Gophers freshman Wagner possesses eye of the tiger

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 29, 2014 - 6:17 AM

Once a pushover, U’s Carlie Wagner now fiercely competes.

hide

Freshman Carlie Wagner comes to the Gophers with a sweet outer demeanor, but that all changes once on the court. She scored 3,957 points in high school.

Photo: DAVID JOLES, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Carlie Wagner stretches out her tired arms, letting her fingers curl toward the sky.

“Whew,” she blurts. “The toughest part of my day is over!”

The University of Minnesota shooting guard, perhaps the most lauded freshman athlete on campus, smiles as she bursts through the double doors at the Bierman Athletic Building and into the morning sun. If not for her maroon-and-gold workout shorts, damp tank top and blonde hair tied into a hasty knot — the wrappings of a competitor — the casual observer might only see a playful girl striding through campus, heading for breakfast.

Twenty minutes earlier, at that morning’s conditioning session, Wagner’s eyes were glowing embers.

“Carlie is so much fun,” said her cousin, Hayley Darrington. “She has always been just so sweet. But now, watching her on the basketball court, it’s like ‘Wow.’ She’s got some fire in her.”

•••

Wagner arrived on campus two months ago, bringing with her the expectations of a record-setting scorer and top recruit who could contribute to a Gophers team that teetered on the edge of the NCAA tournament bubble a year ago.

Her parents, Darren and Jane, packed up their Chevy Suburban and drove Carlie 90 miles up Interstate 35. As they approached the Lake Street bridge, the Minneapolis skyline towered above them. The country girl felt a tinge of anxiety.

“I was scared to come at first,” Wagner said. “You have to understand, I’m from a really small town.”

In New Richland, a tiny farming community with two restaurants, one truck stop and no stoplights, basketball ruled.

Somewhere inside the Wagner house on the hill, there is a home video that was rediscovered years ago with a new poignancy. In it, a 2-year-old Carlie grabs a rubber ball and chucks it at the plastic hoop affixed to the wall in her older brother’s room.

Swish.

“Your first basket!” her mother coos at the camera.

Family get-togethers at the Wagner house featured P-I-G, H-O-R-S-E, lightning and 4-on-4 on the driveway court. Wagner tagged along. She was the youngest by far, but her brothers, Danny and Alex, and older cousins didn’t believe in special treatment. They blocked the ball back in her face. They pushed her down. Almost every game ended with little Carlie crying.

“I honestly thought she was going to be a girlie girl,” said Darrington, who was a 1,000-point scorer at Blue Earth High School. “We would stuff her.”

•••

At 6 a.m., the sun begins to peek through the fence vines enclosing the Bierman track. Most of the players, in the midst of a grueling set of sprints, are hurting. They lean down over their thighs, arms resting on knees.

Wagner is upright and practically bouncing. She lines up next to sophomore Joanna Hedstrom — they are the team’s quickest — on the sun-baked grass.

  • Wagner: prep star

    • Won 2014 Ms. Basketball award

    • Scored 3,957 career points, second most in Minnesota history

    • Averaged 37.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.4 steals as a senior

    • Led New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva to back-to-back Class 2A titles in 2013 and 2014

    • Set career state tournament scoring record with 371 points

    • Set state tournament single-game scoring record with 53 points

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 7 Top 8th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 2 3rd Prd 5:53
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 3rd Prd
Edmonton 2
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close