Even though they were young and hadn’t actually won a section title since 2005, the St. Cloud Tech girls tennis program was expecting good things in 2012.
That come to fruition late Saturday night, when the Tigers beat Bemidji 7-0 to win the Section 8-2A team title
“I think it’s been a goal for every one one of us,” said Tech co-captain Alexie Portz, a junior who plays No. 1 doubles.
“The majority of this team, Lexi and I for sure, have been through a lot these last few years,” said Leah Wurm, Tech’s other captain and a junior who plays at No. 3 singles. “So, this is really nice.”
The Tigers advance to the state tournament Oct. 23-26 at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Coaches whose teams qualify for state will seed the brackets for the first time, much like it is done in sports like soccer, basketball and hockey.
Tech is 17-2 and ranked 16th in the latest state coaches’ association poll, though one of their losses was 4-3 to 15th-ranked Elk River. The Tigers’ only other loss is 4-3 to Minnetonka.
Saturday at Fitness Evolution, the former Gold’s Gym, Tech played extremely well despite not having a senior in its starting lineup. Tech beat Brainerd 7-0 in the semifinals in the afternoon before facing the previously unbeaten Lumberjacks in the final.
“I’m excited,” Tech head coach Paul Bates said. “We’ve had quite a few girls work hard this season and work hard in the off-season and that’s what it takes.
“It’s been a great time all-around. They are great players to work with and great people to be around. They have great team support. It’s been a year where everything has come together. They really work together well and it’s fun to be a part of that.”
The Section 8-2A individual tournament begins at noon Thursday at Fitness Evolution. Play continues Friday and concludes Saturday evening. The top two singles players and top two doubles teams advance to state.
Tech’s doubles combination of Portz and sophomore Jill Kedrowski qualified for state last year as the section’s No. 2 seed.
All the Tigers are excited about getting back to the team state tournament.
“I think we thought we could do it,” Wurm said.
“But there aree tough teams and we didn’t know,” Portz said.
“I think we were all so excited and so ready to go,” Wurm said. “Me and Lexi, we’ve been part of the last four years and we always lost at the end.
“The year ended with some heart-breakers,” Portz said.
But not this season.
Because there are only four courts in use and because it’s the playoffs where every point seems crucial, the matches take a long time. The championship match was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., but didn’t get underway until 8:37 p.m.
Bates sent his team to the Coborn’s deli in Sartell to kill some time.
“It was a long day,” Portz said.
“It’s all worth it now,” Wurm said. “It feels good.”
Even after this season, the future holds promise. Tech’s lineup Saturday included eighth-grader Taylor Tarrolly at No. 1 singles, seventh-grader Katelyn Tarrolly at No. 2 singles, Wurm at No. 3 and sophomore Katie Williams at No. 4.
The doubles pairs were Portz and Kedrowski, sophomore Samantha Eisenreich and junior Sabrina Sturm at No. 2 and a rotation of juniors Steph Nardi, Sarah Donnelly and Kaila Burroughs at No. 3 doubles.
“It takes a lot of work to get to a level like this,” Bates said. “The kids really have to put some time in if they want to go this far.
“There’s been some good competition, too. Brainerd has been really good and Bemidji has made it before. It’s nice to be back.”
The Albany volleyball team is 8-0 in the Granite Ridge Conference and 19-5 overall after winning the Braham Invitational over the weekend.
“It was a goal to go out there and win that tournament,” Albany head coach Annette Brewer said. “We took care of buisness and we were able to work in everybody, so that was good.
“And we saw Apollo and they play a pretty quick game. It was good to play them to get used to that style as we get ready for the playoffs.”
Albany has three conference matches remaining and would like to secure a conference title in its first year in the Granite Ridge.
“That’s been the goal since the first day of practice,” senior Kristin Buttweiler said. “We have some real high expectations of ourselves and that’s one of them.”
Albany is host to Foley (1-7 Granite Ridge, 1-14 overall) at 7:15 tonight, then plays Thursday at St. Cloud Cathedral (6-2, 13-7) before wrapping up the regular season Oct. 16 at Little Falls (4-4, 7-15).
Rocori head football coach Mike Rowe hopes his team can break a two-game losing streak when it plays host to Monticello at 7 p.m. Friday in Cold Spring.
“Monticello is a good team,” Rowe said of the Magic, who are tied for first in the Mississippi 8 Conference with a 4-1 record and are 5-1 overall. Rogers and Cambridge-Isanti also are 4-1 and 5-1 overall.
“They’re big and physical,” Rowe continued. “We’re going to have to get out of our funk and play better.”
Rocori had nine turnovers in its 12-0 loss Friday at Big Lake. The Spartans also dropped at least one pass in the end zone.
“We have no one else to blame for our situation than ourselves,” he said.
Brad Fabel, who was starting at quarterback in place of Mac Mueller who is out with a shoulder injury, suffered a possible concussion and is questionable for the Monticello game. Luke Asfeld, who replaced Fabel, is likely to start at QB.
Cathedral is honoring six former athletes with inductions into its hall of fame during halftime ceremonies when the Crusaders play Mora on Friday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The inductees are Tom Eickhoff (class of 1977), Kelly Haws (’82), Laura (Henry) Iten (’98), Tina Kampa (’91), Dan Meyer (’77) and Stuart ‘Scoop’ Reif (1969).
Cathedral’s first hall of fame induction came in 1990. This year’s six inductees put the number in the hall at 49.
Eickhoff was a football and track star and a notable community supporter.
Haws starred in cross country, gymnastics and track and field. She is Cathedral’s head girls cross country coach, leading the Crusaders to a state championship in 2011.
Iten was a star volleyball, basketball and softball player.
Kampa also starred in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Meyer played basketball and baseball for the Crusaders.
Reif excelled in football, basketball and track.
On Friday, the honorees will be part of a luncheon and speak to the student assembly in the afternoon. A reception will be held after the game at Partner’s Pub in the Great River Bowl in Sartell.
* Kendra Rasmussen centered the third line Sunday for the Penn State women’s hockey team in its 3-1 loss to Vermont. The Nitany Lions won their first game as a NCAA Division I team on Saturday night, 5-3 over Vermont.
Rasmussen is in her first season at Penn State after graduating from Sartell in the spring. She was a two-time Times’ player of the year for the Sartell/Sauk Rapids Storm’N Sabres.
* Former Tech boys basketball coach Al Andreotti was inducted into Macalester College’s athletic hall of fame Saturday. Andreotti, a 1960 Macalester graduate, was a four-year letterwinner in football and baseball for the Scots. As a running back, he helped Macalester to a 6-1-1 record in 1957, good for second place in the MIAC.
He coached basketball 26 years at Tech and in his 33-year coaching career won 521 games. He’s a member of the Richfield High School, Tech and Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association halls of fame.
* Cathedral volleyball coach Glenda Prom was inducted into the Hamline Hall of Fame on Saturday. Prom, a 1993 Hamline graduate, was part of some of the best volleyball teams in school history. In her senior season in ’92, she led the MIAC in kills and was second in digs. Hamline lost six MIAC matches in Prom’s last two seasons and was a two-time all-conference selection.