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Grimsrud led Rushford’s breakthrough season

By Marc Lunde

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Dana Grimsrud was the leading scorer on the 1989 Rushford Trojans boys basketball team that won the Class A state championship.

The senior was also a leader on their 2-2-1 and man-to-man full-court press scheme that forced just as many headaches as turnovers.

Since Rushford-Peterson (as a consolidated district) reached the state tournament eight times in an 11-year span (1997-2007), winning a state title in 2006 and placing second in 2005, it’s kind of hard to believe this: when the Trojans won the District One title in that 1988-89 season, it was only their second district title since 1955.

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(Districts were replaced in the early 1990s by sub-sections.)

"We won district when I as a sophomore for the first time in 35 years," Grimsrud said. "We always won many games but never got over the hump."

However, standing in Rushford’s way to state in the Region 1A tournament was District Three champion Winona Cotter. District Three, with great Winona Cotter and Lake City teams, had long dominated the region and prevented any District One winner from advancing to state.

After achieving the upset win over Cotter, which Grismrud doesn’t think was an upset, Rushford found itself being an underdog in every game the rest of the season. It responded by winning the rest of its games by double-digits margins on its way to the title.

"We had talent but we played so well together," Grimsrud said. "Tom Vix would say we won more of our games on the mental side." Vix is still the Rushford-Peterson coach today.

Any program with a drought that long can be shocked by the atmosphere of getting back to state. Advancing to the state football championship that year helped the team prepare for the atmosphere of the basketball playoffs.

"We knew we were going to be good," Grimsrud said. "We had a group of seniors who had played together for a long time and some young talent."

Grimsrud went on to play at Augustana.

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Grimsrud is a financial adviser in Rochester, and his wife, Koni, teaches in the Rochester school system. The closest he gets to a court nowadays is when he coaches his 10-year-old son’s basketball team.

However, after high school he spent many hours in the gym helping those younger than him.

"For the first 15 years of out high school, I’d help out at summer basketball camps," Grimsrud said. "Most of (the current) kids I've had in camps."

After his playing days, Grimsrud did some coaching at the college level. As much as he loved it, he found something he loved more than basketball.

"The reason I got out of it is that I never got to see my kids. If I didn’t have any kids I’d still be coaching," Grimsrud said with a laugh.

"I’m still good friends with many college coaches. I’ve had many opportunities (to get back into coaching)."

Does he missing coaching?

"Every day," Grismrud said. "I miss it, there’s no question."

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