By Rich Palzewic
It certainly was an exciting calendar year for Bay Port athletics. The school added a state championship banner, won numerous Fox River Classic Conference titles and continues to be at or near the top in every sport.
Based on web traffic and input from staff members at The Press Times, the following stories were the top-five articles for Bay Port in 2018.
Bay Port girls’ soccer brings home a state championship: The Pirates defeated FRCC rival Sheboygan North 3-1 June 16 at the Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee to win the WIAA Division 1 state championship.
It was the program’s first-ever state championship.
Erika Hess was named the FRCC offensive player of the year and all-state honorable mention, while Emma Nagel was named first-team all-state at forward.
Head coach Brooke Mraz was named the Division 1 coach of the year and Alaina Abel garnered second-team honors from her defensive position.
Bay Port ended the year 24-1.
Drake to the rescue: In one of the most exciting moments of the year, the Bay Port wrestling team clinched the FRCC title Feb. 1 at Pulaski High School in dramatic fashion.
Tied at 24 entering the last match of the night, Drake Anderson (182 pounds) pinned Pulaski’s Lucas Gracyalny in the second period to help the Pirates escape with a 30-24 win.
It was Bay Port’s seventh FRCC title in the last eight years.
Trailing 6-2 after one period, Anderson executed a throw of the state-ranked Gracyalny, sending him to the mat and recording the pin.
“Based on everything, that was a match that Drake probably only wins once out of 10 tries,” said Bay Port head coach Brad Shefchik. “Drake was a freshman wrestling against a seasoned junior that was state ranked. It was definitely one of the greatest moments I’ve been associated with.”
Hess shines despite battling illness: There were days former Bay Port girls’ soccer player Erika Hess could barely get out of bed, but you wouldn’t have guessed that with her stellar 2018 season.
The 2018 graduate defied the odds to become one of the best players in the state despite battling Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which is a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate.
Hess ended the season with 38 goals and 22 assists for 88 points.
During her four-year varsity career, she tallied 87 goals and 25 assists, which totaled 199 points.
Smith beats the odds: Tyniqua “Taz” Smith had a difficult upbringing in life, but that didn’t stop her from making the best out of the situation.
Smith was an integral part of the girls’ basketball team’s success her senior year – not as a prolific scorer or rebounder, but as a cheerleader on the bench and a positive influence on all those around her.
Smith noted that she suffered emotional and physical abuse from her mother when she was younger.
In her early days, she battled several health issues, including hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. In Sept. 2003, she had surgery to place a shunt placed between her skull and brain to relieve the fluid build-up. The shunt basically prevents Smith’s brain from suffocating.
“I was raised in a house with three siblings – one older sister and brother and a younger sister,” said Smith, who lived in Indiana for much of her young life but moved here fulltime in the eighth grade. “My mother was an alcoholic and my father was absent. They had called it quits when I was in kindergarten.”
Simoens elected into Triton Hall of Fame: Gary Simoens, a 79-year-old Ashwaubenon resident and Bay Port substitute teacher, was recently elected into the Triton Academic and Athletic Hall of Fame, largely in part due to his 12 varsity letters while attending St. Norbert High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball.
One of his greatest memories took place during his senior basketball season in the 1957 WISAA state championship game.
“I made the last four points in the last 15 seconds of the championship game,” Simoens recalled. “We were down by a point with 17 seconds left and we eventually ended up winning by three. I will never forget that moment – it probably helped me get into the Hall of Fame.”
Simoens was all-state in football and basketball in 1956-57 and played in three state final basketball games, winning two of them during his junior and senior seasons.
Simoens attend St. Norbert College after his high school days and is in the Green Knights’ HOF for football and baseball as well, where he earned 10 varsity letters.
He even had a tryout for the Baltimore Orioles during his senior year of college but turned it down to focus on his studies.
Simoens is the father of Mike Simoens, the highly successful baseball coach at Bay Port.