2012 was a year chock full of memorable sports moments, games and teams here in Gateway City and as we welcome in 2013, we take a quick look back at our top five Laredo sports stories of the past 12 months.
We kick things off with the whirlwind March afternoon when Laredo's own Kaleb Canales was promoted from being an assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers, to the interim head coach when Nate McMillan was fired mid season. Portland would pick up a win that night in Chicago over the Bulls, but for many it was the teams late season stop in San Antonio, where they got a chance to see one of their own patrol the sidelines as a huge thrill. While Kaleb would ultimately not end up with the full time gig, he does remain on as the lead assistant in Portland.
Coming in at number four was a record setting night for Martin's Rudy Castillo in Corpus Christi. The senior tailback found open holes all over the field against the Moody Trojans, setting a new Laredo record with 471 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Castillo not only turned heads here in Laredo but garnered state attention as well, being named the Dave Campbell's player of the week and the Built Ford Tough player of the week for all of Texas.
At number three baseball returned to Laredo in the summer of 2012, complete with a brand new stadium. Despite concerns over the lack of progress on construction Uni-trade Stadium was close enough to completion on opening day to host baseball. Fans came out in droves as the Lemurs finished fourth in the league in attendance, trailing only big cities like Winnipeg, St Paul Minnesota and Kansas City. While the team struggled early on, they would make a furious comeback and including a number of late inning rallies to earn the south division crown in their inaugural season.
The number two spot was not a joyous occasion for Laredoans as after a decade of play including two Presidents trophies and four conference championships, the Bucks ceased operations in Laredo on May First. Gone were the days of a packed LEA, with screens set up in the parking lot for the over flow of fans. Instead it was a sea of empty seats and a team that struggled to compete. For the second straight year the team missed the playoffs. With declining fan support and an increase in costs, ownership decided they could no longer continue. Since then the teams owners have moved on to Missouri while it appears a junior hockey league is on their way to the Gateway City beginning next fall.
Finally at number one, it was the year of the Alexander Bulldogs as the blue and gold dominated the Laredo high school sports scene. It started with the basketball programs as the boys made it to the regional semi-finals, getting past district champion Martin in the game of the year as the two teams packed TAMIU's gymnasium. The girls were right in line with the guys making the regional semis before falling to Reagan. Baseball would do one better then that, making the regional finals before falling to Corpus Christi Carroll, including the first high school game to be played at Uni-trade Stadium. Also that spring Luke Begwin would make history winning the regional golf tournament and qualifying for state. Finally coming back in the fall the Bulldog football team appeared to be rebuilding, but instead rattled off another run to the third round of the UIL playoffs before losing to San Antonio O’Connor. It would be the third straight year of making the regional quarterfinals in football, setting a new Laredo mark. Along the way there would be a number of other performances from Alexander athletes, surely making 2012 a year to remember.