H.S. Notebook: Brakke is Spartans' jack of all trades
Rochester Mayo girls hockey coach Jeff Phillipshas asked sophomore Sara Brakketo do a little of everything this season. And she's done it all well.
Brakke opened the season as a forward after playing defense last season. She excelled at the forward spot and was one of the team's leading offensive playmakers.
But the Spartans have been ravaged by injuries. "It's probably as bad as it's ever been," Phillips said.
At the moment, the Spartans are missing their top two defensemen, Mackenzie McCormackand Makinzee Kazeck, due to injuries.
So, Phillips asked Brakke to move back to defense. And once again, she's been spectacular.
"Because of all the injuries, she's probably had to play 50 percent of the time on defense and 50 percent on offense," Phillips said. "Despite that, she's fourth on the team in points and second in (goals scored). That's impressive for someone who's had to play on defense so much."
Brakke has eight goals and four assists for 12 points in 19 games this season, helping the Spartans to a 14-4-1 record.
When she's played up front, Brakke has found a way to score big goals. She netted the game-winner against Silver Bay during the Schwan Cup. Against Rochester Century over the weekend, Brakke started the game playing defense. But when the Spartans struggled to put the puck in the net, Phillips moved Brakke back to forward.
She promptly scored the game-tying goal to send it to overtime. And in the extra session, Brakke netted the game-winner.
"She's just a solid all-around player," Phillips said. "She's probably not great in any one category, but she's good in every category. And she's done anything I've asked of her this season. On top of everything she's accomplished on the ice this year, she's just a great kid. She's a good student and a good teammate, so it's fun to see her do so well and take such a big step forward this season."
— Ben Pherson
Grisim sets Lake City wins record
For the duration of his high school wrestling career, Lake City senior Rusty Grisimhas been healthy.
Grisim also has been competitive since the first day he stepped onto the varsity wrestling mat.
"You combine durability, longevity, competitiveness and a great work ethic, and you're going to have success," Lake City coach Lonnie Westsaid.
Grisim has had a great deal of success while wearing a Tigers singlet. In fact, more success than any wrestler who has ever put on that singlet.
During Saturday's Plainview-Elgin-Millville Invitational, Grisim became Lake City's all-time wins leader, breaking the mark previously held by Jason Elsmore. That record stood since the mid-1990s.
With his first win Saturday, Grisim tied the previous mark of 148. He won two more matches, giving him the milestone of 150 for his career.
"Rusty has gotten a lot of matches in, and he's had the good fortune of staying healthy," West said. "He's put in the work, too."
For the season, Grisim is 20-3. He lost twice at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament and then recently to Kasson-Mantorville's Corben Hansen.
The Christmas Tournament was an eye-opener for the entire Lake City squad. "I know Rusty was disappointed because he didn't reach a personal goal of placing," West said. "As a team, we went in with realistic expectations. It was more about the experience of wrestling top-notch competition. It was good for the kids."
West, Grisim and the Tigers are hoping that experience pays off come section tournament time. And Grisim has goals set far beyond the section tournament. He's already a two-time state entrant and has won matches during both of his trips to St. Paul.
"His goals are to be a section champion and win a state title," West said. "He's been there a couple times, and we're hoping he can get there for the third time. Once you get up there, anything is possible. He's definitely capable of doing it."
— Ben Pherson
KoMets getting large
Kasson-Mantorville sits one 6-foot-8 guy, and replaces him with a 6-7 player.
Not a bad situation at K-M. And tall guys aren't the only reason the KoMets are sitting pretty this season, with back-to-back wins over powerful Hayfield and Lourdes, and an overall record of 9-4. Coach Chris Otterness'KoMets are senior laden, they can shoot, they're balanced, and are one of the top defensive teams in the state.
"We're just starting to figure things out and play well together," Otterness said.
And to think that the KoMets are doing it all without Jake Hodge, their star point guard who was injured during the football season and won't be able to play basketball at all this year.
Still, the KoMets are thriving. The good times are centered around their two centers, 6-8 senior Griffin Reedand 6-7 senior Josh Murphy.
Everybody adjusts to them first.
"Anytime you have a couple of (6-8 and 6-7) guys who are good players, they draw a lot of attention, and that helps your guards," Otterness said.
Neither of those tall guys is putting up huge numbers, but that speaks to K-M's balance. Reed averages seven points and seven rebounds. Murphy is at seven points and five rebounds, but like so many of K-M's players, is capable of going off in any game. In his last three outings, Murphy has scored 22, 16 and 16 points.
K-M has seven players averaging at least 4.3 points, but nobody is in double figures. Guard Nate Bauer scores a team-high 8.6 per game. Forward Matt Thompson is at 7.3.
"Any one of those guys is capable of scoring 20 points on a given night," Otterness said.
As well as K-M has played recently, it's not been a perfect season for the KoMets, who while still playing in the Hiawatha Valley League, have been bumped up from Class AA to AAA in the postseason. There were three straight non-conference losses early in the year, and also a tough 39-36 loss to Byron.
Though K-M has won seven of its last eight, Otterness still declares them a work in progress.
"We're still lacking consistency," he said.
— Pat Ruff
Century-Mayo doubleheader Friday at Mayo
Mayo and Century basketball fans will have the rare opportunity to see both their boys' and girls' teams on the same night at the same venue Friday night.
Century plays at Mayo, beginning with the boys game at 5:45 p.m. and followed by the girls at 7:30. It's the first meeting between the teams this season in both match-ups.
In the boys game, Mayo (5-8 overall, 4-3 Big Nine) will try to build on the momentum of Tuesday's win over Faribault, which snapped a four-game losing skid for the Spartans. Century (11-3, 5-2) has won three of its last four. Mayo and Century split last year's regular-season games, and Century won the tiebreaker in the Section 1AAAA semifinals, 59-43 at Century.
In the girls game, Century (9-6, 6-2) will try to tame a Mayo (10-4, 7-1) team that has won three straight and five of its last six. The teams split two games last year, Century winning by 5 at Mayo in mid-December, and Mayo winning by 29 in February at Century.
— Donny Henn
Red Wing, K-M girls vying for top spot in 1AAA
The departure of New Prague's girls basketball team from Section One, Class AAA has created an enormous hole at the top that two local teams hope to use to their advantage.
Red Wing is the defending section champion, having dethroned New Prague — which was the section's top seed for five straight years — 59-53 in the title game last season. Led by junior standout Tesha Buck, the Wingers are currently 14-2 and leading the Missota Conference.
Kasson-Mantorville is a newcomer after section realignment this summer, and it hasn't wasted any time announcing its presence. The KoMets are currently ranked No. 8 and boast an unblemished 16-0 record, sharing the lead of the HVL Gold with Stewartville.
But that's where the similarities end.
K-M, along with Byron, got bumped up to Class AAA for the upcoming postseason after its enrollment grew to 568. Coach Ryan Haraldson was able to schedule just three nonconference games against similarly sized schools — Waseca, Albert Lea and Winona — while playing as the largest school in the HVL. On the flip side, Red Wing is the smallest public school in the seven-team Missota Conference with an enrollment of 809; four of the other six schools compete as Class AAAA programs.
When the regular season is complete next month, Red Wing will have played 10 games against larger schools, 14 against similarly sized and and two against smaller programs. By comparison, the KoMets will have played five games against schools of a similar size and the rest will be against those with smaller enrollments.
The only common opponents between the two will be Winona and Goodhue, which is ranked No. 2 in Class A. Red Wing defeated the Winhawks twice and topped the Wildcats by 10. K-M defeated Winona by 18 — more than the Wingers — and end the regular season against Goodhue.
Area coaches figure to be involved in a spirited discussion at the section seeding meeting next month. Which is more deserving of the top seed: a gaudy record that includes a huge margin of victory or a lesser record against higher quality opponents? The controversial QRF rankings on Minnesota-Scores.com, which isn't officially used in basketball, currently gives K-M a slight edge with a month remaining.
Bragging rights aside, the top seed may prove especially valuable in March. Just three teams in the section currently have a winning record; Byron is 9-5. The KoMets defeated the Bears 74-72 on Jan. 3 in their closest game to date.
— Brett Boese
Dicke signs with Gophers
Cannon Falls football standout Cedric Dickehas been signed as a preferred walk-on by the University of Minnesota football team.
Dicke, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, was a do-everything player for the Bombers this past season. On offense, he played every position but offensive line. That included starting the team's last few games at quarterback. Defensively, he played linebacker and cornerback for Cannon Falls. It is in the defensive backfield that he figures to land at Minnesota.
Bombers head coach Josh Hofstedtsays the Gophers have penciled him in at safety.
"Cedric likes defense the most," Hofstedt said. "He can hit and he's real rangy."
Hofstedt says Dicke has been clocked at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, and has a vertical jump of 36 inches.
Dicke is also showing himself to be a standout basketball player. He's averaging 20 points for Cannon Falls.
— Pat Ruff