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2022 top 10 most intriguing St. Louis sports figures

For the past 30 years, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of the Top 10 most intriguing sports figures in the region. Here's this year's top 10.

ST. LOUIS — For the past 30 years, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of the top 10 most intriguing sports figures in the region. 

Here are this year's Top 10:  

10. Curtis Francois

Credit: AP
Curtis Francois, World Wide Technology Raceway owner, poses for a portrait on the track in Madison, Ill. on Monday, May 23, 2022. The raceway is preparing to host its first NASCAR Cup Series race on June 5th. (Colter Peterson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

The owner of World Wide Technology Raceway pulled it off. 

The first-ever NASCAR Cup Series event in the St. Louis area happened this past summer. The Enjoy Illinois 300 was a booming success. 

WWT Raceway is the only track in America with NASCAR, Indy Cars and NHRA.

9. Luther Burden III

Credit: AP
Missouri wide receiver Luther Burden III (3) celebrates after a first down catch during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

The statistics were not overwhelming, but the talent is undeniable. Even if you are the number one player in your class in America, it’s OK to stay home.

8. Bret Bielema

Credit: AP
Illinois head coach Bret Bielema points to fans following his team's 26-9 victory over Nebraska in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

The Illinois football coach pumped life into a program that was previously dead. After nine straight losing years, it’s time for Illinois’ first January bowl in 15 years. With all the winning he once did at Wisconsin in the Big 10, there’s no reason to think he won’t do it in Champaign also.

7. Yuri Collins

Credit: AP
Saint Louis guard Yuri Collins (1) scores a layup during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Arnold J. Ward)

He finished off the 2022 season by leading the United States of America in assists. He started the next season with a 20-assist, zero-turnover game. 

No point guard in high school, college or the pros will have that stat line this year. He is the most accurate passer in town since Kurt Warner.

6. Dick Vermeil

Credit: AP
Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil is honored for his Hall of Fame induction during halftime of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, September 19, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

At 86 years old, the NFL confirmed what most of St. Louis has known for years, he is a Hall of Famer. How many coaches have made three franchises special? But more importantly, how many coaches have made almost all of their players feel special? 

5. Oliver Marmol

He’s half a century younger than Vermeil but he won right away. 93 victories as a rookie manager, poise beyond his years, he held players accountable and activated the game's analytics without letting it dictate all the decisions.

4. Tim Ream and Josh Sargent

Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson/Julio Cortez
Tim Ream and Josh Sargent

The two men from St. Dominic, a school of 800 people, played for the United States Men’s National Team in the World Cup. Sargent is just beginning an incredible career and Ream is wrapping up his.

3. Paul Goldschmidt

Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt celebrates in the dugout after his two-run homer off Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Kervin Castro during the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in Chicago. It was Goldschmidt's second homer of the game. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The best player in the National League played first base for the St. Louis Cardinals. While the postseason didn’t play out for the team, for six months fans saw the most torrid hitting by a Cardinals player since another player on this list.

2. Jordan Binnington

Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington pauses during the first period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche Saturday, May 21, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Blues goalie was set the lead the team to another Stanley Cup before getting injured in the second round of the playoffs this past season. This season, we will see. If Binnington gets smoking hot, there is potential for a postseason run.

1. Albert Pujols

Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols celebrates after hitting a three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

No one, not even Albert himself, thought this second half was coming. It wasn’t just hitting 700, it was the second half of 18 homers, 48 RBIs and 1.103 OPS. That was higher than Mike Trout of Los Angeles Angles and slightly lower than Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

You can debate many things in St. Louis, but you can’t debate that Albert Pujols wasn’t the most compelling sports figure in 2022.

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