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Area Athletics: The top stories of 2014

Maggie Heggerston and Andrew Israelson enhanced the lakes area's reputation as a golf Mecca and a golf destination in 2014. Heggerston of Pequot Lakes and Israelson of Staples-Motley tied for Class 2A state golf championships in their respective ...

Bill Johnson Photo / Maggie Heggerston of Pequot Lakes putts during the 2014 Class 2A girls state tournament.
Bill Johnson Photo / Maggie Heggerston of Pequot Lakes putts during the 2014 Class 2A girls state tournament.

Maggie Heggerston and Andrew Israelson enhanced the lakes area's reputation as a golf Mecca and a golf destination in 2014.

Heggerston of Pequot Lakes and Israelson of Staples-Motley tied for Class 2A state golf championships in their respective divisions. Their achievements were voted the No. 1 local sports story in 2014 by the Dispatch sports staff.

Now a senior at Pequot Lakes, Heggerston and Detroit Lakes' Kate Smith tied for medalist honors at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. Both shot rounds of 73-70 for their 143 totals. Both will return in 2015 to defend their titles.

Heggerston, who has signed to play at Minnesota next fall, helped the Patriots tie for second in 2A team competition.

In the 2A boys meet, Israelson forged a 3-way tie for the title with Carter Haley of Mankato East and Andrew Sederlund of Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl. Israelson and Haley shot identical 71-73 for their 144 totals. Sederlund carded 72-72 for his 144. Israelson and Haley, currently both juniors, return to defend their titles in 2015, while Sederlund has graduated.

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Israelson helped the Cardinals to seventh place in the team standings.

Following are the other top local sports stories of 2014 as voted by the Dispatch sports staff:

No. 2: NDSU football

• In January, the North Dakota State University Bison, featuring Brainerd High School graduate Joe Haeg starting at right offensive tackle, captured their third straight NCAA FCS national championship by defeating Towson 35-7 in Frisco, Texas.

On their way to the title, the unbeaten Bison steamrolled Furman 38-7, Coastal Carolina 48-14 and New Hampshire 52-14 in the playoffs.

This season, Haeg is starting at left tackle and NDSU is 14-1. The Bison play Illinois State at noon Jan. 10 in Frisco for another national title.

No. 3: Etterman state champion

• In February, Brainerd gymnast Beth Etterman captured the Class 2A state vault championship and finished fourth in the all-around competition.

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Etterman scored a 9.7625 on her vault and 38.3125 in all-around. She added a fourth-place finish on balance beam at 9.6250.

Now a diver at Minnesota, Etterman joined Crystal Savage and Julie Beasley as Warrior state gymnastics champions.

No. 4: State track titles

In June, Staples-Motley's Jaelin Beachy, Pequot Lakes' Tyler Tappe and the Patriot girls 4x100 relay garnered Class 1A state titles.

Beachy, now competing for NDSU, won the girls 100 hurdles title for the third straight year with a time of 14.90. She added a seventh-place finish in the 300 hurdles.

Senior Vanessa Lane anchored the Pequot Lakes girls 4x100 to the title for the third time in four years. Rachel Allen, Chloe Bermel and Sarah Rudlang joined Lane to run a 49.46. Lane is now competing at South Dakota State.

Tappe won the boys 1A pole vault at 15 feet. He was runner-up in 2013. Teammate Travis Jacobson finished third in the shot put.

Tappe is now pole vaulting at Minnesota.

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No. 5: Scearcy 700 wins

In May, Brainerd Warriors baseball coach Lowell Scearcy won his 700th game in a 10-3 victory over Rocori.

He finished the season with 706 wins as the Warriors captured the Section 8-3A title and went to the 3A state tournament where they lost 10-0 to Lakeville North and 5-3 to Elk River.

Scearcy trails only Bob Karn of St. Cloud Cathedral (711 wins) and Jim Senske of New Ulm who retired with 707.

No. 6: Pierz football

In November, the Pierz Pioneers completed an unbeaten regular season, won the Section 5-3A title with a 48-0 win over St. Cloud Cathedral and advanced to the 3A state tournament.

The Pioneers beat Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 48-28 in the state quarterfinals. Their season ended with a 25-24 overtime loss to eventual state champion Rochester Lourdes.

Pierz running back Robbie Skiba was named the Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year. He rushed for a school-record 2,175 yards and 25 touchdowns. He averaged 9.2 yards on 236 carries. On defense, he finished with 110 tackles.

No. 7: Archibald signs with Penguins

• In March, Brainerd High School graduate Josh Archibald signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins after a stellar career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Following his final college season in 2013-14, Archibald scored his first pro goal for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on March 28. He made his pro debut on March 22 and played seven games for WBS.

Through 23 games this season, Archibald had two goals and three assists.

Archibald completed a record-setting junior season at UNO by registering 29 goals, 14 assists and 62 penalty minutes in 37 games. He set school and career marks for goals scored in a season. He was a Hobey Baker Finalist after leading the Mavericks in points (43) and ranking second in the NCAA in goals (29).

He was voted the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's Player and Forward of the Year and was selected a 2013-14 NCAA first-team All-American.

In three seasons at UNO, Archibald totaled 94 points (58 goals, 36 assists) and 129 penalty minutes in 112 contests. He finished second on the Mavericks in goals (19) and points (36) in 2012-13. He represented the U.S. in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships in Alberta where he earned two assists.

No. 8: Staples-Motley tennis

In June, Cardinals' sophomore Izabella Edin finished third in the Class 1A singles state tournament.

Edin opened the state tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Elsa Ubel of Minnehaha Academy. She then upset fourth-seeded Natalie Cahill of Pine City 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, she lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to top-seeded and eventual state champion Danielle Gannon of Holy Family Catholic.

Edin capped her season with a third-place finish following a 6-3, 6-3 win over Grace Sperr of Holy Family.

No. 9: Aitkin baseball

In June, Aitkin won its first section baseball title and advanced to the first state baseball tournament in school history.

Eventual state runner-up Fairmont scored a 7-0 victory over the Gobblers in the 2A state quarterfinals. The Gobblers nipped Hawley 5-4 in the consolation semifinals and finished sixth following a 10-2 loss to Blake.

Infielder/pitcher Nathan Ehnstrom made the 2A all-tournament team as Aitkin finished 23-6.

No. 10. Successful CLC fall season

Central Lakes College Raiders football and volleyball teams continued their winning traditions in the fall of 2014.

The football Raiders went 8-0 in the regular season, won the Northern Division title and were 10-0 when they suffered their first loss, 40-21 to Rochester in the MCAC state championship game. CLC, ranked 11th in the NJCAA, lost to No. 5 Arizona Western 38-14 in the El Toro Bowl in Yuma, Ariz.

The CLC volleyball team won Northern Division and Region 13B titles and advance to the NJCAA Division III national tournament where it won two of three matches and finished fifth. The Raiders finished 22-10.

• Honorable mention

Artificial turf

In August, Brainerd High School debuted its renovated stadium field that features Field Turf.

The Warrior boys soccer team played the first official game on the turf Aug. 22, losing 9-1 to Rogers. The Warrior girls soccer team then lost to Rogers 7-2 before a 7-on-7 alumni football tournament preceded an intrasquad scrimmage by the 2014 Warriors.

Brainerd's first football game on the artificial surface was Aug. 29, a 30-6 win over Fergus Falls.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

Bill Johnson Photo / Andrew Israelson of Staples-Motley walks off the green after finishing his round in the 2014 Class 2A state boys golf tournament.
Bill Johnson Photo / Andrew Israelson of Staples-Motley walks off the green after finishing his round in the 2014 Class 2A state boys golf tournament.

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