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 -- Jeron Matson had to catch his breath before talking to reporters after winning a state title. Facing Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis’ Dillon McGee, Matson, a freshman at Kenyon-Wanamingo, went three periods before winning the Class 1A 106-pound championship with a 17-3 major decision. After three first-period pins got him into the finals, the six-minute match against McGee was certainly a change of pace.
ST. PAUL – Wrestling in the final match of the Class 1A state wrestling championship match, Austin Jackson admitted he wanted to come out victorious. The 285-pounder for Kenyon-Wanamingo, Jackson was up against Frazee's 10th-ranked heavyweight, Tanner Tappe. Jackson had already proven he could beat Tappe with a 3-minute, 51-second pinfall back on Jan. 8. “I wanted to win that one,” Jackson said about his final state match against Tappe. “But, I decided I'd rather win it for the team than myself.”
ST. PAUL – Watching his team giving out hugs to family and teammates, with some tears and a lot of smiles, Kenyon-Wanamingo head wrestling coach Matt Ryan took a quick glance at the front row of the Xcel Energy Center. In the Knights' last trip to state in 2009, the kids who were in the front row that day were the same ones that helped the school to its first Class 1A state team championship on Thursday.
The two regular-season matchups between Red Wing and Albert Lea were radically different this winter. The first time the teams met back on Dec. 8, the Tigers stuck with the Wingers before ultimately falling 66-63. Then on Jan. 29, Red Wing wasted no time in disposing of Albert Lea with a 60-16 victory. Wednesday's Section 1AAA quarterfinal game felt more like the average of those two contests, but the results was the same as the top-seeded Wingers took out the Tigers with a 75-45 win at Sonju Gymnasium.
KENYON – After six years as a section runner-up, Kenyon-Wanamingo wrestlers eagerly anticipate taking the mat together on Thursday. The Knights have racked up plenty of accolades over the winter: The No. 2 ranking in Class 1A, a national ranking, the Section 2A championship and 11 individuals bound for the state tournament. But even with all that talent and attention, K-W is still starving for state success. “Oh yeah,” said senior 113-pounder Ethan Cota. “I can speak for that, definitely.”
ROCHESTER – His haircut says business in the front, party in the back. But make no mistake: Kyler Banks is all business on the basketball court. Rocking the mullet he has sported the last two basketball seasons, the Cannon Falls senior forward stepped out of his comfort zone on Monday in helping the fifth-seeded Bombers reach the Section 1AA semifinals with a 62-47 victory over fourth-seeded Rochester Lourdes.
MINNEAPOLIS – Even before state got underway Saturday, Mackenzie Hughes' mental toughness was getting tested. Competing in the All-Around at the Class 1A state gymnastics championship at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion, Hughes took what she described as the nastiest spill she's ever taken during warm-ups for balance beam, her first event. “I don't really know (what happened) and I've never done that before,” Hughes said, “but I was doing a jump and missed both my feet.
CANNON FALLS – Yield is a word that doesn't really exist in Tanner Carlson's vocabulary. From a very young age, the senior guard from Cannon Falls learned that once the ball was in his hands, hit the gas and go. “When I was younger, my dad always told me to run the ball up the court,” Carlson said. “So ever since then, I've been running up the ball. I'm glad my teammates feed off of that because it'll help us go far.” Luckily, the rest of the Bombers are able to keep up, and that run-and-gun style suits the team quite well.
GOODHUE – There's plenty of things that top-ranked (Class 1A) Goodhue does right. Two of the things the Wildcats seem to have a premium on is speed and savvy. Pine Island found that out first-hand on Tuesday night. With Goodhue up 17-11 with 6 minutes, 52 seconds in the first half, it was the 12:12 mark of the second half before the visiting Panthers surpassed that 17-point mark. By the final buzzer, the Wildcats showcased their dominance in a 57-32 Hiawatha Valley League victory.
LAKE CITY – Both Lake City and Goodhue knew the Jan. 12 matchup between the two teams was an aberration. On that day, the Tigers were able to throttle the Wildcats for a 45-24 victory. On Monday, with the Hiawatha Valley Conference title on the line, Lake City and Goodhue found themselves in a shootout as both teams shot over 50 percent from the field and every bucket was responded in kind on the other end of the floor.