Prep sports highlights from the year 2022
With another year in the books for prep sports, several new teams and athletes in the area grabbed the spotlight in 2022 and shined bright with it.
With numerous standout moments, plays, accolades and wins in the area, here are just a few of the top area stories and events in prep sports from 2022.
RAIDERS SEIZE STATE
The Nicollet Raiders, led by arguably the area’s top softball pitching duo of Marah Hulke and Hayley Selby, captured Nicollet’s first Class A State Softball Championship on June 10, 2022, defeating second-seeded Moose Lake/Willow River 3-2 in eight innings at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
The day before that big win, Hulke struck out 20 in a 4-1 semifinals victory over Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian to bring Nicollet to the state title game against ML/WR.
Nicollet’s win against ML/WR was both a treat and a nail-biter for fans in attendance. Both team’s starting pitchers, Selby for Nicollet and Sarah Christy for ML/WR, were intent to keep the score low.
Selby ended up allowing one earned run and five hits before being relieved in the fourth inning by Hulke, who ended up pitching what turned out to be five innings. She struck out six and allowed one hit and no runs.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Raiders catcher Morgan Arndt collected her first hit of the game, a leadoff double. After a sac bunt by Tori Adams moved Arndt to third, a sac fly by Hulke allowed Arndt to tag and score the go-ahead run.
The fun — and the nerves — didn’t stop there.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hulke gave up a leadoff single to Christy before first baseman Sandra Ribich approached the plate. Ribich then got a hold of a pitch and sent it deep to straightaway center field.
What looked like a two-run homer was taken away by center fielder Brooklyn Bode, however, who backed up and caught the ball as she fell back into the net fencing. Bode said after the game she didn’t realize how close she was to the fence, but that didn’t matter. She was determined to make the catch and save her team’s lead, and she did just that.
A fielder’s choice got the second out of the inning before Josi Hansen caught a popup in the infield around second base to clinch the state title for the Raiders.
The Raiders ended the season with a 24-2 record in addition to the state championship, and Hulke was named the All-Journal Softball Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
ST. MARY’S BOYS
REPEATS STATE TRIP
Rewinding to the be
In 2021, the St. Mary’s boys team made it to the Class A State Boys Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2006. In 2022, the Knights earned another trip back to the state tournament.
With a dominating 62-40 win over Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey in the Section 2A title game at Bresnan Arena in Mankato on March 18, 2022, the Knights were flying high again and headed to Williams Arena in Minneapolis. In the win over MLA/Comfrey, Carson Domeier led the Knights with 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Kaleb Wait scored 12 points also for the Knights in the win, while Trent Steffensmeier had 11 points and seven rebounds and Will Walter added 10 points.
In the opening round of the state tourney at Williams Arena on March 23, the Knights ran into second-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. The Knights never let things get too out reach, with six lead changes and four ties throughout the game, but BBE ended up with a 70-63 win to knock the Knights into the consolation bracket. While St. Mary’s hit five more 3s than BBE, the Jaguars dominated the paint, outscoring the Knights 42-28 from there. Steffensmeier led the Knights in the loss with 19 points.
The Knights then saw their time in the tournament come to a close after a 69-52 loss to Sacred Heart on March 24 at Gangelhoff Arena in St. Paul. Carson Domeier led the Knights with 19 points. Sacred Heart controlled the game from early on with a strong shooting performance.
While the Knights saw eight different players get into the scoring column, Sacred Heart saw just four players light up the board, led by Kobe Tomkinson’s 33 points. Sacred Heart ended up shooting 52.1% from the floor, while the Knights finished shooting 42.9%.
The loss ended the Knights’ season with a 28-4 record, but making it to the state tournament in consecutive seasons is no easy task.
While the top scorers for the Knights in 2021-22 have graduated in Domeier and Steffensmeier, Wait, now a senior, is helping the Knights stay successful this season. Walter and other players seeing more time this season like Jon Petermann, Mark Anderson and Owen Weiss, are also helping the Knights stay at the top of the Tomahawk Conference.
GREYHOUNDS REACH STATE BASEBALL TOURNEY
On the baseball side of the 2022 spring season, New Ulm Cathedral earned its way back to the Class A State Baseball Tournament for the first time since 2015. The playoff road to the state tournament ended in the Section 2A finals in what turned out to be a family feud.
The Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Knights, coached by Bruce Woitas, carried its boys basketball team’s success into the baseball season and won their way to a Section 2A finals meeting with the Greyhounds, coached by Alan Woitas, Bruce Woitas’ son.
The sixth-seeded Knights were 16-10 heading into the section finals as an underdog, while the top-seeded, Tomahawk Conference-winning Greyhounds held a 21-2 record. The Greyhounds were unbeaten entering the game with the Knights and needed just one victory over the Knights to get back to state.
The Knights, on the other hand, needed two victories over Cathedral after dropping to the elimination bracket earlier in the section playoffs. Greyhounds ace pitcher Sam Knowles was on the mound in Game 1 of the Section 2A finals and had a solid outing, giving up just one earned run on six hits and two walks while fanning four.
St. Mary’s pulled off the upset in Game 1, however, winning 4-2 to force a second game that same night.
The Greyhounds came to life in that second game in all areas, shutting out the Knights 9-0 to advance to the state tournament. In that second game, Carter Haala got the complete-game shutout on the mound, striking out six while allowing five hits and two walks.
In the Class A state quarterfinals, the Greyhounds were tasked with taking on No. 1-seeded Hayfield right out of the gate. While the Vikings took a quick 5-0 lead after three innings, the Greyhounds bounced back with an RBI single by Justin Berg in the fourth getting the Greyhounds on the board.
A bases-loaded error scored two more runs for Cathedral in the seventh, and walks to Jake Finstad and Knowles — Knowles’ walk being intentional — had the Greyhounds down 5-4. A called third strike ended the game, however, and knocked Cathedral to a consolation round game against South Ridge.
The Greyhounds topped South Ridge 8-4 to move on to the fifth-place game against MACCRAY later that night, but MACCRAY held off the Greyhounds with an 8-7 win. Brody Kirschstein drove in five runs for Cathedral against MACCRAY, but MACCRAY tied the game in the sixth and walked things off in the seventh to end Cathedral’s season with a 23-5 record.
FOOTBALL FINISHES STATE RUNNER-UP
Capping off the fall season in 2022 and putting an exclamation point on the year overall was the Springfield Tigers football team, which made it back to the Class A state tournament for the first time since 2019.
In the 2022 state tournament, the Tigers steamrolled opponents on the way to the program’s first state title appearance since 2005. While the Tigers ended up falling to Minneota in the state championship game, the road to the game was full of success and some surprises.
First-year starting varsity quarterback Jakob Nachreiner ended his season with 3,119 yards passing, 40 touchdowns and as the 2022 All-Journal Offensive Football Player of the Year. Nachreiner deserved credit for the team’s run, but he didn’t do it alone. With senior running back Ashtin Johnson setting up the pass (1,330 yards rushing in 2022), and a strong offensive line led by Mitchell Streich, Nachreiner had several targets to throw to in his first year under center for the varsity team. Carter Olson was just one target for Nachreiner, catching 99 passes for 1,264 yards this year. MaCoy Krick, Brayden Sturm and Sam Pidde were a few other targets for Nachreiner.
Sturm also led all Springfield defensive backs during the year with 10 interceptions in 14 games. Sturm, Pidde, Sam Rummel, Dan Rogotzke and Luke Boyle all also earned All-Journal Defensive honors.
The Tigers reached the state tournament after getting a 40-28 payback win over Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in the Section 3A finals at Southwest Minnesota State University on Nov. 4, 2022. TMB defeated the Tigers 34-6 earlier in the season and eliminated them from the playoffs in 2021.
The section finals were a different story, much to the surprise of TMB. Nachreiner ended up throwing for five touchdowns in the win to send the Tigers back to state.
The Tigers then downed Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg after scoring four unanswered touchdowns in the state quarterfinals at Crown College, winning 28-6 to move on to a semifinals meeting with then-unbeaten Deer River at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Springfield’s offense was on point all game against Deer River in a 54-30 rout led by Nachreiner’s 339 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Johnson rushed for 79 yards and 14 carries to lead the Tigers on the ground in the win.
In the state title game against the Vikings, the Tigers held a 13-10 lead at halftime. The Vikings came out of the half with new life, however, on the way to a 38-21 win and their eighth state football title in program history.
Despite the end of the 11-3 season, the Tigers graduate nine seniors this coming year and have a lot of talent back next year (11 sophomores and 11 juniors) in hopes of a repeat run to state.
2022 Prep Sports Notable Area Events
4 — New Ulm boys’ hockey coach Ryan Neuman wins his 100th career game as the Eagles top Redwood Valley 8-1.
7 — Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop’s Brynn Busse scores 1,000th career point in 58-54 loss to No. 9-ranked Sleepy Eye.
13 — Sleepy Eye’s Kadence Hesse scores her 1,000th career point in 77-25 home win over New Ulm Cathedral.
18 — New Ulm’s Braxten Hoffmann scores his 150th career point in 6-1 road win over Minnesota River.
18 — Julia Helget scores her 100th career point against Prior Lake for the New Ulm girls hockey team.
20 — New Ulm girls’ hockey player Maddie O’Connor scores her 100th career point in home win over Luverne.
20 — New Ulm Cathedral’s Sam Knowles sets school record for career rebounds in win over Cedar Mountain at home.
31 — Nicollet’s Marah Hulke scores her 1,000th career point in Valley Conference girls basketball game with Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.
31 — Madelia’s Ja’Sean Glover scores a school record of 60 points in a home win over Cleveland.
4 — Nicollet’s Hayley Selby passes 1,000 career points in a home win over Madelia.
7 — Madelia’s Ja’Sean Glover grabs his 1,000th career rebound in a road win over Tri-City United.
8 — New Ulm Cathedral’s Sam Knowles passes 1,000 career points in home loss to Springfield.
11 — Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Abbie Riederer becomes MVL’s girls all-time leading scorer.
12 — New Ulm’s Kayla Goblirsch finishes second at the State Gymnastics Meet on the balance beam.
14 — Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Madison Mathiowetz scores a school-record 55 points in a home win over LCWM, breaking her previous school mark of 50 points.
18 — The New Ulm Eagles boys basketball team wins the Big South Conference title for the first time since 1995 after beating Marshall 72-61 at NUHS.
19 — New Ulm Area’s Ellie Dake finishes first in the Section 1-4 girls wrestling tourney at 152, becoming NUA’s first girls wrestler to qualify for the state’s first-ever girls’ portion of the State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
26 — New Ulm Area’s Parker Kamm, Dylen Carreon and Jaden Drill all qualify for the state wrestling tourney.
28 — New Ulm’s Charlie Osborne scores his 1,000th career point in home win over Worthington.
4 — Madelia’s Ja’Sean Glover passes 3,000 career points in a win over Cleveland.
5 — New Ulm Area’s Jaden Drill finishes fifth at the state wrestling individual tournament at heavyweight, while Ellie Dake finishes second at 152 in the girls’ side of the state tourney.
5 — Sibley East’s Drayden Morton finishes his career with a Class A second-place medal at the state wrestling individuals in the 145-pound weight class.
10 — Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Carson Domeier passes 2,000 career points in a playoff win over New Ulm Cathedral.
17 — Sibley East’s Drayden Morton is named the All-Journal Wrestler of the Year for the fourth year in a row.
18 — Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s defeated Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey in the Section 2A boys basketball finals to advance to state for the second year in a row.
23 — Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Madison Mathiowetz becomes the first-ever three-time All-Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
31 — Madelia’s Ja’Sean Glover is unanimously chosen as the All-Journal Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
9 — New Ulm High School’s Madalyn O’Connor and Jaden Drill, Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Abbie Riederer and Luke Thompson and New Ulm Cathedral’s Kayla Goblirsch and Sam Knowles are named the New Ulm Club’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
11 — Sleepy Eye Public and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s split a baseball doubleheader with a pair of no-hitters. In Sleepy Eye’s 13-0 win over St. Mary’s in Game 1, Jackson Huiras struck out 12 in a five-inning no-hitter. In Game 2’s 6-1 win for St. Mary’s, Mark Anderson pitched five hitless innings with nine strikeouts and Owen Weiss pitched the final two hitless innings.
9 — Nicollet’s Marah Hulke finishes a 7-3 win over St. Clair/Mankato Loyola with 22 strikeouts. The game originally started on April 29 and got rained out before continuing and finishing on May 9.
23 — Springfield’s Jalivia Richert throws a seven-inning no-hitter in a first-round Section 2A softball playoff game against Minnesota Valley Lutheran in Springfield. Springfield won 4-0.
2 — Nicollet qualified for the state softball tournament for the first time since 1982.
3 — Cathedral’s Emily Schommer is named the Tomahawk Conference Softball Player of the Year.
6 — Sleepy Eye United girls’ golf team qualified for state by taking first at North Links Golf Course.
9 — New Ulm Cathedral baseball qualifies for the Class A State Baseball Tournament after defeating Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s in the second of two Section 2A finals games at ISG Field.
9 — Sibley East defeats New Ulm in Gaylord to win the Section 2AA title and move on to the Class AA state tourney.
9 — GFW’s Olivia Schwarzrock takes third in the girls state discus event.
10 — Nicollet defeats Moose Lake/Willow River 3-2 in eight innings at Caswell Park to win the Class A State Softball Championship.
10 — MVL/NUC’s Sam Blomberg wins fourth-place state medal in the 110-meter hurdles and sixth-place medal in the 300 hurdles.
16 — Cathedral’s Sam Knowles and Sleepy Eye’s Jackson Huiras are named Tomahawk Conference Baseball Co-Players of the Year.
18 — Marah Hulke of Nicollet is unanimously named the All-Journal Softball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
23 — Cathedral’s Kayla Goblirsch is named the All-Journal Girls Golfer of the Year.
23 — Sleepy Eye United’s Carson Erickson is named the All-Journal Boys Golfer of the Year.
24 — Cathedral’s Kayla Goblirsch and SEU’s Carson Erickson earn Tomahawk Conference MVP awards.
30 — Sleepy Eye’s Jackson Huiras is named the All-Journal Baseball Player of the Year.
26 — Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ setter Bella Hoffmann reaches 1,000 career set assists in a five-set volleyball win over Le Sueur/Henderson.
1 — Cedar Mountain’s Nadia Meyers reaches 1,000 career digs in a prep volleyball win over Redwood Valley at Maple River tournament.
4 — Cedar Mountain’s Hailey Hollar recorded her 1,000th career dig in a a prep volleyball sweep over Sleepy Eye in Sleepy Eye.
27 — The Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop girls cross-country team qualifies for the state meet for the first time in program history.
1 — New Ulm Cathedral’s Annie Edwards reaches 1,000 career set assists during a Section 2A volleyball playoff loss to BOLD at Sibley East High School.
1 — Springfield’s Jaeli Richert passes 1,000 career set assists in a Section 2A volleyball playoff loss to Cleveland.
19 — New Ulm Cathedral’s Sydnee Helget and Megan Haala are named 2022 All-Journal Volleyball Co-Players of the Year.
1 — Sleepy Eye’s Brea Mertz scores her 1,000th career point in a road loss to Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart.
2 — The Springfield football team finishes second in the Class A State Football Tournament, falling to Minneota 38-21.
6 — New Ulm Area’s Logan Lee earns his 75th career varsity wrestling win during a home quadrangular, while teammate Wyatt Pollard earns his 50th.
8 — Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Malachi Kohls is named the 2022 All-Journal Defensive Football Player of the Year, while Springfield quarterback Jakob Nachreiner is named the 2022 All-Journal Offensive Football Player of the Year.
12 — Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Kaleb Wait scores his 1,000th career point during a 100-57 Knights win over Sleepy Eye at St. Mary’s High School.
29 — New Ulm HIgh School’s Colton Benson scores a boys basketball school record 40 points in a win over Mankato Loyola at the Kwik Trip Holiday Tournament.