Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz etched his name into history in late April when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft.
For that accomplishment, Wentz has been chosen for the special achievement award by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
The special achievement award is considered the top honor in year-end awards handed out annually by the NDAPSSA. Dan Imdieke, Gelaine Orvik, Bob Zimney, Grand Forks Red River tennis and Fargo Shanley girls basketball also earned the prestigious honor.
Wentz, a Bismarck Century graduate, became the highest draft pick to come out of North Dakota and the FCS.
"It was surreal, it went really quick," Wentz told Forum News Service after the draft. "It was so cool getting that phone call and talking to everybody in the organization and hearing how excited they are. And to think what happened for them to get to that spot and believing in me that much. I'm all smiles now."
Wentz missed a big portion of the 2015 season due to an injury before heroically returning for the FCS national championship game and leading the Bison to a 37-10 rout of Jacksonville State (Ala.) for their fifth straight title.
Discussion of Wentz going No. 1 in the NFL Draft ensued, but doubts surfaced about Wentz due to the small school and state where he played.
He addressed those concerns in an article he penned for The Players Tribune.
"There's this belief that I'm at some sort of disadvantage coming into the league because of where I'm from," Wentz wrote. "But if you get to know me, you'll understand that being from North Dakota isn't a disadvantage. Not even close. In fact, having been raised in North Dakota is probably one of my greatest strengths."
The name of longtime Linton coach and administrator Dan Imdieke has been synonymous with excellence for nearly 40 years, leading the school's football and wrestling programs.
He won 326 games as head football coach, finishing with only one losing season over 39 years. His teams were in the state championship game 12 times, winning five titles. He was coach of the year three times.
"We played a lot of teams that had supposedly better athletes," said Imdieke, who also served as athletic director for 30 years but recently retired from all of his posts. "We were able to win because of the team aspect -- getting kids to believe."
Imdieke, who will be inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame this summer, also racked up more than 400 career wins as a wrestling coach and his team had 15 top-10 finishes at state including second six times. He was state coach of the year three times and coached 23 individual state champions.
"I'm awfully proud of what we did with the wrestling program -- we're considered a basketball town," Imdieke said. "I have to give a lot of credit to the families and parents in our area. We've gone through a great group of kids that have made athletics a priority with great support from parents and families."
Gelaine Orvik made an impact in North Dakota High School athletics as both an administrator and coach.
Orvik resigned last July as executive secretary of the North Dakota High School Coaches Association, a position he'd held for 36 years. The organization showed huge growth under Orvik's leadership..
"We saw our membership almost triple from when I started,'' Orvik said. "Our summer conventions grew to the point where I think they rivaled the national convention. I felt it was important to get good people working in the association and, in my 36 years, we always had top-notch presidents and we expanded the executive committee, our guiding group.''
Orvik also was a track coach for 35 years, the last 30 as head coach at Fargo South. Orvik retired after the 2001 track season. His Bruins won six state titles.
"I had great assistants and fantastic athletes,'' Orvik said. "We had a great sprint coach in John Marsh. Sprinters cover a huge number of events and we usually had four good sprinters in every class.''
Bob Zimney ended 41 years as a high school track coach this spring, the last 39 at Grand Forks Red River.
After two seasons as head track coach at Bottineau, Zimney moved to Grand Forks in 1977. After a year as an assistant, he was Red River's head track coach from 1978 through 2015, then served as an assistant this spring. In 37 seasons as Red River head track coach, Zimney's teams won two state titles and placed second three times.
In the East Region, the Riders won seven championships and placed second 14 times.
Zimney was selected East Region coach of the year 15 times and state Class A boys coach of the year four times. A five-time finalist for boys track national coach of the year, Zimney was selected by the North Dakota High School Coaches Association for induction this summer into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
"There are a lot of things that have to fall into place to stay with it for that long -- good athletes, some very knowledgeable and dedicated assistant coaches,'' Zimney said after the announcement of his national hall of fame selection. "Guys like Tim Delmore, Pat Peake, Tim Tandeski, Lee Baker, who were all with the program for 20-plus years, that makes it easy for a head coach when you have assistant coaches like that who are so passionate about what they do with the program.''
Grand Forks Red River tennis
Greg LaDouceur made it a point to not discuss the winning streaks with his Grand Forks Red River High School tennis players. He didn't want to put extra pressure on the athletes.
"We didn't talk about it," LaDouceur said. "But the kids knew about it. To be a part of it, for the kids and for the coaches, it was a pretty special and humbling experience. Our kids played with a target on their backs for a long time."
Both the Red River boys and girls tennis teams surpassed 200 consecutive dual victories during the 2015-16 school year.
The Red River boys team's winning streak, which started in September 2000, reached 211 straight wins before Fargo Davies beat the Roughriders 5-4 last fall. During its 15-year unbeaten run, Red River produced seven state singles champions and nine state doubles champions.
The Roughrider girls' winning streak, which began at the start of the 2002 season, reached 203 straight wins before West Fargo Sheyenne beat the Riders 3-2 in the East Region team championship. During the 14-year run, Red River had 12 state singles champions and 11 state doubles champions.
"Success breeds success,'' LaDouceur said. "Kids saw how well our programs did and wanted to be a part of that success. They didn't want to be the ones to get that first loss and break the streak. They worked at their game and we were fortunate to have some great athletes.''
Fargo Shanley girls basketball
The Fargo Shanley girls basketball program hit unprecedented heights in North Dakota this season.
The Deacons broke Minot Ryan's state record 63-game winning streak in late February and eventually beat Bismarck Century 73-66 in overtime for its third consecutive Class A state championship.
Shanley's championship victory was its 70th straight, a streak still intact when the season starts in December.
"So many things happened to this group this year," then-Shanley head coach Tim Jacobson told Forum News Service. "There were a lot of records broken, and the fact that they stayed focused even into the situation (of) playing an overtime game was commendable."
Shanley was led by first-team all-state guard and Miss Basketball award winner Sarah Jacobson, a point guard who was voted state tournament MVP and is headed to North Dakota State. First-team all-state performer and University of Mary commit Lauren Rotunda helped form a devastating 1-2 punch.
"We have a lot of players that developed and worked on their game, and we (had) great chemistry," Sarah Jacobson said. "It's been a heck of a ride. We've really accomplished a lot. It's been more than I ever imagined we would."