The question was very straightforward, as was the answer from Marshall High School girls basketball coach Dan Westby: "No, no, no."
The question: Have you had any other athletes like Kaia Sueker in your coaching career?
No, no, no.
Kaia, a 5-foot-5 senior, is a rarity for several reasons. She's a four-sport athlete, competing in both volleyball and cross-country in the fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring. She plays marimba in the school band and violin in the school orchestra. She's been involved in so many other school clubs and events that it’s hard to keep track.
And then there’s this: She has now competed in 10 state tournaments … or 11 if you count her stint as a basketball team manager when she was in eighth grade. And that number is likely to reach 11 (or 12) when her final track season rolls around this spring. That’s how it all began, when she qualified for the state track meet as an eighth-grader.
“I don’t know where she gets the energy,” said Westby – also the Tigers volleyball coach -- after Marshall lost to Becker 68-67 in Wednesday’s Class 3A state quarterfinals at Maturi Pavilion. “She’s a pretty amazing kid.”
Kaia had 14 points, three assists and three steals in the game. It was a heartbreaking loss, coming in the final seconds, but she was all smiles afterwards.
“I think it’s really cool to be up here,” she said. “It’s such a great experience and I’ve enjoyed it with all my teammates. I’m really proud of everyone.”
Kaia is the only player who was also a member of Marshall’s last trip to the state basketball tournament in 2016. In the fall she’ll be a freshman on the cross-country and track teams at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. The end of her high school days will certainly be felt back in her hometown.
“There just aren’t kids like that anymore,” Westby said. “She’s quite a kid. It’ll be different in all sports, not having her. She’s been a part of it for so long.”
I asked Kaia to look ahead 10 years or so and predict what she will remember most about her high school career. Her answer said a lot about herself, her family, Marshall High School and how important school activities are everywhere.
“I think I’ll remember these moments with my team and how special they are,” she said with that big smile. “I’m never going to forget them. I’m going to miss it a lot, I know that, and I’m going to miss my teammates for sure. It’s just been a great experience.”Tournament Tidbits
--Hibbing senior Abbey McDonald has a pretty strong basketball pedigree. Her father, Joel, is the Hibbing boys coach and former holder of the state scoring record, and her grandpa is Bob McDonald of Chishom coaching fame. Abbey will play at St. Cloud State, just like her dad.
--Play of the day: Becker sophomore Courtney Nuest took a pass from classmate Julia Bengston and made a three-point shot at the buzzer to lift the Bulldogs past Marshall. Marshall led by 16 points with 10:27 left in the first half before Becker came back to trail by three at halftime. The Bulldogs led by 14 in the second half before Albany roared back.
-- All quarterfinals are being webcast for free by prepspotlight.tv/MSHSL All semifinals and championship games are televised by KSTC Channel 45 and webcast for free by prep45.com Girls State Basketball TournamentCLASS 1A
Thursday at Maturi Pavilion
Red Lake vs. Minneota, 11 a.m.
Ada-Borup vs. Heritage Christian, 1 p.m.
Mountain. Iron-Buhl vs. Goodhue, 3 p.m.
BOLD vs. Menahga, 5 p.m.CLASS 2A
Wednesday at Williams Arena
Roseau 75, Redwood Valley 74
Caledonia 56, Proctor 44Wednesday at Maturi Pavilion
Albany 60, Holy Family 49
Minnehaha Academy 56, St. Peter 37Friday’s semifinals at Williams Arena
6 p.m.: Roseau vs. Caledonia
8 p.m.: Albany vs. Minnehaha Academy CLASS 3A
Wednesday at Maturi Pavilion
DeLaSalle 61, Hibbing 53
Holy Angels 58, Fergus Falls 57
Cooper 72, Austin 40
Becker 68, Marshall 67Thursday’s semifinals at Williams Arena
Noon: DeLaSalle vs. Holy Angels
2 p.m.: Cooper vs. BeckerCLASS 4A
Wednesday at Williams Arena
Hopkins 68, Lakeville North 46
Centennial 74, Maple Grove 64
Stillwater 73, Shakopee 48
Eastview 48, Forest Lake 38Thursday’s semifinals at Williams Arena
6 p.m.: Hopkins vs. Centennial
2 p.m.: Stillwater vs. Eastview --Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.