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HR Awards - Cayle Hovland: An unstoppable desire to win

Willmar's Cayle Hovland posted a 21-5 record her senior year and earned a trip to the Minnesota state tournament where she won the consolation championship. She finished with a career record of 105-39. Jake Schultz / Tribune1 / 3
Jake Schultz / Tribune2 / 3
Jake Schultz / Tribune3 / 3

To understand what stirs Cayle Hovland at her athletic core, consider this: The Willmar three-sport star holds the Cardinals track and field program's all-time shot put record of 42-feet, 9 inches. In second? Hovland's mom, Jill.

Cayle is No. 2 all-time with a discus of 139-feet, 8-inches. Who's No. 1? Yep, you guessed it. Mom.

"The numerous conference, section and state honors do not do justice to the role she played on our team," said Willmar head track and field coach Jerry Popp. "Her strengths include the consistency of her performances, the daily work ethic that sets an example for our entire team, and the enthusiasm she exhibits at every single practice."

It's true that statistics and victories can't fully convey Hovland's imprint on Willmar athletics. But bottle the tangibles and intangibles and it's apt that she's the West Central Tribune's 2018 Hengstler-Ranweiler Award winner as the area's top female three-sport prep athlete.

Cayle's name will hold a prominent place, during a generous span, of the history of Willmar's track and field, tennis and basketball programs.

Hovland lettered and started six years in tennis and she earned five All-Central Lakes Conference honors.

She lettered, started and earned all-conference honors all four years as a varsity basketball player. And she was a fixture on the track and field team for six years.

In her senior season as Willmar's No. 1 tennis player last fall, Hovland posted a 21-5 record and earned a trip to the Minnesota state tournament. She rebounded from a first-round loss to eventual Class AA state champion Nicole Copeland of Edina and won three matches in straight sets—dropping just seven games—to win the consolation championship. Hovland compiled a career record of 105-39.

"Cayle is a coach's dream," said Cardinals head coach Jim Anderson. "She is the definition of self-motivation. As a senior captain, she led her team with high academic achievements, superior athleticism and the unstoppable desire to win."

After the fall season, Hovland wasted no time transitioning to basketball and the goal of helping the Cardinals' hoops team return to the state tournament.

Not a problem.

Hovland averaged 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.0 block during her senior season, leading Willmar to a 26-4 record and a fourth-place finish in Class AAA in the Minnesota State Basketball Tournament.

In her junior season, Hovland was a key player on a 20-11 team that won the first of two-straight Section 5AAA championships.

Hovland finished her career with 892 points, 716 rebounds, 139 steals, 200 assists and 79 blocks. While a force inside who gathered up those 716 rebounds, she also shot better than 40 percent from the 3-point line.

Hovland helped lead the Cardinals to the two state tournament appearances. She was a Miss Basketball semifinalist and earned all-state honors her senior year.

"Cayle is a special basketball player because of her versatility and determination not only to win but to be her best every day," said Cardinals head coach Dustin Carlson. "Her wide range of skills were on display all year. Her will to win and strong leadership are at the top of all Cardinals girls basketball players in the history of the program."

In track and field, Hovland lettered six years and earned all-conference honors all six season throwing the shot and discus.

Hovland qualified for the Minnesota State Track & Field Meet two times and placed third in the Class AA discus this spring with a throw of 132-1. She placed sixth in the state shot competition with a throw of 40-4.5.

Hovland was the CLC discus champion twice and runner-up twice. She won the conference shot put once and was second once.

In the 2018 Section 8AA championships, Hovland was second in the discus and third in the shot.

At state, Hovland was sixth in the discus in 2017, she was third in the 2018 state discus competition and was sixth in the state shot put competition.

Hovland had more than 100 top-five finishes in meets throughout her career.

"Cayle's career as a varsity track athlete has followed an upward trajectory since she earned her first varsity letter as a seventh-grader," Popp said.

Even that many years ago, mom may have sensed that she'd one day have to gladly share space in the record book.

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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