This was the scene on June 4, 2009 in Corpus Christi, Texas. With No. 1 ranked Moody squaring off to face Calallen in the Region IV 4A championship game later that night, people began lining up to get tickets for the game - at 7 a.m.
People began standing in line at 7 a.m. even though the ticket booth didn't open for two more hours. By the time ticket sales began at 8:50 a.m., over 200 people were waiting in line. By 9:55 a.m., according to the Caller Times, over 2,500 tickets had been sold. By 1 p.m., all 7,400 tickets for the game were gone.
Rarely do you find such rabid fans for high school baseball, but Corpus Christi isn't any old baseball town. It might just have one of the best baseball traditions in the country. Four different schools in the city have claimed state championships over the past five years and the city regularly has two or three teams ranked nationally each year.
Which begs the question, What are the best high school sports cities in America? MaxPreps.com takes a look at the best sports cities in the country for high school sports. The choices are based mainly on the number of quality high school sports teams in the city, or in the immediate suburban or metro area. In some cases, the overwhelming success of one school was used to declare that city the nation's best city for that sport.
Football - Cincinnati, Ohio - The Greater Catholic South Conference, made up of the four Cincinnati teams: Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio), La Salle (Cincinnati, Ohio), St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio), would be enough to make Cincinnati one of the top football cities in the country. CalPreps ranks the Greater Catholic South as the second toughest league in the country. Yet the league is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to football talent in the Queen City. In 2009, four Cincinnati teams (Elder, St. Xavier, Anderson (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Archbishop Moeller) were ranked among the top 46 teams in the country by the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings. In Ohio alone, six schools make up the top 14 in the state with Colerain (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Winton Woods (Cincinnati, Ohio) joining the previously mentioned four. Cincinnati has also had three schools - Elder, Colerain and St. Xavier - finish in the USA Today Super 25 over the past 10 years (a combined eight times). No other city can match that number.
Girls Volleyball - Louisville, Kentucky - Both Muncie, Ind., and San Diego, Calif., could easily be considered in this category, but the sheer volume of talented volleyball schools in Louisville was too much to ignore. While Muncie had two teams ranked among the top five in Indiana and San Diego had four ranked among the top 30 in California by MaxPreps, Louisville had 11 schools ranked among the top 30 in the state of Kentucky. The top three teams in the state all come from Louisville - Assumption (Louisville, Ky.), Mercy (Louisville, Ky.) and Sacred Heart (Louisville, Ky.). Those three schools also play a national schedule, taking on schools from other volleyball powerhouse states like Indiana, California, Arizona, and Illinois. The three schools have combined to win 21 of the last 25 state championships in Kentucky including the last 15 in a row. Assumption has won the majority of those titles, 14 in all including eight in a row between 1995 and 2002.
Boys Cross Country - The Woodlands, Texas - Winners of the Texas 5A state championship six of the past seven seasons, The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas) has also regularly finished among the top four teams in the country at the Nike Cross Nationals the past three seasons.
Girls Cross Country - Manlius, New York - There are only two schools in Manlius, but Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius, N.Y.) has a firm grip on the title of best girls cross country program in the nation so it's hard not to choose this small town near Syracuse in central New York. Members of the Hornets cross country team have combined to win the Nike Cross Nationals, generally considered the national championship for cross country, each of the past four seasons. Athletes are not eligible to run in the Nike Cross Nationals as a high school and instead run under a club affiliation.
Boys/Girls Lacrosse - Baltimore, Maryland - The city of Baltimore, and its surrounding suburbs, have produced some of the top lacrosse programs in the country the past 10 years, including Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) (ranked No. 1 overall in the country by LAX Power in 2009, 2008), Boys Latin (Baltimore, Md.) (No. 1 in 2006), and McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) (No. 1 in 2005). Mt. Hebron (Ellicott City, Md.) also holds the national record for most all-time state championships in girls lacrosse with 14 and has been ranked No. 1 overall in the country four times in the past 10 years. McDonogh was the No. 1 ranked team in the country last year by LAX Power.
Boys Soccer - St. Louis, Missouri - The boys soccer season is contested in three different seasons at the high school level, but the teams from St. Louis, Missouri simply have a tradition that's hard to top. Take a look at the list of all-time leaders in coaching wins and you will find six that spent time coaching soccer in St. Louis including all-time leader Terry Michler of Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.), who won his 800th game last season, Greg Vitello of DeSmet Jesuit (St. Louis, Mo.) (685 wins heading into 2009 season), Vince Drake of Trinity Catholic (St. Louis, Mo.) (660) Ebbie Dunn of University City (St. Louis, Mo.) (592), Bob Horgan of CBC (571) and Gene Baker of Riverview Gardens (St. Louis, Mo.) (526).
Boys Basketball - Los Angeles - Few cities dominate at the highest level as the city of Los Angeles does in Division I basketball in California. In the 30 years the state has held a state championship, a Los Angeles school has won 18 times, including eight overall by Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) and the last two by Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) (which has won six total). Westchester has also ranked among the best teams in the nation, finishing first in the MaxPreps.com Freeman Rankings in 2009 and third in 2010. New York City could certainly be considered in this spot for its historical contributions to high school basketball; however, we're taking Los Angeles for its more recent achievements. New York has only two teams ranked in the top 10 of the Freeman Rankings in the past five seasons while Los Angeles has four. The Los Angeles metro area has also produced some of the NBA's top young talent, including Jrue Holiday, Jordan Farmar, Tyson Chandler, DeMar DeRozan, Trevor Ariza, Andre Miller, and Russell Westbrook, to name a few.
Girls Soccer - Ashburn, Virginia - Both Broad Run (Ashburn, Va.) and Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) won girls state soccer championships last year. Stone Bridge finished the year undefeated at 21-0-2 and claimed the AAA state title. The champs also finished the year ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN Rise for the spring season. Meanwhile Broad Run became only the second team in the past 17 years to win three state titles in a row, winning the AA state crown with a 21-2 mark. One of Broad Run's losses was to Stone Bridge.
Wrestling - Clovis, California - There are certainly a number of towns in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey and Iowa that could lay claim to best wrestling city, but the success of this suburb of Fresno and its impact on California wrestling is hard to ignore. In California's single class tournament, Clovis (Clovis, Calif.) has won a state best eight championships and has finished in the top five 21 times. Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) has won one title and finished in the top five eight times and Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.) (technically located in Fresno but is only a few city blocks outside of Clovis) has won three state championships and finished in the top five a total of five times. The town is also host to several three-time state champions, including Alex and Troy Tirapelle of Clovis and Jim Aguirre of Clovis. The past five seasons, the town has had at least two teams finish in the top eight in the team placement at the state meet including three in 2008 when Clovis finished first, Buchanan fifth and Clovis West seventh.
Girls Basketball - New York, New York - Over the past 10 years, the city of New York has routinely placed at least two and sometimes three teams in the USA Today national girls basketball rankings. Bergtraum (New York, N.Y.) has been a top 25 team eight times in the past 10 seasons with a No. 1 overall ranking in 2005. Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) has been a top 25 team eight times as well with a No. 1 ranking in 2006. St. Michael Academy (New York, N.Y.) has joined the list recently, placing in the top 25 two of the past three seasons.
Baseball - Corpus Christi, Texas - The Coastal Bend is a hotbed for high school baseball and you only have to look back at June 4, 2009 to see how enthusiastic the people of Corpus Christi are for the sport. When Moody (Corpus Christi, Texas) met Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas) for the Region IV-4A final, over 20,000 fans were expected for the three-game series, which Moody eventually won. Moody and Calallen have combined for four state championships in the past seven years. Moody won it all in 2007 and reached the finals in 2009. Calallen won the title in 2008 and reached the finals in 2010. Then there's Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas), which won the Texas 5A state championship this past season. Also can't forget John Paul II (Corpus Christi, Texas), which won the TAPPS 4A state title.
Softball - Phoenix, Arizona - There's no question that Florida, Texas and California regularly field some of the top softball teams in the country (as they do in most sports), but the Phoenix metro area can hold its own with any of those three states. This past season, Red Mountain (Mesa, Ariz.), Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.), St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.), and Sunrise Mountain (Peoria, Ariz.) all finished among the top 26 teams in the ESPN Rise national softball rankings. St. Mary's Dallas Escobedo was the state Gatorade Player of the Year and was in consideration for the national player of the year award.
Boys Track - Miami, Florida - The state of Florida annually produces some of the fastest athletes in the country. One look at the state track and field results from each of the past five seasons shows where that talent is coming from. Miami has averaged at least two of the top five team finishes at the 4A state meet the past five seasons with three teams finishing in the top four in 2008 and four teams finishing in the top eight in 2007.
Girls Track - Long Beach, California - Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) is the premier girls track program in the country, however teams from Millikan (Long Beach, Calif.) and Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.) have also fared well at the state track meet each year. The Jackrabbits, however, are the reason for Long Beach's top ranking. Poly has won the state meet a state record 12 times, according to the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book, and have a state record 16 all-time wins at the state meet in the relays. The Jackrabbits also have 10 all-time individual state meet wins. Wilson holds the state record for the most individual state meet titles with 14, according to Cal-Hi Sports, and is second in relay wins with 10.
Ice Hockey - Boston, Massachusetts - Certainly Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are home to great ice hockey cities, but Boston has a pretty strong tradition as well. Home of the Super 8 tournament that annually crowns the state champion at the Garden, Boston has teams like Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.), which resides in West Roxbury, a suburb of Boston. Catholic Memorial has won 12 of the last 19 Super 8 tournaments.
Swimming - Mission Viejo, California - Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) gets the nod more on a historical perspective. California annually produces the best swimming prospects in the country and Mission Viejo annually is the top team in the state. In fact Cal-Hi Sports lists Mission Viejo as its state team of the year 36 times in boys and girls swimming combined since 1976.
Water Polo - Coronado, California - The San Diego Section features some of the best water polo in the country and Coronado (Coronado, Calif.) is the all-time record holder in the section with 16 all-time championships. Every member of the 2010 USA Men's Water Polo Team comes from California with Coronado's four alumni, Tommy Corcoran, Layne Beaubien, Jesse Smith and Thomas Hopkins, the most representatives from any one city.
Boys Volleyball - Honolulu, Hawaii - The ESPN Rise boys volleyball rankings this year had three teams from Honolulu, including 'Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii) at No. 18, Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii) at No. 8 and Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) at No. 1. Punahou's 28 state championships is a national record for most state titles in boys volleyball.