AREA TOP 10 SPORTS: State wrestling champions voted year's top story
The hand of Crosby-Ironton’s Hayden Zillmer was the final one raised in his weight class in three consecutive Class 1A state wrestling tournaments.
Meanwhile, Pierz’s Clint Poster attained a similar feat twice but at different weight classes four years apart.
The accomplishments of Zillmer and Poster, as well as that of other area state tournament wrestlers, was voted the top area sports story in 2011 by the Brainerd Dispatch sports staff.
Zillmer’s previous state titles were at 103 and 112 pounds. In 2011, his road to the title included a 41-second pin, a technical fall and a 3-1 decision over second-ranked Beau Buysee of Minneota in the semifinals.
He won the 130-pound title with a 9-2 decision over Klinton VanHeuveln of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg to finish the season 43-1 and as C-I’s all-time wins leader.
After claiming the 103-pound state title as an eighth-grader, Poster had to wait four years for another shot at a state title. In 2011, the top-ranked and unbeaten Poster decisioned Dustin Dylla of United South Central 9-3 for the 140-pound championship.
Third places went to Jordan Chouanard (Aitkin) in 1A and to Staples-Motley’s Blake Petrich in 2A.
Colin Turchin (Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale) was fourth in 1A.
Dillon Kifer (Little Falls) was sixth in 2A.
Following are the other top stories as voted by the Dispatch sports staff:
2. Sneep’s NHL debut
Carl Sneep became the first Brainerd High School hockey player to appear in an NHL game Dec. 17 when he played defense for the Pittsburgh Penguins in an 8-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Wearing No. 59, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Sneep collected an assist in the first period to put an exclamation point on his debut.
A two-time NCAA champion at Boston College, Sneep was returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the next day. Through 30 games in the American Hockey League this season, Sneep had collected nine assists and was a plus-5 for W-B/S.
3. Weisz state champion
The five-time Class 1A state swimming entrant won the 100-yard freestyle and finished second in the 50-yard free in 2011. She added a fifth place as a member of the Flyers’ 200 freestyle relay.
Weisz entered the state meet as the top seed in both freestyle events. In the prelims she swam automatic All-American times in both.
On Nov. 15, Weisz signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent to swim at the University of Wisconsin in 2012-13.
In addition, on Dec. 29, she became the leading scorer in Little Falls girls basketball history, scoring her 1,418th point against St. Cloud Apollo. Weisz broke the 18-year-old school record set by Ann Just, who scored 1,416.
4. State track and field
In June, Pequot Lakes’ 4x100 relay won the 1A state championship, the first track and field title in school history. Relay members were Rachel Allen, Kendra Johnson, Nicole Traut and Vanessa Lane.
In 2A, Brainerd’s 4x100 boys relay of Jordan Hayes, Dan Lauer, Grant Reuer and Joe Nelson captured second place. The Warriors’ Sydnie Mauch was runner-up in girls shot put.
Other Warriors’ all-staters (top nine finishers) included Jackson Walters, fifth in 110 hurdles; and the girls 4x800 relay of Anna Gessell, Sarah Yeh, Allison Kosobud and Megan Holmes).
Also in 1A, Pequot Lakes’ boys 4x100 relay of Nolan Michaelson, Tyler Tappe, Isaac Allen, and Jordan Anderson was eighth. Pillager was fifth in the boys 4x400 relay (Sean Nokken, Devin Strack, Matt Neururer, Wesley Delong). Staples-Motley’s Brian Huber was sixth and Aitkin’s Bryan Zenke seventh in long jump. Pequot Lakes’ Jordan Anderson was sixth in the 300 hurdles. Delong also was fourth in the 400 dash.
In 1A girls, Jaelin Beachy of Staples-Motley finished fourth.
5. UMD national champs
Brainerd’s Drew Olson maintained a big year for ex-Warrior hockey players as he was a member of Minnesota-Duluth’s NCAA championship men’s hockey team.
Olson and the Bulldogs captured their crown in front of 19,222 partisan fans at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against Michigan.
The Columbus Bluejackets’ draftee played in 34 of the Bulldogs’ 42 games, scoring the first goal of his collegiate career and picking up three assists.
Through 18 games this season for the top-ranked Bulldogs, Olson had a goal and two assists.
6. Warriors softball
In 2011, Brainerd went undefeated in regular-season play for the first time in program history.
The Warriors have captured back-to-back conference and section championships, and won an academic state championship (gold division) in 2011.
Pitcher Nikki Anderson, a senior in the spring, has signed to play for the University of Minnesota.
7. Lunkers fold
After three seasons in the Northwoods League, the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers folded Dec. 20.
The Lunkers were the third Brainerd franchise in the Northwoods, which features college players. They followed the Mighty Gulls (1998-2002) and Blue Thunder (2005-08).
The Brainerd Bears (1994-95) and Bobcats (1996), members of independent leagues, were the city’s first wood-bat franchises and featured minor league players.
Lack of attendance led to the demise of the Lunkers, as well as their predecessors. When including the Blue Thunder, Brainerd finished last in Northwoods attendance seven straight years. The Lunkers averaged 555 fans their first year, 515 their second and 528 last summer.
8. CLC QB murdered
Central Lakes College quarterback Dominique Corder was shot and killed in Indianapolis on New Year’s Day while on Christmas break.
Corder’s final game with the Raiders was a 23-13 loss to Glendale (Ariz.) Community College in the Valley of the Sun Bowl Game in Phoenix. He was named CLC’s most valuable player of the game, as well as a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American.
In the regular season, Corder completed 98 of 177 passes (55.4 percent) for 1,582 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed 75 times for 395 yards (5.3 average) and one score.
The 6-3, 205-pound sophomore from Emmerich Manual High School (Ind.) was voted to the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division first team.
In Week Five he was the MCAC’s Southern Division Offensive Player of the Week. Corder helped CLC to a state runner-up finish, a 10-2 overall record and its first unbeaten regular season since 1984.
9. W-DC volleyball
The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines finished fourth in their fourth consecutive Class 2A state tournament appearance, losing to Jordan 3-0 in the third-place match at the Xcel Energy Center.
Wolverines middle hitter Emily Miron made the 2A all-tournament team and the Wolverines finished 28-6.
10. Pequot girls basketball
The Pequot Lakes Patriots rolled to the Section 8-2A championship, winning 28 of 29 games on their way to the state tournament, where their season ended with a 77-66 loss to Braham in the quarterfinals.
During the season, Emilee Lueck became the leading scorer in Pequot girls basketball history. Her sister, Mattie Lueck, scored her 1,000th career point and Kylie Beltz also joined the 1,000-point club. It was Patriots’ coach Jon Dale’s first career trip to the state basketball tournament.