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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MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue's defense is a sort of anomaly. After every bucket, the Wildcats make teams have to sprint down the floor to counter the full-court press. And because they can go deep into its bench without much of a drop-off defensively, playing against Goodhue can feel like a marathon condensed into 36 minutes.
By Joe Brown firstname.lastname@example.org When Goodhue needed a spark during last year’s state championship run, Emily Benrud was ready to go. The Wildcats needed a fresh body to swarm teams on the press? Benrud was there. Need some inside scoring, go to Benrud. Who can come down with a key rebound? That’s Benrud’s bread and butter.
ROCHESTER – Tuesday in the sub-section semifinals, shooting was a struggle for Goodhue. Four days later, it was like the Wildcats couldn't miss. With a 69-47 victory in the Section 1A-West title game against Bethlehem Academy Saturday, Goodhue is back in the section championship game for the fourth straight year.
ROCHESTER – Try as Kenyon-Wanamingo did, the Knights' defense couldn't take everyone away. The focus on defense coming into Friday's Section 1AA championship game against Rochester Lourdes started with Alyssa Ustby and Wynter Bergner. In the second half, that opened things for Grace Rogers. And with all of her 15 points coming in the second half – including a perfect 6-for-6 effort at the free-throw line in the final minute – the third-seeded Eagles left the Mayo Civic Center as section champions with a 67-61 victory over the fourth-seeded Knights.
ROCHESTER – Ugly, pretty, doesn't matter. Goodhue just needed to move on. Fourth-seeded Randolph took the top-seeded and defending Section 1A champion Wildcats out of their comfort zone, resorting to outside shots and man-to-man defense. But eventually, Goodhue found a way and advanced to the Section 1A-West finals with a 59-43 victory over the Rockets Tuesday at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.
ST. PAUL – Bailee O'Reilly soaked in the moment. His final high-school match ended in victory with a 13-11 decision over Jackson County Central's Dalton Wagner for the Class 1A 160-pound championship Saturday. O'Reilly won his second state title, becoming the first Goodhue wrestler to win a pair of state titles. With a heavy heart, O'Reilly went to his knees and pointed to the heavens, honoring the person he wanted to win a state title for.
ST. PAUL – Caden Steffen walked onto the Class 1A 182-pound championship match determined. It was his match. His mat. Nothing was going to stop the Zumbrota-Mazeppa junior. “To be 100 percent honest, my biggest fear was to finish second two years in a row. I didn't want that to happen,” said Caden, referring to his 25-12 major decision loss to Jackson County Central's Keegan Moore in 2016. “I worked all summer, all off-season to make sure that didn't happen. I just went out there and I wrestled my match. I controlled it and I just did everything the same, didn't change a thing.”
ST. PAUL – A consolation team champion. Six state entrants. A third-place finish and two state champions. A 7-0 day on Saturday. It was a good three-day stretch for Kenyon-Wanamingo wrestling. “It was awesome to have two (champions), and Seth (Brossard) brought home third,” said Knights head coach Matt Ryan. “Our team went 2-1 and we had a great today. I feel pretty good about it.”
MINNEAPOLIS – In conference, in sections and at state, William Meacham has an eye on Paul Sadergaski. Sadergaski, a senior at Faribault, has been the gold standard this year in the 100-yard butterfly in Class 1A as the 2015 champion. Meacham was never far behind this winter, and every competition against Sadergaski was a chance to get better. “Without someone next to me, it's hard to keep my pace,” Meacham said. “You got to have the shark behind you when you're swimming. That's what mine is: Trying to keep up with him.”
ST. PAUL – After Day 1 of individual wrestling at the Minnesota state wrestling tournament Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center, eight area athletes remain in the hunt for a state title.