One Year Ago – Team effort leads Magic to first state tourney
After decades without a state tournament berth, this year’s Monticello girls basketball team is one win away from its second straight. That of course wouldn’t be possible without the thrilling section run put on by last year’s Magic team.
Monticello, the section top seed, jumped out to a 25-21 halftime lead over Dassel Cokato in last year’s section final, thanks largely to the play of their two sophomore guards. The Magic started the game tenatively, searching for a spark. They found it in the form of Gabby Laimer. Laimer came off the bench early in the game and settled down a nervous Magic offense, hitting two jump shots and two free throws to provide Monti with some early momentum. From there, Grace Sawatzke took over. The fellow sophomore finished the half with an array of drives and jump shots, scoring 12 points down the stretch and propelling the Magic to the four-point halftime lead.
In the second half turnovers and missed shots let Dassel climb not just back in the game, but ahead of the Magic. An eight-point advantage turned to a five-point deficit and all of the momentum was in the Chargers’ favor.
But Monticello responded. Bailey Bechtold hit a jumper to stem the tide. After trading empty possessions for awhile, Monticello got some transition offense. Sawatzke found her older sister, Mo Sawatzke, on a fast break. The older sister was fouled and would hit both free throws. Then, trailing by one, Kallie Gau stepped to the line. With 2:30 left, the junior hit one out of two free throws to tie the game. DC took the lead back, but Monticello responded. A turnaround shot from Mo Sawatzke, and things were tied again. On the next possession a key steal from Morgan Lindenfelser led to a trip to the free throw line for Grace Sawatzke, and a lead that Monticello wouldn’t give up. Additional free throws from Tish Jude and Grace Sawatzke down the stretch salted away Monticello’s 43-38 victory, giving them a historic win and a first-ever state berth.
22 Years Ago – Brian Hellman wrestles to third place finish at state meet
Brian Hellman entered the wrestling state tournament of 1991 undefeated. When all was said and done, he would have just one loss on his final record. That loss came in the semifinals, to eventual champion Wade Short of Simley. Hellman fell 9-1, which was Short’s closest match of the tournament.
Hellman earned his chance at Short with two wins prior to the semifinal round. He earned a 19-11 major decision over Bloomington Jefferson’s Mike Hubbard in the opening round, and then defeated Princeton’s Jim Linder 13-5 in the quarterfinals.
After getting knocked off by Short, Hellman was sent to wrestlebacks where he needed to regroup quickly. He did. He earned a 3-1 decision over Albert Lea’s Dave Mendenhall, setting up a rematch with Linder for third place in the state. Hellman left no doubt as to who was the better wrestler, earning his second win over Linder in as many days, this time by a 4-0 margin.
Hellman finished the season with a 35-1 record.
Rick Pullen also advanced to the state tournament for Monticello, going 0-2.
26 Years Ago – Monti softball starts spring with a big win
Despite this week’s large snowstorm, March really is a sign of impending Spring. One of the many reminders of that is the start of outdoor sports. Look outside now and it may seem like the first pitch of the season is months away, but as March wound down in 1987, Monticello softball was not only able to start playing games, but they were able to do it with success.
The season opener, coming on the first day of March, pitted Monticello against Elk River. Led by the strong pitching of Kelly Jensen, as well as good hitting throughout the lineup, helped the Redmen beat Elk River 10-1, sending the month of March out like a lamb (or a Lion to an Elk River fan).
Jensen threw six innings in the game, giving up just one hit and striking out eight batters. She was relieved by Holly Hoglund in the seventh, who gave up just one more hit.
At the plate, it was a by-committee approach. Krista Woolhouse and Kerry Pehling each had doubles on the day, while Woolhouse led the way with four runs batted in. Melissa Gibson, Jensen, Hoglund and Bridget Baldwin all added hits on the day.
The Monticello squad finished with a regular season record of 13-2.