Portage County’s Top 10 Sports stories of 2017
By John Kemmeter
This past year has been as good as any year for sports in Portage County.
Any of the top three stories of 2017 could’ve been No. 1, and it seems ridiculous to put one three-peat State Champion over another, and compare it to the first Stevens Point native to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Every other story on this list could’ve been higher up any other year, not to mention the ones that didn’t end up in the Top 10. Plover native Joe Pavelski being named to his second consecutive NHL All-Star Game. Sam Hauser starting as a freshman for the Marquette University men’s basketball team and helping it reach the NCAA Tournament. Chris Brooks stepping down as the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s hockey team for a NCAA Division 1 job after he rebuilt the program and led the Pointers to a National Title and three consecutive NCAA Division III National Championship Games. The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) football team overcoming a 1-4 start, knocking off fourth-ranked Fond du Lac on a last-second touchdown in the regular-season finale to make the playoffs, then winning 48-47 in overtime at 10th-ranked Hudson, before losing at second-ranked Bay Port 57-51 in four overtimes.
The list easily could’ve easily been expanded to 15, with some deserving stories still left off, so don’t put too much stock on where everything ended up.
We just tried to give a quick snapshot of the year that was in Portage County sports in 2017.
1. Ramczyk chosen in first round of NFL Draft
Stevens Point native and University of Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk was selected in the first round of the National Football League (NFL) Draft by the New Orleans Saints April 27.
Ramczyk’s journey from SPASH to a brief stint at NCAA Division II Winona State (Minn.) was followed by a year off from football and then two seasons at Division III UWSP, before he transferred to the NCAA Division 1 University of Wisconsin.
Ramczyk started 2017 with a season-ending 24-16 win over Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 2, as he ended his junior season by being named a consensus First Team All-American at offensive tackle.
He left after his only season at Wisconsin and declared for the NFL Draft, and on April 27, became the first Stevens Point native to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Ramczyk has started all 15 games at tackle as a rookie this season for the Saints, who clinched a playoff berth and are 11-4 heading into their regular season finale Dec. 31.
He entered Week 17 ranked eighth among all NFL offensive tackles this season by Pro Football Focus, while blocking for future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, as well as running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who this season became the first running back duo from the same team to be selected for the NFL Pro Bowl in the same year since 1975.
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