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 Section 1A championship will be decided between two teams cut from the same cloth. Size, speed and physicality up front are the calling cards for both third-seeded Goodhue and No. 1 seed Fillmore Central when the two teams vie for the section title at 11 a.m. Saturday at Rochester Mayo High School. “They’re like us. They got some size, they got some speed and we’re both physical teams,” said Wildcats’ head coach Tony Poncelet. “They got (Trace) Tollefson, who’s a big-play guy like we have in Sam McNamara. “We have no room for errors.
ROCHESTER – Ashley Thieren and Ava Wallerich, even head coach Al Orthaus were tickled by how their Tuesday afternoon turned out. In the Section 1A doubles final four, the Lake City duo came in with nothing to lose after dropping their first match and losing the first set in the consolation bracket.
CANNON FALLS – Five days after getting manhandled by Cannon Falls, 40-8, La Crescent stunned the Bomber faithful as the Lancers took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. “That was a slap in the face for us,” said Cannon Falls head coach Josh Hofstedt. “We were coming off a game where we pretty much physically dominated them, so as much as we talked about not underestimating them, I kind of feel like we did that right away.”
Following an ace serve by Taylor Steger that gave Red Wing a 7-0 first-set lead over Rochester Mayo, Sonju Gymnasium was ruckus. The student section was loud and the Winger players were stomping the floor in excitement. Then, the Spartans started mounting a comeback, eventually tying the match at 12-12. From there, Mayo kept the Wingers from taking the momentum back as the visiting Spartans won the Big Nine Conference matchup in three sets, 25-23, 25-19, 25-13.
ROCHESTER – In order to try and dethrone a dynasty, Cannon Falls loaded up on doubles. Moving their No. 1 and 2 singles players – Maddie Adel and Sarah Modrak – into No. 1 doubles while bumping down the typical top duos to 2 and 3, the Bombers were hoping to sweep the three matches while sneaking away with one singles win.
ZUMBROTA – With a chance to end the regular season with a win, Zumbrota-Mazeppa put the ball into the hands of freshman Jacob Bennett. And like he did for most of the second half, Bennett followed his offensive line and bulldozed his way through the heart of the Pine Island defense into the end zone.
CANNON FALLS – A 7-0 sweep in the opening round of the Section 1A tournament was but a microcosm of how the Bombers have played lately. The No. 2 seed in the section tournament, Thursday’s first-round win over St. Croix Central was the Bombers’ eighth straight victory and their ninth over the last 10 matches.
GOODHUE – Even when things are a little off for Cannon Falls, the Bombers know how to adapt to any situation. On the road for a Hiawatha Valley League match with Goodhue on Tuesday, Cannon Falls was getting clogged up the middle by the Wildcats’ block and a back row that got stronger in each set. “Goodhue was extremely scrappy. They got a lot of nice touches on their block,” said Bombers head coach Melissa Huseth. “They slowed that ball down a lot and their defense picked up a lot of stuff.”
Family was a word Hunter Connelly frequently used when discussing his swimming future. Last week, the Red Wing state champion verbally committed to continue his swim career at the University of Minnesota, starting in 2016. “I got family up there. The team up there is a lot of fun, they have the best facilities around, the coaching staff up there is amazing,” Connelly said Thursday after choosing the Gophers over Division I schools such as Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Buffalo, Illinois-Chicago and South Dakota State.
Red Wing was stunned last Friday. The winless Austin Packers got their homecoming crowd into a frenzy with a 28-0 lead in the second quarter. “It was a mixture of shock and frustration because we knew we were a lot better than what we showed,” said Wingers wide receiver Travis Toivonen. “We opened our eyes and were like, ‘We can’t play like this for the rest of the game.