Top 10 sports stories of 2013
1. The Boston Red Sox select Ryan Boldt
The year 2013 was like a roller coaster for Red Wing’s Ryan Boldt.
The heralded Winger came into his senior baseball season as a potential first-round pick in the MLB Draft, according to several outlets.
Then, after a long wait for the season due to inclement weather, Boldt’s season ended almost right away when he tore his meniscus in the season-opening doubleheader against Farmington.
Boldt got one last opportunity to stand with his high-school teammates at the Red Wing Athletic Field. During the regular-season finale, Boldt, on crutches, was put in as a pinch runner to give the ATH crowd one final curtain call.
While rehabbing from his knee injury, Boldt was taken in June’s draft in the 22nd round by the Boston Red Sox. However, Boldt elected to pass on pro ball and honor his commitment to the University of Nebraska. Boston brought Boldt out to Fenway Park in hopes of convincing the Wingers center fielder to sign. Ultimately, he was Lincoln-bound.
“They called when I was back with my parents and we discussed everything,” Boldt said back in early July. “It obviously wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but it’s still really exciting just to get drafted and having that next to your name is a pretty cool thing. Not a lot of people can say that.”
While his Cornhuskers career won’t officially start until Feb. 14, Boldt has already shown his collegiate potential after going 4-for-10 with three runs, two RBI, a solo home run and a double during a three-game intrasquad scrimmage in October.
2. Red Wing girls basketball reaches the state finals
Led by seniors Tesha Buck and Macy Kelly, the Red Wing girls basketball team won 23 games in 2013. The Wingers’ final game was a state championship showdown with DeLaSalle, a game the Islanders won 65-50.
Despite coming up short of a state title, Red Wing’s 2012-13 season will be one to remember. The Wingers won three playoff games by double digits, and had three separate five-game winning streaks.
In the first round at Williams Arena, Red Wing knocked off Missota Conference rival New Prague for the third time with a 63-45 victory. Then, against Richfield in the state semifinals, the Wingers held onto a 61-59 victory with Buck and Kelly sitting on the bench after fouling out.
Red Wing’s three seniors – Buck, Kelly and McKenna Schaffer – were named to the Class 3A All-Tournament team.
Buck, named second team all-state, finished her five-year varsity career with three state tournament appearances, and a school-record 2,402 points. Kelly, who is playing at Division III College of St. Benedict’s, capped off her Winger career with 1,261 points.
3. Wingers excel on the ice
Ms. Hockey finalist Paige Haley closed her senior season with a 23-2 regular season and a trip to the Class A state semifinals. Red Wing lost 6-3 to Blake before rebounding with a 3-2 victory over South St. Paul in the third-place game.
Haley, a defenseman, was the leader of a team that also featured the top scoring line in the state with Nicole Schammel, Emily Stegora and Reagan Haley. That trio of forwards combined to score 113 goals and 238 points, with Schammel leading the state in goals (61) and points (104).
Following in Haley’s Division I footsteps, Schammel and Stegora will play in the WCHA for Minnesota State, Mankato after eached signed a National Letter of Intent in November.
4. Alms nabs 500 title in record fashion
Sporting his Red Wing swimming warmups and the team’s state ritual bleach blonde hair, Tanner Alms found himself in familiar territory in March as Class 1A’s best distance swimmer.
Already a two-time state champion in the 500-yard freestyle as a freshman (4 minutes, 39.02 seconds) and sophomore (4:41.10), Alms won title No. 3 after setting another Class 1A record with a time of 4:36.73.
“A three-time state champion, breaking his own state record; he’s going to be remembered in Red Wing for a long time,” Wingers’ head coach Kevin O’Brien said after Alms’ win.
Now, as Alms aims to end his high school career with four state titles, he is also set for the future. In November, Alms signed his National Letter of Intent to swim at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
5. Trost finally a champion
For years, Cannon Falls’ Emi Trost has been considered one of the best distance runners in the state of Minnesota. The only thing missing from her resume was a state championship.
Then in 2013, Trost finally found her place on top of the podium.
Her first state title came in the spring in the state track and field championship. Coming into the Class 1A 800-meter run as the favorite, Trost lived up to the billing, taking first place with a time of 2 minutes, 15.05 seconds.
Sitting in third heading into the final turn, Trost saved her best for last, taking the lead in the last 100 meters.
"That last 100, I don’t know," Trost said, "it felt like God picked me up and carried me. It’s just an awesome feeling."
Then in the fall, Trost got her long-awaited state cross-country title. The Class 1A runner-up as a sophomore and junior, Trost won with a time of 14:40.3.
"(It feels) amazing," Trost said moments after she crossed the finish line back in November. "I prayed for it, but, yet again, I was like, ‘God, whatever is part of your plan, I’ll accept that.’ So, obviously, it was part of his plan."
6. Wrestling reigns supreme
Area wrestling fans were not wanting for great performances this past year as four of the best in the state called the river valley home.
Lake City’s Will Balow, Cannon Falls’ Clay Broze and Ellsworth’s Gabe Frandsen and Jens Lantz each won individual state championships in 2013.
Balow, who will wrestle for Minnesota next year, won his title in the 182-pound Class A bracket, beating Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Patrick Rooney with a 13-4 major decision.
Broze topped JD Struxness of Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley with a tense, 11-10 decision in the Class AA 220-pound group. Broze will wrestle for Augustana (S.D.) next winter.
Frandsen became a first-time state champion after scoring a decisive takedown late against Somerset’s Gabe Flandrick to secure a 5-4 decision in the 160-pound finals.
Lantz, a Wisconsin commit, won his third straight state championship in style, pinning Freedom’s Cody Walrath moments before the end of the second period.
7. Jaguars hire Zumbrota native
Gus Bradley, a Zumbrota native, left his post as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks in January, accepting a head coaching position with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bradley had been coaching in the NFL since Tampa Bay hired him in 2006. By 2009, Bradley had moved on to the Seahawks were he led one of the best defenses in the league.
In his first season in Jacksonville, the Jaguars started by losing their first eight games. But since its Week 9 bye, Jacksonville has closed the year strong, going 4-4 to finish 4-12.
8. Panthers succeed in all seasons
In the winter, spring and fall, buses had to leave Ellsworth High School to pit the Panthers against some of Wisconsin’s top teams.
First, the Ellsworth wrestling team won its eighth straight section title after beating Amery 45-22. The season came to a close for the Panther wrestlers in a 35-25 loss to eventual state champion Luxemburg-Casco.
On the baseball diamond, Ellsworth made its second straight trip to the final four, playing in the state Division 2 semifinals. The Panthers were unable to make a return trip to the finals after a 4-1 loss to Notre Dame Academy (Green Bay). Ellsworth closed out the spring with a 16-4 record, a Middle Border Conference title and a No. 6 ranking in the final Division 2 poll.
Finally, on the gridiron, the Panthers became one of the top Division 4 teams in Wisconsin a year after missing the playoffs with a 2-6 mark.
Finishing undefeated in the regular season at 9-0 and winning the MBC title for the first time since 1999, Ellsworth (11-1) was two games away from playing in Madison before being knocked out of the playoffs in a 14-7 loss to MBC rival Somerset.
9. Red Wing cross-country wins section title
Over the years, Red Wing has had several boys compete at the state cross-country meet, including current senior Aiden Winn. But this year, Winn brought along his teammates after the Wingers won the Section 1AA meet, earning a team trip to the season’s final run for the first time since 1999.
Winn would finish 28th individually, leading the Wingers to 12th as a team. That finish was lower than the 1974 team that placed eighth. But a return to the state meet after so long is a cause for celebration nonetheless.
10. Bombers shock Section 1AAA
The No. 7 seed in the Section 1AAA football tournament after going 2-6 in the regular season, Cannon Falls was expected to be one and done.
But, the Bombers weren’t about to listen to convention as they played their way to the section championship game.
First, Cannon Falls put the section on spoiler alert with a 29-26 victory over second-seeded and third-ranked Tri-City United. In the next round, quarterback Hunter Johnson accounted for 375 total yards on the way to a 33-16 trouncing of Plainview-Elgin-Millville.
In the section title game, the Bombers battled with defending section champion Rochester Lourdes, but could not keep their Cinderella season alive in a 29-15 loss.