by Dave Pedersen
Sun PRESS Newspapers
When the whistle blew to end the recent high school winter sports season, there was one more task to finish- the handing out of achievements.
Highlights for Delano and Rockford teams included Delano boys basketball advancing to the state tournament for the first time in 20 years. Tucker Sjomeling, an eighth-grader, captured the first state wrestling title in Delano school history.
The Delano-Rockford hockey teams both had standout seasons. The boys advanced to the section title game before losing to state power Breck. The girls lost in the section semifinals for the third straight season to eventual state champion Minnetonka.
However, during the season, the girls upset three teams that were ranked No. 1 at the time, two from Class AA and one in Class A. Girls hockey also earned co-champion honors in the Mississippi 8 Conference and had its best record in team history at 20-7.
All-Conference honors went to Lindsey Hartfiel, Madi Jewell, Lindsay Roethke, Katie Rooney and Emily Varner. Honorable mention All-Conference went to Ashley Effertz, Abby Halluska, Mackenzie Rixe, Allison Roethke and Katie Vatnsdal.
Jewell was named rookie of the year and Kirsten Olson was most improved and Miss hustle. Varner was the top defender and Rooney called the top offensive player, plus was named to the All-Metro team. Lindsay Roethke received the coach’s award. Playing in the Senior Classic All-Star Series was Hartfiel, Rooney and Varner.
Hartfiel was named as most valuable player and was a top five finalist for Ms. Hockey state goalie of the year. She also was named to the All-State team. Vatnsdal was given the school’s Hobey Baker Character Award.
Rooney became the program’s career points leader with 216. She ranks first for most goals in a single season with 38. Lindsay Roethke ranks first with 33 assists in a season. Hartfiel’s 20 wins in goal also is an all-time record.
The Delano-Rockford boys hockey team placed three on the All-Conference team, including seniors Eric Ylitalo and Adam McLain, plus junior Grant Prinsen.
Ylitalo was the top goal scorer and most valuable player. He also was selected to play in the Ted Brill Great 8 All-Star tournament. McLain was the “Tiger” award winner, while Aaron Grangroth was most improved, Danial Keranen was rookie of the year and Levi Peterson was given the Hobey Baker Character Award.
Captains for next season are Chet Halonen, Justin Oja and Grant Prinsen.
Rockford wrestlers Ty Griffin and Brad Johnson were named All-Conference and competed at the state tournament.
Delano wrestler Miles Hammerlund was named team most valuable player and advanced to state for the second straight season. He was 30-1 in the regular season, but was slowed by an ankle injury at the state meet.
Sjomeling won the state title and was named most dedicated at Delano. Sam Fink and Marty Soderberg were named most improved. Connor Dalbec was given the ‘E’ Award for Excellence in leadership, commitment and attitude. Ninth-grader Kevin Kneisl qualified for state as a light heavyweight, winning one match.
In girls basketball, Rockford’s Jayda Palmer was on the first All-Conference team. Brianna Calder and Jordan Weeding made the second team.
Calder was named as the hardest worker and most valuable player. Abby Botten was named most improved and Nugi Lee was rookie of the year.
Delano girls basketball had two All-Conference first team selections in Alex Wittinger and Katie Emmer. Bria Barfnecht was on the second team.
Team awards went to Kalley Koch for best practice player and most improved, Tayler Hedtke for the sixth man award, Brook Lemke for hustle and Wittinger for being chairman of the boards. Captains for next season include Gabrielle Mielke, Wittinger and Koch.
Rockford’s Brock Deering was named first team All-Conference in boys basketball. Jordan Redepenning and Nick Tully were on the second team.
Team awards were voted by the players. Deering and Redepenning were named as co-most valuable player. Deering was called the best offensive player and chairman of the boards and Redepenning received the character award along with Ben Arens.
Awards went to Jesse Gabler for best defensive player and most hustle, Joey Richardt for most improved, Karsten Poulsen for most inspirational. Tully was the free throw champ for shooting72.6 percent.
Most teams place two or three players on the Academic All-Conference team, but Rockford had nine this season, including Redepenning, Alex Shaikoski, Poulsen, Arens, Brody Harstad, Deering, Brendon Schumacher, Robert Dumas and Austin Witthuhn.
Delano boys basketball All-Conference honors went to Zach Checkal, Dalton Pulis and Toby Hanson. Honorable mention players were Adam Schleper and Damon Longstreet. Checkal was team most valuable player and named to the Academic All-State team.
In gymnastics, Delano won the section title, advancing to the state tournament. Andi Jo Shrode finished in the top 10 at state in the all-around competition.
Anna Wischmann, Shrode and Amelia Sutherland earned All-Conference honors. Captains for next season are Sutherland, Cassidy Gilmore and Cassie Moe.
Mikayla Erickson led the list of awards handed out at Rockford. The junior was most valuable, most dedicated, All-Conference and All-State honorable mention on balance beam.
Heidi Trandahl was rookie of the year, Hailie McLearen was most supportive, Amber Sahli and Skylar Young were most spirited, Amanda Thingvold was most improved and Brianna Schumacher was given the AJ Award.
Schumacher and Sahli were All-Conference honorable mention. Earning All-Conference Academic awards for grades 9-12 included Erickson, Jane Krause, McLearen, Jessica Read, Sahli and Schumacher.
The Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association sponsors the Team Academic Award for grades 7-12. Rockford received silver status for a grade point average between 3.5 and 3.749.
Contact Dave Pedersen at email@example.com