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2010-11: Top 10 moments in north metro high school sports

By David La Vaque, Star Tribune, 06/23/11, 10:54AM CDT

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Columbia Heights ends 81-year tourney drought

Kay Mayer, a Columbia Heights booster and a fixture at basketball games since 1979, took home the net from the Hylanders' section final victory over DeLaSalle. After years of often-discouraging results, plus two consecutive losses in the section final, Mayer slept with the net under her pillow to ensure she was not dreaming.

After 81 years, the Hylanders returned to the state tournament, falling just short of a Class 3A title in the process. Zach Lofton's three-point play with 3:52 remaining in the championship game cut Orono's lead to 70-66 but the Hylanders got no closer.

Throwers Anderson and Ewen make big marks

Two throwers with world-class track and field genes continued to make their mark.

Andover junior Thomas Anderson, son of Olympic throwers Colin and Lynne, won the shot put to claim his first state title. His personal best shot put mark of 65 feet, 4 1/2 inches stood No. 1 nationally among juniors and moved him to second all-time in Minnesota high school annals.

St. Francis sophomore Maggie Ewen ascended to the top of Minnesota's all-time list in the discus with a mark of 166-8 inches in May. She then swept the discus and shot put crowns at state. He father, Bruce, narrowly missed the Olympics in the hammer throw.

Park Center softball and sprinter shine on

It was another special spring at Park Center. The Pirates softball team won a second consecutive Class 2A state championship and track and field standout Sasha Davis capped a stellar career with two more individual state titles.

In softball, Nicola Tade sparked the tournament run with a five-inning perfect game in the quarterfinals.

Battling through a sore hip flexor, Davis defended her 100- and 200-meter dash titles. In her career, Davis won five individual titles and added four more all-state finishes. She will compete for the Gophers next season.

Great ending for Goodrich

Ben Goodrich built a memorable senior season on a philosophy of attacking rather than reacting. The strategy was important, given Goodrich is legally blind. Born without irises to help his pupils focus and with a condition called nystagmus that causes involuntary eye movement, Goodrich sees a world of blurred colors and shapes.

The disadvantage did not prevent Goodrich, who wrestled for the Brooklyn Center/Concordia Academy of Roseville co-op team, from fashioning a 35-4 record and making his debut at the Class 2A state tournament, where he lost his lone match in double overtime.

Anoka-Hennepin sweeps adapted titles

While addressing his team before the adapted softball CI (cognitively impaired) Division state tournament title game, Anoka-Hennepin coach Ted Johnson forgot whether his Mustangs were pursuing their fourth or fifth consecutive state title.

"They all knew – every one of them," Johnson said.

The Mustangs' collective focus showed all season as they swept the team titles in adapted sports (soccer, floor hockey and softball) with an overall unbeaten mark of 37-0-1. They added floor hockey and softball titles in 2010.

Blaine boys' hockey: Unexpected success

Blaine boys' hockey coach Dave Aus did not expect his Bengals to challenge for a state tournament appearance this season. But when the team advanced to the Class 2A, Section 5 championship game, Aus made the expectation clear, lining the hallway to the Blaine locker room at the State Fair Coliseum with pictures of the Bengals' five previous teams -- all of which celebrated section victories. A 4-3 overtime upset of Maple Grove earned Blaine a sixth consecutive trip.

Hill-Murray (1983-88) was the last big school program to make at least six consecutive trips to state. Eveleth is the standard-bearer, going 12 consecutive times from 1945 to '56.

Bona and Lorence leave big skates to fill

Two of the state's best girls' hockey players ended their careers in style. Irondale's Meghan Lorence was named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, while Rachael Bona led Coon Rapids to a third-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament.

The future Gophers teammates took ownership of their teams and set several program records.

Football: Totino-Grace opts up; Lombardi to Maple Grove

The football programs at Totino-Grace and Maple Grove were affected by significant off-field developments.

Three months after his program won its sixth Class 4A state football title in the past eight seasons, Totino-Grace coach Jeff Ferguson announced his team would opt-up to Class 5A, where such heavyweights as Eden Prairie and Wayzata reside. When the Minnesota State High School League added a seventh class, the Eagles opted up from 4A to 5A once again, though they are not in the mix of the state's largest schools in Class 6A.

Defense ruled Wayzata's three Class 5A championship teams in the past six seasons, earning coordinator Matt Lombardi well-deserved respect for shaping those units.

That made Lombardi's decision in February to take the Maple Grove head coach job intriguing. The Crimson is widely considered a sleeping giant of a program, and Lombardi believes he has the alarm clock.

Three athletes among wheelchair track pioneers

Wheelchair athletes got their first shot at varsity track and field this spring, and three North metro "wheelers" were among the six pioneers: Mark Braun (Irondale), Stacy Bates (Andover) and JoLynn Super (Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony Village).

Though he made qualifying marks in the three events offered, the 800- and 1,600-meter races and shot put, Braun missed the state meet because of a prior obligation. Super qualified for state in the 800 but elected not to compete.

Hole-in-one earns $5,000 and ends career

When Coon Rapids senior Andrew Vold won $5,000 at a charity golf event, he unwittingly also lost his remaining high school eligibility.

During a golf fundraiser for Vold's cousin's swimming team at Majestic Oaks in Ham Lake, one of Vold's uncles plopped $10 down on a chance to win $5,000 for a hole-in-one. Vold drew a 9-iron on the 150-yard eighth hole, took a swing and aced it.

The instant start on his hefty tuition bill at Gustavus Adolphus, where he will attend this fall, was tempered by news Vold had violated Minnesota State High School League bylaw 208.

Money was not the issue. The rule states that during the season an athlete "may not participate as an individual competitor or as a member of a non-school team in the same sport during the high school season."

A weekend tournament with family isn't an approved exception.

"I was pretty disappointed at first – I wanted to play [in the section meet]," said Vold, typically the sixth player on the Cardinals roster and a long-shot for state. "But ... it turned out pretty well, I think. I'll take the publicity. And the $5,000. I need it."

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

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