Tyler Julson: 2018 a good year for area sports; will ’19 be another one?

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Notes from the Sports Desk by Tyler Julson


Christmas has come and gone, and now we are gearing up to bring in 2019. What a year we had in sports.

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On the big stage, we saw the Boston Red Sox dominate their way through the MLB season and through the playoffs to a World Series title. The Warriors won yet another NBA championship and the Eagles got their first Super Bowl win in franchise history.

In local sports, Zach Glazier won his first state title wrestling for Albert Lea and is primed to take a shot at another in 2019. Not only did Glazier do well, but the entire team had a fantastic season — winning the section and advancing on to take fifth place at the state dual tournament. Gavin Ignaszewski, Jake Johnsrud, Brody Nielsen and Cam Davis also made trips to the state tournament as individuals and all but Davis were seniors.

The Albert Lea Lakers cruised to a Pioneer League championship in just their second year of play. Head coach Michael Keeran put together a stellar squad that ended the season with a 34-6 record. However, the upcoming season will see Keeran as the head coach of the Bancroft Bandits, a Pioneer League rival.

A Lake Mills senior, Grant Fjelstad took first place in the high hurdles at the state track meet in the spring. He went into the final heat with the fourth-best seeding time, but was able to pull it out in the end and get his first individual state title.

It was also a big year in football for many area teams. The Albert Lea Tigers won their first game in over two years and their first playoff game in a long time. The program has taken big steps in only the two years I’ve been covering it and I expect to see big things from it in the future.

NRHEG and United South Central also had fantastic years, each of them winning their sections and moving on to the first round of the state playoffs in their respective classes.

In hockey, the boys had a tremendously strong team led by a handful of great leaders and captains. Their season came to a heartbreaking conclusion in the section tournament, when they gave up the lead with less than 30 seconds to go and eventually lost in overtime. They avenged that loss earlier this season and are on a roll heading into the Rochester tournament this week.

The girls’ hockey team made progress in rebuilding the program in head coach Josh Funk’s first year. They have played well this season as well, only two wins short of their total wins from last year with nearly 10 games left to play in the regular season.

Overall it was a pretty good year for all area athletics, and I’m looking forward to see what 2019 has in store.

Tyler Julson is the Tribune sports reporter. Contact him at tyler.julson@albertleatribune.com.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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