By Rich Palzewic
BROWN COUNTY – Press Times sports has seen great growth in 2021.
For starters, we recently became the official newspaper of UW-Green Bay athletics and the Green Bay Gamblers.
We’ve also received photo credentials to all nine – one preseason and eight regular-season – Green Bay Packers games so far this season.
We continue to cover 12 local high schools, covering both games and writing features on the teams and athletes who deserve it.
Because the sports section has expanded in 2021, the year in review will be broken into two parts.
Without further ado, here are 10 stories from 2021 – in no particular order – that received high volumes of web traffic at GoPressTimes.com.
Cole Van Lanen, a 2016 Bay Port graduate and former lineman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
After being released after training camp, Van Lanen was signed to the practice squad but has since been activated to the -game-day roster for the Packers’ last two regular-season games.
In a May 20 softball game, West De Pere’s Leah Kocken hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to help her team beat Bay Port, 5-4.
Then-sophomore Steven Hermsen, a 2018 De Pere graduate now attending Carroll University in Waukesha, became the 2021 NCAA Division III Discus National Champion May 27 in Greensboro, N.C.
Hermsen threw 54.22 meters (177.9 feet) on his final attempt.
The Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team won its fourth state title overall with a 68-56 victory over Reedsburg Feb. 27 in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 state championship.
The Tritons also won state titles in 2001, 2013 and 2014.
Notre Dame finished the season 28-1.
Thomas Paasch, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior lineman from Green Bay Southwest, has made unofficial visits to Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Paasch has also garnered interest from Iowa, the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University.
There was some good news that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luke Davison, a then-senior on the St. Norbert College hockey team, didn’t play his final year because the pandemic wiped out the Green Knights’ season.
Because the season was canceled, Davison, now healthy and living in Arizona, got a (cancerous) lump on his neck checked by doctors.
After 12 chemotherapy treatments, Davison was told he was cancer-free Oct. 28 from his Stage 3B Hodgkin lymphoma.
Led by field manager Dan Lukes, the sports information director at St. Norbert College, the De Legion baseball squad won the 2021 Class AAA state championship Aug. 1 in Plover.
Nine De Pere and nine West De Pere players combined to make up the roster.
Behind the pitching of tournament MVP Ethan Susa and a sacrifice fly by Luke Brosig in the bottom of the fifth inning, De Pere bettered La Crosse in the title game, 1-0.
It was De Pere Legion’s fifth state title overall and first since 2008.
Drake Anderson, a 2021 Bay Port graduate, won a WIAA Division 1 state wrestling title Feb. 13 at Kaukauna High School in the 195-pound weight classification.
Anderson, who finished the season 20-0, beat Stoughton’s Rudy Detweiler with a second-period pin to win the championship.
In the annual Green Bay East/Green Bay West football rivalry game, West blocked a 24-yard field goal attempt by East with 10 seconds remaining to win in thrilling fashion, 14-13.
It was the Wildcats’ only win of the season.
In a May 13 baseball game versus Pulaski, De Pere’s Derek Weber won it for the Redbirds in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs.
Trailing 4-2 entering the last half of the seventh, Weber drilled a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw down the left-field line to lift De Pere to a 5-4 victory.