Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones led the Eagles to the Class 4A boys’ basketball championship over Park Center in March. The heavily recruited senior point guard signed in the fall to play at Duke next year.
Heavy hearts bring out the best in New Prague
New Prague’s gymnastics and girls’ golf teams were among the state’s best under beloved coach Matt Shetka. Both programs were devastated when Shetka died unexpectedly of a heart attack while shoveling snow at his home on Dec. 9, 2012. He had taught his entire 33-year career in the school district. The two teams didn’t want to let down their longtime mentor. Intent on honoring him to the best of their ability, both teams accomplished their goal. The gymnastics squad won the Class 1A state championship at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. The girls’ golf team finished third in the Class 3A state tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, with junior McKenzie Neisen sharing medalist honors in the two-day event.
New mentor, and an ending fit to be tied
Dalen Wasmund took over the state’s top wrestling program at Apple Valley, replacing the legendary Jim Jackson. The Eagles had won seven consecutive Class 3A state championships under Jackson and 20 overall in the history of the program. Jackson retired with a career record of 619-26-3. Would the streak reach eight under Wasmund, who served as an assistant coach under Jackson? Yes, but with a wrinkle. The Eagles were co-champions with St. Michael-Albertville after the teams battled to a 28-all tie in the finals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Apple Valley would also go on to crown seven individual champions. The Eagles are ranked No. 1 this season, too.
Guard puts Eagles in spotlight
Apple Valley senior point guard Tyus Jones has had his fill of personal accolades. The time had come to help his school grab the spotlight. Jones had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, leading the Eagles to a 74-57 victory over Park Center in the Class 4A boys’ basketball state tournament finals before 13,309 fans at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Jones went 18-for-18 from the free-throw line. After signing with Duke this fall, he brought a national TV audience to the high school in December when ESPN2 aired the Eagles’ 80-70 loss to Whitney Young (Ill.).
Girls’ hockey semifinal a marathon
Lakeville North was on the heartbreaking end of a record-setting six-overtime 4-3 loss to eventual three-time champion Minnetonka in the semifinals of the Class 2A girls’ hockey state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. The game, played on a Friday evening, was tied 3-3 at the end of the second period and remained that way until 1:04 a.m. Saturday, when Minnetonka senior forward Amy Petersen scored at 5 minutes, 29 seconds of the sixth overtime. Lakeville North senior goaltender Cassie Alexander made a state-tournament record 59 saves. The Panthers bounced back later that day to edge Eden Prairie 3-2 in the third-place game.
Championships a way of life
Northfield junior Bailey DuPay is making winning state championships commonplace, whether it’s in girls’ swimming or gymnastics. DuPay won her third consecutive Class 1A title in diving at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center this fall. She posted a winning score of 397.55 points. That state title came on the heels of three more individual state crowns last winter. DuPay won the all-around competition in the Class 2A gymnastics state meet at University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. She also won the balance beam and floor exercise.
Eagan returns to No. 1 position
Eagan volleyball senior captains Taylr McNeil and Celia Bertsch wanted to mix fun and competitiveness on this year’s squad. They found the right blend. The tandem helped the Wildcats to a thrilling 25-13, 27-29, 26-24, 21-25, 15-12 victory over Delano in the Class 3A state championship at the Xcel Energy Center. It was Eagan’s fifth state crown in the history of the program.
Wrestlers go out on top
The state wrestling tournament was a perfect setting for four seniors to conclude their high school careers. They won individual championships in their final prep matches at the Xcel Energy Center. In Class 2A, they were Lakeville South’s Tommy Petersen (195 pounds) and Eagan’s Colin Fisher (285 pounds). Simley crowned two champions in Class 1A in Jake Short (152 pounds) and Nick Wanzek (170 pounds).
State champs jump to new heights
It was an outstanding year for two South Suburban Conference high jumpers. They swept the high jump event in the Class 2A track and field state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. Eastview senior Ryan Lockard won the boys’ title at 6 feet, 7 inches. Lakeville South sophomore Caraline Slattery won the girls’ title at 5 feet, 8 inches.
Lightning strikes again for soccer
The boys’ soccer program at Eastview found itself in familiar territory, playing for the Class 2A state championship. The Lightning have reached the finals each of the past three years. Defending state champion Eastview and North St. Paul played to a 3-3 tie, but the Polars won the title in a shootout at the Metrodome. Junior forward Brett Ladoux scored for Eastview with less than four minutes remaining to tie it at three-all. The Lightning were also the runner-up in 2011.