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Just like their counterparts in the military sports community, high schools in Europe coped with transformation during 2007. The calendar year just ending brought with it the biggest change in Europe’s high school sports in a decade when the schools began their basketball seasons this month playing a regional rather than a divisional schedule.

The new structure, designed to minimize missed classes and travel costs and maximize opportunities for families to see their athletes play, groups the schools by area, regardless of size, thus pitting tiny D-IV schools, such as Hanau, against the giants of the system, such as Heidelberg.

Things, however, will appear more normal in February, when the schools come together in Wiesbaden and Mannheim for the European wrestling and basketball tournaments that annually open the calendar year in prep sports.

Graduating seniors Kasy’e Lalau of Patch and Evan Watson of Wiesbaden, both three-sport stars, were voted athletes of school year 2006-2007 in June, beating out such rivals as Stephanie Anderson of Naples, the only athlete, male or female, to make the All-Europe first team in three team sports, and Greg Billington of Lakenheath.

Billington, a two-time European cross country champion and member of the U.S. junior national triathlon team, broke the school system’s 3,000-meter record of 8 minutes, 36.90 seconds, set by former Baumholder runner Rick Jaster. The mark had stood for 21 years until Billington was clocked in 8:34.16 in May.

School-wise, the calendar year of 2007 easily belonged to the Ramstein Royals, whose various teams brought home 10 championship trophies, evenly split among girls and boys. Ramstein is the largest school in terms of enrollment in DODDS-Europe; Brussels of D-IV, one of Europe’s smallest schools, was next in line with four European championships.

Billington’s record 3,000-meter run stands as the calendar year’s greatest individual feat, but there were plenty of other notable achievements by Europe-based high school athletes. Among them:

Ansbach’s undefeated run through its inaugural Division II football season. The Cougars, who had won the Division III crown in 2006 and had just half the enrollment of some of the teams they faced in D-II, ran their winning streak to 16 games with a 44-8 rout of defending D-II champion Bitburg on Nov. 3.The same day Ansbach won its first D-II title, Hanau, a school which will shut its doors forever in June, defeated Menwith Hill 58-20 to claim the school system’s first Division IV football crown, a nine-man division. Earlier in the year, Hanau, playing in Division III for the 06-07 school year, won European titles in girls basketball and soccer and boys’ track and field.Heidelberg’s boys, playing without suspended coach Brad Shahan, clawed their way to the European D-I basketball title with a 43-40 victory over Ramstein. Shahan was sidelined for violating corporal punishment rules by having his football players do 200 pushups during a practice session. Volunteer coach Claude Wesley directed the Lions from the bench to their sixth D-I title since 2000.Ramstein’s girls’ basketball champions joined Ansbach’s football team in posting an all-victorious 2007 title run. Ramstein’s volleyball team just missed equaling that feat. The Lady Royals lost their first match in two years in November’s tournament, but rebounded to claim their third straight European title.Calendar year champions 2007(Note: Some schools changed divisions for 07-08 school year)

Boys basketball

Division I —HeidelbergDivision II —BaumholderDivision III —GiessenDivision IV —BambergGirls basketball

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —NaplesDivision III —HanauDivision IV —BrusselsBoys cross country

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —PatchDivision III —WürzburgDivision IV —BrusselsGirls cross country

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —BitburgDivision III —American Overseas School of RomeDivision IV —NoneFootball

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —AnsbachDivision III —BaumholderDivision IV —HanauBoys golf

All divisions —RamsteinGirls golf

All divisions —RamsteinMarksmanship

All divisions —HohenfelsBoys soccer

Division I —LakenheathDivision II —Black Forest AcademyDivision III —Marymount International School of RomeDivision IV —MilanGirls soccer

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —VilseckDivision III —HanauDivision IV —BrusselsSoftball

Big schools —LakenheathSmall schools —RotaTennis

Division I —International School of BrusselsDivision II —SHAPEDivision III —AFNORTHDivision IV —AlconburyBoys track and field

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —WürzburgDivision III —HanauDivision IV —Menwith HillGirls track and field

Division I —KaiserslauternDivision II —WürzburgDivision III —AnsbachDivision IV —NoneVolleyball

Division I —RamsteinDivision II —AvianoDivision III —Marymount International School of RomeDivision IV —RotaWrestling

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