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WILLMAR — Playing host to the six-team Willmar Cardinal Classic on Friday, the Willmar wrestling team flexed its muscles with a first-place showing. With nine wrestlers claiming titles in their respective weight classes, the Cardinals scored 243 points, blowing out the competition in the process. Central Lakes Conference rival St. Cloud was second with 141.5, followed by Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg with 135.5.
WILLMAR — Opening the game with a 22-2 run, that was just the start of a suffocating defensive effort Saturday by Willmar. In their home opener against Dassel-Cokato, the Cardinals had 20 steals and held the Chargers to eight second-half points in a 78-23 drubbing at Willmar High School. Hannah Johnson was effective all over the court with 10 points, eight assists and four steals. Abby Berskow and Sadie Raitz both had three steals, with Berskow also adding five assists.
MINNEAPOLIS — In the biggest game of the year, Hayden Tersteeg found a way to make an instant impact. Or, as Tersteeg is quick to point out, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time. "I didn't force a fumble. All I did was jump on it," Tersteeg said. "I can't take too much credit for it." Regardless of how he got there, Tersteeg came up with key takeaways in both the Class A semifinals and the Prep Bowl.
MINNEAPOLIS — SMB was like nothing Willmar had seen all year. Some teams are fast, some are physical and some are very aggressive. The Wolfpack, they were all three. And all three of those traits were on display from the opening kickoff in Friday's Class AAAA state championship game. Playing in their first state final in 45 years, the Cardinals could not climb back from an early deficit as SMB won its first state championship with a 44-18 victory in Prep Bowl XXXVII at US Bank Stadium.
Taggert Reynolds and his family live by the creed: "Live every day by the moment." They don't look ahead because there may not be a tomorrow. That's been the reality for the Reynolds family. Taggert's mom, Brenda, has been battling various forms of cancer for 12 years. And this past July, his younger sister Jenna passed away after her own battle with cancer. Still, Taggert is living in the moment. With a heavy heart, he has helped the Willmar football team reach its biggest moment: a showdown today with SMB (St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake) in the Prep Bowl.
MINNEAPOLIS — They're big. They're bad. And they paved the way for BOLD to get to its first Prep Bowl championship for the first time in 2014. The Warriors' offensive linemen — Jake Evanson, Kyle Kostohryz, Cade Morse, Riley Weis and Brady Ridler — bowled Blooming Prairie over for the bulk of Saturday's 37-7 Class A state semifinal win, helping BOLD to 427 yards of total offense, with 328 coming in the run game. "Our offensive line, the big boys did a nice job today getting off the ball and driving," said BOLD head coach Steve Solem.
MINNEAPOLIS — After a 30-year absence from state, the Willmar football team took a second to soak in the moment. "Right when we went through the tunnel and the buses, it was hitting (everybody). Like 'Wow, we're here,'" said quarterback Drey Dirksen. "We had a talk and said right when we step on the field, take a deep breath and enjoy it. "But when that whistle blows, be ready to go." It didn't take Willmar long at all to get down to business.
MINNEAPOLIS — Caledonia's business is winning. And business continues to boom. The Warriors held Paynesville to just 133 yards of total offense with three takeaways as part of a 40-6 victory in the Class AA state semifinals Thursday at US Bank Stadium. The Warriors are now winners of 53 straight games. And the team couldn't care less. "We don't talk about (the streak) at all," said Caledonia head coach Carl Fruechte. "We're just trying to be 1-0. One-and-oh. One-and-oh. And we're trying to get better."
Inside the glass roof of US Bank Stadium, the Willmar offense will be in an optimal setting. There'll be no wind or hint of the elements like in their 44-0 win over Hermantown in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals. The turf will provide the Cardinals' athletes some added quickness. It also makes for a perfect fit for their state semifinal opponent.
ST. PAUL — Kevin Weller admitted to marveling over some of Katherine Mastey's kills on Thursday. Playing New Life Academy in the opening round of the Class A state volleyball tournament, the BBE head coach leaned on the senior middle hitter to provide some instant offense for the Jaguars, who won their quarterfinals match in three games on Thursday. Mastey's performance left the 12th-year head coach in awe at points. "Some of those kills she had today, I turned around and went, 'Oh my God, that's amazing,'" Weller said. "She's had those throughout the season."