Joe Brown is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Prior to becoming regional editor, he was the sports editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle from 2012-2018. He also worked as the sports editor for the Marshall Independent (2010-2012) and as a sports/news clerk for the St. Cloud Times (2008-2009). He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.
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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."
ROCHESTER—Goodhue was back at the Mayo Civic Center, riding high after upsetting third-seeded Medford on Thursday. But Bethlehem Academy is a buzzsaw. A state power. There was little margin of error for the sixth-seeded Wildcats. And under the big lights in Rochester, the Cardinals proved to be the better team on Saturday, ending Goodhue's season in the Section 1A-West semifinals in three sets, 25-9, 25-14, 25-16.
WINONA — A different mindset. The Red Wing locker room had a different mindset this week coming off a win against Albert Lea in the Section 1AAAA opener. "Everyone was a lot more happy and wanted to be there," said senior wide receiver Tre Moore. "Coming off a winless (regular) season, it was nice to have one in the playoffs. It's a better mentality for everyone. ... It was nice to have guys step up and to have them be positive." A different mindset allowed the Wingers to have some more success against Winona than the Week 7 loss.
MINNEAPOLIS — It had been two years since they stepped onto the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center courts. But when Lake City's Ashley Thieren and Ava Wallerich walked in, the butterflies the two felt were similar to when they were a freshman and eighth-grader, respectively. "You always get a little nervous before any match," Wallerich said on Thursday. "State, you get a little more nervous."
OWATONNA — The goal all year for the Red Wing boys' cross-country team has been to get to state and surpass last year's 11th-place finish. Step one of that process was qualifying for state. And, the Winger boys reached that feat with relative ease. Led by section champion Tom Nemanich, the Red Wing boys are headed to state for the fourth time in five years after winning the Section 1AA championship at Brooktree Golf Course. "We have everyone returning (from last year's state team) and we're going to try to prove ourselves at state," Nemanich said.
CANNON FALLS — In order to help an ailing offense, Chase Reber took some steps back. When running back Logan Hofstedt suffered a separated shoulder and a labrum tear against Zumbrota-Mazeppa in Week 5, Reber, Cannon Falls' quarterback up to that point, was asked to fill in for Hofstedt in hopes of solidifying the Bombers' T-formation attack. So, instead of lining up behind center, Reber lined up behind the quarterback and let his legs do the work.