Five finalists in each of five categories were selected from close to 100 nominations by a 14-person panel of Rochester media representatives and sports experts. The 25 finalists represent a wide variety of sports.
Banquet tickets are now available for $40 each as well as business tables for $400 and can be purchased by calling the Rochester Sports office at 507-280-4701 or online at www.rochsports.org/sportsbanquet.
Here are more details on the finalists:
Team of the Year
- Zumbrota-Mazeppa Wrestling;
- The Class A MSHSL State Champions #1 ranked ZM Cougars took down the No. 2 seed Frazee Hornets 31-19 in the 1A team championship at Xcel Energy Center - capping off their second consecutive state championship. They finished 14th of 32 teams in the tough Clash Duals.
- Rochester Lourdes Boys Tennis;
- Ranked number 1 all season long with high expectations, the Lourdes boys won their first state Class A team title. With scores of 6-1 over #2 ranked St. Peter in the quarterfinals, 5-2 over #4 ranked St. Paul Academy in the semifinals and a 6-1 victory over 8th ranked Thief River Falls in the final, these athletes finally were able to raise that elusive trophy and bring State Championship #45 back to Lourdes High School.
- Kasson-Mantorville Volleyball;
- Finishing in 3rd place at MSHSL state tournament. 32-3 season record. They were defeated by eventual state champion North Branch 20-25, 25-20, 25-11, 17-25, 15-13 in the Class 2A volleyball state semifinals at Xcel Energy Center. Their only three losses were to state champion teams.
- Rochester Lourdes Football;
- Rochester Lourdes staked its claim as the top Class AAA team in the past decade following a 24-7 victory over Fairmont in the championship game on Saturday, Nov. 24 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Eagles (14-0) used a 17-point spree over the final quarter-and-a-half to record their fourth championship since 2010.
- Kasson-Mantorville wrestling;
- After beating No. 2-ranked Simley in the Section 1, 2A final, K-M accomplished what they set out to do, beating previously undefeated Fairmont/Martin County West 49-9 in the Minnesota State High School 2A championship match after crushing Perham 48-10 in the semifinals and making quick work of Totino-Grace 54-13 in the quarterfinals. KoMets, winners of the two previous state titles, rarely had been challenged, going undefeated and winners by more than 20 points in all but one match.
Coach of the Year
- Link Steffen (Z-M Wrestling);
- ZM Wrestling -After winning their first state wrestling title ever in 2017 they repeated as Minnesota State 1A Championships in 2018. The state champs had four wrestlers finishing in the top six in their respective weight classes, including one champion and one runner-up.
- Amber Zitzow (RCTC Volleyball)
- Coached RCTC to a 3rd place finish at Nationals and an overall record of 25-9. 7th year as head coach she now has accumulated a 156-67 career record at RCTC.
- Mike Kesler (Rochester Lourdes Football)
- Coached Rochester Lourdes to the Minnesota State Class AAA football title with a 24-7 victory over Fairmont in the championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Eagles finished the season with a perfect 14-0 record. This was their fourth state championship since 2010.
- Jamie Heidt (Kasson Mantorville Wrestling)
- Coach Heidt has been nominated for this award each of the past three seasons as he has led our wrestling team to three consecutive state championships. They have not lost a dual match in over three seasons, and have coaches multiple state individual champions and place winners.
- Nick Crossley (Century High School tennis)
- The #3 seed Century boy’s tennis team placed second in the state in Class AA for the second time in three years as the Panthers suffered a narrow 4-3 loss to Blake in the championship match and finished with an overall record of 19-3
Female Athlete of the Year
- Taylor Kreitinger (Byron Soccer & Track);
- Byron High School academic and running star Taylor Kreitinger has signed a letter of intent to run in women’s track and field at the University of Minnesota. She finished second last season in the 800 meters at the Class A state meet. She finished in 2:14.44. Soccer all-conference 4 years, all-state twice
- Clare Palen/Natalie Allison (LHS Tennis Doubles);
- State Champ in Long Jump; 3rd place in Triple Jump State Meet; averaged 28 points per game in basketball (2016-2017 season)
- Ayoka Lee (Byron High School Basketball, track and Volleyball)
- Lee was a three-sport athlete at Byron High School participating in track (shot put), volleyball, and basketball. She helped lead the team to state in basketball. Currently at Kansas State playing DI basketball.
- Peyton Suess (KM Volleyball);
- A Minnesota Ms. Volleyball finalist she was Minnesota All-state volleyball player 3 years in a row. Career kills and ace leader at KM and led KM to three consecutive state tournaments. She was the Northern Lights 18U team Captain and Nationals Champions. She will be attending Wake Forest next year
- Makayla Pahl (Mayo Girls Hockey);
- Member of the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team at the IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship in Dimitrov, Russia. Participated in the 2018 USA Hockey Women's National Festival. Helped the U.S. women claim gold at the IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship. In 2018 - Dimitrov, Russia Gold Medal
Male Athlete of the Year
- Patrick Kennedy (Kasson Mantorville, Wrestling);
- Sebastian Vile (Mayo, Tennis);
- Sebastian won the 2018 Minnesota Boys State AA Tennis singles championship. All matches he won in straight sets. He went undefeated throughout his Senior season (not sure of record but he was (26-0 or something like that). He also went undefeated in USTA Northern Section play during 2017-2018 school year and was the #1 ranked player in Boys 18s. He now is a freshman at University of Minnesota playing for the Men's tennis team. Mayo Tennis – State runner-up in Class AA tennis. #1 rated U18 in Midwest.
- Matthew Hurt (John Marshall, Basketball);
- JM Basketball; scored 984 points in 2017-2018 season; 33.9 PPG, 15.0 RBG; All-State
- Barron Holtz (PEM Baseball);
- Holtz earned a D1 scholarship to NDSU; he batted .409 with 4 HR & 24 RBI; 4-1 record pitching with 1.50 ERA and 56 K’s.
- Reed Davis (Schaeffer Academy Baseball);
- Davis hit .630 with 2 HR & 30 RBI’s. 4-3 record pitching with a 0.00 ERA and 72 K’s in 38 2/3 innings. He was selected as Class A All-State
Adaptive Athlete/Team of the Year
- Alex Steffl – Rochester Flyers;
- In July of 2018 Alex participated in four Track and Field events at the USA Special Olympic Games in Seattle, WA. As a part of Team Minnesota, he competed in 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, shot put and 4 x100 meter relay. In his 100-meter dash he took 4th place, in his 200-meter dash he took 4th place, in the shot put he took the bronze, and in the 4x100 meter relay his team took gold, placing top in the nation. Alex enjoys being a part of the Rochester Flyers Delegation competing in Track and Field, Softball, Flag Football, Bowling and Poly Hockey.
- Tony Kasner – Rochester Flyers, Special Olympics;
- He participated in Golf and Bowling in 2017. He earned a gold medal in each sport. Not only is he an athlete This athlete has been in Special Olympics for 20 years and plays in sports year-round. Tony always has a great smile on his face and though he seems polite and quiet, he isn’t afraid to get into the action. In the 2017-2018 year Tony participated in Poly Hockey with his team taking second at area and first at state. He also participated in basketball and bowling - bringing home the gold for those, and golf locally. Tony also donates his time for volunteer activities and fundraising, recently participating in the law enforcement Torch Run in Zumbrota.
- Blake Hillman – Raiders Hockey;
- Blake was a new player for the Raiders hockey team in 2018. He did very well for a first- time player and ended up earning honorable mention all-conference and also scored the game winning goal with no time on the clock at our first game at the state tournament last year.
- Julian Stacy – Raiders Softball;
- Julian was a key member of the Raiders and was selected to the All-Tournament team at the state tournament.
- Janet Harner - Rochester Flyers, Special Olympics;
- Janet Harner is a Special Olympics veteran that’s work ethic is second to none! Her Poly Hockey coach says, “Janet may not be the quickest player out there, but she plays smart!” In 2017-2018 Janet participated in basketball, bowling - bringing home the Gold; Bocce - taking second in singles and third in doubles AND this summer qualifying for the next USA Games competition. She also is part of the Poly Hockey team that took first place at state. She has always been a constant in any sports she plays. She has a positive attitude and is a great role model for others.
In addition to these awards, there will be awards handed out to a Post High School Male and Female Athlete of the Year as well as Partner of the Year, Youth Sports Team, Lifetime Achievement, and Coaches Lifetime Achievement. A sports-focused silent auction will be held prior to dinner followed by Justin Morneau speaking and concluding with the awards. Tickets are available today by calling 507-280-4701.
(Courtesy of Rochester Sports)