SOUTHERN MINNESOTA (KEYC) — We saw a lot of success on the southern Minnesota sports scene in 2019.
We’ll kick things off with the Minnesota State Mavericks football team, who advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game against West Florida, in a season where the team set new program records.
Wide receiver Shane Zylstra, running back Nate Gunn and offensive lineman Evan Heim also earned AP All-American First Team honors.
The end of 2019 also marks the end of an era for an impressive senior class.
Staying on the gridiron, the Mountain Lake Area football team capped off a perfect season this year by winning the Class Nine-Man State Championship.
The Wolverines dominated the competition all season long, outscoring opponents by a whopping 669-154, thanks in part to a high powered offense led by senior quarterback Abraham Stoesz.
To the diamond now, where a professional softball team made North Mankato their home this past summer.
The Aussie Peppers of Minnesota took over North Mankato as the team competed in the National Pro Fastpitch and partnered with Softball Australia.
The Peppers finished with a 12-31-1 record in the highly competitive NPF, and it paid off for Australia’s National Softball Team, as the nation punched its ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Speaking of international competition, the US Women’s National Soccer team collected another World Cup after a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands.
And after that victory, Team USA came to Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, to take on Portugal in an international friendly, where the Americans won by a score of 3-0.
Team USA now has won four World Cups in their history, including two consecutive championships.
Staying on the pitch, the Minnesota State Mavericks women’s soccer team continued its reign atop the NSIC this season.
The Mavericks won the NSIC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, en route to their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
MSU made it all the way to the Elite Eight round of the competition before falling to eventual national champions Grand Valley State.
To the track now, where Minnesota State’s Myles Hunter returned to the top as a national champion in 2019.
The hurdler claimed his third NCAA Division II national title and first since 2016 after dealing with hamstring complications in 2017 and also being sidelined with a stress fracture for the entire 2018 season.
Hunter finished his career at MSU with three national championships, with two of them coming during the outdoor track and field season.
To the mat now, where we had three area wrestlers win state titles this year.
In Class AA, Waseca’s Mason Gehloff took home the title in the 106-pound weight class.
In Class A, Sibley East’s Drayden Morton won a state title in the 106-pound weight class as well, while Windom-Mountain Lake’s Brett Willaby earned a state championship in the 126-pound weight class.
To close out our top sports moments of 2019, we end with Minnesota State Mavericks Head Softball Coach Lori Meyer, who earned her 1,200th career victory in her 35th season with the Mavericks in 2019.
During her time as head coach of the Mavericks, Meyer has accumulated a record of 1230-687-3.