Alpena News Top 10 of 2013

No. 10. Rogers City softball reaches state semifinals

In 2004, the Rogers City softball team reached the finals with a group of players known as the Cardiac Kids.

In 2013, the Hurons gave that group a run for it’s money by advancing to the state semifinals behind one of the most high-powered offenses in school history.

Rogers City won games any way they could, rallying back in late innings, styming hitters with an experienced trio of pitchers and overwhelming opponents with offense. The Hurons hit 26 home runs for the season and had countless extra-base hits thanks to extra time spent perfecting hitting techniques.

Rogers City sped through the regular season with ease and then earned a second straight district title over Onaway and then rallied back in regionals and breezed past Frankfort in the quarterfinals.

The Hurons’ magical run came to an end against Kalamazoo Christian, but Rogers City finished the season with a 33-7 record and had four players named to the Division 4 all-state first team.

With several players returning from 2013’s epic postseason run, the Hurons are aiming for another big year in 2014.

No. 9. Alcona football team’s season

With an experienced group of seniors, the Alcona football team had high expectations entering the 2013 season.

When the final whistle blew in early November, it was safe to say the Tigers more than surpassed their own expectations.

Behind a dominating offense that imposed its will on opponents, Alcona muscled its way to a 9-0 finish in the regular season, winning the North Star League’s Huron Shores Division for the first football title in school history. In the midst of that winning streak, the Tigers also earned a double-overtime victory over Whittemore-Prescott for their first victory over the Cardinals in 21 years.

Its perfect regular season earned Alcona its second straight postseason berth and in the first round of the playoffs, Alcona edged by McBain to earn its first playoff win in program history.

Time and time again Alcona proved its doubters wrong and served as a rallying point for the school, its fans and the community. The Tigers’ running game piled on yards like it was going out of style and Josh Mead, Nathan Fettes and Cody Franklin all easily surpassed the 1,000 yard mark. On the other side of the ball, Alcona played a bruising style of defense and put the clamps on many fast-moving offenses.

Though Lake City eventually ended Alcona’s season, the Tigers can look back on 2013 with pride after setting a new benchmark for future football teams to live up to.

No. 8. Atlanta baseball reaches quarterfinals

Atlanta High School has struggled for several years to have success of any kind in any sport, but the spring of 2013 was a different story and a breath of fresh air for Huskies fans.

With a dominating pitcher in Garrett Badgero and a talented lineup of players, the Atlanta baseball team shocked Northern Michigan with arguably its best season ever, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

Whether it was Badgero, Jake Chambers, Brock Baum, Jacob Ross, Caleb Cumper or any of Atlanta’s other players, the Huskies were a cohesive unit and became one of the surprise teams come playoff time, so much so that many fans were asking, ‘Where is Atlanta?’

Flying perhaps a bit under the radar, the Huskies romped through the North Star League, earned the league title and finished the regular season at 20-2, topping opponents with outstanding pitcher, tight defense and pulling together when it counted most.

Against Johannesburg-Lewiston in the district final, the Huskies held off a rally in the seventh inning and pulled out a 5-4 win. In the regional final, Josh Barrett came in to pitch in relief and threw three shutout innings as Atlanta defeated Norway to capture the regional title.

The Huskies’ season came to an end against Maple City Glen Lake in the quarterfinals, but Atlanta loses only a few starters from last season which means the Huskies should be primed to make some waves again in 2014.

No. 7. Junior hockey returns to Alpena

Junior hockey in Alpena has seen its share of ups and downs in the last few years, but when the Midwest Junior Hockey League was looking to bring teams to Northern Michigan, Alpena was a logical choice.

After months of contract deliberations, junior hockey finally returned to Alpena with the arrival of the former Rhinelander, Wisc Street Cats in the fall.

As part of the Midwest Junior Hockey League, the Street Cats began play in October and have drawn decent crowds in two months of action. They won their debut with a 12-2 romp over the Bloomington Blaze. Since then Alpena has seen some ups and downs, but is currently 13-11 and is well within reach of contending for a playoff spot and possibly the league title.

The Street Cats have shown a knack for playing clean hockey and are able to score in bunches when their offense gets hot. Vladislav Khasanov is currently third in league scoring with 56 points and Pavel Bocharov and Savelii Skurikhin are tied for fourth with 43.

Alpena has also made some local inroads, signing former Alpena High hockey players Kam Russell, Alex Guzman and Garrett Bailey, all of whom have been key contributors.

The Street Cats may still be building a following, but from the looks of it, they’ve made a pretty good impact on Alpena thus far.

No. 6. Michele Yates wins 3 national titles

Ultra-runner and Alpena native Michele (Suszek) Yates has had a great deal of success in the past several years, but 2013 may have been her best year yet.

Yates competed in seven different races in 2013 and came away with three national titles, giving her four for her career.

Yates has earned a spot on The News’ Top 10 list in each of the past two years for her accomplishments. Last year she won her first national title

Her biggest win in 2013 came on Nov. 9 in Boulder City, Nevada when she won the USA 50K Championship. Her winning time of 4:19.50 shattered the old course record by more than half an hour.

Yates opened the year with a win at the Bandera 100K USA Trail Championship on Jan. 12 and followed that up with a win and a fourth-place finish overall at the Nueces 50-Mile USA 50 Mile Championship in March.

In April, Yates won the Indiana Trail 100 mile race, finishing in 17:35, a time which set another new course record.

Despite battling injury, Yates competed in the World Championships IAU in July and in September she won again, earning a victory in the Run Rabbit Run 100-mile race, finishing in 20:16:54 against a very competitive field.

With lots of momentum under her belt, look for big things from Yates in 2014 as she prepares for another year of competitve running.