Eagles land in new role

The Apple Valley wrestling and boys’ basketball programs are accustomed to winning state championships. But last winter they had teams ranked ahead of them throughout the season. The wrestling team had to get past No. 1 Shakopee in its own section, while the basketball team faced unbeaten and No. 1 Champlin Park for the state championship.

Once again, the Eagles conquered all challengers in both sports

The wrestling team avenged a regular-season loss to Shakopee for a 28-19 victory in the Class 3A, Section 2 finals before a capacity crowd. It easily won its first two matches in the state tournament before defeating Anoka 30-24 for the crown, Apple Valley’s 12th consecutive team title, and 25th overall. The Eagles have made 35 consecutive appearances in the state tournament.

Eagles coach Dalen Wasmund, whose career spans the program’s powerhouse years, resigned after the season. He was the head coach of the program the last five years. He got his start as an assistant in 1982, the initial season of its current state tournament run.

Apple Valley junior heavyweight Gable Steveson continued his outstanding run, winning his third consecutive individual crown. He pinned Anoka’s Brandon Frankfurth in 11 seconds in the championship match. Steveson, who committed to Minnesota, hasn’t lost a match since eighth grade.

In basketball, the third-seeded Eagles defeated the top two seeds to win their third 4A title in five years. Their other titles were also in odd-numbered years (2013 and 2015).

Like the wrestling program, the Eagles had to avenge a regular-season setback. Junior point guard Tre Jones concluded an outstanding state tournament with 24 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in a 60-54 triumph over Champlin Park in the finals. The Rebels defeated Apple Valley 91-84 in December.

Jones’ performance came on the heels of a triple-double (19 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) in a 77-54 victory over No. 2-ranked Maple Grove in the semifinals. Jones opened the tournament with 34 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in a 76-67 come-from-behind victory over Cretin-Derham Hall. He was honored as the state’s boys’ basketball Gatorade Player of the Year before the start of the tournament.

Eagan holds serve

Coach Kathy Gillen’s volleyball team in Eagan won its third state championship in the past four years, defeating Champlin Park 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 25-21 in the Class 3A title tilt. The Wildcats successfully defended their 2015 crown.

Senior Brie Orr paced the Wildcats’ attack with 18 kills and 19 assists. The four-year starter is headed to Iowa.

Her younger sister, eighth-grader Kennedi, added 12 kills and 18 assists.

Eagan lost to Champlin Park, its only setback of the season, in three consecutive games three weeks earlier.

Return to prominence

Lakeville North’s gymnastics team won its first state championship since the district split into two schools in 2005. The Panthers won the Class 2A title with a score of 149.325.

Coach Teri Homan’s squad had only one senior on its roster, and her score didn’t count in any of the four events — vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise — in the state meet. The Panthers were led by junior Delaney Gipp and freshmen Anna Altermatt, Ashley Goodlund and Rachel Steiner.

The Panthers won the Class 2A crown nine times in an 11-year span from 1993 to 2003.

First for the Cadets

The St. Thomas Academy boys’ soccer team won its first state championship in program history. Senior Devin Kennedy scored on a penalty shot in the second overtime to give the Cadets a 1-0 victory over Northfield in the Class 1A championship.

Noel Quinn, former Eden Prairie girls’ mentor, was in his first season leading the Cadets.