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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ELLSWORTH - Though the Ellsworth Invitational has gone on for 49 years, Saturday was the first time the Lake City wrestling team took part in the 10-team tournament. "We weren't really sure what to expect, other than Ellsworth has a lot of tradition," said Tigers head coach Lonnie West.
ELLSWORTH - Like it has done in the last 10 years, the Ellsworth wrestling team dominated its home tournament. With wrestlers in the finals for 10 of the 14 weight classes, the Panthers won the 49th Ellsworth Invitational for the 10th consecutive year on Saturday, scoring 321 points. "A lot of these guys, they put a lot of hard work in year round," said Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt. "To start seeing (the team's early-season progress), it's good for them." Lake City, the lone Minnesota team in the tournament, took second with 211.5 points.
CANNON FALLS - Cannon Falls head girls basketball coach Eric Mace knows his team will still have growing pains.
Nothing was slowing down Tesha Buck in the second half on Thursday. Not Austin's defense. Not even an injury to her shooting hand. The senior guard went off for 20 points in the second half, pushing the Wingers to a 4-0 start with a 62-47 home victory over the Packers. Buck finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals.
ZUMBROTA - Trying to claw back against Rochester Lourdes in Tuesday's season opener, Zumbrota-Mazeppa wasn't planning on leaning on senior Amber Jentsch. After suffering a compound fracture to her leg during softball this summer, Jentsch is still trying to get herself into playing shape. "Amber broke one bone in her leg in three different places. ... She played more tonight than I should have let her play," said Cougars head coach Scott Paukert.
Red Wing boys basketball coach Doug Toivonen thought he had several players last season who were capable of carrying the Wingers' offense. The problem: injuries took their toll. Republican Eagle All-Area Player of the Year Joel Newman kept Red Wing afloat, averaging 17.9 points per game and shooting 46.4 percent from the field.
The 2012-13 season will be a bit of a balancing act for the Red Wing boys hockey team. With a mix of veterans and newcomers, the Wingers coaching staff decided to mix things up in the first weeks of practice by holding practices more like tryouts. "It was more like how the bigger schools do it," said Red Wing senior forward Taylor Hanson. "It was not so much about seniority, but how you play and how you earn it.
In the first game of the 2012-13 season, the Goodhue girls basketball team was pressing.
It took some broken bones and a bruised ego for Cannon Falls senior middle hitter MaKenzie Franklin to discover her dedication to volleyball. As an eighth-grader, Franklin showed the Bombers' coaches enough potential that she was slated to join the varsity program. But she had another passion that was a big part of her life since she was 6 years old: motocross.
Even after beating 10th-ranked St. Paul United 7-2 at home Tuesday, there is still some skepticism from Red Wing head girls hockey coach Scott Haley. "I still don't know for sure if we're better or some of the competition is down," Haley said. But after opening the season with wins against two ranked teams and outscoring opponents 28-5, even Haley can't be too critical. "We're playing really well, and it's been a pretty special start," he said.