WACONIA—Willmar encountered some push back but that didn't stop the Cardinals' boys and girls cross country teams from clinching spots in the Class AA Minnesota State Cross Country Meet yet again on Thursday in the Section 2AA championships a Gale Woods Farm. The Class AA state meet is Nov. 3 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Cardinal girls placed second to Marshall by 15 points and the boys finished 40 points back of first-place Buffalo to earn their second trip to the state tournament in as many years. It will be the seventh-straight trip for the girls.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Blake School's reign over Class A state tennis continues. The Bears topped Litchfield 7-0 Wednesday evening at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center to take home the Class A state title for the fourth year in a row. This is the sixth title in eight years for the Blake School and 12th in school history. Litchfield finishes with a second-place trophy, one year after winning the consolation championship.
NEW LONDON — New London-Spicer has won big plenty of times this year but in Wednesday's regular season finale, the Wildcats had to rally. Payton Madison scored twice within 43 seconds in the game's final 2:46 to power the Wildcats past Albany 27-22. Madison scored a 32-yard touchdown with 2:46 to play but failed on the two-point conversion for a chance to take the lead. But the Wildcats' Blake Valge recovered the ensuing kickoff on a pooched onside kick by Griffin Duininck to give his team a fighting chance, trailing 22-21.
WILLMAR — The Ridgewater volleyball team fired on all cylinders from start to finish in a 3-0 win against St. Cloud Technical on Wednesday at Ridgewater College. The Warriors won 25-18, 25-18, 25-18. Ridgewater maintained control of the matchup from the starting whistle and used the best of both setters, Staci Banks and Sarah Sulflow, who finished with 20 and 11 set assists, respectively.
WILLMAR — Willmar's postseason run was cut short Tuesday afternoon in a 4-1 loss to Providence Academy in the Section 6A opener at the Kennedy School field. The Lions entered the game as the tournament's No. 11 seed and bookended the day with penalty kicks for the upset of the sixth-seeded Cardinals on a rainy day. Connor McIntee converted a penalty in the seventh minute for the Lions but Willmar's Kelvin Gomez Padilla pulled one back on some commotion in the box just seven minutes later to knot the game at one.
SARTELL—For the second year in a row, Litchfield is heading to the Class A State tennis tournament. The Dragons topped Melrose 7-0 early Tuesday morning and dispatched No. 2-seed New London-Spicer 6-1 in the Section 5A final to clinch a second consecutive state tournament berth. Litchfield will take on Osakis, the winner of Section 6A, at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
HUTCHINSON—Sam Christoffer scored the hat trick and also assisted on a goal as the Willmar girls soccer team blanked Hutchinson 4-0 on Saturday. Kylie Halvorson scored the game's first goal on an assist from Christoffer, who then scored the natural hat trick before halftime. Kirah Kessler-Gross and Hannah Johnson assisted on two of Christoffer's goals. Cardinal goalie Bryton Carlson made nine saves. Willmar 4, Hutchinson 0 Willmar................. 4 0 — 4 Hutchinson.......... 0 0 — 0
The Willmar Stingers are sticking with what works. The Northwoods League ball club announced Wednesday that 2018 field manager Bo Henning, along with assistants Al Leyva and Matt Caselli, will return to Bill Taunton Stadium next year. It will be Henning's third season with the club and second as the team's field manager. He worked as the pitching coach under then-field manager Matt Passauer in 2017.
NEW LONDON — Carly Wedel found out she was named a captain this weekend, following a tournament where her Willmar Cardinals went 2-2 and challenged for third place against some of the top teams in the state. Her first act as captain: dominate. The senior setter racked up 44 set assists and slammed home eight kills with seven digs and three ace blocks in a 3-1 win against New London-Spicer. The Cardinals won 25-15, 25-27, 25-12, 25-19.
PAYNESVILLE — BOLD traveled to Paynesville for the teams' last season-opener for the foreseeable future and hung on for a 30-20 victory in a hard-nosed, fast-paced game that left everyone in Paynesville—players, coaches and fans alike—gasping for air when the final whistle blew.