Top sports stories 2009, No. 1: Bringing home the hardware
Three Red Wing individuals -- juniors Turner Eckstrom and Kim Hovey and senior Mark Giorgi -- and the Ellsworth wrestling team all were crowned best in the state in 2009.
In 1-meter diving, Eckstrom repeated as Class A state champion with 430.40 points on March 7.
The junior experienced some early struggles in the preliminaries, but he began the second day of competition with a 41.60-point lead.
After Eckstrom nailed his final dive, six friends wearing white T-shirts that spelled out TURNER stood and cheered.
"Today went a lot better," Eckstrom said. "I think a lot has to do with the crowd. When the crowd's with me I can perform a lot better."
Hovey won the Class AA shot put title June 6 at Hamline University with her first toss of the day, which measured 42 feet, 8 1/4 inches. She bettered the runner-up by almost two feet despite cold, drizzly conditions that made the shot put ring slippery.
"I've thrown in rain a lot in the past and with my glide (technique) I had it pretty easy," Hovey said.
Giorgi captured the first individual championship in the history of the Winger boys golf program by carding a two-day total of 145. He won the Class AA title by one stroke June 4 at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, Minn.
"I wasn't making as many greens as I usually do," Giorgi said. "I was just grinding it out."
The Panthers won the schools' fourth state wrestling title March 7 when they defeated top-ranked Lodi 35-23 at the WIAA Division 2 team tournament. Ellsworth trailed 17-3 after the 103-pound match.
Ellsworth also pulled off a come-from-behind victory in the semifinals. Down 15-0 against Pewaukee, the Panthers won nine of the next 10 matches to prevail 33-19.
"Even the kids who lost didn't give up big points," coach Jack Radabaugh said. "That's why our team has such a good dual meet mindset and why they are state dual meet champions."