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NRHEG’s back-to-back titles tops area sports

NRHEG’s Carlie Wagner shoots a layup during the Class AA state championship on March 24 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. NRHEG defeated Kenyon Wanamingo, 71-61, to win the state title for the second consecutive year. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

NRHEG’s Carlie Wagner shoots a layup during the Class AA state championship on March 24 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. NRHEG defeated Kenyon Wanamingo, 71-61, to win the state title for the second consecutive year. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

By Albert Lea Tribune

Athletes from the Tribune’s seven-team coverage area made splashes big enough to be seen around Albert Lea, the area and the state.

The top two stories stayed the same from last year: the NRHEG girls’ basketball team’s accomplishments stayed at No. 1, and the Albert Lea girls’ swimming team remained at No. 2.

The Panthers were the only team in the area to win a state title at the team level — for the second consecutive season — which gave them the top spot. Carlie Wagner was a record-setting juggernaut, who set three individual state tournament records and helped NRHEG set two team state records. She was Minnesota’s Associated Press Player of the Year for girls’ basketball and is now playing for the Minnesota Gophers.

The Albert Lea girls’ swimming team had an exceptional season as well. The Tigers took third place at the Class A state meet by winning four of 12 events.

Along with those four state titles, Albert Lea swimmers set Class A state records in three events, all-class state records in two events, had All-American status in four events and All-American consideration in two events.

Lindsey Horejsi led the Tigers with state titles in two individual events and the 200-yard medley relay. She also set a litany of records.

With a wrestling state champion and three other qualifiers, Albert Lea’s grapplers jumped up a spot from No. 4 to 3.

Garrett Aldrich won the 106-pound title and Triston Westerlund took third place at 195 pounds. Westerlund was the state runner-up the previous season.

Wrestling was a strong sport in the area. Noah Irons of Lake Mills made honorable mention after going undefeated all season until the state championship match at 152 pounds, as did United South Central’s duo of Colten Carlson and Dylan Herman.

At No. 4 is USC’s boys’ golf team. The Rebels were the Class A state runner-up.

The fifth spot went to Bryn Woodside and Sydney Rehnelt, who both passed 1,000 points during their basketball careers at Albert Lea.

 

1. Panthers win championship; Wagner is AP Player of the Year

With a 71-61 win over Kenyon-Wanamingo on March 24 in the Class AA state title game, the NRHEG girls’ basketball team became back-to-back state champs.

It was the first of two state titles for Carlie Wagner in her senior season. She followed the basketball title by winning the Class A high jump on June 6 at Hamline University. After the winter sports season, Wagner was recognized as the Associated Press Player of the Year to go with her accolades as the Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year.

Wagner set three individual records at the girls’ basketball state tournament. She broke Janet Karvonen’s state tournament career scoring total of 329 in 1980 with 371 points. She scored 130 points in the 2014 tournament, which broke her previous record of 129 in 2013. Lastly, she broke her 2013 record of 50 points in a state tournament game with 53 against Pequot Lakes in the state quarterfinals.

The Panthers also set two team records. In the win over Pequot Lakes, the two teams combined for 168 points to set the record for most total in a game. The old record was 157 when Monticello played Fergus Falls in 2013. In that same game, NRHEG set the record for most points in a state tournament game by one team with 100. The old record was 88 by Eden Valley Watkins against Cass Lake in 1984.

Headed into the state championship, the Panthers were the clear favorite with a 30-0 record and a 60-game winning streak that included a 67-60 regular-season home win against Kenyon-Wanamingo, which was the Knights’ only loss of the season. It was also the only game of the season NRHEG didn’t win by double digits.

Kenyon Wanamingo came into the game with a 31-1 record, having built a 22-game winning streak after its loss at NRHEG. In the last 60 games, the Knights won 50.

The Panthers had the edge in many statistical categories. NRHEG averaged more than 20 points per game more than Kenyon-Wanamingo in the postseason and more than 14 points during the regular season.

Kenyon-Wanamingo began the game with a 7-5 lead on a 3-pointer by Meg Clark. However, NRHEG answered with its first double-digit lead of the game, 23-13. Wagner capped another run with a 3-pointer that extended the Panthers’ lead to 18 points. The advantage fluctuated from 14 to 18 points in the next 3:36, and at halftime, NRHEG led 37-19.

The Panthers were on pace to hit their postseason scoring average, and Kenyon-Wanamingo wasn’t even close to keeping its average for points allowed. Through the first six games of the postseason, the Knights gave up an average of 38 points per game.

In the second half, NRHEG’s lead was pushed to 24 points on Wagner’s sixth 3-pointer of the game.

Kenyon-Wanamingo came alive with 1:04 left in regulation to cut its deficit to seven points. However, NRHEG pushed it back to 10 points before the final buzzer sounded.

 

2. Albert Lea girls’ swimming team wins state titles in 4 events, takes 3rd at the team level

The Albert Lea girls’ swimming team celebrates a third-place finish on Nov. 14 in the Class A state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The Albert Lea girls’ swimming team celebrates a third-place finish on Nov. 14 in the Class A state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Depth throughout the roster boosted the Albert Lea girls’ swimming team to a third-place team finish on Nov. 14 at the Class A state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

The Tigers won four of 12 events and posted three Class A state records, two all-class state records, All-American status in four events and All-American consideration in two events.

Albert Lea had four swimmers who qualified for state finals in the maximum of four events: Lindsey Horejsi, Anna Andersen, Ahnika Jensen and Bailey Sandon.

Horejsi led the team with three state titles and a second-place finish. She won both of her individual events and was the first swimmer in Minnesota to complete the 200-yard individual medley in less than two minutes by winning the event in 1:59.77. Horejsi was also the only swimmer in the state to break one minute in the 100-yard breaststroke, an event she won in 59.56 seconds.

In relay action, Horejsi won the 200 medley with Sandon, Jensen and Andersen in 1:44.73 to set a Class A state record. The only event she swam that didn’t take first place was the 200 freestyle relay. The team of Andersen, Jensen, Haley Simon and Horejsi posted a time that was faster than the previous Class A record, but Visitation also broke the record and edged the Tigers by 0.46 seconds to take first place. Both teams had All-American times.

Along with taking first in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 freestyle relay, Andersen won the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.65 seconds and took second place in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.45.

Jensen participated in three relays and one individual event. She took 10th place in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.71 and was on the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Sandon was a member of the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, and she took 14th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:02.15 and 16th in the 200 individual medley in 2:17.05.

Visitation won the meet with 309.5 points, Sartell St. Stephen took second with 180, Albert Lea was third with 172 and Breck was fourth with 151.

Albert Lea coach Jon Schmitz, the Section 1A Coach of the Year, was assisted by Joey Clapp, the Section 1A Assistant Coach of the Year, and volunteer assistant Erik Johnson.

Other Tigers to finish in the top 16 were Simon, Samantha Nielsen and Emily Taylor.

 

Garrett Aldrich of Albert Lea celebrates with assistant coach Brian Goodnature on March 1 after he won the Class AA championship match at 106 pounds at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Garrett Aldrich of Albert Lea celebrates with assistant coach Brian Goodnature on March 1 after he won the Class AA championship match at 106 pounds at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

3. Aldrich wins state wrestling title for Tigers, Westerlund takes 3rd place

During the Albert Lea wrestling team’s first season at the Class AA level, the Tigers had four state qualifiers, including a state champion and a third-place finisher.

Upsetting giants was Garrett Aldrich’s specialty at 106 pounds.

That trend continued through the two-day section and state tournaments and culminated in a state title on March 1 at the Xcel Center.

Aldrich was the underdog, according to The Guillotine’s rankings.

He was No. 5 in the polls, and Jones was No. 3. However, that didn’t faze Aldrich. He’d already upset No. 4 Jake Gilva of Simley in the quarterfinals and beat A.J. Bethea of Hibbing in the semifinals after Bethea beat No. 2 Anthony Phillipson of Pequot Lakes/Pine River in the first round.

In the section tournament Aldrich also faced stiff competition. He beat Kasson-Mantorville’s Keaten Schorr, ranked No. 6, in the team and individual tournaments. Schorr proceeded to state as the Section 1AA runner-up. In the first round, he stunned defending champion Tucker Sjomeling of Delano, who was ranked No. 1 and brought a 41-0 record to state.

Schorr was the only ranked wrestler Jones faced at the state tournament on his road to the title match. Jones dismissed Schorr in the semifinals with a 7-4 decision.

In the championship match, Aldrich jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first period. However, Jones rallied to tie the score at six in the second. In the third period, Aldrich stayed aggressive and built a 10-8 lead that he protected for the last minute.

Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature and his son, assistant coach Brian Goodnature, were in Aldrich’s corner and wore their hearts on their sleeves the whole match. The first thing Aldrich did after the referee raised his arm was run over and embrace them.

Aldrich said his coaches provided guidance, and he wanted to thank his teammates for training with him throughout the season.

Triston Westerlund, Devin Nelson and Dereck Samudio also qualified for Day 2 of the state tournament.

After finishing as the state runner-up at 182 pounds in Class AAA the previous year, Westerlund took third place at 195 pounds. Westerlund, ranked No. 3 in his weight class, suffered a setback in the quarterfinals with an 8-7 loss to Fairmont/Martin County West’s Kory Brown on Day 1. Westerlund rallied after Brown executed a five-point throw.

Despite his last-second efforts, Westerlund fell to the consolation bracket where he won three matches — including a 6-2 decision over No. 4 Abram Aho of Fergus Falls — to qualify for the third-place match.

Brown’s journey ended at the same place. He was pinned in the semifinals by Totino Grace’s Lance Benick in 52 seconds to fall to the consolation semifinals. Brown rebounded against Kasson-Mantorville’s Chase O’Connor with a pin in 2:12.

The third-place match was a rematch.

This time, neither wrestler scored in the first or second period.

Westerlund avenged his quarterfinal loss with a 7-1 decision.

Nelson and Samudio were eliminated one round before placing in the consolation quarterfinals. The top six wrestlers in each weight class place.

 

4. USC boys’ golf team is Class A state runner-up

Nick Neubauer of United South Central tees off on hole No. 9 on June 10 on Day 1 of the Class A state golf tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Nick Neubauer of United South Central tees off on hole No. 9 on June 10 on Day 1 of the Class A state golf tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The USC boys’ golf team qualified for the Class A state golf tournament for the third straight year and took second place to post its highest finish during that span.

The Rebels capped their season with a score of 675 to edge Legacy Christian Academy by four strokes on June 11 at Pebble Creek Golf Club. Dawson-Boyd took first with 660.

USC finished Day 1 of the tournament one stroke behind Dawson-Boyd, but was unable to overtake the Blackjacks on Day 2.

Along with the team finish, three Rebels placed in the top 20 in the 88-man field.

Ryan Pederson tied with Dain Schultz of Mille Lacs for seventh place in the individual standings with a two-day score of 157. Senior Seth Olson took 11th with a score of 161 in his last tournament for USC. Ryan’s cousin, Nate Pederson, finished tied for 20th with a score of 167.

Olson was the only senior on the team, so the Rebels have a strong nucleus of players coming back for next year.

The USC girls’ golf team also qualified for the state tournament and took sixth place. The Rebels ended Day 1 in sixth place and shot a 397 on Day 2 to hold onto that spot.

Two Rebels finished in the top 50: Kyley Bullerman and Veronica Schindler. Bullerman shot in the 40s in every round. She posted a 48 and 46 on Day 1 and a 48 and 45 on Day 2 for a score of 187 that gave her 30th place.

Schindler finished in 195 strokes to take 40th place. Katelyn Loegering shot a 206 to take 61st place, and Morgan Pyzick rounded out the scoring with a 222.

 

Bryn Woodside of Albert Lea drives to the basket on Jan. 24 against Austin at Albert Lea. Woodside passed the 1,000-career point barrier on Jan. 20 against Waseca in the 11th game of the regular season.  – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Bryn Woodside of Albert Lea drives to the basket on Jan. 24 against Austin at Albert Lea. Woodside passed the 1,000-career point barrier on Jan. 20 against Waseca in the 11th game of the regular season. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

5. Tigers duo passes 1,000 career points

Two guards on the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team broke the barrier of 1,000 career points.

Bryn Woodside scored a game-high 20 points on Jan. 20 at Waseca to pass the milestone. The Tigers won the game 52-51 after Sydney Rehnelt blocked the Bluejay’s final shot attempt.

Rehnelt had even more success against Waseca when the teams met 16 games later on March 5 in the postseason rematch. She scored 14 points to pass 1,000 career points, and Albert Lea beat the Bluejays 46-42 to advance to the Section 1AAA semifinals.

Sydney Rehnelt of Albert Lea handles the ball on Jan. 24 against Austin at Albert Lea. Rehnelt passed the 1,000-career point barrier on March 5 against Waseca in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Sydney Rehnelt of Albert Lea handles the ball on Jan. 24 against Austin at Albert Lea. Rehnelt passed the 1,000-career point barrier on March 5 against Waseca in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

When Woodside and Rehnelt were freshmen, the Tigers were 5-20. As sophomores, they were 4-23. However, the team went 11-14 the duo’s junior year, more than doubling the number of wins in the previous two seasons combined and earning their first postseason win in seven years with a 49-47 upset over Winona in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals. As seniors, the duo led Albert Lea to the same win total, 11-17, and another postseason win. However, the majority of their regular-season losses were competitive. Of the 17 losses, 11 were by fewer than 10 points, and six were by five points or less.

Both players continued their careers on the hardcourt at the college level. Woodside plays for coach Greg Ulland at Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D., and Rehnelt plays for coach Amanda Bailey at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Woodside’s brother, Ben, a 2004 graduate of Albert Lea High School, plays professionally for CB Sevilla of Spain in the Asociacion de Clubs de Baloncesto. He signed with the club on Nov. 23. He played for North Dakota State in college and was the 2009 Summit Player of the Year.

Rehnelt’s sister, Rachel, a freshman, is a starting guard for the 2014-15 season. Albert Lea is 1-7 overall this year.

 

The Lake Mills volleyball team celebrates winning a school record 46 matches on Oct. 31 after a victory over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the Class 2A Region 5 semifinals. The team’s record at the time was 46-3, but the Bulldogs finished with a 46-4 record after a loss against Grundy Center in the regional semifinals. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The Lake Mills volleyball team celebrates winning a school record 46 matches on Oct. 31 after a victory over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the Class 2A Region 5 semifinals. The team’s record at the time was 46-3, but the Bulldogs finished with a 46-4 record after a loss against Grundy Center in the regional semifinals. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

6. Bulldogs volleyball team sets record for wins in a season

Jim Boehmer coached the Lake Mills volleyball team to four state tournament appearances and 15 straight seasons of winning records.

One of the things that made this season special was a school-record amount of wins.

The victory that gave the Bulldogs the record was on Halloween in the Class 2A Region 5 semifinals against Clarion-Goldfield-Dows.

Lake Mills won 3-0 and extended their win total to 46 matches.

The Bulldogs had 45 wins in 2010 and ’11, 44 in ’12 and 38 in ’08.

Lake Mills (46-3 overall) and Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (23-12 overall) headed into the semifinals with winning streaks. The Bulldogs had won nine straight, and the Cowgirls had won five straight.

The two squads were familiar with each other after meeting on Sept. 27 at the Algona Tournament when Lake Mills won 2-0. However, the Bulldogs had to squeak out a two-point win in the first set before winning by 11 in the second.

Clarion-Goldfield-Dows proved it was a formidable opponent in the semifinal matchup as well. The first and second sets were tied at 20 before the Bulldogs pulled away.

In the first set, Lake Mills jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Cowgirls went on a 9-1 run to take a 9-6 lead. However, the Bulldogs showed fire to battle back with a late run to score five of the last six points and win 25-21.

The second set began with an ace serve by Emily Orban, and the Bulldogs jumped to a 9-3 advantage. However, the Cowgirls went on an 8-2 run to tie the set at 20. Lake Mills clung to a one-point lead before a kill by Rachel Segura gave the Bulldogs a 25-23 win.

The third set was the most dominant effort by Lake Mills. The Bulldogs took their first double-digit lead, 16-6, on a kill by Sydney Larson en route to a 25-15 victory.

Kelsea Heintzman led the Bulldogs with 33 assists, and four hitters had eight or more kills. Madison Shifflett had a team-high 13 kills, Byrnes had nine and Larson and Hailey Borgmeyer added eight each.

Defensively, Brynes led the Bulldogs with 15 kills, and Emily Orban added 11. Larson and Borgmeyer tied with a team-high three blocks.

Heintzman and Byrnes put up outstanding numbers and were the Tribune’s volleyball Co-Players of the Year.

Heintzman amassed 1,165 assists, which was more than twice as many as anyone else in the area, the most in Class 2A and the second-most in any class in the state of Iowa. She was also sixth in the area with 43 ace serves.

Even though Byrnes was one of five Bulldogs hitters who had kill totals in the area’s top eight, she led the area in kills with 315 and was second in digs with 387.

 

7. Albert Lea girls win shootout to qualify for state

Albert Lea seniors Holly Wichmann, left, and Sarah Niebuhr celebrate a win over Mankato Loyola on Oct. 16 in the Section 2A finals at New Prague. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea seniors Holly Wichmann, left, and Sarah Niebuhr celebrate a win over Mankato Loyola on Oct. 16 in the Section 2A finals at New Prague. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Just like last year, it came down to a shootout.

Parallels between seasons were visible, but unlike the heartbreak the Albert Lea girls’ soccer team felt in 2013, the Tigers’ sideline had tears of joy.

Albert Lea defeated Mankato Loyola 1-0 on Oct. 16 with a 4-1 mark in the best-of-five shootout in the Section 2A finals at New Prague.

After 80 scoreless minutes of regulation and both 10-minute halves of overtime, Albert Lea’s shootout lineup was perfect, which led to a berth in the Class A state tournament.

In the shootout, Albert Lea started with a goal by Holly Wichmann. The Crusaders tied the score with a goal by Emily Gaspar.

Callie Hanson found the net as the Tigers’ second shooter. Mankato Loyola’s Megan Knutson missed. Megan Kortan gave Albert Lea a 3-1 lead, and after a miss by the Crusaders’ Nora Coughlan, the weight of the season was on Ella Zelanak.

Zelenak drilled the shot, and pandemonium ensued.

The Tigers bombarded Mankato Loyola’s Kit Krmpotich with 37 shots on goal — compared to the 14 that Albert Lea’s Kathryn Flaherty fended off.

In 2013, the Tigers beat Mankato Loyola 2-1 in a shootout during the section quarterfinals and lost 1-0 in a shootout against Mankato West in the finals.

Albert Lea continued its season against Park Center on Oct. 22 in the state quarterfinals at Park High School in Cottage Grove.

The Tigers’ season ended with a 1-0 loss, despite a strong performance by Flaherty in the goal. Along with 17 routine grabs, she rejected Park Center’s forwards with a pair of full-extension diving saves.

However, it was a slow dribbler in traffic that found the net.

In coach Rick Barnhill’s 11th season leading the Tigers, this year’s squad was the third to reach the state tournament. Albert Lea qualified in 2007 and fell to the Blake School 2-0 in the quarterfinals. The Tigers returned the following year and exited with a 2-0 loss against Rochester Lourdes in the quarterfinals.

Albert Lea finished with an overall record of 12-4-2.

The Tigers were led by seven seniors: Taylor Thompson, Sarah Niebuhr, Becca Dup, Wichmann, Alexa Wood, Kortan and Sage Kermes.

 

Lake Mills head coach Kyle Menke instructs his team during a timeout on Feb. 25 in the Class 1A District 3 semifinals against Rockford in Lake Mills. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Lake Mills head coach Kyle Menke instructs his team during a timeout on Feb. 25 in the Class 1A District 3 semifinals against Rockford in Lake Mills. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

8. Overtime thriller gives Bulldogs coach 200th victory

With its back against the wall, the Lake Mills boys’ basketball team used an improbable comeback to stay alive in the postseason and give coach Kyle Menke his 200th career victory.

The Bulldogs faced a four-point deficit with 17.6 seconds left in overtime in the Class 1A District 3 semifinals on Feb. 25 against Rockford at Lake Mills.

Lake Mills cut into that deficit when Granger Kingland hit a 3-pointer. The Bulldogs were forced to foul to stop the clock, and the Warriors hit both free throws to extend their lead to three points.

The Bulldogs had one last shot.

A miss would end Lake Mills’ season. A made 3-pointer would send both teams to double overtime.

The Bulldogs ran a play called Utah designed for Granger to take a trey from the top of the key. It used all but the last three ticks on the clock.

Granger received the pass from Josh Peters and buried the shot. Pandemonium ensued.

The Bulldogs had the momentum and won 76-68 in double overtime to advance to the district finals, where they lost 79-64 on Feb. 27 against Belmond-Klemme at Garner.

Granger, a sophomore, hit clutch shots, and his brother, Hunter, a senior, scored consistently in regulation and overtime.

Hunter scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

After trailing 17-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Warriors went on a 10-0 run before halftime to take a two-point lead.

In the third quarter, Lake Mills outscored Rockford 20-14, but the Warriors fought back in the fourth to force overtime.

Nineteen 3-pointers were made during the game. Lake Mills hit 10; Rockford made nine.

Rockford’s Ryan Turner made a game-high four 3-pointers and led the Warriors with 20 points.

Both teams met on Jan. 14 at the same venue with the same result but without the dramatic ending. Lake Mills won the first meeting 68-44.

However, the Warriors were on a hot streak leading up to the second meeting. They’d won 10 of their last 11 games by an average of 19.6 points per game.

Taylor Throne led the Bulldogs inside with nine points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pins scored 13 points and Josh Peters added 11.

 

9. Albert Lea runner wins Big Nine title

Jackson Goodell of Albert Lea runs Oct. 23 at the Section 1AA cross country meet at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna. Goodell qualified for the state meet with a second-place finish and a time of 16:09.9. – Bryce Gaudian/for the Albert Lea Tribune

Jackson Goodell of Albert Lea runs Oct. 23 at the Section 1AA cross country meet at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna. Goodell qualified for the state meet with a second-place finish and a time of 16:09.9. – Bryce Gaudian/for the Albert Lea Tribune

In his third meet at Brooktree Golf Course on Oct. 23 this year, Jackson Goodell posted his fastest time and earned a return trip to state.

The Albert Lea junior cross country runner’s time has improved each time he competed at the Owatonna venue this season.

At the Ev Berg Invitational on Oct. 2, Goodell took third place with a time of 16:26.8, and he was the Big Nine Conference champ on Oct. 14 with a time of 16:17.1

Goodell led the boys’ team to an 11th-place finish in a field of 16 teams on Oct. 23 by shaving 7.2 seconds from his best race to take second place with a time of 16:09.9 at the Section 1AA meet.

Justin Hyytinen won the race by 6.6 seconds, and Rochester Century’s Seth Massot followed Goodell by 3.8 seconds.

The top five places for each team were added up for the final team score. Other runners who contributed to the Tigers’ score were Caleb Troe, Jay Skaar, Nikk Christianson and Tyler Anderson.

Troe took 42nd place with a time of 17:28.6. Jay Skaar finished 9.5 seconds behind Troe in 56th place. Christianson took 81st place, and Anderson was 87th.

After winning five meets during the regular season this year, Goodell’s running career continued on an upward trajectory on Nov. 1 as he finished in the top half of the field at the Class AA state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Goodell completed the course in 68th place out of 176 runners with a time of 16:35.7.

Last season was the first year Goodell participated in cross country. He took 92nd place last season at the state meet with a time of 16:56.0. This year, he had another chance to run the state-meet course on Aug. 29.

Goodell is a three-sport athlete. Along with cross country in the fall, he plays hockey in the winter and participates in track and field in the spring.

Both of Goodell’s parents were athletes in college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. However, cross country was a sport that was new to them.

Out of Albert Lea’s 12 meets, Goodell finished in the top three eight times. His best stretch came halfway through the season when he won three straight meets from Sept. 15 to 23, took third at Owatonna, finished first at the Austin and Big Nine Conference meets and took second at the Section 1AA meet.

Next season, Goodell said he hopes to keep improving with a top-50 finish at state.

 

Northwood-Kensett coach Dave Capitani instructs his team during a timeout on Oct. 17 during the Vikings’ 42-36 overtime win against Tripoli. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Northwood-Kensett coach Dave Capitani instructs his team during a timeout on Oct. 17 during the Vikings’ 42-36 overtime win against Tripoli. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

10. Vikes advance  in state playoffs

For the second straight season, the Northwood-Kensett football team made a dent in the 8-Man state playoffs.

Vikings head coach Dave Capitani led the team to a 7-4 record, including a 50-32 win on Oct. 29 in the first round of the state playoffs over West Central.

Despite graduating First Team All-State linebacker Brandon Brockman last season and battling injuries, Northwood-Kensett found success on both sides of the ball.

Coleby Bratrud came into the season as the Vikings leading rusher. In 2013, he had the second-most rushing yardage in the Tribune’s seven-team coverage area: 816 yards on 180 carries. This year, he racked up 695 yards on 140 carries but was slowed by an ankle injury.

Capitani, along with assistant coaches Steve Hartman, Marty Cotter, Daryl Love, Ryan Parker and Jordan Reindl, proved they could develop a strong backfield with the emergence of juniors Keano Batton, Mason Olson and Dawson Van Ryswyk. The trio rushed for a combined 1,273 yards.

Junior dual-threat quarterback Josh Einertson also showed development. His completion percentage went up from 46.5 percent last year to 49.4 percent, and his rushing yardage went up from 5.8 yards per carry with nine rushing touchdowns to 6.6 with 11 rushing touchdowns.

The Vikings outscored opponents 400-251.

Defensively, the Vikings’ defense showed improvement throughout the regular season and into the state playoffs. Against Central Elkader, Northwood-Kensett held Nathan Fitzgerald to 126 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. That stat may not jump off the page, but Fitzgerald was one of only four running backs in the state of Iowa to break the 2,000-yard barrier, and against Turkey Valley — a team that qualified for the second round of the state playoffs — he rushed for 356 yards and six touchdowns

The Vikings started 0-2 but won seven of their last nine games to make the deepest run of any area football team in the postseason behind All-Area football Coach of the Year, Dave Capitani, and All-Area football Player of the Year, quarterback Josh Einertson. Although, Einertson would rather share the accolades with his offensive line.

He will return to the gridiron next year for his senior season. After graduating from high school, Einertson said he plans to major in education to become a history teacher.

Northwood-Kensett’s postseason run ended with a 44-20 loss on Nov. 3 in the second round of the state playoffs at Central Elkader.

In the win over West Central, the Vikings allowed 24 points in the first half but intercepted the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-10-inch, 255-pound senior quarterback, Ethan Steinbronn, twice and held the West Central to one touchdown in the last two quarters.

 

Honorable mention

• Noah Irons of the Lake Mills wrestling team was Iowa’s state runner-up at 152 pounds. He went 48-1 with his only loss in Class 1A’s state championship match.

• The United South Central girls’ basketball team won two postseason games for the first time since 1996-97 season (17 years).

• T.J. Schiltz of the NRHEG boys’ track team was seeded 15th but took sixth place in the 1,600-meter run at the Class A state track meet.

• Preston Smith of the Albert Lea boys’ track team finished 13th at state in 300-meter hurdles at the Class AA state track meet.

• The Albert Lea boys’ golf team missed state by two strokes as a team but qualified three individuals. All three qualifiers finished in the top 50 of the 88-man field: Lucas Peterson, 33rd; Brady Loch, 44th; and Alex Syverson, 47th.

• Colten Carlson (38-4) of the United South Central wrestling team was the 182-pound Class A state runner-up. Dylan Herman took fourth place at state at 145-pounds.

• United South Central cross country runner Beth Stevermer was Class A’s fastest freshman. She took seventh out of 171 qualifiers at state.

• Northwood-Kensett boys’ basketball coach Marty Cotter passed 100 career wins.

• United South Central girls’ basketball coach Stu Hendrickson passed 100 career wins (104).

 

Top 10 Web Sports stories

Here are the 10 most-clicked-on sports-related items for albertleatribune.com for 2014, not including the final two weeks:

1. Saturday, Nov. 15: New Richland phenom starts 1st game as a Golden Gopher: 3613 (Tim Engstrom, Tim Engstrom photo)

2. Wednesday, Jan. 15: Albert Lea wrestler gives special-needs athlete 1st victory: 3,113 (Micah Bader)

3. Friday, Feb. 28: Fisherman’s near-record trout is seized: 3,007 (Minneapolis Star Tribune, MCT photo)

4. Wednesday, July 16: Former coach pleads to lesser charge: 2,662 (Sarah Stultz, with mug)

5. Thursday, Jan. 9: Hockey coach pleads not guilty to charge: 2,400 (Sarah Stultz, with mug)

6. Wednesday, Jan. 8: Why the football program fails … : 1,985 (letter to the editor)

7. Saturday, April 12: Woman finds weight-loss success: 1,949 (Micah Bader, Micah Bader photo)

8. Monday, June 30: Golf takes a back seat at the Corey Goodnature Memorial Golf Classic: 1,937 (Micah Bader, Micah Bader photo)

9. Wednesday, Aug. 6: Pickleball emerges, 1,652 (Sarah Stultz, Sarah Stultz photo)

10. Sunday, Aug. 3: Demolition derby delivers damage to delight of citizens: 1,569 (Micah Bader, Micah Bader photo)