As with any year 2013 had some great moments in sports. Let's take a look at the year by sport.
Estherville Lincoln Central's six seniors led the Midgets to their third straight girls' state basketball appearance and second runner-up finish in three years.
The Estherville Lincoln Central Girls Basketball Team captured its second state runner-up finish in three years at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
The team featured two players who finished their careers with over 1,000 points in Allie Sievert and Emily Kirchner. They, along with Sara Heywood, Macy Dahl, Casey Sievert and Maggie McCauley, made a dramatic playoff run.
The Midgets opened state play against Lakes Conference rival Spirit Lake and defeated the Indians for the third time.
In the semifinals, the Midgets shot 22-of-24 from the free-throw line in earning a three-point victory, 49-46, and avenging an early season loss to second-ranked MOC-Floyd Valley.
Five of the seniors had played varsity since their freshman season as they finished their careers with an 87-18 record.
Meanwhile, the school's career top scorer in KJ Veldman led rival Spirit Lake as they made their first state appearance since 2007.
The area talent showed up at the 2013 State Wrestling Tournament.
Spirit Lake Park senior Doug Miner earned his third state title with a 1-0 win over Shadow Leshen of Albia at 120 pounds. Miner finished his career with 162 career wins. Junior teammate Zach Skopec also had an impressive season as he finished up third at 138 pounds.
Meanwhile ELC's Oscar Ramirez finished with a fourth-place finish at 132 pounds and finished his junior year with a 38-3 record. Ramirez is off to a fine start in the current 2013-14 season. He is ranked second at 138 pounds in Class 2A and earned his 100th career victory in the opening tournament of the season.
Also from the area, Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire heavyweight Cody Thompson earned a sixth-place medal at state.
The 2012-13 Iowa Lakes men's basketball won the Region XI regular season title for the first time in school history. With the top seed in the region tournament, the Lakers followed up by punching their ticket to Nationals with a three-game home stand. The Lakers' run was highlighted by an 88-86 overtime victory against Iowa Central in the region semifinal. The Lakers trailed 72-65 with 33 seconds remaining, but Ben Shellim scored five points in the final 12 seconds to tie the contest. Iowa Central's final shot missed in regulation. Shellim then scored five points in overtime to give the Lakers the lead. Iowa Central again had the last shot, but missed.
"These guys showed good character and kept battling," said Iowa Lakes coach Troy Larson. "Numerous guys stepped up and made plays.
"Iowa Central out-played for more than 39 minutes and they're a very good team," he continued. "But what a gusty win for our program."
The Lakers didn't have as much trouble in the final against Ellsworth, defeating the Panthers 64-51 to advance to Nationals for the first time since 2000.
In the first round at Nationals, the Lakers watched Owens Community College rally from a 14-point deficit to win 74-72.
Track and Field
Area teams again sent a host of athletes to the 2013 Iowa State Track and Field Meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Here is a recap of medal winners.
From ELC, Caitlyn Clayton finished eighth in the shot put with a throw of 38 feet, 2 inches.
Spirit Lake's 4x800-meter relay team of Mark Norland, Tanner Goetsch, Paul Woizeschke and Will Norris finished third. Norland finished fourth in the 1600-meter run while Norris placed fifth. The medley team of Bryson McCabe, Austin Folsom, Blake Enderson and Norland finished seventh. On the girls' side, Dondi Schmidt finished fourth in the 1500-meter run while Stokke placed eighth with a person-best of 1 minute, 8.51 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles.
In other spring sports. Rachael Westergard and Natalie Delanie finished sixth in the doubles bracket at the 2013 state tennis tournament. The Spirit Lake-Okoboji girls' tennis team also won its 14th consecutive Lakes Conference Tennis title, needing a rally against LeMars to keep the streak intact.
The 2013 Estherville Lincoln Central softball team came up with a pleasant surprise in qualifying for the state tournament for the third straight season. The Midgets' had graduated ace pitcher Kendall Bosch who had led the team to state the previous two seasons.
But ELC came up with good play behind junior pitcher Liz Brashear. The Midgets rallied to defeat Class 3A No. 6 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 6-5 in the regional final. ELC went 1-2 at the state tournament to finish sixth overall with an 11-5 win over Monticello in the consolation bracket to advance to the fifth-place game. ELC placed fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2011.
One of the biggest disappointments for area teams during the softball team came from North Union. After finishing second at state in 2011, the top-ranked Warriors failed to make the state tournament for the second consecutive year with a veteran squad.
Former Estherville Lincoln Central standout and Spirit Lake baseball coach Jason Schneider saw his Indians earn the first trip to the state baseball tournament for the first time in school history. Spirit Lake earned the trip with Brandon Stoll pitching in 5-0 shutout against Western Christian in the district final.
Estherville Lincoln Central has a tradition over the past decade or so of sending representatives-whether the full team or individuals-to the state cross country meet. While during that span ELC (in combination with Armstrong-Ringsted) has had qualifiers for the boys' state meet, the Midgets haven't sent more than one individual since the 1990s.
The future bodes well for the Midgets as they sent two representatives to the 2013 state meet in sophomores Lee Christensen and Nic Peters. Both finished in the top 30 as Christensen placed 23rd and Peters placed 28th. The duo led a young squad, which can only get better in 2014.
Meanwhile, Spirit Lake had two runners crack the top 10 in both the Class 2A girls and boys races. The Indians' Dondi Schmidt and Tanner Goetsch both placed seventh in their respective races. Both seniors, the two should do well in the 2014 track season.
Former Estherville Lincoln Central head coach Jerry Shultz was inducted to the Iowa Football Hall of Fame. Shultz coached at Estherville and Estherville Lincoln Central from the 1989 to the 2008 seasons with playoff appearances in 2003, 2006 and 2007.
Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire and Spirit Lake both qualified for the playoffs.
Earning their first playoff trip as the Titans, GTRA upset No. 10 River Valley in the opening round, 24-22, before falling to third-ranked Newell-Fonda in the second round.
Seventh-ranked Spirit Lake won easily in the first round and then nearly made an outstanding comeback against fifth-ranked Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley in the second round. After falling behind 26-0 by halftime, the Indians outscored the Blackhawks 28-8 in the second half.