Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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Goodhue state champion signs LOI to Minnesota Bailee O'Reilly had heard from some good wrestling schools. St. Cloud State University was in the mix, and there was interest from O'Reilly in the Huskies, who finished second in the NCAA Division II tournament this year after consecutive national championships in 2015 and 2016. SCSU has also had five individual champions since 2011, and had four All-Americans this season.
Less than two months after accepting the head coaching job, Doug Toivonen was walking around the tennis courts trying to corral players for introductions before Red Wing kicked off the season against Northfield. It's not an unfamiliar scenario for Toivonen, who patrolled the sidelines for 12 seasons for the Wingers’ boys’ basketball. But along with Drew Olinger, who took over for Toivonen in the winter and will be co-head coach with Toivonen for the tennis team, there will be a feeling-out process.
Mara Quam didn't have to play three sports. A gifted athlete, Quam, who will play volleyball next fall while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato, could have decided a couple years ago to focus solely on one sport. With scholarship ability, that tends to be the direction modern athletes choose.
Last year, the Red Wing softball team relied on four seniors to produce nearly half of its runs while breaking in a group of younger players. This year, head coach Jon Bohmbach will have three seniors and a junior set to lead. But three sophomores, six freshmen and an eighth-grader will be leaned on more than any time in Bohmbach's tenure.
Area schools saw some drastic changes in which teams will be in postseason brackets beginning with the 2017-18 school year. In particular, football and wrestling saw dramatic movement. Every two years, the Minnesota State League realigns sections and classes, moving schools around based on an enrollment formula the MSHSL uses that subtracts a percentage of free and reduced lunch students from the actual enrollment.
When Lake City tips off the Class 2A state tournament on Wednesday, the end of a 27-year drought will finally come. In 1990, the Tigers won a state championship, and until this season, it would be the last time Lake City would get out of the section. Almost three decades later, the Tigers will be represented by two familiar names: Gastner and Heise. Freshmen Reid Gastner and Nathan Heise will step onto the court at Target Center to face Minnehaha Academy, and in doing so, will be joining their fathers, Cris Gastner and Tony Heise, in playing for Lake City in a state tournament.
ROCHESTER – The side of Matt Halverson's left eye was puffy, a few red bumps courtesy of carrying some extra weight on his back for four years. Not even a second-place finish in the state tournament could keep Halverson from breaking out on Thursday as Goodhue attempted to defend its Section 1A championship against Rushford-Peterson and its head coach Tom Vix.
ROCHESTER – Marc Kjos is quiet in interviews, toeing the company line and deferring to his coach and teammates for success. But on the court, the Lake City junior has some swagger. On Thursday, Kjos put on a 36-minute display of why in a 55-51 victory over top-seeded and second-ranked Caledonia in the Section 1AA championship game at the Mayo Civic Center Arena.
ROCHESTER – A little more than a month ago, St. Charles came to Lake City and ran the Tigers ragged. On Saturday, Lake City drew on that experience, slowing the pace, and the Saints, for a 50-38 Section 1AA semifinal victory at Mayo Civic Auditorium. Tigers head coach Greg Berge wouldn't say he used the game as a teaching moment, but coupled with Lake City's loss to St. Charles in the 2016 playoffs, there was certainly an undertone of it.
ROCHESTER – Pine Island knew it needed to slow down the King brothers to have a chance against top-seeded Caledonia in the Section 1AA semifinals. The Panthers also needed to dictate the tempo by keeping the Warriors from getting up and down the court and playing at a high speed. For a while, it worked. But Caledonia, and the Kings, would go on a 18-8 run to close the first half before fighting off Pine Island with a 21-12 run to move onto the finals with a 70-57 victory.