Chesterton High School's Kelly Grassel watches as her ball heads down the fairway. High school girls from across the state competed Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in the final round of the 40th Annual IHSAA Girls Golf State Finals at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin. | Doug McSchooler~for the Post-Tribune
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:43AM
Maybe 2013 will be better, because 2012 just wasn’t Northwest Indiana’s year when it came to high school sports success. Actually, neither was 2011.
This is the time of the calendar year when I look back at the region high school state champion teams, and “rank” them based on nothing at all except that I like ranking things. In 2010 we had eight state team champs, ranging from basketball to soccer to gymnastics.
It’s not even close to that many in the past 12 months. In fact, it’s not close to that number in the past 24 months as there were only three last year and just two in 2012 hoisting that big, IHSAA state trophy in the shape of Indiana, and both occurred within a week of each other.
Andrean captured the Class 3A softball state title in June, and one week later Lake Central won the 4A baseball state crown.
That’s it, except for individual state titles in wrestling, swimming and golf.
So that makes this annual column easy, right? Not exactly, because some of those individual state titles might rank ahead of the only two team winners. Let’s go with a top five from the past year. And remember, it’s quality not quantity.
First, let’s give some kudos to the teams that got to the state finals, or just missed by reaching semistate, with honorable mentions …
Valparaiso boys and Crown Point girls both advanced to the semistate in soccer before losing.
Valparaiso also boasted a state quarterfinal team in boys tennis, the state runner-up in gymnastics after winning four straight state titles, and a third-place state finals finish in boys cross country, which was a slight disappointment since the Vikings were built to win it all.
Crown Point also had another close call, losing to Perry Meridian in the wrestling state final match.
In football, Broadway rivals Merrillville and Andrean both made it to semistate and both lost to Fort Wayne teams — the 59ers falling to Bishop Luers and the Pirates losing a close one to Snider.
In volleyball, yet again, our teams couldn’t earn a trip to Muncie for the state finals. Lake Central, Andrean and Marquette all lost in the semifinals at semistate.
In boys basketball, Bowman Academy was clobbered by current Indiana University point guard Yogi Ferrell and Park Tudor in the Class 2A state championship game.
In bowling, both the Lake Central and Crown Point boys made the state finals with LC finishing fourth.
Also, honorable mentions go to a handful of individual state champs that just missed my top five: In wrestling, Hanover Central’s Stevan Micic (106 pounds) and Paul Petrov (120), Crown Point’s Tyler Kral (220) and Lake Central’s Kyle Ayersman, who won his third state title in four years at 120 pounds before heading to Purdue; in boys swimming, Highland’s Adam Johnston (50 free), LaPorte’s Joshua Arndt (diving) and Chesterton’s Blake Pieroni in the 100 free; in girls swimming, Chesterton’s Olivia Kabacinski in both the 50 and 100 free.
Now for the top state titlists, based purely on my own unique and random view …
5. Morgan Algozine, Valparaiso: She won three state titles in gymnastics — floor, vault and all-around — despite her team falling short of the state title. But what puts her ahead of some other local individual state winners is that her vault score of 9.95 is a state record. I still would like someone to tell me why she wasn’t given a 10 when it was obvious to even the average gymnastics observer that her effort was perfect.
4. Andrean softball: The 59ers had a streak of 15 straight scoreless innings in softball state championship games dating back to the final three innings of the 2007 final, and two straight shutouts in Indianapolis. But they ended that dubious streak quickly with six runs in the first inning in a 9-2 victory over Edgewood. It was Andrean third softball state title.
3. Jason Tsirtsis, Crown Point: He added his name to a prestigious list of Northwest Indiana wrestlers who won four state wrestling titles in their high school careers. Tsirtsis did it at four different weight classes, ending with a victory at 145 pounds last winter to culminate a 176-2 overall record (both losses came as a freshman). His coach, Scott Vlink, called Tsirtsis, “the greatest athlete to ever come through (Crown Point) … I don’t care what sport it is.”
Who am I to disagree?
2. Lake Central baseball: The Indians won their first state title in baseball, edging Roncalli 1-0 on a great pitching performance by Jimmy McNamara, who allowed just three hits in the complete game with nine strikeouts and just one walk. It was a near-perfect finish to a near-perfect season.
1. Kelly Grassel, Chesterton: How can I not go with the best girls golfer in state history, let alone any comparison that could be made to any region golfer? She also earned my top spot last year for being the first NWI girls golf state champ. But she topped that feat with a repeat that included a record two-day score of 137 (7-under-par). She actually only needed par on the 36th hole to earn a record, but she put her stamp on Indiana girls golf by sticking a 90-yard approach shot to within a few inches of the cup for an easy birdie. Getting to witness that shot with my own eyes sealed this unofficial honor.