Coach of the Year:
Salt Fork’s Gary Hansgen
Why: The 22-9 Storm placed fourth in the Class 1A state tournament at Peoria, the best finish in the coach’s 31-year tenure despite playing the majority of the season without the two pitchers who were considered the team’s best in the preseason.
Season evaluation: “I am so proud of the kids. This group did not let early injuries to our pitching staff get them down. They figured out that they could go on, that it didn’t mean the end of their hopes. I don’t think they realize the special feat they have pulled off. I never heard one comment from any one of them that would indicate they were up against something they couldn’t get through. That attitude carried us a long way.” — Hansgen
A few of my favorite things: Stan Musial ... St. Louis Cardinals ... Bass Pro Shop ... Field of Dreams ... Texas Roadhouse and Italian Patio ... Mowing lawns ... Would like to visit northern Minnesota Lake of the Woods.
Three things on my bucket list: Play golf at St. Andrews, see a Cardinals World Series game and get back to Eagle River (Wis.), the most relaxing place I’ve been.
About Coach Hansgen: “My time in the Salt Fork baseball program has been very enjoyable. This is because of Coach Hansgen. I grew up watching Salt Fork baseball, as I am the fourth Learnard to play for the Storm. When my freshman year rolled around, I was very excited to play for Coach Hansgen. For 31 years he has put his heart and soul into the success of Jamaica and now Salt Fork’s baseball program. This year’s team is very honored to be the first team he has taken to state.” — Salt Fork junior Ross Learnard