John's Journal
Wolfgram Repeats As 1A Cross-Country Champion11/5/2017
NORTHFIELD – One of the four races during Saturday’s state cross-country championships held just a little more intrigue than the others. The Class 1A girls field was led by two previous state champions; they led the pack to the finish, with a young upstart carrying a familiar last name also in the mix.

Tierney Wolfgram, a freshman from Math & Science Academy in Woodbury, won the championship for the second year in a row. Finishing directly behind Wolfgram were sisters from Winona Cotter. Seventh-grader Lauren Ping was second and freshman Grace Ping – the 2015 state champ – placed third.

The Ping family lived in Utah last year before returning to Winona. When Grace won the 2015 state crown, she was pegged as a threat to match the five titles won by Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley’s Carrie Tollefson from 1990 to 1994. Her season in Utah ended that possibility, but now Wolfgram – with two state titles already and three seasons to go – could match Tollefson’s record.

“My race strategies are just to run,” Wolfgram said. “I always say that I run my races backwards, starting out way too fast and then slowing down. But in this race I think I did pretty even splits, which was good.

“It feels really good. I’ve really worked this season and my work has paid off. The beginning of the season wasn’t going how I wanted it to go, but I really just started visualizing and that really helped me.”

The biggest surprise in Saturday’s race was Lauren Ping finishing ahead of her older sister. Lauren had never beaten Grace before.

“She’s just always been a good runner and I’ve always wanted to be just as good as her,” Lauren said.

Grace Ping said she has been dealing with health throughout the fall season.

“I’ve had a pretty frustrating season just because at the beginning I had gotten my ferritin (a protein that stores and releases iron) checked and it was low. And then I got that up and my (right) leg started hurting. It felt better today so hopefully I can be healthy for postseason (national) races.”

Perham won the team race with a score of 86, edging Winona Cotter (87) by a single point. Next were Annandale (131), Stewartville (137) and Fairmont (165) in the top five.

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Two For Two: Steiger Edges Dahlberg In Class 1A Rematch11/5/2017
NORTHFIELD – Matt Steiger of Le Crescent and Declan Dahlberg don’t compete against each other until the state cross-country championships, and for two years running they have put on quite the dramatic finishes.

Last year, when they were juniors, Dahlberg and Steiger careened toward the finish line together before Dahlberg leaned forward to win the Class 1A title by two one-hundredths of a second ahead of Steiger.

In the rematch Saturday at St. Olaf College, the same two runners went stride for stride over the same home stretch. This time, Steiger won the sprint to the line by eight-10ths of a second over Dahlberg. (Photos from 2016, left, and 2017, right.)

Afterwards, they leaned on each other and expressed complete respect for each other.

“There’s one thing: sprint as hard as you can,” Steiger said. “Don’t leave anything out there.

“I just kept working hard throughout the season. Make sure you do the workouts, get enough recovery and then put it all on the line in this race.”

In the understatement of the day, Dahlberg said, “It was a good finish. It’s happened before, and they kind of go either way.”

Perham won the boys title (as well as the girls title) with a team score of 188. Next were St. James (148), Mankato Loyola/Cleveland (154), Lac Qui Parle Valley (172) and North Shore (175).

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In A Game Of Inches, Totino-Grace Comes Out On Top11/2/2017
When the boys soccer teams from Totino-Grace and St. Thomas Academy played to a 2-2 overtime tie in the final game of the regular season, a tone had been set. When they met at U.S. Bank Stadium Thursday morning to decide the Class 1A state championship, the rematch was almost as close as the original.

Totino-Grace (19-1-1) claimed its second state title with a 1-0 victory over the Cadets (16-2-3), with the goal coming on a header by Steevenson Lamarre off an assist by Collin Matzoll eight minutes into the game. And that, as they say, was that.

“Noel and I were talking before the game,” said Eagles coach Bill Vance, referring to Cadets coach Noel Quinn. “I said that sometimes the state tournament is the great equalizer. Which means it’s harder to score and to find those moments. If you score the first goal and the opponent doesn’t score, you’ll win the game.”

St. Thomas Academy, which was trying to win a second consecutive state championship, finished with 13 shots on goal to 10 for the Eagles. The shutout went to Totino-Grace keeper Philip Ronza; he and STA’s Jack Killian each had three saves.

“Totino-Grace defended really well and they put a lot of players in and around their box,” Quinn said. “It’s just the way it goes sometimes in a final, everybody’s a little tense. We needed something to go our way and it didn’t happen.

“Obviously (the season) was great. We were in the final for the second year running and we wanted to win the whole thing again. We won our conference and we won our section, we wanted to win the final. It’s a great season.”

Vance said, “It’s a game of inches. Today, St. Thomas Academy didn’t get some of those inches and Totino-Grace did. It was exciting. It wasn’t pretty but we feel great to come out with the W.”

--Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team: Chameng Xiong, St. Paul Harding; Silas Hess, Bemijdi; Chris Cerda, Sander Diaz, Worthington; Mooday Wah, Kevin Ortiz, Austin; Lonyjera Okal, Spencer Overturf, Guyvenson Mohs, Orono; Christian Babo, Alex Tsobanakis, Logan Davis, St. Thomas Academy; Amanuel Bird, Herbert Endeley, Collin Matzoll, Totino-Grace.

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Metrodome Plan Pays Off For Mahtomedi Girls11/2/2017
Mahtomedi has a strong pedigree in girls soccer, and the Zephyrs added another chapter Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Orono in the Class 1A state championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mahtomedi (17-3-2) has won seven titles in eight trips to the state final.

The Zephyrs did not make it to U.S. Bank Stadium a year ago, when the state semifinals and finals moved to the new facility. But they made many trips to the Metrodome when it was the state soccer site, and coach Dave Wald used some lessons learned in those days this time around. He dug out the pregame warmup plan the team used at the dome and used it in the new digs.

“We had a Metrodome warmup, in order to get the kids ready,” he said. “Some of them played at St. Cloud State (which hosted the tournament while U.S. Bank Stadium was under construction) two years ago, but this is a different stage.”

The game was scoreless until the 63rd minute, when Mahtomedi’s Abby Schultz scored from short range off an assist from Megan Clements. Orono tied it on a penalty kick by Maddie Loder with 14:25 to play. The winning goal came when Grace Padelford scored from 40 yards out, with the ball hitting the post and going in.

Orono (19-1-3) was the state champ in 2014 and finished second in 2015.

“Give credit to Mahtomedi today,” Loder said. “Those goals were really great goals, they were tough to stop. We gave it all we had.”

Mahtomedi finished with 14 shots to seven for the Spartans. Zephyrs goalkeeper Megan Lisowy made one save and Orono’s Clare Gagne had five.

“Hats off to Mahtomedi,” said Orono coach Erin Murray. “Clair had an awesome game. Their goals? I don’t know of many goalies in the state that could stop those ones.”

--Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team: Emma Schmitz, Rochester Lourdes; Mel Lobitz, Mankato West; KK Haug, Blake; Ali Beard, Bemidji; Mercedey Harper, Emerson Dronen, North Branch; Samantha Burke, Katherine Jones, Visitation; Abby Shultz, Audrey Sexson, Megan Clements, Sonia Meyer, Mahtomedi; Sarah Johnston, Megan Marzolf, Anna Tesar, Sadie Koltes, Mahtomedi.

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Wayzata Boys Finish As Unbeaten State Champions 11/2/2017
Wayzata capped an unbeaten season with a 2-0 victory over Stillwater in the Class 2A boys soccer state championship game Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The game was a rematch of last year’s title contest, which Stillwater won by the same score.

After a scoreless first half, the Trojans (19-0-2) scored in the 54th minute. With a lengthy pass from Aditya Bhati, Patrick Weah put the ball into the right side of the net. In the game’s final minute, Weah got the assist on a goal by Ethan Wagner.

The Ponies finished with a record of 18-2-2.

--Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team: Jack Armitage, Lakeville North; Logan Weller, Prior Lake; Parker Jamison, Apple Valley; Till Konczak, Mounds View; Jack Gleckler, Jack Dorholt, Maple Grove; Nolan Friday, Zach Madill, Duluth East; Walter Smith, Erik Williams, Patrick Weah, Stuart Sain, Wayzata; Fred LeClair, Max Stauffer, Daniel Muths, Spencer Scott, Stillwater.

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