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Up against it! The Chatfield Gophers ready to snap the ball from their own 1-yardline versus #1 Caledonia. It symbolized the game for Chatfield. They had a long way to go. They gained only 1-yard in the 1st half. They were ‘up against’ vaunted Caledonia and fell 29-0 in the Section 1AA title game. Photo by Paul Trende
On some level, it’s probably not fair. It is not fair Section 1 is loaded with extra-good volleyball teams in Classes A and AA. Talented and dedicated squads just waylay each other before (and sometimes well before) the state tournament. In Class A, Faribault B.A. (21-7) finished the year ranked #1, Wabasha-Kellogg (29-2) finished the year ranked #2, and Mabel-Canton (31-5) finished the year ranked #7. Fillmore Central was just outside the top 10. In Class AA, Kasson-Mantorville (#2, 27-2), Stewartville (#3, 24-5), andCaledonia (#8, 23-6) all spent the entire season in the top eleven. And thus, when high-quality Fillmore County volleyball teams Mabel-Canton and Chatfield advanced to their respective Sub-Section finals, they ran into, what could only be called, higher-quality, even exceptional-quality, opponents.
The Mabel-Canton Cougars, based off state rankings, were technically the lesser underdog versus W-K. That didn’t stop the Falcons, led by senior outside hitter Katie Cavalco, from taking out M-C without much of a fuss. All told, the Cougars held four leads (1-0, 2-0, and 2-1 in game #2; 1-0 in game #3). The Falcons won game #1 25-12. M-C put up more of a battle in game #2. After trailing 20-12, the Cougars got as close as 23-20 (on the back of a 4-0 run), only to fall 25-20. The W-K Falcons then didn’t misstep where their Fillmore Central co-monikers did in the Sub-Section semifinals. Wabasha finished off M-C 25-17 for the three-game sweep.
M-C couldn’t get much of an offense going. Wabasha-Kellogg’s attack was balanced and precise (despite M-C trying to upset it with short serves). The Falcon defense certainly wasn’t giving any points away either.
Lydia Geving led M-C with 7 kills. She also had 12 digs. Belle Sand had 6 kills and 8 digs. Christine Lee and Danielle Paul were on the defensive a lot, leading M-C with 17 and 13 digs respectively. Carly McCabe had 18 assists and 3 kills.
Super-senior Katie Cavalco (15 kills, 18 digs, 3 aces) led W-K’s many-angled attack. She got help from fellow seniors Kenzie Freihammer (8 kills, 18 digs), Kalyn Biever (38 assists, 15 digs), and Lexi Vaplon (20 digs), plus junior Ellen Vanwey (8 kills, 4 aces).
M-C finishes another successful season with 31 win and 6 losses. They’ll graduate key players Christy Welscher (OH), Kristina Mengis (RH), and Danielle Paul (DS). Welscher and Mengis were two of six Cougars who amassed over 100 kills this season, a very rare volleyball feat. The junior core of the 2012 team, Sand, McCabe, Geving, Lee, plus 6’0” learning-as-she-goes OH Sara Lind, will return next year. The M-C volleyball beat will drum on.
W-K’s drumbeat, one Falcon fans probably wanted to see thump at state, won’t. The Falcons-North were downed 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-21) by #1 Faribault Bethlehem Academy in Section 1A’s final.
Langed and Fruechted Again!
The Chatfield Gophers volleyball team was probably a bigger underdog on paper in their Sub-Section 1AA East final. They entered unranked versus a 7th-ranked opponent, a very familiar 7th ranked opponent. Again, Chatfield squared off against Caledonia for the 1AA East crown. Again the Warriors, led by the insane duo of 6’3” Emma Lange and 5’11” ‘hang-time’ Maria Fruechte, were just too much. It wasn’t without a fight though.
Caledonia took command of game #1 very early, 10-3. They led 19-12 only for the Chatfield to close the score to 23-20. The Warriors got the last two points to take the first set 25-20. In game #2, Chatfield got an early lead (6-3), led in the middle of the set (16-13) only for the Warriors to go on a run and lead 23-19. The Gophers then rallied with four unanswered points to pull even at 23. A Lange kill and then a Fruechte block ended it though. Caledonia took game #2 25-23.
Game #3 was similarly competitive up to a 17-all tie. The Warriors then officially closed the door on Chatfield’s season by scoring 7 of the final 9 points to win 25-19.
Overall, Chatfield blocked at the net well, and defended out of the back row well. They just couldn’t muster the kind of instant attacking offense Caledonia could. They had no answer for the college-bound duo of Lange (21 kills, 14 digs, 3 blocks, 2 aces) and Fruechte (17 kills, 15 digs, 3 blocks), plus setter Taylor Winjim (39 assists).
Brook Irish led Chatfield with 6 kills. Haley Kohlmeyer had 5 kills and 3.5 blocks. Maddy Kammer and MaKenzie Miller each had 4 kills and 3 blocks. Alex Duxbury (20 digs) and Kirsten Keefe (17 digs) were busy staving off attacks (all stats semi-official). The Gopher’s solid season ends at 21-10. They’ll lose a trio of seniors (Miller, Kohlmeyer, and co-setter Kileigh Dudek) who contributed heavily. However, in Duxbury and co-setter Gabrielle Salisbury (juniors), the sophomore foursome of Kammer, Irish, Keefe, and Maddie Talamantes, plus freshmen Sheridan Salisbury, the Gophers have a nice young group heading forward.
Maybe the future will hold a break-through win for the Goph’s like it did for Caledonia. The Warriors, losers of the past five Section 1AA title games, finally came up victorious. They took down the 3rd ranked Kasson-Mantorville Komets 3-1 (25-20, 25-13, 24-26, 25-20), earning a hard-fought, well-deserved trip to state.
No Doubt Left
The first time #10 (in AA) Chatfield (9-1) met #1 Caledonia (10-0), the Warriors won 6-0. It wasn’t a convincing victory. Chatfield had more total yards. They had a couple scoring opportunities that resulted in nada. The game’s verdict was essentially sealed by the field position game. After stopping Caledonia deep in Gopher territory, Chatfield went 3-and-out, their punt was partially blocked, and the Warriors took advantage of the short field notching the game’s only score. Other than that, the contest was a defensive dogfight of what looked to be two evenly matched teams.
Wow how things changed in just a month.
The second meeting, for the Section 1AA championship, wasn’t two evenly matched teams. Numbers don’t tell everything all the time, but in this game, what they said was crystal clear. The Chatfield Gophers had exactly one yard of total offense at halftime. Worse, they only were plus-yards because of a forward-fumble, which netted three ‘team’-rushing rushing yards. The Goph’s most fruitful offensive play: a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Caledonia coach Brent Schroeder. It wasn’t good.
Caledonia, meanwhile, whose offense was mostly thwarted by Chatfield’s defense in the regular season contest, was improved, vastly improved, a scary thought for a team that’s been ranked #1 all season. The Gopher ‘D’ did its job well in the 1st quarter, but then Caledonia starting churning out moderate runs. They got on the board early in the 2nd quarter via a Brad Strub 3-yard run. A series later, it was more Warrior ground-and-pound, with Ryan Pitts doing the final honors from 11-yards out. Chatfield’s next series then resulted in more Warrior points, as Zach Kasten (who blocked the punt that doomed the Goph’s in October), blocked another Nate Skare boot. It went through the end zone, resulting in a safety. At the half, Caledonia led 15-0.
In the 2nd half, Chatfield got desperate. They went for it on 4th and 1 from there own 29 midway through the 3rd quarter. The Warriors stopped the run, tacked on another score four plays later, a Pitts 3-yard run. It took until the 4th quarter before Chatfield registered a 1st down (on a Skare to Jayme LaPlante 44-yard pass). It was one of only two 1st downs the Goph’s registered total. Caledonia had 16. In the end, the two-time defending state champs looked like it, downing Chatfield 29-0, leaving no doubt.
Pitts paced the Warriors, rushing for 138 yards and 3 TD’s on 24 carries. Strub had 17 carries for 81 yards and a TD, as Caledonia did most of their damage (305 yards total) on the ground (261 yards). The Goph’s, who frequently rushed for in-the-vicinity-of-300 yards (or more) throughout the season, tallied just 79 yards of total offense (25 rushing). Sixty-two of it came in the 4th quarter with Caledonia leading 29-0. They finish an excellent campaign (9-2) as Section 1AA runner-ups, only (no shame) losses coming to the (seemingly) destined-to-three-peat Warriors. With only 7 senior starters (Luke Isensee, Reid Danielson, and Justin Viss each both ways, Mark Neppl offensively), the Gopher’s will certainly be a factor in the 3-Rivers and their Section next year.
Woltz, Swanson Shine at State C-C Meet
Chatfield’s Kayla Woltz and Kingsland’s Richard Swanson are sort of on opposite ends of the running pendulum. Woltz entered the 2012 State Cross-Country meet every bit a veteran of running, and running at the highest level. A five-time state participant with four Top-5 finishes, the 2012 meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield was effectively a cap to Woltz’s fabulous C-C career. It was her last (fall) run (she’ll have track in the spring). Kayla couldn’t live up to her past performances. In girl’s distance running, age (maturity) isn’t necessarily advantageous. But Woltz’s 10th place finish (14:59.8) is still nothing short of superb. It was an excellent way for the Gopher senior to go out. She is now a six-time state Cross Country participant, with four Top 5 finishes and five Top 10 finishes. Kayla’s section adversary, Emi Trost, and The Blake School’s Clare Flanagan, dueled for 1st place for the second straight year. Flanagan won out again, downing the Cannon Falls junior 14:04.1 to 14:16.5. Chatfield’s other state participant, sophomore Karen Gomez, finished 76th (of 175) in a time of 15:58.7. It was Karen’s second state meet. She finished 43rd as a freshmen last year.
For Knight Richard Swanson, his running resume probably will never look like Woltz’s. A sophomore, 2012 marked the first year Richard ran Cross Country. It was a pretty good start to a career, a breakout year. Swanson began the season with a win at the Wabasha-Kellogg Gallop back in August and ended at his first state meet, doing so in grandiose fashion, finishing 11th (16:15.9). After being bested at the Section 1A meet a week earlier by Ian Torchia (Rochester-Lourdes), Pat Reinschmidt (PEM), and Matt Schupp (Winona-Cotter), Swanson got two-third’s redemption, finishing ahead of Reinschmidt (13th, 16:20.7) and Schrupp (18th, 16:30.3). Torchia finished 6th (16:04.8). Proctor senior Matt Welch was the 2012 state champion (15:34.0), downing Foley’s Charlie Lawrence (15:46.5).