A season marred by delays, cancellations and COVID concerns


TRI-CITY AREA — The 2021 high school sports season took awhile to get underway what with delays due to COVID-19 concerns, but when it did there certainly was no shortage of highlights to mention.

Here is a rundown of the top high school sports stories this past year:

1) The Imlay City girls’ basketball team wins their first-ever regional title (April 7 issue).

The Imlay City girls’ basketball team earned their first-ever Division 2 regional championship, accomplishing the feat with a 42-35 triumph against Lutheran North in the title game it hosted Wednesday, March 31.

Ana Lengemann (12 points, featuring a pair of treys) and Mary Lengemann (10) led Imlay City with double figure point totals.

Five days later, Imlay City wrapped up their postseason run with a 45-40 loss to Detroit County Day.

Ortonville-Brandon High School is where the action, unfolded.

The Blue Water Area Conference champions, which posted a 56-33 win against Almont in their district championship on March 26, watched an outstanding 15-4 season reach an endpoint.

2) Tri-City Area grapplers place a total of four times at their respective individual state tournaments last Saturday (April 7 issue).

In Division 4, Capac’s 103-pounder Max Frangedakis obtained a second and 215-pounder Bryce Tank garnered a seventh.

Van Andel Arena, in Grand Rapids, is where the matches were contested.

Frangedakis reached the title bout where he dropped a 5-0 decision to Clinton’s Connor Younts.

Tank ended his stint at states, winning by pin with 39 seconds gone versus Union City’s Gary Iobe.

Frangedakis and Tank concluded their seasons with 22-5 and 25-5 marks, respectively.

In Division 3, Almont 103-pounder Dallas Stanton claimed a third and 145-pounder Mathew Dwyer notched an eighth.

Wings Event Center, in Kalamazoo, is where the action unfolded.

Stanton finished his successful run with a 4-1 victory over Whitehall’s Ty Whalen.

Dwyer wrapped up his stint at states with a narrow 3-1 loss to Kingsford’s Toby Wilcox.

Stanton and Dwyer wrapped up their seasons with 29-5 and 25-6 marks, respectively.

Imlay City’s Natalie Stone arrives safely on a bunt by Abigail Thibodeau during a Div. 2 regional clash versus Linden.

In Division 2, Imlay City 125-pounder Cristian Rojas added a fourth-place showing.

Van Andel Arena, in Grand Rapids, provided the tournament venue.

Rojas closed out his run at states with a spot in the third place match. It was there he was pinned by Dewitt’s Kiefer Kolito with 2:22 gone.

Rojas ended his season at 29-6.

3) Imlay City girls’ hoop standout Mary Lengemann surpasses 1,000 points for her career (December 22 issue).

Mary Lengemann saw to it that she would etch her name in the record books, surpassing the 1,000-point plateau for her career in a 62-29 win against visiting conference foe Richmond last Friday night.

Lengemann, a senior, netted 1,00th and 1,001st career points when she converted a layup with 6:57 to play before halftime. That upped her point total to 15 for the evening and staked Imlay City to a 25-10 lead at the time.

She would add 20 more points the rest of the way, helping Imlay City register a 65-29 triumph.

Lengemann becomes just the fourth player to surpass the 1,000-point plateau. Milli Martinez, Tracey (Moenaert) Combs and Ashyon Combs were the others to accomplish the feat.

4) Capac’s Bryce Tank places at the Division 3 track and field state meet (June 9 issue).

The Capac boys’ track team notched one placewinning performance on the way to a 50th last Saturday at the Division 3 state finals.

Jenison High School is where the meet was contested.

Bryce Tank, discus, 138 feet 10 inches; led Capac with a sixth.

For his showing, Tank draws All-State plaudits (awarded to the top-eight placewinners in each event).

5) The Dryden girls’ track team garners a pair of placewinning performances at the Division 4 track and field state finals (June 9 issue).

The Dryden girls’ track team claimed a pair of placewinning efforts last Saturday at the Division 4 state finals.

Baldwin Street Middle School, in Hudsonville, is where the meet was contested.

Erin Boettcher, 100-meter dash, 13.38 seconds; and Ella Kage, 1600 run, 5:43.65; led Dryden with sevenths.

For their performances, Boettcher and Kage earned All-State accolades (given to the top-eight finishers in each event).

6) The Almont girls’ golf team wins the BWAC title and competes at the Division 4 state finals (October 6 and October 20 issues)

The Almont girls golf team (412), outshot Armada (459), Yale (460), Imlay City (535), Richmond and Lutheran Northwest (539) and North Branch (612) en route to a first-place finish at the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament on Thursday, September 30.

Holly Meadows Golf Course, in Capac, provided the tournament venue.

Jesse Kautz led Almont with a medalist round of 84 over 18 holes.

Almont would also earn the right to compete October 15-16 at the Division 4 state golf finals.

Forest Akers East Golf Course, in East Lansing, is where the action unfolded.

Kautz paced Almont with a 186 total over 36 holes, good for 36th overall.

7) The Imlay City boys’ soccer team wins the BWAC title and also claims a first-place district showing (October 13 and 27 plus November 3 issues).

The Imlay City boys’ soccer team put the finishing touches on a 12-0 Blue Water Area Conference campaign with a 5-0 road triumph against Cros-Lex on Monday, October 11.

It marked the fifth straight year that Imlay City has ended BWAC play as champions.

Nine days later, Imlay City would add a Division 3 district title to their list of accomplishments.

Playing at home, sixth-rated Imlay City saw to it their season would last a bit longer with a 4-0 triumph against Richmond.

Six days later, Imlay City bowed out of postseason action with a 4-1 Division 3 regional semifinal loss to seventh-rated Williamston.

Lansing Catholic is where the match was contested.

Imlay City concluded the season as owners of a 21-4-1 mark.

8) The Imlay City, Capac and Dryden softball teams all claim district titles (June 9 issue).

Imlay City downed Goodrich, 13-3, in the championship game of a Division 2 softball district it hosted last Saturday.

A week later, Imlay City (listed among the honorable mention teams in the statewide rankings) exited tournament action with a 9-4 setback to sixth-ranked Linden in a Division 2 regional semifinal softball battle.

Clio High School is where the contest took place.

With the decision, Imlay City watches an outstanding 27-14 campaign reach an endpoint.

Capac would gain a number one district showing as well, rolling to a 14-1 win agahost Oakland Christian in a Division 3 softball district game on Saturday, June 5.

They then bowed out of tournament action a week later with a 13-0 loss to second-ranked Richmond, the eventual state champions.

Millington High School is where the action unfolded.

With the outcome, Capac finished at 14-8.

Dryden claimed their district title, posting a 15-0 victory over Genesee in the championship game it hosted.

Eighth days later, Dryden ended postseason play with an 11-1 loss to Kingston.

Unionville Sebewaing is where the game was contested.

9) The Capac wrestling team garners a number one district placing (March 24 issue).

The Capac wrestling team earned a first-place finish at a Division 4 district hosted by Memphis High School last Wednesday.

With the outcome, Capac improves to 18-3 this season.

In Wednesday’s district action, Capac opened with a 39-30 win against Memphis.

Capac then met New Haven for district honors next.

When the final scores were tallied, Capac posted a convincing 57-6 victory.

Capac was to have faced Mayville in a regional March 31 in Clinton, but both teams opted out of that contest.

tie 10th) The Capac football team will be making a switch to the NCTL where it will play 8-man football for the next two seasons (December 1 issue) and the Almont baseball team notches a top district finish (June 9 and 16 issues)

School board members, at their November 18 regular meeting, approved a proposal to transition Capac High School’s football program to the North Central Thumb League for the next two seasons.

The league follows an 8-man football format. All other Capac athletic programs will remain in the Greater Thumb Conference.

The Almont baseball team outlasted North Branch, 10-4, in a Division 2 district championship game encompassing eight innings Saturday, June 5 in Yale.

Four days later, Almont watched their successful season draw to a close with a 3-2 regional semifinal loss to Notre Dame Prep.

Linden High School is where the action unfolded.

With the decision, Almont finished at 21-8.

Honorable mention

The Almont football team advances to the district championship game before seeing their tournament path halted (November 3 and 10 issues).

Almont, which was making their 13th straight playoff appearance and 15th over a 16-year stretch, began Division 6, Region 4, District 1 postseason action with a 35-0 road win against Clawson on Friday, October 29.

The following week Almont would not fare as well, dropping their district championship game 44-14 to eventual state runnerup Warren Michigan Collegiate.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley High School is where the game was contested.

Almont ended the 2021 campaign with a 6-5 mark.

Almont placed two of their players on the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Division 6 All-State first team lineup (December 1 issue).

Brandon Hunsaker, a senior, garnered attention at a linebacker spot.

This past fall he supplied 25 solo and 72 assisted stops.

Mason Smith, a senior, made the lineup for his prowess as a defensive back. He wound up with 21 solo tackles, 38 assisted stops and registered one forced fumble en route.

The Almont boys’ golf team wins a BWAC title (June 2 issue).

The Almont boys’ golf squad (322) withstood the challenges of Richmond (346), Armada (350),  Cros-Lex (372), North Branch (381), Yale (392) and Imlay City (516) to win the Blue Wate Area Conference Tournament last Thursday.

Holly Meadows Golf Course, in Capac, served as the tournament venue.

Jack Jellison led Almont with a 72 over 18 holes that day. His effort was the second best overall round.

Jacob Rayl supported his showing. Rayl managed a 78, the day’s third lowest output.

The Dryden girls’ volleyball team wins the NCTL title (November 3 issue)

The Dryden varsity volleyball team saw to it they would earn the distinction of North Central Thumb League Stars Division champions, accomplishing the feat with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-11 triumph against visiting Deckerville on Tuesday, October 26.

With the outcome, Dryden improves their mark to 15-1 overall and 12-1 as far as NCTL clashes are concerned.

The Dryden boys basketball team wins the NCTL title (March 24 issue)

The Dryden varsity boys’ basketball team saw to it that a top NCTL finish would belong to them, accomplishing the feat with a 50-24 rout of visiting Peck in a contest on Tuesday, March 16.
With the decision, Dryden improves to 11-2 and 8-0.

Kevin Kissane

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.