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MINNEAPOLIS — It had been two years since they stepped onto the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center courts. But when Lake City's Ashley Thieren and Ava Wallerich walked in, the butterflies the two felt were similar to when they were a freshman and eighth-grader, respectively. "You always get a little nervous before any match," Wallerich said on Thursday. "State, you get a little more nervous."
OWATONNA — The goal all year for the Red Wing boys' cross-country team has been to get to state and surpass last year's 11th-place finish. Step one of that process was qualifying for state. And, the Winger boys reached that feat with relative ease. Led by section champion Tom Nemanich, the Red Wing boys are headed to state for the fourth time in five years after winning the Section 1AA championship at Brooktree Golf Course. "We have everyone returning (from last year's state team) and we're going to try to prove ourselves at state," Nemanich said.
CANNON FALLS — In order to help an ailing offense, Chase Reber took some steps back. When running back Logan Hofstedt suffered a separated shoulder and a labrum tear against Zumbrota-Mazeppa in Week 5, Reber, Cannon Falls' quarterback up to that point, was asked to fill in for Hofstedt in hopes of solidifying the Bombers' T-formation attack. So, instead of lining up behind center, Reber lined up behind the quarterback and let his legs do the work.
GOODHUE — The players were admittingly tense. Since 2013, the Goodhue volleyball team saw its season end after just one game in the Section 1A playoffs. After three straight postseason losses, the Wildcats were dead-set on extending their season by another round. "This is going to sound really bad, but we haven't won a first-round playoff game in my whole career. It's been a while," said Goodhue senior middle hitter Sydney Lodermeier. "We've had a good roll these past couple regular-season games, so we wanted to keep rolling with what we ended with."
PINE ISLAND — The first word that came to Josh Navratil's mind was intensity. Intensity, the Pine Island junior running back/linebacker said, is what helped the Panthers to a four-game winning streak midway through the season, including a 14-9 victory over then-fourth-ranked Stewartville. In Wednesday's Week 8 matchup with Rochester Lourdes, it took a while before Pine Island ratcheted up the intensity. And the Eagles took advantage by accounting for the game's first five scores in a 31-15 victory over the Panthers in Southeast Red District play.
ZUMBROTA — An 0-3 start could have been the death knell to an otherwise promising season for Zumbrota-Mazeppa. But, this is a Cougars team that reached the Section 1AA championship game a year ago. They knew they were talented, even if the standings didn't show it. And in the second half of the season, Z-M is on a mission to prove they are still a contender.
Courtney Korder was not going to miss his last homecoming. A spiral fracture in his hand during Week 1 required three screws and surgery, keeping the Red Wing senior defensive lineman off the field. Korder was antsy to get on the field. So after missing four games and having his hand completely taped over, he was going to take his place across from the Faribault offensive line. "Today, I put my cast on and I knew I was going to play good," Korder said. "I was going to make every single tackle I could get."
With inclement weather threatening much of southeast Minnesota on Friday night, Cannon Falls has pushed its homecoming football game back a day. Bombers head football coach Dan Meyers announced via e-mail Friday afternoon that his team's game against Triton will be moved to 7 p.m. Saturday at John Burch Park in Cannon Falls.
GOODHUE — Goodhue football knows one mode: Attack. They're happy to ground and pound. They can throw. They're happy to throw a few wrinkles in the playbook to keep you on your toes. "We don't like to be a one-dimensional team," said senior wide receiver Mariano Bigalk. "Any formation, any plays we can sneak in there, that's how we are." And with seventh-ranked (Class 1A) Blooming Prairie visiting on Friday, the Wildcats used all facets of its attack to tame the Awesome Blossoms.
In a short time, Jeyson Roque has found a way to be an impact player for the Red Wing boys' soccer team. Just a freshman, Roque is the Wingers' top goal-scorer with six goals and three assists in 11 games. While Red Wing sits with a 2-9 record, the team's offense has a stronger pulse this season with 19 goals in 11 games, compared to 22 goals in 18 games last fall. In just 11 games, Roque's natural ability as a feared playmaker and scorer are apparent.