North, South teams continue to be state tournament factors
Lakeville teams and individuals were at the forefront in numerous high school state tournaments – meaning 2022 was a typical year in the community’s sports.
You can expect more of the same in 2023, but first here’s a look back at highlights of the year that just concluded:
State lacrosse champs
Lakeville South girls lacrosse coach Patrick Crandall left after the 2022 season to become coach of the College of St. Benedict women’s team. The Cougars’ parting gift was their first state championship. They finished 18-1, defeating Chanhassen 10-7 in the championship game to avenge their only loss of the season. The Cougars’ most memorable game likely was the state semifinal against Rosemount, where they trailed by as many as six goals in the second half before winning 14-13 on Emily Moes’ overtime score.
Dual North champions
Jore Volk became Lakeville’s first three-time wrestling champion, defeating Elijah Paulson of Anoka in the Class 3A championship match at 132 pounds. He won state championships as a sophomore, junior and senior in addition to a second-place finish at state as a freshman. Volk was 109-3 in his last three high school seasons. Before arriving at the University of Wyoming for his freshman season, Volk won his weight class at the Under-20 world championships in Bulgaria. Hanson defeated Cole Becker of St. Michael-Albertville in the 145-pound final for his first state title. Hanson, a Stanford recruit who is a two-time state runner-up, will go for a second state title in 2023.
Lakeville South, which won an unofficial state football championship in 2020 (playoffs were cut short because of COVID-19) followed by an official state title in 2021, made a spirited push for three in a row. The Cougars reached the Class 6A semifinals before losing to eventual champion Maple Grove 14-7. Players such as running back Carson Hansen, linebacker Owen McCloud and defensive back Ryder Patterson were a big part of South’s run that included a 40-5 record over the last four years and a 23-game winning streak.
Cougars control Section 1AA hockey
Lakeville South won the Section 1AA boys hockey championship for the fourth consecutive year, defeating Lakeville North 4-1 in the championship game. The Cougars returned to the state tournament as one of the favorites, having spent time at No. 1 in the state rankings. But a one-goal loss to Hill-Murray, followed by a loss to Moorhead in the consolation semifinals, ended South’s season. Although the 2022-23 Cougars have lost three non-conference games, they remain the favorites to win the section.
Lakeville North tied Lakeville South and Eagan for the South Suburban Conference volleyball championship. Then North surged through the postseason, winning five matches in a row to reach the state Class 3A final. The Panthers defeated Northfield, which had earlier knocked Lakeville South out of the playoffs, in the Section 1 final. They defeated Centennial and East Ridge in the first two rounds at state before falling in three sets to Wayzata, which won its third consecutive championship. Ava Blascziek was a Ms. Baden award finalist, and along with fellow seniors such as Sydney Carlson, Emily Ramsay and Sidney Wissbrod, led the Panthers to a 29-5 record.
Losing a legend
Milan Mader, who built two Lakeville High School programs into state powers, died April 25 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. A native of Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to the United States in 1969 and several years later started a career in teaching and coaching. He came to Lakeville in 1978 and coached gymnastics until 2003. His gymnastics teams qualified for state 15 times, winning 10 championships. Mader’s Lakeville and Lakeville North volleyball teams won 806 matches, finished as state runner-up five times and won the state championship in 2010, his final season as coach.
The 2022 cross country season was one of the best in South Suburban Conference history. Two SSC teams, Rosemount and Lakeville North, finished second and third in the state Class 3A boys meet, and Lakeville South was 10th. Rosemount’s Ryan Mulrooney and Lakeville North’s Andrew Casey finished in the top 10 individually. Four SSC girls teams reached the Class 3A girls meet, including Farmington (seventh) and Eastview (12th).
Lakeville North senior Jack Kocher and juniors Bryce Stachewicz, Blake Licht and Andrew Casey won the 4x400-meter relay at the state Class 3A boys track meet in a school-record 3 minutes, 17.58 seconds, less than one second from the all-time state meet record. Lakeville South had a runner-up in the boys meet from Benjamin Mosser in the 300 hurdles.
Blazing Cats dynasty
The combined Burnsville-Farmington-Lakeville adapted sports program, known as the Blazing Cats, has turned into a force. In 2022, the Blazing Cats finished second in the CI Division adapted floor hockey tournament, defeated New Prague 11-1 to win the adapted softball championship and won their second consecutive adapted soccer title. They defeated their south metro rival Dakota United 7-4 in the soccer final, marking their second straight championship game victory over the Hawks.
Wait is worth it
A couple of Lakeville South teams that hadn’t seen the state tournament in a few years got back there in 2022. The softball team won a state championship in 2014 but didn’t return to the tournament until last spring. A youthful South team with just three seniors overcame a 1-6 start to finish 14-12. The Cougars defeated Farmington 5-3 to win the Class 4A, Section 1 championship. The soccer team was 3-6-1 in its first 10 games before winning seven in a row, including a 1-0 victory over Lakeville North in the Class 3A, Section 1 final. Julie Bergan scored the game-winner in overtime. Lakeville South played in the state tourney for the first time since 2019.
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