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Sports briefs: Bluejays Lais, Gordon are All-Americans

Two Minnesota West Community and Technical football players, Tommy Lais and Kendrick Gordon, have been named to the first team of the NJCAA Division III All-American football squad.

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Lais, Gordon are All-Americans

Two Minnesota West Community and Technical football players, Tommy Lais and Kendrick Gordon, have been named to the first team of the NJCAA Division III All-American football squad.

Lais is a freshman and Worthington High School graduate. A tight end, he caught 36 passes last fall for 420 yards and four touchdowns. Gordon, a sophomore linebacker from Nashville, Tenn., had 82 tackles including 38 unassisted, with one sack, six interceptions and one fumble recovery.

This year marks the first that Minnesota West has had a first-team All-American since 2005.

Of Lais, said head coach Jeff Linder, “He’s a smart, smart player. Even as a freshman, he plays like a sophomore. And I don’t say that a lot about my players.”

Gordon was technically a third-year player in his second year of eligibility in 2021, and his maturity, as well as his excellence, was plainly evident. “He was a leader on the field. Very physical. Also was quick to cover,” said Linder. “He was quick enough to cover receivers down the field, and that was very beneficial to us.”

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Holidays equals tournaments

WORTHINGTON -- Not many years ago, Worthington High School was the site for a fun wintertime boys basketball tournament called the Daily Globe/Trojan Holiday Classic. It was discontinued a few years ago, but it was interesting because it allowed teams that normally wouldn’t face each other to square off during the Christmas break.

Teams like Hutchinson, Perham, Mankato West, Sibley East, Jordan and Byron came to play.

Lots of WHS graduates returning home for the holidays could be seen at the local gymnasium watching the games and catching up with their friends. It was a fun atmosphere.

Next week the Worthington High School girls and boys basketball squads are in another holiday spectacle at a seldom-visited site. They’re taking part in a two-day tourney at Winona State University.

The girls play a 3:45 p.m. game Wednesday against Kasson-Mantorville, and on Thursday they play at 4:30 p.m. against Winona. Meanwhile, the boys play a 5:15 p.m. game Wednesday against a team yet to be announced, and at 6:15 p.m. Thursday they take on Winona.

Meanwhile, the Worthington girls and boys hockey teams are participating in tournaments, too, Tuesday and Wednesday. The girls open in Mankato Tuesday against Rochester Mayo at 7 p.m., then finish Wednesday against Mankato East at 3 p.m. The boys are in Wahpeton, N.D., playing Bagley at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Breckenridge/Wahpeton at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

Historic wrestling season

The first Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament will happen this year, and it will take place at the same time the boys’ state tourney gets under way.

The Minnesota State High School League voted to sanction the first all-girl tournament at this winter under a plan coordinated with the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association. Girls will still be part of the boys’ teams during the regular season, but the girls’ individual tournament is the first of its kind in the state.

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Officials expect 14 weight classes with a maximum of eight wrestlers per weight.

The coaches association estimates there were about 250 girls in high school wrestling in 2019.

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