30 March 2013

Girls Golf Goal: Improvement

Brianna Swenson 2nd round section qualifier in 2012
Second-year coach Jon Stock has a one-word goal for his Tiger girls this spring: Improvement.

Last spring a young and inexperienced team lagged will behind its Missota Conference rivals as it learned the rigors of varsity play, especially in the early going.

"We have a few golfers new to the game and several that want to shave a few strokes off their score," he said.  "The girls improved a lot over the course of last year.  We hope to repeat that (this year)."

Heading the list of returnees is junior Breanna Swenson who turned a few heads last spring when she advanced to the final round of the Section 1AA individual championships.

Also returning from last year's squad are senior Alexis House and sophomores Jessica Singewald, Halea Wright, Jessica Olson and Kaitlin Jokinen.

Newcomers also expected to battle for varsity playing time this spring include seniors Melanie Kappes and ShyAnne Spurzem; junior Abigail Monroe and freshmen Sidney Comes, Kassondra Kruckenberg, Amanada Hansmann, Amanda Lange, Brooke McConnell and Emma Sullivan.

"I think our main strength will be our dedication and our desire to learn and improve," Stock said. "There are still many questions, but right now the biggest one is when will the snow melt and allow us to hit the course."
Weather permitting, the Tigers are scheduled to kick off their season April 12 with an appearance at the Faribault Invitational.

Boys Golf: Changing of the guard

Freshman Erik Holmstrom lone returning starter
When the weather finally allows coach Jon Holmes to get his Tiger team on a golf course, he may need name tags to help him identify all of the new players.

Only two year-freshman starter Erik Holmstrom and senior Grant Hauswirth bring any varsity experience to the 2013 season. Seven of last year's eight letterwinners graduated last spring.

"We will be looking for new faces to step up in a big way," Holmes said. " We have a few returning JV players and a host of new players in the eighth and ninth grade levels that are all relishing this changing of the guard."

The returning junior varsity players include seniors Grant Heidelberg and Nate Anderson; sophomores Sam Newcomb and Jake Trippel and freshman Jake Jensen.

With the late spring Holmes and assistant coach Terry Holmes have been limited to indoor activities  such as shot visualization, situational play, putting techniques and rules interpretation.

"We really are not able to do many team related matters since we cannot hold tryouts until we can actually get onto a course and play," Holmes said. "Some of our earlier tournaments have already been pushed back which will make our season even more condensed time-wise."

Last spring Farmington started poorly but played its best golf down the stretch, finishing fifth in the Missota Conference and advancing to the championship round of Section 1AA Championships.

"I'm confident we can find our swings early and pick up in the Missota where we left off last year," Holmes said.  "Once again the conference has some golfing heavyweights so we will have to mature fast to hold our own.

"We have made it through the first round of the section two years in a row now and hopefully that will become an expectation for our players...I will again be looking to get the team to a competitive place and hopefully in doing so we will get some individuals a real shot at a state tournament again."

Holmes said he will be asking a lot in the way of leadership from Holmstrom even though he is just a freshman.

"I'm excited to see how Erik will continue his strong play in his third year now as one of our top players," he said. "He was consistently our No. 2 scorer behind Tommy May last season."

Weather permitting, the Tigers open the season April 15 with a dual meet against East Ridge at Stone Ridge Golf Course in Stillwater.

(Snow) Tennis, anyone?

Freshman Bennett Lagro 7-7 record last season
Instead of grabbing their tennis racquets, the Tigers opened pre-season practice needing snow shovels and hand warmers as they volleyed on an asphalt parking lot in Empire township.

"The major problem with the extended winter is we get such a late start," Tiger coach Jack Olwell said. "Many of the teams we will face have players who have been playing at clubs all winter and are match ready.

"We have only two or three such players, so we depend on our outdoor courts for the lions' share of our hitting."

Olwell said his 2013 team will feature depth it hasn't had in recent years but will have to improve quickly to make up for losses of key players from last year's squad.

Blake Olmscheid and Ben Cline, two quality players who manned the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions, as well as the top doubles tandem of Tyler Olson and Jeff Zakoski graduated last spring.

On the bright side, the players with the best records from last season, sophomore Ivan Rodriguez (8-6) and freshman Bennett Lagro (7-7) return to the singles lineup.

The No. 2 doubles team of  juniors Jon Zakoski  and Trent Kortenbusch and the No. 3 pairing of senior Austin Rau and junior Austin Tremmel) also return.

Senior Drew Corraro, junior Jake Spindler and newcomer Jake Baker also also figure to be major contributors to this year's effort.

"We have a deep incoming class of ninth graders and several good athletes joining the team," Olwell said. "We have a great passion for the sport and a healthy camaraderie."

But Olwell said a strong freshman class and passion don't automatically translate into a dramatic improvement over last year's 2-12 record.

"We are still young and less experienced than our opponents," he said.  Each player will be moving up one or two places in the line-up which is always an adjustment."

Olwell picked Shakopee and Red Wing to vie for top honors in the race for Missota Conference honors with perennial state power Rochester Mayo the odds-on choice in Section 1AA

"I am hoping to build on the success we had last season," Olwell said, "improving our overall team record and having our kids enjoy an improved personal match record as well.

"Ultimately, I am hoping all of our kids embrace this wonderful sport and practice and play with passion."

The Tiger coaching staff may well be the most seasoned trio in the state. The head coach and veteran assistants Jon Malin and Joe "Dec" Emond account for nearly a century of combined tennis teaching experience

28 March 2013

Boys BB: A heart-pounding season

Darren Beenken 7th Tiger to score more than 1000 career points (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The Tigers finished the season with a .500 record (14-14) but that number doesn't begin to tell the story of the 2012-13 campaign.

Half of the games were decided by fewer than 10 points. Three came down to the final shot and three more went into overtime in the thrill-a-minute season.

"I feel this season was another big step forward," Tiger coach Shane Wyandt said. "We have been improving each year and have positioned ourselves for what should be an exciting 2013-14.

"Although we were disappointed at times with the close losses, we do realize how close we were to an 18 or 19-win season."

Eighteen players earned varsity letters for their work this winter, including three seniors: Darren Beenken, Alex Chadwick and Charles Anderson.

A strong junior class produced 11 monogram winners, including Johnny Dittman, Mac Bassett, Eli Rockett, Nick Varner, Tyler VanWinkle, Jordan DeCroock, Jordan Beschorner, Tyler Clayton, JD Hinks, Dallas Guyot and Sean McHenry.

Sophomore letterwinners included Zach Speikers, Wyatt Ferm, Andrew Larson and and Jackson Halstrom.

Individual award winners, including all-Missota Conference and honorable mention selections, will be announced at the post-season awards banquet scheduled for April 10.

Wyandt said several shining moments highlighted the season just completed. Near the top of the list was a 97-95 overtime over Spring Lake Park, then rated the No. 5 Class 3A team in Minnesota.

Wyandt also pointed to his team's two 20-point wins over conference rival Northfield; a 40-point blowout victory over section opponent Hastings; two narrow wins over Chanhassen, including the first-ever on the Storm's home floor and a post-season win over Rochester Century that avenged a regular season loss.

Beenken provided the biggest individual highlight when he became just the seventh male player in school history to crack the 1000-point barrier.

"If there was a disappointment," Wyandt said, "it was our inconsistent play, especially in close games. We won a few of the close ones, but lost some real heart-breakers. I felt we gave a couple of those games away with some critical mental errors in key spots."

Leading rebounder Eli Rockett (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Wyandt also said he thought his squad played poorly in two one-sided losses to section rival Lakeville North.

"North  played extremely well but I felt we played a little scared in both games," he said.

"We did not follow our game plan. We had some individuals play well but did not play well as a team either time. This will be a key thing to turn around next year."

With the loss of only three seniors from this year's team, Wyandt said that the outlook for next year is bright although he cautioned nothing can be taken for granted.

"We need to learn to finish better," he said. "We will return a number of very good players with quality experience and should have some nice players to add to that. But we again have to remember that many of the teams in the conference return some big name players as well.

"We must outwork those other teams. We have to expect some close games next year and must do a better job of handling those situations and making the necessary plays. If we can do that I like our chances."

Before putting the season in his rear view mirror, Wyandt said he wanted to pay tribute to the contributions of his three senior players.

"Our seniors were a huge part of the significant improvement we've made the past few seasons," he said. "They will be missed, but they should be proud of the impact they made on our program."

22      Zach Speikers - 10

24      JD Hinks - 11

30      Dallas Guyot - 11

33      Sean McHenry - 11

34      Andrew Larson - 10

41      Wyatt Ferm - 10

42      Jackson Halstrom -10

27 March 2013

Girls Track: Rich tradition continues

Nadia Lorencz 2012 state long jump and 100-meter hurdles champion (photo by Jim Lindquist)
In 2011 Tigers finished fourth at the Class AA state meet. Last spring they tied for fourth with Hopkins. This year they have the potential to move even further up the rankings.

"We hope  to challenge for the conference title and qualify for the True Team state meet," coach Tom Hart said. "We came up a little short last year.

"In the section we will get to compete against the state's best.  If we can do well there, we will fare well at the state meet. One of our goals is to finish in top three this year."

One reason for Hart's optimism is his team's depth. The Tigers lost a handful of point-scorers to graduation, including four-time state meet qualifier Alyssa Parco, but more than 30 veterans return from last year's squad.

Michigan State recruit Nadia Lorencz, a state champion in both the long jump and 100-meter hurdles last spring, leads the list of returning seniors. Maria Kiminski, who ran in the state meet as a sophomore, is also back after missing most of last season with a leg injury.

Other seniors include Shelby Doherty, Alex Frost, Courtney Johnston, Callie Kittelson, Kelsey Lindell, April Morris, Victoria Oettinger, Jennifer Redepenning and Taylor Schmaltz.

Isabelle Ferm 2012 Missota Conference 400-meter champion (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Isabelle Ferm, 2012 Missota Conference 400-meter champion and point-scorer in three events at state, heads up a solid junior class.

Other junior returnees include Kathryn Beckett, Corale Cobb, Kelli Elmer, Itzell Flores, Aly Grebner, Emma Hall, Nicole Knoepke, Emily Lathrop, Kenya Macias, Maricia Pacheco and Hannah Seitzinger.

Two sophomores with state meet experience, Megan Graham and Alicia Hett, return as do classmates Kali Andriano-Allard, Sydney Bockelman, Madison Bowe, Sarah Cummings, Alexis Johnson, Kalli Opsal, Destiny Schmitz and Jordan Walls. Freshman Jennifer Miller is also back for a second season with the varsity team.

Sophomore  cross-country runner Sofia Chadwick joins the team this spring along with juniors Morgan Cecchettini and Kenya Macias and sophomores Nicole Doran and Ashley Ellefson.

"We have many state meet participants from a year ago who are hungry and want more," Hart said.
"Many of them trained hard in the off season and the results are evident.

"We hope to build on last year's successes and add to them. Our numbers are pretty good and that should help in our depth in the running events."

If there is one area of concern for the 2013 Tigers it is in the throwing department.

"We need more throwers" Hart said. "That's where we are the thinnest."

Hart picked Chanhassen, Northfield and Shakopee as the three biggest obstacles to his team's winning its first-ever Missota Conference championship. Lakeville North and Lakeville South appear to be the pre-season picks for Section 1AA honors.

This year's assistant coaching staff includes Lisa Lippold, distance; Joe McCarthy, middle distance; Maggie Endersbe, hurdles and sprints; Julian Buss, pole vault; Justyn Helgeson, throws; Torrian Amie, horizontal jumps and Vicki Lippert, high jump.

Heidi Revels, Al Jenrich, Rob Virgin and Jake Bauer will coach the middle school teams.

24 March 2013

Boys Track: Strength in Numbers

Sophomore Justin Hyytinen (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Coach Brian Helmstetter is counting on the wisdom in the old adage "There's strength in numbers."

Helmstetter and his staff welcomed a record 116 hopefuls to the first week week of indoor practice in hopes of improving on last year's sixth place finish in the Missota Conference.

"We're hoping these are the right 116 guys," Helmstetter said of the unprecedented number of athletes out for track at FHS.

Included in the massive turnout is a large group of upperclassmen, including 16 seniors: Leslie Adjei Athen Ashton, Josh Baker, Alex Chadwick, Tyler Lerbakken, Joe Lipham, Alex Lubbers, Mikkel Peterson, Tyler Petter-McCauley, Connor Phu, 12, Blake Ross, Adam Wallenta, Tommy Weigel, Clayton Webb, Alec Wilson, Helbert Zelaya.

Junior returnees include Mason Auge, Dan Berg, Alexander Burton, Jacob Earp, Jack Erickson, Mason Gaylord, Caleb Gochenour, Tanner Grubb, Jeffrey Gutierrez, Brendan King, Derek Klotter, Jake Lee, John McDermid, Sean McHenry, Josh Patterson, Santana Perdomo, Jake Rudeen, Hunter Sevenich, Blake Smith, Cullen Smith, Eric Stoeckman, Jared Wolt and CJ Wynings.

Sophomores Mike Husnik, Justin Hyytinen, Ryan Parco, Luis Rodriguez, Jake Ropeke and Tanner Thode also earned varsity letters last season.

Nine other upperclassmen are new to the team this spring: seniors Charles Anderson, Zach Colaw, Nathan Gantner and juniors Jacob LeClair, Dallas Guyot, Kade Kearney, Mac Bassett, Nathan Rauschnot and Nick Varner.

New underclassmen expected to battle for varsity positions include sophomores Cody Barfknecht, Collin Berquist, Wyatt Ferm, Jacob Gerdes, Garrett Haugen, Ethan Hensch, Zach Herrera, Noah King, Long Lam, Matt Olund, Dominic Paduano, Dylan Pitzen, Michael Sasso, Daniel Som, Dillon States, Zachary Steffen, Matthew Thompson and Peyton Woller and freshmen Nino Douanboutdy, Adam Dougherty, Josh Grimm, Alex Hart, Ryan Newton, Jackson Schneider, Kyle Smith, Dalton States and Devon Webb.

Senior Tyler Lerbakken (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Helmstetter thinks his team's biggest strength lies in the middle distance events where a strong group of veterans combined with some talented newcomers should spell success.

"With our numbers I believe our relays should be an improved strength which will translate into competitive practices with the boys fighting for positions," he said. "All of our new athletes have been willing to try any event which should help us fill some holes."

Helmstetter added that the big question marks heading into the season surround the field events where he lost top thrower Bret Hoffman and jumper Justin Hett to graduation and all-conference pole vaulter Reid Taubenheim to injury.

"We have good numbers at each event, but we must improve our distances and heights in each of them to have a chance at a conference or section title," he said.

Helmstetter predicted Chanassen and Shakopee would be among the chief contenders for Missota Conference honors and Owatonna and the Lakeville schools the pre-season favorites in Section 1AA.

"We believe we are in the running for the conference and section," Helmstetter said, "but everyone needs to play their role and help each other improve daily at practice."

The size of the team has dictated some changes in assistant coaching duties, including the following:
Joe McCarthy - sprints/mid distance
Justyn Helgeson - throws
Julian Buss - pole vault
Lisa Lippold and Adam Lippold - distance
Maggie Endersbe - hurdles
Vicki Lippert -high jump
Torrian Amie - jumps
Henry Schneider - utility

Girls Track: Tigers shine in dress rehearsal

No team scores were kept at Friday night's unscored indoor meet St. Olaf College but coach Tom Hart saw enough to know that his team was well ahead of the pace of, say, the arrival of spring weather.

"The ladies competed extremely hard and it was great to get a pulse of where we are 10 days into the season," Hart said. " There were a number of new people to track who competed last night and did very well. Seeing the potential is very exciting."

Other teams in the meet included Lakeville South, Prior Lake, New Prague, St. Paul Highland Park, Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy.

The girls broke two school indoor records at the season opener. Megan Graham ran 61.46 in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400 relay quartet of Maria Kiminski, Sofia Chadwick, Graham and Isabelle Ferm clocked 4:12.6 to establish new standards.

Ferm, a point-scorer in thee events at the state meet last spring, also ran a strong leg on the 4x200 relay team and cleared 36 feet in the triple jump.

Hart also lauded the performance of sisters Maricia and Marciella Pacheco in the 1600-mteter run where Maricia finished in 5:45 and Marciella turned in a personal-best 6:04.

Baseball: Eye on the first division

Spencer Merle hit a team-leading .435 last spring (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Eleven varsity letterwinners graduated last spring but eight veterans return from last spring's 7-13 squad return for head coach Mike Winters.

Most of the returnees saw valuable time as underclassmen and Winters feels they should form a solid nucleus as the Tigers try to improve on last season's 4-10 Missota Conference finish.

"The conference is tough like it was in basketball," Winters said. "But we know we have the talent to compete with every team and we'll strive for the the upper division of the conference."

Returning lettermen include seniors Spencer Merle, Kyle Mayer, Jared Lipinski, Jordan Lugowski, Kevin Olund, Zachary Huber, Jared Lipinksi, Turner Olson, Caleb Eiffert and Isaac Toenjes and juniors Jordan Decroock, Johnny Dittman and Jonathan Hinks.

Merle, an all-Missota Conference performer as a junior, was the team's leading hitter last spring with a .435 batting average and Lugowski, who hit .271, was the 2012 Rookie of the Year.

Newcomers expected to vie for varsity playing time this spring include juniors Jordan Beschorner, Nick Schoening, Landon Neilson, Buck Lester, Ryan Geibel, Kyle Johnson, Tyler Clayton, Nick Hessa, Trent Seal and Edgar Espino and sophomores Bobby Eckert, Parker Holmstrom, Zach Speikers and Austin Martinsen.

Winters said there should be some good individual competition for playing time at all positions with the big early concerns centered around the starting pitching rotation and his team's overall lack of experience at the varsity level.

"We should be deep and athletic and have good team speed," he said. "We would like to be in the top three in the conference and make the Final Four in the section. Of course, getting to state is always a goal."

Winters pegged Red Wing and Shakopee as his pre-season favorites in the Missota with Owatonna, Red Wing and the Rochester schools all given contender status in the Section 1AAA race.

The Tigers return a veteran coaching staff with Jon Graff handling the varsity assistant chores and Brent Grengs coaching the junior varsity squad. Jason Kohlbeck is back as the sophomore coach while Matt Groves and Brian Louis share the ninth grade chores.

Tom Auge, Jared Rowan, Brent Mahlstedt and Brandon Chant will work with the middle school teams.

23 March 2013

Boys Track: A good start

The Tigers got their first taste of on-the-track competition Friday when they joined partial teams from Prior Lake, New Prague, Lakeville South, St. Paul Highland Park, Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy for a unscored meet on the indoor oval at St. Olaf College.

"It was a good first meet and because it was an early season meet we didn't have all our athletes available," coach Brian Helmstetter said. "But we saw many good things out of the ones we brought. Now we have stats in the book and the boys can adjust and set new goals...It's nice seeing all of the potential."

Two school indoor records fell at the meet: The 4x400 relay team of Tyler Lerbakken, Justin Hyytinen, Tommy Weigel and Tanner Grubb clocked 3:36, and Hyytinen set a new mark in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:37.

Other first meet highlights:
4x200 relay team of  Weigel, Jack Erickson, Ryan Parco and Grubb
4x800 relay team of Clayton Webb, Jard Wolt, Erc Stoeckman and Lerbakken
Hurdlers Dan Berg, Nehemiah Rockett and Mikkel Peterson
Sprinters Erickson, Mason Auge and Leslie Adjei
Throwers CJ Wynings, Tanner Thode, Mike Husnik, Jake Lee and Josh Patterson
Distance runners Adam Wallenta and Hunter Sevenich
800-meter runner Luis Rodriguez
400-meter runners Wolt and Devon Webb

Boys Swimming: Another big season

Christopher Kirchmann MVP, All-Conference (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The 2012-13 season brought more individual and team honors to the Tiger boys swimming and diving team.

Farmington won the Missota Conference championship, successfully defended its Section 1AA True Team title and scored 26 points at the state meet.

"I am very proud of what the boys did this year," coach Ryan Hamen  said. "We finished with almost 60 participants, and many have and are starting to swim outside of the season with the goal to come back even better.  

"We are losing a great group of seniors. Most of them were the top swimmers on the team, but I am hoping our depth will carry through and the drive will continue."  

The Tigers celebrated their successful season with their post-season banquet last week. At the season-capping fete many team and individual accomplishments were announced.

Varsity Letters: Seniors Christian Bell, Dahlton Bell, Christopher Kirchmann, Evan Carufel, Aaron Cochnauer, Ben Cohoon, Brad Dow, Mitch Haugen, Tyler Lerbakken, Cameron Molnar and Patrick Shea; juniors Daniel Berg, Oliver Chow, Brandon Dion, Eric Schimmel, Nick Stephan and Spencer Kabran; sophomore Jonathan Bovee and eighth grader Austin Kueck.

MVP: Kirchmann  

All-Missota ConferenceD. Bell, C. Bell, Kirchmann, Carufel, Chow, Molnar and Schimmel

All-Missota Conference Honorable Mention: Berg and Cochnauer

Academic All-America: Lerbakken and Shea

School Records: 
100 freestyle: Kirchmann, 47.29
200 freestyle relay:  C. Bell, D. Bell, Molnar and Kirchmann, 1:28.46
400 freestyle relay:  C. Bell, D. Bell, Molnar and Kirchmann, 3:18.61

Pool Record: 
200 freestyle relay:  C. Bell, D. Bell, Carufel and Kirchmann, 1:30.58

Hardest Worker: Varsity: Schimmel; Junior Varsity: Maxx Matta

Most Dependable: Berg and Kueck

Most Improved: Dion, butterfly and individual medley; Bovee, diving; Brock Lang, freestyle and butterfly; Andrew Domnick, freestyle (junior varsity)

Rookie of the Year: Devon Webb

"I Can Do It, Coach" Award: Kyle Smith, Ben Walz 7, Ben Walz, Ben Gunderson

Best Attitude: Mikkel Peterson 12

"We already have a number of boys who are looking positive for next year," Hamen said. "They are committed to improving and looking forward to future accomplishments.

"One thing our team always tries to do is represent Farmington well both in and out of the pool. Hopefully that will continue for years to come."

18 March 2013

Tiger grad joins March Madness

Tiger grad Trevor Davis headed for March Madness
Five years ago Trevor Davis was playing point guard for the Tigers. Last winter he was coaching the Tiger B-squad to a successful season. Last Saturday he found success on a much bigger stage.

Now a graduate assistant at Northwestern State (Louisiana), Davis was on the sidelines watching the Demons edge Stephen F. Austin 68-66 to win the Southland Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Northwestern State received the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region and opens tournament play Friday night against No. 3 Florida in Austin, Texas.

Should the Demons pull off a first round upset, they could face Minnesota on Sunday The Gophers play UCLA in its opening round game.

That would be fine with Davis as it would mean a match-up with his older brother Trey Davis' alma mater. Trey Davis, the 2007 FHS male Athlete of the Year, played football and was a thrower on the track team at Minnesota.

16 March 2013

Softball: Hungry Tigers looking for more

2012 MVP Ashley Betzold  (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Last spring FHS grad Paul Harrington came home to guide the Tigers to a 17-6 season, a Missota Conference title and their second-ever state tournament appearance. In year two, he is looking for more.

"Our goal at the beginning of every season is get back to the state tournament in Mankato," he said.

Gone from last year's Section 1 champions are four key contributors: Allie Rice, Erin Wurst, Taylor Haakana and Brooke Searles.

Even though that quartet will be missed, Harrington's cupboard remains far from empty. Senior captains Ashley Betzold and Ton Hunsinger lead a list of seven returning letterwinners who will form the nucleus of this year's squad.

Other returnees include juniors Jordyn Kepros and Mackenzie Nelson and sophomores Molly Berdan, Amber Doyle and Taylor Yousse.

All-Missota Conference pitcher Betzold posted all 17 Farmington wins last spring and has been a varsity regular in the circle since eighth grade. The returning MVP was also an offensive force last year, smacking a pair of hone runs in a game at the state tourney.

Senior co-captain Toni Hunsinger (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Hunsinger also made the all-conference team last season while Doyle received all-league honorable mention. Berdan was the won the team's Most Improved Player Award in 2012.

Harrington said there is also an enthusiastic group of newcomers battling for the open positions but with no outdoor practices on which to base performance, it is way too early to predict who will step up to fill the void.

On thing is certain, however. The Tiger coach likes the idea of having Betzold's name penciled in the No. 1 position on his scorecard.

 "Having Ashley back on the mound is a great start," he said. "Every time out she will give us a chance to win. We just need to play good defense and score some runs to make that happen."

Harrington has a bumper crop of infielders but if there are question marks, they would seem to be in the outfield and behind the plate where all-conference catcher Rice starred last spring.

"Those positions will be challenges for us," he said. "Some of the younger kids will have to step up or some our infielders will have to adjust to playing the outfield."

Harrington said his team should be in the hunt for conference and section honors again with Shakopee the biggest challenger in the Missota and Hastings the team to beat in the section race.

The Tigers lost assistant coach Trevor Monroe over the off-season when he accepted the varsity job at Eastview but they picked up a quality replacement in former Tiger Randy Schmitz who coached Lakeville North to several state tournament appearances. Veteran assistants Loren Cartwright and Jim Swedin also return to the staff.

Weather permitting, the Tigers open their 2013 season Wednesday, April 3, with a home game against Red Wing.

Wrestling: Down payment on the future

Taylor Venz  Class 3A 106-pound state champion
Coach Chad Olson had a good number of bodies in the wrestling room most nights although he was a little short on seniors.

But that lack of veteran experience, not to mention physical maturity, didn't prevent the Tigers from putting together a quality 2012-13 season.

"We had a good year," Olson said. "We ended on a high note at the section and state tournaments. Injuries and illness prevented us from always putting our best lineup on the mat, but it gave a lot of underclassmen some valuable varsity experience."

Twenty-five Tiger grapplers earned varsity letters for their work this winter, with only two going to seniors: Alex LaVictoire  and Jamie Scavone.

Nine juniors also met letter requirements: Brian Caravantes, Joe Hoeve, Sam Kealy, Joe Liden, Chris McCue, Godfrey Mpetey, Seth Nechville, Jake Rudeen and CJ Wynnings.

Other monogram winners included sophomores Kyle Benjamin, Brayden Chapman, Logan Haakana, Matt Rustad and John Walz; freshmen Trevor Frost, Victor Gliva, Mason Hawkins, Kyle Heusbourg, Hayden Kendall, Jamin LeDuc, Zach Seufer and Taylor Venz and eighth-grader Skyler Raymond. 

Two of the ninth-graders had exceptional seasons. Venz became the second Tiger to become a state champion, winning the Class AA state 106-pound title and setting a new school record for wins in a season with 43 (against 2 losses).

Jamin LeDuc 6th place at state meet (photo by Jim Lindquist)
LeDuc closed out his first varsity campaign with a sterling 33-5 mark and placed sixth at 113 pounds at the state meet.

Hoeve and Benjamin also qualified for the state meet. Other post-season awards will be announced at the team's banquet on April 1.

"We tied the school record for state entrants (4) and state place earners (2)," Olson said. "We were competitive  in just about every dual meet."

On the down side, Olson said his team's season-long battle with illness and injury cost it the opportunity to fare even better.

"We never once had our full 14-man lineup," he said. "We were able to fill 13 spots once and 12 just twice."

The Tiger coach added the loss of just two graduating seniors and the return of four state meet wrestlers, things look good for next season and beyond.

"The four state wrestlers will give us a good nucleus to build around," he said. "We are also moving from Section 2 to Section 1 and we should be very competitive with the top teams there"

14 March 2013

Girls Hockey: A season short on goals

Rachel Peroutky All-Missota Conference and Hobey Baker Award (photo by Jim Lindquist)
For the most part the defense was adequate and the two young goaltenders effective, but the Tigers had a tough time putting the puck away in a season that produced just four wins in 26 games (4-19-3).

"Our season statistics tell the story," coach Jon Holmes said. "We were not outshot by wide margins very often this year, but our shots were not finding the twine."

The Tigers scored a total of 40 goals for the season and netted more than two goals in a single game just four times.

All in all, 21 varsity players received letters at the team's post-season banquet, including three seniors: Rachael Peroutky, Grace Gavin and Haleigh Zwart.

"The three of them had a combined 17 years of varsity experience," Holmes said. "They are very bright, very energetic and very charismatic individuals that I will personally miss seeing at the rink every day.

"Their leadership qualities are truly top-notch. They were able to keep a four-win team positive and hard working for the entire year."

Other letterwinners included Maddie Bowe, Haley Doll, Bria Donnelly, Shaye Jenrich, Shelby Klotz, Maddie Kohlbeck, Kaitlyn LaCroix, Maddi Oines, Breanna Raske, Brooke Raske, Syndey Schoenecker, Molly Singewald, Megan Stivers, Michaela Tonsager, Grace Vincent, Rachael Welzin, Tyler Words and Dani Wright.

Michaela Tonsager All-Missota Conference (photo by Jim Lindquist)

Peroutky, the team's leading point-getter (15) and leading goal-scorer Tonsager (8) earned all-Missota Conference distinction. Seniors Zwart and Gavin received all-league honorable mention.

Peroutky won the team's Hobey Baker Award and will be honored at a Minnesota Twins game later this spring.

Zwart received the Hegland Award for dedication and work ethic and Brooke Raske won the  Blue Line Award as the top defender. Goalies Bowe and Singewald shared Rookie of the Year honors

With 18 letterwinners eligible to return for the 2013-14 season, Holmes said the future remains bright for Tiger hockey but cautioned there is a lot of work to be done before the first puck drops next winter.

"We need be stronger physically," he said. "Our shots, our passes and our strength in protecting the puck all need to make significant strides over the off season.

"The huge positive is that we have a dedicated group of girls that I am confident will concentrate on these things this summer."

Boys Hockey: Youth is served

Jack Erickson All-Missota Conference (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The Tigers fielded one of their youngest squads ever in 2012-13 and the youth movement paid big dividends in just about every category.

For openers, coach Keith Revels' team almost doubled its win total from last year, improving to 13-13-1 after finishing 7-17-2 a year ago. Goal production (91 from 70) was up and goals allowed were down (92 to 75).

In addition, the Tigers received their best-ever seed for the Section 1AA tournament and hosted a post-season game for the first time since being classified as a Class AA school.

"It was a solid season," Revels said. " A .500 record and a few bad breaks away from being even better. We improved as the year went on and responded well to challenges throughout the season.  

"We had very balanced scoring. Last season seven goals led the team'. This year we had seven players meet or exceed that mark. Our 2.78 goals allowed per game is the best since I have been here and I think well before that...With the exception of our first game (a 6-2 loss to Hastings), we were in every game."

Revels and his staff awarded 23 varsity letters to team members for their efforts during the 2012-13 campaign at Wednesday night's post-season banquet. Leading the list were five seniors: tri-captains Kevin Olund, Jordan Logowski and Grant Hauswirth, Zach Colaw and John Donnelly.

Juniors letterwinners included Landon Nielson, Corey Rudrud, Alex Aubrecht, Tanner Grubb, Jack Erickson, Dan Block, Chris Fitzgibbons, Nick Schoening and Dallas Tucker.

Underclassmen receiving varsity monograms were sophomores Benton Olson, Justin Novak, Gage Overby, Jutin Hyytinen and John Seurer and freshmen Erik Holmstrom, Devin Bernu, Grady Hauswirth and John Siebenaler.

Student managers Marcus Dubois and Jake Manning and statisticians Allison Jette, Rachel Markuson, Lauren Jette and Jessica Singewald also received letters.

Hobey Baker Award winner Kevin Olund (photo by Jim Lindquist)

Novak (30 points) and Erickson (28 points) each landed a berth on the all-Missota Conference team. Olund (21 points) and Grant Hauswirth (19 points) received all-Missota honorable mention. Olund was also named the recipient of the team's Hobey Baker Award.

Revels said the season just completed came with few disappointments although he added a couple of shaky finishes prevented his team from doing even better.

"We had trouble closing out games in the third period," he said. "We lost some leads that could have really improved our record."

With no less than 18 returnees expected to return for the 2013-14 season, Revels said the outlook for his program is bright.

"We were able to perform better than a year ago with a pretty young lineup," he said. "We're poised to continue moving in the right direction and expect some very competitive tryouts in the fall. 

"Off-season work will be a must for returning players. There is loads of talent returning and some promising players hoping to join the program next fall."

Justin Novak-All-Missota Conference

13 March 2013

Gymnastics: Saving the best for last

Kylie Wharton 7th on beam at state meet
Kiana Lord All-state in floor (photo by Jim Lindquist)

The Tigers started the season with a lackluster team score of 126.525 at the Austin Invitational, but meet-by-meet the numbers went up, culminating in a 140.525 performance at the Section 3AAA Championships where they finished third in a quality eight-team field.

 "I was very proud and happy for the girls," coach Lynn Bauman said. "We made it through many obstacles. The girls just kept their heads up and stuck it out. They were champions in my eyes."

Thirteen gymnasts received varsity letter for their efforts season: Kathryn Beckett, Racquel Beckett, Amanda Davenport, Tahra Eckert, Rachel Kiminksi, Kiana Lord, Mackenzie McCuddin, Gina Mercurio, Kendall Novak, Taylor Schmaltz, Maddie Timerson, Kylie Wharton and Kyla Bauman.

Lord, who ranked 22nd in floor exercise at the Class AA state meet, made the all-Missota Conference team and Beckett received all-league honorable mention.

Wharton came back from an early season injury to finish strong, placing seventh on the beam at the state meet.

Six different Farmington performers won all-section honors, including Eckert, vault; Davenport, uneven bars; Wharton, balance beam; Kiminski, balance beam; Beckett, floor exercise and Lord, all-around.

Lord earned all-state honors for her season-long high marks in floor exercise and gained honorable mention in vault, bars, beam and all-around.

Four other Tigers achieved state honorable mention status: Eckert (vault, beam, floor and all-around); Beckett (vault and floor); Wharton (beam) and Timerson (vault).

Other team awards presented at the post-season banquet included Hardest Worker- Racquel Beckett; Most Improved-Samantha Kramer; Most Positive Spirit-Beckett; Best Form-Wharton; Tiger Award-Schmaltz and Best Crash-Tori Sontag.

Bauman said achieving the 140-point team score was a season highlight as was Lord's returning to state and Wharton's strong showing at state finals.

The only disappointments came in the injury department where Wharton, Eckert, Davenport and Kiminski all spent significant time on the shelf with physical issues.

"They were all on our varsity team and that affected our team score throughout the season," Bauman said. "I'm hoping for an injury-free season next year."

As for the future, Bauman is optimistic.

"It looks really promising," she said. "We might have some new talent coming to our team and that will be fun to watch...I know the girls are excited to workout in the off season to improve for next year."