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 email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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ROCHESTER – On the heels of an overtime game, Lake City and Zumbrota-Mazeppa battled for a spot in the Section 1AA semifinals on Monday. The Cougars battled back from a 12-point deficit to take a four-point lead with less than seven minutes to play. But the third-seeded Tigers executed down the stretch to win 64-59, setting up a showdown with second-seeded St. Charles on Saturday.
ROCHESTER – Goodhue knows the feeling of being the favorite. The Wildcats also know what it's like to be behind Lyle-Pacelli in a playoff game. Last year, Goodhue made one of the greatest comebacks those in attendance had likely ever seen. Saturday's Sub-section 1A West final wasn't quite as crazy, but it was just as chaotic. Goodhue would eventually overcome a lack of scoring to secure a spot in Friday's section championship game with a 52-43 win over the Athletics.
ROCHESTER – Zumbrota-Mazeppa landed the first big blow to the Section 1AA bracket by upsetting Dover-Eyota in the first round. Winona saw that 10 over 7-seed victory and raised the bar with a win over top-seeded Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the quarterfinals. And for a while, the eighth-seeded Ramblers had fourth-seeded Kenyon-Wanamingo looking like another higher seed about to make an early exit. But the Knights found their offense in the second half, locking up a spot in the championship game with a 50-40 win over Cotter on Saturday.
ROCHESTER – Another 20-win season, the top seed in the Sub-section 1A West tournament and a No. 2 ranking in the Class 1A polls all have Goodhue as a favorite to return to the state tournament and, possibly, to win back-to-back championships. But to get there, the Wildcats need to get through the section. On Tuesday, Goodhue took the second step in that journey with an 82-36 evisceration of Bethlehem Academy at the Rochester Civic Center.
Preparing for the state tournament usually involves some kind of scouting or research. Maybe a quick glance at rankings or seeding or records against familiar opponents can help a coach come up with a tentative lineup. There will be none of that for Link Steffen and Matt Ryan. There are no secrets between Steffen’s Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars and Ryan’s Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights. The two schools are less than 20 miles apart, and there is a familiarity that makes that distance seem at once greater and like its just across the street.
WINONA – Being labeled is not what Hunter Krusmark wanted. The 14-year-old Lake City boy has been through enough in life, and being the “cancer kid” is something he'd rather not be.
ROCHESTER – Zumbrota-Mazeppa wasn't as dominant as its had been throughout the regular season, but the Cougars shook off an injury and beat Dover-Eyota, 35-27, and Goodhue, 36-23, on Saturday at Mayo Civic Center to raise the Section 1A championship trophy and cement their spot in the Class 1A tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Z-M, ranked third in the state and the top seed in the section field, was a heavy favorite coming into Satruday. But the Eagles nearly found the ingredients for a recipe for an upset.
OWATONNA – Thursday's Section 1A championship game at Four Seasons Center was between the top two seeds, and was the third matchup of the season for Red Wing and Northfield. The Wingers had won the previous two games by one goal, and it figured that a similar scenario would determine which school would represent the section at next week's state tournament. But few would have guessed that of the 52 combined shots that Tyler McGrath and Mallory Tidona faced, that only one would reach the back of the net.
LAKE CITY – Tuesday's showdown between Lake City and Rochester Lourdes could have cleared up the picture at the top of the Hiawatha Valley League Gold Division standings. Instead, the Eagles came away with a 65-59 victory that puts even more pressure on the Tigers to run the table over their final three games. The game also had implications for the Section 1AA tournament, but Lake City head coach Greg Berge isn't focused at all on a bracket.
For the fifth time in four seasons, Red Wing will have a new head football coach. On Monday, Activities Director John Miller announced via Twitter that Nate Freier, pending school board approval, will take over the program. Freier is a Red Wing graduate, and as a senior played on the 1983 state semifinalist team.