The finalists for the Rochester Area Sports Banquet’s 2016 Sports Awards have been named and the winners will be announced at the 12th annual banquet to be held on Jan. 30th at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

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Chad Greenway – Minnesota Viking All Pro Linebacker, will be the guest speaker at the banquet, which is hosted by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission

Five finalists in each of six categories were selected from more than 100 nominations by a 16-person panel of Rochester media representatives and sport experts. The 30 finalists represent a wide variety of sports.

Banquet tickets are $40 each or a table of 10 for $400 and can be purchased by calling the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission at 507-280-4701 or online  This event sells out quickly so order your tickets now. There are a limited number of VIP tickets for $60 which includes the banquet and a “meet and greet” with Mr. Greenway following the event.

Here are more details on the finalists:

Organization of the Year (All Organization of the Year Finalists will be presented with financial grants provided by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission at the Banquet)

Rochester Youth Fast-Pitch Association – This organization is leading the plans for the completion of their facility next spring by adding concessions/bathrooms/storage to the complex along with the recently added new electronic scoreboards.  Registration continues to grow, offering programs for 8u-18u with the addition of elite teams for the 14u, 16u & 18u teams.  RYFSA has also taken on the transformation of a new Southeast Minnesota youth softball league which includes teams from the surrounding area.

  1. Rochester Youth Baseball Association – RYBA continues to run youth house league, travel programs, fall ball, winter ball and three large annual baseball tournaments in June.  The RYBA Classic, Challenge and Klampe tournaments filled 2,231 hotel rooms in 2016 and generated a combined economic impact of over a million dollars for Rochester.  In addition, RYBA has partnered with the Sports Commission in supplying field crew for five additional state and national events bringing in an additional 136 teams to Rochester in 2016.
  1. Rochester Area Lacrosse – Lacrosse in Rochester continues to be one of the cities fastest growing sports and was recently added as a supported high school sport in Rochester.  In 2016, RAL and the Sports Commission partnered to host the largest Lacrosse tournament ever hosted in Rochester.  The SotaLax Lacrosse invitation brought over 50 teams to Rochester in early June.  RAL volunteer commitment and expertise was a significant factor in the success of this event.
  1. Rochester Figure Skating Club – In 2016 the RFSC hosted the 2017 US Figure Skating Upper Great Lakes Regional Championships for the first time since 1989.  The event brought over 700 figure skaters from across the Midwest.  The event generated nearly 1000 hotel room nights and over 1 million in estimated economic impact to Rochester.  They also continue to run the annual Hiawathaland Open Figure Skating Competition which will celebrate its 31st year in 2017.
  1. Orcas Swim Club – Currently the largest swim club in Minnesota, the Orcas continue to be a leader for swimming in the Rochester area from swim lessons to running youth and collegiate swim meets.  They have also taken on an active role in programming at the city outdoor pools. This past year the Orcas was involved with running 9 swim meets generating over 1,500 hotel room nights.  In 2017 they will host the Central Zones Swim meet which is expected to draw over 800 swimmers from over 6 states.

Team of the Year

  1. Zumbrota-Mazeppa Softball;
    • Won MN Class AA state championship in 2016. Not only the first state championship in softball, but the first state championship for any sport in school history.
  2. Grand Meadow Football;
    • Finished season 14-0, ranked #1 in the state of MN and #33 nationally. 4th straight 9-man football state championship.
  3. Lourdes Football;
    • Minnesota Class AAA Football State Championship with a thrilling 42-35 win over St. Croix Lutheran. Finished with a perfect 13-0 undefeated Season.
  4. Kasson Mantorville Wrestling;
    • Team went undefeated throughout the dual meet season won the Class AA State championship. 7 wrestlers nominated for the All-Tournament State team. Nationally ranked 27th out of 10,000+ wrestling programs across the country.
  5. Plainview-Elgin-Millville Girls Basketball;
    • Finished the season 31-1 and won Minnesota Class AA State Championship. P-E-M had 4 players were named to the all-tournament team.

Coach of the Year

  1. Kevin Nelson (Z-M Softball);
    • Guided his team to the Minnesota Class AA state championship in 2016. Currently ranks in the top 10 all-time winningest softball coaches in the state of MN. Career record of 486-172 with multiple sub-section and section titles.
  1. Mike Kesler (Lourdes Football);
    • Has been coaching football at Rochester Lourdes High School for 19 years and serving as head coach since 2005. This past season saw the Eagles go undefeated (13-0) to win their second state title in three years at the 3A level.
  1. Brian LaPlante (RCTC Basketball)
    • Led the RCTC Yellowjackets to a NJCAA DIII Men's Basketball National Runner-Up finish during the 2015-2016 season, while being named the District 4 Coach of the Year. In his 21 years as Head Coach at RCTC, Brian has amassed 396 victories.
  1. Josh Wieme (Goodhue Girls basketball)
    • Coached top ranked Goodhue Girls Basketball to its first ever MN Class A State Championship. In the State Tournament the Wildcats outscored their opponents by an average of 31 points per game.
  1. Jamie Heidt (Kasson Mantorville Wrestling)
    • KoMets won the Class AA State Championship and finished the season undefeated in dual meets. Had nine of his wrestlers compete for individuals titles with two of them winning individual championships. Was named the Class AA Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

Female Athlete of the Year

  1. Jamie Ruden – John Marshal High School, Basketball;
    • Concluded her MN high school basketball career as Rochester's all-time leading scorer (male or female) with 2,671 career points. As a senior in 2016, she was selected as a Ms. MN Basketball finalist, made the All-State first team, and was nominated as a McDonald's All-American.
  1. Ashlee Olson – Dover-Eyota, Soccer, Basketball and Track;
    • She led the state of Minnesota in 2016 by scoring 34 goals in soccer on her way to being named to the All-State team, set a record for assists while winning a state championship in 2015 for basketball, and was a 5-year letter winner in track.
  1. Andrianna Jacobs - Century High School, Track/Diving/Gymnastics
    • Jacobs finished her prep career as a 4-time state champion and All-American in the pole vault, a 3-time All-State and 2-time All-American in diving, and an All-State performer in multiple events in gymnastics.
  1. Sam Macken – University of Minnesota, Softball;
    • As a junior on the University of Minnesota softball team, Macken led the team is essentially every hitting category by posting a .366 batting average, 71 hits, 22 doubles, 12 HR, and 53 RBI. She was named to the All-Big Ten first team, the NFCA Great Lakes All-region first team, and was voted the Team MVP.
  2. Morgan Olson – Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Softball;
    • Led her team to a State Championship as a senior by going a perfect 21-0 with 204 strikeouts as a pitcher, and hitting .526 with 12 doubles, 5 triples, 5 HR, and 26 RBI at the plate. She was a finalist for MN Miss Softball.

Male Athlete of the Year

  1. Brady Berge – Kasson Mantorville, Wrestling;
    • Berge enters this season as a 3 time Minnesota State Champion owning a 146 consecutive wins streak and career record of 234-4 before a leg injury in the 2016 State Finals.  He was the #1 rated high school wrestler in the nation by InterMat and now committed to Penn State.
  1. Jack Nelson – Winona State, Football;
    • Threw for over 12,000 yards, 102 touchdowns in 42 straight games during a stellar four year career at Winona State.  The Byron native has thrown for more yards than any collegiate quarterback at any level in Minnesota and is receiving interest from numerous NFL teams as a potential draft pick.
  1. Michael Hurt – John Marshal, Basketball;
    • JM's all-time leading scorer had a stellar senior season averaging 19.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.9 assist earning him All-State and runner-up for Minnesota Mr. Basketball accolades.  He is in his freshman season at the University of Minnesota.
  1. Christopher Bain – Grand Meadow, Football;
    • Completed one of the top seasons in the state of MN with 1650 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.  Bain is a finalist for Minnesota Mr. Football.
  1. Zach Liebler – University of Minnesota, Men's Gymnastics;
    • A native of Pine Island, Liebler is a two time All-American gymnast at the University of Minnesota finishing seventh on vault and 8th on the floor exercise at the NCAA Championships.

Adaptive Athlete/Team of the Year

  1. Hannah Hughes – Lourdes High School and UMD;
  • Rochester Lourdes and Minnesota Duluth graduate who was recently named to the USA Women's Sled hockey team
  1. Rochester Raiders adapted softball;
  • After a great season they capped it off with a 2nd place finish at the state tournament.
  1. Rochester Flyers Track Team;
  • The Rochester Flyers track and field team took 32 athletes to the State games this year, participating in 2 to 4 events each.  80% of the athletes brought home 1st, 2nd or 3rd place medals in at least one of their events.
  1. Alex Steffl – Rochester Flyers;
  • Alex was a multi-sports athlete in Special Olympics playing poly hockey, half-court basketball, track and field and flag football with a high level of success. Alex also participated in Miracle League Softball last summer.
  1. Rachel Wilmes – Rochester Flyers;
  • She participates in bocce, golf, bowling, and swimming. She always excels and has great sportsmanship.