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Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey kisses the Pac-12 championship trophy

Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) kisses the trophy after the Utes beat the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Sports photos of the year: 2021

SHARE Sports photos of the year: 2021
SHARE Sports photos of the year: 2021

What a year 2021 was for Utah sports, and Deseret News photographers were right there, giving readers a front-row seat, literally, to all the action. It was a welcome contrast to 2020, when photographers needed to maintain their distance at sporting events due to the ongoing pandemic.

For most of 2021, fans were back in the stands and our photographers were once again on the sidelines, able to document up-close the efforts and emotions of Utah athletes as well as you, the fans.

We wrap up the year looking back at 30 of the best Deseret News sports images from 2021. Enjoy.

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Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) turns and walks off the field as BYU falls to UAB in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. UAB won 31-28.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) looks up at the crowd at the end of the second quarter of an NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45), center, and teammates stand together during the national anthem before a game against the Miami Heat at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

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San Juan High School’s Dylan Black dumps water on coach Barkley Christensen after their win against Beaver High School in the 2A football championship game at Stewart Stadium in Ogden on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Springville High School’s Bryan Gordon, right, and Miles Farley get emotional while embracing each other after beating Orem High School in the 5A football state semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Orem High School’s Mack Hixson is tackled by Bountiful High School’s Porter Hadley (3) in the 5A quarterfinal football game in Bountiful on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Orem won 40-33.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Copper Hills High School’s Hina Vainuku celebrates her team’s win over Bingham High School in the 6A volleyball quarterfinals at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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North Summit High School’s Daniel Dudley is assisted after crossing the finish line in the 2A boys cross-country state championships at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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Timpview High School’s Hannah Calvin, left, and Makayla Boulton, catch their breath after competing in the 5A girls cross-country state championships at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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Denver Nuggets forward JaMychal Green (0) and Utah Jazz center Hassan Whiteside (21) get into a scuffle during a game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. Both received technical fouls and were ejected from the game.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

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Waterford players celebrate their win against Rowland Hall compete in the 2A girls soccer state championship game on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Brighton High School football players get emotional while listening to the head coach after being defeated by Orem High School and being eliminated from the playoffs in a high school football game at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Riverton High School’s Emmalee Christensen (7) and Whitney Garn (34) scream after Garn’s goal as Skyridge High School’s Addi Arnell (2) walks away during the 6A girls soccer state championship match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe is honored in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Lowe was shot and killed Sept. 26 while attending a party in a Sugar House neighborhood.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Samuelu Elisaia, former University of Utah football player and teammate of sophomore defensive back Aaron Lowe, closes his eyes as he pays his respects on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in front of a makeshift memorial at the site of a shooting that killed Lowe.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Stansbury High School players celebrate after winning a high school football game against Tooele High School at Stansbury High School in Stansbury Park on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates as he is lifted into the air by fans as BYU defeats Utah in an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 27-16, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Utes.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Runners start off in the varsity boys race of the 2021 BYU Autumn Classic at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo.

Runners start off in the varsity boys race of the 2021 BYU Autumn Classic at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd leads a group of five Utah ties participating in the 2022 NFL scouting combine.

Utah Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd (0) makes a diving interception during the season opener against Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Real Salt Lake forward Bobby Wood (7) gets bent backward by Austin FC defender Julio Cascante (18) as Real Salt Lake and Austin FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. RSL won 1-0.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Real Salt Lake forward Bobby Wood (7) yells after being tripped in a game against the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 24, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

American Fork High School baseball dominated the 6A state basketball tournament at UCCU Ballpark in Orem last year.

The American Fork Cavemen celebrate during Game 2 of the 6A baseball championship against the Pleasant Grove Vikings at UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 29, 2021. The Cavemen won 8-0.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

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Brighton High School’s Eli England takes a high kick in the face from Skyline High School’s Cache Zacharopoulos as they play in the 5A soccer semifinals at Herriman on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Bingham High School’s Luke Orullian (29) slides headfirst into third base against Jordan High School during a baseball game in Sandy on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Copper Hills High School’s Brielle Davis holds her head in disbelief as she looks up at the bar after setting the Utah high school girls pole vault state record at 12 feet, 9 inches during the Davis Super Meet at Davis High School in Kaysville on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

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Ridgeline High School’s Josh Jackman blocks a shot by Cedar High School’s Ty Harrison during the 4A boys basketball semifinal game at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

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Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) yells after drawing a foul from the San Francisco Dons in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. BYU won 79-73.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Emmy Finlinson of Westlake High School wrestles Alyxandra “Alyx” Walker of Clearfield High School in the girls 150 class at the 6A State Wrestling championship at West Lake High School in Saratoga Springs on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah’s Cammy Hall reacts after competing in the vault during the Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA gymnastics meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

The University of Utah’s Cammy Hall reacts after competing in the vault during the Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA gymnastics meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News