Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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The Osakis 4x400 relay team wasn't going to let another opportunity to defend a Class A state title slip away on Saturday. A little more than an hour after the 4x200 team finished second, the team of Makayla Hoglin, Brittney Sadlemyer, Hannah Szech and Becka Sadlemyer beat out Blue Earth for the Silverstreaks' second straight state title in the 4x400. Blue Earth came into the day as the favorites after posting a prelims time of 4:00.52, compared to Osakis' 4:05.54.
The Osakis 4x200 relay team came just short of repeating as the Class A state champions as Abby Stroup, Brittney Sadlemyer, Hannah Szech and Becka Sadlemyer finished second in a time of 1:45.18. Chatfield won the event in 1:44.79. "We wanted it really bad," senior anchor Becka Sadlemyer said. "It was one of our main goals going into the season." That made the second-place finish a little hard to swallow for this group. They won the title in 1:44.78 a year ago. "I believe we all ran our hearts out," Szech said. "I just think our handoffs were not quite like yesterday, but it's all good.
Two of the top female sprinters the Minnesota high school scene has ever seen didn't disappoint on the big stage as Hopkins' Taylor Anderson and Alexandria's Wensia Johnson finished first and second, respectively, in the 100-meter finals at the State Class AA meet on Saturday. These two split the 100 and 200 meter titles last year with Anderson taking the 100 before Johnson stole the 200 from her. Now in their final head-to-head race at the high school level, Anderson, a senior, beat out Johnson's time of 11.98 by the slimmest of margins, winning in 11.97. "Disappointing," Johnson said.
The Osakis baseball team punched a ticket to the first state tournament in program history with an 8-1 win over Hinckley-Finlayson in the Section 5A title game on Friday. "It's a great feeling," senior Doug Zimmel said. "It's unbelievable. We've been working toward this since 7th grade. We knew this team would come up and be strong. It's just a great feeling." Senior Ky Zimmel was in complete control from the mound as he earned the complete-game victory. Zimmel pounded the outside corner with his fastball early in counts and kept hitters off balance with his off-speed stuff.
The Alexandria girls' golf team has worn down opponents with its depth all season and nothing changed as the Cardinals ran away with the Section 8-3A title to punch a record-tying 19th trip to the state meet next week. Alexandria led by just three shots over Buffalo after day one by shooting a 349. Then in some cool and rainy conditions on Tuesday, the Cardinals went 10 shots lower to finish at 688.
The Cardinal boys' track and field coach Mike Empting believes anything can happen on the big stage of a state meet. That's why six Alexandria athletes head to Hamline University with high hopes today, a year after the Cardinals were not represented in St. Paul for the first time in a long time. "Last year, was Jerry's (longtime head coach Jerry Amundson) last year and he said it was the first time in his tenure they didn't send a boy to state," current boys coach Mike Empting said.
The Alexandria track and field team will be in a familiar position today for a program that is no stranger to sending athletes to St. Paul with high expectations at the Class AA state meet. Those high standards will be there again as the Cardinals feature a state title favorite and the depth they hope can rack up plenty of points. Alexandria's Megan Hasz will help kick things off today, Friday, at Hamline University as the 3,200-meter final gets things going at 9 a.m.
The Alexandria baseball team was three outs away from extending its season before one swing of the bat changed that on Wednesday night. The Cardinals were leading 6-5 going to the top of the seventh in the Section 8-3A elimination game against Brainerd when the Warriors' Nate DeChaine stepped to the plate after a leadoff walk. He found himself down 1-2 when Alexandria's Blake Stockert threw a slider that stayed up in the zone. DeChaine didn't miss it as he crushed a home run to center field for what turned out to be the game-winning runs in a 7-6 game. "I just hung it," Stockert said.
The Brandon-Evansville baseball team had its season come to an end after an 8-2 loss to Barnesville in the Section 6A playoffs on Tuesday. Teams need to play clean defensively at this time of year, and it just didn't happen for the Chargers. They had five errors in the game as Barnesville took advantage of that early with a six-run second inning. "After playing errorless baseball during the first three games of the tournament, we picked a terrible time to kick the ball around," head coach Brian Perleberg said.
The Cardinal baseball team saw its season come to an end after the Brainerd Warriors won 7-6 in an elimination game at Knute Nelson Memorial ballpark on Wednesday night. Alexandria was clinging to a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh when Brainerd's Nate DeChaine changed that with one swing of the bat. A walk had led off the inning before DeChaine crushed a hanging slider to center field for a two-run home run.