Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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The University of Nebraska, Lincoln baseball team started the season 0-7 and have already faced three ranked teams in Cal State-Fullerton, Texas and University of California, Irvine. The Cornhuskers are 11-8 since, including a 5-1 record in conference play, and Red Wing native Pat Kelly is second on the team with a .336 batting average and a team-leading five doubles to go along with 13 RBI. During Nebraska's weekend sweep of Northwestern Friday and Sunday in Lincoln, Kelly went 8-for-19 despite batting 0-for-9 in the Cornhuskers' 10-9 16-inning victory on Friday night.
Goodhue's Tony Poncelet was starting to get spread thin as the head football and boys basketball coach for the Wildcats. So he decided it was time to let someone else take over the boys basketball program, allowing him to focus on football and spend more time with family. "It's not like I'm burned out at all," Poncelet said. "I used to be activities director, head basketball coach and assistant football coach. I felt like I was average at everything and I didn't want to get that point again.
The Red Wing girls track and field team graduated its only state participant from last season. Abbey Schnaith made the Class 1AA girls state track meet in the 800-meter dash, but the Wingers hope to find more depth this year. "We'd like to get some kids to the state meet," Red Wing head girls track coach Jesse Nelson said. "We always want to challenge for the True Team Section title. We feel like we're deeper this year.
Red Wing native Reid Cashman had an illustrious playing career with the Division I Quinnipiac men's hockey team, earning All-American honors three of his four years with the team. Now, Cashman is busy cultivating talent for the top-ranked Bobcats as an assistant coach. "It's been a great experience to work at my alma mater and a place that I'm passionate about," Cashman said. "My boss was my coach for four years so I have a good relationship with him.
When the Red Wing City Council voted on Feb. 25 to temporarily shutter Mississippi National Golf Links for the year, it left the Red Wing boys and girls golf teams without a home. The Wingers have competed at MNGL for years and the decision sent Red Wing Athletic Director Matt Schultz searching out a new basecamp for a perennially powerful golf program. In MNGL's absence, the Red Wing Golf Club and Mount Frontenac Golf Course in Florence, Minn., stepped in.
ROCHESTER - Red Wing outworked top-seeded Austin Friday night in the Section 1AAA title game at Mayo Civic Arena. The third-seeded Wingers outmuscled a much bigger Packers team much of the night and held a 37-24 rebounding advantage at the end of the night. But the shots kept missing Friday and Austin remained undefeated with a 52-43 overtime victory. Red Wing shot less than 27 percent from the field, including 4 of 26 from behind the 3-point line. "To beat them, we needed to hit a couple perimeter shots," Wingers' head coach Doug Toivonen said.
MANKATO, Minn. - St. Peter's Peter Kruize makes it difficult for any team to score inside. Kruize stands 6-foot-8 and in Monday's Section 2AA-North Subsection final against Cannon Falls, he made an impact on both ends of the floor but it was the Saints' guards that made life difficult for the Bombers. Cannon Falls' guards Brock Peterson and Jordan Lundell are a tough assignment and top-seeded St. Peter held them to 19 total points as the Saints advanced to the Section 2AA championship game with a 65-46 victory at the Taylor Center.
NEW PRAGUE - The series history tilted heavily toward New Prague in the Section 1AAA semifinal game against Red Wing. The Wingers last won on the Trojans' home court nine years ago. On Saturday night, third-seeded Red Wing snapped that streak, overcoming a poor start to grab a 73-66 victory and secure its first trip to the Section 1AAA finals since 2004. "Sometimes you have to give credit to them, they came out on fire," Wingers' head coach Doug Toivonen said of second-seeded New Prague. "They're more experienced in bigger games than we are and maybe our inexperience showed right away.
ROCHESTER - Red Wing and Kasson-Mantorville know each other well enough by now. The Wingers and KoMets faced off twice earlier in the season and met in the Section 1AAA finale last year. The only surprise Friday night was Red Wing shooting worse than 40 percent from the field. It's hard enough to beat a team twice but the Wingers made it three in a row against K-M in a 62-51 victory at Mayo Civic Auditorium for a third consecutive trip to the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament. "We never allowed them to make a run," Red Wing head coach Dave Muelken said.
Another team is starting the process of joining the Classic Cannon Valley League in the near future. Leo Tyler, 19, graduated from Goodhue High School in 2012 and decided he didn't want graduation to be the end of his baseball career. Continuing his education at Dakota County Technical College, Tyler talked with a few of his friends and they came to a consensus: Goodhue needed a town baseball team. "I was big into baseball as a kid," Tyler said. "I started out in Red Wing and after that I switched schools to Goodhue. ... I took pride in it and started playing for Goodhue.