Perfect Panthers

Lakeville North boys’ hockey coach Trent Eigner told his team at one point in the season, “Let’s do something great. Let’s go 31-0.”

The No. 1-ranked Panthers defeated Duluth East 4-1 in the Class 2A championship to cap a 31-0 season before an announced crowd of 19,495 at Xcel Energy Center. They became the 17th team in tournament history to go undefeated and the first large-class team to do it since the 1992-93 Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars.

The Panthers were led by the Poehling brothers. Nick had one goal and three assists, Jack had a goal and two assists, and Ryan netted the opening goal.

The victory also marked the first state championship for the program. It was runner-up in the state tournament the previous year.

“We really did do something special,” Jack Poehling said.

Eagles soar on the floor

The Apple Valley boys’ basketball team won the Class 4A state championship for the second time in three years. The Eagles edged previously undefeated Champlin Park 64-61 in a matchup of the state’s top two teams in the finals at Target Center.

“I told my wife that I didn’t want to go through another season with the same motto — unfinished business,” Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said. His squad was upset by Cretin-Derham Hall 89-77 in double overtime in the Section 3 championship the previous year. “That was our rallying cry all season.”

The victory avenged a 79-74 loss to Champlin Park in late December during the Granite City Classic in St. Cloud.

Gary Trent Jr. scored 15 points to pace four Eagles in double figures. Teammates Brock Bertram, Tre Jones and Cameron Kirksey each added 12 points.

The Eagles also won the crown in 2013.

Short of repeat

After splitting two regular-season meetings in December, Hopkins pulled away from Eastview in the second half for a 68-60 triumph in the Class 4A girls’ basketball finals in March at Williams Arena. The setback prevented the Lightning from winning back-to-back titles.

Senior guard Madison Guebert, the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, led the Lightning with 19 points. She had 16 of them in the second half.

Guebert’s mother, Melissa, resigned as the Lightning coach after the season. She guided the group to the state tournament in all four seasons of her tenure.

“The past four seasons have been truly amazing!” she said in a statement. “I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to lead and be a part of such an outstanding program.”

Wildcats nearly perfect

The Eagan girls’ soccer team was nearly perfect from start to finish under first-year coach Bulut Ozturk.

The Wildcats completed a 21-0-1 season by winning the Class 2A state championship at St. Cloud State. They shut out Eden Prairie 1-0 in the finals.

“All of this is possible when you have players who understand what is required of them as individuals and as a team,” Ozturk said after the Wildcats’ state run. “We are really proud of giving Eagan its first girls’ soccer championship.”

The Wildcats were only scored upon in seven of their 22 contests. They outscored their opponents 61-9.

Wrestling program a 10

Apple Valley won its 10th consecutive Class 3A team championship, edging St. Michael-Albertville 36-30 at Xcel Energy Center. It’s the program’s 23rd title.

Freshman Gable Steveson recorded a pin in the final match, breaking a 30-all deadlock. He was moved up from 220 pounds to the heavyweight division for the match.

The Eagles also had three champions in the individual tournament. They were Mark Hall (170 pounds), Bobby Steveson (195) and Gable Steveson (220).

Keeping pace

Simley’s wrestling program continued its march right along with Apple Valley. The Spartans won their seventh Class 2A team championship in the past eight years, defeating Albert Lea 34-21 for the title. It’s the 11th championship in school history.

It was the Spartans’ first title since the death of coach Will Short’s father, Jim. The legendary mentor had his hand in the school’s previous 10 championships.

Jack Ryan (220 pounds) was the school’s only individual champion.

“He’s looking down on us and saying, ‘Atta way, Simley,’ ” Ryan said. “We’re not the only ones enjoying this. I’m sure he’s enjoying this, too.”

Going out on top

In a performance that was as much a coronation as it was a championship, Northfield senior Bailey DuPay owned the gymnastics state meet from the outset at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. She became the first gymnast to win three Class 2A all-around titles. Her score of 39.05 was the third-best in state history.

“This was my last gymnastics meet ever,” DuPay said. “I just wanted to go out, have a crowning evening and enjoy myself.”

DuPay won the floor exercise (9.8), uneven parallel bars (9.8) and vault (9.85) in the process. She became the first gymnast in state history to score 39 or better twice in the state meet, recording a 39.0875 in 2014.

“It’s hard to say that she’s the best,” Northfield coach Paul Bernhard said. “I’d say one of the top three of all time, that’s for sure.”

Late-inning heroics

Julia Luciano doubled home Courtney Wissbaum with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving Eastview a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Anoka in the finals of the Class 3A softball tournament at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Eastview had tied it one-all on an RBI single by Hailey Monroe the previous inning. Kerrigan Hoshaw was the winning pitcher in all three games for Eastview.

The title was the second in program history for the Lightning. It also won the crown in 2003.

Streak reaches three

Junior Taylor Ledwein made it three consecutive individual titles for the New Prague girls’ golf team in the Class 3A state meet at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids. She finished with a 5-over-par 149 in the two-day event.

“I think I had an anxiety attack on the 17th tee box,” Ledwein said. “I was getting updates from people that knew how [other contenders] were doing. When they finally posted the results, it was a relief.”

McKenzie Neisen, now golfing at Oklahoma State, won the previous two titles.

First for Raiders

On a blustery winter day in February, Northfield sophomore Elliott Boman won the first boys’ Alpine individual skiing championship in school history at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

“I’ve never skied like I did today,” an elated Boman said after his two runs. He was making his first appearance in the state meet.

His two runs were nearly flawless. He had the best run (35.70 seconds) of the 88 boys’ skiers in the morning and was second (34.49 seconds) in the afternoon.

“I was going for it today,” Boman said. “There wasn’t going to be any regrets.”