TRI-CITY AREA — From start to finish, the year 2019 was a successful one for Tri-City Area competitors. Their accomplishments took place not only in their respective leagues, but at the district, regional and state levels of play as well.
Here is a look at the top high school sports stories of 2019 along with a few others we believe should receive honorable mention recognition.
1) The Almont football team reaches the Division 5 title game for the first time, claiming a second (December 4 issue).
The Almont football team fell one win shy of a top Division 5 finish it hoped to attain, dropping a 31-17 verdict to Lansing Catholic in the state championship game last Saturday afternoon at Ford Field.
With the outcome, Lansing Catholic concludes a 13-1 season. Almont watches an outstanding 13-1 campaign reach an endpoint.
Almont, the Blue Water Area Conference champions, opened their impresive postseason run with a 30-20 road triumph against league counterpart Richmond.
The Almont football team would earn three more wins en route to the title tilt. That successful stretch featured a 22-20 road win over Marine City; a 25-14 victory against visiting Saginaw Swan Valley; and a 36-8 triumph over Detroit Denby at Walled Lake Central High School
2) The Imlay City/Dryden co-op football team enjoys a successful debut and narrowly misses qualifying for the state playoffs under unusual circumstances (October 30 issue).
Imlay City came out on top of a 34-3 verdict over host Capac in a non-league varsity football game last Friday night.
With the outcome, Imlay City finishes the 2019 campaign at 5-4.
Imlay City just missed out on becoming the second Tri-City Area football team to reach the state playoffs this past weekend.
When the final playoff points were announced, Imlay City and Durand managed identical point totals in their pursuit of an at large playoff berth for Class B squads.
All of the tiebreakers then were utilized with hopes of determining which side would continue their postseason path, but to no avail.
That meant a coin flip would be used to determine which side advanced.
Sunday morning’s toss favored Durand, putting an official end to Imlay City’s season.
3) The Almont girls’ golf team places eighth at the Division 4 state finals (October 23 issue).
The Almont girls’ golf team earned an eighth-place finish last Friday and Saturday at the Division 4 state finals.
Bedford Valley Golf Course, in Battle Creek, provided the tournament venue.
A week earlier, Almont advanced to the state finals with a top finish at a Division 4 regional.
Fox Hills Classic Course, in Plymouth, is where the action unfolded.
It marked the third straight season Almont has earned the distinction of regional champions.
4) The Dryden girls’ track team claims a top regional finish (May 22 issue).
The Dryden girls’ track team earned a first-place finish last Friday at a Division 4 regional hosted by Flint Beecher High School.
Dryden paced the field with 113 points. Clarkston Everest Collegiate (68) and Austin Catholic (66) took second and third, respectively.
5) Tri-City Area grapplers excel at the Division 3 individual state wrestling finals (March 6 issue).
Imlay City 135-pounder Wesley Hampton and 160-pounder Hunter Mullins claimed fourths last Saturday at the Division 3 individual state wrestling finals.
Ford Field, in Detroit, is where the action unfolded.
Hampton wrapped up the season 51-5, while Mullins ended the campaign at 42-9.
Imlay City 285-pounder Joe Harper also impressed at the state finals, bringing home a seventh. That enabled him to complete a 36-6 campaign.
For their respective performances, the Imlay City trio earned All-State accolades (reserved for the top-eight finishers in each weight class).
tie 6th) The Dryden girls’ bowling team and Imlay City girls track squad register second-place showings at their respective regionals (February 27 and May 22 issue).
The Dryden girls’ bowling team garnered a second-place finish last Friday at a Division 4 regional.
B’s Bowling Center in Flint, is where the action unfolded.
The Imlay City girls’ track team excelled as well.
Competing at a Division 2 regional hosted by Clio in Friday, May 17, the Spartans pulled up second with 81.5 points. Frankenmuth (154 points) was the team champion.
7) The Imlay City girls’ track team places three times at the Division 2 state finals (June 5 issue).
The Imlay City girls’ track team registered three placewinning performances last Saturday at the Division 2 state finals in Zeeland.
Robin LeFevere, 400 dash, a school-record setting performance of 59.03 seconds; led Imlay City with a fourth.
LeFevere, long jump, 17 feet 2 1/2 inches; gave Imlay City an individual event sixth.
The Imlay City 1600 relay of McKinzie Winget, Sarah Hubbard, Jessica Denver and LeFevere placed sixth as well. They registered a school record-setting clocking of 4:06.9 en route.
For their performances, LeFevere along with Imlay City’s 1600-meter relay earned All-State accolades (reserved for the top-eight finishers in each event).
8) Tri-City softball squads win a pair of district titles (June 5 issue).
The Dryden softball team saw to it that the distinction of district champions would belong to them when the final scores were tallied, registering an 8-4 triumph against host Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest in the Division 4 title game Monday.
It marked the first district top finish for Dryden since the 1995 campaign.
The following Saturday Dryden bowed out with an 11-1 loss to Plymouth Christian in a contest spanning seven innings.
Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest is where the action took place.
Dryden finishes at 11-11.
Almont would enjoy an impressive postseason run as well.
It was there Almont edged Capac in the title game of a Division 3 district hosted by Oakland Christian High School on Friday, May 30.
The following Saturday Almont exited postseason play with an 8-1 regional semifinal loss to Marine City.
Almont wrapped up their season as owners of an 8-19-1 mark.
9) The Capac boys’ basketball team notches a top district placing (March 6 issue).
Trevor Boers drained a triple from the right corner with four seconds remaining, helping Capac post a dramatic 53-51 triumph against host Marlette in a Division 3 boys’ district basketball battle last Friday night.
It marked the second straight year Capac has earned the right to call themselves district champions.
The following Tuesday Capac (15-9) exited postseason play with a 53-39 regional semifinal loss to Madison Heights Madison (21-3).
Sandusky is where the action took place.
tie 10th) The Capac wrestling team and Dryden volleyball team obtain top district finishes (February 13 and November 13 issues).
The Capac wrestling team saw to it they would hoist the first-place trophy at evening’s end, registering a 49-30 triumph against Brown City in a Division 4 district championship clash last Wednesday.
It marked Capac’s first top district finish since they won a title as a Division 3 program in 2014.
Sandusky is where the action unfolded.
A week later, Capac bowed out of postseason play with a 60-15 setback to host Memphis in a Division 4 regional semifinal clash.
Capac concluded their dual season as owners of an 11-18 overall mark.
The Dryden volleyball team would claim district honors as well.
The team made sure of that, handing Peck a 25-10, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20 setback in the title match on Thursday, November 7.
Kingston High School is where the action unfolded.
It marked the second straight year Dryden has won a district title.
The following Tuesday Dryden bowed out with a 24-26, 25-21, 12-25, 25-22, 7-15 loss to Ubly in a regional semifinal battle.
Mayville High School is where the action unfolded.
With the outcome, Dryden watches an 18-6 campaign reach an endpoint.
Honorable mention- The Imlay City boys’ soccer team, Imlay City girls’ cross country squad, Dryden volleyball team, Capac boys’ cross country squad and Imlay City boys’ soccer team win league titles (October 9, October 9, October 23, October 23 and November 6 issues).
The Imlay City boys’ soccer team sent visiting Richmond down to an 8-0 defeat in the finals of the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament on Wednesday, October 2.
The Almont boys’ tennis team took first at the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament on Saturday, October 5.
Armada High School is where the action unfolded.
The Imlay City girls’ cross country team claimed a first-place finish at the Blue Water Area Conference League Meet on Tuesday, October 15.
Castle Creek Golf Course, in Lum, is where the action unfolded.
Imlay City’s pacesetting output was 57 points.
The Capac boys’ cross country team placed four of their runners among the top-ten finishers en route to a first at the Greater Thumb Conference East League Meet on Tuesday, October 15.
Laker High School is where the meet was contested.
Capac’s winning total that day was 32 points.
The Dryden varsity volleyball team completed an unbeaten North Central Thumb League campaign with a 25-15, 25-15, 18-25, 25-14 win against host Kingston on Tuesday, October 29.
The Almont boys’ tennis team fares well at the Division 4 state finals (October 23 issue).
The Almont boys’ tennis team netted a two-way tie for 11th last Friday and Saturday at the Division 4 state finals.
Hope College, in Holland, served as the tournament venue.
Sam Bussone led Almont at the state finals. Bussone was a semifinalist at second singles.
The Almont boys’ tennis team saw to it they would be headed to states, registering a second Thursday, October 10 at a Division 4 regional hosted by Grosse Pointe Liggett High School.
Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.