Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.
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ZUMBROTA - With last year's first-round Section 1AA loss as a motivator, Zumbrota-Mazeppa's softball team was ready to make a statement with its first game. "Last year, I think the girls were disappointed in how the season ended," said Cougars head coach Kevin Nelson, "and I think a number of them have put some time in to make sure we're good to go.
For the third time this year, a member of Red Wing's vaunted girls hockey team has committed to playing at the next level. Emily Stegora, who finished with 79 points (34 goals, 45 assists) in 2012-13, verbally committed to Minnesota State University, Mankato on Monday and will join the Mavericks in 2014-15. A junior this year, Stegora cannot sign a national letter of intent until Nov. 13, the first day of the early signing period. Stegora joins teammates and fellow D-I recruits Paige Haley and Nicole Schammel.
BOSTON - Initially, there was disappointment for Red Wing's Monique DeLong when she crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Dealing with an injury, Delong finished with a time of 3 hours, 59 minutes, 36 seconds, about 25 minutes later than she had hoped for.
It's not where you start, it's where you finish. After a 1-19 record in 2012 and a new head coach in Jon Bohmbach, the Red Wing softball team hopes that it has nowhere to go but up when the 2013 season gets underway. And while it may take some time once the Wingers take the field this spring, Bohmbach hopes his new team can make some noise when the season winds down. "We're really going to emphasize on improving, and at the end, you don't want to play us," Bohmbach said.
LAKE CITY - Lake City didn't need the long ball to get its offense going in its season-opener on Monday. In fact, the Tigers' two biggest hits barely went 40 feet away from home plate. After going hitless in the first three innings and trailing Byron 1-0, right fielder Elliot Cox used his speed and a well-placed bunt to get Lake City's first hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. Two batters later, first baseman Jake Griebenow legged out a short grounder down the third-base line to score Cox, giving the Tigers a much-needed boost. "We just try and do our jobs out there," Cox said.
With only two golfers to replace from last year's state tournament team, it would seem like the Red Wing girls golf team could make an easy transition in hopes of getting to state for the 14th time in school history. But replacing two golfers is quite the task when the twosome was Marisa Toivonen and Katie Kesti. "They were two of the best golfers to ever golf in Red Wing," said Wingers head coach Mark Herzog.
With a school-record 2,402 career points, three state tournament appearances, a Class 3A All-Tournament team nomination and second-team All-State honors, Red Wing's Tesha Buck poured everything she had onto the court since joining the varsity squad as an eighth-grader. Knowing that she'll no longer play on the hardwood at Larry Sonju Gymnasium is tough to swallow for the 2012-13 Red Wing Republican Eagle's All-Area Player of the Year. "It's just weird thinking that I'll never be practicing or playing on that court again," Buck said.
MINNEAPOLIS - Through the grind-it-out effort of Saturday's Class 3A championship game, Red Wing's Tesha Buck and DeLaSalle's Tyseanna Johnson were smiling and laughing at each other, even throwing a friendly shove for good measure. While the highly-touted duo was on opposite ends of the court, the two are best friends thanks to their exploits on the court and playing together for the North Tartan AAU basketball team. "It was fun, but at the same time, we knew we had to get after it," Buck said.
MINNEAPOLIS - After opening Saturday's Class 3A championship down 10-0 to two-time defending state champion DeLaSalle, it could have been easy for Red Wing to roll over. But the resilient Wingers continued to fight back, going on an 11-2 run to close the first half, cutting the Islanders' lead to 30-28. Not bad for a team whose main goal was just to make it to a Saturday game. "We told the kids that we gave ourselves a chance and we did it for, I don't know, 28 or 30 minutes," said Red Wing head girls basketball coach Dave Muelken. "It could have been easy to close up shop.
Red Wing head girls basketball coach Dave Muelken was a man of his word on Friday. As the Wingers prepared for the Class 3A state tournament, he made a promise to his team, hoping to inspire them in some small way to make it to a Saturday game after two straight losses in the first round at state. "We do (a dribbling drill) to open most practices and they kind of got sick of it.