Breaking down the top monthly sports stories at ABC Newspapers
Anoka wrestling earns national respect at ‘The Clash’ duals
The Anoka wrestling team went 4-2, taking sixth place and knocking off three nationally ranked teams in Rochester, Minnesota, in The Clash National High School Wrestling Duals on Dec. 30 and 31.
This was a 32-team, invite-only tournament with some of the best teams in the country.
Anoka entered the tournament ranked third in Minnesota and 50th in the national rankings.
PACT girls basketball off to an impressive start
After a 5-19 season in 2015-16, the PACT Charter School girls basketball team didn’t necessarily come into this year with high expectations under first-year head coach David Anderson.
But the Panthers were slowly building momentum, winning their first three games.
Fundamentals have been stressed in the early practices, something Anderson said his team has committed to.
“More than anything, just their effort,” he said. “We had a lot of practices versus games early this year. They put in a lot of effort to work on their individual skills so we can do some things we weren’t able to do last year. And that’s showing in the results.”
PACT returned most of their experience from last year, including senior captains Sophie Hudson and Sara Nelson. Anderson said the two have done a good job in practice to make sure each player remains focused and are leading the way on the court.
Murphy closing in on SLP points record after early ankle injury
On Jan. 3, Spring Lake Park girls basketball senior Jenna Murphy needed 24 points to pass Judy Oliverius to reach No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring list. Murphy did one better and scored 25. During a timeout, an announcement was made to the home crowd, but Murphy said she didn’t know what was going on until everyone was looking at her and clapping.
In truth, Murphy was probably just happy to be on the court.
Her senior season didn’t get off on the right foot when she injured her ankle in the first week of practice. Murphy was forced to sit out the first five games as the Panthers began 0-5.
“It was really frustrating, especially because it’s my senior year,” Murphy said. “I just wanted to be out there. I was counting down the days until the first game. And then the first week of practice I was just running on it and hurt my ankle. That was tough. But I thought it’d be a lot longer than it was, so it’s nice to be back already.”
“It’s a big boost,” SLP head coach Randy Eatherton added. “When she was out, we just can’t score without her. It’s a bummer, but that’s just a fact. Three games in a row, we shot 12 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent from the field. For us, it just opens up the floor for us. Not only from the outside, but from the inside.”
Murphy was averaging 19.2 points per game in her first four games back.
Bond between McMahon brothers helping SLP on the ice
Having siblings on the same sports team can be a blessing or a hassle for a head coach. You either have a bond that translates in practices and games, or you have that sibling rivalry with competition and bickering. Thankfully for Spring Lake Park head boys hockey coach Scott Steffen, it’s the former.
Cade and Creighton McMahon, although separated by one school year, are close on the ice. More importantly, they’re close off the ice.
Whether it’s watching hockey or playing hockey in pickup games or on a video game console, the brothers are bonded through the sport.
Cade was the first in his family to play hockey. Naturally, Creighton followed along.
The two played together every other year going through the youth leagues, with Creighton always looking up to Cade as a brother and a teammate.
“When he was in Bantam and I was in Pee Wee, he motivated me to keep on playing,” Creighton said. “He motivated me to be like him.”
The McMahons are teammates once again this year, playing varsity together for the first time. Cade is an experienced junior defenseman for the Panthers. Creighton is in his first year at the varsity level as a sophomore forward and has made an impact already.
Bryce backing up Brodzinski name for Blaine boys hockey
Northwest Suburban Conference boys hockey coaches probably weren’t overly enthused when looking through 2016-17 rosters and getting to Blaine’s. On that list was a sophomore with a familiar last name: Brodzinski.
Bryce Brodzinski is the last brother from a long line of hockey success. And in his first year at the varsity level, he’s showing the Blaine-Brodzinski pipeline remains as strong as ever.
With three older brothers doing it before him, Bryce has began carving a similar path.
Jonny Brodzinski, 23, is under contract with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and is playing with the Ontario Reign in the American Hockey League, the NHL’s primary developmental league. Michael Brodzinski, 21, is signed with the San Jose Sharks and playing in the AHL for the San Jose Barracuda. Easton Brodzinski, 20, is playing in the United States Hockey League with the Madison Capitols.
Jonny played college hockey at St. Cloud State, where Easton is committed to and Bryce announced his commitment to before his sophomore season.
It’s been a family tradition of sorts, although Michael played college hockey at Minnesota. Mike Brodzinski, the brothers’ dad, was a former SCSU captain.
ARCC men’s team reaches No. 2 in national rankings
The Anoka-Ramsey Community College men’s basketball program has always been strong under head coach Ron Larson, in his ninth season, and his son Rory. But the Golden Rams reached new heights when they were ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division III national poll on Jan. 24.
Anoka-Ramsey, which does not give scholarships as a Division III program, is 16-1 as of Jan. 24 with its only loss to NJCAA Division I North Dakota State College of Science.
Zebro naturally steps into leadership role for St. Francis
With no seniors on the team and being just one of four juniors, Sophia Zebro knew her role was about to change for the St. Francis/North Branch girls hockey team. On the varsity roster since seventh grade, Zebro’s statistics have consistently gone up. Now she is considered an upperclassman. With that, her leadership duties involve more than just scoring.
She’s certainly done her part in that category, though. Zebro led the team with 19 goals and 14 assists at one point in the season. But she’s done more than just score to help improve last year’s 8-16-1 finish to a 13-10-1 record heading into the final regular season game on Feb. 3.
“Sophia herself is an excellent kid,” Fighting Saints head coach Alexandra Kleinhuizen said. “She takes the role as leader on and off the ice and grabs onto that. She has incredible character and works really well with the girls. She kind of took that upon herself. She’s the youngest of seven kids and has stepped into that adult role real early in life.”
St. Francis wrestlers win Mississippi 8 Conference title
The St. Francis wrestling team has been competing with confidence all season.
Ranked in the Class AAA poll with several individuals ranked as well, the Fighting Saints went 15-1 in duals and were undefeated against Mississippi 8 Conference opponents. But they had to seal the deal with a second dual against St. Michael-Albertville to earn the conference title.
After defeating the Knights 41-28 on Jan. 13, St. Francis wrestled them again on Feb. 2, winning 37-29 to stand at the top of the conference.
This is the first conference title for St. Francis in more than seven years.
“We’ve had this good group of kids coming through this program for a long time,” St. Francis head coach John Lorenzen said. “I guess it was our year. It was quite a satisfying victory because we weren’t at full strength. We had three varsity kids out of the lineup. It was pretty touch and go.”
Five D1 commits, signees lead Blaine girls hockey into playoffs
When Gabby Rosenthal scored her 50th point earlier this season, Blaine head girls hockey coach Steve Guider grabbed the puck, gave it to her and congratulated her.
Rosenthal needed some explanation, though, not knowing she hit an impressive season milestone.
That sort of unselfishness and humbleness is a trait any coach looks for and will appreciate if they see it. But it’s a bit more special on this Bengals team.
Blaine has five players either signed or committed to play Division I hockey. Defenseman Emily Brown (Minnesota), forward Paige Beebe (Bemidji State) and defenseman Kenzie Wylie (St. Cloud State) have all signed as seniors to their respective schools. Rosenthal, a junior forward, and sophomore forward Ramsey Parent have both verbally committed to Ohio State.
Where egos can collide and locker rooms can divide, Blaine has had no problem getting the most out of its talented roster.
“We know where each other is going to be at,” Brown. “We don’t even have to look sometimes. It’s fun to watch. Our whole team is clicking right now.”
SLP’s Xavier Mansfield wins state Nordic skiing title
Spring Lake Park senior Xavier Mansfield needed to erase at least 20 seconds in the classical race on Feb. 16 to have a chance at first place in the Nordic skiing state championship at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
He did that and then some.
Mansfield’s classical time of 14:48.2 pushed him from third place to first, beating out Patrick Acton’s (Eagan) time of 15:17.2 and William Kerker’s (Minneapolis South) time of 15:15.6.
Acton was in first place after the morning’s freestyle race with a time of 13:15, Kerker was second in 13:20 and Mansfield finished third in 13:35.
In the 5K classical race, skiers take off from the starting line in the order of the freestyle finish separated by the time differentials.
“I was determined to catch them,” Mansfield said. “It was kind of a daunting task. But I had confidence that I could get up there and chase them. When I started the race, I could see them starting on the first hill and that helped with chasing them.”
Manfield’s combined time was 28:23.2, Acton’s was 28.32.2 and Kerker’s was 28:35.6.
Blaine’s impact on community goes beyond state runner-up finish
When it came to playing a game or watching its heroes take the ice one last time in the 2016-17 season, the choice was easy for the Blaine 10U girls hockey team. The players voted to forfeit their game to watch the Blaine girls varsity team play in the Class AA state championship at the Xcel Energy Center.
After two dominant wins in the quarterfinals (7-1 over Roseau) and semifinals (5-1 over Hill-Murray), the Bengals, seeded No. 2, advanced to their second state title game in program history. But they ran into a one-loss and top-seeded Edina squad. The Hornets were also eyeing their first championship trophy and had two impressive wins in the first two rounds of state. They continued that trend in the title game, winning 4-0.
Blaine finishes its season 24-4-2 and with its second state runner-up trophy, the first coming in 2001.
But as head coach Steve Guider said, the color of the medals put around the Bengal players’ necks after the game in front a large contingent of Blaine fans was just that, a color. The impact this team has had on the community stretches far beyond the trophy it brought home.
A youth team sacrificing a loss is just one of many examples.
“Their impact, you can’t put a number on it. They’re unbelievable,” Guider said. “When you look at us coming out of the tunnel, those kids are incredible cheering for us. For me, I’m more sad about this being the last time with this group than I am losing this championship.”
Tornadoes take it to Apple Valley, but come up short in AAA championship
When it comes to Minnesota wrestling, Apple Valley is likely the first school that comes to mind. The powerhouse program has been unstoppable, entering the Class 3A state team tournament at the Xcel Energy Center with 11 straight championships.
The Eagles, ranked No. 1 once again, got one of their biggest tests in the title match against No. 2 Anoka. The Tornadoes entered the state championship for the first time in 27 years after taking third place last year. They got there by defeating Stillwater 48-13 in the quarterfinals and St. Michael-Albertville 38-26 in the semifinals.
Anoka kept Apple Valley on the ropes, holding a 24-20 lead with a Ben Lathrop decision at 195 pounds. But Apple Valley’s Tanyi Besong tied the dual at 24 with a major decision at 220 pounds and Gable Steveson, one of the top heavyweights in the country, picked up a pin in 22 seconds to give the Eagles a 30-24 dual win and their 12th consecutive title.
Eischens caps off undefeated season with first state title
Tyler Eischens dropped to his knees in the tunnels of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, filled with emotion after his state championship match. This time, though, was different. The Anoka junior let it all out after a physical and emotional Class 3A wrestling tournament. Taking runner-up finishes in lower weight classes the last two years, Eischens finally won gold at 138 pounds with a 2-1 win against Centennial’s Jakob Bergeland.
Eischens came into the tournament ranked No. 1 and finishes his season undefeated.
“It’s insane,” he said moments after the victory. “I mean, undefeated season ending with a spot I’ve never been in. The last two years, coming home losing in the finals, it’s so much of a difference. It’s just insane.”
Carver’s buzzer-beater continues Coon Rapids’ magical season in 1st home playoff game since ‘98
Sam Carver remembers playing in an almost empty Coon Rapids High School Fieldhouse as a freshman for the boys basketball team. Fast forward three years later, Carver was being swarmed by a sellout crowd after he hit a 3-point buzzer-beater to defeat Anoka 54-52 in the first round of the Section 7AAAA tournament.
It was the first time the Cardinals hosted a section game since 1998.
“It’s so surreal,” Coon Rapids head coach Mike Ogorek said. “It doesn’t seem like it even happened. Sam Carver is a kid who started as a freshman my first year here. One of the things we talked about with Carver and (Marcus) Rask, those are two kids who played since freshman year, is we want to change this program. It’s just crazy to think that we’re going to a section semifinal for the first time in who knows how long. And it’s by a Sam Carver miracle.”
Anoka-Ramsey basketball teams qualify for nationals
The men’s and women’s Anoka-Ramsey Community College basketball teams punched their tickets to the NJCAA Division III national championship tournaments. Both teams hosted their region tournaments and won to qualify for nationals.
The men’s team continued its scorching offense, scoring 100 points in all three tournament games. ARCC defeated Rainy River Community College 106-89 in the quarterfinals, Central Lakes College 111-81 in the semifinals and Rochester Community and Technical College 100-83 in the Region XIII championship game on March 5.
The Golden Rams were 27-3 and were awarded the No. 1 seed in the national tournament, held March 16-18 in Rochester at the UCR Regional Sports Center. They played MassBay Community College in the quarterfinals.
The ARCC women defeated Minnesota West Community & Technical College 85-75 in the semifinals and Rochester Community and Technical College 76-66 in the Region XIIIA title game on March 5.
Andover native Rooney named to U.S. women’s national hockey team
A year has made quite the difference in Maddie Rooney’s hockey career. The 2015 Andover High School graduate grew into her role as the starting goalie for the University of Minnesota Duluth women’s team. Her improvement has been rewarded in recent weeks.
Rooney set a Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Face-Off record for saves with 112 in two games from March 4-5 as the Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Two days later, the sophomore was named to the U.S. Hockey Women’s National Team.
Rooney will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan.
It’s her first time on the senior national team.
“I was really excited, but a little bit surprised,” Rooney said. “If you would have told me I was going to be on the national team back in September, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I’m really excited for it and humbled by it. I’m excited to get things going with USA hockey.”
Andover girls finish 6th at state tournament
The Andover girls basketball team went 1-2 in the Class 4A state tournament to finish sixth.
After a 49-32 loss to No. 3 Lakeville North in the first round, the unseeded Huskies won 56-52 in overtime against White Bear Lake in the consolation bracket on March 16. The next day, Andover lost 55-45 to No. 5 Park Center in the fifth place game.
Andover enjoys trip to state despite going 0-2
For the Andover boys basketball team, the newly-implemented consolation rounds at the state tournament were greatly appreciated. After winning the Section 7AAAA tournament as the seventh seed, the Huskies looked to keep the magic alive at state.
They faced a Maple Grove squad seeded No. 2 and lost 73-50 on March 22 at the Target Center. But the Huskies were guaranteed one more game in the consolation bracket. There, Andover had one of the more exciting games in its seasons in an 89-80 double-overtime loss to Cretin-Derham Hall on March 23.
‘A family being ripped apart’ – SLP grads Raihle, Carmean’s UND swim, dive teams cut
Spring Lake Park High School graduates Sara Carmean and Mitch Raihle were ready to start new chapters to their lives last fall as freshmen at the University of North Dakota. Both were on the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams after standout careers with the Panthers.
The next four years were set until the school announced on March 29 it was cutting the swimming and diving teams and the women’s hockey team as part of the school’s effort to lower budgets due to an anticipated drop in state funding.
It was a whirlwind day in Grand Forks. A press conference was announced for later in the afternoon, but leaks on social media already broke the news for players and coaches before the administration was able to tell them face to face.
Raihle was in the middle of practice when another swimmer walked in and said they had a mandatory meeting in 30 minutes. Raihle asked if they were being cut and his teammate shook her head yes.
The team still finished the rest of practice.
Carmean was in her dorm room when she got an email and figured out the news scrolling through Twitter.
“It was just a shocker, because we had really no idea we were being considered being cut,” Carmean said. “It just wasn’t the ideal situation, how we found out.”
Turnquist reflects on national championship season at Clarkson
When Clarkson University won its first NCAA women’s hockey national championship in 2014, Spring Lake Park High School standout and Blaine native Taylor Turnquist was in attendance during the banner raising. She was on a recruiting visit and thought to herself, “I can’t even imagine this feeling.”
Now she knows exactly what that feeling is like.
Clarkson won its second national title on March 19 with a 3-0 win against No. 1-seeded Wisconsin. On the Golden Knights team is Turnquist, who played in all 41 games as a freshman defenseman.
“It’s hard to put it all into words because it’s been so amazing,” Turnquist said. “It was an unreal experience. My teammates are so awesome and so are the coaches. To be able to win a national championship, it’s something I’ve dreamt of for so long. Now to be a part of it, it’s so crazy.”
VanArragon sets state single round scoring record
Blaine sophomore golfer Caleb VanArragon set the state high school single round scoring record with a 9-under-par round of 63 to win the TPC Invite on Monday in Blaine.
The Bengals finished second as a team with a score of 303. Maple Grove won with a 297.
Paulson finishes 3rd all-around at international gymnastics meet
Abby Paulson was 2 years old when her parents, Shelly and Brandon, decided to put their daughter in gymnastics. The decision made sense, as Abby was an active child running around the house.
It makes even more sense today.
Abby, now a sophomore at Anoka High School, has had great success as a gymnast with a bright future.
She traveled to Italy in early April with Team USA for the 2017 Jesolo Trophy Gymnastics meet. She placed third all-around in the Women’s Senior Division and won the gold medal in the floor exercise.
Andover boys tennis off to a ‘surprising’ start
The Andover boys tennis team didn’t know what kind of season to expect under first-year head coach Jake Wolfe. Andover hasn’t been known as having a strong tennis program in past years.
But maybe even surprising themselves, the Huskies were off to a tremendous start.
They carried a 10-0 record to start the season. One of those victories came April 27 against Maple Grove, a top contender in the conference.
“The reason we’re doing well is we have a very strong singles lineup,” Wolfe said. “One through four are all very good singles players. And we’ve gotten surprise wins from all of our doubles at certain points in the season.”
Greg Malling leaving Coon Rapids football for Wisconsin job
After one season as the head football coach for Coon Rapids, Greg Malling is returning to Wisconsin. Lake Country Publications reported that Malling accepted a head coaching gig for the Oconomowoc High School football team.
Malling came to Coon Rapids after five seasons as the head coach at Arrowhead High School in Wisconsin. He reached the Division 1 state championship game four years in a row and won it in 2012 and 2013.
Blaine wins Northwest Suburban Conference boys golf meet
The Blaine boys golf team won the Northwest Suburban Conference meet at The Refuge Golf Club.
Blaine scored a team total of 309. Anoka placed third with a 318, Andover was fifth with a 325, Spring Lake Park took 10th with a 339 and Coon Rapids shot a 345 to place 11th.
Caleb VanArragon led the way for the Bengals with a 75. Max Ullan and Willie Manthis both shot a 77 and Tyler Grimm scored a 80.
The course was a par 72.
Totino-Grace’s Matthew Garside shot a 72 to win the meet.
Ewen becomes first ASU thrower to win 3 Pac-12 titles in same season
Maggie Ewen continues to add to her trophy case this season. The St. Francis High School graduate and junior standout on the Arizona State track and field team became the first-ever Sun Devil thrower to win three Pac-12 titles in the same season.
She is just the second-ever Pac-10/12 female thrower to win three conference titles in the same meet along with UCLA’s Seilala Sua in 1999.
Ewen won the hammer throw (70.20m), discus (59.81m) and shot put (17.18m) last weekend to win the Pac-12 Female Athlete of the Meet award.
Panthers pitching ace born to throw strikes
Fastballs, change-ups, screw balls and curve balls pulsed through Halley Jones’ veins at birth. Softball was in her blood. The game is her life.
Jones, a senior at Spring Lake Park High School, is the Panthers’ ace on the mound and has been playing fast-pitch since she was a little girl. Her dad was a minor league baseball player in his younger years; her mom played fast-pitch softball all through high school and college.
Always determined to toe the pitching rubber and deliver her best, Jones began her fast-pitch softball career at age 6 when she played 10U ball with her older sister.
“I tried T-ball when I was 3-4 years old, then slow pitch when I was 5, but even then, as little as I was, I didn’t like the pace, wanted something more. So when the opportunity came to play fast-pitch with the 10U team, I couldn’t pass it up,” Jones said.
Coon Rapids hires Mal Edwards as new head football coach
Coon Rapids High School announced the hiring of Mal Edwards as its new head football coach.
Edwards brings plenty of experience of coaching Minnesota high school football, beginning in 1997 as the head coach at Edison High School in Minneapolis, where he won five conference titles.
Kytta’s dedication leads to accomplished high school career
At a track and field meet earlier this season, Andover thrower Jason Titus went over to talk to Blaine thrower Ben Kytta. Titus stands about 6-foot-5, 280 pounds. Kytta is around 5-foot-10, 220 pounds. But Titus mentioned to Kytta how much he respects the “smaller” throwers.
Earning that respect is something Kytta is used to. He is a senior for the Bengals wrapping up an athletic and academic career filled with accomplishments, dedication and pride.
Being named a captain in football, wrestling and track and field along with being an honor student ranked in the top 5-10 percent of his class says a lot about Kytta. But it’s what happens behind the scenes that speaks the loudest. Kytta is up at 4:40 a.m. most school days in order to get a good breakfast in before a 6 a.m. lift at the school.
Brent Swaggert named new St. Francis head football coach
For 10 years as an assistant coach for the St. Francis football team, Brent Swaggert was a part of three different coaching staffs. Each time he decided not to throw his name in the hat for the head coaching gig. But when the job opened up again in May, he decided it was the right time to pursue it.
On June 1, St. Francis announced Swaggert, who served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach the past eight seasons, will be the new head coach.
“I knew it was a good opportunity and a good challenge,” Swaggert told ABC Newspapers. “It was the right time to sink my teeth into this a little further and see what I can do to better the program.”
Maggie Ewen wins hammer throw national title
St. Francis High School graduate and Arizona State track and field redshirt junior standout Maggie Ewen capped off a record-breaking season with a NCAA national championship in the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Tracktown USA in Eugene, Oregon. She shattered the NCAA record by more than a foot with a throw of 73.32 meters (240-feet-7) on her third toss.
Anoka softball loses heartbreaker in state championship
For the second day in a row at the Class 4A softball state tournament, Anoka found itself in a 0-0 ballgame in extra innings. On June 8, the No. 2-seeded Tornadoes defeated No. 3 Woodbury 1-0 in 13 innings to advance to the state championship game at Mankato’s Caswell Park. The next day, they ended up on the wrong side of a walk-off win.
In the bottom of the 10th, tied at 0-0, No. 5 Farmington’s Emma Frost hit a two-out solo home run to win her team the state title.
“I’m very proud of them,” Anoka head coach Toni Jesinoski said. “They step on the field every game from the beginning of the season to now, and they give it their all. We’ve had some really close games and had to fight through some adversity. I told them at the beginning of the tournament that if they step on the field and give it your all and if you come out on the losing end, I’m still very proud of them.”
3 St. Francis athletes win titles
Three first-place finishes for St. Francis highlighted Day 2 of the Class 2A track and field state meet at Hamline University. Amanda Anderson won the discus, Genuine Matthews won the 400-meter dash and Eli Hylen won the high jump.
LCA’s Gray ties for 2nd at state golf, Blaine’s VanArragon 7th
Legacy Christian Academy’s Sophie Gray finished tied for second in the Class A girls golf state tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker. Her two-day score of 160 was even with Minneota’s Heidi Guttormson and Park Christian’s Emily Doeden.
In the Class 3A tournament held at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, Blaine’s Caleb VanArragon finished tied for seventh with a two-day score of 146.
Blaine girls lacrosse takes 6th at state, Anoka boys go 0-2
The Blaine girls lacrosse team went 1-2 in the state tournament, losing 18-5 to Eden Prairie, defeating Stillwater Area 11-10 and losing to Cretin-Derham Hall 13-8 in the fifth place game. The Anoka boys lost 17-4 to Benilde-St. Margaret’s and 14-5 to Eden Prairie to be eliminated in the tournament.
LCA makes history with 1st state title game appearance
A year ago, the Legacy Christian Academy baseball team was recognized at Target Field during the state championship game as the Class 1A consolation champs. The Lions finished the season 21-7 overall and went 2-1 in the state tournament, losing 4-3 to Hinckley-Finlayson in eight innings in the first round.
After being recognized, LCA head coach Adam Hill looked his players in the eyes and said, “Let’s be playing in this game next year.”
The Lions did just that. Behind 12 seniors, they went 15-3 during the regular season, won the Section 4A title again and was given the No. 2 seed in the state tournament. After a 9-4 win against Ely and a 7-5 win against Wabasha-Kellogg, the Lions found themselves in the championship game June 19 at Target Field.
But top-seeded Parkers Prairie had its own plan carved out. The Panthers lost 4-2 in 11 innings against Springfield in last season’s state title game. This year, they jumped out to a 6-0 lead on LCA and held on for a 6-3 win.
“This was our goal a year ago. We made it come true,” Hill said. “The ball didn’t fall our way (Monday) and that hurts. But our goal was to be playing in the state title game at Target Field, and that’s exactly what we did.”