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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MANKATO – Jen Nerison pantomimed the motion of taking weight off her shoulders. Because after three straight unsuccessful tries, her Kenyon-Wanamingo volleyball squad finally got past Belle Plaine for the Section 2AA championship. “Monkey off the back,” Nerison said after the Knights walked off the floor at Minnesota State University-Mankato's Taylor Center Saturday night after a four-set victory over the defending state champs, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21. “It feels good now but it's going to feel even better because we're not done with what our goal is.”
NORTHFIELD – With Red Wing boys and girls at the state cross-country meet together for just the second time in school history, both teams felt the ups and downs of the Class 2A championship Saturday at St. Olaf College. The unseasonably hot 70-degree weather and a soft course slowed down times across the board for a race that typically runs slow anyways.
NORTHFIELD – The last 800 meters had been problematic for Carl Kozlowski as of late. “I've been getting beat in the final 800 the last couple weeks,” the Lake City senior runner said. “It takes absolutely everything you got. It's a 16-minute race and you got your heart rate up at 200 for 14 of it, so you hit that last 800 and you got five minutes left, you just have to put your nose down and go.”
ROCHESTER – Against Caledonia, you have to make your moments count. The defending Class 2A state champions are too fast on defense and too difficult to plan for with a balanced offense. So when Zumbrota-Mazeppa limited the Warriors to a 13-0 halftime lead, the Cougars figured a big play on offense could sway their way in the upset bid. But, Caledonia never allowed Z-M’s offense to have its moment.
Red Wing’s girls’ cross-country team has found a way to get the best from its runners until the very end. Often times, cross-country runners peak when they’re younger and start to tail off as they near their senior year. But some of Jesse Nelson’s top girls runners have been able to buck that trend. “With Lindsay Scribner years ago, with Kelsee Anderson years ago, those were girls that were able to run near career bests at the end,” Nelson said. “That’s my goal as a coach, that you can take kids and have them run at their best at the end.”
ROCHESTER – Lake City and St. Charles had a five-set battle in the second game of the season, which saw the Tigers come out on top. So it was no surprise on Saturday when the two teams went five sets all over again in the Section 1AA-East semifinals. “It was a two seed (Lake City) and a three seed (St. Charles). I told our girls it was going to be a tough match no matter what,” said Tigers head coach Kirk Thornton. “We were evenly matched and I thought whatever team played better was going to win.”
CANNON FALLS – Cannon Falls and Lake City both walked off the field at John Burch Park caked in mud. But after rolling through the Tigers for a 36-6 victory in the Section 1AAA semifinals, the Bombers made their parents' laundry duty a little more difficult, sliding head-first into the pudding-like field in celebration with a state berth within arm's reach.
OWATONNA – Red Wing's cross-country program has had plenty of success in recent years. The girls' team clinched a state berth last year, and the boys' team is always near the top of Section 1AA, last going to state in 2014.
GOODHUE – Mason Huemann was spry walking off the field Wednesday night. Even after rushing the ball 45 times for 251 yards and four touchdowns, the workhorse was hardly spent. After all, it's hard to feel tired after you helped lead your team beat an undefeated Rushford-Peterson squad that was ranked fourth in Class 1A. “We were able to run the ball on Rushford and that's what we're all about: Ground and pound. And I think it showed tonight,” Huemann, a junior halfback/linebacker said.
Austin was a team Red Wing figured it could contend with. The Packers, they wanted to put that thought out of the winless Wingers’ minds as quickly as possible. After a fairly-even first half, Austin’s maulers on the line of scrimmage made sure they were leaving Russ “Cougar” Marshall Field with a win. After snapping a 16-game losing streak last week, the Packers ran over Red Wing to the tune of 370 rushing yards en route to a 43-21 Big Southeast Blue Division win on Friday.