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 Alexandria swimming and diving team was geared up for a big day at the Section 5A meet in Bemidji and it played out that way during Saturday's finals. The Cardinals finished second as a team in the 10-program field with 353 points. Only Class A power Sartell-St. Stephen was better with 531 points as the Sabres ran away with another title. The finish means Alexandria will be well represented at the state meet March 2-4 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
The Alexandria wrestling team will send two on to the individual state tournament this week after seniors Ben Bogart and Quintin-Kluver Longfellow punched their tickets through the Section 8-3A individual meet that was held in Alexandria. Bogart has a chance to add to his fourth-place finish from a year ago at 126 pounds after securing his spot through the 132-pound bracket this year. Bogart won his quarterfinals match on Saturday by fall in 5:14 and took a 6-0 decision in the semifinals.
The West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville wrestling team had already solidified its spot at state as a team, and on Saturday the Knights added a whole bunch more individuals who will compete in St. Paul. Jordan Lohse got things rolling at 106 pounds as he dominated his weight class on his way to the title. The eighth grader won his semifinal match by fall in one minute before pinning Carter Haman of New York Mills in the championship.
The Osakis wrestling team had visions of sending at least three athletes to the individual state tournament, and the Silverstreaks accomplished that with an ideal day at the Section 5A individual tournament on Saturday at New London-Spicer. Senior Seth Johnson and juniors Colton Waldvogel and Gage Zieske will all head to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul this week after winning championships at their weight classes.
Even after a win, there are going to be some tears among teammates when the final buzzer sounds on a season. Alexandria senior goaltender Sarah Finley had just shut out Hibbing-Chisholm with 24 saves to help the Cardinals win the Class A consolation championship on Saturday as she found herself fighting back those tears heading into the locker room for the last time.
Mound Westonka had the best player on the ice on Saturday at Ridder Arena, but Alexandria had the best team. In the end, that depth won out in a 7-6 overtime thriller that kept the Cardinals season alive. White Hawks’ senior forward Liz Schepers had six points, but Alexandria sophomore McKenna Ellingson had four herself. Ellingson had the last laugh when she got the puck at a seemingly impossible angle with a defender on her hip in overtime.
Puck luck can make or break tight games in hockey and the Alexandria girls just didn’t have it on Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Hancock's junior guard Noah Kannegiesser tormented the West Central Area boys basketball team on Tuesday night with 45 points en route to an 80-56 win for the Owls. That's becoming par for the course for Kannegiesser, who is coming off a 49-point performance against Ortonville and a 43-point game against Dawson-Boyd last week.
The Alexandria girls basketball team dropped its first game in Central Lakes Conference play on Tuesday night after shooting just 22 percent from the field. Willmar (17-8, 12-3 CLC) wasn't much better offensively but had enough to come away with the 40-33 win on Alexandria's senior night. The visiting Cardinals led by 11 at the break. Alexandria fought it back down to three late in the game but had to foul in the end.
The West Central Area girls basketball team has lost a few close games this year with a relatively young lineup, but on Tuesday they found a way to win one. Brandon-Evansville was the victim on the Chargers’ home court after a late rally came up short. The Knights (6-17) led for much of the game until a Kennedy Lund free throw tied things at 61 apiece with less than two minutes left. The Knights responded with a 9-4 run to end a 70-65 win over a 16-8 Chargers team that came in well in front of them in the Section 6A QRF rankings.