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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The bathroom is just a bathroom, and not also the beginning of the runway to the vault. There is room to walk around each apparatus, room to land, room to run, even room to just stand. Space is the easily the story for the Red Wing gymnastics team this season. Moving into a new building, along with tenant TNT Gymnastics, means the Wingers will actually be able to spread out. And not just in a comfort way, but also, in time, to make each girl a better gymnast.
Boys basketball in Red Wing is rich in history. A few months ago, the 2015-16 version added to that legacy with a third-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament. But the moment the final horn sounded, the program was without its head coach and most of the players that made up the core of the team graduated. To say that this season, which begins Friday at Hastings, is a clean slate is an understatement.
Last year, Red Wing lost three of its first four games, and two of those were not close. This season has been different, not just in the win column, but in how the Wingers have sprung to a 2-1 start, including a 66-52 victory over Big Nine Conference foe Mankato East on Tuesday.
For a few hours every day, Mason and Josh Hofstedt grind through football practice. Once a week, the two would try to lead Cannon Falls to victory. Six times this season the Bombers won, five times they lost. But no matter the outcome, the Hofstedts would wind up together again. But instead of figuring out how to attack Stewartville or defend Rochester Lourdes, Josh would give the order and Mason would have to follow through. Dishes don’t wash themselves.
After 17 minutes of play, there was no doubt which team was going to come out on top on Friday. The only matter to be settled would be the final score. And when Red Wing came out of the first intermission flying around and playing near-mistake free defensively, the final frame was a mere formality. Four goals in the first, one in the second, and two more in the third to keep the clock from stopping was how the Wingers opened the season, 7-0 victors over Duluth Denfeld.
Guard play is going to be Red Wing’s bread and butter for the short term, and that was obvious on Friday as the Wingers opened the season with an 80-54 victory over Minneapolis North in the Red Wing Tip-Of Tournament at Sonju Gymnasium. “It makes us look smart when the girls shoot like they did,” said first-year head coach Jesse Nelson. “Shooting is not what we’re going to live and die with, but that’s the game plan going in, that’s what we’re going to start with. And hopefully that opens up the inside game.”
ROCHESTER – Cannon Falls warmed up under a cool evening at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium on Saturday, feeling confident that the Section 1AAA championship game was more than just a 48-minute coronation for top-seeded Rochester Lourdes. The Bombers, the No. 2 seed, had already lost to the Eagles this season. But the 11th game of the fall felt different. At least, it did for about three-and-a-half minutes.
Maple River and Kenyon-Wanamingo both opened the season with a loss. Jackson Country Central dropped the Eagles, while the Knights were downed by Goodhue. Since, Maple River has gone 8-1 while K-W has won nine straight. On Saturday, the two teams will meet at 1 p.m. in New Ulm in the Section 2AA championship game. Both teams will be looking for its first berth in the state tournament, with the Knights playing in their first section title game.
ROCHESTER – Cannon Falls and Stewartville are the future of Section 1AA. It's an evergreen statement, but holds true nonetheless. On Saturday, in the semifinals of the Sub-section 1AA West tournament, the two teams battled for three sets that showcased both the impressive ability of the teams, and the obvious growing pains that young players exhibit on the way to the top.
ROCHESTER – Keegan Majerus raised some eyebrows, and the defense tried to keep it close. But back-to-back turnovers to start the second half was too much for Pine Island to overcome in a 35-14 loss to Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1AAA semifinals on Saturday at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium.