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2011-12: Many shining sports moments South of the River

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS
  • BSTENSAAS@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • June 19, 2012 - 3:28 PM
The games and tournaments have all been played. The trophies and medals have all been handed out. Before taking off on summer vacation, here's a look back at some of the top sports moments from South of the River during the past school year. Lightning finally strikes, twice

Eastview High School opened its doors in 1997. All this time later, a boys' athletic team finally put some hardware in the trophy case when the lacrosse team defeated Eden Prairie 10-4 in the state championship earlier this month. The champions celebrated by running across the field to their goalkeeper Andrew Koenen, who deserved the pile of celebration. He stopped 16 Eden Prairie shot attempts, giving up only four goals to a team that scored 15 in the semifinals.

"I felt ready once [Ryan McNamara] messed up my thumb in warmups," Koenen said holding up his swollen and bruised digit. "As I got more pain, I got more focused. But it was not only me, but our defense, too."

Eastview's 10 goals were scored by eight different players.

Then on Monday, the Lightning struck again. Making its state baseball tournament debut, Eastview won the Class 3A championship with a 1-0 victory over Bemidji at Target Field. Evan DeCovich threw a two-hit shutout in his sixth consecutive start and scored his team's only run, for good measure.

Hauger's triple crown

Shakopee's Maria Hauger raced to her third consecutive Class 2A girls' cross-country championship in November. Hauger finished the course in 14 minutes, 4.1 seconds, just 0.7 seconds ahead of Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg.

A few weeks later, Hauger was among a select 40 high school runners who took part in the Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships National Finals.

"This year, that was my main goal, and I finally got [there], so I was really excited for this," she said. "Just knowing that you're competing against the best high school athletes in the nation, it's really cool."

Hauger finished 21st in the national race. Two weeks ago, Hauger completed a triple crown when she won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at the Class 2A track and field meet. Strong kicks at the end of both races secured her latest titles.

"I've been racing [at state] since seventh grade, but as an 11th-grader I'm finally figuring it out," Hauger said. "I always have come in with the top seed in the [1,600] and thought, 'I can just lead from start to finish,' but that is not how it is in the mile. So I'm definitely running smarter. I figured out I was doing my final kick on the first lap rather than the last lap."

Oh, so close

Lakeville North finally got longtime coach Milan Mader a first-place medal with a sweep over Wayzata in the 2010 Class 3A volleyball championship. Mader later retired, and the Panthers nearly did it again without him at the helm last November. But Eden Prairie came out on top of an epic 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18, 22-20 match at Xcel Energy Center. Lakeville North sophomore Alyssa Goehner matched Eden Prairie's Sarah Wilhite blow for blow, finishing with 34 kills and 38 digs. The match had 32 tie scores -- seven in the fifth set alone -- and 14 lead changes.

The Panthers also came tantalizingly close to returning home the victors in the Class 4A boys' basketball championship in March. They lost to Osseo on a buzzer-beater at Target Center.

Jackson steps down

In early May, less than two months after coaching his seventh consecutive team to the Class 3A championship, Apple Valley wrestling coach Jim Jackson announced his resignation after 32 years of coaching for the Eagles. In his time with the program, he coached an unprecedented 56 wrestlers to state championships and compiled a 619-26-3 record, by far the best winning percentage in the state. "It was a tough decision but it was the right decision,'' he said. "It's been a great run but it's time to be a full-time father."

Jackson was part of all 20 team state championships that the program has amassed. He will continue to teach physical education at Falcon Ridge Middle School.

Longtime assistant Dalen Wasmund was recently named to replace Jackson.

Farmington makes it back

Nine years after its last state tournament appearance, Farmington's softball team made it back to Caswell Park in North Mankato this spring. Led by new coach Paul Harrington, a 1974 Farmington High School grad, the Tigers roared into the tournament with a 17-4 record before being no-hit by eventual Class 3A champ Stillwater in the quarterfinals. Farmington bowed out the next day with an extra-innings loss to Bloomington Jefferson. But in that game, junior Ashley Betzold tied a tournament record with two home runs.

One for Buck

Christi Vetter and Ashley Kloncz scored two goals apiece for Lakeville North in the Panthers' 5-2 Class 2A, Section 1 hockey championship victory over Lakeville South. But the forwards didn't want to talk about their accomplishments afterward.

"We did this for ourselves; [we] wanted to get to state for us," Vetter said. "But I feel like it's more for Coach."

Added Kloncz: "We did this for Buck."

Buck Kochevar suffered a severe head injury after an on-ice fall during a practice in last year's postseason. He spent two weeks in the hospital and still has some lingering side effects from the incident that kept him off the ice for a year. He was cleared to skate after the Panthers defeated Dodge County in the Feb. 11 section semifinals.

After Lakeville North earned its trip back to state (after a 2010 appearance), he added, "I tell you, it was an emotional roller coaster. I'm speechless a little bit."

Heid time

Quiet but confident, senior Trey Heid made a huge splash on the high school football scene this fall when his arm and legs led Lakeville North to the state quarterfinals. Heid passed for 2,085 yards and 20 touchdowns -- more than double his numbers as a junior -- and added more than 500 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He also kicked and punted for the Panthers en route to being named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.

"I came into this season wanting to make more and more plays," Heid said. "My arm strength is night and day. I made football my main offseason focus."

Kloos is clutch

Lakeville South's Justin Kloos put on a show on the ice this winter. The senior scored at least one point in every game for the Cougars, who placed third in Class 2A, to lead the state with 103 for the year. He helped Lakeville South stun No. 1-ranked Duluth East in the state quarterfinals. Eagan coach Mike Taylor called Kloos, who committed to the Gophers, a dynamic player with great speed.

"Look at the points he's put up being a marked man every night," Taylor said. "That says everything to me."

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