The winter sports season ended in a flurry of coverage of six state tournaments over five weekends for me. Thankfully there were zero blizzards to deal with.

The fun started February 24 with the second straight appearance of the Owatonna gymnastics team at state. The Huskies entered the meet as the No. 2 ranked team. Hopes and dreams were high and OHS delivered with a third-place finish. The thrills continued on the second day with five OHS individuals participating and Lindsay Bangs capturing fourth place in the all-around. The athleticism of these gymnasts is simply remarkable. The sport doesn't lend itself to radio play-by-play because you have to see it to appreciate it, but it was fun to provide live on-air updates of their progress.

The state wrestling tournament the following weekend included Owatonna getting back into the team tournament for the first time in a few years. The Huskies bounced back from an opening round loss to take the consolation title. Three OHS wrestlers were in the state finals individually. Brandon Moen won his second straight title. Peyton Robb and Cade King finished second. Both return next season. Xcel Energy Center is alive with so many team colors and so much action, there is never a dull moment. One of our radio highlights of the event was the debut of OHS alumni Bear Woodrich and Justin Tacheny taking to the airwaves.

In order to get a break from work, I took a vacation day the following week. I used the day to go to the state boys hockey tournament and take in Minnesota's signature event. This year's event included an extra helping of upsets and northern Minnesota success. While I didn't literally work the event, I did sit with radio color commentator Dave Swenson to watch the Northfield-Mahtomedi game. We probably had one of our best conversations. Yet no one heard it.

I topped myself by getting to two state tournaments the next week. I helped cover the NRHEG girls basketball team as they won the consolation title. Then I swung over to the adapted floor hockey state tournament that same night. The fans for each of our local teams were phenomenal. Panther fans were in a stretch of basketball nearly every day for either the girls or boys team. Fans for the Owatonna floor hockey team were vocal and filled the available bleacher seats well beyond capacity. I capped the day by listening to Jason Iacovino and Bjorn Peterson call the action as the NRHEG boys hoops team won its first section title.

It was a pleasure to assist KDHL with coverage of the state boys basketball tournament, in addition to broadcasting the NRHEG games on Kat Kountry 105. I witnessed a buzzer-beater, come-from-behind wins, future Division I players and more three-point attempts than I could possibly count while watching and broadcasting games from Williams Arena, Target Center and Concordia of St. Paul.

Boys basketball ended March 25. Over a 30-day period I spent 13 days at state tournament venues. Next year maybe I can get to the boys swimming and girls hockey tournaments as well and complete the cycle.

 

  • 1

    OHS Gymnasts Third at State

    Owatonna's gymnastics team captured third place at state and will return most of their lineup next winter.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
  • 2

    Huskies Take Consolation Title

    Owatonna's wrestlers came back from a quarterfinal loss to take home the consolation title.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
  • 3

    Hockey Tournament Shines

    The 2017 boys hockey tournament was highlighted by upsets and close games.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Meda
  • 4

    NRHEG Girls Take Consolation Title

    The NRHEG girls made their fourth state tournament appearance in the past six years in 2017.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
  • 5

    Adapted Floor Hockey at State

    A large, enthusiastic Owatonna crowd cheered on the Huskies' adapted floor hockey team at state at Bloomington Jefferson High School.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media
  • 6

    NRHEG Boys End with a Win

    In their first trip to the state tournament, the NRHEG boys made some great memories and won the consolation title.

    Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media