YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back on the top sports moments for Delano Herald Journal coverage area

What a year 2022 was across the board in area sports. There was so much going on that I honestly feel like I only got to cover or experience a tiny bit of it.

To be honest, the 2022 coverage season was an absolute grind. Covering six schools and an endless amount of events really takes a toll on a guy. Between running to all the events, writing stories and taking photos, editing stories, and doing the layout for the newspaper, it was a long year for me to say the least.

At this time of year, things tend to slow down a bit here in the sports world due to the holidays. Each year around this time I take the time to look back on the past year of coverage. This year was a bit more fun to look back on all the things I covered. Usually, once I finish a week of coverage, there’s not much time to dwell on it. It’s moving on to next week so I often forget some of the stories or moments I’ve covered.

I want to thank everyone for following along with this exciting year of sports coverage and I hope you continue to do so in 2023. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the top sports moments from the coverage area in the past year.

Avery Lommel’s journey to a state title

It was by far my favorite story of the year to tell. There’s something special about a high school athlete overcoming adversity and making the most of things. That’s exactly what Delano senior Avery Lommel did for the Tigers this fall.

After losing sight in one eye, Lommel didn’t sit and feel sorry for herself. Instead, she worked even harder so that he could get back to the sport she loved. It paid off in a big way.

Not only did Lommel make it to the Class A state swim and dive tournament, but she also won the state title to cap off her inspirational story.

For those that know me or have followed my work over the years, there’s always one message I share. It’s more than a game. Lommel and her journey are a testament to that and it was an absolute blast and honor to cover her this past season and see how she turned adversity into inspiration for not only her but everyone who knows her.

Delano volleyball makes a magical run

All season long covering the Delano volleyball I knew there was a lot of talent and if they came together they could make a run at things. I just wasn’t sure if it would come together at the right time. Spoiler alert. It did.

I know the Tigers feel they came up short this season but the moments they provided in those final two matches against New Prague and Benilde-St. Margaret’s were some of the best I’ve ever seen in any sport. I’ll never forget those matches, especially the fifth set against the Trojans that sent them to the Section 6AA title game.

The section championship game didn’t disappoint either. Although Delano came up just short, it was an incredible match and atmosphere and one those players should remember forever. As a journalist, you’re supposed to remain as neutral as possible but there was no doubt I wanted to see Delano cap off their run with a section title. I played the what-if game throughout the state tournament wondering what could have been for the Tigers as I saw B-SM reach the state title match. Regardless, the run by the Tigers was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever covered.

The dominance of Delano softball

One of the best parts of covering high school sports is getting the variety of sports to mix things up. Being able to cover really good teams is also a huge plus.

One of the really good teams I covered this past year was Delano softball. No matter who they play, the Tigers hit the cover off the ball and it was a blast to watch.

Like the volleyball team, Delano’s season came to an end in the section championship game. While driving to the game I had a feeling the Tigers would be playing two games and breaking through against B-SM. It wasn’t meant to be but that team and the way they play the game was so much fun to watch over the course of the season.

Toby Hanson’s walk-off in Class C quarterfinals

The amateur baseball beat is one of my favorite things to cover. A lot of time, hours, and energy go into it but it’s all worth it.

After making several trips down to Faribault and Dundas for the Class C state tournament, there wasn’t a bigger moment for my coverage area than what Toby Hanson did for the Delano A’s.

Taking on one of the favorites (St. Patrick), Delano pulled off one of the most exciting finishes of the tournament. In the bottom of the ninth, Hanson delivered a walk-off home run to send the A’s to the Class C semifinals.

It was an absolute no-doubter for Hanson and a perfect way to cap off an incredible game between powerhouse programs. It was one of the games you’ll remember forever and one I’m glad I got to see and cover firsthand.

Loretto’s marathon with Bird Island

Continuing with the amateur coverage beat, the matchup between Loretto and Bird Island is a story all in itself. It’s a game I wish I was physically at.

I remember leaving Waconia and seeing that Loretto and Bird Island were still playing. They were about to head into extra innings as I turned them on. About five or six innings later, I thought about making the drive down in case things continued. I ultimately decided not to but looking back I wish I did.

The Larks and Bullfrogs ended up playing the longest game in state tournament history – 22 innings. I watched every single pitch over the final 13 innings. I ended up going to bed around 2 a.m. and then got up to work at the golf course at 5 a.m. Totally worth it.

An incredible game and an incredible part of what was an awesome tournament this year for the Minnesota Baseball Association.

Delano dance gets back to state

I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about what it takes to be good at dance or what goes into dance. What I do know is the pure joy Delano showed as a team and individuals make it back to the state tournament last season.

A lot of time and hard work were put in by the coaches and athletes last season. It was fun to see their hard work pay off by competing on the state’s biggest stage. It was also a lot of fun to knock off a state tournament that I haven’t covered before.

 

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