Archive for Kip Kovar

PREP FOOTBALL: Menth, Crusaders outlast rival LP/HT in regular season finale to clinch district title

MAYER – New district? No problem.

The Mayer Lutheran football made it three straight district titles with a 27-15 victory against their rival Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Tuesday night. It wasn’t always easy for the Crusaders who finished with a perfect 7-0 record in district play, but they came together and fought through it for another district title.

“It shows we’re tough,” senior running back and linebacker Matthew Menth said about how they were able to come out on top in a new district. “We can play pretty much anybody. We come out and play hard the whole game. It’s a great victory. It felt amazing.”

The Crusaders and the Bulldogs were thrown into the Mid Southeast West District this season along with some teams they’ve never played against. Even though the opponents were different, the Crusaders knew what could possibly happen if they take care of business and how the schedule was set.

“I was telling the kids this at the beginning of the year,” Mayer Lutheran coach Dean Aurich said. “You know what would be perfect when I saw the schedule? If we could get down to the district championship against our rival Lester Prairie, and it happened technically. It was awesome. This district was decent, and it was a lot of fun.”

The Bulldogs were one of few teams that gave the Crusaders all they could handle this season. After forcing the Crusaders to punt on their opening drive, the Bulldogs struck first.

After a 9-yard run from Dylan Ruzicka gave the Bulldogs a first and goal, Alex Heimerl gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead with a 25-yard field goal to get the scoring started thanks to some costly penalties from Mayer Lutheran.

“I’m not sure what changed, but the last couple games have been rough on us,” Aurich said about the penalties. “We do have to fix that, and some of them are just jumps.”

With the offense looking putrid in the early going, the Crusaders finally got things rolling thanks to the spark of their big play guy Branden Carlson. Carlson hauled in a 35-yard pass from junior quarterback Baden Noennig, setting the Crusaders up for their first score of the game. Following the big pass, Zander Flucas punched it in from seven yards out, giving the Crusaders a 7-3 lead.

With Mayer now on top, the Bulldogs were looking for a spark of their own. They got just that as Dylan Ruzicka intercepted Noennig’s pass, setting the Bulldogs up in good field position. With the Bulldogs in the red zone, they decided to roll the dice and go for it on 4th and 3 from the Mayer Lutheran 10-yard line. The gamble paid off as Michael Ziermann found Dylan Ruzicka wide open for a 10-yard touchdown pass, and the Bulldogs reclaimed a 9-7 lead.

With just under three minutes left in the first half, the Crusaders weren’t going to be content heading to the locker room with a two-point lead. They executed the two-minute drill to perfection, going 60 yards in just eight plays, capped off with another touchdown run from Flucas. Flucas’ second touchdown of the game gave Mayer Lutheran a 13-9 lead heading into halftime.

With a four-point lead starting the third quarter, it was time for the Crusaders to get the running game going. The Bulldogs, who held Flucas to just 26 yards in the first half, lost track of him in the third quarter as he broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run to extend the Crusaders’ lead.

Just when it looked like Mayer Lutheran was about to pull away, the Bulldogs responded with a big-time drive. The Bulldogs went 78 yards on 13 plays, which was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run from Ruzicka to bring the Bulldogs within 20-15.

Menth would add 2-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth, as the Crusaders held the Bulldogs in check the rest of the way to seal the win.

“Last week was a really big disappointment,” Menth said. “We bounced back, though and used that as fuel against our rivals. We came out hot and it was a good game.”

With the win, the Crusaders likely clinched a top two seed in the Section 4A tournament. With a balanced section, Aurich and the Crusaders know how important it was to take care of business and lock up a good seed.

“Right now it looks like it’s going to Belgrade and then us second unless something changes,” Aurich said. “Then after that, there’s a few teams that we’re a little bit concerned about. K-M-S has a good defense. Lester Prairie is back in this thing, too. It’s going to be a fight to get out of it. The nice thing is we don’t have (Minneapolis) North in the top end, but you still have to play good football.”

Both Mayer Lutheran and LP/HT will know their seeds tomorrow morning (Thursday) with section play starting on Tuesday.

“I just can’t wait to get into playoffs,” Menth said. “The atmosphere is amazing. I love it. It’s going to be a blast to see how we do.”

“Now it’s playoff time,” Scoblic said. “Everyone is 0-0. You win or go home. We do not want to go home. We are a solid 5-3 team and looking forward to the playoffs.”






Holdingford 35, HLWW 7

Eden Valley-Watkins 22, Melrose 0

Pierz 50, Rockford 0

Paynesville 52, Maple Lake 18



Mayer Lutheran 27, LP/HT 15

Wabasha-Kellogg 34, J-W-P 27

Medford 45, United South Central 14

Bethlehem Academy 21, St. Clair 8

Kenyon-Wanamingo 34, MN Valley Lutheran 16



Delano 26, Watertown-Mayer 6

Holy Family 45, Annandale 39

Zimmerman 38, Dassel-Cokato 14

Glencoe-Silver Lake 28, Litchfield 14

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Section 2A seedings announced

WINSTED – The seeds for the Section 2A volleyball tournament were announced Wednesday morning. To no surprise, Mayer Lutheran claimed the top seed in Section 2A North Subsection. The Crusaders, who are the No.1 ranked team in Class A, will get a bye and face the winner of No. 8 MN Valley Lutheran and No. 9 BLHS Thursday, Oct. 26 in Mayer.

The Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs received the No. 12 seed. The Bulldogs will play at No. 5 Cleveland Monday, Oct. 23 in a play in game.

To stay updated throughout the Section 2A tournament, follow Kip Kovar on Twitter and stay connected with the Herald Jouirnal

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports



No. 12 LP/HT at No. 5 Cleveland

No. 9 BLHS at No. 8 MVL

No. 11 Sleepy Eye at No. 6 NUC

No. 10 Nicollet at No. 7 BOLD


BLHS or MVL at No. 1 Mayer Lutheran

Nicollet or BOLD at No. 2 Cedar Mountain/Comfrey

Sleepy Eye at New Ulm Cathedral at No. 3 Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s

LP/HT or Cleveland at No. 4 GFW




No. 12 United South Central at No. 5 Madelia

No. 9 Mt. Lake at No. 8 ML/GHEC/T

No. 11 Springfield at No. 6 NRHEG

No. 10 LCWM at No. 7 J-W-P


USC or Madelia at No. 4 Martin County West

Mt. Lake or ML/GHEC/T at No. 1 W-E-M

Springfield or NRHEG at No. 3 Alden-Conger

LCWM or J-W-P at No. 2 St. Clair






PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Bundrock, Helgeson win CMC titles

KIMBALL – It was a repeat for one, and redemption for the other. Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted’s Noah Bundrock and Gwen Helgeson came into the Central MN Conference meet with their sights set on a conference title.

Bundrock, who won it last season as a junior, made it two two-straight CMC titles by taking first place with a time of 17 minutes and 18 seconds. Despite unusually warm temperatures and a challenging course filled with hills, Bundrock dominated the competition finishing a full 10 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Even with a strong performance, Bundrock was a little disappointed in his time.

“The hills were horrible,” Bundrock said. “They hurt so bad, but I had a comfortable lead so it wasn’t like I thought I was going to lose at any time of the race.”

Noah Bundrock powers through to the finish line for his second-straight Central MN Conference title at Kimball Golf Course Tuesday afternoon.

Noah Bundrock powers through to the finish line for his second-straight Central MN Conference title at Kimball Golf Course Tuesday afternoon.

Bundrock came into this season with three goals for the year. One of which was to finish in the top-10 at the Milaca Mega Meet which he accomplished back in September with a fifth-place finish. The next one was to defend his conference title in which he did Tuesday afternoon.

“It feels good,” Bundrock said about knocking off another goal. “It doesn’t feel the same because my time last year was faster. I guess it was different competition and a different course which makes it a little more tough.”

With two goals checked off already, there’s just one left on the list for Bundrock as he heads into the Section 5A meet. That goal is simply to get back to state and improve on last year’s 53rd place finish.

“I really just want to win the section and get close to a personal record,” Bundrock said. “I want be at like a 16:50 at sections because I know that will carry me, especially at the Mora course because that’s a little tougher too. I’m definitely excited.”

On the other side, it was Helgeson getting some sweet redemption as she took home the conference title on the girls’ side for the Lakers. After finishing in second place at last year’s meet where she was beat by just 0.3 seconds to Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball’s Anna Donnay, Helgeson got her moment this year.

“I’ve been working hard this summer and our whole team has been working hard,” Helgeson said. “I think I did pretty well. It felt pretty good to take first.”

Gwen Helgeson got her redemption as she captured the Central MN Conference title this year with an impressive performance at the Central MN Conference meet Tuesday afternoon.

Gwen Helgeson got her redemption as she captured the Central MN Conference title this year with an impressive performance at the Central MN Conference meet Tuesday afternoon.

Helgeson crushed her competition finishing 40 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. Like Bundrock, Helgeson had mixed feelings about all of the hills, but powered through.

“All I kept thinking about was the finish,” Helgeson said. “Now I just get to drink water after and just relax for a week and half before sections. You just got to fight through the pain and think positive and that’s how I got through it.”

A conference title is nice for Helgeson, but she still has her sights set on helping her team reach state for a second straight year, as well as shooting her sights on a new personal best.

“I wanted to get under 20 (minutes) today,” Helgeson said. “With the heat and the hills, I just wanted to go for that first place. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter about time. I do want to get under 20 (minutes) though, and I think my teammates want to as well.”


Helgeson wasn’t the only girls runner for the Lakers to find some success. Gracie Mallak showed some incredible toughness and determination on her way to a 7th place finish. Bothered by injuries off and on this season, Mallak earned All-Conference with a time of 21 minutes and 9 seconds.

Brooke Baumann also had a special race for the Lakers. Baumann finished in 12th place with a time of 21 minutes and 47 seconds. Her 12th place finish was good enough for her to be named to the Central MN Conference All-Conference Second Team.

Katelyn Routhier and Erin Brabec also had nice races for the Lakers as they finished in third place overall as a team with 53 total points. Routhier and Brabec just missed being on the All-Conference team as they finished in 16th and 17th respectively.


Senior Thomas Horn was named to the Central MN All-Conference Second Team for the Lakers. Horn finished in 12th place with a time of 18 minutes and 33 seconds. Shortly behind Horn was teammates Nick Czanstkowski, Trevin Olund, and Cole Leukuma. The Lakers finished in third place overall as a team with 82 points.

Central MN Conference Meet

Tuesday, October 17
at Kimball Golf Course

Varsity Girls

Teams: 1. Maple Lake 42, Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball 43, 3. HLWW 53, 4. Pierz 124, 5. Osakis 149, 6. Paynesville 151, 7. Holdingford 169, 8. St. John’s Prep 226, 9. Royalton 239

Race Winner

Gwen Helgeson (HLWW) 20:16.55

HLWW Varsity Finishes

1. Gwen Helgeson 20:16.55

7. Gracie Mallak 21:09.35

12. Brooke Baumann 21:47.10

16. Katelyn Routhier 22:08.11

17. Erin Brabec 22:10.61

39. Danielle Wood 24:19.32

42. Ivy Fasching 24:42.12

JV Girls

Teams: 1. Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball 23, 2. Maple Lake 43, 3. HLWW 90, 4. Osakis 91

Race Winner

Isabel Greenwald (EV-W/K) 22:58.10

HLWW JV Finishes

14. Amber Lamphere 25:32.51

15. Lily Karg 25:59.10

20. Jordyn Tuchtenhagen 26:19.37

35. Cejay Ulrich 29:19.96

44. Alysha Grow 31:35.68

50. Ariana Riemer 46:56.75

Junior High Girls

Race Winner

Catera Davis (EV-W/K) 8:49.57

HLWW Junior High Finishes

2. Emily Hill 8:58.82

4. Emma Huss 9:28.82

12. Malorie Thorson 10:01.53


Varisty Boys

Teams: 1. Holdingford 49, 2. Paynesville 81, 3. HLWW 82, 4. Osakis 119, 5. Pierz 140, 6. St. John’s Prep 154, 7. Maple Lake 159, 8. Royalton 203, 9. Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball 211

Race Winner

Noah Bundrock (HLWW) 17:18.77

HLWW Varisty Finishes

1. Noah Bundrock 17:18.77

12. Thomas Horn 18:33.20

20. Nick Czanstkowski 19:26.02

22. Trevin Olund 19:32.02

27. Cole Leukuma 19:58.42

31. Gerrick Prine 20:16.75

36. Zach Koosman 20:35.41


JV Boys

Teams: 1. Holdingford 22, 2. Maple Lake 33, St. John’s Prep 81

Race Winner

Braden Bomgaars (Hold.) 19:07.92

HLWW JV Finishes

5. Jackson Workman 20:13.60

14. Chad Pauna 22:54.44

23. Andrew Soley 25:39.62

32. Duncan Morang 28:32.71

Junior High Boys

Teams: 1. HLWW 21, 2. Holdingford 49, 3.  Maple Lake 63

Race Winner

Caleb Karg (HLWW) 7:43.19

HLWW Varisty Finishes

1. Caleb Karg 7:43.19

2. Chance Greeder 7:49.28

3. Tyler Hill 7:50.28

9. Chase Dieter 8:17.71

10. Dane Klages 8:19.82

18. Mark Anderson 8:56.83

28. Ezekiel Riemer 9:23.53

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Bulldogs struggle to find their rhythm in loss to Mustangs

LESTER PRAIRIE – The game of volleyball is a funny game.  With six players working together on one side of the net, communication and rhythm are keys to success. The Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity volleyball team has had their ups an downs this season, but with injuries changing our rotations, a strong rhythm has been tough to come by for the Bulldogs.

Slow starts in each of the four sets left the Bulldogs on the wrong side of a 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21) loss to Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Tuesday night at home.

After dropping set one, the Bulldogs found themselves down 7-1 to start the second set. Instead of throwing in the towel, the Bulldogs fought back. A kill by Jenna Dolezal tied the game at 11, but quickly fell behind again 20-16 later in the set. With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs deep and the serving of Kayla Weinzierl led them back. Weinzierl recorded a pair of aces to spark a 4-0 run to tie the set at 20. Following the spark from Weinzierl, it was a pair of kills from senior Emily Schultz that helped the Bulldogs close it out down the stretch to tie things up at one set apiece.

LP/HT's Kayla Weinzierl and Rileigh Shackelton rise to block an attack in LP/HT's 3-1 loss to BLHS Tuesday night.

LP/HT’s Kayla Weinzierl and Rileigh Shackelton rise to block an attack in LP/HT’s 3-1 loss to BLHS Tuesday night.

“It shows that they can dig back and get out of their little funk they got going on,” LP/HT coach Tina Scherer said about how hard it is to comeback with slow starts. “It’s hard to start down 1-7. They showed that they can battle back, though.”

After rallying in set two, the Bulldogs and their lack of communication led to big runs for the Mustangs as they once again jumped out to early leads. In set four, the Mustangs started the set on a 4-0 run, and ultimately handed the Bulldogs their fifth-straight loss to close out the regular season.

“It’s hard to find a rhythm,” Scherer said about players being in and out of the lineup all year. “That’s pretty crucial in volleyball. It’s those split-second touches and you need that right touch at the right moment to make a play.”

The struggles of playing a complete match and finding their rhythm isn’t a new problem for the Bulldogs. They’ve been dealing with it all year. With their top-hitter Rileigh Shackelton who has been in and out of the lineup this season with an ankle injury, the Bulldogs have struggled to develop their style of play. They’ve had their chances though against some good competition against Heritage Christian, SW Christian, and New Life Academy.

“The Heritage one was hard,” Scherer said. “That one we should have had. Not to blame a long road trip, but it’s hard to get going after sitting on a bus for an hour. It’s just kind of hard to get the girls in rhythm.”

The Bulldogs will have just under a week to get things figured out as they will likely open their section tournament Monday, Oct. 23. The Bulldogs will get their official seed sometime on Wednesday, but they know they have some things to work on before playoffs get started.

“With our first game Monday, we’ve got less than a week to finish our stuff,” Scherer said. “We’re working on some tough plays and some quick plays. We want to bring up our tempo and get a little bit quicker.  We’ve kind of been playing at a slow tempo, and that’s not working for us. We like the quick tempo. We just get sucked into their game sometimes.”


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Mayer Lutheran’s Sam Schlueter sees extended time in Minnesota’s loss to Michigan State

MINNEAPOLIS – With injuries along the offensive line surrounding the University of Minnesota football team, Mayer Lutheran’s Sam Schlueter saw an increased role for the Gophers in their 30-27 loss to Michigan State in primetime Saturday night.

“We are a revolving door right now at offensive line,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. “There’s decisions I have to make of breaking red shirts. There’s decisions I have to hold on to redshirts. That’s a balancing act. I have to make those decisions.”

Schlueter, who was expected to start at right guard for Nick Connelly who was out with an injury, had to wait for his shot against the Spartans. Schlueter was listed as the starting right guard on the depth chart heading into the game, but didn’t see any action until late in the third quarter.

With the Gophers trailing 23-6 to begin the fourth, Schlueter made the most of his chances at right guard in the fourth quarter. He played all 26 offensive snaps for the Gophers, helping spark all three touchdown drives which ended with a familiar face capping off those drives.

Demry Croft took over for starting quarterback, Conor Rhoda, late in the first half, and got things rolling for the Gophers in the fourth quarter as he and Minneapolis North’s Tyler Johnson connected for a touchdown three times.

Schlueter and Johnson know each other well as they battled each other in back-to-back section title games back in their high school days.

Mayer Lutheran's Sam Schlueter saw a career high in playing time for the Gophers in their 30-27 loss to Michigan State.

Mayer Lutheran’s Sam Schlueter saw a career high in playing time for the Gophers in their 30-27 loss to Michigan State.

Schlueter and the Gopher offensive line continued to play well late in the game, giving the Gophers a chance to comeback against No. 21 Michigan State.

“Sam Schlueter is a guy who’s  a freshman coming in there, probably playing before he’s really ready to play, but this is valuable experience,” Fleck said. “He’s going to be the future. So, might as well get him in there now.”

Schlueter held his own against the Spartans under the lights in the 27 snaps he played. With injuries still a concern along the offensive line, Schlueter could see more time coming his way the rest of the season.

“I’m very very proud of a guy like him,” Fleck added.

Schlueter and the Gophers are back in action Saturday, Oct. 21 when they host Illinois for their homecoming game.

“My job is to make sure I give every opportunity for our seniors and our upperclassmen to win every one of the games in 2017, but still have this vision of down the road of what exactly this program will become,” Fleck said. “Not what I hope it becomes, but of what it exactly will become. That vision is so incredibly clear to me, because I’ve been through it. I know exactly what it looks like, what it smells like, what it talks like, what it walks like, what it thinks like, and what it acts like.”


For more about what Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck had to say about Schlueter, fast forward to the 11 minute mark.





Pierz 42, Paynesville 6

Eden Valley-Watkins 39, HLWW 6

Maple Lake 23, Rockford 10

Melrose 28, Holdingford 19



Bethlehem Academy 27, LP/HT 26

Blooming Prairie 28, Mayer Lutheran 27

Medford 29, MN Valley Lutheran 14

St. Clair 24, K-W 14

USC 20, J-W-P 14



Milaca 28, Watertown-Mayer 14

Delano 50, Litchfield 20

Dassel-Cokato 26, Holy Family 0

Glencoe-Silver Lake 35, Annandale 31