No. 1 without a doubt

Apple Valley senior Mark Hall sports an energetic smile.

It’s easy to see why. It correlates with winning, over and over.

Hall became the first wrestler to have his arm raised in victory for winning six individual state championships in February at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. He defeated Hastings’ Austin Eichmann by technical fall for the 170-pound title in Class 3A.

He won his first state championship as a 130-pounder in seventh grade. He also won state titles at 145 and 152 pounds before moving up to 170.

Hall, ranked No. 1 nationally (all weight classes) by InterMat Wrestling, didn’t lose a high match his final three seasons. He wound up with the best career winning percentage of 98.57 (277-4) in state history.

He was hardly just concerned about individual accolades. He wanted to see the team succeed just as much, and that it did. The Eagles also won six team titles in the same span, giving Hall a record 12 state championships.

Prior to the start of his final season, Hall announced he would be attending Penn State. Why?

“They give me the best chance to win an NCAA national title as a team and individual,” Hall said grinning from ear to ear.

Belle Plaine icon

Cassie (Wolpern) Koch always wanted to win a volleyball state championship for Belle Plaine. She just had to wait a little longer, and go a different route in order to do so.

The school’s most decorated player coached the Tigers to the Class 2A state championship in the middle of November at Xcel Energy Center. They defeated Concordia Academy 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 in the finals.

It marked her seventh state tournament appearance. Belle Plaine made three consecutive state tournament trips (1999-2001) when she was the team’s best player.

“Cassie has been an iconic piece of Belle Plaine sports history and we are extremely fortunate to have shared in that success,” Belle Plaine activities director Chad Eischens said when she announced her resignation as the program’s mentor in late March.

Rivals ski like family

Tommy Anderson of Eagan, Jack Lindsay of Burnsville and Luke Doolittle of Eastview are from rival schools in the South Suburban Conference. That didn’t keep the three of them from celebrating together on the slopes of Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

They claimed the top three spots, with Anderson winning, in the Alpine boys’ skiing state meet in the middle of February. Anderson posted a first-place time of 1 minute, 7.76 seconds over his two runs down the Innsbruck and Helsinki courses.

“We’re like a family,” Anderson said. “We are all really close.”