The top sports stories of the last 10 yearsThroughout the past 10 years area teams have won state titles, local athletes have excelled at the collegiate level and one of Red Wing’s own played professional hockey at its highest level.
By: R-E Sports Staff, The Republican Eagle
Throughout the past 10 years area teams have won state titles, local athletes have excelled at the collegiate level and one of Red Wing’s own played professional hockey at its highest level.
What follows is a list of some of the most memorable moments involving area teams and athletes over the last decade.
Goodhue football juggernaut
While Plum City’s regular-season winning streak stands at 52 games and counting, no area football program has been able to match Goodhue’s postseason success since 2001.
Goodhue advanced to the Class A state tournament every season from 2003-07, book ending the run with championships. In all, the Wildcats have earned seven state tournament berths since 2001.
Goodhue defeated Medford/El Shaddai 20-8 in the 2003 Prep Bowl. The Wildcats defeated Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin in the quarterfinals and Mahnomen in the semifinals.
Senior halfback Corey Ryan helped lead the Wildcats to their first state football title. He rushed for 200 yards in the quarterfinals and 172 in the semifinals.
In the Prep Bowl, Ryan ran for 77 yards and had another 79 yards receiving.
He scored all three Goodhue touchdowns, giving him eight touchdowns in three state tournament games.
“Corey is a game-day player. There’s no doubt about that,” Goodhue coach Clair Austin said. “We rode him as long as we could in the playoffs. When he’s feeling it, you just have to give him the ball.”
Behind the leadership of 14 seniors, the Wildcats recovered from an early-season loss to Triton to rattle off 12 victories in a row and capture the school’s second Class A title in 2007.
“It’s awesome, our dreams come true,” senior Tyler Stehr said following the Wildcats’ 28-7 victory over Adrian in the championship game. “We were ready to go and we came into the season thinking the same.”
During the dominating 12-game win streak, the smallest margin of victory was 21 points, and that happened twice.
Goodhue averaged 43 points a game during that same stretch, while allowing only 11 points a game.
Kelby Buck ran the show behind center and eclipsed 1,600 yards passing with 19 touchdowns. Brett Watson caught 18 of those touchdowns and recorded 952 receiving yards.
Eric Ryan and Micah Huneke both finished with over 1,000 yards rushing. They scored 32 and 18 times, respectively.
Pohl plays in NHL
This decade was very kind to Red Wing’s own Johnny Pohl.
The former Winger won the 2002 national championship as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team.
In 2003, Pohl represented the United States in the prestigious World Championships and tallied seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in six games. The next season, Pohl reached a level that few athletes have — he had is own bobble head doll while playing for the Worcester IceCats of the American Hockey League.
Pohl played his first game in the National Hockey League during the 2003-04 season with the St. Louis Blues, the team that drafted him 255th overall in 1998. His first game with the Blues also was his last game with the club. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Aug. 24, 2005.
The former Minnesota “Mr. Hockey” played 114 games with Toronto scoring 17 goals and tallying 21 assists (38 points). Pohl’s last season in the NHL was 2007-08. After spending one season overseas, Pohl returned to America and played for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL during the 2009-10 campaign. He scored 36 goals for Chicago and hung up his skates after the season.
Pohl now teaches in the business department at Cretin-Derham Hall.
Bomber Dance Team dominance
The Cannon Falls dance team tried something new in 2009 and wound up with yet another Class A state dance team title in the high kick/precision division.
Cannon Falls added a second routine that year. The team opened the year performing a fun, simple performance.
As an added benefit, it also was a strenuous cardio routine.
In January, the team switched to a more technically precise routine that it had been working on all along.
“It had exactly what we wanted to show at sections and state,” Cannon Falls coach Carrie Williams said of the second dance.
The result was an undefeated season and Cannon Falls’ fourth state title in five years. The Bomber Dance Team also placed first from 2005 to 2007.
Cannon Falls returned to the Timberwolves’ home arena the following day and placed third in the 2009 jazz/funk competition. It was the first time in program history that Cannon Falls advanced to the finals in the jazz division.
We “just had no idea we were going to go that far,” Williams said.
The Bomber Dance Team also has placed second in high kick on three occasions (2004, 2008 and 2010). In 2003, the team took fifth.
To put that in perspective, Cannon Falls has placed no worse than fifth at state in high kick each of the last eight seasons.
McNamara tabbed top Division II female athlete
By the end of Maggie McNamara’s career at Concordia (St. Paul), the Zumbrota native was voted the top Division II collegiate female athlete in the country.
She garnered the honor, which was part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, for the 2009-10 academic year after a record-breaking run as the Golden Bears’ setter.
During her senior season she established a new NCAA record for career assists with 7,351. She also set Division II records for assists per set during a career (14.11) and in a season (15.09 in 2006).
She led the nation with 13.26 assists per set in 2009. It was the fourth straight season she’d held that distinction.
McNamara was a two-time Division II Player of the Year and a four-time All-American.
Given her individual success, it’s no wonder that Concordia was the top Division II program in the country during her four years in St. Paul. Starting her sophomore year, the Golden Bears won three consecutive national titles.
Swimmers, divers shine
The bandbox that is the Twin Bluff Middle School pool has been home to some of the state’s most successful Class A swimmers and divers since 2001.
The Red Wing girls swimming and diving team won Class A team titles in 2001 and 2002 (as well as 2000).
The Wingers edged Hutchinson for first place by 20 points in 2001 and 73 points the following year.
Beth Kiczula had a big hand in the team’s success. She won the 100 butterfly in 2001 before placing second in 2002. Kiczula also won the state title in the 50 free in 2002 after placing second in the event the previous season.
She set the Class A state meet record in the 100 fly in 2004 with a time of 56.10. The mark stood until 2008.
Red Wing boys divers also had a successful run. Doug Klein won three state titles in 1-meter diving, starting in 2000. He broke his own Class A state meet record as a senior, scoring a 474.30.
Turner Eckstrom did Klein one better. Eckstrom also won three state titles and as a senior in 2010 he eclipsed Klein’s mark and equaled the all-time state meet record of 532.70.
After 39 years at the helm of Goodhue’s wrestling program, legendary coach Bill Sutter retired after the 2007-08 season.
He left as the second winningest coach in the history of Minnesota high school wrestling with approximately 750 wins. And they all came with the Wildcats.
“Those kids are just great,” Sutter said Feb. 7 at his last home dual meet. “I had an opportunity, a couple two, three times to leave, but I chose to stay.
“If I had a chance to send my kids to any school around here, it would be Goodhue.”
Sutter had several other notable achievements in his career:
• 57 Wildcats were individual state tournament entrants.
• Goodhue captured state titles in 1980 and 2001. In addition, the Wildcats finished second once, third twice, fourth three times, fifth twice and sixth once.
• Goodhue won its section 12 times and was the runner-up three times.
• The Wildcats finished 23 seasons atop their conference. That means almost 59 percent of Sutter’s seasons ended with a conference title.
He also will be remembered for his self-effacing nature.
“He doesn’t like to take credit, he always says it’s the kids,” Kenny Lexvold said at Sutter’s last home dual meet. “He’s a good role model for them. He teaches more than just wrestling.”
Lexvold won a state title in 1981 as a senior and his son, Brandon, was on the 2001 state championship squad.
According to Tony Poncelet, Goodhue’s former athletic director, Sutter would be just as adept at instructing his fellow coaches.
“Anyone who wants to get into coaching, no matter what level, should observe coach Sutter,” Poncelet said Feb. 7. “He’s so positive with the kids.”
The Wildcats lost Sutter’s final home dual meet to Zumbrota-Mazeppa 38-21 before a standing-room-only crowd that sported many “Thanks Bill” T-shirts, but his coaching career was far from over.
Three Goodhue wrestlers — Caleb Diercks (125 pounds), Micah Huneke (160) and Eric Ryan (189) — qualified for the Class A state tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Huneke had the honor of wrestling in Sutter’s last match: On Feb. 29, the third day of the state tournament, Huneke was defeated by Blooming Prairie’s Cody Poshusta-Schmitz 8-1 in wrestlebacks.
“It’s been a good run,” Sutter said after Huneke’s match. “I had a great bunch of kids.”
Panthers win pair
Ellsworth wrestling coach Jack Radabaugh has guided the Panthers to a pair of Division 2 team wrestling championships since 2001.
In 2007, Ellsworth beat Luxemburg-Casco 33-22 in the Division 2 Championship. The Panthers beat Lodi in the title match 35-23 in 2009.
Ellsworth also finished second as a team in 2001 (a 30-19 loss to Luxemburg-Casco) and 2008 (a 36-22 loss to Lodi).
The Panthers have collected six individual state titles since 2001. The list of champions includes Ara Engeset (2001), Jordan Foy (2007), Jerad Erlandson (2002), Hayden Hauschildt (2008 and 2009) and Jonathan Hart (2004).
The Panthers also won state titles in 2000 and 1985.
Lake City adapted bowling dots record books
Lake City has been a powerhouse in adapted bowling since the Minnesota State High School League first sanctioned the sport in 2000.
The Tigers have won four team titles (2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005) and four individual titles (Jeremy Plank, 2001; Erin Hebert, 2000 and 2001; Danielle Krusmark, 2008) in the cognitively impaired division (previously the MH division). Both are state records.
North/Tartan has won three titles, but no other school has more than two individual state titles to its credit.
The program came close to adding a fifth team title this spring.
Lake City junior Brian Carlson bowled a career-best 145 in Game 2 — he averages 90 — at the 2010 state tournament to help the Tigers finish in second place in the CI division.
Lake City finished with a total of 1670 at the Brunswick Zone in Eden Prairie, Minn. North/Tartan defended its title, winning by 60 pins.
“It felt like first,” Carlson said.
Making a state-ment
Kraig Ulveling and section basketball championships have gone hand-in-hand throughout most of the decade.
Ulveling guided the Red Wing boys basketball team to five straight section titles — and state tournament appearances — to start the decade. The Wingers fell in the state quarterfinals in 2000-01 before advancing to the state championship game the following year. Red Wing dropped the title game 71-59 to Minneapolis Patrick Henry.
Ulveling led the Wingers back to the state tournament during the 2002-03 campaign where his squad finished in fourth place. Red Wing went 23-8 that season.
Red Wing again came one victory away from winning the state championship in 2004. The Wingers beat Fergus Falls in the semifinals of the state tournament before falling in the title game.
After all his success with the boys, Ulveling left the program to coach the Red Wing girls basketball team. In his first year with the girls, Ulveling won another section championship. Red Wing lost in the 2005 state quarterfinals.
Ulveling has the 2010-11 Wingers sitting with eight wins and one loss. Is another section title a few months away?
The Red Wing girls golf team could arguably be the most successful team of the decade.
The Wingers won three consecutive state championships (2001-03), nine section titles and seven Missota Conference championships from 2000-2009.
In 2001, Red Wing was ranked as the top team in the state from Day 1 of the season, to the day it was crowned state champions.
Red Wing broke the Minnesota State High School League scoring record in the 2002 state tournament by shooting a two-day total of 671. Samantha Braschler, who played golf at Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota, took fourth place by shooting a 161.
Red Wing won the state title in 2003 by a 23-shot cushion and tied the scoring record it set the previous year.
“We all work so hard and we’re such good friends. I think that makes the whole thing even more special,” said Angie Hartmann, who was a senior on the Wingers at the time. Hartmann went on to play in college at Southwest Minnesota State.
If it wasn’t for girls golf powerhouse Minnewaska Area, Red Wing could have closed out the decade with two more state titles. The Wingers took second to the Lakers in 2008 and 2009.
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