27 June 2014

Pat Rupp to retire after 30 years

by Tad Johnson (reprinted from the Sun Current)


Thirty years ago, Farmington High School football public address announcer Pat Rupp didn’t imagine himself as a sports reporter. He had enough commitments in his full-time job working for the Minnesota Department of Education and helping raise two school-age children.

When the former publisher of the Farmington Independent, Ray Ackerman, asked him if he would be willing to write a story for the newspaper about each football game, Rupp, who had a degree in English education and loved sports, agreed.

Pairing two of Rupp’s interests was an immediate hit.

“After a week or so, (Ackerman) said he had gotten requests from parents of other athletes asking that their sports receive coverage, too,” Rupp said. “By the end of the school year, I was writing stories for all of the Tigers sports for the Independent.”

Since that 1984-85 school year, Rupp has been reporting on Farmington sports for the Independent, Sun Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune, and the past four years for a Farmington High School sports blog called Tiger Athletics News.

Rupp, who says he’s retired more times than NFL quarterback Brett Favre, adds that this time he is officially hanging up his notebook and keyboard at the end of June.

“I never tire of following high school sports,” he said. “It keeps one thinking and feeling young. Getting to work with such a good group of coaches has also made my ‘work’ enjoyable.”

Farmington’s many coaches through the years have found the admiration is mutual.

“Farmington has been very lucky to have a person of Pat’s quality reporting and involved in FHS athletics,” said new Farmington High School Principal Jason Berg, a past coach of the girls and boys basketball teams. “He is a trusted voice – someone people could not wait to read.”

“Pat is skilled at writing in a way that spreads the good news and excitement that surrounds the activities of our student athletes at FHS,” said longtime Farmington football coach Mark Froehling. “He understands the big picture of high school athletics and the lessons that involvement in these activities allow our student athletes to learn.”

The sports blog is something that has generated much interest, in large part to Rupp’s prolific dedication and skill in covering Farmington sports and the sharp photographs of Lakeville resident Jim Lindquist, a professional photographer who has grandchildren involved in Farmington sports.

All of the more than 600 entries posted in each of the past three years have been funneled through the Farmington Tigers Athletics’ Facebook page, which has more than 1,600 followers.

Rupp said former Athletic Director Jon Summer, who is now working in Chaska, deserves the credit for linking the blog to Facebook and bringing in many new readers.

Rupp and former FHS athletic director Jon Summer share a lighter moment (photo by Jim Lindquist)
“Jon was very tech savvy and believed strongly in promoting the athletic program at FHS,” Rupp said. “I was a little surprised by the response to the Facebook page, but it shows how important high school athletics are to the fabric of a community.”

As a 20-year resident of Farmington, Rupp understands the galvanizing nature of high school sports for the community. That’s why when he was laid off from Thisweek, he approached former Superintendent Brad Meeks about starting the blog.

Rupp knew he would anchor the blog at the outset, but the idea was to build a system where students would take over the tasks, which the district aims to do this fall.

“I think what people like the most about the blog is that it is current,” Rupp said. “Over the past couple of years, I have tried to have game stories posted within 36 hours after the completion of the event.”

Rupp also credits Lindquist with the blog’s success.

“Jim is real pro who has dedicated a lot of time and energy to help promote Tiger athletics,” Rupp said.

Rupp and Jim Lindquist (left) teamed up to produce the Tiger Athletic News blog the past four years (photo by Ruth Lindquist)

Town ties
After completing a four-year stint in the Air Force, Rupp moved to Farmington in 1973 and took a job as a counselor at Farmington High School. He also was the head baseball coach and assisted in basketball (B-squad) and football (middle school).

“I have very fond memories of those years and experiences,” Rupp said. “Farmington will always be a special place for me.”

Rupp, who also served on the Farmington Area School Board (1978-84; 1989-92), said his favorite teams to cover over the years have been those of his children – Julie and Christopher.
Julie, a 1988 graduate, and Christopher, 1991, both played basketball and ran track and cross-country.

Aside from those, Tiger football is at the top of the list.

“Fall Friday nights in Farmington are something special,” he said.

“Pat is a friend and colleague,” Froehling said. “I will miss my weekly conversations with him after Friday night games and on the weekends as Pat prepares his article recapping the game. I could depend on him to always treat coaches and players with respect and care as he reports the outcome of any competition, whether it is a win or loss... Pat’s work will certainly be missed, but he can retire knowing he has completed his job with pride, class and dignity.”

Though he never covered a Farmington team state champion, Rupp was around for three state final games – football in 1992, softball in 2003 and girls hockey in 2007.

He said covering those teams along with the excitement of seeing the high school athletic program grow were some of the major highlights of his tenure.

“Farmington and its high school sports have undergone many changes over the past three decades and it’s been a fun experience to see them evolve,” Rupp said, "particularly with the addition of new sports like soccer, swimming and lacrosse."

Farmington has had individual state champions in boys and girls track, diving, gymnastics and wrestling, but never a team sport.

“I’ll have to experience that first championship as a fan,” Rupp said.

Froehling and Berg said Rupp will be missed for his presence as a reporter at the games.

“Pat is a true fan of both Farmington athletics and high school sports,” Froehling said. “That passion has kept him involved for a long time.”

“He is a gifted reporter with a great passion for sports of all varieties,” said Keith Revels, who has coached both girls and boys hockey at Farmington. “Combine that with a deep-rooted connection to the Farmington Schools and community, and I think that was all the motivation he needed.”

Berg said Rupp was great to work with as a coach.

“He focused on the players and always on the positives in athletics,” Berg said. “He is someone who was easy to work with and respected the amount of time coaches put into their teams. He asked great questions and was able to bring a historical perspective into anything he was writing about.”

Revels said Rupp was always professional, trustworthy and responsible with the way he went about his reporting.

“The devotion and quality of Pat’s reporting has most likely spoiled us all,” Revels said. “His abilities as a writer and his firsthand knowledge of decades of FHS athletics history simply cannot be replaced.

"The Farmington community was blessed to have enjoyed his work for such a long time and I don’t think the true impact of him ending his duties will be felt until the fall sports season ramps up.”

One thing is for certain: Rupp touched the lives of countless students who roamed the fields, courts and ice at Farmington High School.

“Can you imagine the number of Pat Rupp-written articles, that have been clipped out of newspapers or copied from the online posts by thousands of families?," Froehling said. "They will be saved for a lifetime and will be read and re-read to help us remember and re-live the wonderful days of Farmington High School athletics."

Email Tad Johnson at tad.johnson@ecm-inc.com.

16 June 2014

Boys Lacrosse: A new standard set

Dan Block: All-Missota Conference, All-Section 1 (photo by Jim Lindquist)
A look at the final numbers tells the tale of the 2014 season.

Farmington set a school record with a final 11-4 mark and went 3-2 in its first (and only) season in Missota Conference play. The Tigers drew the No. 2 seed for the Section 1 tournament and hosted two post-season games for the first time in program history.

"The most important thing this year was how our team played team offense and defense," coach Paul Sorensen said "We really bonded as 'family' on and off the field.

"For the first time I could see a shift in culture to one of a true lacrosse program, not just a bunch of guys playing the sport. This group made me a better coach in many ways."

Twenty four players received varsity letters for their contributions to the record-setting season, including 10 seniors: Corey Rudrud, Alex Aubrecht, Nick Workman, Michael Thompson, Dan Block, Chris Fitzgibbons, Mitch Hilton, Kevin Clifton, Alex Kelly and Caleb Hakala.

Underclassmen letterwinners included juniors Garrett Gunderson and Kyle Kratz; sophomores Tyler Jette, Jake Herrera, Nick Fogarty, Mitch Grengs, Connor Olson, Vincent Donahue and James Thompson and freshmen Thomas Fogarty, Tommy Carey, Nick Hinnenkamp, Bryan Aguilar and Isaac Kuehn.

Kyle Kratz: All-Missota, All-Section (photo by J. Lindquist)
Block, 10th in the state in ground balls) and goalie Kratz (second in the state in save percentage and third in goals-against average) each earned a berth on the all-Missota Conference team.

Aubrecht (seventh in the state in ground balls) and Rudrud (36 points) received all-conference honorable mentions.

Block and Kratz also made the all-Section 1 squad; Aubrecht and Rudrud were selected to the all-section section second team.

Sorensen said the season was crammed full of highlights, including his team's defensive prowess which was ranked among the top three teams in the state in goals allowed per game. No opponent managed to score in double digits on the Tigers all season.

"We were one of the top ground ball teams in the state," he said "and that's a major hustle stat...Our offense also  played with flow and poise."

The loss to Lakeville South in the section semifinals and an early season game in which the Tigers amassed a whopping 19 penalties headed the short list of disappointments from the season just completed.

As for the future, Sorensen, the program's only coach in its five-year history, is optimistic.

"We are going to be young and hungry lions heading into our first year in the South Suburban Conference," he said. "We'll have many holes to fill at middie and in our defense, but we have shown a tendency to play up to the competition.

Leading scorer Corey Rudrud (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"We have a large group of eighth and ninth graders and we have a lot of our guys on the junior varsity who are really close. I see a lot of tough battles for the positions left by our graduating seniors.

"Over the summer we need to get better at things we are uncomfortable with. Address them and master them. It takes a lot of field time to perfect those things."

Sorensen and his staff will bring 107 future Tigers to the Farmington youth program this summer, the largest group ever.

"The future looks bright," he said.

Alex Aubrecht seventh in the state in ground balls (photo by Jim Lindquist)

12 June 2014

Alumni Tracker: June 2014

Ty Vincent
Spencer Merle and Jordan Lugowksi, two ex-Tigers who earned all-Missota Conference honors last spring, are playing amateur baseball this summer for the Miesville Mudhens of the Cannon Valley League. Merle played for Century College this spring, one of the top-rated junior college nines in the country.

Ty Vincent, another former Tiger and a member of the University of St. Thomas baseball team this spring, is playing summer ball for another Cannon Valley team, the Randolph Railcats...Ex-FHS three-sport athlete Nick Davis, who played college baseball at Concordia University in St. Paul, is on the roster of the Elko Express of the Dakota-Rice-Scott League.

When Farmington opens it 2014 season on August 29 against state-power Wayzata at Tiger Stadium it will mark a a family reunion of sorts. Former Tiger and University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse player Ben Froehling, the son of Tiger head coach Mark Froehling, is a sophomore line coach at Wayzata...Former Tiger assistant coach Jeff Whitney is now the head football coach at St. James High School.

Unless the Missota Conference reappears at some future date, a handful of track Tigers will forever be all-Missota record holders. Senior-to-be Justin Hyytinen clocked the best-ever conference time in the 3200-meter run this spring and Hyytinen, Nehemiah Rockett, Ryan Parco and Devon Webb set the all-time league standard in the 4x400 relay at the same meet.

Two previous Tiger relay teams, the 2005 4x200 foursome of Jordan Hauschild, Otimio Masso, Cody Eich and Josh Jackson and the 2007 quartet of Hauschild, Masso, Luke Sturm and Jackson owns the best-ever conference time in the 4x100 relay.

Nadia Lorencz
On the girls' side of the ledger, the Tigers finished with five all-time Missota Conference marks, including Nadia Lorencz (now running for Michigan State) in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles; Alyssa Parco (now running for Brigham Young) in the 300-meter hurdles; the 2010 4x200 relay team of Parco, Erin Hickey (now running for Minnesota-Duluth, Maria Kiminski and Amy Kiminski (both running for the College of St. Benedict) and the 2012 4x400 relay quartet of Parco, Alicia Hett, Megan Graham and Isabelle Ferm.

Former Tiger track standout Kaitlin Mincke wrapped up her collegiate running career at the University of Minnesota by running the 1500-meter run at the NCAA regional meet held at the University of Arkansas two weeks ago.

Lakeville South, who beat the Tigers in the championship game of the Section 1AAA softball tournament and eventually went on win the state tournament, was coached by former Tiger coach Rob Laden.

There's still time to sign up for the annual Louie Schmitz Memorial Classic golf fundraiser set for next Friday (June 20) at Southern Hills Golf Course. The event raises monies for scholarships for FHS students as well as helping to pay participation fees for eligible youth athletes. The registration fee of $100 includes 18 holes of goal with cart, food and refreshments and a post-tournament dinner. For more information contact former Tigers John Barger (952-240-6793 or johnbarger@frontiernet.net) or Bobby Schmitz (schmitzr21@gmail.com).

Girls Track: Winning tradition continues

Field MVP Isabelle Ferm ran in her 4th straight state meet (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Coach Tom Hart said his team's 2014 spring season could be described in a single word: Successful.

"I think we had great season," Hart said. "The girls improved as the season progressed and we achieved our goal of running faster, jumping higher and farther and throwing farther."

Farmington finished second at the Missota Conference Championships and third at both the Section 1AA and True Team section meets.

"With those finishes I was happy with our season," Hart said. "Izzie Ferm also qualified for the state meet again and we sent three relay teams to state. That's the most I have witnessed in my almost 20 years being around Farmington track."

Hart added that the closest thing to a disappointment came in a so-so showing at state that had his four entrants reach the podium just once. The 4x200 relay team of Ferm, Emma Record, Jennifer Miller and Megan Graham finished ninth at the state finals.

Emma Record (above) and Lauren Peterson shared Track MVP honors  (photo by Jim Lindquist)

Seventh-grade distance runner Lauren Peterson (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"If I could re-do anything it would be to get another shot at a couple of events at state," he said. "We had some athletes battling injuries that prevented them from achieving their goals."

Hart and his staff awarded varsity letters to 38 athletes for their contributions during the 2014 season, including 10 seniors: Kathryn Beckett, Jessica Bowens, Morgan Cecchittini, Alex Elliot, Kelli Elmer, Isabelle Ferm, Aly Grebner, Abby Kampa, Chantal Kheirallah and Maricia Pacheco.

Underclassmen earning letters included juniors Sofia Chadwick, Nicole Doran, Ashley Ellefson, Megan Graham, Alicia Hett, Kendall Novak, Destiny Schmitz, Alexandra Sitzman and Jordan Walls; sophomores Racquel Beckett, Kaylin Finstad, Amanda Flanscha, MaKayla Ford, Emma Goralksi, Lexi Hermoza, Leah Kiage, Morgan Mach, Jennifer Miller, Maricella Pacheco, Asuah Reedy and Elizabeth Welter; freshmen Victoria Almquist, Rachel Kiminski, Samantha Kramer, Shannon McKnight and Emma Record and seventh graders Lauren Peterson and Anna Palodichuk.

**A complete list of other team members appears at the end of this story

Ferm won all-Missota Conference distinction for the fourth consecutive season and teamed up with Hett, Graham and Miller to win the 4x400 conference title. The 4x200 relay foursome of Ferm, Record, Miller and Graham also reigned as Missota champions.

Ferm closed her standout career with a fourth trip to the state meet and was joined by the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 (Chadwick, Peterson, Mach, Hett) relay teams.

Alicia Hett (above) and Megan Graham received the Tiger Award (photo by Jim Lindquist)
 Ferm took home team MVP honors for the field events while Record and Peterson shared "Most Valuable" honors on the track. Hett and Graham were co-winners of the Tiger Award for attitude and work ethic and pole vaulter Kendall Novak received the Most Improved Award.

With 10 state meet qualifiers returning next year Hart said the future continues to look bright in the Tiger camp.

Megan Graham (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"We look to build from this year's successes but realize we need to keep working because the competition will be doing the same," he said.

Farmington moves to the talent-laden South Suburban Conference next year and Hart aid he is excited about the change.

"Many of our meets have already been South Suburban-heavy so we are familiar with most of the teams," he said. "The South Suburban coaches have told us they are happy to see us arrive as it will make the conference stronger."

**2014 Girls Track participants
Kali Allard, Sydney Bockelman, Sarah Cummings, Alexis Johnson, Ariel Rau, and Jordan Trout
Kaitlyn Bessler, Kaitlin Edwards, Ratinaqu Hach, Kelly Haeg, Emily Larsen, Courtney McCuddin, Hannah Morgan, Jessica Novotny, Asuah Reedy, Taylor Scharrat, Hannah Stoefel and Vanessa Thraen
Emma-Jean Anderson, Kayla Bauman, Gabrielle Elliot, Amma Ewuakye, Kiana Gates, Lily Gildenzopf, Gabrielle Herrera, Catherine Hurley, Sami Hyytinen, Maria Paduano, Amanda Schmidt, Shaina Thelen, Bethany Weiher and Grace Welter
Emily Schaffer

11 June 2014

Boys Track: One big highlight reel

All-stater Tanner Grubb one of 19 seniors (photos by J. Lindquist)
Three meet championships, including both the Missota Conference and Section 1AA titles; a strong showing at the prestigious Hamline Elite meet; nine-state meet qualifiers; a record ninth place finish at the state championships; multiple school records and countless personal best performances.

Not even a late spring and the miserable weather that followed could keep Farmington from another memorable season.

"A big goal for this season was to make sure the seniors left something behind to remember," coach Brian Helmstetter said. "Many of them had been varsity athletes for four years and we wanted them to show the younger grades how hard work equals success. They certainly did that."

A large class of 19 seniors received letters for their efforts during the 2014 campaign: Mason Auge, Alexander Burton, Sean Dougherty, Jack Erickson, Mason Gaylord, Tanner Grubb, Jeff Gutierrez, Jacob Hove, Brendan King, Derek Klotter, Jakob Lee, Sean McHenry, Godfrey Mpetey, Josh Patterson, Santana Perdomo, Hunter Sevenich, Riley Stevenson, Jared Wolt and CJ Wynings.

**A complete list of letterwinners appears at the bottom of the page.

Although most coaches would be more than satisfied with a second place finish, Helmstetter noted his team's runner-up effort at the Section 1AA True Team Championships was the only meet he would like to have back.

"We came within 10 points of winning it so that was somewhat of a disappointment," he said. "But instead of falling part after not achieving that goal, we re-grouped and rose up to win the conference and section."

Justin Hyytinen broke 3 school records (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Six individuals and two relay teams won all-Missota Conference honors. The individuals included Grubb (200 and 400-meter dashes); Justin Hyytinen (1600 and 3200-meter runs); Nehemiah Rockett (110 and 300-meter hurdles); Wyatt Ferm (high jump); Wynings (discus) and King (discus).

The 4x400 relay team of Rockett, Ryan Parco, Devon Webb and Hyytinen won all-league honors as did the 4x800 quartet of Sevenich, Wolt, Adam Dougherty and Webb. Webb also received all-conference honorable mention in the 800-meter run.

The individual state meet qualifiers included Hyytinen (1600 and 3200), Grubb (200 and 400) and Wynings (discus).

The Tigers set a school record by qualifying all four relay teams for state: 4x100 (Caleb Bray, Erickson, McHenry, Auge); 4x200 (Auge, Erickson, Ryan Parco, Grubb); 4x400 (Rockett, Parco, Webb, Hyytinen) and 4x4800 (Hart, Adam Dougherty, Wolt, Webb).

Grubb (track) and Wynings (field) were named team co-MVP's while Hyytinen, who personally re-wrote the FHS distance record book by setting new standards in the 800, 1600 and 3200-meter runs, was the recipient of the Tiger Award. McHenry and Parco shared the team's Most Improved Award.

In addition to Hyytinen's record-shattering season, Grubb also set a new standard in the 400-meter dash (48.82). The 4x400 relay foursome of Rockett, Webb, Hyytinen and Grubb also established a new school mark at the state meet (3:20.97).

"Justin has another year left but those other two records may stand for awhile," Helmstetter said.

Helmstetter said one of his biggest tasks next spring will be replacing this year's seniors, especially when it comes to leadership.

"Because we had such a strong senior group, our younger athletes haven't had as many opportunities to be team leaders," he said. "The success we have next season will depend on the work and dedication we put in during the off-season. That will start with our leaders."

Getting more athletes to come out for the sport also ranks high on Helmstetter's to-do list.

"There are too many FHS athletes that are not out for spring sports," he said. "Those are the guys who could help us make some noise in our new conference next season."

Farmington moves to the highly competitive South Suburban Conference next year but Helmstetter said he doesn't see his team suffering much in the way of culture shock.

"The South Suburban Conference meet will obviously be tougher," he said, "but we compete against most of those schools already. The new conference should help us better prepare for the section."

2014 Boys Track letterwinners (grades 9-11)
Jake Bauerle,  Wyaatt Ferm, Garret Haugen, Zach Herrera, Mike Husnik, Justin Hyytinen, Ryan Parco, Nehemiah Rockett, Dan Som and Tanner Thode
Caleb Bray, Adam Dougherty, Alex Hart, David Husnik, Dalton States, Alex Swearingen and Devon Webb
David Gutsalyuk and Alexander Hall 

2014 Boys Track participants (grades 9-12)
Sam Ellison and Westin Loeshke
Max Aldana, Jonathan Bovee, Cristian Brollier, Robin DeCastro, Dylan Hammerschmidt. Matthew Jenny, Elie Kahlerrah, Long Lam,Dylan Pitzen, Luis Rodriguez, Jacob Roepke, Zachary Teiken, Calvin Vue, Peyton Woller and Nick Zellen
Gavin Bassett, Jesse Chanthakhoun, Alexander Clemonts, Derek Cole, Adriano DeOliveira, Nino Doungbouty, Cole Dubbels, Dylan Gerlach, Josh Grimm, Zachary Knutson-Rivers, Aaron Koenigsberg, Jake Langr, Ryan Newton, Dylan Otterness, Braeden Peterson, Robel Ponds, Jackson Reed, Kyle Rotvold, Matthew Rowe, Samule Rutz, Nhezzim Salmeron, Jackson Schneider, Jake Schwartz, Tyler Shafer, Kyle Smith, Ben Sorenson and Matthew Townsend
Zachary Adamson, Bryant Aguilar, Christopher Erickson, Keon Gates, Kellen Grundman, Zachary Johnson, Derek Kulla, Kurawel Negash, Matthew O'Malley, Sam Okikiolu, Miguel Ponce, Zachary Redlin, Bryan Scavone, Taylor Tabolich, MacCoy Urbia and Rob Vasquez

10 June 2014

Softball: Another successful season

All-state centerfielder Carly Esselman (photo by J. Lindquist)
Farmington didn't win its third straight section championship but it did manage to put together another solid season under third-year coach Paul Harrington.

The Tigers finished 16-9 overall (9-5 in the Missota Conference) and went 4-2 in the section tourney, losing twice to eventual Class AA champion Lakeville South.

"We had another very late, cold spring," Harrington said, "but the kids on all four of our teams were great facing the disappointment of so much practicing in the gym.

"It took us awhile to get our rhythm but when we hit the last week of the regular season we felt we were ready for another great playoff run which we had."

Twelve players were awarded varsity letters at the team's post-season banquet held Monday night: seniors Jordyn Keprios and McKenzie Nelson; juniors Molly Berdan, Amber Doyle, Ashley Ibinger and Taylor Yousse; sophomores Carly Esselman, Nicole Pierick and Meghan Silber and freshmen Emily Berdan, Caitie Dully and Maddie Muelken.

Esselman who led the team in hitting with a .420 average, was nemed the St. Paul Pioneer Press all-state team, the Minnesota Coaches Association second all-state team,  and also earned all-Missota Conference and all-section honors.

Ibinger (.388), Muelken (12-7 pitching record) and Yousse were all-section selections while Ibinger, Muelken, and Doyle (4 home runs and 24 RBI) joined Esselman on the all-Missota squad.

Other awards announced Monday night at the awards banquet included team and offensive MVP: Esselman; Defensive MVP: Muelken; Most Improved Player: Ibinger and Dully and Tiger Award: Molly Berdan.
Maddie Muelken won 12 games as a freshman (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Harrington said the list of accomplishments of the 2014 edition of Tiger softball was a long one, topped by reaching the section finals for the third straight season; huge back-to-back wins over Hastings and Rochester Mayo to reach the section title game and providing a defense that averaged less than an error a game throughout the season.

"This was also one of the most enthusiastic teams I have ever coached," Harrington said. "Our dugout was especially loud."

Ashley Ibinger hit .388
Harrington was reluctant to point out disappointments encountered along the 2014 trail but offered that two things top the to-do list for next season 1) being more consistent making contact with the ball (too many strikeouts) and 2) executing the bunt.

"It's also important to note we added a fourth team to our program this year," Harrington said, "and it turned out to be very successful."

While this season brought much success only Keprios and Nelson will be lost to graduation and with a veteran squad returning, Harrington looks for an even more prosperous 2015.

Amber Doyle (4 HR, 24 RBI) (photo by J. Lindquist)
"We were fairly young this year, especially at pitcher and catcher," he said, "but Maddie (Muelken) and Meghan (Silber) did a great job with Maddie taking charge at the end of the season. Much of their success success came from Emily (catcher Berdan) who caught the majority of innings.

"We will miss our two seniors who played solidly all season but we feel that the experience the others gained this year will be very beneficial and lead to more success next season."

Better win-loss numbers will likely not come easy, however, as Farmington makes the leap into the uber-strong South Suburban Conference in the fall.

"The South Suburban is by far the most competitive softball conference in the state," Harrington said. "We will obviously have a much tougher regular season schedule in the years to come. Our players and coaches will need to step it up and be full prepared.

"But we feel the rigorous regular season schedule will have us much better prepared for the section playoffs.and another run at the state tournament."

Baseball: Best in years

Parker Holmstrom: MVP, All-Missota Conference, Top Gun (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Prior to the start of his first year as head coach Jon Graff said he felt that if he and his team focused on the process and took care of business positive results would follow. Looking back on the 2014 season it looks like they did.

The Tigers finished the season with an 11-9 record (6-8 in the Missota Conference), their best since tying for the Missota Conference championship and advancing to the Section 1AA Final Four in 2006.

"I can honestly say we lived up to our potential," Graff said. "We made some errors and everything wasn't always perfect, but that's baseball.

"We played to the best of our abilities and had fun doing it. We played a lot of good baseball and when things did go wrong, we did a good job of battling through adversity."

Graff and his staff awarded 14 letters to members of the team at its post-season banquet. Monorgam winners included  seniors JD Hinks, Landon Neilsen, Jordan DeCroock, Jordan Beschorner, Johnny Dittman, Ryan Gebel, Nick Schoening, Kyle Johnson and Tyler Clayton and juniors Parker Holmstrom, Austin Martinsen, Bobby Eckert, Maverick Carlson and Robert Kramer.

MVP Holmstrom who hit a team-high .382 and went 4-2 pitching with a 2.03 earned run average and Dittman (.299 average) landed spots on the all-Missota Conference team. Hinks (4-1, 1.75 ERA) and 1Martinsen (team-best 15 RBI) received all-league honorable mention.

Holmstrom also received the Top Gun Award as the top pitcher while DeCroock (.359 average) took home "Batting Champ" honors. The Mr. D award went to Dittman and Johnson and Clayton shared the Tiger Award for attitude and work ethic.

Johnny Dittman: All-Missota Conference, Mr. D (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Graff said improved pitching (team ERA of 3.48) and hitting (team average of .302) stood out as primary reasons for the team's success.

"Hinks and Holmstrom had rock solid years pitching and we improved our team batting average 40 points from last year," he said.

Graff also liked the variety of ways his team was able to put together wins: blowouts, nail-biters and those of the come-from-behind variety.

"Lastly, the kids were a highlight," he said, "They made my first year both enjoyable and memorable. They played the game the right way, cared for each other and really believed in themselves. They were just great."

As far as disappointments, Graff said only one one stood out.

"Losing our first section game (4-3) to Lakeville South hurt," he said. "But South played a tough schedule all year and they took advantage of what we gave them. We almost battled all the way back but we just came up a little short."

Losing nine seniors will create a vacuum but the Tiger coach said next year's cupboard will not be entirely bare.

"We'll have a good core returning and some others who we will look to step into new roles.," he said. "We're also getting a little deeper at the younger levels which should help competition for positions. We'll have good pitching depth again...We should be just fine."

Next year will also bring about a major change in the regular season schedule as the Tigers move to the South Suburban Conference.

"The Missota is a good baseball conference but the South Suburban is deeper with some of the best teams in the state," Graff said. "There won't be any easy games, that for sure."

Boys Golf: Youth is served

Jake Jensen (with coach Jon Holmes) ranked 5th in the Missota Conference
Despite a varsity lineup that included but one senior and one junior the Tigers put together a quality season, holding on to the fifth spot in the Missota Conference standings and setting a positive tone for the future.

"I'm very proud," Tiger coach Jon Holmes said. "I had a ton of fun with this group of boys.

"They are all multi-sport athletes and I think that had  a lot to do with their success. They are very well-rounded individuals and embody some of the personal characteristics I appreciate most. That made for a very productive, competitive and enjoyable season."

The six members of the varsity squad earned varsity letters for their contributions to the 2014 season, including senior Tyler VanWinkle; junior Sam Newcomb; sophomores Jake Jensen and Lucas Berg and freshmen Darby Grengs and Isaac Ferm.

Jensen had an outstanding spring, ranking fifth among individuals in the Missota Conference, the highest for a Tiger since state meet performer Greg Werner graduated.

Holmes also singled out two members of the junior varsity team, Brock Lange and Andy Meyer, who each improved his game during the season and will be counted on to contribute next spring.

"We lost six of our top eight players from last season, so the outlook coming into this season was murky," Holmes said. "But looking back we accomplished a lot.

"We finished second at the conference meet at Fountain Valley, our highest place ever, and we had a couple of meets in a row where our team score was under 310. That's also a first in a very long time."

Holmes said the major obstacles to even more success were consistency and, of course, youth.

"We still need more tournament experience and several of our players will be getting that this summer," he said. "That will also help the mental approach to the game that only comes with experience."

With that said, Holmes is excited about the next few years of Tiger golf.

"Our future is very bright," he said. "I can't wait to work with this group over the summer."

Unlike some of the other Tiger sports programs, Holmes doesn't expect to see a drastic change in competition level when Farmington moves to the South Suburban Conference next fall.

"The Missota was a very competitive golf conference," he said. "I think we will fit right in with the South Suburban. We just need to keep playing and improving."

08 June 2014

Girls Lacrosse: A season to savor

Rachael Welzin 33 goals, 20 assists (photo by Jim Lindquist)
A 14-win season. A top-five state ranking. A Missota Conference championship. A 13-game winning streak and a first-ever trip to the section finals. By any measurement, the 2014 Tiger girls' lacrosse season was one to remember.

"This was such a fun year," coach Dan Pickens said. "Things are always more fun when you are winning, but I am convinced that this group would have enjoyed the season regardless. We had some learning to do at the beginning, but once we really got going we were fun to watch.

"With the dynamics of our team having 13 seniors and 13 freshman we had to work a bit to gel.  I saw the girls grow so much as a team...The season was not without its challenges, but overall, things went about as well as they could."

To show the diversity of the 2014 Tigers, 13 of the 25 players receiving varsity letters at the post-season banquet were seniors and two were juniors. The remaining 10 were either eighth or ninth graders.

Defensive leader Shaye Jenrich (No. 3) (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Senior letterwinners included Shaye Jenrich, Kylee Glen, Lindsay Benson, Mikalaya Todd, Brooke Raske, Breanna Raske, Rachael Welzin. Kaitlyn Lacroix, Delaney Johnson, Kaeli Halverson, Kelly Kornmann, Bria Donnelly and Maddie Kohlbeck.

Underclassmen receiving letters included juniors Shelby Klotz and Becky Genzler; freshmen  Dani Wright, Ali Saby, Kamryn Corraro, Ashley Steffes, Amanda Davenport, Ashley Hessler and Alexis Stanley and eighth-graders Lexi Laube, Christine Steffes and Emma Kohlbeck.

 A record four players earned all-state recognition, including goalkeeper Maddie Kohlbeck (4.45 goals against average), Rachael Welzin (33 goals 20 assists), Klotz (47 goals) and defensive standout Shaye Jenrich.

Goalie of the Year finalist Maddie Kohlbeck (photo by J. Lindquist)
Kohlbeck, Welzin, Klotz and Ashley Steffes all made the all-Missota Conference team. Genzler and Jenrich received all-league honorable mention.

Kohlbeck is one of two finalists for the yet-to-be announced state Goalie of the Year Award.

When asked to point to the major highlights of the season, Pickens started to rattle off some examples like outscoring the opposition by a head-scratching 178-60 before finally settling on two that best described the memorable run.

"Basically, it came down to breaking every record in our book, having fun and enjoying our time together," he said.

Pickens said there was but one regret in the season jut completed, failure to get by Lakeville South in the section title game and landing the program's fist-ever berth in the state tournament.

Even though the strong senior class will be absent when practice starts next spring, Pickens says he is confident that winning lacrosse is here to stay for Farmington.

"We'll have a lot of younger players returning and we also have an excelling youth program to keep feeding us," he said. " Farmington is going to be a prominent force for a while now, and I am excited to be a part of it."

As for the move to the South Suburban Conference next year, Pickens said he is excited about the prospect.

Shelby Klotz scored a team-high 47 goals (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"The Missota was nice to have this year but we are a much better fit in the South Suburban," he said. "It will be nice to play some more competition throughout the season so we are better prepared for section and other post-season games."

Pickens said that players improving their skills over the off-season will continue to be a factor in his program's trend upward.

"Lacrosse is becoming more of a girls' main sport and that is a good thing for the program," he said. "Coaches also need to continue to learn and bring that expertise to the team.  A culture has been set and we need to continue to build leadership capacity within the program so that our success continues.

"Success is much more than the overall record. It is about how well everyone gets along, fun that is had and what lessons were learned. Usually when those things happen, a good record follows."

Track: Hyytinen, Grubb shine at wet state track

Justin Hyytinen (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The weather outside was frightful but the performances of Tigers Justin Hyytinen and Tanner Grubb were delightful at the 2014 Class AA Track and Field Championships held Saturday at soggy Hamline University.

Junior Hyytinen and senior Grubb had their hands in all 25 team points as Farmington finished in a three-way tie with North St. Paul and Moorhead for ninth place in the final team standings.

The Tigers qualified for the state meet in nine events and earned points in four.

"Justin and Tanner were outstanding against the state's best," coach Brian Helmstetter said.  "I would say we had a good state meet.

"There were a couple of places where we could have done better, but overall it was good."

Hyytinen started his busy state run with a seventh place finish in Thursday's 3200-meter run, finishing in 9:22.46.

Tanner Grubb (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The same day, Grubb made the 400-meter dash finals with a school record time of 48.88 and the 4x400 relay team of Nehemiah Rockett, Ryan Parco, Devon Webb and Grubb set another school mark of 3:21.74 in qualifying for Saturday's finals.

Hyytinen placed third in the 1600-meter run on Saturday in a star-studded field that saw the top six finishers hit the line in a span of fewer than three seconds.

Grubb added fourth place points in the open 400, slicing 06. of a second off his school record in the process with a finishing time of 48.82.

Hyytinen stepped in to join Rockett, Webb and Grubb for the 4x400 relay final and erased Thursday's school mark with a third place effort in 3:20.97.

Other state meet results:
Grubb finished 12th in the 200-meter dash preliminaries in 22.46 and did not qualify for the finals
The 4x800 relay team of Jared Wolt, Alex Hart, Sean Dougherty and Webb finished 15th in 8:25.02
The 4x100 relay team of Caleb Bray, Jack Erickson, Sean McHenry and Mason Auge did not qualify for the finals.
The 4x200 relay team of Auge, Bray, Erickson and Parco did not qualify for the finals
 CJ Wynings did not qualify for the finals in the discus.

Tiger Girls Results
Farmington scored a single team point at the state meet on a ninth place finish in the 4x200 relay by the team of Isabelle Ferm, Emma Record, Jennifer Miller and Megan Graham.

The 4x800 relay foursome of Sofia Chadwick, Lauren Peterson, Morgan Mach and Alicia Hett ranked 15th in 9:42.46.

Farmington's 4x400 team of Hett, Miller, Graham and Ferm ran a 3:59.08, three spots out of qualifying for the finals.

Ferm triple jumped 35-7.25 and finished in 15th place.

"We competed hard but it just wasn't there for us today," coach Tom Hart said.

"If there was a disappointment it came in the 4x400 where I thought we would run around a 3:57 in the prelims but it didn't happen. If we had gotten to the finals, I thing we would have had a shot a top five finish."

Farmington placed second in the 4x400 at the 2013 state meet.

Girls Golf: Continued improvement

Low-scorer Brianna Swenson
Inclement weather played havoc with the schedule but the Tigers still managed to show improvement during the 2014 season.

Though it slipped a spot in the Missota Conference rankings from last spring, Farmington rallied to place eighth out of 12 teams at the Section 1AAA Championships, its highest finish in recent years.

"Our team score dropped from around 460 to 400 over the season," coach Jon Stock said. "This is a competitive score in our conference.

"Overall, it was a great year for Tiger golf. The girls all improved and had fun doing it. Though our numbers were down a bit from last year, our scores improved."

Nine players earned varsity letters for their play, including just two seniors: Brianna Swenson and Abby Monroe.

Underclassmen letterwinners included junior Jessica Olsen and Kaitlin O'Connell and sophomores Amanda Hansmann, Sidney Comes, Brook McConnell, Emma Sullivan and Kassandra Kruckeberg.

Swenson and Comes capped their 2104 seasons by making the cut for the final round of Section 1AAA individual play.

Stock said his program is working on two things to continue its upward trend: add more younger players to the mix and get more girls to play golf over the summer months.

That will be important because Farmington will be moving to the South Suburban Conference next fall. Stock sees the move as a competitive challenge that will also have some immediate benefits.

"We will get to play courses closer to home," he said, "so the girls will need to miss less school. They are excited for that."

Tiger Scoreboard: June 8, 2014

2014 Class AA State Track and Field Championships at Hamline University

Boys Highlights
Farmington tied for 9th place in team standings with 25 points
Justin Hyytinen placed third in 1600-meter run (9:22.46) and seventh in 3200-meter run (4:14.93)
Tanner Grubb placed fourth in the 400-meter dash (48.82)
4x400 relay team of Nehemiah Rockett, Devon Webb, Hyytinen and Grubb placed third in a school record time of 3:20.97

Girls Highlights
4x200 relay team of Isabelle Ferm, Emma Record, Jennifer Miller and Megan Graham placed ninth (1:45.63)

06 June 2014

Boys Tennis: A near-record seson

Bennett Lagro: MVP and all-Missota Conference
By any measure the 2014 season was a big success for coach Jack Olwell and his Tiger boys' tennis team.

Farmington finished 8-6 in regular season dual meet play, its best mark since 1999, and went 3-4 in the rugged Missota Conference, its best showing in recent years.

"I thought we would be better this year, but I underestimated how much better," Olwell said. "The epiphany came when we beat Simley 6-1. They beat us 7-0 last year with essentially the same team...We took some lumps early but we never lost heart."

Thirteen players and one student manager received varsity letters for their efforts during the weather-plagued 2014 season, including six seniors: Jon Zaksoki, Trent Kortenbusch, Austin Tremmel, Ivan Rodriguez, Jake Spindler and Nicolas Makhoul.

Underclassmen letterwinners included junior Garrett Brown; sophomores Bennett Lagro, Grady Hauswirth, Cooper Ericksen and Anthony Rattana; eighth-grader Jake Bauer; seventh-grader Gavin Renwick and manager Ryan Jara.

Lagro, who manned the demanding No. 1 singles spot all season, earned team MVP honors and landed a spot on the all-Missota Conference squad.

"Bennett was just the fifth Farmington No. 1 singles player player to finish with a .500 record in my 35 year years here," Olwell said, "and the first to be all-conference in the last decade."

Jake Bauer: all-conference honorable mention, Tiger Award winner
Bauer, who played at second singles, was all-conference honorable mention and the recipient of the Tiger Award for positive attitude and work ethic.

Rodriguez, Renwick and Ericksen shared Player of the Year honors. Zakoski, who received Academic All-State distinction, Tremmel and Kortenbusch served as captains of the 2014 squad.

"We had seven players, including all four at singles, finish at or above .500," Olwell said. "You have to go back 21 years to find that, so this was a fine and fun year.

"The best part for me was the degree to which our players were committed to the game and to each other."

Olwell said his seniors will be missed but he expects another quality season in 2015.

"It has been my experience that younger players serve as understudies to the seniors and often fill in admirably," he said.

The Tigers will have to adjust to new opposition next spring with their move to the South Suburban Conference.

"I'm not sure of the competition level there but it looks like it will be pretty stiff," Olwell said.

04 June 2014

Boys Golf: 3 Tigers make second round

Lucas Berg
Unsettled spring weather played havoc with the Section 1AAA tournament played Saturday and finally Tuesday at Montgomery National Golf Course in Montgomery.

Heavy rains suspended play on Saturday and wet grounds postponed play on Monday, so all teams returned on Tuesday to complete round one and play round two.

The Tigers didn't make the final eight in team competition based on opening round scores but still played on day two as three individuals--Darby Grengs, Lucas Berg and Sam Newcomb--did qualify in individual play.

"Nerves got to us the first day," coach Jon Holmes said, "and that took us out of the team competition."

Berg had the low opening round (83) for Farmington and drew some positive words from coach Jon Holmes

"Lucas played solid and stepped up," Holmes said. "He's got a very good mental game and is able to get up and down to save pars and bogeys...It was awesome to see him be rewarded with consistently lower scores as the season progressed."

Isaac Ferm
Newcomb and Grengs joined Berg in the final round with identical scores of 87. Isaac Ferm and Jake Jensen finished the opening day at 88 and Tyler VanWinkle shot 91.

For the two days, Berg and Ferm carded 162, Jensen 167, Grengs 173 and VanWinkle 174. Newcomb could not finish his second round after being hit with an errant shot and taken for medical treatment.

"All in all, it was a valuable experience for our young team," Holmes said. "I'm excited to work with them this summer."

Girls Lacrosse: South spoils another party

2014 Section 1 runner-ups (photo by Jim Lindquist)
If Farmington is looking to develop a rivalry in the South Suburban Conference next year, Lakeville South might be an appropriate choice.

For the fourth time this spring the Cougars eliminated the Tigers from post-season competition, this time with a 12-5 win in Tuesday's night's Section 1 championship at Tiger Stadium.

Over the previous two weeks South had also taken out Farmington in post-season play in baseball, softball and boys lacrosse.

Tuesday's title match pitted the No. 5-rated Tigers who came in riding a 13-game winning streak and the sixth-ranked Cougars who had won six straight.

The Tigers shot out of the gate with leading scorers Rachael Welzin and Shelby Klotz each finding the net in the game's first 65 seconds for a 2-0 lead.

South responded in kind but Ashley Steffes put her team back on top 3-2 with a goal at 7:56 of the opening half.

Farmington held its last lead at 4-3 on Becky Genzler's score with 6:52 to go before intermission before the game took an about face. South rattled off four unanswered goals in the final four minutes of the half to hit the break with a three-goal lead.

Rachael Welzin scored 2 goals (photo by Jim Lindquist)

 "Lacrosse is a game of runs, more than any other sport I have played or coached," Tiger coach Dan Pickens said. "I have seen leads appear and disappear very fast. The beginning and end of the halves are huge and they came up big."
The second half belonged to the Cougars who seemed to control every face-off and subsequently time of possession.

"We won only six out of 19 draws in the game and that along with the possession made a big difference," Pickens said.

South scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half and then after Welzin netted the only Tiger goal of the second half, tacked on three more to sew up the Section 1 berth in next week's state tournament in Chanhassen.

"The biggest difference was ball control and winning little battles around the field for possession," Pickens said. "If we could go back and had another day to prepare, I wouldn’t do anything differently. We were ready and the girls were excited. It just wasn’t our night."

The final shots on goal numbers told the ball control story as the Cougars finished with a 25-9 bulge. Tiger goalie Maddie Kohlbeck racked up 13 saves in her final high school game.

Farmington finished the season with a school-record 14-2 mark with both losses to South. The Tigers went undefeated while winning the first-ever Missota Conference championship and according to Pickens, raised the bar for his program significantly.

"I have to keep reminding myself and the girls not to be sad because it ended, but happy because it happened," Pickens said. "This was an incredible ride. I knew we were going to be good this year, but had no idea we would accomplish this much.

"I am so proud of how this team came together and acted as a team. When one got down, others picked her up. The season was not without its challenges, but I will remember this team and this year for many years. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of a great group like this."

Shelby Klotz had a goal and an assist (photo by Jim Lindquist)

Tiger Scoreboard: June 4, 2014

Girls Lacrosse
Section 1 Championship
Lakeville South 12 Farmington 5
Farmington finishes the season with a best-ever 14-2 record

02 June 2014

Girls Golf: Season ends at section meet

Brianna Swenson
Tiger senior Brianna Swenson shot a second round 102 to finish her 36-hole run in the Section 1AAA tournament at 194, 19 shots above the cut line for next week's state tournament.

Another Tiger golfer, Sidney Comes, also qualified for the second round but did not compete in the meet held Monday at Cannon Golf Club in Cannon Falls.

"It was a good day for Brianna at her last high school golf meet," coach Jon Stock said.

Boys Lacrosse: South ousts Tigers in semifinals

Kevin Clifton scored four goals (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Farmington defeated Lakeville South 9-3 in the opening game of the 2014 season but the Cougars got their pay back, downing the Tigers 9-6 in the semifinals of the Section 1 tournament played Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

Farmington finished its most successful season in its five-year history with a final record of 11 wins and four losses.

The rematch with South was close throughout with the Tigers trailing by a goal at 7-6 heading into the final period, but coach Paul Sorensen's team couldn't produce a score over the final 12 minutes.

Senior Kevin Clifton finished his career on a high note in the losing effort, scoring four of the six Tiger goals. Nick Hinnenkamp and Dan Block netted the other Farmington scores.

Hinnenkamp, Jake Herrera, Mitch Hilton and Chris Fitzgibbons each added assists for the Tigers in the season finale.

"It all came down to playing all four quarters," assistant coach Isaiah Neal said. "We built ourselves a hole and spent the whole second half trying to pry ourselves out but it wasn't enough.

"It was a tough loss. Our seniors made this season unforgettable and they will truly be missed."

The contest was the final in a Tiger uniform for 10 seniors: Clifton, Fitzgibbons, Hilton, Block, Alex Aubrecht, Michael Thompson, Caleb Hakala, Nick Workman, Corey Rudrud and Alex Kelly.

01 June 2014

Girls Track: Ferm, 3 relays to state meet

Isabelle Ferm to state in 3 events (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Senior Isabelle Ferm is going back to the state meet for the fourth consecutive year and several teammates are joining her for the trip.

Ferm won the Section 1AA triple jump title with a leap of 36-4 and ran legs on both the second place 4x200 (1:44.26) and 4x400 (3:59.03) relay teams to qualify for the state meet and help the Tigers to a third place finish Saturday at Lakeville South.

Emma Record, Jennifer Miller and Megan Graham joined Ferm on the 4x200 team and Miller, Graham Alica Hett and Ferm ran the 4x400.

"This is Izzy's fourth year making into the state meet," Tiger coach Tom Hart said, "and hopefully she can get that elusive championship that she has been close to."

The 4x800 relay foursome of Sofia Chadwick, Lauren Peterson, Morgan Mach and Hett ran together for the first time this season and ran 9:39.20 to place second and punch its ticket to the state finals  next weekend at Hamline University in St. Paul.

The four state qualifiers helped the Tigers to a third place finish in the 12-team section field.

State powerhouse Lakeville South won the meet with a dominant 151 points. Lakeville North grabbed the runner-up spot with 79 points, six more than the third place Tigers. Other point totals included Rochester Century 66.5, Northfield 55.5,  Winona 49, Rochester John Marshall 41, Red Wing 41, Rochester Mayo 39, Austin 38, Faribault 25, Owatonna 19, Kasson-Mantorville 13, Hastings 9 and Albert Lea 3.

4x800 relay: Sofia Chadwick, Lauren Peterson, Morgan Mach and Alicia Hett

"The 4x800 started the day off for us in the right direction," Tiger coach Tom Hart said. "After that the ladies brought a lot of fight to their events.

"Qualifying the three relays was a wonderful way to end the day. All of the preparation our coaches and athletes put in this season showed as their performances were great."

Two other Tigers came tantalizing close to making the state cut. Destiny Schmitz ranked second in the triple jump heading into the final round before Northfield's Anna Pfefferle edged by her to take the final spot on the state roster.

Freshman sprinter Record had the best preliminary time in the 200-meter dash but finished third in the finals, .38 of a second out of second place and a state bid.

Hart said the first goal for the state qualifiers is to reach the finals but the ultimate aim is a spot on the awards stand.

"Getting to the podium and making all-state," he said. "That is my goal for all of them."

Other Farmington point scorers:
100-meter dash: 4. Morgan Cecchittini; 6. Record
800-meter run: 6. Hett
1600-meter run: 6. Maricia Pacheco
3200-meter run: 4. Peterson
Pole vault: 4. Kendall Novak

Boys Track: Having their cake and eating it, too

Tanner Grubb (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Justin Hyytinen (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Most coaches have one of two goals in mind when it comes to the section track: 1) advancing as many athletes as possible to the state meet or 2) winning the team title.

After the conclusion of Saturday's Section 1AA Championships at Lakeville South, Tiger coach Brian Helmstetter found his deep and talented squad had accomplished both.

Farmington qualified for next weekend's state finals at Hamline University in St. Paul in a school-record tying nine events and in doing so came away with its third-ever section title with 135.5 team points.

"The goal was to qualify as many athletes for state as we could..." Helmstetter said, "but with that being said, we knew if the boys took care of business, a top three placement was well within reach also."

Turns out the Tigers took home the championship hardware with relative ease with runner-up Hastings well back with 99 points. Owatonna ranked third with 84 followed by Lakeville North 78, Rochester Century 55.5, Rochester John Marshall 50, Austin 43, Red Wing 41, Lakeville South 39, Faribault 26.5, Winona 17.5, Albert Lea 12, Rochester Mayo 12, Kasson-Mantorville 7 and Northfield 2.

As has been the case all season, the Tiger effort was led by senior Tanner Grubb and junior Justin Hyytinen. Each qualified for state in two individual events and a relay.

Grubb won the 200-meter (22.32) and 400-meter (49.47) dashes and anchored the winning 4x200 relay team of Mason Auge, Jack Erickson and Ryan Parco (1:29.83). Grubb's winning time in the 400 shaved .17 seconds off his school record time set earlier this year.

Hyytinen out-kicked Hastings' Zack Benning down the stretch to win the 1600-meter run in 4:13.83 to break his old school mark. He also took second in the 3200-meter run and showed his versatility in joining Nehemiah Rockett, Parco and Devon Webb on the second place 4x400 relay team.

CJ Wynings (center) won the discus with a throw of 158-2
Farmington's third individual to qualify for state was CJ Wynings who eclipsed his old personal mark by eight feet in the discus with a winning throw of 158-2.

The 4x800 relay foursome of Alex Hart, Sean Dougherty, Jared Wolt and Webb started the meet out on a high note by posting a winning time of 8:12.70.

The 4x100 relay quartet of Caleb Bray, Jack Erickson, Sean McHenry and Auge punched its ticket to the state meet with a second place finish.

"Our 4x100 and 4x800 were up in the air as to how they would compete with the other teams," Helmstetter said. "Those were huge positives as both move on."

Helmstetter said if there were any disappointments to take away from the productive day it was the three third place finishers who fell one spot short of making the trip to Hamline.

"The toughest part about this meet is we left three athletes at the altar," he said. "Mason Gaylord (triple jump), Wyatt Ferm (high jump) and Nehemiah Rockett (300 hurdles) were one place away."

Helmstetter, who was named the Section 1AA Coach of the Year following the meet, downplayed his recognition and gave the credit to his athletes and assistant coaches.

"It was the boys who went out and ran and jumped and threw," he said. "And I wish the award had all of our coaches names on it. It's an incredible compliment from the other section coaches as they felt our program, both boys and girls, made a statement at this meet."

The 13-member contingent heading to state now has less than a week to prepare for its biggest test of the season.

"Our goal is to get as many individuals and relay teams into the finals as possible," Helmstetter said. "The team points will come if the boys perform as they are capable."

Other Farmington point scorers at the section meet:
100-meter dash: 5. Auge; 6. Erickson
200-meter dash: 6. Bray
400-meter dash: 4. Parco
800-meter run:4. Webb
1600-meter run: 7. Hart
110-meter hurdles: 5. Rockett
300-meter hurdles: 3. Rockett
Long jump: 5. McHenry
Triple jump: 6. Rockett
Discus: 8. Brendan King

All in all, 13 different Tigers qualified for the state meet

Tiger Scoreboard: June 1, 2014

Boys Track
Section 1AA Championships at Lakeville South
Farmington 135.5, Hastings 99, Owatonna 84, Lakeville North 78, Rochester Century 55.5, Rochester John Marshall 50, Austin 43, Red Wing 41, Lakeville South 39, Faribault 26.5, Winona 17.5, Albert Lea 12, Rochester Mayo 12, Kasson-Mantorville 7, Northfield 2
Tigers advance to the Class AA State Championships in a school-record nine events

Girls Track
Section 1AA Championships at Lakeville South
Lakeville South 151, Lakeville North 79, Farmington 73, Rochester Century 66.5, Northfield 55.5,  Winona 49, Rochester John Marshall 41, Red Wing 41, Rochester Mayo 39, Austin 38, Faribault 25, Owatonna 19, Kasson-Mantorville 13, Hastings 9, Albert Lea 3
Tigers qualify three relay teams and one individual for Class AA state meet

13 in a row and a trip to the finals

Ashley Steffes 7 goals, assist (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Fifth-ranked Farmington (14-1) won its 13th game in a row and earned its first-ever trip to the section finals with a dominant 16-6 semifinal win over Owatonna Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

The high-flying Tigers dominated the play early on against the Huskies but had a little trouble putting the ball in the net. Gradually the scoring gates opened and by intermission the section's top seed was sitting on a 7-2 lead.

"We started the game with a lot of possession time, but we couldn’t score right away," coach Dan Pickens sad. "But it was obvious early that we had a winning attitude and it was going to take a lot to slow us down.

"We also knew they had two girls that score most of their goals and we were going to have to shut them down. Our defense and (goalie) Maddie Kohlbeck played with attitude..."

On offense Ashley Steffes, Rachael Welzin and Shelby Klotz combined to score 14 of the Farmington goals. Steffes had a huge night, scoring seven goals and assisting on one.

Maddie Kohlbeck 14 saves (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"The biggest difference in the game was our team offense," Pickens said. "It was the best it's been all year...Ashley (Steffes) is a very underrated player who really stepped up when they keyed on Rachael (Welzin) and Shelby (Klotz)..."

Welzin tallied four goals and two assists and leading season goal scorer Shelby Klotz (40) chipped in with a hat trick. Kaeli Halverson and Amanda Davenport also scored for the Missota Conference champions. Becky Genzler didn't score a goal but chimed in with five assists.

Kohlbeck, a finalist for state Goalie of the Year honors, faced 20 shots and finished with 14 saves.

The semifinal victory set up a rematch with six-ranked Lakeville South Tuesday night at Tiger Stadium for the Section 1 title and a berth in the state tournament scheduled for Chanhassen the following week.

The Cougars scored a goal in the game's final 10 seconds to hand Farmington its only loss in the second game of the regular season.

"We are ready." Pickens said. " No matter what happens, we know it is going to be a fast-paced, well-played lacrosse game."