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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NORTH MANKATO – Zumbrota-Mazeppa planned all week for slower pitching. . After drawing unseeded St. Agnes in the Class 2A state quarterfinals, the second-seeded Cougars knew the Aggies could hit. The pitching, that was a question mark. “We saw they gave up a lot of runs per game. We talked to a couple people who said their pitching wasn't strong,” said Z-M head coach Kevin Nelson. “We slowed it down all week and make it a point to stay back and hit the ball hard instead of being out front.” Nelson continued, “We put the pressure on early and set the tone.”
Three lineup cards will be in Kevin Nelson’s pocket for Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s trip to state. It started as a perceived slight after the Cougars took a Section 1AA playoff loss from Rochester Lourdes, when one of the coaches asked Nelson for another card. “She comes over to me after the first game and says, ‘Do you have an extra lineup card? I only brought one with me,’” Nelson said. “I couldn’t believe that.”
The dugout was shell-shocked. But pitcher Kyle Hawe was unfazed. Things looked bleak for the Red Wing baseball team as they gave up three errors in the top of the first inning of the Section 1AAA championship against Northfield, allowing three Raiders to cross home in the process. Save for a few swear words, the Wingers' dugout was uncomfortably silent. And yet, Hawe didn't lose faith in the defense behind him.
CANNON FALLS — Red Wing girls’ golf coach Mark Herzog was beaming. As his golfers came came into the Cannon Golf Club, scores continued to drop up and down the lineup. Even as the team’s final player, Stephanie Herzog, walked off the green, Red Wing’s 11th straight trip to state was a formality. “Our horses came to play today,” Mark said.
LAKEVILLE – The physical tools have been there for Madisyn Lyons. But the gains she's made on the mental end, that is what has helped the Red Wing junior separate herself from the pack. Before she takes a leap into the jumper's pit – whether in the long jump or triple – keeping Lyons' mind right has been the focus of the coaches.
LAKEVILLE – Putting newcomers into a relay race is a risky endeavor. But Red Wing wanted its best for the 4x200-meter relay, so it was time to get a little creative. “We had eight girls run the 200 and he picked the top times,” said Wingers junior Madisyn Lyons. “We were going off a guesstimate time, so we didn't know where we'd end up.” When the practice experiment was over, two newcomers, Paige Patterson and Lyons, would start the race with two 4x200 stalwarts in Emily Hart and Tyler McGrath.
Getting called player of the game in the dugout isn’t quite enough for the Red Wing baseball team. If a player has an outstanding performance on the diamond, the player of the game is coronated. Not with a crown, though. Instead, an aged fake afro found at the bottom of Zach Harding’s locker. “We had 70s night with the Aces probably 10 years ago. Someone brought a wig and it’s been sitting in the team room ever since,” said Red Wing head coach Paul Hartmann.
Five days since its last game, there was some pause as to how Red Wing would open the Section 1AAA playoffs. “You get into a routine in the spring season, playing every other day or third day,” said Wingers' head coach Paul Hartmann. “With that many days off, you wonder what kind of performance you'll get out of your guys.” The way Teddy Tauer was throwing in Saturday's opening-round game against eight-seeded Byron, concern dissipated rather quickly for top-seeded Red Wing.
CANNON FALLS — Even after taking a 4-0 loss to Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1AA-West championship game, Zumbrota-Mazeppa wasn't about to go into the off-season quietly. In an elimination game against Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland, the mood was high. The Cougars weren't ready to hand in their uniforms quite yet. Neither was GMLOK, which eliminated Pine Island with a 6-4 victory earlier in the day.
The Red Wing girls' golf team remains atop the Big Nine Conference perch Since re-entering the Big Nine in 2014-15, the Wingers have been conference champions. And with a team score of 310 in Tuesday's conference championship at Mississippi National Golf Links, Red Wing was once again christened as the Big Nine's best. “It's always fun to win the conference, especially since it was at our home course,” said senior Stephanie Herzog, who wrapped up her third straight Big Nine individual championship with a score of 70. “It was nice not having to drive anywhere.”