After another exceptional year for the state’s top sports figures,
it’s time to select...




2001: Curt Anes, Grand Valley State quarterback.
2000: Tom Izzo.
1999: Brendan Shanahan.
1998: Steve Yzerman.
1997: Barry Sanders.

1996: Grant Hill.
1995: Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Michigan running back.
1994: Barry Sanders.
1993: Rick Granata, Imlay City running back.

1992: Robbie Buhl, Grosse Pointe Shores auto racer.
1991: Desmond Howard, Michigan wide receiver.
1990: Cecil Fielder, Tigers first baseman.

1989: Ella Willis, Detroit marathoner.

1988: Steve Yzerman.

1987: Alan Trammell.

1986: Walt Braun, Marysville football coach.






Who: Grand Valley State senior quarterback from East Kentwood.

Why: Led Grand Valley to NCAA Division II football championship.  Won Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II player of the year after finishing runner-up last season. Set Division II career record for total offense (11,881 yards) and set a championship-game record with 361 passing yards. Passed for 3,692 yards and 47 touchdowns this season, completing 67.1 percent of his attempts. Took Grand Valley to second straight unbeaten regular season. Threw for 10,768 yards and 115 TDs for his career, including playoffs. Named to Associated Press Little All-America first team for second straight season.  Will play in the East-West Shrine game and the Gridiron Classic.



Who: Eastern Michigan senior runner.

Why: Won the NCAA 10,000-meter outdoors title as a junior.  His time of 28:32.10 was more than 28 seconds faster than the runner-up’s. Also won the Great Lakes Regional cross-country championship for the second straight year, winning by 19.7 seconds. Finished seventh in NCAA cross-country meet after winning the championship in 2001.  Led Eastern to a third-place team finish in cross-country, best in school history. Named Great Lakes runner of the year.


Who: Cornerstone University women’s basketball coach.

Why: Took team to second-place finish in NAIA Division II tournament.  Lost to Hastings (Neb), 73-69, in final. In first three seasons at Cornerstone, led Golden Eagles to two Wolverine-Hoosier tournament

titles, a regular-season championship and an NAIA Sweet 16 berth in addition to national runner-up finish. Career record is 83-36. Named Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan college coach of the year. Known as Carla Sterk until married in September.  As player, competed as pro overseas and in American Basketball League, was two-time all-conference at Central Michigan and led Grand Rapids South Christian to 1988 Class B state high school title.

*******JACK HUCZEK*******MY NEPHEW!!  GO JACK ~~>>

Who: Racquetball player from Rochester Hills.

Why: Became youngest men’s world singles champion in history, winning the title in Puerto Rico at age 19. He didn’t lose a game. Also won 11th world junior singles championship in December and captured the world junior doubles title with partner David Chirban. Has won world singles titles in every age group from 8 through 18 — one at age 8 and two each at 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. Has won 13 national junior championships. Currently ranked fifth as a pro on International Racquetball Tour. 


Who: Ohio State junior quarterback from Utica Ford. 
Why: Helped Buckeyes win their first national championship since 1968 in his first full season as starter.  Completed 148 of 249 passes — 59.4 percent — for 2,110 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ran 125 times for 368 yards and three TDs. Accounted for 2,478 yards in total offense. Named most valuable offensive player of Fiesta Bowl championship game. Rushed for game-high 81 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns in 31-24 victory over Miami (Fla.) in double overtime. Passed for 122 yards. With team trailing, 24-17, in the first overtime, completed 17-yard pass on fourth-and-14 to

keep Buckeyes’ hopes alive. Then scored on one-yard sneak. In second overtime, ran five yards on third-and-one, then threw six-yard pass, setting up winning TD. Threw 37-yard, game-winning TD pass at Purdue with 1:36 left, calling play at line of scrimmage on fourth-and-one. Team finished 14-0.


Who: Red Wings defenseman.

Why: Won Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs, the first European to get the award. Helped Red Wings win third Stanley Cup in six years. Won Norris Trophy as NHL’s best defenseman for second straight season. Made NHL all-star first team. Led team in assists with 50 and tied for fourth overall in NHL. Tied for league lead for points by a defenseman with 59 (with Sergei

Gonchar of Washington). Fourth in points among Red Wings. Scored six power play goals. In 23 playoff games, had five goals and 11 assists. Appeared in sixth All-Star Game and played for Team Sweden in the Winter Olympics. Had one goal and five assists in four Olympic games. Has nine goals and 22 assists through 42 games this season. Tied for second in the NHL in goals by a  defenseman through Thursday’s games. Tied for eighth among all players in plus-minus with a plus-16.


Who: Redford Catholic Central football coach.

Why: Won eighth state championship and fourth in six years.  Catholic Central took the Division 1 title with a 36-26 victory over East Kentwood. The Shamrocks finished 13-1 for the season. Mach also  won titles in 1979, ’90, ’92, ’95, ’97, ’98 and 2001. Has 244-50 career record. Reached 200 victories faster than any other Michigan high school football coach in history. A finalist in 2000 for NFL high school football coach of the year award. Will be inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in March.


Who: University of Michigan junior gymnast.

Why: Won NCAA balance beam title as a sophomore. Finished fourth in all-around competition, fourth in vault and tied for 11th in uneven bars. Made All-America team in vault, uneven bars, balance

beam and all-around. Northeast Regional all-around, vault and beam champion. Also won Big Ten beam title. Set school records for highest season average on beam (9.85) and all-around (39.42). Won

10 beam titles in 16 meets. NCAA all-around co-champion as a freshman. Current team captain.


Who: Michigan State junior wide receiver from Saginaw.

Why: Won Biletnikoff Award as best college receiver in the nation. Made numerous All-America teams. Set NCAA record with TD catches in 13 straight regular-season games and 14 straight overall. Set school single season record with 68 catches. Those receptions went for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns. Set school records the previous season with 1,470 receiving yards and 14 TDs. Became second receiver in MSU history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons (Plaxico Burress was the other). Led Big Ten in receiving yards and touchdown catches. In two-year career, ranks first in all-time touchdown catches at MSU with 27, second in receiving yards with 2,821 and second in yards per catch at 20.9.


Who: Calvin College men’s and women’s track and field coach.

Why: Voted NCAA Division III women’s coach of the year after team finished 12th in his first season as coach. Also took men’s team to a second-place national finish in his fifth season coaching that team.     

It was the men’s highest finish ever. Named Great Lakes Regional coach of the year in men and women’s track. Produced nine All-America performances on the men’s team, five on the women’s. Calvin won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in men’s and women’s competition, going unbeaten in dual meets. The teams combined to break 11 schools and three conference      

records. Kim competed for the South Korean national team in 1979-90 and became the first athlete from his country to reach the finals of an Olympic track and field event when he placed eighth in the long jump at the ’84 Games in Los Angeles.



Who: NASCAR team owner from Northville.

Why: Overcame near-fatal crash of plane he was piloting to put together championship season. Roush driver Greg Biffle won Busch Grand National title. Four Roush drivers in NASCAR Winston Cup

combined for 10 victories and finished in top 12 in season points standings — No. 2 Mark Martin,  No. 3 Kurt Busch, No. 8 Matt Kenseth and No. 12 Jeff Burton. Collectively, they won nearly $17 million. Roush team won four of the last five races, the longest race of the year (Martin at Concord, N.C.), and the June race at Michigan International Speedway (Kenseth). Roush drivers have won 60 times since he joined Winston Cup in 1988.


Who: Pistons forward.

Why: Voted NBA defensive player of the year. Led league in rebounding (13.0) and blocked shots (3.48) and interesting hairstyles (Afro or cornrows). At 6-feet-9, shortest player ever to lead NBA in

blocked shots. Set franchise record with 278 blocks. One of four players to lead league in rebounding and blocked shots in same season. Only player in top 20 last season in rebounding, blocks and steals. Also led league in steals per turnover (1.97). Had 25 double-doubles and one triple-double last season. Averaged 7.6 points. In playoffs, averaged 16.1 rebounds. Had big lead this season in rebounding (15.3) and was fourth in blocked shots (2.82) through Thursday.


Who: Snowboarder from Boyne City.

Why: Won the national junior half pipe championship at Mammoth Mountain in California, then finished eighth in the world junior championships at Wanaka, New Zealand. Placed 15th last month in Park City (Utah) Grand Prix, competing against Olympians. Finished third in 2001 national junior half pipe. Has won virtually every competition he has entered in Michigan since age 12. Spent part of the summer training with the national junior team in Mt. Hood, Ore., and now is training in Colorado with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.


Who: Ann Arbor Pioneer senior swimmer.

Why: Set two individual national records and was part of two national relay records at the Division 1 state meet. Won state titles in the 100- and 200- yard freestyle and swam on winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. Set national record in the 100 freestyle final (48.59 seconds) and state record in the 200 (1:46.34). Also set national record in the 50 freestyle (22.04) while leading off the 200 freestyle relay in the preliminaries. The 200 free relay team set the national record in prelims (1:32.77). Anchored the 400 free relay, which also set a national record in prelims (3:25.91). Won the

50 freestyle in 25.20 at the U.S. Open in December, breaking Dana Torres’ meet record of 25.29, set in 1999. Signed with Georgia.


Who: Grand Valley state football coach.

Why: NCAA Division II coach of the year. Won Division II championship with 14-0 record. Beat Valdosta State, 31-24, in championship game. Took team to championship game for second straight season. Team led nation in scoring (46.7 points) and was second in total offense (488.6 yards). He ranks third in winning percentage among active NCAA Division II coaches (.750) with 104-34-2 record. Won five conference championships in 12 seasons. First Grand Valley coach to win a playoff game. Holds school record for victories and winning percentage. Team has won 26 straight regular-season games.



Who: Grand Valley State senior wide receiver from Imlay City.

Why: Set NCAA all-division record with 76 career touchdown catches. Helped lead Grand Valley State to NCAA Division II football title. Set championship-game records with 11 catches for 270 yards and tied record for TD receptions with three. Caught 77 passes for 1,341 yards and 35 TDs for the season, averaging 17.4 yards a catch. Finished career with 241 catches for 4,523 yards and 80 TDs, including playoffs. (In odd twist, NCAA career records don’t recognize 2001 playoffs.) Voted to Associated Press Little All-America first team for second straight season.


Who: Luger from Muskegon.

Why: Won Olympic silver medal in doubles competition with partner Brian Martin.

One of eight athletes to carry the World Trade Center flag during the Opening Ceremonies at Salt Lake City. With Martin, also won overall Challenge Cup title. Four-time national champion (1998, ’99, 2001, ’02). He and Martin hold all-time American record for World Cup victories with seven and all-time international medals with 33. Won opening World Cup race this season at Park City, Utah. Currently ranked second in World Cup standings. Won bronze at 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano. Two-time overall World Cup champion (’98, ’99).


Who: Ann Arbor Pioneer boys and girls swimming coach.

Why: Won two Division 1 state championships — one with the boys, one with the girls. Has won 11 state titles with the boys, 10 with the girls. His girl’s team won its third straight state title and has gone 57-0 in dual meets the last four years. Has 338-31-2 record since 1973 with the girls. Has 408-71 record since 1969 with the boys. The boy’s team has gone undefeated in dual meets the last three years (50-0). Has coached 181 All-Americas.


Who: Kalamazoo College sophomore diver from Detroit and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook- Kingswood.

Why: Won NCAA Division III championship in three-meter diving and finished fourth in one-meter as a freshman. Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association three-meter champion, helping Kalamazoo win

its seventh straight conference title. Set school record in one-meter with 365.28 points in meet this season vs. Alma. Has won at least one event in every meet Kalamazoo has entered this season.


Who: Former Hope College swimmer from Jenison.

Why: Won two NCAA Division III titles, in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke. By winning the 200, became the sixth swimmer in Division III history to win the same event four straight years. Won the 100 breaststroke three times (1999, 2001, 2002). His winning times in ’02 were 54.77 seconds in the 100, 1:59.38 in 200. Also swam on third-place 400-medley relay team and fourth-place 200-medley relay. Ended his career as an NCAA All-America in 17 events — seven as an individual, 10 in relays. Most valuable swimmer in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Named Division III swimmer of the year as junior.



Who: Former Red Wings coach.

Why: Won record ninth Stanley Cup title as coach, his third Cup with Red Wings. Team led NHL with 51 victories (51-17-10-4) and 116 points. Retired after nine seasons in Detroit — and 30 as an NHL coach — with record 1,244 victories in the regular season, 223 in the playoffs, 1,467 combined. Won 410 games with Wings, three short of team record held by Jack Adams. His Wings teams won Presidents’ Trophy for best regular-season record three times. His other Stanley Cup titles with Wings came in 1997 and ’98, giving him three in six seasons. Won five Cups with Montreal in 1970s, one with Pittsburgh (1992). Only coach to win Cup with three teams. Now a Wings consultant.



Who: Pistons coach.

Why: Voted NBA coach of the year in his first season as a head coach. Took Pistons to a 50-32 record after team finished 32-50 the previous season. His record was the best for a Pistons first-year  coach. Team won Central Division title for first time since 1990 and reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since ’91. Became known for his emphasis on defense: Pistons finished sixth in points allowed after tying for 24th the previous season. Pistons had the fifth-best record in the league at 23-10 through Thursday’s games this season.



Who: Lowell High senior quarterback.

Why: Led Lowell to the Division 2 state football title and shattered the championship game record for total yards with 411 (152 passing, 259 rushing). Scored four touchdowns in Lowell’s 31-14 victory over Birmingham Brother Rice, including one on an interception return. For season, completed 212 of 358 passes for 2,793 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran 214 times for 1,424 yards and 19 touchdowns. Also made 47 combined punt and kickoff returns for 870 yards and two TDs. On defense, made seven interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and 69 tackles. Named offensive captain of the Free Press Dream Team. Lowell went 13-1. Finished career with 9,430 yards in total offense and 24 interceptions.




Want to vote for Michigan’s top sports figure for 2002? Pick up a copy of   Saturday's Free Press and fill out and mail in the ballot found in the sports section.