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Dom Izzo's 2022 local sports predictions

Eight predictions on what may or may not happen for the coming year

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Enderlin's Joe Hurlburt stuffs the ball against Central Cass during their North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 9, in Casselton. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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The calendar is about to flip to 2022 and with it, a remarkable local sports year comes to an end.

We witnessed history over the last 12 months, from Kindred's boys basketball team claiming its first state championship in school history, to Jamestown's football team winning a first title in over 90 years.

2021 brought college football in the spring, where the University of North Dakota won a first Missouri Valley Conference title and in the fall, North Dakota State return to the top of the mountain and return to Frisco, Texas.

2022 shapes up to be another historic year on the local sports calendar. WDAY Sports Director Dom Izzo takes a stab at eight predictions he believes will happen over the next 12 months.

ENDERLIN BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM REACHES STATE B

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The Enderlin Eagles have been in the spotlight of the state for the last two and a half years. The Hurlburt brothers, Joe and Gus, each earned Division I scholarship offers after their freshman year.

The Eagles have been ranked number one in the state rankings over that time, but have found postseason success elusive. Enderlin lost in the Region 1 tournament quarterfinals in 2020 and the semifinals in 2021.

Joe Hurlburt is on his way to Colorado after this season is done, but he'll have a stop in Minot first. The Eagles will finally get over the hump and makes the final eight.

NDSU WOMEN WILL PLAY FOR SUMMIT LEAGUE TITLE

Jory Collins has progressively built the NDSU women's basketball team into a top three team in the Summit League. The Bison reached the tournament semifinals in 2020 and 2021, but were soundly defeated both times.

That will end in March.

NDSU has the pieces to put together one great game, which is all it will take to get past either South Dakota or South Dakota State to reach the title game. NDSU has never played for the league title since moving up to Division 1. That would be a huge moment for this program, which has known only losing for a majority of its D1 existence.

GIRLS WRESTLING WILL EXPLODE IN NORTH DAKOTA

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February will see the first state champions crowned in girls wrestling at the Fargodome. That alone is a major achievement, both for the state and the sport.

And it's just the beginning.

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Girls wrestling has steadily seen increasing numbers over the last five years, to the point where an unofficial state tournament has been held the day after the official event.

Now sanctioned, the sky is the limit. Look no further than softball for a parallel. When softball became sanctioned, teams sprouted up all over the state, to the point where two separate classes were created.

I foresee the same excitement and energy with girls wrestling. That championship Saturday will be on the most anticipated on the local calendar.

CENTURY HAS ANOTHER POWER FIVE PLAYER

Last April Lauren Ware made North Dakota history, becoming the first female basketball player from the state to play in the Women's Final Four.

The two-time all-state player from Bismarck Century may not be the last Power 5 basketball player from the school.

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Enter Logan Nissley. The junior has already claimed a state title this past March, on her way to being named the Gatorade player of the year and first team all-state. Nissley just went over 1,000 points in her career and has schools falling all over themselves to offer her.

She is just a junior, but she's the best player in the state and will announce her college decision this year. And when she does, it will give Bismarck Century a second Power Five player in the last three years.

UND WILL HIRE A NEW FOOTBALL COACH

The University of North Dakota football team had a roller coaster of a year in 2021.

The Fighting Hawks won the spring regular season title in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, on their way to a first D1 postseason victory. The Hawks had their run ended at James Madison.

The fall season however was a not a duplicate of that success. UND played in tight game after tight game, but was unable to win most of them, falling to a 5-6 record and missing out on the playoffs after a preseason top ten ranking.

UND's 2022 schedule is daunting. A road trip to Nebraska, Southern Illinois and Fargo to go along with games against Northern Iowa and South Dakota State.

Head coach Bubba Schweigert is signed thru the 2023 season, but I can't see a large jump in wins for next season. Buyouts don't happen often in FCS, but with one year left on his contract, I could see UND deciding to end things and go in a different direction.

FARGO LITTLE LEAGUE WILL MAKE WILLIAMSPORT

One of the fun stories to follow over the last three summers is the explosion of success in Fargo youth baseball.

Twice in the last three years a Fargo team has reached the American Legion World Series.

On the Little League, a team from Fargo was a win away from reaching Williamsport and the pinnacle of that sport, the Little League World Series.

The Fargo kids have been close, but this year will finally do it. The Midwest regional will change this summer, with teams from Wisconsin and Michigan joining the fray, but with the rise of talent in the city and the amount of indoor baseball facilities coming, Fargo has become a baseball town once again.

A WIN FOR AMY

The region has been transfixed on Oxbow native Amy Olson's golf career since she splashed on the national scene in 2009.

Olson has had her fair share of close calls on the LPGA Tour, including runner-up finishes at a pair of major championships.

Olson added another runner-up finish last year and may hold the mantle of "best player on tour without a win."

That will change next year. Olson started to play some solid golf at the end of 2021 and after many close calls, she will earn her first professional victory.

And when that comes, it will be one of the biggest sports moments in North Dakota history.

A QB COMPETITION FOR THE BISON

It would seem crazy to think that after leading the Bison to a national championship game appearance that Cam Miller would have to fight for his job.

But he will have to do just that.

Waiting in the wings is freshman quarterback Cole Payton, one of the most highly touted recruits to come to Fargo in the D1 era.

Payton played in two games this year and scored two touchdowns. His ability to run and throw has Bison fans drooling about his potential.

Miller has shown steady growth throughout the year and became an efficient thrower.

But win or lose in Frisco, he'll be right back in the quarterback battle next fall camp with Payton eager to take the reigns of an experiened Bison football team.

Dom Izzo is the Sports Director at WDAY-TV. He began working for WDAY in 2006 as the weekend sports anchor and was promoted to Sports Director in 2010.
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