It wasn’t as big an event as usual. Per COVID, the “final” “state” field wasn’t 16 guys at each weight, but instead eight. “Super Section’s” or “State Prelims” had reduced things down. It also wasn’t at the normal place, the Xcel Energy Center. Nonetheless, three Chatfield Gophers and two GMLOS Bulldogs made the trip of St. Michael-Albertville High School to take shots at winning state wrestling titles or earning state placement. Three of said guys accomplished the latter. Heading the cast was Chatfield senior Seth Goetzinger. Everyone
knew the ceiling was high for Goetzinger. As just a frosh in 2018, he took third at state at 106-pounds. A year later, he again qualified, but failed to place. Last season, Goetzinger marauded all the way to the state title match at 145 pounds before falling to JCC’s Payton Handevidt by 8-3 decision. Heading to his senior year, he’d already been a three-time section champ (at three different weights) and two-time state placer. With this being his last season, only first place would be a true cap to a 150-plus win career. It would be a perfect cap to a career. Perfection is how Goetzinger ended things. Seeded first at 170 pounds and ranked #4 to end the year, he beat unranked Bren Salo (22-5) of New York Mills via injury default in the quarters. In the semis, he re-matched his Super Section title bout with Kimball Area’s #3 Ashton Hanan (30-2). Goetzinger won in Rochester by 9-3 decision. The state match was much tougher. The first period went takedown (Hanan), escape/takedown (Goetzinger), reversal (Hanan), and esacape/takedown (Goetzinger). The score was 6-4 Seth after one. Hanan escaped in the second making it 6-5. In the third, Goetzinger escaped and got a takedown. He led 9-5 before Hanan scored three points (escape, stall, take-down) in the final 0:18. Goetzinger moved on to the 170-pound final via 9-8 decision. He handed Hanan his only two losses. In the finals, Chatfield’s newest 150-win wrestler faced off with the #1 guy in the polls to end the season, Fosston/Bagley senior Carter Sorenson (34-2). All of the match’s scoring action came in third period. Goetzinger started on bottom, escaped (1-0), only to get taken down (1-2). He then escaped and got a take-down seconds later (4-2). Sorenson escaped (4-3). In the final 20 seconds, Goetzinger got a take-down (6-3), Sorenson a reversal (6-5), and Goetzinger an escape (7-5). The last points capped his career and gave him a 7-5 decision win, the 170-pound state title. He’s Chatfield’s first state champ since Jake Mandt in 2017. He went 33-0 this year. Like Mandt, Goetzinger is in the top five in Chatfield history in wins. Nearly posting a perfect season and also finding himself wrestling for a state title was Gopher junior Grady Schott. At 182 pounds, he came in seeded second and ranked #4. Grady used a first period pin to beat Nick Frank (24-9) of Blue Earth Area in the quarters and a 9-4 decision to down Caleb Vacura (27-6) of Badger-Greenbush-Middle River in the semis. Frank was ranked #10 at 195 pounds. In his first ever finals, at his first ever state meet, in a battle of undefeateds, Schott fell to Minnewaska Area’s #1 Tyson Meyer (36-0) by 14-4 major decision. Meyer racked up six takedowns and claimed his third state title. Schott finished as 182-pound runner-up (31-1). It was a big jump, as Grady took third at sections at 170 pounds as a sophomore in 2020. Chatfield’s third “final eight state” entrant was senior A.J. Karver (#4 at 220). He lost his quarterfinal match versus Deer River’s unranked Jojo Thompson (29-5) by 3-2 decision and had to bow out of his consolation semifinal match per an injury. He’d battled a torn meniscus all year. Karver, a two-time state entrant, finished at 17-4. GMLOS’ two state entrants each placed. Senior Anthony Romero (106) was going for a state title after taking second last year. Ranked #1 at 106, he pinned Z-Ms #7 Jack Krier (30-4) in the quarterfinals. He’d beaten Krier the same way
in the Super Section final. Versus #2 Nolan Ambrose (39-2) of Jackson County Central, Romero suffered a second period pin amidst a 2-2 match. Romero beat Ambrose 10-6 when the teams met in a triangular in the regular season. Anthony then wrapped up his excellent two-year run with a 8-0 major decision over Medford’s #3 Tommy Elwood (26-3). Romero took third place, finishing with a 27-3 record. He was state runner-up last year at 106. Fellow senior Rece Voigt also placed. In his second state event, the #4 guy at 152 pounds won by second period fall in the quarters over Ogilvie’s unranked Ethan Warren (29-8). Versus JCC’s #1 Payton Handevidt (41-0) in the semis, Voigt fell by 3-1 decision. Handevidt’s first period takedown proved the winning points as the wrestlers alternated escapes after. Handevidt went on to win the 152-pound state title. He was last year’s state champion at 145 pounds (beating Chatfield’s Goetzinger). Voigt then fell by 5-2 decision to Minneota’s #5 Jonah Gruenes (35-3) in the third place match. The score was 2-2 heading to the third period before Gruenes scored a trio of points for the win. Voigt took fourth place, finishing the year 39-3. GMLOS Coach Randy Smith: “Both Rece and Anthony loved the sport of wrestling early on, but that doesn’t mean their careers were all fun and games. Wrestling is a very tough sport with many challenges, from weight management to juggling practice, work, and school. As Dan Gable said it best, ‘Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.’ But I would probably be lying if I said these two never thought about quitting. Because on top of the hard work this year came uncertainty. At the beginning no one knew if we would get a season, and no one thought we would get a state tournament. But with some convincing these two kept coming back along with all the other guys on the team. Matter of a fact, this was the first season in a long time that not one person quit after starting the season and in addition to that we had guys that wanted to come out all throughout the season. In the end these wrestlers can say I did it, I wrestled through blood, sweat, and tears, even when all the cards were stack against me. These wrestlers may not have ended up on the top of the podium but they sure made it a lot higher than many others both in sport and out.”
Knights/Hurricanes Rivalry Reaches New Heights
Over the past few years, Kingsland girls basketball and Houston girls basketball have mimicked each other. They split an SEC-East title in 2018-2019. Each team has taken their respective division titles the past two years. The two teams have featured mirroring stars, first Hurricane all-time leading scorer Alyssa Rostad and Knight one-time all-time leading scorer Lauren Buchholtz, now Houston all-time second leading scorer Emma Geiwitz and Knight (new) all-time leading scorer Ellie Buchholtz. Houston Coach Dale Moga has built a program out of literally scratch. Kingsland Coach Steve Hauser inherited a program that has had some good runs in recent years, a tradition he’s continued. A regular season battle between the squads lately has been a marquee SEC contest. In 2020-2021, it is Section 1A’s marquee contest. The schools played for the elusive shot at state.
Houston Launches into New Territory
It wasn’t the best start. Beginning a big section game by not making a field goal until the 9:40 mark isn’t in any coach’s script. Versus Hayfield (4-seed, 14-6) in one semifinal, Houston’s girls (1-seed, 16-0) were maybe a little
overwhelmed by the moment. They had nine turnovers in the first 14 possessions, many simple throwaways or overly-hyped miscues. But young Hayfield, with three freshman starters, wasn’t exactly poised. They had seven turnovers in the same span (and same manner) and made just two field goals. Despite not making a shot until nearly midway through the half, Houston only trailed 10-1. From there they settled in. And a jittery start was offset by a lights-out ending to the game. In between, Dale Moga’s Hurricanes had to do some things. First, they had to get back into it after falling back nine points. Sophomore forward Sydney Torgerson mainly shouldered that burden. The 5’9” post scored Houston’s first field goal, and six of their nine first-half made baskets. Slowly the Hurricanes reeled Hayfield in. Ending the half on a 7-0 run, Houston erased that 10-1 deficit and took a 25-24 lead to the intermission. Torgerson used her post moves to score 17 of Houston’s 25 points. Second, Houston needed to keep a couple of its key players from riding the pine. Seniors Emma Geiwitz and Becca Rostad each had three fouls in the first half. Third, they had to get Geiwitz going. She had just four first half points. The latter two “objectives” just panned out as the second half evolved. Hayfield’s bread and butter was to lob over Houston’s 1-3-1 half-court zone, or hit threes. Natalie Beaver, a 5’10”
freshman wing forward, was their big weapon. The Vikings hustled around diligently and took advantage of the weaknesses of Houston’s 1-3-1 zone at times. The second half was highly competitive with ties at 29, 32, 42, 45, 47, and 49. The last came with under four minutes left in the game. The stretch run came down to two things. Houston executed offensively, moving the ball, and putting themselves in positions to get fouled. While at the line, they were lights out. The Hurricanes made 18 of 20 second half free throws. Included was making 14 of 15 in the final five minutes and their last 12 at the stripe. Meanwhile, the Viking faltered. A pair of turnovers in succession under two minutes allowed the Hurricanes to get some breathing room. After the second miscue, and two Rostad free throws, Houston led 56-49 with around 1:00 left. The Viking field goal that tied the game at 49 would be Hayfield’s last points. They finished the game going empty on their last seven possessions and not scoring over the final three-plus minutes. Fittingly, ‘Cane thief-extraordinaire Geiwitz, stole a late pass and got out in the open court, only to get fouled. She hit both freebies. In a place no Hurricane girls team has been before, Houston pressed deeper into uncharted territory courtesy of a 62-49 win. They scored the game’s final 13 points. Geiwitz (26 pts, 6 rebs, 5 stls) and Torgerson (career-high 25 pts, 8-12 FGs, 11 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls) scored 51 of Houston’s 62 points. Geiwitz had 22 in the second half and 16 in the final ten minutes. She went 10 of 10 at the line in the final five minutes (10 of 11 overall). She also hit two key threes around the eight minute mark, her last two trifectas (after starting the game 0 for 8). Torgerson made 9 of 12 free throws. Rostad (7 pts, 5 stls) scored all of her points in the final six minutes, including hitting a three after Geiwitz’s two triples, and making 4 for 4 free throws down the stretch. Beaver led Hayfield (21 pts, 7 rebs). Kristen Watson (10 pts, 8 rebs), Chelsea Christopherson (8 pts, 14 rebs), and Alexis Ward (6 tps, 6 rebs, 4 stls) helped. Turnovers (Hou 19, Hay 22), rebounds (Hou 39, Hay 41), offensive rebounds (Hou 18, Hay 19), second-chance-points (Hou 14, Hay 12), three-pointers (Hou 4 of 21, Hay 3 of 29), and field goals (Hou 17 of 56, Hay 17 of 59) were all eerily similar. Houston was plus-12 at the free throw line, going 24 of 31 (77.4%) to Hayfield’s 12 of 20 (60%). That came one game after the Hurricanes butchered Fillmore Central at the free throw line 28 of 47 to 5 of 17. Houston (17-0) stayed perfect and moved on to face…
Knights Fulfill Potential, Make First Title Game Since 2007
…You could see it coming a couple years ago. Kingsland girls basketball had a litany of athletic underclassmen, many playing on varsity, for teams that were pretty good. The Knights posted records of 16-10 and 18-10 the past two years winning SEC division titles each
campaign. This year looked to be a high-water point. Standout Ellie Buchholtz and fellow multi-year starters Sam Wernimont and Merredith Farlinger were all seniors.
Underclassmen had turned into upperclassmen (plus Kingsland had a flashy youngster in Anika Reiland). After a better than very good regular campaign (14-2), Steve Hauser’s group made it where a Knight team hasn’t been since 2007. Kingsland (3-seed, 16-2) played Blooming Prairie (2-seed, 17-3) for a spot in the section title game. The Knights weren’t the best offensively. They finished with 22 turnovers and had a pair of nine-possession scoring draughts, one in each half. Yet, their defense kept them ahead on the scoreboard. Kingsland jumped out 11-4 and then never trailed. The lead was 24-13, as the Blossoms, last year’s Section Runner-Up to Fillmore Central, had just 13 first half points. Twice
they went six possessions or more without a point. They shot 3 of 11 from the free throw line too. But Kingsland’s 11-point lead was their largest. The second half saw the Blossoms inch close multiple times. Kingsland’s nine possession second half scoring draught was right out of halftime. BP went 8-0 to close to down to 24-21. But every time BP got close, a Knight drained a three to suppress the surge. Sam Wernimont’s triple (11:59), Kingsland first field goal of the half, put the Knights back up six, 27-21. BP then scored five more points, all told, beginning the second half on a 13-3 run. They closed to down one, 27-26. But Shelby Beck hit a triple and the Knights led 30-26 (9:32). Her shot was part of a 6-0 spurt, putting team double-K up 33-26. With 5:07 left, BP junior guard Bobbie Bruns authored a steal and score to pull BP within three, 35-32. But her score was the only time BP capitalized amidst a five-possession span where Kingsland had five turnovers. BP twice had the ball with a chance to tie, but Knight steals ended the threats. Buchholtz, a four-year starter and (will-be) four-year All-Conference pick, then buried a three with 2:56 left (38-32). Reiland then sped up the court and found Emily Miner for a basket on the ensuing possession. Kingsland led 40-32 with just over two minutes left. BP then got no closer than six. Buchholtz and Audrey Webster each were perfect in one-and-one free throws situations late. Holding an opponent under 40 points for an twelfth time this season, the Knights downed BP 44-39 to move on to a section title game. Buchholtz (15 pts, 6-9 FGs, 7 rebs, 3 stls) was the only Knight in double figures. It’s the 15th time she’s led the Knights in scoring this year (19 games). She’s led them 13 of the last 14 games. But seven girls total scored: Farlinger (6 pts, 10 rebs), Wernimont (5 pts), Beck (5 pts, 6 rebs, 4 stls), Webster (5 pts), Miner (4 pts), and Reiland (3 pts, 4 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls). BP was led by their two stand-outs, All-State F/C Megan Oswald (17 pts, 8 rebs, 6 stls) and Bruns (13 pts, 3 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls). All other Blossoms combined for 9 points. Kingsland was 3 of 8 on threes in the second half. They made their last three (the ones by Wernimont, Beck, and Buchholtz). BP left some points at the free throw line, going 7 of 15 (46.7%). Kingsland was 6 of 9 (66.7%). The Blossoms shot just 29.4% from the field (15 of 51) including 2 of 15 from three (13.3%). Kingsland went 17 of 45 (37.8%) and 4 of 14 (28.6%). The teams combined to go 1 of 15 from deep in the first half. It is Kingsland’s first Section title game since going in 2006 and 2007 amidst Class AA teams that went 28-2 and 26-4. The Knights have been in three “sub-section” final games, including most recently in 2016 and 2017. It was the Knights’ seventh straight win and 17th of 18 (after dropping their first contest to St. Charles)…
Hurricanes on a Mission; Houston Rockets Past Kingsland to State!
…And thus, in the section final, Houston (1-seed, 17-0) and Kingsland (3-seed, 17-2) went at it at Mayo High School in Rochester. The teams had met in the regular season, Hurricanes winning at home by two, 52-50. They battled again, and for a half, it was a stalemate. Like Houston’s game versus BP, the Hurricanes didn’t have quick lift off. Kingsland began the game 6-0 and 9-3. Knight leading scorer Ellie Buchholtz had eight of those points. Houston didn’t get its first field goal and points until the 12:50 mark, a three-point play by
Sydney Torgerson. They went scoreless over their first 10 possessions. The Knights would later lead 17-10 when déjà vu struck. Hurricane reserve Olivia Beckman, who hit two critical long shots in the teams’ regular season meeting, hit back-to-back threes later in the half. Emma Geiwitz followed with a three. In a span of a few possessions, Houston went from down 17-10 to up 20-17 courtesy of 10-0 run. The run would extend to 14-2, and Houston’s lead to 24-19. But Kingsland then spurted 7-2 leaving the score tied 26-26 at the half. But a trend emerged later in the stanza. Houston’s zip-passing versus Kingsland’s 2-3 zone was working. The Hurricanes ended the first half with 12 straight possessions without a turnover. They started the second half with seven more possessions without a turnover. They were getting shots, and that turned into made shots early in the second half. Senior Becca Rostad hit four triples in the first eight minutes of the stanza. Geiwitz added another. With Torgerson scoring on the inside too, the Hurricanes had their three best offensive weapons going. Houston started the second half on a 16-3 run. They built a 42-29 lead. Kingsland crept as close as 45-37 mid-half. But the Hurricanes shot Kingsland out of its 2-3 defense. The lead ballooned as high as 56-37, as Houston effectively zip-passed its way to points. The ‘Canes made 22 shots and 18 were assisted. And the Knights weren’t hitting any outside shots. They went 0 of 11 from distance in the second half (after making 5 of 18 in the first stanza). Kingsland couldn’t climb close. On a mission, Houston wouldn’t be denied. The writing was on the wall with 5:00 left. The most notable thing about the last few minutes was Knight senior Ellie Buchholtz’s pursuit of the Kingsland girls and overall school all-time scoring records. After missing a number of free throws, she finally scored the basket, the last field goal of the game, the last of her career (1,549). It gave her 22 points for the game which allowed her to eclipse Sister Lauren Buchholtz (1,548) in the Knight record books. A few seconds later, Dale Moga’s girls clinched Houston basketball its first ever section title, its first trip to state ever, courtesy of a 63-49 final! Hurricane fans saluted their coach with the chant, “Moga! Moga! Moga!” The 63 points was more than any other team had scored versus the Knights this season (save Hayfield in overtime). Houston’s big three did big work in the big time. Geiwitz had 23 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. It was her ninth straight 20-point effort and 16th in 18 games. She’s led Houston in scoring in all but three games. Torgerson with her nifty moves and feistiness inside, notched her second double-double in as many big games (19 pts, 7-14 FGs, 5-6 FTs, 12 rebs, 3 asts). She had multiple offensive rebounds early in the second half to aid Houston’s key run. Rostad (14 pts, 7 rebs, 3 asts) scored all of her points in the second half. She was 4 of 9 from deep for the game but 4 of 5 after halftime. She tied her season-high for made threes. Beckman had six points off the bench (2-2 threes). Priya Kingsley (1 pt, 7 rebs, 3 asts, 5 stls) did non-scoring work. For Kingsland, Buchholtz (22 pts, 3-9 threes, 7 rebs, 4 asts, 6 stls) finished off a fantastic career, accomplishing a great feat, but getting denied of state in the process. But she was the only Knight in double figures. Merredith Farlinger added 7 points. Shelby Beck (4 pts, 8 rebs), Anika Reiland (2 pts, 12 rebs, 3 asts, 4 stls) and Emily Miner (2 pts, 7 rebs) helped in other areas for Steve Hauser’s group. Team statistics were all fairly close save three-pointers and turnovers. Houston was 8 of 26 from deep (30.8%) and Kingsland 5 of 30 (16.7%). It was a season-high make-total for team double-H. They went 5 of 11 after halftime. It was Kingsland’s lowest percentage since game four of the season and their most attempted threes of the year. The Hurricanes were plus-nine points from deep. Kingsland ended with 23 turnovers and Houston 21, but that tally was 22 to 15 with the score 58-39 Houston late. Kingsland was 18 of 59 from the field (30.5%), Houston 22 of 58 (37.9%). The Knights great season ends at 17-3. It’s their first Section Runner-Up since 2007. Buchholtz, Farlinger, Wernimont, and Morgan Langeslag are the seniors. They’ve played on teams that’ve gone 51-23 the past three years (68.9 winning percentage). Still
unbeaten (18-0), Houston’s rocket ship continues on to the state level where they’ll face #1 in state and also undefeated Minneota (22-0).
Rebels Shoot and Over-Power Trojans
Good for Southland. Rushford-Peterson fans don’t want to hear that, but Section 1A boys basketball has been dominated by the likes of the Trojans, Goodhue, Spring Grove, plus (as of late) Hayfield, Blooming Prairie, and Randolph over the past decade-plus. A new team breaking through is a nice sight. In a Section 1A semifinal contest between the Rebels (1-seed, 17-2) and Trojans (4-seed, 13-6), the high seed shot and physically powered its way past team green. The Trojans started well, leading 20-15. It went downhill from there. The combination of 6’4” 215-pound post Ethan Forthun and 6’1” 210-pound strong shooter Nick Boe was too much. Forthun scored seven straight to put the Rebels in the lead in the first half, 22-20. Boe hit a three late in the half, one of six the senior nailed. The score was still tight at halftime, Rebels up 29-26. But Southland’s lead ballooned early in the second session. A trio of trifectas in succession, two by Boe, made it 44-27. All told, the Rebels came out of the second half gate with a 15-1 run. It became play-ground, up-and-down ball, shortly thereafter. Both teams scored a lot, but R-P couldn’t move closer. Southland’s near unconsciousness, 17 of 24 field goals in the second half (70.8%), made sure of it. They hit 16 of their final 18 shots! Team Adams moved on to its first section final in who-knows-when courtesy of a 73-55 win. Forthun (23 pts, 11-15 FGs, 8 rebs) and Boe (22 pts, 6-7 threes, 6-8 FGs) combined for 45 points. But Dan Boe (10 pts, 8 rebs, 4 blks), Eli Wolff (10 pts, 4 asts, 4 stls), and Harrison Hanna (8 pts, 4 rebs, 7 asts), the other three Rebel starters, also did work. R-P was led by sophomore guard Grady Hengel’s career-high 18 points (7-9 FGs). Luke O’Hare added 14 pts and 6 rebounds. Justin Ruberg chipped in 8 (pts) and 7 (rebs). R-P shot solidly; 22 of 46 (47.8%) from the field and 5 of 14 from deep (35.7%). Southland shot spectacularly; 29 of 50 (58%) from the field and 8 of 19 from deep (42.1%). The Trojans’ seven-game win streak is snapped. They finish at 13-7. Hayfield (3-seed) beat Lyle/Pacelli (2-seed) 57-47 in the other semifinal. The Vikings then beat the Rebels 78-72 to win the 2021 Section 1A title.
*Fillmore County Journal Sports page is a written collaboration by Paul Trende and Lee Epps.