A look back at what we watched and cheered in 2014

With fewer than 100 hours remaining in 2014, let’s take a quick look back at the past 12 months before flipping the calendar.

Back in January, we waved aloha to the Bowl Championship Series as we will soon be enjoying the new College Football Playoff. But the BCS sure went out with a bang as Heisman winner Jameis Winston led unbeaten Florida State to a 34-31 title win, overcoming a 21-3 deficit. Winston’s two-yard strike to receiver Kelvin Benjamin with just 13 seconds remaining culminated a sensational season for the Seminoles.

In February, we got the Super Bowl we had hoped for with the Seahawks and Broncos. Seattle got off to a hot start and Denver seemed to never get off the bus in a 43-8 shellacking. Kelly Slater, only days before turning 42, took down the Volcom Pipe Pro championship. He dipped his toe into the World Qualifying Series to surf some perfect Pipeline and topped Mason Ho in the final.

March saw the Hawaii men’s basketball team reach 20 wins for the fifth time in program history, but not before a UC Santa Barbara fan got up in the grill of the now-departed coach Gib Arnold. We also got to see Waimea High School graduate Ulu Matagiese smack her first career home run for the UH softball squad, as well as Bethany Hamilton win the 1-Star Women’s Pipeline Pro, her first ASP victory since 2005.

April featured maybe the most unpredictable NCAA men’s basketball championship game in history as 8-seed Kentucky took on 7-seed Connecticut. I need to give a shout out to one special aunty and loyal reader who told me UConn would pull off the win. I said Kentucky was too good. She was right, I was wrong. So I’m now, at long last, paying off my debt of recognition. Good call!

May saw Sebastian Zietz pick up his best result of the 2014 ASP World Championship Tour. He reached the quarterfinals at the Billabong Rio Pro, which was a major step towards his eventual re-qualification. The result included a third-round win over John John Florence, followed by a topping of Josh Kerr before falling to Taj Burrow. Malia Manuel also picked up the first of what would be three semifinal appearances during her WCT campaign at the Women’s Fiji Pro.

June was an interesting month for me, as I made my way to Las Vegas for my second World Series of Poker excursion. The month featured some good results, a couple of bracelet events, terrible sleep and eating habits and a few James Woods conversations. Three fellow Kauai poker players reached the money in the WSOP Seniors Event. It was also a memorable month for Brianna Cope, who jumped way up the World Qualifying Series rankings with a runner-up finish at the ASP 6-Star Los Cabos Open of Surf. The United States Men’s National Team managed to survive its difficult group and reach the FIFA World Cup knockout phase, while Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open.

July started off great when I was able to play my way into the WSOP Main Event, capturing a seat through a multi-table satellite of 835 players. I survived Day 1 of the Main Event before getting busted out late on Day 2. Team USA wasn’t able to top Belgium in the knockout round, falling 2-1 in overtime.

August saw the start of the high school football season, which turned into a memorable one for the Kapaa Warriors. Tatiana Weston-Webb took second place at the Supergirl Pro and followed that with a third place at the Swatch Girls Pro France. Those results were instrumental in her qualification for the 2015 women’s world tour. Florence and Slater also put on the best heat of the WCT season and perhaps one of the best of all time. Their semifinal battle at Teahupoo’s Billabong Pro Tahiti ended in a 19.77 tie, won by Slater thanks to his perfect 10.

September saw Japan’s Kei Nishikori reach the final at the men’s U.S. Open Tennis Championships, becoming the first Asian male to ever reach a Grand Slam final. Kapaa began to separate itself and moved to 3-0 on its KIF season after a 28-7 win over Kauai High. After Week 1, the NFL suspended running back Adrian Peterson following child abuse allegations, a suspension that ultimately lasted the entire season.

October was a bit tumultuous as UH fired Coach Arnold, a decision for which is still hasn’t given a satisfactory explanation. UH alum Kolten Wong came alive for the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB Playoffs, slugging three homers with six RBIs in eight games. Kapaa completed its unbeaten KIF schedule with a 52-0 thumping of Kauai and entered the HHSAA Division II tournament as the No. 3 seed.

November kicked off the Vans Triple Crown with Dusty Payne winning the Reef Hawaiian Pro to set himself up for a memorable winter. Just prior to that, Kauai’s Danny Fuller picked up the first win of his pro career, winning the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach. UH won its first road football game under Norm Chow with a 13-0 victory over San Jose State. Carissa Moore took down Tyler Wright in the Maui Target Pro final, which secured Stephanie Gilmore’s sixth ASP world championship. Kapaa saw its season come to a close after a 29-24 back-and-forth loss to eventual champion Iolani in the D-II semifinals.

The past four weeks of December saw the Triple Crown won by Julian Wilson in stunning Pipe Masters fashion, Gabriel Medina becoming Brazil’s first ASP world champion and Maui’s Payne earning well-deserved qualification for the 2015 world tour with a runner-up finish at the Vans World Cup. Marcus Mariota led the Oregon Ducks to the No. 2 spot in the final CFP rankings and became Hawaii’s first-ever Heisman Trophy winner. And for a personal note finish, Penn State celebrated its reinstated postseason eligibility with a thrilling 31-30 win in Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl.

It was a great year that went by in a flash. I can’t even imagine what 2015 will have in store — though I will try in Wednesday’s column.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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