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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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.
KENYON -- There is plenty to be intimidated about from Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. The Buccaneers sport a starting lineup where every player is 5-foot-9 or taller. And heading into Tuesday's non-conference game with Kenyon-Wanamingo, WEM had not lost a game since Dec. 29. But, the Knights were not about to back down, staying within one of the Bucs at halftime, 28-27. Even when WEM took an 11-point lead in the second half, K-W cut the deficit down to two with 24 seconds to go.
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.