Local Sports Notebook: Finalists named for Area Sports Banquet

December 4, 2016

The finalists for the Rochester Area Sports Banquet’s 2016 Sports Awards have been named.

The 12th annual banquet, hosted by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission, will be held Jan. 30 at Mayo Civic Auditorium. Veteran Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway will be the guest speaker at the banquet.

Banquet tickets are $40 each or a table of 10 for $400 and can be purchased by calling the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission at 280-4701 or online at www.rochsports.com/sportsbanquet. This event has sold out annually. There are a limited number of VIP tickets for $60 which includes the banquet and a “meet and greet” with Greenway following the event.

Five finalists in each of six categories were selected from more than 100 nominations by a 16-person panel of Rochester media representatives and sport experts. The 30 finalists represent a wide variety of sports.

The categories and finalists include:

• Team of the Year:

Zumbrota-Mazeppa softball: Z-M won the Class AA state championship in 2016, the first state title for any sport in school history.

Grand Meadow football: The Superlarks won the Class Nine-Man state title for the fourth straight season. Grand Meadow finished 14-0, was ranked No. 33 nationally, and has now won 50 straight games.

Lourdes football: The Eagles capped a perfect 13-0 season with a thrilling 42-35 win over St. Croix Lutheran in the Class AAA state championship game.

Kasson Mantorville wrestling: The KoMets were unbeaten in dual meets, won the Class AA state championship and were ranked No. 27 nationally. Seven wrestlers — half the team — were nominated for All-State honors.

Plainview-Elgin-Millville girls basketball: The Bulldogs finished the season 31-1 and won the Class AA state championship. P-E-M had four players named to the all-tournament team.

• Coach of the Year:

Kevin Nelson (Zumbrota-Mazeppa softball): Nelson guided the Cougars to the Class AA state championship. Currently ranks among top 10 all-time for wins among softball coaches in the state. He has a career record of 486-172.

Mike Kesler (Lourdes football): Kesler guided the Eagles to the Class AAA state title and a perfect 13-0 record, his second state title with the team. He has coached at Lourdes for 19 heads and been the head coach since 2005.

Brian LaPlante (RCTC men’s basketball): LaPlante led the Yellowjackets to a national runner-up finished at the Division III NJCAA Tournament. He was named the District 4 Coach of the Year. LaPlante has 396 wins in his 21 years at RCTC.

Josh Wieme (Goodhue girls basketball): Wieme guided the Wildcats to the Class A state championship, the first in school history in girls basketball. The Wildcats dominated the state tournament, outscoring opponents by an average of 31 points per game.

Jamie Heidt (Kasson-Mantorville wrestling): Heidt led K-M to an unbeaten season in dual meets and a Class AA state championship. He was named the Class AA Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

• Female Athlete of the Year

Jamie Ruden (John Marshal girls basketball): Ruden concluded her high school basketball career as Rochester’s all-time leading scorer (male or female) with 2,671 career points. As a senior in 2015-16, she was selected as a Ms. MN Basketball finalist, made the All-State first team, and was nominated as a McDonald’s All-American.

Ashlee Olson (Dover-Eyota, soccer, basketball and track): Olson led the state in 2016 by scoring 34 goals in soccer on her way to being named to the All-State team. She also helped D-E reach the state tournament. She set a school record for assists while helping D-E win a state championship in girls basketball. She was also a five-year letter winner in track.

Andrianna Jacobs (Century track, diving, gymnastics): Jacobs finished her prep career as a four-time state champion and All-American in the pole vault, a three-time All-State and two-time All-American in diving, and an All-State performer in multiple events in gymnastics.

Sam Macken (University of Minnesota softball): As a junior on the Gophers softball team, Macken led the team in essentially every hitting category by posting a .366 batting average, with 71 hits, 22 doubles, 12 homers and 53 RBIs. The Lourdes grad was named to the All-Big Ten first team, the NFCA Great Lakes all-Region first team and was voted the team MVP.

Morgan Olson (Zumbrota-Mazeppa softball): The senior led her Z-M team to a Class AA state championship by going a perfect 21-0 with 204 strikeouts as a pitcher, and hitting .526 with 12 doubles, five triples, five homers, and 26 RBIs. She was a finalist for Minnesota Miss Softball and is moving on to play at North Dakota State.

• Male Athlete of the Year

Brady Berge (Kasson-Mantorville wrestling): Berge enters this season as a three-time state champion. He had a 146-consecutive wins streak and career record of 234-4 before suffering a leg injury in the 2016 state finals. The senior was the No. 1-ranked high school wrestler in the nation by InterMat and has committed to Penn State.

Jack Nelson (Winona State football): The Byron grad threw for more than 12,000 yards and 102 touchdowns during a stellar four-year career at Winona State. Nelson has thrown for more yards than any collegiate quarterback at any level in Minnesota and is receiving interest from numerous NFL teams as a potential draft pick.

Michael Hurt (John Marshall boys basketball): JM’s all-time leading scorer had a stellar senior season averaging 19.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.9 assist earning him All-State and runner-up for Minnesota Mr. Basketball accolades. He is in his freshman season at the University of Minnesota.

Christophor Bain (Grand Meadow football): Bain completed one of the top seasons in the state with 1,650 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Bain helped Grand Meadow win a state title and is a finalist for Minnesota Mr. Football.

Zach Liebler (University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics): A native of Pine Island, Liebler is a two time All-American gymnast with the Gophers. He finished seventh on vault and eighth on the floor exercise at the NCAA Championships last season.

Adaptive Athlete/Team of the Year:

Hannah Hughes (Lourdes, University of Minnesota Duluth). The Lourdes and Minnesota Duluth graduate was recently named to the USA women’s sled hockey team.

Rochester Raiders adapted softball. The Raiders capped a stellar season by placing second at the state tournament.

Rochester Flyers Track Team. The Flyers had 32 athletes compete at the state games this year. More than 80 percent of the athletes brought home a first-, second- or third-place medal in at least one of their events.

Alex Steffl (Rochester Flyers). Steffl was a multi-sports athlete in the Special Olympics playing poly hockey, half-court basketball, track and field and flag football with a high level of success.

Rachel Wilmes (Rochester Flyers). She participates in bocce, golf, bowling, and swimming. She always excels and has great sportsmanship.

• Organization of the Year:

Rochester Youth Fastpitch Association, Rochester Youth Baseball Association, Rochester Area Lacrosse, Rochester Figure Skating Club and Orcas Swim Club.