TRI-CITY AREA — From start to finish, the year 2022 was most definitely an exciting one on the high school sports scene.
Here is a look at the top-ten sports stories of 2022 and a few others that came very close to landing a spot on that list:
1) The Imlay City wrestling team reaches the Division 3 state semifinals (March 2 and February 23 issue)
The Imlay City wrestling team concluded an outstanding 29-6 campaign, advancing all the way to way to the Division 3 state semifinals before seeing their tournament path halted.
Wings Event Center, in Kalamazoo, hosted the tournament which was contested last Friday and Saturday.
Imlay City, the fourth seed started things off Friday afternoon with a 45-24 quarterfinal win against fourth-seeded Hart.
The following day Imlay City would not fare as well when the final scores were added up, bowing out with a 74-5 semifinal loss to Dundee, the top seeds.
Dundee would go on from there to defeat third-seeded Alma by a 55-12 count in the title match.
Imlay City knocked off fourth-ranked Algonac (37-30) and fifth-rated Richmond (37-31) to claim regional honors Wednesday, February 16 at Yale Middle School.
It marked the first-ever regional title for Imlay City.
2) Almont girls’ track standout Devin Johnston places twice at the Division 2 state finals (June 8 issue).
Devin Johnston earned a pair of podium finishes, leading the Almont girls’ track team to a four-way tie for 23rd the Division 3 state finals last Saturday.
Kent City High School is where the action unfolded.
Johnston took second with a 200 dash time of 25.71 seconds and her 100-meter dash clocking of 13.0 seconds paid off with a seventh.
For her performances, Johnston earned All-State accolades (given to the top-eight finishers in each event.
3) The Imlay City wrestling team made their presence felt, bringing home four placewinning efforts from the Division 3 individual state finals (March 9 issue).
The tournament was contested last Friday and Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit
Dominic D’Ambrosio headlined for Imlay City, claiming a third at 119 pounds.
Cristian Rojas gave Imlay City a fourth at 125 pounds.
Julian Rojas provided Imlay City with a fifth at 135 pounds.
Anthony D’Ambrosio added a seventh to Imlay City’s cause.
For their performances, Dominic and Anthony D’Ambrosio plus Cristian and Julian Rojas earned All-State honors (given to the top-eight placers in each weight class).
4) The Imlay City boys’ soccer team reaches the regional championship match (November 2 issue)
Fourth-rated Imlay City watched an outstanding season reach an endpoint, dropping a 3-0 overtime verdict to second-ranked Detroit Country Day last Thursday evening.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep is where the match was contested.
With the decision, Imlay City wraps up an 18-5-1 campaign.
“We were right in the contest at the completion of regulation play,” Imlay City Coach Luis Hernandez said. “Then Country Day scored in the first overtime after a series of unfortunate rebounds in the front of the goal,” he noted.
Some injuries happened during the second overtime and two more goals were scored, we were pushing up trying to score the goal that would put us back in the game. Our team had a good season, winning 18 games, the Blue Water Area Conference and a district championship.”
Imlay City reached the regional championship with a 2-1 semifinal triumph against 10th-rated Frankenmuth on Tuesday, October 25.
That clash was at Notre Dame Prep as well.
5) Almont wrestling standout Maria Stanton places at the first-ever MHSAA-sponsored Girls’ Wrestling Individual State Finals March 9 issue).
Almont 100-pounder Maria Stanton earned a fifth-place finish at the first-ever Michigan High School Athletic Association-sponsored Girls’ Wrestling Individual State finals.
Ford Field, in Detroit, hosted the two-day tournament which ran last Friday and Saturday.
With her performance, Stanton secured All-State plaudits (awarded to the top-eight finishers in each weight class).
6) The Imlay City and Capac softball teams win district titles (June 8 issue).
The Imlay City varsity softball team earned a first-place showing at a Division 2 district hosted by Yale High School last Saturday.
It marked the second straight year Imlay City has won a district title.
Imlay City started the day off with a 6-5 semifinal victory over Cros-Lex.
They then followed it up with a 15-1 triumph against Yale.
A week later, Imlay City exited postseason play with a 7-1 loss to host Detroit Country Day in a regional semifinal clash.
With the decision, Imlay City finishes a 2022 campaign with a 13-20 mark.
The Capac varsity softball team outscored their opposition by a combined 30-2 count en route to a first-place finish at a Division 4 district it hosted last Saturday.
Capac began their title-producing run with a 10-2 win against Dryden.
They then followed it up with a 20-0 championship game victory over Genesee.
It marked their second straight district title.
A week later, Capac saw their postseason run wrap up with an 11-6 regional semifinal loss to Ubly.
Unionville Sebewaing Area High School is where the matchup was contested.
With the decision, Capac concluded a 22-7 overall campaign.
7) The Almont girls’ soccer team wins a district championship (June 8 issue).
Almont outlasted Richmond, 3-1, in a Division 3 girls’ district soccer championship confrontation last Friday.
Lakeville is where the action unfolded.
The following Wednesday Almont watched a successful postseason run reach an endpoint with a 4-0 loss to 13th-ranked Flint Powers in a regional semifinal meeting.
Williamston High School is where the match was contested.
Almont finished the year as owners of a 12-9 overall mark.
8) The Imlay City girls’ basketball team wins a district title (March 9 and 16 issue).
Imlay City made it three straight years as Division 2 district basketball champions, accomplishing the feat with a 57-33 triumph against visiting Yale on Friday, March 4.
The following Tuesday Imlay City (18-4) closed out their postseason run with a 57-37 setback to Lake Fenton at Ortonville-Brandon High School.
9) The Capac wrestling team shares a district title (February 16 issue).
In a Division 4 district wrestling championship which saw Brown City and host Capac finish with 42 points each last Thursday, the former moved on via the tiebreaker (fewest forfeits allowed).
With the outcome, Capac closes out an 11-6 campaign.
A group consisting of Tyler McKenney (112), Jeff Helzer (125), Derek Mason (145), John Schoen (152), MaLakai Kelly (189) and Jesus Guerrero (285) led Capac with wins by pin.
Shane Clor (135) added a victory by void to Capac’s cause.
10) The Almont football team reaches the state playoffs again (November 2 issue).
The Almont varsity football team put up a good fight, only to drop a 21-14 verdict to Ovid-Elsie in a Division 6, Region 3, District 2 playoff game it hosted last Friday night.
With the outcome, Almont sees a 6-4 season close.
The Imlay City varsity volleyball team pushes North Branch to the limit (November 9 issue).
Tenth-rated Imlay City gave second-ranked North Branch all they could handle, only to drop a 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-17, 8-15 verdict in a Division 2 district volleyball semifinal showdown last Wednesday night.
Almont High School is where the match was contested.
With the decision, Imlay City watches an outstanding 30-14-4 season reach an endpoint.
North Branch would go on from there to win the Division 2 state title.
Almont’s Tyler Filinger lands a spot among the top Division 5 football players statewide (November 30 issue).
Tyler Filinger, of Almont, earned a spot on the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association first team which was announced recently.
Filinger, a senior, made the squad at a linebacker position.
He supplied 29 solo and 67 assisted tackles during the 2022 campaign. His numbers included 14 tackles for a loss and five quarterback sacks.
This was his second year on Almont’s varsity.
Filinger completed the season as a Tri-City Times All-Area first team selection and All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.
Dryden’s Aiden Fitchett ranks among the top finishers at the Division 4 state cross country finals (November 9 issue).
Dryden junior Aiden Fitchett logged a 17:13.52 time en route to 23rd last Saturday at the Division 4 state finals.
Michigan International Speedway, in Brooklyn, is where the meet contested.
For his performance, Fitchett earned All-State accolades (given to the top-30 finishers in the race).
Imlay City has one player recognized on the Division 2 All-State volleyball lineup (December 14 issue).
Imlay City’s Hope Schriber earned a spot on the second team of the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Division 2 All-State lineup which was announced recently.
Schriber provided Imlay City with 289 kills during the 2022 campaign.
The 6-1 senior middle hitter also contributed 77 digs, 51 assisted blocks and 21 solo blocks to Imlay City’s cause.
This was her third year on Imlay City’s varsity.
Schriber, who has signed with Madonna, also finished the 2022 campaign as a Tri-City Times and All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick and an All-Region pick.
The Imlay City boys’ soccer team had two players honored on the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association squad (November 30 issue).
Imlay City had two of their players recognized when the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association announced the Division 3 All-State lineup recently.
Sergio Galiana earned a spot on the squad as a first team selection. The senior finished his final campaign with 21 goals.
He will be continuing his soccer playing days next season at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing.
Luis Barragan claimed a spot on the squad as a Division 3 All-State honorable mention choice. The senior defender contributed five goals and three assists to Imlay City’s cause this fall.
Like Galiana, Barragan plans to play at the college level next season. He is currently weighing his options on which school he may attend.
With their help, Imlay City finished the 2022 campaign as Blue Water Area Conference champions. The Spartans also won a Division 3 district title and reached the regional championship match where they watched an outstanding season draw to a close.
The Almont softball team had three players recognized on the Division 2 All-State softball team (June 22 issue).
Devin Johnston, junior, was an All-State first team pick as a third baseman.
She collected 36 singles, 11 doubles, eight triples and four home runs in 113 at bats, leaving her with a .522 average.
Johnston also provided Almont with a 46 runs scored and 43 RBI.
In addition to her state recognition, Johnston closed out her second varsity season as an All-Blue Water Area Conference, All-District, All-Region and Tri-City Times All-Area first team pick.
Myah McLean a junior, received All-State honorable mention accolades as a pitcher. She wound up with a 22-5 mark, including a 1.45 ERA, this past spring.
In 154 1/3 innings of work, McLean allowed 135 hits, struck out 141 and issued 25 walks.
McLean also amassed eight singles and four doubles in 38 at bats, good for a .316 average.
She also contributed 12 RBI and two runs scored to Almont’s cause.
In addition to her state recognition, McLean earned All-Blue Water Area Conference, All-District and All-Region honors plus was a Tri-City Times All-Area first team selection.
Grace Koenig, a junior, added All-State honorable mention plaudits at shortstop.
She finished with a .473 average, thanks to 34 singles, 17 doubles, four triples and three home runs in 122 at bats.
Koenig also contributed 46 runs and 34 RBI to Almont’s cause.
In addition to her statewide accolades, Koenig wrapped up her second season on Almont’s squad as an All-Blue Water Area Conference, All-District, All-Region and Tri-City Times All-Area first team choice.
Almont’s Jesse Kautz gains mention with state’s best soccer players (June 22nd issue).
Almont sophomore soccer standout Jesse Kautz saw to it that her lengthy list of laurels would continue to grow, landing a spot on the honorable mention portion of the Division 3 All-State lineup.
This spring proved one to remember of her as she registered a school-record setting output of 34 goals.
Those numbers paved the way to All-Region, All-District and All-BWAC first team honors.
She was also named the BWAC’s Offensive MVP.
With her help, Almont won a Division 3 district title and put together a 12-9 overall mark.
A pair of Tri-City Area basketball standouts are mentioned among the top players statewide (April 27th issue).
Imlay City’s Mary Lengemann attained first team status and Almont’s Grace Johnson was chosen to the honorable mention portion of the Detroit Free Press Division 2 All-State girls’ basketball lineup which was announced recently.
Lengemann, who has signed with Division 2 Embry Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, averaged a Tri-City best output of 19 points per game this season.
This was the fourth year on Imlay City’s varsity for the 5-11 senior guard.
She finished with 1,360 points over that stretch, leaving her second on Imlay City’s careerscoring list.
Johnson, meanwhile, averaged 9.3 points during the 2021-22 campaign.
That placed her first on Almont’s squad list and third among Tri-City scorers.
The 5-4 senior guard also averaged 2.9 steals, 1.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds.
This was her fourth season on Almont’s varsity.
The Almont girls’ golf team competes at the Division 4 state finals (October 19 issue).
The Almont girls’ golf team wrapped up a highly successful 2022 campaign with a 15th-place showing at the Division 4 state finals.
Play was contested last Friday and Saturday at the Meadows Golf Course on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale.
Jesse Kautz led Almont, with a 192 over 36 holes, good for the 33rd best individual total. Her effort included an opening round 95 and a second round 97.
The previous Monday Almont advanced to the state finals with a third-place finish at a Division 4 regional hosted by Washtenaw Golf Club.
Jesse Kautz and Olivia Kotelnicki led Almont that day. They shot a 90 and a 94, respectively.
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.