Totino-Grace • wrestling
There is a joy that’s obvious when Lance Benick wrestles. With his shag carpet of red hair and a broad smile that comes through easily whether he’s on the mat or reflecting on a another victory afterward, it’s obvious that Benick loves to wrestle. And wrestling fans love to watch him.
Benick completed his second consecutive undefeated season and won his fourth state championship Saturday, winning the 195-pound division in Class 2A with a 17-7 victory over Carson Hagen of Worthington in the finals. As he did all of his seven tournament matches, he used his superior length and leverage to gain a quick advantage and never relented. Overall, he finished with four pins, a technical fall and two major decisions.
After winning the championship Saturday — complete with his requisite, crowd-pleasing celebratory back flip — Benick looked back at a high school career that will go down as one of the best in state history.
“It’s crazy it’s over already,” said Benick, who will wrestle at Arizona State next year. “I’ve had a lot of good coaches and it’s been so much fun. It seems like it’s gone by in just a second, but it’s been awesome.”
Orono • basketball
The sophomore guard had back-to-back double-doubles — 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 65-46 victory over Hutchinson, 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 58-39 victory over Class 3A, No. 3 New Prague — as the Spartans, No. 1 in Class 3A, finished 10-0 in the Wright County Conference.
Eden Prairie • wrestling
After coming close in four previous state tournament appearances, the senior broke through with his first state championship in his final match. He defeated top-ranked Jake Allar of St. Michael-Albertville 15-8 in the Class 3A 138-pound finals.
Centennial • basketball
The Cougars avenged a pair of close January losses by routing Champlin Park 54-32 and Blaine 67-46. Gerding, a senior guard and the Cougars’ leading scorer, scored 34 points in the two games, helping Centennial earn the top seed in Class 4A, Section 5.
Chaska • basketball
The Hawks extended their winning streak to five with close victories over Benilde-St. Margaret’s (46-45) and Bloomington Jefferson (50-47). The senior guard scored 42 points in the two games and made crucial free throws in the final moments of each to seal the victories.
Apple Valley • wrestling
He is only a freshman, but Steveson wrestles as if he’s much older. His pin at heavyweight provided the deciding points in Apple Valley’ 36-30 Class 3A championship victory over St. Michael-Albertville. He followed up by winning the 3A 220-pound individual title.
Lakeville North • swimming
Long considered one of the top swimmers in the nation in his age group, the eighth-grader won the 100-meter butterfly and swam on all three Class 2A state meet-qualifying relay teams in Saturday’s 2A, Section 3 meet.