Rosemount came up just short of its second state championship, losing the Class 5A Prep Bowl 31-14 to a tough Wayzata team. When it concluded, the result forced a bevy of emotions.
After hugs, tears and a final roaring salute to the student section with the state runner-up trophy held high, coach Jeff Erdmann got his group together one last time with a simple tweet of his whistle. He spoke to the team reading off a printed sheet of paper. It was an impassioned 5-minute speech that in a nutshell described Erdmann's approval for a season well done.
"Our guys handle themselves very well in all situations," Erdmann told reporters after the team meeting broke. "I'm proud of our guys, extremely proud of what our guys did. We played very consistent football all the way through. We're thrilled with our guys' efforts throughout the season and all the preparation that went into being the type of team to compete at this level."
Rosemount's loss was its only one of the season. The Irish won by being a hard-nosed team that thrived on using a punishing run-you-down approach. Nick Liska, Andrew Hausmann and Kevin Larson combined for 2,664 yards rushing heading into the Prep Bowl.
A deep run for Burnsville
In its debut state tournament appearance, Burnsville's boys' lacrosse team had a respectable showing at Chanhassen High School.
The Blaze scored first and was even with top-seed Benilde-St. Margaret's at halftime in the state semifinals before losing 11-10 to the Red Knights.
That was the most goals allowed by BSM – the eventual state champion – all season. Senior attacker Bohdi Engum and senior midfielder Brian Atkinson led Burnsville with four goals and three goals, respectively, in the semifinals.
Two days later in the third-place game, the Blaze walked happy after an 11-7 victory over White Bear Lake. Engum and junior Jake Maxon each had a hat trick in that game.
Lakeville coach on the mend
Lakeville's hockey community was shaken in February when Lakeville North girls' hockey coach Buck Kochevar fractured his skull after a fall on the ice while preparing the team for a section playoff game.
Kochevar had part of his skull removed and a plate inserted after the incident. A week later at the state tournament, Lakeville South coach Perry Wilkinson said Kochevar already was improving.
"He's almost like the old Buck," Wilkinson said. "He's getting there."
Kochevar was able to attend the team's banquet in April. The latest update on his caringbridge.org site said he continues to make remarkable progress, passing hearing tests and is rid of the vertigo he had experienced.
Shakopee sophomore Maria Hauger dominated the girls' state cross-country race for a second year in a row last fall, completing the 4,000-meter course in 14 minutes, 18.9 seconds. Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg was the closest to Hauger, finishing in 14:33.1.
"The middle of the race I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I don't think I'm going to have anything left,'" said Hauger, a sophomore who won by nearly 14 seconds in 2009.
"But I recovered. When I got to the mile, I couldn't believe my mile time – it was like 5:10, and I knew that was really fast."
As the race stretched on, so did Hauger's lead. From the crack of the gun – the second, actually, after an unfair start initially was ruled -- Hauger was the clear leader.
"This one, I felt like it was going to be harder," Hauger said. "I feel more overjoyed with this one. I was supposed to win this one. I was the most nervous for a race I've ever been."
Sixth time is the charm
Milan Mader had to weather five state championship match losses before finally winning the big one in the Class 3A volleyball tournament in November. Lakeville North's 3-0 sweep over Wayzata left Mader – a 35-year coaching veteran – overcome with emotion.
"I broke down and cried, and I'm not afraid of that," Mader said. "After being second five times, I don't think I could handle a sixth time, you know?"
Mader, 72, was asked about retirement following the Panthers' dominating victory over the Trojans, in which they went on runs of 13-1, 9-3 and 8-2 to close the deal. He didn't give a definite answer on continuing his career that includes more than 800 victories, but the interest to come back is there.
Shakopee softball's roll
Though the season came to an abrupt halt with two losses in the state tournament, Shakopee's softball team rolled through the regular season. The Sabers came to North Mankato – their first trip to state in 31 years – with a 20-2 record. Of those 20 victories, eight were by shutout and 10 featured 10 or more runs for Shakopee.
"They've all had banner years, putting it together at the same time," coach Neil Johnson said. "It's been great fielding and great hitting. And we're riding the arm of Ashley Walker, of course. We can't complain."
Walker pitched 17 innings over two games in the Class 3A, Section 2 final. She also had two home runs and five RBI.
Twin brothers pace Lakeville North golfers
Lakeville North qualified for its fourth boys' golf state tournament this spring. The team was guided by an unlikely threesome.
Senior Adam Petterson, who stands 6-7 and also plays on the Panthers' boys' basketball team, was flanked by the much shorter twin brother combo of Bobby and Freddy Thomas.
"It's pretty funny when you see those two next to Adam," head coach Steve Sabetti said.
And the three all possess a different skill, ones that helped Lakeville North finish sixth last week at Bunker Hills.
Despite his size, Petterson is actually is a better putter than driver. Bobby Thomas is the power hitter. He shot a 2-under 71 at the Dakota County Invitational.
"For a little guy, he can really crank it," Sabetti said.
Freddy Thomas is the tactician, who methodically works his way around the course. He tied for medalist honors with two-day score of 150 at the Class 3A Section 1 tournament.
With two vastly different approaches, the Thomas brothers, Sabetti calls them "golf nuts," came out with similar scores. They should be a force for years to come.
Apple Valley's success story
By now, you know all about Apple Valley and its successes. And the Eagles just keep getting stronger.
They made headlines during all three sports seasons. In the fall, coach Chuck Scanlon led the boys' soccer team to another undefeated season, winning its ninth state title with a 3-0 victory against Minneapolis Southwest. Apple Valley pushed its state-record winning streak to 47 games with the victory.
A few months later, the wrestling team breezed to its sixth consecutive and 19th overall state wrestling championship. Included in that was senior Destin McCauley's fifth individual crown. The 152-pounder was also named the National Wrestling Coaches Association senior wrestler of the year in May.
Less than a month later, Eagles boys' basketball player Tyus Jones was named to the U.S. National Development Team. He was one of only 12 players to be named to the team.