Top of the mountain

Published 8:05 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The three-month stretch from March to June is arguably the best time of the year for any sports fan. It starts with March Madness, then the NBA and NHL playoffs closely follow the NCAA championship game. The race for the Stanley Cup began Wednesday and the NBA playoffs start this weekend. There’s even the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League soccer starting soon.

Championships are hard to come by for any team in any league at any level. Once the postseason comes around, it’s like someone hit a reset button. Suddenly, everything a team accomplished in the regular season means little. Sure, it can yield home advantage. However, the field is always comprised of the best teams a sport has to offer, all kicking it into another gear with a common goal in mind.

On a more local scale, one can look at what happened to No. 1 seed First Flight in the 2-A soccer state championship last fall. The Nighthawks went into the playoffs undefeated with a 20-0-1 record, but were upended by No. 17 Northeastern in the second round.

Without First Flight in the way, Washington marched into the championship game, but came up short against the west’s top seed in Salisbury. It’s a recent reminder of how painful the hunt for a championship can be.

When it’s bad, it’s bad. When it’s good, it’s great. The Pam Pack found itself competing for another state championship mere months later when the boys’ swimming team traveled to Cary. The navy and white-clad gentlemen were able to bring home gold in January.

As hockey, basketball and European soccer playoffs ramp up, the postseason for local spring sports approaches, too. In just a few weeks, the regular seasons for baseball and softball will be over. Washington’s softball team has looked strong thus far and certainly hopes to build on last year’s second-round exit.

The Northside Lady Panthers have also looked dominant so far. They made it to the regional final last year and have shown the ability to do some damage this year, too.

Washington’s golf team is coming off a fourth-place finish in the state last year. The Pam Pack leads the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference heading into next week’s final match of the season.

No matter if an athlete is playing at the high school, collegiate or professional level, tons of work has gone into what’s to come in the postseason. The heartbreak is always painful, but the view from the top of the mountain is unimaginable.