If Jonathon Vonesh wasn't aware of what he was facing as the new Sacred Heart fastpitch softball head coach, it was quickly pointed out to the 40-year-old. "A parent said to me at a preseason meeting, 'You have some big shoes to fill,' '' Vonesh said. And the same can be said of senior pitcher Anna Koponen. Vonesh, an Eagles assistant coach the past five seasons, is replacing Mike Marek, who retired last spring after being the only coach the program has had since its inception in 1997. Marek had a 327-99 career record with four Section 8A titles.
HILLSBORO, N.D.—Paper points don't mean anything in track. But they indicate Hillsboro-Central Valley could be bidding for its third state team championship this school year. The Burros already have state team championships in Class B girls cross country and boys basketball. Hillsboro-Central Valley could make a run for the Class B girls state track title in late May.
CROOKSTON—Jenny Bruun graduated from Crookston High School in 1996. Twenty-one years later, Ally Tiedemann is chasing Bruun in the Pirates' girls golf program. Bruun is the lone Crookston High School grad to win a girls state golf championship, winning the Class A title as a senior. Tiedemann finished sixth at state as a sophomore last season; only Bruun has been a higher placer at the state meet than the junior. Tiedemann is not only a multi-sport athlete for the Pirates, but one of the top players in the state in each of her sports.
Kade Spencer didn't get to see the first over-the-fence home run of his life. He was more focused on getting to second base. "I thought it was maybe a double,'' Spencer said. "I was worried they might catch it. I was sprinting to second, so I never saw it go out.'' Home run No. 1 of the sophomore's baseball career came in dramatic fashion Thursday. With two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Spencer hit a walk-off grand slam, rallying East Grand Forks Senior High to a 7-6 win against visiting Grand Forks Red River.
A year ago, Thomas Lundmark fell well short of the state meet-qualifying standard of 48 feet, 6 inches in the shot put. The Grand Forks Central High School junior has reached qualifying standards twice in as many meets already this season. On Tuesday, Lundmark was runner-up in the shot put at the Grand Forks Sertoma track meet. He reached the 50-foot mark for the first time in his career with a 50-2 distance. That was good for second behind the 52-6 throw of West Fargo's Zach Willis. Lundmark became only the sixth Class A athlete to reach 50 feet in the shot this season.
Kent Christian looked at all the positives at the end of the 2016 high school fastpitch softball season. The Christian-coached Badger-Greenbush-Middle River wound up in the Minnesota Class A state tournament for the second straight season and the fourth time in the past seven seasons. For the second straight season, the Gators won their first two games at state before losing in the championship game. "We talk about last year,'' Christian said. "The girls have a lot of good memories. I've told them they should be proud of what they accomplished.
Grand Forks boys golf at a glance GF Central Coach: Josh Cichy. 2016 results: Third at East Region meet, tied for seventh at Class A state meet. Key graduation losses: Alex Barta, Riley Peterson, Skylar Belgarde. Returning regulars: Fr. Brandon McGarry (81.13 avg., tied for sixth at East Region meet), soph. Cole Hanson (81.00), sr. Ethan Knudson (83.50). Potential new impact players: 8th-grader Joey Kennelly, 8th-grader Carson Seng, 8th-grader Jack Bryan, 7th-grader Brady McGarry.
There were high expectations as Daniel Pierce looked ahead to his final season in track. After finishing second in the javelin as a junior in the 2016 North Dakota Class A state meet, Pierce was eyeing a state championship. He was looking at a run at the Grand Forks Red River school record, which has a rich tradition of quality javelin throwers. All those goals were shot down in January, when Pierce learned that a back injury he suffered last spring and aggravated at the state track meet wasn't getting better. His senior track season was over before it started.
Liz Dub finished her basketball career at Grand Forks Central in fourth place on the Knights' all-time career scoring list with 865 points. That total is only good enough for fourth on this season's Greater Grand Forks all-city girls basketball team. Six boys and six girls were selected to the all-city team by coaches, the Grand Forks Fastbreak Club and the Herald. Three girls players finished their careers with more than 1,000 points—seniors Anya Edwards (1,882) of Sacred Heart, Lexi Robson (1,403) of Red River and Lauren Dub (1,145) of Central.
THOMPSON, N.D.—Calen Schwabe sees the state championship football and baseball banners hanging on the west wall of the Thompson High School gymnasium almost daily. Both bring fond memories to the Thompson senior. Football was an undefeated (12-0) season last fall, winning the program's first state football championship when the Tommies beat New Salem-Glen Ullin 54-20 in the 9-man final. But baseball is the one that has the special place for Schwabe.