The volleyball season ended for Martin County West in Saturday’s Class 1A fifth-place match at the state tournament. The Mavericks – whose school is in Sherburn, between Fairmont and Jackson near the Iowa border – lost to Nevis at Xcel Energy Center, but the 2013 season has a lot more meaning to the team than that.
The way it started is what everyone will long remember. On the afternoon of the season’s first scheduled match on Aug. 26, junior outside hitter Taryn Tumbleson, -- beginning her third season as a member of the starting lineup -- was driving from the family farm to the school, where she would catch the bus for the season opener at Fairmont.
She never made it. Taryn’s Ford Explorer went off the gravel road and rolled over several times. When I asked about her injuries this week, she said, “Eleven broken ribs, a compression fracture in my back, a few other minor injuries, a real bad concussion.”
The match was cancelled. Taryn (pictured here with her teammates during pregame introductions at state) was airlifted from the Fairmont hospital to a hospital in Rochester, where she was in intensive care. It’s no wonder that Taryn did not play at all this season, but her simple presence, the fact that she was able to rejoin the team and watch from the bench – even if she wasn’t wearing her number 12 jersey – was something to behold.
“She’s a walking miracle,” said Mavericks coach Mary Sussenguth. “And miracle is an understatement.”
When Taryn was late catching the bus, the Mavericks began making phone calls. “Her mom had just gotten to the scene and was pretty panicky,” Sussenguth said. “They didn’t know what was going to happen. They really didn’t.”
Taryn still wears a back brace, but not full-time. She was in street clothes at the state tournament, introduced with her teammates before each match and watching from the bench.
“It’s been really humbling for me,” she said. “Just the change of view, getting to watch my teammates play, trying to help them out while I’m not on the court. But it’s definitely a different view from the bench. And I wish I was out there, but I’m so glad that I’m here and that I can be on the bench.”
She hopes to resume her basketball career this winter, and by spring she should be back on the Mavericks track team. Last spring she teamed with Hailey Holtz, Haley Jensen and Libbie Lange to finish second at state in the Class 1A 4x100 relay.
“She’s been our motivator,” Sussenguth said. “She’s been the reason for us to keep going and being strong. We have a team word every year, and it was 'strong' this year. It could not have been more fitting.
“She works so hard and she’s incredibly athletic. She had a back injury during her freshman year and we had to try and limit her then. And she’s tough to limit. The last two weeks she’s gotten to practice a little more, and she’s still got it. We’ve told her, ‘You’re going to come back, step in and not miss a beat.’”
Taryn’s accident, survival and recovery have provided many lessons for the Mavericks, Sussenguth said.
“She brings that focus and that intensity, and we missed that right away. We told the girls, ‘This is a great lesson to learn in life. Things are going to happen and we’ve got to keep moving forward.’ ”
Martin County West has now played at state two years in a row. If all goes well next season, the Mavericks will be back at state and Taryn Tumbleson will be back on the court.
“Next year, definitely,” she said with a smile.
CLASS 1A/ Southwest Christian beat Fillmore Central 25-22, 25-17, 25-16
The Stars, who were state runners-up last year, won their first state title in their third trip to the tournament. Fillmore Central had defeated Southwest Christin 2-0 in a tournament during the regular season, but the Stars were nearly unstoppable Saturday.
Mackenzie Horkey led Southwest Christian with 17 kills, 22 digs and three ace serves, and Rachel Carlin had 34 assists. Fillmore Central’s Taylor Case had nine kills and 17 digs, and Morgan Malley had19 assists and eight digs.
CLASS 2A/ Marshall beat Hill-Murray 25-13, 25-19, 25-16
The Tigers won their third straight state title and finished the tournament with three 3-0 victories. The state record for consecutive titles is five by Armstrong from 1980 to 1984. Marshall is the fourth team to win three in a row (Tracy-Milroy 1994-96, Central Minnesota Christian 1998-2000 and Shakopee 2007-09.
In the title match, Marshall’s Kenzie Beekman had 25 kills and 15 digs, Sydney Griffin had 25 assists, and Hannah Bennettt (22), Stephanie Baker (13) and Rachel Sanow (11) combined for 46 digs). Hill-Murray’s Marisa Franco had 23 digs and Hannah Angeli had 15 assists.
CLASS 3A/ Eagan beats Delano 25-13, 27-29, 26-24, 21-25, 15-12
In a back-and-forth battle that went to the wire, the Wildcats won their fifth state title and first since 2003. Delano was the tournament’s giant killer, coming to state as the smallest among 96 schools in 3A.
Eagan’s Taylr McNeil (36) and Brie Orr (20) combined for 56 kills, while Orr also had 39 assists and 15 digs. For Delano, Shelby Seurer had 26 kills and 19 digs, Kristin Kreklow had 57 assists and Alex Wittinger had 18 kills.
1A/ Minneota beat Win-E-Mac 26-24, 25-11, 25-8
2A/ Fergus Falls beat Kasson-Mantorville 25-15, 26-28, 25-22, 25-23
3A/ Osseo beat Eden Prairie 25-20, 25-14, 28-26
1A/ Nevis beat Martin County West 25-19, 26-24, 25-13
2A/ Belle Plaine beat Dassel-Cokato 25-16, 25-8, 25-12
3A/ Rochester Mayo beat Moorhead 25-22, 25-15, 25-22
1A/ Megan Norby, Nevis; Shelby Kaster, Win-E-Mac; Taylor Reiss, Megan Larson, Minneota; Mackenzie Horkey, Abby Palkert, Rachel Carlin, Southwest Christian; Taylor Case, Morgan Malley, Tori Peterson, Fillmore Central.
2A/ Mariena Hayden, Belle Plaine; Brooklyn Lewis, Hailey Busch, Kasson-Mantorville; Briana Rasmussen, Laura Gaustad, Fergus Falls; Kennedy Fabian, Rachel Kueppers, Hill-Murray; Sydney Griffin, Kenzie Beekman, Hannah Bennett, Marshall.
3A/ Anna Winter, Rochester Mayo; Ashley Brueggeman, Eden Prairie; Megan Pekarek, Christina Boe, Osseo; Kristin Kreklow, Shelby Seurer, Alex Wittinger, Delano; Taylr McNeil, Kelly Madison, Brie Orr, Eagan.
--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.
--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 15 for the state volleyball tournament, 22 for the fall state tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,828
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
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