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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.
MINNEAPOLIS – McKenna Bauer, a senior on the Cannon Falls dance team, admits things were emotional before their final High Kick routine. With nine seniors on the Bomber Dance Team about to perform for the last time, it was easy to see why.
MINNEAPOLIS – Milestones provided some perspective for every area team on the Target Center floor Friday. In the opening day of the Class 1A state dance team championships, the Cannon Falls, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, and Randolph Jazz dance teams all hit important team marks just by making it to state. For the Bomber Dance Team, it was making a return to state Jazz after a two-year hiatus. For the Cougar Dance Team, it was reaching a decade of state success. And for the Rockettes, it was about reaching state in Jazz for the very first time.
KENYON – For six straight years, Kenyon-Wanamingo has touched the glass ceiling. But every time, the Knights have been unable to break through against some of the toughest teams in the state in Section 1A.