By Rob LaPlante
Crow River Sports
In a school year featuring state tournament appearances, conference titles and a boat load of individual accomplishments, with the exception of one boy’s team, the 2012-13 sports headlines were dominated by the St. Michael-Albertville females.
With apologies to the teams and individuals left behind, I broke down the 10 biggest STMA headlines from this past school year.
10. SWENSON QUALIFIES FOR STATE: The senior boys’ golfer took his all-conference status to another level this spring, qualifying for state for the first
time and becoming only the second STMA boys’ golfer to do so. He eventually finished tied for 54th place shooting a 2-day total of 163.
9. BOYS SWIM SENDS RECORD NUMBERS TO STATE: After posting back-to-back undefeated dual meet seasons, the Knights responded with a second-place finish in Section 8AA and qualified three relay teams and five individuals at the 2013 state tournament. STMA finished ninth at state and senior Noah Dalluge placed second in the 50-freestyle with a time of 21.12.
8. ROOKIE GIRLS LAX TEAM POSTS WINNING SEASON: As a new sanctioned member to the 67-team MSHSL girls’ lacrosse league, the Knights surprised most critics posting an impressive 9-4 overall record. The highlight victory came May 29 in a 12-11 Section-8 home playoff win over Delano.
7. KNIGHTS TRACK SENDS 11 TO STATE: Senior Maddi Sjelin, junior Erin Autio, sophomore Rachel King and eighth grader Lizzy Heil qualified for the 2013 girls’ state tournament at Hamline. The boys qualified senior David Anderson, Brian Ferry, Cole Krutzig and sophomore Josh Tracy in the 4×400 relay. Ferry, Tracy and senior Brendan Sage and sophomore Chase Cayo also qualified as the Knights took home eight total medalists in six different events.
6. DEFENSE HELPS STMA FOOTBALL REACH SECTION FINALS: The Mississippi 8’s third-rated defense allowing only 13.4 points against finished the season with a 7-4 overall record, including a strong playoff performance which saw them lose out to Elk River 24-10 in the Section 6-5A championship game. The playoff run started with a 34-23 home win Oct. 23 over Buffalo and a 10-0 upset road win Oct. 27 at Monticello.
5. GIRLS HOOPS REACH STATE, AGAIN: A 68-59 victory on March 8 over Elk River in the Section 8-4A championship game at St. John’s University sent the Lady Knights to the Target Center and the 2013 state tournament for the second year in a row and fifth time the past eight years. STMA eventually lost 77-58 to the eventual Class 4A champion Hopkins. The Knights finished with and overall record of 24-6.
4. JENSEN SAVES DAY AS GIRLS SOCCER ADVANCES TO STATE: Senior goalkeeper MiCale Jensen scored a shootout goal, but more importantly, made three huge saves in a 1-0 Section 8AA shootout win Oct. 16 at home against Anoka. It sent the Knights packing to its second ever state tournament appearance (2008). STMA eventually lost 6-0 to eventual Class 2A champion Wayzata. The Knights finished the season 15-2-3 overall and seniors Jess Johnson and Maddie Barr were both name All-State.
3. KASEY ROBERTS IS STATE CHAMP: A year removed from a third-place state tournament finish in the 200-individual medley, STMA junior Kasey Roberts took home the gold at the 2012-13 girls’ swim/dive state tournament Oct 18-20 at the U of M Aquatic Center. Roberts won the 200 IM with a first-place time of 2:02.63. She nearly took gold in the 100 breaststroke with a second-place time of 1:02.96.
2. RIVER HAWKS BLANK OPPONENTS ADVANCING TO STATE – For the River Hawks, it wasn’t so much the news of making the state tournament. It was the second time in three years the Hawks made it to state. Unlike years past, rookie head coach Jason Johnson led the team to its first ever state tournament win with a 3-0 shutout Feb. 22 over Irondale. The march to Xcel Energy Center started with shutout playoff victories over Brainerd/Little Falls, Bemidji and Moorhead. They set a state record by posting shutouts in all three games in doing so. It started with an 8-0 win Feb. 9 over the Flying Warriors. A 3-0 shutout Feb. 9 over Bemidji sent them to the Section 8AA title game where they eventually defeated Moorhead 4-0 on Feb. 15. The Hawks finished the season 24-6-1 overall.
1. GRAPPLERS TIE FOR STATE TITLE: The No. 1-ranked STMA wrestlers rallied from a 28-22 deficit during the 2013 state tournament title match against 20-time state champion Apple Valley, and claimed share of the title with a 28-28 draw in the Class 3A title match Feb. 28 at Xcel Energy Center. The Knights finished the season winning all but one dual meet the entire year in a near perfect 32-1-1 season. The only blemish came in a 33-21 loss to Brandon, FL at the Clash Dec. 28-29 at Rochester. The loss didn’t spoil the Knights from finishing first at the prestigious 32-team tournament. In the end, STMA enjoyed arguably its best season in program history with the co-championship with the Eagles. The title allowed them to have a date April 15 with Governor Mark Dayton at the state capital. STMA also finished the season with 12 state individual qualifiers. Junior Tommy Thorn (120 pounds) and sophomore Jordan Joseph (170 pounds) came away as individual state champions.