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.
Fantastic football season in the area
This past prep football season was one to remember. I had three teams from the coverage area make the state tournament making this year a fun one.
The most interesting part of the season was the fact that both Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Watertown-Mayer made the state tournament. Just four years ago, the two were thinking about a potential co-op to save their programs. This year they were both playing on the state’s biggest stage as their own teams. It was so cool to see those kids rewarded for sticking out during the tough times and being rewarded.
It was also a special season for the Lester Prairie football team. Not only did head coach Joe Scoblic record his 200th career win, but the Bulldogs also reached the state tournament for the first time since 2018.
Although their impressive year ended in the Class A state quarterfinals, it was an exciting and fun time to cover Lester Prairie.
W-M gymnastics wins state title
One of the more dominant programs in the state over the past few years in any sport has been the Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka gymnastics team. The Royals won their second-straight state title last season along with Reagan Kelley and Anna Mielke finishing first and second as individuals in all-around.
The Royals got off to a slow start at the Class A state meet as a team. It was a blast to see how they bounced back in a big way. W-M had their final rotation on bars, one of the more difficult events. That wasn’t a problem for the Royals as they came together to win their second-straight state title.
It was so cool to see how the team bounced back together after getting off to a tough start. It can be a hard thing for kids to respond on the big stage when things aren’t going well.
Class A state volleyball title game
There are few games in any sport that make you take a step back and think about what you just saw. One of those cases for me was the Class A state volleyball title game between Mayer Lutheran and Minneota.
The only way to describe the match was crazy. After falling behind 2-0, the Crusaders battled back to force what would be an epic fifth set for the state title.
Mayer Lutheran ultimately came up short as the Vikings picked up an 18-16 win in set five to claim the state title in one of the best matches I’ve ever seen.
A lot had to go well for the Crusaders to get back to the state title match for a chance to repeat. With the loss of several key players, the emergence of Danica and Marley Martin was a lot of fun to watch this season. It was also cool to see seniors Stella Maass, Madeline Guetzkow, and Gabby Wachholz step into leadership roles and play their hearts out one last time at the Xcel Energy Center.
W-M baseball wins section title
An item as simple as a Target bag set the tone for the Watertown-Mayer baseball team in 2022.
On the first day of practice, Royals head coach Ryan Trucke and his assistants showed up wanting an answer from their players. Expecting to hear that the ultimate goal for the season would be to make it to state, Trucke and his coaches were surprised by their answers. After each player made it clear the goal would be to win state this year, Trucke and his coaches took out a Target bag to symbolize where their final game of the season would be played – Target Field.
The Royals moved one step close to that goal as they captured the Section 5AA title with an impressive 7-2 win over Glencoe-Silver Lake Thursday. The Panthers were the defending Class AA state champions.
It was cool to see this group accomplish a goal they had since the beginning of the season. It was even more remarkable as the Royals lost one of their best players Wyatt McCabe midway through the season to injury.
“It starts with the seniors,” Trucke said. “They’re completely selfless. They always say whatever role you give me, I’m going to do the best I can and if you need more let me know. All the way through, some guys were playing out of position when Wyatt got hurt and nobody blinked an eye. If you want me to play there, I’ll play there. They’ve been awesome. To them, it’s just about winning. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”