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Looking back on the top 10 spring sports stories of 2022

The 2022 spring sports season is complete, and here's glance at the top 10 area stories

Abagotte Opiew of the Worthington Trojans completes in the boys long jump during the Class AA state track and field championships at St. Michael. The WHS boys' track season qualifies as a primary story from the spring.
Abagotte Opiew of the Worthington Trojans completes in the boys long jump during the Class AA state track and field championships at St. Michael. The WHS boys' track season qualifies as a primary story from the spring.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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The recent conclusion to the Minnesota state high school baseball tournament officially ends the 2022 spring sports year, so now we’re free to take a quick look back to the season that was.

Here’s an offering for the top 10 list of spring sports stories. It’s OK to disagree with a few of them. That’s the fun of it, right?

Edgerton /SWMC Dutchmen Paris Van Dyke (23) sprints after she hit a line drive to take her to second base during 3A softball finals against Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles Thursday in Marshall.
Edgerton/SWC fast-pitch softball player Paris Van Dyke (23) sprints after hitting a line drive in the 2022 Section 3A softball finals against Lac qui Parle Valley.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

ONE: Worthington Trojans’ go double-digits in track and field. It’s tough to choose between that, and the No. 2 story on this list. But we’re going with the Trojans because their track and field season truly culminated in an historic way.

The year was especially meaningful for what the boys’ squad accomplished, but the girls were impressive in their own right. The boys finished eighth in the state True Team meet and later finished atop the Section 2AA meet. They finished tied for fourth place at the state tourney.

Overall, 11 events were represented by the Trojan girls and boys, combined, at the state meet earlier this month.

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Abagotte Opiew was the brightest star in the crown, participating at state in four events. He finished second in the triple jump after establishing a new school record in the sectionals. He was sixth in the state 110-meter high hurdles.

His brother, Marenono Opiew, was third in the state 300-meter hurdles. The 4x800-meter relay team of Ofbeka Morke, Mason Bobb, Filmon Wolday and Mikele Walu finished third with a new school record.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor secured an eighth-place finish in the girls 200-meter run and the 4x200-meter relay team was also eighth.

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The WHS tracksters were mentored this year by co-head coaches Cory Smidt and Jessica Hogan.

TWO: Luverne track athletes continue to shine. Year in and year out, the Luverne Cardinals track and field athletes are impressive in the most important meets, and this year was no exception. For the fourth year in a row, in fact, the girls 4x800-meter relay team won a state Class A championship. This time it was with Elizabeth Wagner, Tiana Lais, Jenna DeBates and Tenley Nelson, and their clocking was 9:35.81, just a little bit better than the runner-up team from Murray County Central (9:36.93).

Nelson was also a champion in the 800-meter girls race. Teammate Ashton Sandbulte was a champion for the boys in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.

In the regular season, the LHS girls grabbed second in the state Class A True Team meet.

THREE: For E/SWC, five rings for one hand, three (and counting?) for the other. Continuing team success was something like a theme in 2022, which brings us to the Edgerton/Southwest Christian Flying Dutchmen in girls fast-pitch softball juggernaut. This year marked the program’s eighth consecutive berth in the state Class A tournament, where the team finished fourth.

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Head coach Andrew Fleischman has an uncanny knack for getting the Dutch to play their best softball when it counts the most. But this spring, they had to face Lac qui Parle Valley twice on the last day of the Section 3A tournament to get to the state tourney. LQPV beat E/SWC 2-0 in the first game to force a second -- that one won 3-0 by E/SWC as ace pitcher Paris Van Dyke threw a gem.

FOUR: Pipestone Area makes a statement. What’s that I said about continuing team success? While E/SWC re-established itself in Class A, Pipestone Area did the same in AA, marking its 13th state tournament appearance since 2003.

Early in the 2022 season, the Arrows lost a doubleheader to arch-rival and Big South Conference opponent Luverne, and some wondered if they’d be up to the task in May and June. But they beat Luverne -- the top seed in the southern half of Section 3AA -- 7-6 to stay in the winner’s bracket. In their final showdown with Luverne, the Arrows not only made their dominance official, but they did it in a big way, scoring 13 first-inning runs on 12 hits en route to a 15-0 win in four innings.

At state, Pipestone Area placed sixth, losing to Le Sueur-Henderson 6-5 in the consolation bracket championship game.

FIVE: Boys tennis is still in the Cardinals’ court. When you talk boys tennis in southwest Minnesota, you’re still talking Luverne Cardinals. This spring, the Cards qualified for their 12th consecutive state tournament berth.

Coach Lucas Larson’s team had 10 seniors on it in 2022, and three of them -- Pierce Cunningham, Griffen Jarchow and Blake Frahm -- were chosen for the All-Big South Conference squad.

Cunningham competed in singles while Frahm and Jarchow competed in doubles at the state tourney.

SIX: MCC girls earn a state golf tournament. Overcoming last year’s Section 3A girls winner, Adrian/Ellsworth, in this year’s section meet in Worthington, Murray County Central became the 2022 state tournament girls golf entry in 2022. The Rebels put up an 867 score in the two-day section tournament compared with A/E’s 883 (Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda/Westbrook-Walnut Grove was third with an 893).

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MCC finished seventh in the eight-team state field at Pebble Creek, but rallied with a 417 score on the second day after posting a 450 on the first day.

SEVEN: MCC baseball team goes deep in section. Might as well stay with Murray County Central for the next one, and this time it’s baseball. The Rebels finished one win short of playing for the Section 3A championship when they were eliminated 1-0 by Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in the final elimination bracket game.

The final game was a tense pitcher’s duel between R-T-R’s Hayden Gravley and MCC’s Peyton Coulter. Gravley threw a two-hitter. Coulter threw a four-hitter.

It’s probably fair to say that the Rebels were as good an all-around club as any other in southwest Minnesota for pitching depth, hitting prowess and defense during the spring.

EIGHT: Sibley-Ocheyedan’s Brouwer shines again in track. It’s not enough that Sibley-Ocheyedan junior Madison Brouwer isn’t already an outstanding basketball player and cross country runner, but once again she lit things up in track and field, too. After winning the Class 2A 800-meter run in 2021, she finished third this year at Drake Stadium in Des Moines while also placing second in the 1500-meter race.

NINE: Minnesota West softball team makes much with few. Despite a notable lack of depth, the Minnesota West Lady Jays softball team posted a 13-15 record in the spring while hitting .376 as a team with 15 home runs. Some of West’s players brought little softball experience to the table, but led by MCAC All-South Division players Steph Kazemba, Julia Schmoker and Torrence Clelland, they performed admirably for head coach Jeff Jager.

The Lady Jays advanced as far as the regional tournament, winning one of three games there.

TEN: After slow start, Luverne baseball team finishes strong. The Luverne High School baseball team, under first-year head coach Phil Paquette, lost its first four games. But the squad finished 16-8, finally ending its season with a 3-2 loss to ACGC in the semifinals of the Section 3AA tourney.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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