Pressbox View: Recalling some of the school year's top moments

Grand Meadow celebrates with the trophy after beating Underwood 34-20 in the 9-man championship game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

There were some exceptionally memorable moments in the 2015-16 high school sports year.

(Quick disclaimer: if the Lewiston-Altura or Pine Island baseball teams defy the seeds and win a state championship, we will add them to this list.)

The list could be quite long, so I'm arbitrarily limiting it to six.

Here they are:



Grand Meadow had reached the "Prep Bowl" of Minnesota high school football state championship games for three consecutive years, winning the title in 2013 and 2014.

As 2015 approached, the cupboard wasn't bare. Starting quarterback Michael Stejskal and three of the Superlarks' top four rushers returned. But main RB Landon Lacobson graduated, as did the defense's top two tacklers. And coach Gary Sloan said this edition would be bigger but wouldn't have the overall team speed of the 2014 team.

No matter. Grand Meadow roared through the regular season unbeaten, returned to state by drubbing Spring Grove (ranked No. 4 in the state nine-man poll; G.M. was No. 1), then slammed Cleveland 52-14 in the state quarterfinals before topping Waubun 35-20 and Underwood 34-20 to claim a third straight state title.


Caledonia also was ranked No. 1 in its class (AA) in the state polls but the Warriors had not won a state championship since 2012, when it claimed its fifth in an eight-year stretch.

So they were on a mission.

Mission accomplished.

Their domination was extreme. In three state playoff games, they outscored opponents 131-6.


They outscored opponents 667-69 over the course of the season and amazingly did not allow a single point in the first half. None. Zero.

Some great athletes just graduated from CHS, but quarterback Owen King — who passed for 2,403 yards with 44 touchdowns and just four interceptions — was only a sophomore.


If your car has a ping, that means it's not running well.

If your cross country or track team has a Ping, the running is incredible.

Winona Cotter seventh-grader Grace Ping, in her first year of high school athletic eligibility, won three state championships. First, she took the girls Class A cross country individual medal in November, coming in 49.3 seconds ahead of the runner-up. She would have won the AA race by 29 seconds.

Then last weekend at the state track and field meet, she won the Class A 3,200 on Friday with a time of 10:31.27, 23 seconds in front of the runner-up.

She was disappointed with her 5:02.84 time in Saturday's 1,600 (she aiming for a near-state-record 4:49) but still was first by five seconds.


Grace was off to a national meet in North Carolina this week.


Hopes and expectations were high for the John Marshall boys basketball team. Division I prospects Michael and Matthew Hurt and several other quality players were on hand. Eventually, tall and athletic Dedoch Chan got his transfer from Albert Lea verified and was able to play starting Jan. 5.

After Chan was added to the mix, only Red Wing (twice) got the better of the Rockets in regular-season play. The Wingers were one of the top teams in the state regardless of class, and as section playoffs came around, there was a feeling of anticipation that JM could make a deep run into the state tournament.

But as is so often the case for Rochester teams, a strong Lakeville opponent was in the way. North had forged a 21-5 record, playing in the toughest conference in the state and ranked eighth in the state poll (to JM's 10th).

They met as expected in the Section 1AAAA title game and it was a classic, both teams with college-sized front lines and Division I recruits on each side. It came down to a three-point shot by Isaiah Walden with just over two seconds left. Had it gone in, JM would go to state.

It bounced off.

North went on to the state championship game against 28-1 Hopkins and the Panthers trailed by only four points with just over a minute to play before losing 64-55.


It wasn't hard to imagine the Rockets going all the way.


It was a strong season for girls basketball in southeastern Minnesota. At the end of the regular season, the area had the state's No. 2- and 5-ranked AAA teams (Kasson-Mantorville and Winona), Nos. 1 and 7 in AA (Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Dover-Eyota) and the Nos. 1 and 5 in Class A (Goodhue and Lyle/Pacelli).

Form held, and those were the section championship matchups. Goodhue rallied furiously in the final minutes to defeat L/P, and P-E-M beat defending state champion D-E for the third time in the season, 53-45.

Goodhue and P-E-M both went on to win state championships, breezing in all games, except P-E-M had to work hard in the semifinals to hold on against Roseau after Sarah Hart fouled out.

In the Section 1AAA final, K-M was nudged 49-45 by Winona, in a game in which KoMets standout Kristin Scott scored 23 points despite playing with a torn hamstring and being carried from the floor after the final horn. Winona got to the AAA state final before losing by eight points to Holy Angels.


If it were just pole vaulting, we'd be talking about what a career Century's Andrianna Jacobs just finished.


Four straight state Class AA championships. Her final vault breaking her own state meet and overall state record (13 feet, 3 inches).

But Jacobs is no one-event specialist. She's also a hurdler in track (won the All-City meet in both hurdles events). But moreover, she earned spots in 14 state tournaments in three sports. She was sixth in the all-around in gymnastics in March, and last November was second in diving.

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