really don’t have any time table.”
2. Sacred Heart soccer coach Travis Cooper took over the team at mid-season after former coach Travis Cairer was let go.
The Gremlins went 17-10, won the district and sectionals and lost in the Class 1 quarterfinals. With a team featuring five freshmen and four sophomores, Sacred Heart won both the regular-season and Kaysinger Conference Tournament titles for the third straight year.
3. Smith-Cotton boys soccer coach Ethan Weller finished third, after the Tigers went 18-6 overall and won the West Central Conference with a perfect 10- record.
4. Sacred Heart volleyball coach David Fall. His team finished 22-9-3 overall and 7-2 in the Kaysinger Conference.
They finished third in the Kaysinger Conference Tournament, won the district, beat Spokane in the sectionals and lost to Class 1 state champion Winona in the quarterfinals.
Six of the Lady Gremlin nine losses were to teams in Class 4 and Class 5.
5. S-C volleyball coach Kristin Miller led the Lady Tigers to their second straight winning season, after 19 consecutive losing seasons.
S-C finished 19-8-2 overall and 6-4 I conference. With 16 wins four weeks before the end of the season, S-C ran int state qualifiers St. Pius and O’Hara three times in the last five matches. Photo by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.