There was no shortage of successful teams and athletes coming from the north metro during the winter sports season. Here’s a quick look at some of the best of the north.
No. 1 shows why again
º Photo by Kyndell Harkness
Totino-Grace junior Lance Benick, right, won his third consecutive wrestling state championship, winning his second 195-pound title in a row when he scored a technical fall over Foley’s Mitch Struffert. Benick is the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at his weight.
classy hug goes viral
ø Photo by Vanessa Schlueter
After his defeat in the state title match at 120 pounds, Malik Stewart approached his opponent’s father, who is battling cancer in his lungs and chest, and gave him a hug. The crowd at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul cheered as enthusiastically for Stewart, a sophomore at Blaine High School, as for his victorious opponent, Mitchell McKee of St. Michael-Albertville. The “Today” show ran an 88-second segment on Malik, using still photos taken of the hug that has gone viral.
four years of progress
ø Photo by Jeff Wheeler
Taylor Lindy of Centennial finished third at state meet in Biwabik. Lindy, who first strapped on skis at age 2, placed 27th at the state meet as a freshman in 2011, third in 2012 and sixth last season.
No licenses, no problem
º Photo by Marlin Levison
Park Center won a Class 3A girls’ basketball state title without star player, Cayla McMorris, who fouled out late in regulation. The Pirates also did it without drivers’ licenses: No player on the floor for the Pirates at the end of the three-overtime victory against Marshall was out of 10th grade. Four of them — guards Danielle Schaub and Ann Simonet, forward Feyisayo Ayobamidele and center Mikayla Hayes — were freshmen.
gamers when it counts
º Photo by David Joles
The Centennial boys’ hockey team got hot at the opportune moment, capturing a second consecutive Class 2A state tournament appearance with a 2-1 upset of Blaine. “We have a lot of gamers,” said Adam Anderson, one of four hockey captains. “This team knows how to win when it counts.”
loaners? no problem
ø Photo by Jeff Wheeler
Mattie Watts raced on borrowed skis — she had misplaced her classic skis and had to use those of a friend — and fell during the race but held off friend and rival Vivian Hett of Burnsville to win the girls’ individual state title, becoming Irondale’s first state Nordic skiing champion.
two atop the podium
º Photo by Renee Jones Schneider
North swimmers occupied the top spot at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center podium. Colter Allen of Fridley won the Class 1A 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly. In Class 2A, Brenner Hohenstein of Maple Grove, above, won the 100 breaststroke.