Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:18AM - 426 Views

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Some things never change, others undergo an unprecedented makeover.

The run we had in 2012 will be forever memorable for the great accomplishments and the tragic falls. We had champions, scandals and events that made news well outside of our region.

Despite our many successes in 2012, here's to an even better 2013.

1. Penn State: This Bill O'Brien is onto something

The Nittany Lions football program was the national story of the year for a second consecutive year, and remains a fixture in our rankings as well.

The year started with the death of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, who won 409 games before NCAA sanctions reduced that number to 298. There was the turmoil of the Freeh Report and its subsequent corrections. And the court proceedings.

But it was also the year of Bill O'Brien. The former New England Patriots assistant was hired in January to be the new head coach. He had to keep recruits committed despite unusual temptations -- the NCAA opened the Nittany Lions up to poaching from other schools that would be against the rules anywhere else.

A handful of players left, but none found more success than those who stayed experienced. With names on their uniforms for the first time, Penn State became something of a Cinderella story, losing its first two games but finishing 8-4 -- among the best in the Big Ten. Quarterback Matt McGloin went from much-maligned to record-setter, taking home the Burlsworth Trophy. The team was honored on the stadium's facade along with past championship teams, the seniors were honored by the Maxwell Club and O'Brien was named national Coach of the Year by ESPN.

2. RailRiders: Home is where the wins are

They were the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the Empire State Yankees and now the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

They did not play a single game of the 2012 season in Moosic. When they do play their next home game, it will be under new ownership (the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties partnership purchased the club from Lackawanna County) and with a new front office (most key positions feature new faces).

During their nomadic season, the then-Yankees were 84-60, the second-best record in the IL. Dave Miley was named Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America and International League Manager of the Year.

They are rebuilding PNC Field and rebranded the franchise as the RailRiders. The name selection has been polarizing, as social media shows people on both sides of the like/dislike discussion. The rebranding became complete when Facebook finally approved the name change to the team's page two weeks ago.

3. Olympics: London calling Luzerne County

As the world gathered in the United Kingdom for the Games of the 30th Olympiad, two local athletes went to London representing the United States.

Casey Eichfeld of Drums took part in his second Olympics, competing for the first time in the C-1 canoeing event. He had a good first run -- 10th best in the field -- but did not improve on it with his second run, finishing 14th overall.

Paige Selenski of Shavertown was a member of the field hockey team, which finished 12th. The Americans had five goals during the tournament, and Selenski had one of them -- tallying against Belgium during the placement round.

4. George Curry: Back where he belongs

Retired from football – outside of some TV and radio work – he took the call when it came.

Gary Campbell returned home to Massachusetts in June and Berwick needed a football coach -- and quick. Campbell asked George Curry if he was interested, and before you could say winningest, Curry was installed as the interim coach of the Bulldogs by the school board.

The PIAA wins leader added 10 more to his total, as Berwick won a WVC division crown and reached the District 2 Class 3A final with Curry's grandson, C.J., as his starting quarterback. Campbell proved to be back where he belonged as well, leading his Waconah Warriors to a Western Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl win at Gillette Stadium.

5. Field hockey: Even more golden girls

The WVC is considered one of the finest high school leagues in the country, with nine state championships between 2001-11. After this season, it's now 10 since 2001.

With just two senior starters, Crestwood won its first state title since 2004 in an incredible season in which coach Elvetta Gemski joined the exclusive 600-win club. The Comets showed poise under pressure, winning their last five games by one goal.

Before the fall season, 13 former WVC players joined Division I college teams. After the season, 31 WVC players earned all-state honors. And away at college, five former WVC stars were among the top-18 scorers in NCAA Division I, including the nation's top scorer, Kat Sharkey, who led her Princeton team to a national championship. In Division II, West Chester won a national title with Crestwood grads Hannah Davies, Kayla Gluchowski and Alexa Moran, and Meyers alum Leanne McManus on the team.

6. Track & Field: State title times two

The WVC had not one, but two champions at the PIAA Track and Field championships.

Hazleton Area's Julia Franzosa won the Class 3A javelin crown with an effort of 135 feet, 9 inches. Her throw was 3½ feet better than anyone else at the meet -- a dominating performance.

Coughlin's Dannah Hayward had the top qualifying time in the Class 3A 300-meter hurdles. She followed that with an even better effort in the final, winning the state title in 43.37 seconds.

The two champs combined for the best showing by the conference since 2010.

7. Football: Charges in Pa. and Mich.

Joseph Ostrowski had one year of leading the Holy Redeemer football program to his credit when he made headlines across the country in the offseason.

In May, federal charges of attempted production of child pornography and interstate communication of a threat were levied against Ostrowski in Pennsylvania. In August, a grand jury in Michigan indicted Ostrowski on a cyber stalking charge.

Ostrowski reached a plea agreement in December of 25 years in prison, followed by lifetime monitoring, for admitting guilt to producing and attempting to produce child pornography, interstate extortion and cyber stalking.

8. Pocono Raceway: Great change and tragedy

Known for a couple of big events each year, Pocono Raceway remained in the headlines throughout the year.

The track's founder and patriarch, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, died in January at age 86. But the racing went on, as he always wanted, with 400-mile events scheduled for June and August.

Joey Logano won the June race, but in August, Jeff Gordon's victory was overshadowed by the death of a fan. Brian Zimmerman of Moosic was struck by lightning in the facility's parking area.

The raceway also announced the return of open-wheel racing in 2013 with the October announcement of an IndyCar event.

9. College football: Misericordia starts program

The media guide said the Cougars were putting their 86-year unbeaten streak on the line. By the end of the season, an 87-year winless streak still existed.

While the team went winless in its first season, Misericordia appeared to get better throughout the season. The Cougars gave up 32 fewer points in the second half of the season compared to the first, and had twice as many games of double-digit scoring.

Forty-three players posted at least one tackle for Misercordia, showing the depth of the first-year roster.

10. Horse racing: Showcase will return

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs had one of its biggest seasons ever, and announced the future will be even brighter.

The 2012 season saw more than half of all the track records broken during the campaign. Eight drivers finished with at least 100 wins during the season as well.

And in September, the facility announced that the Breeders Crown, the biggest event in harness racing, will return in 2013. The prestigious event was last run at the Plains track in 2010.

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