Top 10 sports stories of 2012The Republican-Eagle reveals the top sports stories of 2012
By: R-E Sports Staff, The Republican Eagle
1. Boldt breaks out in 2012
Ryan Boldt’s 2012 started out on a good note as he verbally committed in February to play baseball for the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
But that was just a small part of an unbelievable year for the Red Wing senior.
Boldt led the Wingers to their first state baseball tournament appearance since 1977 in the spring while being named the 2012 Republican Eagle All-Area Player of the Year and also receiving first-team all-metro honors from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
He was left off the all-state team by the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association in his junior season despite hitting a team-leading .423 with 33 hits, 28 RBI, five triples, three home runs, 16 stolen bases, a .516 on-base percentage and an impressive .756 slugging percentage.
Yet for all those high school exploits, the biggest highlights for Boldt came in the summer while winning a gold medal with Team USA at the International Baseball Federation’s 18-and-under World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. It was Team USA’s first gold medal in the tournament since 1999 as Boldt set a World Championship record with 12 stolen bases in nine games and had a tournament-leading 13 runs scored.
The accolades don’t stop there for Boldt as he won the Most Valuable Player award for his performance at the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic Aug. 12 in San Diego, Calif., and he also participated in the Area Code Games Aug. 5-10 in Long Beach, Calif.
Keith Law, lead baseball analyst for ESPN.com and ESPN Scouts, Inc., tabbed Boldt 29th in his top 30 draft prospects for 2013.
So while 2012 was a banner year for Boldt, the impending Major League Baseball Draft means 2013 might be better.
2. Baseball's banner year
This area was a hotbed for baseball in 2012 as three teams made the respective state tournaments.
The Wingers qualified for the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 1977, Ellsworth made the Division II Wisconsin tournament for the first time in program history, and the Red Wing Aces amateur baseball team competed at the Minnesota Baseball Association Class B state tournament for the first time since 2006.
James Georgakas helped the Panthers win their first game at state with a complete-game 5-1 victory over top-ranked Racine St. Catherine’s in the semifinals. Ellsworth finished runner-up, falling to Portage in the state championship game.
The Wingers (23-2) shared the consolation title with Hill-Murray, and the Aces were knocked out of the tournament by eventual champion Victoria Aug. 31.
3. Red Wing shines on national stage
The Red Wing area produced some of the top athletes in the country in 2012.
Nichole Porath, a full-time financial analyst for Red Wing Shoe Co., competed in the marathon at the 2012 Olympic Trials on Jan. 14 in Houston, Texas. She finished in 2 hours, 44 minutes, 12 seconds, a personal best, and is planning to go for a world record, Jan. 6, 2013 in Northfield, Minn. She will be running 150 laps on St. Olaf’s indoor warm-up track in an attempt to break the indoor marathon world record, according to her personal website.
Jessie Diggins, whose parents own Slumberland Furniture in Red Wing, captured the U.S. Nordic Skiing Team’s first-ever gold medal, with her racing partner Kikkan Randall, in a team event at the World Cup Dec. 7 in Quebec, Canada. Diggins is also on track to be selected to Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Ryan Wilson, of Red Wing, was a First-team All-American in 2012 for the University of Utah skiing team and had his best finish ever at the NCAA Championships March 7-10 in Bozeman, Mont. Wilson took second place in the giant slalom, following up a giant slalom victory at the NCAA West Region/Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships Feb. 24-25.
Ryan Boldt, a senior at Red Wing High School, was selected to the Team USA 18-and-under baseball team and took home a gold medal as the Americans won the 2012 International Baseball Federation World Championships.
4. Make it two for Tanner
Red Wing’s Tanner Alms put himself on the map in 2011, breaking a Class 1A state record on the way to winning the 500-yard freestyle at the state championship meet with a time of 4:39.02.
In 2012, Alms, then a sophomore, cemented his place among the state’s best distance swimmers, winning his second straight 500 freestyle title in March.
“I was very nervous because (in 2010) I was fifth or sixth at the state meet the year before and didn’t have a record and no expectations,” Alms said at the time. “Now coming back, having my picture in the program as state champion, all that pressure is crazy.”
With just four swimmers under five minutes in prelims, Alms faced tough competition, especially from Fridley’s Alberto Orejuela, who was the top seed after prelims. But Alms powered through the competition, taking top honors with a time of 4:41.10, 0.31 seconds quicker than Orejuela.
With six of the eight state finalists back from the 500 freestyle field, Alms’ chance for a three-peat could be just as challenging
5. Red Wing girls hockey finishes 4th at state
Early in 2012, the Red Wing girls hockey team staked its claim as one of Class 1A’s best teams with a fourth-place finish at the Class A state tournament. And late in the year, the Wingers have continued to climb up the ranks of the state’s finest.
In the 2011-12 season, Red Wing, led by then-sophomore Nicole Schammel (37 goals-32 assists-69 points) and then-junior Paige Haley (28-33-61), finished 20-9-1 and reached the state semifinals. After defeating Hutchinson 6-5 in overtime in the first round, the Wingers’ run came to a halt in an 8-4 loss to eventual state champion Breck. In the third-place game, Red Wing lost 5-2.
Looking to reach state for the fourth time in school history, the Wingers opened the 2012-13 season with an 11-game win streak, reaching No. 2 in the Class 1A poll. Now 13-1 after beating Breck Saturday, Red Wing’s first-line forwards – Nicole Schammel, Emily Stegora and Reagan Haley – each rank in the state’s top 10 in points.
6. Red Wing trio going D-1
It was a big year for Red Wing athletes as three Wingers seniors received Division I scholarships.
Ryan Boldt signed his letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Tesha Buck committed to play basketball for the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and Paige Haley will head to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, to play hockey.
All three players led their respective Red Wing teams to the state tournament last season.
The Wingers’ baseball team shared the consolation championship of the Class 3A tournament with Hill-Murray, Red Wing’s girls basketball team was knocked out of the Class 3A state tournament by top-seeded and runner-up Richfield and the girls hockey team took fourth place at the Class 1A hockey tournament.
Haley was named to the 2012 Class 1A All-Tournament team.
7. Zumbrota-Mazeppa plays playoff spoiler
Zumbrota-Mazeppa fans got a treat last winter when the Cougars girls basketball and wrestling teams each reached the state tournament in their respective sports. It was a bigger surprise because of the way both teams reached state.
In girls basketball, Z-M got the No. 4 seed in the Section 1AA-West tournament. After plowing through Kingsland, the Cougars upset the section with a 45-37 victory over sixth-ranked Pine Island, the No. 1 seed in the sub-section.
Riding the hot play of senior Ashley Hinsch, Z-M clinched its first trip to the state tournament with a 56-52 win over Chatfield in the section final. The Cougars’ trip would be short-lived when they lost 57-46 to Pequot Lakes.
On the wrestling mat, Z-M had a recent string of success, making state in 2010 and 2011. But in the Section 1A team tournament, the Cougars came in as the No. 5 seed, needing to win four matches to get back.
After knocking out top-seeded Chatfield in the semifinals, Z-M trailed by two points heading into the 285-pound match against Kenyon-Wanamingo with a trip to state on the line. Shane Bode ultimately was the hero for the Cougars, sending Z-M to state with a 33-31 victory after a 10-0 major decision. The Cougars went 0-2 at state, losing to Minneota and Barnesville.
8. Cannon Falls' Trost 2nd at state again
Cannon Falls’ Emi Trost has been a fixture in Class 1A cross-country since eighth grade, placing in the top 25 at the state meet for four straight years. As a sophomore in 2011, Trost charged her way up into one of Class 1A’s top contenders, finishing in second place.
Then in 2012, Trost, now a junior, continued to blow by the competition, winning every meet leading up to another chance at the state championship.
For the second straight year, Trost finished second … this time in 14 minutes, 16.5 seconds, nearly 20 seconds better than her second-place time in 2011. But for the second-straight year, the only runner to best Trost was Blake School’s Clare Flanagan, who ran a time of 14:04.1.
In the last two years, Trost and Flanagan have proven to be Class 1A top runners by a wide gap. The third-place runner, St. Cloud Christian’s McKenzie Holt, trailed Trost by over 13 seconds.
“I didn’t know how far behind the other girls were,” Trost said afterward. “I just tried to run how I felt comfortable and tried to have a good kick there at the end. I was real proud of myself there.”
9. Bergeson brothers take on Crashed Ice
Red Bull Crashed Ice came to Minnesota in January 2012 and two Red Wing brothers were ready to brave the challenge.
Andrew and Daniel Bergeson both competed in 2012 Crashed Ice St. Paul, with Andrew getting selected to represent Team USA for the rest of the 2012 Crashed Ice season.
Andrew finished 35th and Daniel was 65th at the end of the 2012 World Championship season.
But the brothers didn’t stop there as both keep competing, flying to the events and continuing to improve.
In the most recent race, Dec. 1 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Andrew and Daniel both qualified for the finals and made the round of 32. Andrew took 23rd and Daniel was 26th, allowing both to qualify automatically for the next race in January.
Both brothers played hockey for Red Wing High School and from Jan. 24-26, the Bergesons will be back in St. Paul for the second stop on the 2012/2013 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship.
Andrew is currently ranked 44th in the world standings and Daniel is 64th heading into the St. Paul race.
10. Tiger football makes the leap
Lake City football’s resurgence began in 2011 when the Tigers won the Hiawatha Valley League Blue division title after going 0-9 in 2010. And in 2012, Lake City moved into the ranks of Class 3A’s finest, winning another HVL Blue title, getting in the state’s top 10 and reaching the Section 1AAA finals.
Going 9-2 and getting as high as No. 7 in the 3A polls, the Tigers had a varied attack on offense, averaging 42.3 points per game which ranked second in Class 3A. On defense, senior defensive lineman Christian Custer set the tone with 106 total tackles – including 12 for loss – and 3.5 sacks on the way to being named the Republican Eagle’s All-Area Player of the Year.
Going undefeated in conference play, Lake City rode a nine-game win streak into the section final against top-ranked Rochester Lourdes. The Eagles, who ended up getting to the Class 3A finals, ended the Tigers’ dream season 20-14 in Rochester.