Archive for DEL Sports

HONORING COACH FINN: Delano girls tennis coach Kim Finn to retire after 2023 season

DELANO – For 25 years, there’s only been one face leading the way for the Delano girls tennis program. Coach Kim Finn has walked the courts for the Tigers for the past 25 years and after being honored for her commitment and dedication to the program, she announced this season will be her last.

“It’s time,” Finn said about the decision. “I always go off of what Pav (Merrill Pavlovich) said that you’ll just know when it’s time to move on. I’ll be done, but it’s not like I won’t be here. The amount of work it takes to be a head coach and run a program is a lot. That part of it, I won’t miss. If I could just come out here and coach, I would do it for the rest of my life.”

Finn took control of the Delano girls tennis program back in 1999 when she moved into town. Things didn’t start easy for her and the team. The team often played only a handful of matches all season long against non-varsity teams and there were no offseason programs for athletes to work on or develop their skills.

“When I started, our varsity program would play everyone else’s JV team because that’s how bad we were,” Finn said. “We might have been lucky to have six matches. We knew we had to start playing more. Most of the girls put their rackets away in October and then didn’t pick them up again until August. We built that summer program and that’s where things turned around.”

Finn was the fourth coach in the past four years to take over the program. She would be the only coach for the next 25 years as she built the program from the ground up. In 2006, Finn helped lead the program to its first-ever state tournament appearance where the Tigers finished in fourth place. The following year was a tough one but the Tigers took on the challenge of moving up a class. Despite getting off to a slow start, Finn came into the 2023 season with a win percentage over 80 percent.

“In the spring of 2007, we were moved to class AA because we had 14 more students enrolled in our district to make the Class A cut-off,” Finn said. “We did not let this get us down. We played teams that were three or four times our size. We decided that the Wright County Conference Championships would be our state tournament.”

Following the move to Class AA, the Tigers went undefeated in conference play for 11 years in a row. In 2015, the road to the state tournament got even harder after being placed in Section 5AA among the top programs in the state (Wayzata, Maple Grove, Champlin Park, St. Michael-Albertville, Rogers) but the Tigers were once again up to the challenge. Under Finn’s leadership, Delano knocked off Wayzata to reach the state tournament in 2015. The Tigers made it to state once again in 2016 and have been in the semifinals or section final in each of the past three seasons.

“For a small town the size of Delano to accomplish this means that there are a lot of dedicated athletes that work hard to continue the tradition of a great team,” Finn said.

Why coach for 25 years?

Tennis has always been a passion for Finn. It’s a unique sport in which she can coach things that not only apply to the game itself but to life as well.

“I continued to coach throughout 25 years because I love the sport of tennis and I am happy to share that love with anyone that wants to learn how to play,” she said. “The other aspect of coaching is being a mentor for student-athletes. Teaching them and coaching them to be a better person on and off the court. I show them how to use their strengths to bring out the best in them. The confidence to always strive to do better.”

Confidence is a recurring word surrounding the Delano program. It goes beyond what happens on the court for Finn.

“Tennis isn’t just for athletes,” Finn said. “It’s for anybody. That’s what I love about it. I just want to bring out the best in everybody and give them that confidence and let them know they can do it. I want them to know when they get older and into their careers they remember that confidence I try to instill in them. I have seen many abilities of athletes throughout the last 25 years and what continues to bring me back is the success of each and every player I have coached. Not only on the court but also in their life.”

The idea of tennis is for everyone has been on display in the program for the past two decades. The numbers in the program have grown over the years and more and more athletes are sticking to it and finding success under Finn’s leadership.

“I love watching girls that aren’t three-sport athletes and who are probably more of a bookworm,’ she said. “I’ve seen it change their confidence in their athleticism and just in life. You just have to put the time in and they have. When you have the confidence and want to work hard, that’s what I love about coaching. It’s fun to coach competitive athletes that think they can do it and then you watch them grow and succeed. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of.”

A coach everyone wants to play for

It’s been three years since Maria Molitor has played for coach Finn. That doesn’t change the impact she had on her.

Molitor was one of many alumni hanging around the match Thursday knowing the team and program would honor coach Finn. It was important for her to be there knowing how much she’s meant to her tennis career and beyond that.

“She taught me what it looks like to be a strong female leader, to never give up on and off the court, to dig deep, and to work hard,” Molitor said. “I could confidently give 100 percent every match because I knew the high standards she had set for me. I admire and respect her coaching style and the dedication she displays to every part of your life.”

Now a member of the St. Cloud State University tennis team, Molitor has caught the itch to get into coaching herself because of Finn.

“She has been a role model and mentor to me through my years,” Molitor said. “I aspire to someday be as successful as her in coaching and to impact women athletes’ lives the way she has impacted mine. I am so thankful for all she has done for me and the sport of tennis.”

Molitor is just one of many lives that Finn has touched throughout her coaching career.

“I haven’t even been alive for 25 years so it is crazy to imagine all the players she has coached, matches she has watched, and lives she has impacted,” Molitor said. “The lessons she taught us on the court carry out into everyday life. She is a woman of high character and very humble about her accomplishments. We had a great time celebrating her. She deserves a lot of thanks and celebration from our community. We aren’t done celebrating yet, as we know she will stay involved to ensure the continued success of the program.”

Kelly Holmgren, a former player for Finn and now an assistant coach for her, also has felt the support and encouragement she brings to not only her players but everyone she comes in contact with.

“Delano has been very lucky to have a coach like her,” Holmgren said. “She is one of a kind. She has put her heart and soul into this program for 25 years. She is constantly working on ways to improve this program and keep it going. I’m very fortunate to have played for her and now I’m very blessed to get to coach with her.”

Leaving her mark

The 2023 season will mark the end of an impressive coaching career for Finn but she won’t be forgotten. Members of the program along with alumni surprised her with a bench and plaque alongside the tennis courts that will serve as a reminder to all who built this program into what it is today.

“Since she built this program from the ground up, we wanted to put something in the ground to honor her,” Holmgren said. “Anyone who enters these courts or uses the area will be able to recognize her now.”

“She showcases what it means to be a strong woman athlete and that’s really important in today’s age,” Molitor added. “She fights for what she wants and teaches you to go for everything 100 percent on and off the court. Her dedication has really built this program into what it is today and we couldn’t be more thankful for her.”

The bench symbolizes Finn’s commitment and dedication to the program throughout her 25 years of coaching.

“This really means a lot to me,” Finn said. “I appreciate all the support. It has gone by very fast. I enjoy it immensely. This is my life, but sometimes you get tired. Going out at 25 years is better than going out at 26 or 27 years.”

Delano vs. Zimmerman varsity football photos

Check out our photo coverage of the Delano home varsity game against Zimmerman that took place Sept. 15!

SECTION 2A BOYS HOCKEY: Brown’s big night sends Delano back to section title game

ST. LOUIS PARK – Slow starts have been a common theme for the Delano boys hockey team of late. That script changed in a big way in their Section 2A semifinal matchup with Waconia as the Tigers scored early and often in a 6-1 win over the Wildcats Tuesday night.

“I thought for a majority of the game we were really good,” Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen said. “Overall, it was really good. It was fun to score a little bit because we haven’t been scoring a bunch much.”

“It was pretty fun for the boys to get a big win,” senior Will Brown added. “It’s even more exciting knowing we’re going to be playing again Friday. We’re looking forward to that.”

After scoring just one goal in the first period in their past four games, Delano got things going early. Will Brown opened the scoring off an assist from Brayden Coppin and the floodgates opened after that for Delano. Cooper Nielsen and Teague Collings each added goals just seconds apart as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

“It was huge to get ahead early, especially against a team that looked hot coming in,” Brown said. “They upset a team that we lost to so it was pretty big to get ahead early and put them away.”

Despite a three-goal lead entering the second period, Delano knew they needed to stay aggressive as Waconia came out of the break firing.

“I thought our end of the first period was terrible,” van Bergen said. “The message was we were up by three and that we can’t stop competing. We can’t stop playing to our identity and they knew that. They knew they didn’t do that and that’s what is great about this group. They’re really honest and really humble. When we’re hard on them, they respond because they want to be better. That’s what’s fun about this group.”

The Wildcats had a few good looks early on as they came out with some extra energy but Brown quickly silenced them with his second goal of the game to make it 4-0 Delano.

“I thought we got back to our identity really quick,” van Bergen said. “That doesn’t mean we were super smooth, but we were more physical and simple with things and communicated and worked harder. Even though they had a little buzz going early, we had no sense of panic because we knew we were already playing better.”

Waconia would get on the board midway through the second period but it was Brown who once again had the answer with his third goal of the game to put the Tigers back up by four.

“I’m super tough on Will,” van Bergen said. “I’ve known him since the day he was born. He’s a guy that we need to score and he knows that. Getting him to the middle of the ice without the puck so we could get him the puck was really big tonight. He’s such a valuable piece of this team.”

Teague Collings and Aaron Lewis also played a big role in the win. Both are guys who have been playing well as of late for the Tigers and success is coming along with that.

“Teague and Aaron have really been good too,” van Bergen said. “Teague has been on an absolute tear. Aaron just played his game. He’s huge and just goes straight forward and when he does that where he plays on top of the puck, there’s only one guy I know who can compete with him.”

Despite a 13-12 record during the regular season, Delano finds themselves playing for a section title once again. It’s the fifth season in a row the Tigers will play for a trip to state and they don’t care what their record looks like because they know it’s helped them get to where they are at.

“We tried to put together the most challenging schedule we could,” van Bergen said. “Our schedule is filled with teams who are in the top 20 across the state. That’s who we want to be. We’re hoping we’re taking steps toward that. We knew going in it was going to be hard to have a good-looking record because of who was on our schedule and that was OK with us. Although it’s not easy at the moment, I think this group likes what it represents. We wanted to challenge them. We play those games so when it comes to crunch time, it’s not the first time you’re under pressure in a big game.”

“The schedule we play is tough,” Brown added. “We assembled that for good reason. We want to be challenged during the year and I hope it pays off here down the stretch.”

Over the years of success for Delano, they’ve had a history of changing previous outcomes in the postseason. Over the past three seasons, The Tigers are 3-1 against teams they lost to in the regular season and then played again in the postseason including a double-overtime thriller against Orono last season. Delano will be looking for that trend to continue as they’re set to face off with rival Orono in the section championship.

“I think what we’ve done, and we’re really intentional about it, is that we don’t push a certain identity until it’s time,” van Bergen said. “A lot of times that identity comes really late. We thought we had an idea of what our identity would be early and we were wrong. We had to make adjustments. In my experience, it’s easy to get a team to peak early but it’s really hard to get a team to peak at the right time. We don’t worry about our identity early on. I don’t think the style we’re playing right now is what we thought it would be earlier this season. They’re really starting to like that identity because they’re starting to feel success. That’s what I hope is the difference for us. We’re going to work hard the next two days in practice and we’ll take a run at them.”

The Tigers will be playing for the section title for a fifth-straight season. They are 3-1 in the previous four section championship games and looking for their first state tournament appearance since 2021 after finishing as runner-ups last year. They’ll face off against Orono in the Section 2A championship game Friday night at the St. Louis Park Rec Center at 7 p.m. The Spartans defeated Delano 5-1 earlier this season.

“It’s my fourth time in four years playing in a section final,” Brown said. “It’s really cool for our team. It’s super fun to play in these kinds of games and it’s got a big energy level. It’s going to be great going against our rival and should be a lot of fun.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

AMATEUR BASEBALL: 2023 Amateur State Baseball Tournament poised to be an exciting one

When the state tournament for amateur baseball comes around this summer, it’s going to be a special one. The Minnesota Baseball Association will be celebrating its 100th state tournament this year and four of the top ballparks in the entire state are already eager and excited to bring fans to enjoy games.

This year’s tournament will have games played at Delano Municipal Baseball Stadium, Saints Field in Dassel, and Optimist Park in Litchfield. Lions Field in Waconia will also host some of the Class B/A games over the first weekend as well.

Delano and Dassel-Cokato are no strangers to hosting the state tournament. Delano hosted the 2019 state tournament along with Maple Lake and D-C as the third site. Litchfield and D-C combined to host the 2016 state tournament.

All three organizations have already proven they know what it takes to pull off running a state tournament. They’ll have their biggest test yet though as they are ready for the challenge of hosting the 100th tournament in MBA history.

“With it being the 100th anniversary, it’s a big deal for everyone,” D-C’s Jordan Flick said. “We’ve hosted a few other times and I think we’re pretty well prepared for doing this one. We’re really excited about it. There’s a pretty big buzz going around. We’re super excited to host and we’re elated at the opportunity.”

The experience of hosting a big tournament is there for Delano and Dassel-Cokato, but for Litchfield, they are looking to make a name for themselves when it comes to hosting the big show.

“It means the world to us as a group,” Litchfield’s John Anderson said. “Being a location that hasn’t hosted a ton of tournaments in the past, it’s nice to be a part of it. 2016 really gave us a solid boost being the third site and showed us what it really takes to elevate ourselves to be in the conversion to host this one. There are so many awesome fields and parks across the state. To be able to partner with juggernauts like Dassel and Delano, it’s awesome. They have so much experience. The excitement is really high.”

Litchfield as an organization has put a ton of time and effort into their park. The Blues were part of the 2016 state tournament along with D-C and Hutchinson and also hosted the Region 12C Tournament this past summer. Fans can expect a new look to Optimist Park when they come to the state tournament as they’ve been hard at work improving the park over the past few seasons.

“The amount of upgrades has been pretty crazy,” Anderson said. “What we’ve been able to do the past five or six years is incredible. The big project was our covered grandstand. The first thing fans will notice is that pretty new grandstand. It’s a sight to see compared to what we used to have.”

Other new updates at Optimist Park include new netting around the field, a new sound system, changing the backstop from fence to stone, extended dugouts, extra room outside of the field, and improved bullpens. Optimist Park will also feature new seats under the grandstand that will be installed in June.

“The amount of work all three sites have put in is really impressive,” Anderson said. “We’ve really utilized the experience and knowledge from everybody. We’re excited for the teams that will be there and the fans as well as our community. We just want to make our experience better at the park. We recognize there are a lot of great parks and we always say why can’t that be us? That’s our motivation. A lot of these communities have really great fan bases that can enjoy it. That’s what we want and that’s what kind of pushes us.”

Lithcifeld will get a chance to show off Optimist Park to the state ahead of the state tournament as Fox 9 will be on-site for their annual Town Ball Tour Wednesday, June 28.

“We’ll really be able to showcase what we’ve done in the past two or three years,” Anderson said about Fox 9 coming to town. “That’s going to be that lead-up for us. Getting the local community involved and their support is important to us. These kinds of tournaments don’t run themselves and we need as many volunteers and support as possible. It’s perfect timing for us and it’s going to mix in well with the build-up we have going.”

The focus over the years for Litchfield has been on hosting this tournament, something they haven’t taken for granted or lightly.

“We’ve been listening to what people have had to say,” Anderson said. “Luckily we’ve been put in a place where we can respond and do many of those things. We wanted to put that all together to make it a better experience for the fans and players. We are just loaded up with projects and it’s all in preparation for this tournament. I told our board that every decision we make is with the state tournament in mind. Every decision we’ve made has been leading to this state tournament.”

While Litchfield is looking to emerge as one of the premier sites in amateur baseball, Delano and Dassel-Cokato have been at the top of the best ballparks for many years for most people.

“We take a lot of pride in our parks,” Flick said. “There’s been lists out there ranking all the parks. All I can say is we’re fortunate we have people who are really dedicated to upkeep on the park and making sure the playing conditions are tight. We have a very loyal fan base and volunteers that help with big events. We can’t thank them enough for the work that they do. It sounds cliche, but it really does take a village to put on a tournament like this. Our volunteers are great.”

For Saints Field in Dassel, many of their big projects and improvements came ahead of them hosting the state tournament in 2016. One of the top parks in the state, D-C hasn’t rested on its laurels as they continue to find ways to improve the player and fan experience.

“We had a lot of major upgrades to the park since we hosted in 2016,” Flick said. “We’re working on some more seating now. On the field itself, we’ve replaced some of the chain link fences in foul territory with really cool wooden boards that kind of give it a Field of Dreams-type feel. We also made a full turf warning track and it’s a little bit more reliable and less upkeep there that boards the outside of the field.”

Delano has also continued to work on improvements at their field as well. Last year a new deck was added outside of the left field and right field fences giving fans an entirely new and unique way to take in a game.

“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned,” Ryan Hayes said about preparing for the state tournament. “We’re always looking to up the ante. Some of the stuff is a little bit easier but we’re always trying to add more events and attractions between games. You’re always looking for volunteers and now we’re headed back to some of the same companies for advertising just a couple of years later. I would say preparing will be a lot of the same we’ve done but with a little extra on the marketing aspect of it.”

A big part of the focus for Delano and the other hosts for this tournament is getting new fans into the parks.

“We’re really trying to get those people who don’t know much about the game out,” Hayes said. “That’s kind of the key. We know who’s going to come out already and it’s all about how we can get other demographics out to the park and show them that this is a fun atmosphere that you need to be a part of.”

This upcoming tournament will be a special one for Hayes. Although he’s helped out in ways with some of the previous tournaments, being able to host the 100th anniversary means a lot to him because of how much townball has been a part of his life.

“For somebody who’s grown up with it, it means a lot to me,” he said. “Growing up, most people want to be a major league baseball player. I wanted to play town team baseball. I grew up in Maple Plain and my grandparents would take me to games every Sunday after church. It was always town ball. It was always so cool as a kid. In 1997 I was chasing foul balls at that tournament and now I’ve helped out with the last two we’ve hosted. This is super special to me. It’s really cool being in my 30s and seeing how far it has come.”

One aspect that Delano, D-C, and Litchfield all take pride in is having the North Star League be the center of this year’s state tournament. All three have been working tirelessly over the past few years and are excited to share what they have in store including the late addition of Lions Field in Waconia.

“It’s special for our teams and it’s special for our league,” Flick said. “We love our partners. They have great sites and were also really happy Waconia is there to help us out.

“We just jumped all in with them,” Hayes added. “Everyone was on board. They’ve been very easy to work with and we know what they’re capable of doing. Waconia kind of speaks for itself. That was a pretty easy choice to have them come on board as well.”

While all three sites have been working nonstop to pull off the tournament, the Minnesota Baseball Association as a whole has been too. The MBA has continued to find ways to make the tournament even better which is something that hasn’t been unnoticed by the hosts.

“That group is so open-minded about things,” Hayes said. “You can call them up anytime you want and they’re just very approachable. It’s been very helpful to be in contact with them when they have an open-door policy. They want to go down all those alleys too and at least see what the possibilities are. That’s always great to see.”

“It makes it really feel big time,” Flick added. “We love working with the MBA and the state board. They’re super flexible about working with us and helping us if we need anything. You can tell how dedicated they are to growing this as much as possible.”

The 2023 amateur baseball state tournament gets underway Friday, Aug. 18 at all four sites. For more information about the tournament or to volunteer, check out or contact any of the organizations.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Holy Family heats up late in win over Delano

VICTORIA – Delano boys basketball coach Terry Techam has seen a lot over his high school coaching career. He experienced something new this time as his Tigers hit the road for a Wright County Conference East matchup with Holy Family.

Delano had a tall task ahead of them taking on the Fire, one of the top teams in the state regardless of class. Despite a strong first half in which they led the entire way, Holy Family turned up the heat in the second half in a 66-43 win over the Tigers Friday night.

“I’ve been in high school basketball for nearly 30 years,” Delano coach Terry Techam said. “I don’t ever remember having a time where I had to prepare for playing against two very talented 7-footers.”

Delano, a team who loves to get out in transition and push the pace, came into the game with a new game plan and executed it to perfection to take a 28-21 lead into halftime. The Tigers slowed things down and controlled the tempo of the game but were unable to continue that in the second half.

Changing from their pressure zone, Holy Family switched to a man-to-man defense and sped up the Tigers to change the momentum. The Fire opened the second half on a big run including knocking down three 3-pointers in less than a minute to break things open. In the second half alone, Holy Family outscored Delano 45-15.

“I’m very proud of how we played,” Techam said. “I thought we competed well and played really well in the first half. We got them out of their zone and then they went man, we really struggled to score.”

Despite the loss, Techam learned a lot about his team. Sophomore JJ Longstreet entered the starting lineup while freshman Max Iversen (one of the team’s leading scorers) saw his minutes take a big hit as Delano slowed down the pace throughout the first half.

“We usually want to go up and down and we want the shot clock,” Techam said. “We want to play fast. We decided tonight that if we play fast, it just multiplies how many times we have to stop them which gets tough. Our best offensive lineup features three guys under 5-foot-10 which makes it tough to guard a team that has five guys 6-foot-2 and over.”

The change in the lineup and the rotation didn’t bother the team. Techam has his guys buying in where all they care about is winning.

“That’s what is fun about this team,” he said. “They’re all about the team. That’s one of the joys of coaching this team. Our slogan is we over me. It can be just a saying to some but our team really believes in that.”

Holy Family remains atop the WCC East standings with a record of 4-0 in conference play. Delano fell to 2-2 in the conference with the loss and sits at 13-6 overall.

YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back on the top sports moments for Delano Herald Journal coverage area

What a year 2022 was across the board in area sports. There was so much going on that I honestly feel like I only got to cover or experience a tiny bit of it.

To be honest, the 2022 coverage season was an absolute grind. Covering six schools and an endless amount of events really takes a toll on a guy. Between running to all the events, writing stories and taking photos, editing stories, and doing the layout for the newspaper, it was a long year for me to say the least.

At this time of year, things tend to slow down a bit here in the sports world due to the holidays. Each year around this time I take the time to look back on the past year of coverage. This year was a bit more fun to look back on all the things I covered. Usually, once I finish a week of coverage, there’s not much time to dwell on it. It’s moving on to next week so I often forget some of the stories or moments I’ve covered.

I want to thank everyone for following along with this exciting year of sports coverage and I hope you continue to do so in 2023. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the top sports moments from the coverage area in the past year.

Avery Lommel’s journey to a state title

It was by far my favorite story of the year to tell. There’s something special about a high school athlete overcoming adversity and making the most of things. That’s exactly what Delano senior Avery Lommel did for the Tigers this fall.

After losing sight in one eye, Lommel didn’t sit and feel sorry for herself. Instead, she worked even harder so that he could get back to the sport she loved. It paid off in a big way.

Not only did Lommel make it to the Class A state swim and dive tournament, but she also won the state title to cap off her inspirational story.

For those that know me or have followed my work over the years, there’s always one message I share. It’s more than a game. Lommel and her journey are a testament to that and it was an absolute blast and honor to cover her this past season and see how she turned adversity into inspiration for not only her but everyone who knows her.

Delano volleyball makes a magical run

All season long covering the Delano volleyball I knew there was a lot of talent and if they came together they could make a run at things. I just wasn’t sure if it would come together at the right time. Spoiler alert. It did.

I know the Tigers feel they came up short this season but the moments they provided in those final two matches against New Prague and Benilde-St. Margaret’s were some of the best I’ve ever seen in any sport. I’ll never forget those matches, especially the fifth set against the Trojans that sent them to the Section 6AA title game.

The section championship game didn’t disappoint either. Although Delano came up just short, it was an incredible match and atmosphere and one those players should remember forever. As a journalist, you’re supposed to remain as neutral as possible but there was no doubt I wanted to see Delano cap off their run with a section title. I played the what-if game throughout the state tournament wondering what could have been for the Tigers as I saw B-SM reach the state title match. Regardless, the run by the Tigers was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever covered.

The dominance of Delano softball

One of the best parts of covering high school sports is getting the variety of sports to mix things up. Being able to cover really good teams is also a huge plus.

One of the really good teams I covered this past year was Delano softball. No matter who they play, the Tigers hit the cover off the ball and it was a blast to watch.

Like the volleyball team, Delano’s season came to an end in the section championship game. While driving to the game I had a feeling the Tigers would be playing two games and breaking through against B-SM. It wasn’t meant to be but that team and the way they play the game was so much fun to watch over the course of the season.

Toby Hanson’s walk-off in Class C quarterfinals

The amateur baseball beat is one of my favorite things to cover. A lot of time, hours, and energy go into it but it’s all worth it.

After making several trips down to Faribault and Dundas for the Class C state tournament, there wasn’t a bigger moment for my coverage area than what Toby Hanson did for the Delano A’s.

Taking on one of the favorites (St. Patrick), Delano pulled off one of the most exciting finishes of the tournament. In the bottom of the ninth, Hanson delivered a walk-off home run to send the A’s to the Class C semifinals.

It was an absolute no-doubter for Hanson and a perfect way to cap off an incredible game between powerhouse programs. It was one of the games you’ll remember forever and one I’m glad I got to see and cover firsthand.

Loretto’s marathon with Bird Island

Continuing with the amateur coverage beat, the matchup between Loretto and Bird Island is a story all in itself. It’s a game I wish I was physically at.

I remember leaving Waconia and seeing that Loretto and Bird Island were still playing. They were about to head into extra innings as I turned them on. About five or six innings later, I thought about making the drive down in case things continued. I ultimately decided not to but looking back I wish I did.

The Larks and Bullfrogs ended up playing the longest game in state tournament history – 22 innings. I watched every single pitch over the final 13 innings. I ended up going to bed around 2 a.m. and then got up to work at the golf course at 5 a.m. Totally worth it.

An incredible game and an incredible part of what was an awesome tournament this year for the Minnesota Baseball Association.

Delano dance gets back to state

I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about what it takes to be good at dance or what goes into dance. What I do know is the pure joy Delano showed as a team and individuals make it back to the state tournament last season.

A lot of time and hard work were put in by the coaches and athletes last season. It was fun to see their hard work pay off by competing on the state’s biggest stage. It was also a lot of fun to knock off a state tournament that I haven’t covered before.