As 2017 draws to a close, we at THV11 would like to recap the year's biggest Arkansas sports stories. Some are heartwarming and some are heart-wrenching, but they all tell incredible stories of the Arkansas sports world. These are our best 11 sports stories from 2017:
De Queen softball dedicates title to coach's daughter
De Queen head softball coach Tracy Nealy's daughter, J.K Nealy, passed away and his team went on to win the state championship in her honor. She had told her father that it was his year and the team was happy to oblige that sentiment.
Watch highlights from the game and an emotional interview here.University of Arkansas shakes up the Athletic Department with Jeff Long and Bret Bielema firings
This year saw major changes with the Arkansas Razorback football program. Athletic Director Jeff Long and head football coach Bret Bielema were both fired. Bielema's exit was infamous for the manner it was executed: as Bielema left the field after losing the season's final game.
For a look at the way Hogs fans felt about the moves, click here.
Local golfer uses sport to grieve loss of father
After Cade Riggan's father passed away, he started using the golf course as a way to grieve. Riggan's father taught him to golf at 3 or 4 years old, so he can still hear his dad imparting lessons to him as he sinks a putt, and especially when he lands in the rough.
To read our full story of Riggan's golf course coping, click here.
Arkansas Wildcats chasing championship dream in memory of teammate
The only team in the state to play in the Women's Football Alliance nationwide league has only 12 players. Most of the teams they play have 25, but the Wildcats have a 13th in their hearts to help them chase a championship. Former player Kelsey Goode played on the team for a year and a half before passing away in a car accident.
To read the full story of an under-(wo)manned team's drive to win for a teammate who passed away, click here.
White Hall head coach Marc Stringer puts cancer on the bench
Coach Marc Stringer is known for his positivity, but that was put to the test when he tested positive for cancer. The 34-year-old coach was diagnosed with stomach and esophagus cancer. Doctors removed his esophagus and parts of his stomach. Throughout the treatment process after surgery, Stringer never missed practice.
To read more about how the coach told cancer to ride the pine, click here.
Jimmy Dykes resigns as head women's basketball coach
In his three-year tenure, Jimmy Dykes led his alma mater's women's basketball team to a 43-49 record. After leaving the University of Arkansas, Dykes returned to ESPN as a sportscaster. The new head coach, Mike Neighbors on April 3.
To read more about Jimmy Dykes' resignation, click here.
Sooners QB Baker Mayfield arrested in Fayetteville for public intoxication, resisting arrest
Back before Baker Mayfield was a Heisman Trophy-winner, he found himself in a White County jail cell during the offseason. In February, Mayfield was arrested in Fayetteville for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. At one point he ran from police and was tackled by an officer. (Maybe the Hogs should offer them.)
To read more about Mayfield's infamous night in Fayetteville, click here.
Red Wolf looking to make academic history by earning 3rd degree in 4 years
Arkansas State defensive back Blaise Taylor is a howl of a good football player. But he's a monster in the classroom. Taylor, the son of A-State's defensive backs coach Trooper Taylor, completed his bachelor's in business and his master's in business administration in three years at A-State. For those keeping score, that's a FBS record.
For more on Taylor's incredible production off the field, click here.
Girls high school basketball star uses adversity to fuel her future
Central Arkansas Christian's Christyn Williams is the best girls high school prospect in the state. Oh and in the rest of the country, too. She's a 3v3 World Cup champion, two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and has too many accolades to list here. She received her first full-ride scholarship offer in the eighth grade.
To find out what drives her to be the best, click here.
Malik Monk dominates college basketball and is drafted 11th in the NBA Draft
Malik Monk was posterizing people back in high school at Bentonville. He became a household name in his time at powerhouse Kentucky and was named the 11th pick in the NBA Draft to top it all off. The Jonesboro native is a phenom at the guard position.
To read more about Monk's hoop dreams come true, click here.
Racing horse Double Tuff takes two families on miracle ride on way to win at Oaklawn
Shannon Boshears loved betting the ponies with her dad, before he died in 2013. After a long absence, she decided to head back to the track and the odds on a horse named Double Tuff were the same odds that her dad used as a saying. That led her to contact the horse's owner, whose father was terminally ill with cancer. Taking her father's advice Boshears bet $100 on Double Tuff to win. He did, against 30-1 odds.
To read how Double Tuff brought together two families, click here.