Adrian girls’ cross country team’s four-peat top accomplishment of past 50 yearsWORTHINGTON — As the calendar turns to 2009 and one reflects back on the 2008 calendar year in area high school sports, as Lucas as has done in his Saturday feature, one may ponder what looms ahead for this year.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As the calendar turns to 2009 and one reflects back on the 2008 calendar year in area high school sports, as Lucas as has done in his Saturday feature, one may ponder what looms ahead for this year.
Or one’s thoughts may — as the 1980s Movie “Back to the Future” had you do — “Go Back in Time.”
That is what I am going to attempt to do here, as I make my own top 10 list of the area’s greatest high school athletic team accomplishments of the past half-century, 1958-2008.
By only going back 50 years, I can condense the choices into a shorter span and use my own memory as a starting point, without having to do extensive research.
I am not that familar with the big area events before 1958, other than the dramatic 1939 boys’ one-class basketball championship won by the Mountain Lake Lakers. Mountain Lake made a total of 13 trips to the state tournament between 1913 and 1952. The Lakers finished second three times — 1913, 1915 and 1917 — and really put Mountain Lake on the “map” with their title run in ‘39.
I wrote a feature about Mountain Lake’s championship in the Globe’s Annual Review edition in March of 2007.
So, without counting that story, and with the chance of leaving out many deserving accomplishments, here is my top 10 list, in reverse order:
No. 10 — Magnolia High School’s 25-game winning streak in football from midway through the 1963 season until the sixth game of the 1966 campaign. Undefeated in both ‘64 and ‘65, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 691-114 during those 16 impressive victories. Unfortunately, the high school football playoffs did not begin until 1972.
No. 9 — Fulda High School’s back-to-back Class A state titles in girls’ basketball in 2006 and 2007. The Raiders were third in 2003 and fourth at the 2002 state tournament. Fulda had several great teams in previous years, including 1983, 1986, 1995 and 1996.
No. 8 — Storden-Jeffers High School’s three consecutive appearances in the Class A (two-class system) state girls’ basketball championship game. The Chiefs won the title in 1989 and brought home the runner-up trophy in both 1988 and 1990, setting a state record 53-game win streak in the process. Later, as Red Rock Central, the program returned to the state title game in 1999.
No. 7 — Jackson County Central High School’s wrestling program. The Huskies have been a state powerhouse for a decade, including team state championships in 1999, 2000 and 2008. JCC (and Heron Lake-Okabena-Lakefield) has won a total of 25 individual state titles since 1988.
No. 6 — Ellsworth High School’s three consecutive appearances in the Class A boys’ basketball championship game, including back-to-back titles in ‘07 and ‘08. The Panthers earned a state runner-up trophy in 2003 prior to doing the same in 2006.
No. 5 — Windom High School’s baseball dyanasty of the mid-1980s. The Eagles played in three state championship games, winning back-to-back titles in 1984 and 1985. Windom played in five consecutive state semifinal contests, also making the “final four” in ‘86 and ‘87.
No. 4 — Edgerton High School’s undefeated one-class state boys’ basketball championship in 1960. The magnitude of this achievement had a larger impact on the state than any other event — ever! The Flying Dutchmen’s final two victories over much larger schools — Richfield and Austin — caught the “fancy” of the entire state.
As big as the Edgerton victory is in state history, I am listing it fourth in our area —behind three four-peats.
No. 3 — Southwest Star Concept (Heron Lake-Okabena) High School’s four consecutive Class A State True Team girls’ track and field championships, from 1998-2001. Paired with Sioux Valley-Round Lake-Brewster, and later known as Southwestern United, the Quasars/Wildcats dominated area meets for years and capped that success by winning four straight state titles. The program, directed by Wayne Heisinger, won five state championships, as HL-O-L won the state True Team title in 1992, after finishing second in 1991.
No. 2 — Southwest Christian High School’s four consecutive Class A boys’ state basketball championships, from 1999-2002. Playing in the four-class system, the Eagles came out of a strong Section 3 and won 12 straight state tournament games to bring four more state basketball titles to Edgerton.
No. 1 — Adrian High School’s four consecutive Class A state girls’ cross country championships. Competing in a two-class system, the Dragon dynasty won state titles in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, doing so with tremendous team balance and depth.
Adrian gets the top billing, based on winning four in a row in a two-class arrangement rather than four classes (SWC basketball) or three classes (SWU track and field). Not every program participates in True Team, which is a coaches’ association meet rather than a State High School League event, hence the distinction between the second- and third-place choices.
I am sure that this list will create some discussion and controversy. There are many great accomplishments not mentioned on the list, including Heron Lake-Okabena’s undefeated Class A (two-class system) girls’ basketball championship in 1981 — the first girls’ championship in the area; Pipestone Area’s recent remarkable state-level softball success, JCC winning back-to-back Class AA state softball title in ’04 and ’05, the back-to-back state cross country titles of Windom/Storden-Jeffers in 1987 and 1988, a trio of state football titles by Westbrook (1982, 1985, and 2000 with Walnut Grove), and Luverne’s three conseucitve Prep Bowl appearance from ‘06-08 to mention a few.
Sometime in the future, I may attempt to list the top 10 individual accomplishments. Go ahead, give me some help!