July 16 • 08:28 AM

Looking back at '08

The year offered plenty of thrills, excitement no matter the sport

December 31, 2008
TRI-CITY AREA — From start to finish, the year 2008 was one filled with sports accomplishments.

So, from number one to 10 along with those who drew honorable mention plaudits, here is look at the stories we believe are the year's best:

1) Dean Sousanis steps down from his post as Almont boys' tennis coach (August 27th issue).

When the 2008 boys' tennis season gets into full swing in the weeks ahead there will be someone different in charge of Almont's program.

That is because Dean Sousanis has decided to step down from the position after a run of 37 years.

He will be replaced by Nathan Immekus, a 1999 graduate of Almont High School and a former player for Sousanis.

Sousanis still plans to stay as a physics instructor at the school, a job he has held for 45 years.

He has directed Almont to 30 state final appearance during his storied career, including the last 24 in a row.

Almont also has netted 27 league championships over that stretch and finished second the other years.

Longtime Almont tennis coach Dean Sousanis stepped down from coaching the program for 37 seasons this past year. Sousanis estimates his career win total at 580, a number that isn’t likely to be approached anytime soon.

Sousanis estimates his career victory total at 580, a number that isn't likely to be approached any time soon.

His impressive list of accomplishments don't stop there either. He also started the girls' program back in 1977, stepping down from that post three years ago. Sousanis led them to 17 state finals appearances.

2) An Almont doubles team nets a top finish and one individual reaches the semifinals at the Division 4 state finals (June 4th issue).

Lindsey Yaklin and Chanahl Putnam joined forces to win the first doubles title plus Claire Turvill was a third singles semifinalist last Thursday and Friday at the Division 4 state finals.

East Lansing and Okemos is where the action unfolded.

Yaklin and Putnam, who were seeded second, assured themselves of a number one finish with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win against the top-seeded Williamston combination of Anya Nikolai and Sarah Vogel.

Turvill also excelled for Almont at the state finals, reaching the third singles semifinals where she bowed out with a 2-6, 4-6 loss to Jackson Lumen Christi's Gretchen Berkemeir, the eventual state champion.

3) The Almont football team goes deep into the Division 5 state playoffs, advancing to the regional finals before seeing their run draw to a close (November 19th, November 12th and November 5th issues).

Sixth-ranked Jackson Lumen Christi put an end to Almont's season, earning a 37-7 win at their expense in a Division 5, Region 4 championship confrontation last Friday night.

Withington Stadium, in Jackson, is where the action unfolded.

Almont reached the regional title tilt with a 31-18 opening round playoff win against visiting Madison Heights Madison and followed it up with a 28-21 road victory over Livonia Clarenceville

Jeremy Ferman's ballclub, who shared the Blue Water Area Conference title with Cros-Lex, Yale and Richmond with 5-2 records this fall, finished with a 9-3 overall mark.

4) The Almont girls' basketball team completes their regular season unbeaten, then goes on from there to enjoy a successful postseason run (February 20th, February 27th and March 5th issues).

Almont put the finishing touches on a 20-0 regular season run (including a pacesetting 14-0 league mark), the first time in its history, by earning a 56-48 road win against Blue Water Area Conference rival Algonac on Thursday, February 15.

The following Friday Almont qualifed for regional action with a 54-42 win against Armada in a Class B district championship game it hosted.

The result gave Almont its first-ever girls' district basketball title.

Four days later, Almont played their final game of the season. The 14th-rated Raiders gave sixth-ranked Flint Powers all it wanted and then some, before dropping a 72-65 overtime verdict in regional semifinal action at Goodrich High School.

5) The Dryden football team proves stalwarts on the gridiron, posting an unbeaten regular season mark (October 29th, November 5th and November 12th issues).

The Dryden varsity football teaml listed sixth among Division 7 squads statewide according to the latest Associated Press poll, put the finishing touches on a spotless 2008 regular season run with a 43-8 victory over visiting non-league counterpart Burr Oak on Saturday, October 25.

With the outcome, Dryden moves to 9-0 overall. Burr Oak watches a 0-9 campaign reach an endpoint.

The following week Dryden kicked off their Division 7 playoff run with a 50-12 rout of visiting Memphis on Friday, October 31.

A week later, Dryden saw their season end with a 46-8 road setback to third-ranked Ubly in the district title clash.

Brian Tresnak's squad, which paced the North Central Thumb League standings with a 7-0 record this fall, finished with a 10-1 overall mark.

6) The Capac wrestling team places second in regional action for the second straight year (February 27th issue).

The Capac wrestling team attained regional runnerup status, falling by a 61-9 count to Goodrich in a Division 3 championship battle last Wednesday at Richmond High School.

With the result, Goodrich (42-2) moves on to the state quarterfinals. Capac watches an outstanding 37-8 campaign reach an endpoint.

Earlier that night, Capac reached the regional title tilt with a 45-29 victory over Birch Run.

Six days prior to that, Capac locked up their fourth straight district championship with a 44-24 triumph against Imlay City at Yale High School.

7) Capac heavyweight Alex Wegner places sixth at the Division 3 individual wrestling state finals (March 12th issue).

Capac senior heavyweight Alex Wegner locked up a sixth-place finish in his weight class last Thursday through Saturday at the Division 3 individual wrestling state finals.

The Palace of Auburn Hills served as the venue for the competition.

For his effort, Wegner earned All-State recognition (given to the top-eight finishers in each weight class).

Wegner wrapped up the season with a 59-7 mark.

8) Almont's Burton Juengel places second at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 Bowling State Championship (March 5th issue).

Burton Juengel, of Almont, brought home a second-place finish from the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 Bowling State Champion-ship last Saturday.

Sunnybrook Lanes, in Sterling Heights, is where the action unfolded.

9) The Almont girls' tennis team, Almont girls' track team and the Dryden boys' track team all place second in regional action (May 21st issue).

The Almont girls' tennis squad earned a second-place finish last Friday at a Division 4 regional.

When the final scores were added up, Flint Powers set the pace with 23 points. Almont attained runnerup status, accumulating 22 points en route.

The Almont girls' track team brought home a second last Saturday from a Division 3 regional hosted by New Haven High School.

When the final scores were announced, Lutheran North's 196-point total proved best. Almont took second, thanks to an output of 66 points.

A day earlier, the Dryden boys' track team claimed a second at a Division 4 regional hosted by Unionville Sebewaing Area High School.

USA topped the standings with 135 points, 35 ahead of Dryden.

10) The Imlay City and Almont baseball teams wrap up successful postseason runs (June 11th issue).

The 10th-rated Goodrich baseball team prevented Imlay City from reaching their first regional title game since the 1994 campaign, accomplishing the feat with a 3-0 win in a Division 2 semifinal encounter it hosted last Saturday morning.

With the decision, Goodrich improves to 34-4 overall. Imlay City watches a 22-9 season reach an endpoint.

A week prior to that, Imlay City eked out a 3-2 win against Cros-Lex in a district title clash at Yale High School.

Almont, meanwhile, saw their unexpected run draw to a close with a 6-5 semifinal setback to eventual regional champion Perry in Division 3 action Saturday, June 7 at Birch Run High School.

That left Almont with a 6-13 overall mark.

A week prior to that, Almont locked up a first-place district showing with a 9-3 win against Sandusky at Brown City High School.

Honorable mention

The Almont boys' tennis team falls just short in their bid for a 25th straight state finals appearance (October 15th issue).

The Almont boys' tennis team fell two places shy of netting their 25th straight state final appearance, registering a fourth last Friday at a Division 4 regional.

Almont High School and Imlay City High School is where the action unfolded.

Richmond (26 points) and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (22) held down the top-two finish positions. Royal Oak Shrine also saw to it that their season would last a bit longer, amassing 18 points (putting them exactly on the number needed to advance as an additional qualifier) on the way to a third.

Almont finished with 12 points, good enough for fourth place.

Almont graduate Patrick Lawrence excels at the Detroit Free Press Flagstar Marathon (November 12th issue).

Patrick Lawrence, a 2007 graduate of Almont High School, gave a good account of himself at the Detroit Free Press Flagstar Marathon recently.

The race was contested on Sunday, October 18.

Competing in the Male 19 and Under Age Group, Lawrence logged a 2:52:54 clocking en route to a second. His effort also placed him 43rd overall that day.

The Almont girls' cross country team places second at their regional meet (October 29th issue).

Marie Burkland notched a 19:43 time on the way to a first and Lauren Deneweth posted a 21:10 clocking for seventh, helping lead the Almont girls' cross country squad to a second-place finish last Saturday at a Division 3 regional hosted by Holly High School.

Macomb Lutheran North (25 points) earned the distinction of regional champion. Almont took second, thanks to a 57-point total, and Lake Fenton tallied 69 for third.

Those three schools, along with anyone ranking among the top-15 finishers, advance to this Saturday's Division 3 state finals at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Almont's Neal Zott and Ben Strouse are named to the Associated Press All-State football team for Divisions 5-6 (December 3 issue).

The Almont football team had a pair of players recognized on Associated Press Division 5-6 All-State football lineup which was released this past week.

Neal Zott, a 6-0 and 185-pound senior, threw for 831 yards and six touchdowns as Almont's quarterback this fall.

He also rushed for 505 yards and five touchdowns.

And his impact did not stop there either. He also returned punts and kicks for sixt touchdowns.

Those numbers enabled Zott to land All-State first team status as an All-Purpose Player.

Ben Strouse was the other Almont player acknowledged for his accomplishments. He was chosen to the Special Mention portion of the team as linebacker.

The 6-1 and 215-pound senior registered 96 tackles this fall.

Dryden's Nick Vicari and Allen Clark, along with coach Brian Tresnak, all receive accolades when the Associated Press All-State football squad for Divisions 7-8 are announced (December 3rd issue).

The 2008 season has been over for a few weeks, but honors the Dryden football team has received continue to grow.

That well-taken point was underlined when the Associated Press Division 7-8 All-State lineup was announced this past week.

Nick Vicari, a 5-11 and 340-pound senior center, headlined the list of Dryden honorees by securing All-State Special Mention status.

His presence up front enabled Dryden to generate 3,306 yards rushing this past fall.

Allen Clark, a 5-11 and 225-pound senior linebacker, was chosen to the honorable mention portion of the team.

He finished with 21 solo stops and 55 assisted tackles this fall.

Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak also was given his due, claiming honorable mention recognition. He helped guide the Cardinals to a 10-1 overall record, a district runnerup placing, a 9-0 regular season mark and a pacesetting 7-0 North Central Thumb League standing.

Almont volleyball coach Sue Frederiksen is honored (November 12th issue).

Almont Coach Sue Frederiksen was named to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Assoc-iation Hall of Fame recently.

Heading into the 2008 campaign, Frederiksen held an overall varsity record of 526-227-15.

Former Imlay City volleyball standout Morgan Iloncaie earns Regional Player of the Year honors at the collegiate level (November 26th issue).

Morgan Iloncaie, a graduate of Imlay City High School, completed her sophomore season with the St. Clair County women's volleyball team recently.

She made her final season with the squad one she won't forget, claiming Regional Player of the Year accolades.

Capac wrestling coach Jason Klink is honored (March 12th issue).

Jason Klink, of Capac, was a Division 3 regional wrestling coach of the year recently.

This winter Capac won its fourth straight district crown, attained regional runnerup status and posted a 37-8 overall mark.

A Capac powerlifter ranks with the state's best (April 2nd issue).

Capac sophomore James Morgan gave a good acccount of himself at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Power-lifting State Championship recently.

That event took place Saturday, March 15 in Montrose.

Morgan, competing in the Junior Varsity 242-pound weight class, pulled up third with a bench press output of 245 pounds.

He also generated a 315-pound squat lift and a 380-pound deadlift, giving him a 945-pound total. That left him with a 10th-place overall showing.

For his performance, Morgan brought home a medal and All-State accolades.

Almont's Lauren Bone notches her first hole-in-one while preparing for a tournament (August 27th issue).

Lauren Bone, who will be a senior at Almont High School this school year, aced the par-3 11th hole while testing her skills on the Fazio Premier Course Sunday, August 10 at Gaylord's Treetop Resort.

She was playing a practice round for the Top-50 Midwest Championship at the time.

Bone used an 8-iron to sink the shot on the hole encompassing 129 yards of territory.

The Imlay City varsity softball team plays its first game on Milagro Field (May 21st issue).

Imlay City gave visiting Richmond all it could handle and then some, only to drop a narrow 11-10 nailbiter in a Blue Water Area Conference battle last Friday.

It marked the debut for Imlay City on Milagro Field, named for former Spartan standout Milli (Martinez) Magette, whose generous donation helped make the ballpark a reality.

Capac's Melissa Sawicki notches two firsts at a Division 3 track regional (May 21st issue).

Capac senior Melissa Sawicki won the 800 and 1600 runs, helping her team to a fifth last Saturday at a Division 3 regional hosted by Bad Axe High School. She turned in times of 2:30 and 5:31.95, respectively, en route.

The Dryden boys' track team wins the North Central Thumb League Meet (May 21st issue).

The Dryden boys' track team continues to perform well, earning a number one finish at the North Central Thumb League Meet it hosted on Tuesday, May 13.

Dryden was a runaway winner that day, amassing 173 points.

The Imlay City varsity baseball team wins the Blue Water Area Conference title (May 28th issue).

The Imlay City varsity baseball team clinched the Blue Water Area Conference championship outright with an 11-0 road triumph against Capac last Thursday afternoon.

With the decision, Imlay City goes to 17-7 and 12-2.

The Almont girls' tennis team nets a top Blue Water Area Conference Tourna-ment finish (May 28th issue).

The Almont girls' tennis team saw to it that the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament title would belong to them, accumulating 48 points to accomplish the feat on Tuesday, May 20.

Richmond pulled up second that day, thanks to an output of 43 points.

The Capac golf team wins the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament (June 4th issue).

Colton Randall (75), Kenny Randall (76) and Josh Nemecek (79) swept the top-three places among a 48-golfer field, leading Capac to a first-place finish at the Blue Water Area Conference Tournament on Tuesday, May 27.

Fore Lakes Golf Course, just outside of Port Huron, is where the action unfolded.

Jordan Konyha rounded out Capac's winning attack, posting an 83 over 18 holes.

That left Capac with a pacesetting 313 total, well ahead of Cros-Lex's second place output of 351.

Almont's Lauren Bone tees it up in a LPGA Pro-Am (July 16th issue).

Lauren Bone, who will be a senior this fall at Almont High School, teed it up Monday, July 7 at a Junior Pro-Am as part of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning LPGA Tournament in Toledo.

The competition unfolded at the Arthur Hills-designed Highland Meadows Golf Course.

She was paired with Irene Cho, a second-year LPGA member.

Junior players Camille Walters, Ashley Skibski and Emily Skibski, who will be teammates at Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central, played alongside Bone that day.

The team placed fourth, aided by an output of 9-under-par.

A trio of Dryden baseball players compete in a game at Comerica Park (July 16th issue).

Dryden's Stephen DeCeuninck, Tom Ferrett and Trevor Crean suited up for the Macomb Hurricanes in their runaway 15-3 baseball win against Michigan Heat from Grosse Pointe North recently.

That matchup unfolded Tuesday, July 1 at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers.

An Almont High School golfer registers a hole-in-one at the Brown City Invitational (May 21st issue).

Almont senior Kyle Henry aced the par-3 14th hole encompassing 86 yards of territory while competing in the Holly Meadows Golf Course-based Brown City Invitational last Wednesday.

It was his first hole-in-one and believed to be the first in the history of the invite, according to tournament organizers.

Henry's club of choice was a pitching wedge.

The Almont girls' tennis team fares well at the Division 4 state finals (June 4th issue).

The Almont girls' tennis team tallied 12 points en route to a 10th-place finish last Friday and Saturday at the Division 4 state finals.

East Lansing and Okemos is where the action unfolded.

Capac golfer Colton Randall earns the distinction of the Blue Water Area Conference's Most Valuable Player (June 11th issue).

His performance over the eight Blue Water Area Conference Jamboree Tour-naments, as well as the conference tournament (where he was medalist with a 75 over 18 holes), enabled him to garner those accolades.

A pair of Tri-City athletes claim top honors at the Blue Water Area Conference's Captain's Banquet (June 11th issue).

Imlay City's Beth Caldwell earned the Female Athlete of the Year Award and Capac's Alex Wegner brought home the Male Athlete of the Year Award at the Blue Water Area Conference's Captain's Banquet last week.

Caldwell locked up the honor for her prowess at volleyball, basketball, soccer and track, while Wegner's contributions came in the sports of football and wrestling.

Three Capac volleyball players are a part of a team that captures an AAU volleyball state title (June 11th issue).

Recent Capac High School graduates Natalia Santi, Courtney Biggs and Brittany Friedenstab helped the Skipper J squad win the Amateur Athletic Union 18 and Under Gold Division State Volleyball Champion-ship recently.

Grand Rapids hosted the event which was contested May 30-31.

A pair of Almont tennis standouts gain mention with state's top talent (July 9th issue).

Almont's Chanahl Putnam and Lindsey Yaklin, who joined forces to win the first doubles title at the Division 4 state finals, netted All-State plaudits for their court accomplishments.

Capac gridiron standout Alex Wegner competes in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Assoc-iation All-Star Football game (July 23rd issue).

Capac High School graduate Alex Wegner competed for the East All-Stars during their 9-0 win against the West All-Stars in the MHSFCA All-Star game last Saturday.

Spartan Stadium, on the campus of Michigan State University, is where the action unfolded.

Wegner, who will play collegiately at Michigan Tech University, contributed one assisted tackle to the East's cause that day.

A pair of Capac brothers are recognized by the Michigan Top-50 Junior Golf Tour (August 20th issue).

Capac's Kenny (16 and Older) and Colton (15 and Under) Randall receiver Player of the Year plaques for their respective accomplishments this season. The former averaged 77.6 per 18-hole event, while the latter averaged 83.4 over the course of the season.

Capac discus thrower Tino Siewert excels at the Division 3 track and field state finals (June 4th issue).

Tino Siewert, of Capac, took 11th with a discus toss measuring 135 feet 10 inches at the Division 3 state track and field finals hosted by Comstock Park High School last Saturday.

The Randall brothers, of Capac excel, at a Top-50 Junior Golf Tour skills contest (September 3rd issue).

Colton Randall won the Boys' 15 and Under Division putting competition and Kenny Randall pulled up second among Boys' 16 and Older chipping contest entries while participating in skills contests at the Top-50 Junior Golf Tour Midwest Junior Champion-ships.

Treetops Resort, in Gaylord, is where the action unfolded.

Almont fares well at the Francis J. Robinson Memorial International Tennis Tournament (August 6th issue).

Almont's Lauren Fox, the second seed, won the women's 45 and over singles flight with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Wisconsin's Kathleen Preininger Johns, the top seed, at the Francis J. Robinson Memorial Inter-national Tennis Tournament last Sunday.

Port Huron is where the action unfolded.

Almont 82-year-old registers an ace (September 17th issue).

Andy Duke, of Almont aced the par-3 14th hole while competing in the Thursday Men's Golf League at Holly Meadows Golf Course on September 4.

It was the second time the 82-year-old has sunk his tee shot on the hole.

He also aced the 14th hole eight years ago.

Capac golfer shares 10th at Midwest Junior Golf Championships (August 27th issue).

Capac's Kenny Randall posted a 153 over 36 holes, consisting of an opening round 79 and a closing round 74, en route to a five-way tie for 10th among Boys' 16 and Older entries at the Top-50 Tour Midwest Junior Championships recently.

The Fazio Course and Tradition Course, at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, is where the Tournament ran August 11-12.

Randall's output was four shots shy of attaining a top-three division showing.

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