Archive for ED Sports

PREP BOYS SWIM & DIVE: Delano/W-M team effort holds off Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield

The Delano/Watertown-Mayer boys swim and dive team took home nearly every first-place finish in their dual against Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield Thursday night, led by improved performances across the board, for a 110.5-67.5 win.

“They are swimming above expectations for this early in the season,” coach Mark Seguin said. “The divers have definitely stepped up a level this year.”

Stepped up they did: Hans Anderson won the diving event with a score of 178.5 and Haakon Sundheim finished second with a 120.45 tally. D-C/L’s Evan Johnson finished a close third at 108.6.

The D/W-M 200 medley relay team got things going fast, taking home first place by nearly nine seconds. The quartet of Nick Black, Gentry Nuytten, Joe Coyle and Colby Kern timed a 1:43.98, while the D-C/L group of Steven Mengelkoch, Logan Christopherson, Jackson Resop and Emmanuel Johnson put up a 1:52.80 time.

Colby Kern continued his stellar racing with a decisive win in the 200 individual medley

“It will still be another four to six weeks of training before they have the endurance they need to finish strong,” Seguin said. “They’ve been working hard and pushing each other in practice and that’s showing up in the meets.”

In addition to D-C/L’s relay teams showing nicely, Russel Wesa came within two seconds of first place in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:06.44 and tied for second in the 100 freestyle at 56.10.

“I felt the meet went really well. We had some very impressive time drops after swimming our second meet in two days,” D-C/L coach Pete Travis said. “As a team we had 32 improvements tonight. The guys showed some real grit after a tough dual with Monticello. Even though the score didn’t reflect the nice swims we had, I was happy to see our improvement.”

Logan Christopherson tallied a 1:06.99 time in the 100 breaststroke for a win, and the Charger foursome of Resop, Johnson Anders Borg and Christopherson won the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:57.17.

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Jan. 22 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR

PREP GIRLS HOCKEY: Slow start forces Dragons to play catch up

LITCHFIELD – The season opener for the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato girls hockey team left a simple message for them after the game. After a slow start put them in a hole early. the Dragons were unable to rally back in a 5-3 loss to the Willmar Cardinals Jan. 16.

“The first two periods weren’t our best,” Dragons coach Matt Hogg said. “We had somethings that we could have done better. We weren’t moving our feet quite as much as we were hoping. They got a couple of good girls who can move their feet and put the puck in the net when they get a chance.”

While the Dragons found themselves down 5-1 entering the final period, they didn’t give up. The Dragons got better as the game went on, scoring two goals in the final period but the comeback attempt stopped there.

“Overall, we thought the third period was a great way to end this game,” Hogg said. “We won that third period. We talked about giving ourselves good feelings heading into that next game whatever happened at the end of this game. I was proud of the effort that was put in that third period.”

Willmar struck first on a power-play goal by Madison Garberding midway through the first period. Shortly after, the Cardinals extender their lead to 2-0 on a goal from Bailey Olson.

Down 2-0 and needing to get something going, LDC got a spark from Lydia Niemela. Off an assist from Kourtney Mielke, Niemela cut the deficit in half for the Dragons by scoring on the rebound.

With momentum on their side as the first period was about to come to a close, Willmar wasn’t about to let it end that way. After drawing a penalty, it didn’t take long for the Cardinals to respond as Garberding scored his second goal of the game put Willmar back up 3-1.

“That was tough,” Hogg said. “We got that goal back and then that third goal was a power-play goal for them which hurts. We would have liked to keep it 2-1 or even get back even at 2-2.  That was a big thing for them to get that goal there. That kind of took our momentum away. We weren’t ready to get it back in the second period. That’s hockey sometimes.”

After stealing the momentum back at the end of the first period, Willmar kept rolling in the second. A pair of goals from Ashley Larson and Olson put LDC in a 5-1 hole entering the final period.

Emily Johnson gave the Dragons some life early in the third. Less than four minutes in, Johnson took the pass from Kristin Foley, weaved between the Willmar defense, and found the back of the net to bring LDC within three.

Kourtney Mielke would add on another goal for the Dragons with just over four minutes to go, but that’s where the comeback stopped as LDC ran out of time.

Willmar outshot the Dragons 56-16 as they were in control of the puck for most of the game. The legs weren’t there for LDC early on, but with it being the first game of the season, that wasn’t a surprise for Hogg.

“I think all our girls have another gear to get to,” Hogg said. “I felt like we were a bit slow today from what I’ve seen. That’s to be expected when it’s the first game back after a very goofy start. We have another gear that’s for sure.”

While the Cardinals controlled the game early on, Hogg is hoping to see that same intensity from his team that he saw in the third period for a full game going forward.

“The biggest thing we’re reiterating to the girls is that intensity level has to pick up a bit,” Hogg said. “The skills are there. We have talented players. We’d like to see the intensity level ramp up a bit in practice and that will carry over to games.”

For the complete story and more Enterprise-Dispatch sports coverage, check out the Jan. 22 edition of the Enterprise-Dispatch. Click here for subscription information. 

 Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.

@Kovar_HJSports 

PREP BOYS HOCKEY: Dragons get hot late in win over Willmar

LITCHFIELD – There was no doubt that the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato boys hockey team was ready to get back on the ice. Despite taking a bit to get going, the Dragons got fire later on as they cruised to a 6-1 win over the Willmar Cardinals Jan. 16.

“I was happy with it,” LDC coach Brice Berggren said about his team’s performance. “The first period we started slow. They got a few chances and a few shots. We could have started a little bit faster. It was the first game of the season with some pre-game jitters going on. I thought as the first period went on we got better. After that, we started to find out groove.”

The Dragons were extra excited to get on the ice for the season opener. LDC was scheduled to play Friday night against Orono, but the game was postponed due to weather.

“We’ve been waiting for so long,” Logan Benson said. “It’s been like six months since our last game. It was good to just get out there and play.”

After not playing their game against Orono, Berggren wasn’t sure what to expect from his team Friday night during practice. With their first game hours away, LDC had a great practice and it showed against Willmar.

“We had a really good practice last night,” Berggren said. “Guys were upbeat. I didn’t know how it would affect them. Coming into the game today, guys were just excited to be here and be able to play a game again.”

Gavin Hanson got the scoring started for the Dragons with a goal midway through the first period. Jack Hillman and Grant Grochow had the assists.

Willmar settled things back down as the Dragons took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. After their slow start, it didn’t take long for LDC to get going in the second. Just 49 seconds in, Benson extended the LDC lead to 2-0 on a goal assisted by Ryan Schutz and Mason Schroeder.

“We just built off that and got a little momentum,” Benson said. “We really started working together.”

LDC would add on two more goals in the second period, taking a 4-1 lead over Willmar into the final period.

“Towards the end of the second, we could feel that we had that confidence that we’re taking over the game,” Berggren said. “Things were just clicking a little better. Feet were moving and the guys were looking better. Just a lot better out there.”

The Dragons would seal the win with a pair of goals from Caden Besemer and Keyton Johnson in the third.

“It’s good to get that first win under your belt,” Berggren said. “We still got big games coming up we just got to keep getting better.”

For the game, LDC had six different goal scorers in the win while 10 players recorded at least one point. That type of production from all of his lines is what Bergreen hopes to see going forward this season.

“Each line went out there tonight with a lot of intensity,” Berggren said. “Each line had different scoring chances. A couple of lines probably could have scored more, but it’s nice to see. We’ve been stressing to these guys to have a well-balanced attack. We want more guys to contribute. We want to have three lines for sure or even four lines if possible in certain situations.”

While the offense was firing on all cylinders, so was the defense. LDC held firm on both their penalties, which is something they’ll be stressing this season.

“That was a highlight for me,” Berggren said. “We’ve really stressed that in practice about how important killing penalties in a game is. That can be a big momentum change. We want to take pride in killing penalties. I felt like we did a really good job of that.”

For the complete story and more Enterprise-Dispatch sports coverage, check out the Jan. 22 edition of the Enterprise-Dispatch. Click here for subscription information. 

 Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.

Twitter:@Kovar_HJSports

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: D-C boys use pressure defense, second half offense to best Hope Academy

In their first win of the year, the Dassel-Cokato Chargers didn’t shoot an incredible field goal percentage. Nor did they have one player do all the damage. Rather, the full court press defense they implemented this season won them the turnover battle and the game against Hope Academy Saturday by a score of 57-43.

“Ever since I started coaching, I’ve liked the fast-tempo basketball,” first-year head coach Tony Dehler said. “The more we get into it, the more comfortable we get, and as you can see it makes teams uncomfortable.”

D-C forced 28 turnovers in the Thursday loss to Becker and got right back to it against the Lions, not giving any wiggle room for standout wing Elijah Wade to operate. What kept Hope Academy in the game through the first half down just five points was some questionable shot selection in the halfcourt by the Chargers.

“I don’t ever want them to hesitate to shoot, but we have to understand situations,” Dehler said. “Within our offense if we can move the ball and get our feet set, fine. But we need to take advantage of our athleticism, and we saw that in the second half.”

The aggression to the rim was like a light switch from one half to the next. Eli Gillman sliced between defenders and made some nifty passes for dropoff scores, while Gaige Webb was sure-handed down the stretch not forcing shots from outside. The patience on offense compounded with more full-court pressure put the game in double digits quickly and that’s where the lead stayed. sparked by an 8-0 run to begin the frame and get a 38-25 Charger lead.

“When we do that, good things happen,” Dehler said of the newfound shot selection in the second half. “We started to attack, then kick, and we got some better looks.”

Gillman led the way with 13 points before fouling out near the end of the game. Gaige Webb hit some big free throws late to keep a comfortable lead and finished with 12 points. Greg Clark worked on the glass for nine.

D-C has most of the week off before traveling to Kimball Jan. 22.

For the complete story and more Enterprise-Dispatch sports coverage, check out the Jan. 22 edition of the Enterprise-Dispatch. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR 

PREP SCOREBOARD: Thursday, Jan. 14

AREA PREP SCOREBOARD
BOYS BASKETBALL
HLWW 73, Lester Prairie 72 (OT)
W-M 74, SWC 65
Delano 69, Big Lake 54
GIRLS BASKETBALL
Annandale 60, Delano 46
Mayer Lutheran 79, Sibley East 36
WRESTLING
W-M 34, Scott West 25
LDC 65, Rocori 12
G-SL/LP 47, Chaska/Chanhassen 25
New Prague 44, G-SL/LP 27
BOYS HOCKEY
Mound Westonka 4, Delano 2
GIRLS HOCKEY
Mound Westonka 7, Delano 2
Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.
Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

Area teams ready to get rolling, tackle changes

At long last, the winter sports season is to begin. Practices for all sports began Monday with games set to start Thursday.

While lots of coaches and athletes are excited to get things underway finally, it hasn’t always been easy.

“It has been brutal waiting, but it’s the same boat every coach has been in and we were doing it for a reason – the health and safety of a lot of people,” Delano girls basketball coach Seth Potter said. “The fact that we’re giving it a shot though has the coaching staff and athletes thrilled.”

While the wait for the green light has been hard for most coaches and athletes, it’s been even harder for Dassel-Coakto’s Tony Dehler who is taking over the program for the first time this season.

“It has been extremely hard to play the wait and see game with our season,” Dehler said. “Especially for me, coming into my first year as the head coach at Dassel-Cokato, I wanted to get started ASAP. I am extremely excited about the athletes that we have in our program and the new systems we are implementing.  I think our style will be fun to play and watch.”

High school sports were put on pause back in November due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. After nearly 45 days of no sports, the Minnesota State High School League and the Minnesota Department of Health allowed teams to begin practice Monday with games beginning the following week. While official practices haven’t begun until this week, some area coaches have been doing all they could to help get the kids ready for action.

In his first year as head coach, Dehler has been doing all he can to make sure his guys are ready to roll and know what to expect when the season begins.

“We have done a lot in advance of the season,” Dehler said. “We did virtual practices three times a week where we talked through and diagramed the new offensive and defensive systems we are implementing this year.  Although it wasn’t ideal to not be in the gym practicing, it presented us with a rare opportunity to focus on the xs and os, so now we can hit the ground running a little faster than if we had to stop and completely explain everything in the gym.”

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted wrestling coach Joe Puncochar has had his athletes working out on their own leading up to the season.

“We had several guys doing individual workouts and recording their results since Dec.1,” Puncochar said. “We met in small groups with our athletes for personal well checks and to help motivate each other to be ready. We had good turnouts for these virtual workouts and many of our guys are excited to get going in person.”

Wrestling is one sport where a mask will not be required when practicing or competing. That has some coaches hoping for a fairly normal-looking season.

“It’s going to look mostly normal,” Puncochar said. “There are a few protocols that we need to put in place but much of the sanitizing and hygiene stuff is what we have been doing forever anyway.  We can only have two dates a week and no tournaments so that will be a little different.  However, we have a strong schedule planned to face some of the top teams in Minnesota so our wrestlers will get plenty of competition.”

With Puncochar looking forward to a somewhat normal season, he knows there will be challenges. Conditioning will be a focus early on, but he also knows that several of his wrestlers participated in fall sports which is a plus.

“The challenges I think right away will be adjusting to some of the new routines,” Puncochar said. “After such a long layoff, we will have guys that are not ready to compete at a high level. Our training will have to focus on increasing our cardiovascular conditioning maybe now more than in the past.  However, we have a lot of multi-sport athletes who played a fall sport and have been staying moderately active during the shutdowns.”

While wrestling may appear to have a semi-normal season on paper, Watertown-Mayer wrestling coach Kurt Becker knows how fast things can change.

“We are hopeful it will be a complete season, but we all know everything can change in the blink of an eye,” Becker said. “We are just grateful for every minute we get together.  We know there may be hiccups and interruptions.”

The Royals return a veteran group of wrestlers from a season ago. With the late start and short time to get ready for competition, Becker sees that as a strength this year.

“I think we are fortunate to have a pretty veteran team,” Becker said. “Even though the majority of our team is underclassmen, most of them have pretty extensive varsity experience.  We have a great culture in place and I am confident the guys will come in ready to work hard.  The biggest challenge will be shaking off the rust and getting into shape for our first match which is against section rival Scott West.”

Other sports that won’t require a mask during competition this winter are gymnastics, swimming and diving, and cheerleading. Sports such as basketball and hockey will be required to wear masks during practices and games. States like California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin have already been playing most sports in masks.

The idea of playing in masks has raised some caution from players and parents across the state. While not ideal by any means, Potter knows it will take some time to get used to things.

“The mask portion is going to be an interesting one, but we will modify and adapt,” Potter said. “The safety of our players and staff will be our main priority. It will be a lot of trial and error and we’ll just take it one day at a time, but overall we’re just happy we’re getting the opportunity.”

Games are set to begin Jan. 14. That will give teams eight days of practice to get ready for their first games if they chose to play on the first available day.

“For the coaches and the athletes, having a season means so much to us,” Potter said. “While happy for all, extremely happy our seniors will get a shot at having a season.”