The chase for the All-Sports Trophy for girls in the Central Ozark Conference for the 2018-19 school year may be over not long after it began.
Ozark gained a commanding edge on the rest of the league during the fall sports season, as the Lady Tigers enjoyed unprecedented success within the loop, winning a team or individual conference title in each of the five fall sports.
— Ozark’s volleyball team breezed to an undefeated run on the way to its COC championship.
— Ozark’s golf team captured the COC Tournament title by five strokes.
— Ozark’s tennis team edged Republic 5-4 in a showdown for the COC championship.
— Ozark’s softball team outlasted Republic 14-12 to earn a share of the COC championship
— The Lady Tigers’ Alexis Barber was a runway winner for medalist honors at the COC Cross Country Meet.
Ozark’s fabulous fall added up to the No. 1 sports story of 2018 in the Headliner Area.
“It’s impressive and I’m proud of what we achieved,” said senior softball player Nya Morgan, who twice was named the COC Player of The Year and holds Ozark's records for single-season and career home runs.
The success of the Lady Tigers didn’t come as a surprise to them. Seniors on the teams have been confident of their own class and the classes below them dating back to their days in junior high
“I remember thinking in eighth grade that I knew our class was going to be pretty good,” all-state volleyball player Julia McCown said. “I also knew the classes below us had strong classes.”
“We’ve always known we’re a very talented class,” senior softball McKenna Harmon added. “We’ve gone a long way with our talents.”
“Our class always has been a class we can be proud of,” said Barber, also a senior. “Every time we step on the court, the floor or the field, you can tell we’re going to give our best effort.”
The Lady Tigers don’t discount the off-season work they put in, particularly during the school’s Fit For Life program in the summer months.
“A lot of the girls who excelled were always at Fit For Life,” Morgan said. “I think that was really important. You come in to the season in shape and have already been working with your teammates.”
“It was really beneficial to make gains during the summer,” added Barber, who along with her twin sister Brocklyn finished first at every regular-season meet they competed in this fall. “You do weightlifting, cardio, and other exercises It benefitted us not to slack off in the summer.”
“Fit For Life is really competitive,” senior tennis player Macy Abernathy said. “The people in track are really good runners and certain people were known for lifting. It’s super competitive, but encouraging.”
In each sport the Lady Tigers will surely shoot for conference titles again next season.
“For golf, 75 percent of our team was sophomores this year,” sophomore inkster Elizabeth Freeman said. “We can only grow from here. We don’t have any seniors. So, I think next year the COC championship will definitely be in our picture again.”
The great majority of the Lady Tigers’ stars of the fall are one-sport athletes. They feel their singular focus works out best for them.
“Focusing on volleyball gives me the time to absorb more information about volleyball,” McCown said. “I used to swim and do other sports. When I did the other sports, it made it hard on me because I would be in club season for volleyball. I didn’t get to focus on volleyball as much as I could. Being a one-sport athlete meant (as a junior and senior), I got to put all my time and effort into it. That’s when I get my best results.”
The Lady Tigers relate they share a bond, no matter the sport.
“It’s always fun when our girls sports win anything like COC, Districts or Sectionals or even cheerleading for State,” McCown said. “We all share a locker room. We’re close with each other.
“We come to the softball games if we don’t have a volleyball game or if we get out of practice in time,” she added. “Softball players come to our games. We go to tennis matches. We all support each other.”