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Top Sports Stories for 2012 Part 2

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Last night we looked at the first half of the top sports stories from around the KEYC viewing area.
Tonight we will look at the six top stories left to round out our top 12 sports stories of the year.
 
 
We left off the countdown
with Mankato West's Danielle Nack missing out on the U-S Olympic team, but the high school season saw her and her teammates grab 4 state titles.
That includes two new state records by Nack, breaking her own marks in
the 50 freestyle in 22.82 seconds and the 100 fly in 52.41 seconds, not only a new class-A record, but a state high school girls record which was even a surprise to her.
Danielle's younger sister Chantal took the 200 freestyle, and the Scarlets 400 free relay team both came out of the 4th seed to win the titles and get Mankato West to a 4th place team finish.
 
We stay with state champions at story number five, as the late spring saw the New Ulm fastpitch softball team fight through its section to reach the state tournament.
Once there, the Eagles had their hands full, pulling out the quarterfinal over Kasson-Mantorville 3-2 in 8 innings.
New Ulm then had to squeak by Maple River 4-3 in regulation to reach the championship.
The Eagles met St. Anthony Village for the 2-A title, and what a title game it turned out to be.
New Ulm tied the game at 5 in the 7th to send it to extra innings.
The Eagles took the lead in the 8th on a passed ball with bases loaded.
That only robbed Brittany Hoffman of a grand slam, as she took the ball deep off the outfielder's glove and over the fence for a three run homer to secure New Ulm's first ever softball title with a 9-5 victory.
 
Story number four saw a changing of the guard for the MSU men's hockey team.
After 12 years as head coach, the school announced Troy Jutting would be leaving the Mavericks bench on April 1st and it was no April Fool's prank.
After 26 years involved with the Mavericks as a player, assistant coach, and head coach Jutting was reassigned to an administrative role.
That started a national search and landed MSU the services of Mike Hastings away from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
 
Hastings was an assistant under collegiate hockey coaching legend Dean Blais at U-N-O.
Ironically Jutting left his administrative post at MSU to fill the vacancy on Blais' staff.
MSU has already seen a turn around, as Hastings' club has rattled off a seven game winning streak and found the club ranked nationally.
 
Story number three saw 2011's top local sports story become state wide excitement.
Mankato West senior Philip Nelson put pen to paper February 1st, signing a national letter of intent to play for Jerry Kill and help bring the University of Minnesota football team back to prominence.
Nelson graduated early from West to enroll at the U of M and take part in the spring football program.
All indications were that the former Scarlets' quarterback would be held out for a redshirt season, but Coach Kill put an end to that thought in week three of the Big Ten season when the Gophers were still looking for their first conference win going on the road to Wisconsin, looking to bring back Paul Bunyan's axe.
That didn't work as the Badgers rolled over the Gophers.  Nelson had his best game the following week when Minnesota hosted Purdue and the true freshman threw three touchdowns in the first half en route to a 44-28 victory for the team's first conference win of the year.
Minnesota finished the regular season 6-6 to be bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 and took on Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Nelson went 7-16 for 138 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted in the final minute of the game to set up a game winning field goal by the Red Raiders and Minnesota would fall 34-31.
 
Jutting wasn't the only coach to be reassigned at MSU this year.
The number two story saw MSU switch Todd Hoffner's title from head football coach to Assistant Athletic Director in charge of facility development after Hoffner missed the entire football season on paid administrative leave fighting a legal battle over videos of his children on his school issued cell phone.
In his absence, Aaron Keen was named acting head coach and led the Mavericks to the school's first undefeated regular season, and nearly got MSU to the Division Two National Championship.
Keen had his players focused on going 1-0 every week and got the Mavericks to 13-0 before falling to the eventual champions from Valdosta State in the national semifinal.
Hoffner's case was dismissed by a Blue Earth County judge and the school reinstated Hoffner only to announce last Friday that Hoffner would be reassigned and Keen would stay in the acting head coach role for the time being.
Hoffner's lawyer is fighting to get the school to put his client back to his head coaching duties with the football team.
That will have to play itself out in the upcoming year.
 
That leaves another football team that started 13-0 as our top story of the year, but they finished 13-0 with a state 3-A title.
Blue Earth Area graduated two of their biggest lineman off their state qualifying team from the 2011 season, but despite that fact and jumping from 2-A up to 3-A, the Bucs picked up right where they left off from the season before.
B-E-A went 8-0 in the regular season to secure the #1 seed in the section 3AAA tournament.
The Bucs took care of Fairmont for the 2nd time on the year in the semifinal with a 29-8 victory, and gained even more momentum in the section championship when they shutout Tri-City United 35-nothing.
That sent Blue Earth Area to Lakeville North for the state quarterfinal where the Bucs took out the defending champions from St. Croix Lutheran 21-12.
That would get B-E-A to the Metrodome to face Perham in a scoring fest that saw the Bucs come away with a 31-21 victory and send them to the Prep Bowl.
 
Two days after Thanksgiving, Blue Earth Area took on top ranked Rochester Lourdes and the Bucs dominated the Eagles from the start winning in a rout 30-7 to claim the school's first football state championship.
Another great sports year in the books.
Here is looking for another big year in 2013.