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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The Bombers are back. After two years competing against bigger schools in Class 2A, the Cannon Falls dance team is back in 1A and ready to reassert its small-school dominance. Making their 14th straight state appearance after winning the Section 2A championship, the Bomber Dance Team’s High Kick is looking for a seventh state title when the dancers take to the Target Center court at 12:05 p.m. Saturday. “We know exactly what we have to do this week to achieve our goals,” said Cannon Falls head coach Jamie Swenning. “The girls are very determined and focused.”
With a packed gymnasium and two top-four teams in Class 3A tipping off, Saturday's Red Wing/Austin matchup had the feel of a section final, something the Wingers and Packers are more than familiar with.
Even with some open looks, the shots had trouble going in for Red Wing. It wasn't completely in the Wingers' control. But what Red Wing can control is what happens on the defensive end. And no team in Class 3A does that better than the Wingers.
MINNEAPOLIS – With the entire team there to bask in the glory, the Red Wing boys' swimming team had plenty to celebrate on Saturday.
Five races won and a fourth-place finish at the Section 1A True Team meet had Red Wing’s swimming and diving team playing the waiting game. “We had a lot of good competition in that True Team meet. We performed well” in Austin, said senior Hunter Connelly. “Long bus ride, long time waiting.” When the dust settled and all the remaining sections wrapped up their meet, the Wingers finally got the call. They earned one of the wild-card spots, securing their place at the state True Team meet.
Red Wing managed to flip the script Monday night. Facing Northfield at Sonju Gymnasium, the Wingers saw an 11-point lead disintegrate as the Raiders scored 13 straight points to go up 36-34 with 13 minutes, 7 seconds to play. But instead of letting that comeback weigh the team down, Red Wing regrouped, fought back and took the game back from Northfield for a 63-61 victory.
KENYON – There wasn’t just Hiawatha Valley League bragging rights on the line Thursday. There weren’t just state implications to battle for. When Kenyon-Wanamingo and Kasson-Mantorville took to the mat, there were national bragging rights to vie for. By the end of Thursday’s highly-touted match between the KoMets (No. 1 in Class 2A, 26th nationally) and Knights (No. 2 in Class 1A, 42nd nationally), Kasson-Mantorville came out the victor, 30-21.
CANNON FALLS – With four girls on the roster 5-foot-10 or taller, Pine Island used every inch it could on Tuesday. Facing Cannon Falls in a Hiawatha Valley League game, the visiting Panthers struggled to get shots to fall. But many times after a miss, one of Pine Island’s bigs were there to clean up the boards. And led by 12 points from 5-11 junior Eliza Warneke, the Panthers kept the Bombers away for a 37-27 victory.
Doug Toivonen has been coaching Sevlie kids for the last 12 years. And during that time, they’ve all shared a common bond. “The one thing the Sevlies always look forward to is a challenge, no matter who they’re playing against,” Doug said. “I remember (Tyler) playing against Hopkins boys like Kris Humphries. The better the competition, the more they rise.”
A year ago, Park of Cottage Grove came to Twin Bluff Middle School and left the pool with a win in the Winger Invitational. So when the 2016 Winger Invitational kicked off Saturday, Red Wing’s sights were set squarely on the Wolfpack. “We really appreciate Park coming in here and swimming with us,” said Wingers’ head coach Kevin O’Brien. “They made the guys swim. They knew they had to get as many points as they could to come out with the win.”