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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With Red Wing's offense stalling, Waconia took advantage, pulling to within a point in the second half of Friday's Red Wing tip-off tournament matchup against the host Wingers. Then, Tayzha Buck hit a 3-pointer. Then another. And another. And in a three-minute span, Red Wing hit six shots from the outside and turned what looked like a nail-biter into a convincing 67-52 season-opening win.
In the quest for a third straight Class A title, Goodhue has to blend the old with the new. With a lineup that incorporates three freshmen, it was senior standout Sydney Lodermeier that solidified the top-ranked lineup in a 52-39 victory against River Falls in the Red Wing tip-off tournament on Friday. The best way for Goodhue to mix youngsters on a team with deep postseason aspirations?
MINNEAPOLIS — Cecelia De Jong was gassed. Trying to make her final push in the 100-yard butterfly preliminaries Friday at the Class A state swimming and diving championship, De Jong emptied the tank in an attempt to reach the top eight. "I died at the end and just gave it my all," De Jong said. "I'm happy with how it went." De Jong hit the wall in 58.63 seconds, finishing just short of championship contention with a ninth-place showing. The final championship spot went to Detroit Lakes' Jennifer Tracy in 58.31.
Grace O'Brien, Sammy Kriese and Cecelia De Jong are ready for round two of state. As three-fourths of the state 200-yard medley relay team, the Wingers just wanted a state time in order to get to the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. When the 200 medley relay returns to the state pool for Friday's Class A prelims, the expectation is much higher. "This year we want to place higher at state than we did last year," De Jong said. At last year's meet, the Red Wing relay placed 15th in 1 minute, 55.16 seconds. The expectation now?
SHAKOPEE — Goodhue started to lose its grip on a trip to US Bank Stadium. After taking a 7-0 lead against Mayer Lutheran in the Class A state quarterfinals, the ball started slipping out of the Wildcats' grasp. For six turnovers. Then, the Crusaders capitalized and scored 31 straight points. And even as they made it a two-possession game in the fourth quarter, Goodhue was just too far out of reach for a trip to the state semifinals as the Wildcats' season came to an end with a 31-21 loss.
ST. PAUL — A slow start can be overcome. But against the top-seeded and top-ranked team in Class AA, the chances of making the comeback are awfully daunting. And that was the predicament unseeded Kenyon-Wanamingo found itself in. By the time the Knights found their stride against Maple Lake, it was too late. And the top-seeded Irish made K-W pay by knocking them out of state championship contention with a three-set victory (25-19, 25-18, 25-22) in the state quarterfinals Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
ST. PETER — Southwest Christian had all the momentum. The Stars scored four straight points, including a block that put the team ahead 17-12 in the first set of the Section 2AA championship against Kenyon-Wanamingo. But, the Knights weren't shaken. It didn't matter that it was late in the set. "We definitely didn't start out strong but we knew we wanted it," said sophomore outside hitter Ally Peterson. "We knew we needed to play hard. We wanted it so bad so we knew we had to start playing harder."
NORTHFIELD — Look good, run good. That was the idea when the Red Wing boys' cross-country team rummaged through storage and found some old-school tops. "They've been there forever," junior Tucker Wallin said, looking down at the old shirt. "I always liked wearing them. I used it once and hung onto it." There was some apprehension at first, but for state, the Wingers went with the throwback white-and-purple mesh jerseys.
WEST ST. PAUL — Cannon Falls offense revolves around the big play. After a couple runs up the gut, the Bombers will take a handoff in their T-formation and try to catch a team off-guard for a big gain. Against top-seeded and top-ranked St. Croix Lutheran, Cannon Falls was able to chip away at the Crusaders but were never able to break the big play. And a bigger problem: St. Croix Lutheran had little trouble breaking free for huge gains.
Tom Nemanich and Asa Beckner were able to see the excitement from a distance. In seventh and eighth grade, respectively, the two saw their older brothers — George Nemanich and Meyer Beckner — elated to get to state in 2012. It was the first time since 1999 that the Winger boys' cross-country team had qualified for the state meet. "I was an alternate with Phil Mitchell, and it was a great experience," Asa said. "Running and cheering the guys on, it was great energy. I think it helped motivate the other guys, too."