Successful seasons not always measured by state level advancement

WORTHINGTON -- Tonight, two more teams will be have their fall campaigns come to an end as the post-season elimination process continues with Section 3A South volleyball action in Luverne. The same thing will happen in the AA tournament in Redwoo...

WORTHINGTON -- Tonight, two more teams will be have their fall campaigns come to an end as the post-season elimination process continues with Section 3A South volleyball action in Luverne. The same thing will happen in the AA tournament in Redwood Falls.

A week ago yesterday, all 20 teams (12 in Class A and eight in Class AA) in the south had hopes of extending their seasons by playing well in the playoffs and, perhaps, pulling an upset and advancing beyond their seeded prediction.

But through the elimination process of tournament competition, there are just four teams left in each class, meaning that 12 of the 20 are no longer playing. That number will be sliced in half tonight and only four (two in each class) will get to continue on.

Then on Thursday night, the reduction process will happen again, as the Section 3A and 3AA section champions from the south are crowned. Saturday, the ultimate test comes when the south champs play the northern champions for the prestigious honor of "going to" the state tournament.

As you can see, it's a procedure that's simple -- just keep winning -- but it is not easy, all the other teams are trying to win, too.


The same thing is happening in football, where only two of the eight teams that began section playoffs a week ago tonight, are still left -- playing for section titles at Marshall Friday.

Just four days ago, over 80 percent of the Section 2A and Section 3A cross country runners finished their season by competing in the section meets at Montgomery and Adrian. Only the seven members of the top two teams, and any other runners that finished among the top 10 individuals, are advancing to Saturday's state meet in Northfield.

The point is -- getting to the state level is a difficult task, and certainly should not be the only measuring stick used for a team' success.

Goehle, Marschel are prime examples

As far as coaching is concerned, two prime examples of highly-successful boys' basketball careers were exhibited in the area by Hugo Goehle of Hills and Loren Marschel of Okabena -- both enshrined in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Hall of Fame.

Neither Goehle nor Marschel ever coached a basketball team in the state tournament. Yet, and rightly so, both of these multiple-sport coaches who guided good teams season after season, were honored by their peers and elected to the Hall of Fame.

Goehle, who coached for the Hills Bluejays and the Hills-Beaver Creek Patriots, reached the District 8 finals several times in the 1960s and 1970s, but Luverne was a nemesis that stopped his teams short of the goal many times. Goehle, who entered the MBCA Hall in 1988, is the winningest high school basketball coach ever in southwestern Minnesota with an amazing 564-232 varsity record in a career that spanned from 1953-1991. Goehle passed away in 1997.

I had the opportunity to get to know Hugo when I was a second-year coach at Heron Lake in the fall of 1976 and organized a junior high cross country meet, which H-BC came, too. What a class man Hugo Goehle was and how encouraging he was to a young coach.


I was lucky enough to have Loren Marschel as my athletic director during the nine years that Heron Lake-Okabena High School operated from 1978-1987. Loren always encouraged me and gave me positive support. He seldom had any advice for me -- but when he did, I listened.

Without question, both Hugo Goehle and Loren Marschel were great high school basketball coaches -- even though neither of them "took" a team to the state.

Not making it is not a "waste"

In my first "Blast" that I wrote for the Daily Globe, back in October of 2004, I mentioned that I had been fortunate to have been a high school coach for 29 seasons (33 now) and had been blessed with mixed results, a variety of experiences and a treasure of memories.

That statement continues to be true. We certainly had a memorable experience last March when our senior-dominated Quasar basketball team "made it" to the state tournament after winning four exciting playoff games -- against some very quality competition.

The day after SSC won the Section 3A championship, I came to the boys' "Super Saturday" in Worthington and received all kinds of congratulations -- some from people that I didn't even know. The year before, we went a perfect 17-0 in the Red Rock Conference, but lost to eventual two-time state champion Fulda in the sub-section finals.

The accolades for winning the conference championship were not nearly as many or as enthusiastic as were those for winning the section title.

But, really, what is a bigger accomplishment?


In 2001, our girls' basketball team won only five games during the regular season, but we played four very good tournament games -- winning three of them -- and advanced all the way to the Section 3A South championship game. In 2005, we finished 22-3 and won the conference championship, but for some that success was "tarnished" because we exited from the tournament in the semifinals.

Two years ago, the Southwestern United Wildcats won a football playoff thriller in Heron Lake after going a perfect 8-0 in the regular season, but Luverne ended that nine-game winning streak with a lopsided victory in the semifinals Yet, I am sure that the positive experiences and memories of that fall of 2006 will outweigh the sting of that loss for those players and coaches involved.

My point would be, that throughout each team's season there are low times and highlights. Individuals and teams have goals and strive to reach them, but when they do not reach them -- or do not advance to the state -- that experience is not a "wasted" season.

Getting to a state tournament or a state meet is a great experience -- as a coach I have been so fortunate to reach that level six times with a team (three in basketball and three in cross country) -- but don't for a minute think that the only way to measure success is by whether or not the individuals or teams "make it to the state."

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