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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Red Wing’s 4-1 win over Rochester Century on Tuesday looks as much like target practice as it did a Big Nine Conference game. On the offensive end, the Wingers girls’ hockey team has a goal of 12 shots per period. And at Prairie Island Arena, Red Wing nearly doubled that per period, outshooting the visiting Panthers 70-14.
Even while she struggled to find her outside shot, Red Wing knew Morgan Zebro would step up in a big moment. “I had a lot of confidence in her, and I knew she could hit a shot when she needed to,” junior guard McKayla “Bubba” Muelken said. And in overtime, Zebro made good on her teammates’ faith in her 3-point shooting.
LAKE CITY – While the shots struggled to fall in the first half, Lake City figured it was only a matter of time. The ninth-ranked (Class 2A) Tigers have too many weapons to be held down for too long against Cannon Falls on Tuesday. “It just took us some time,” said Lake City senior Matt Kjos. “Eventually, we’d get ‘em.” Up by just two at halftime, Lake City opened the second half on a 27-9 run en route to a 51-35 Hiawatha Valley League victory over the Bombers at Lincoln High School.
A three-point win against Albert Lea was not indicative of how well the Red Wing boys’ basketball team can play. “It was a good learning experience for us,” said Wingers’ senior guard Carson Bryan. “Not every game is going to be easy and we learned that, for sure.” Friday against Mankato West, on the other hand, was a showcase in how dominant the second-ranked (Class 3A) Wingers can play.
In the most simple of terms, the job of a wide receiver is to catch a pass from the quarterback. And few receivers across the state were as good at that job as Red Wing’s Travis Toivonen. Over 10 games, the Republican Eagle’s All-Area Player of the Year hauled in 67 catches for 1,287 and 10 touchdowns while garnering third team All-State honors from the Associated Press.
With four state-caliber performers back from last year’s 11th-place team in Class 1A, the Red Wing boys’ swimming and diving team has the right core to climb up the podium in 2015-16. Not only is it a talented core, it’s a motivated group as well. “Everyone’s looking a lot stronger,” said senior Hunter Connelly, the defending state champion in the 100-yard backstroke. “We worked out all summer with each other. We’re also working out right now before school every other day.”
After his sophomore year at Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Red Wing’s Christian Leitner had a feeling he was around a special group. That fall, with the UW-EC men’s cross-country team, Leitner helped the team to a ninth-place finish in the NCAA Division III championship. But the Blugolds were not satisfied with that. “Going into my junior year, I knew this team was going to be good,” Leitner said. “We could definitely get into the top four, if not win. We just couldn’t put it together when we needed to.”
For his first varsity start, Justin Walm drew one of the toughest matchups against one of the most highly-regarded teams in the Big Nine Conference. Walm, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, was tasked with guarding Northfield’s Luke Harris, a 6-9 forward who is garnering college interest. Walm was thrust into the role after starter Joe Sevlie rolled his ankle Tuesday against Rochester Century. “I was a little bit nervous going into it and stepping into Joe’s spot because he plays such a huge role on our team,” Walm said. “Once I got going, everything calmed down for me.”
LAKE CITY – Even as Zumbrota-Mazeppa jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start Monday’s season opener, Drew Olinger wouldn’t let his Lake City girls’ basketball squad get down. “That’s the thing I kept telling ‘em: you got down early but we were getting the shots we wanted in our offense. They just didn’t fall,” the first-year head coach said.
Even with a 28-20 lead at halftime, Red Wing wasn’t content. Then, Hastings hit a 3-pointer to make it a five-point game. From that point on, the Wingers’ defense laid the hammer down on the Raiders, turning what could have been a close non-conference tilt into a laugher. Opening the second half on an 18-5 run, Red Wing went on to knock off Hastings 66-46 Saturday at Sonju Gymnasium.