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Coach reflects on state season
By Paul Rignell
The St. Croix Falls wrestling team has reached the end of its season where the Saints competitors earned the program’s highest team honors ever.
St. Croix Falls reached its first state team tournament in wrestling, and the Saints’ appearance at the event last weekend in Madison marked the school’s first state team appearance in any sport since 1992.
Being among four teams that reached the state tournament in Division 3, St. Croix Falls lost its state semifinal 47-12 to Stratford.
That undefeated team proved to be no match for really anyone, as Stratford proceeded to win the Division 3 state title 45-13 over second-seeded Fennimore.
“Our kids wrestled hard against Stratford,” said St. Croix Falls head coach Dan Clark. “They are a very good team, one of the best in the history in the state. Earlier this year they beat Stoughton who was the eventual Division 1 (large school) champions this year. We (knew it would be) an uphill battle to stay with them. They are just that good.
“We ended up winning four matches,” Coach Clark noted. “Clay Carney, Luke Clark, Tanner Gaffey and Bennett Bergmann were able to win with Brandon Bastin, Garrett Bergmann and Graidy Guggisburg losing close matches.
“It has been a great year going 18-1 in duals on the season,” the coach added. “I am very proud of these kids and what they have accomplished this year. The thing that I am most proud of is that each of the 14 varsity wrestlers has come through our program since they were young. (That’s a) rare thing in high school athletics in today's culture. With open enrollment, many teams are put together by taking kids from other schools. That is not the case with this team. Each of these kids and their parents have worked together for many years to reach this point. They have all worked, bled, cried and laughed together and for each other for years.
“We graduate 6 seniors that have had excellent careers with over 550 wins between them,” Coach Clark continued. “They will be missed by the entire program. They have been great leaders and taken the program to new places. This team had many underclassmen start this year and contribute. We had four or five freshmen wrestling varsity all year, so the future looks bright. We will take a couple weeks to enjoy the success, as it has been well deserved, then we will get back to work in the weight room to continue to get better for next year. It was awesome to see all the people at Madison this weekend supporting our kids. I am always amazed how high school athletics can bring communities together. A great year that I will never forget, and I look forward to a bright future.”
March 8, 2018
All-conference hoop squads named
By Paul Rignell
Members of the Lakeland West Conference have selected and named their all-conference players from the 2017-2018 boys and girls basketball seasons.
The announcements come after a season in which the St. Croix Falls Saints girls swept their conference schedule with a perfect 12-0 record.
The Unity Eagle girls took their only conference losses of the season to St. Croix Falls, and Unity finished 10-2 in the league.
Lower in the Lakeland West standings, the Frederic and Grantsburg teams both finished at .500 with 6-6 conference records followed by the Siren Dragons at 5-7. The Luck Cardinals finished 2-10 for the conference season, followed by the Webster Tigers at 1-11.
Among boys teams in the conference, Grantsburg and Webster tied with records of 10-2 to lead the league. Those teams each won on their home court against the other during the regular season, but then Webster won a regional final at Grantsburg on March 3 before losing to state tournament team Clear Lake.
Following Grantsburg and Webster in the Lakeland West standings, the Unity Eagle boys finished 8-4 and the Luck Cardinals went 7-5.
St. Croix Falls ended the conference schedule at 4-8, better than Siren at 3-9 and Frederic at 0-12.
St. Croix Falls senior Addie McCurdy was named player of the year for Lakeland West girls basketball.
McCurdy is joined on the all-conference first team by her senior teammate Annalise Parks along with Kalyn Miller-Robertson from Frederic; Brooke Quimby from Grantsburg; Abby Koloski from Siren; and Raegan Sorensen from Unity.
All-conference second team girls include Olivia Ohnstad from Grantsburg; Kyla Melin from Luck; Emily McCurdy from St. Croix Falls; Hannah McDowell from Webster; and Myah Nelson and Briana Peterson from Unity.
All-conference honorable mention for girls went to Hannah Schmidt from Frederic; Katie Christensen from Luck; Olivia Miron from St. Croix Falls; Jade Horstman from Siren; and Alexus Houman and Sierra Swanson from Unity.
Grantsburg senior John Chenal was named player of the year for Lakeland West boys basketball.
He is joined on the all-conference first team by Grantsburg junior Leo Chenal along with Jack Johansen of Luck; Logan Hendrickson of Unity; and Trevor Gustafson and Jack Washburn of Webster.
All-conference second team boys include Caleb Schott from Frederic; Jameson Kahl from St. Croix Falls; Colten den Hoed from Siren; Cody Ince from Unity; and Payton Ellefson and Levi Jensen from Luck.
All-conference honorable mention for boys went to Joe Ohnstad from Grantsburg; Gage Johansen from Luck; Nathan Kosloski from Siren; Jaxon Flaherty from Unity; and Hunter Gustafson and Hunter Rosenbaum from Webster.
March 22, 2018
Saints girls win spring’s first meet
By Paul Rignell
St. Croix Falls girls won the Northern Badger Classic track and field meet March 24 at UW Stout in Menomonie.
Individual event winners for the Saints girls included Grace Klein in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1 minute, 2.95 seconds.
Saints girls also won the 4x400-meter relay in 4:25.80.
Among other points earned, Jordan Braund placed second (7.71 seconds) and Grace Klein finished third (7.77) in the 55-meter dash. Kiara Hestad of Cameron won that event with a time of 7.63 seconds.
Alaina Driscoll placed third for six team points in the 200-meter dash with a time of 28.59 seconds. Payton Sevals of Cameron won that event in 27.91 seconds.
Emily McCurdy placed second in the 400 dash with a time of 1:04.82, and third in the triple jump with a distance of 31 feet. Hailey Voelker of Colby won the triple jump with a distance of 34 feet 8 inches.
Anna Klein placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:38.74, behind Rachel Lawton of Flambeau who ran the race in 2:34.87. Anna Klein paced just after Lawton again in the 1600-meter run. Klein finished that run in 5:53.80 behind Lawton’s time of 5:33.09.
Anja Erickson placed seventh in the pole vault by clearing a height of 7 feet 6 inches. Gabriella Janke of Athens won that event by clearing 10 feet 3 inches.
Sidney Hoverman placed sixth in the shot put with a distance of 32 feet 2.75 inches. Eve Goldstein of Somerset won the event by clearing 42 feet 1 inch.
Among other notable performances for the Saints girls at the Northern Badger Classic, Driscoll tied for 13th in the pole vault by clearing a height of 6 feet.
McCurdy placed 15th in the long jump with a distance of 13 feet 8.75 inches. Kallie Falteisek of Abbotsford won that event by clearing 15 feet 2.25 inches.
Grace Bergstrom placed 15th in the triple jump with a distance of 27 feet 5 inches.
The Saints girls totaled 75 team points for the meet. Byron (Minn.) placed second with 54.5 points, and Shell Lake finished third with 40. A total of 23 girls teams scored points at the meet.
Saints boys seventh
St. Croix Falls boys finished seventh among 25 scoring teams at the Northern Badger Classic with 31 total points.
Logan Ross placed second for eight points in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.48 seconds. Dustin Knoeck of Marathon won that event in 8.45 seconds.
Trevor LaMirande placed third for six points in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:00.23. Ramon Romero of Arcadia won that event in 4:49.44.
LaMirande finished eighth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:16.80. Romero won that event in 2:05.64.
Ryan Peltz placed fifth in the pole vault by clearing a height of 10 feet 6 inches. Cade Ellenbecker of Athens won that event with a height of 12 feet 6 inches.
Isiah Hoggatt finished fifth in the triple jump with a distance of 37 feet 8.5 inches. Nate McKinley of Grantsburg won that event with a distance of 40 feet 6 inches.
Caleb Gearhart placed fourth (46’3”) and Sebastian Austad finished sixth (43’10”) in the shot put. Logan Zschernitz of Spencer won the event with a distance of 52 feet 2.75 inches.
Among other notable performances for the Saints boys at the Northern Badger Classic, Peltz placed 14th in the 55-meter dash preliminary with a time of 7.13 seconds. Jacob Kopacz of Glenwood City won the 55 final in 6.81 seconds.
Tony DeLuca finished ninth in the 400 dash with a time of 56.47 seconds. Aaron Pankratz of Spencer won that event in 51.55 seconds.
Mason Peer placed 10th in the 3200-meter run with a time of 11:46.67. Dan Lau of Eau Claire Immanuel won that event in 10:34.75.
Jack Kessler placed 14th in the 55 hurdles preliminary with a time of 10.12 seconds.
Saints boys placed 12th in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:08.82. Boys from Marathon won that event in 3:44.79.
Andrew Opel cleared 9 feet in the pole vault for St. Croix Falls.
Marathon won the boys Northern Badger Classic with 56 team points. Grantsburg placed second with 44 points, followed by Spencer with 43.
March 29, 2018
"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Unity, Luck athletes run at UW Superior
By Paul Rignell
Unity boys placed sixth out of 11 teams and Frederic/Luck girls finished sixth out of 10 teams at the Dennis Simpson indoor track invitational March 29 at UW Superior.
The Unity girls also competed there, placing seventh out of 10 teams, as were the Frederic/Luck boys finishing 10th among 11.
Katie Mattson from Frederic/Luck earned 10 points for her team by winning the girls high jump after clearing a height of 4 feet 9 inches.
Lindsay Mattson from Frederic/Luck earned 5.5 points for the team by tying for third on the high jump with a height of 4 feet 3 inches.
Lindsay Mattson earned eight team points with a second-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles (10.45 seconds).
Zenia Moore of Unity finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 51.74 seconds to take eight team points for the Eagles.
Unity runners including Moore, RaeAnna Parmeter, Raegan Sorensen and Michaela Hol placed second for eight team points in the 4x400-meter relay (4:43.27).
Sorensen won another eight team points for Unity with a second-place showing in the pole vault (9 feet 6 inches) and Hol took three team points in the event at sixth place (8’6”).
Katie Mattson got eight team points for Frederic/Luck with a second-place finish in the long jump (covering 15 feet 11 inches) and Sorensen won two team points for Unity by placing seventh in the event (13’7”).
Hol along with Autumn Lowe, Sophie Reed and Myah Nelson finished third for six team points in the 4x200-meter relay (2:03.75).
Katie Mattson won six team points for Frederic/Luck by placing third (29.17 seconds) in the 200-meter dash, and Hol took five points for Unity in that event with a fourth-place finish (29.31).
Lindsay Mattson earned six team points for Frederic/Luck in the triple jump with a third-place finish, totaling 32 feet 6 inches.
Carly Nelson took five team points for Unity with a fourth-place finish in the shot put, covering a distance of 31 feet 1 inch.
Lindsay Mattson earned four team points by placing fifth in the 400-meter dash (1:12.73), and her Frederic/Luck teammate Elizabeth Schweitzer finished sixth in that event (1:12.81) for three team points.
Hunter Houde earned 10 team points for Unity at UW Superior with a victory in the 55-meter dash, running the stretch in 6.82 seconds.
Houde also won the 200 dash in 24.57 seconds for another 10 team points. Dennis Brule earned four team points for Frederic/Luck in that event with a fifth-place finish (25.33 seconds).
Nate Wester (9.24 seconds) and Dillion Merrill (9.32) finished fourth and fifth in the 55-meter hurdles to earn another nine team points for Unity, while Zach Peterson of Frederic/Luck placed sixth in that event (9.32) for three team points.
Cullen Feist won five team points for Unity with a fourth-place finish in the 1600-meter run (5 minutes, 0.56 seconds).
Thomas Cable earned four team points for Unity by tying for fourth in the high jump, clearing 5 feet 3 inches.
Cade Engen won five team points for Frederic/Luck by placing fourth in the pole vault after clearing a height of 10 feet. His teammate Braedon Dohm earned two team points by finishing seventh in the pole vault (9 feet). Blane Tendrup took one-half point for Unity by tying for eighth in that event (8 feet).
Houde earned 4.5 team points for Unity by tying for fourth in the long jump, covering 18 feet 11 inches.
Frederic/Luck runners including Brule, Andrew Moos, Zach Hochstetler and Tanner VanMeter earned three team points by placing sixth in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1:45.45. Unity runners Reeden Fisher, Julien Tillery, Luke Flaherty and Andrew Krone got one team point in that event with an eighth-place finish (1:49.07).
Unity runners including Cable, Sam DeHaven, Dylan Kern and Soren VosBenkowski earned two team points for the Eagles by placing seventh in the 4x800-meter relay (9:41.86).
Feist won a team point for Unity by placing eighth in the 400 dash (58.33 seconds).
DeHaven, Merrill, VosBenkowski and Wester got another team point for the Eagles by finishing eighth in the 4x400-meter relay (4:03.92).
The boys team from Superior High School won their meet with 118 team points. The girls from Superior placed second in the team totals with 88 points, behind Northwestern at 109 points.
Coaches speak on delayed start to seasons
By Paul Rignell
It is no secret to anyone who has been in Polk County since the official start of “spring” that winter has actually lingered until at least mid-April.
Spring sports practices began for area high school track teams during the first week of March. Though those athletes would likely prefer to compete outdoors as much as possible through their season, they are fortunate to have indoor meet opportunities in April at universities within reasonable driving distances.
But the high school baseball and softball players, along with golfers (boys teams play in the spring, girls play in fall), do not generally have those types of indoor opportunities for real competition. For the baseball and softball teams from Unity, Luck and St. Croix Falls, their games that were scheduled for the early part of the season have either been postponed until later into April or May (with fingers crossed that they will be played) or some have been canceled outright.
St. Croix Falls varsity softball coach Clayton Hanson, along with Unity varsity baseball coach Shaun Fisher and Unity varsity boys golf coach Larry Stencil, shared some insight into how this memorable “spring” weather has affected their athletes’ games.
“It has had an impact on many things, but it has been challenging to get ‘live’ looks at guys in their positions,” said Unity baseball coach Fisher. “They have shown a lot of potential, but it can be challenging putting it all together when you are confined to a gymnasium full of athletes. It has given our new coaching staff some extra time to build relationships with the players and set our expectations for the season.
“We have been in the gym a lot,” said St. Croix Falls softball coach Hanson. “There are good things about it, like a lot of individual time with my pitchers. We have also spent a great deal working on situations. We do get outside whenever we can.
“As a coach it is my job to keep my girls motivated,” Hanson noted. “If it gets me down, they feed off of that. So (my) going into practice with a good attitude, gives them a good attitude. I make sure to keep practice light, but competitive.
“In all honesty, the extra wait has been frustrating for players, coaches and fans, but we are focusing on getting better and being prepared for our first game outside because even though it doesn’t seem like it right now, we will be playing ball sometime soon,” Unity coach Fisher said. “We have also tried to plan drills and activities to keep the guys fresh and having fun. They have done a really good job staying focused and have been rewarding to spend time with.
“We are still working on a way to get as many games in as we can while still keeping player safety a priority,” Coach Fisher added. “We will have to get creative and explore opportunities to play that we normally wouldn’t, but it will be necessary to get some games in before too long as teams in southern Wisconsin may be playing much earlier than us.
“We are in the same situation as every team,” said Saints coach Hanson. “Our (athletic directors) are working hard to make sure we get as many games in as we can.”
This type of season delay is not exactly without precedent. Hanson said they had this sort of delayed start in 2013. “It was one of those long, cold winters, but it helped me (for) this year,” he said.
“(That) winter … was similar to this as we traveled down to Mauston to play a couple games in April, but nothing like this,” said Unity coach Fisher. “Again, we are really proud of the guys for continuing to stay focused and positive throughout the challenging spring. Hopefully that mental toughness will help us out later in the season.”
“The weather plays a significant role every year,” noted Unity golf coach Stencil. “The schedule is set a year or two in advance with the hope of a normal spring. In my nine years, the success rate is about 50 percent. So, this is not new and we prepare accordingly.
“The players come in each (year) knowing that once we get outside and competition begins, there is not much time for practice,” Coach Stencil added. “Is it fun and exciting hitting balls inside and into a net - for the first week or so, then it is the coaches’ job to create productive practices.
“Golf courses are different than a school’s athletic facilities,” he explained. “We truly appreciate the golf courses that allow our teams to compete and respect their decisions on days that matches can be played. The West Lakeland coaches will be in touch once we get close to see whose course can handle a match. The coaches that host invitationals will contact us for alternative dates or readiness of course. The schedule is very fluid.
“The (Unity) team expects weather to play a role in our season,” Stencil said. “I think it was 2014 where we did not have our first match until May 1. This season could equal or exceed that starting date.”
April 12, 2018