Top five Tiger sports stories of 2009There were plenty of Farmington High School sports highlights in 2009. Here are some of the best.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
Volleyball makes it to state
Another successful calendar year of Farmington High School sports comes to a conclusion with this week’s basketball and hockey holiday tournaments. Many Tiger teams and individuals have shined in the last 365 days, but only one team reached its ultimate goal — the state tournament.
The Farmington volleyball team began the 2009 season with lofty expectations after going 20-6 the previous season. But the team hit some bumps in the road early as first-year varsity players adjusted to their new roles. The Tigers were just 13-10 after a mid-October loss to Bloomington Jefferson, but they responded with a six-game winning streak that brought them all the way to the program’s first state tournament. The final three games of the streak came in the Section 1AAA Tournament where the Tigers knocked off Hastings and Faribault before rallying in a five-game thriller against Rochester Century in Rochester.
Farmington lost its first game at the state tournament to Burnsville in three games, but playing in front of a large, supportive crowd at Xcel Energy Center, the Tigers put together one last memorable rally. Trailing Alexandria 2-0 in a consolation bracket game, coach Mike Woody’s team battled back for a 21-25, 15-25, 25-23, 25-12, 15-11 victory that gave them 20 wins for the third consecutive season. Junior Katie Habeck was named to the all-tournament team and, along with Danielle Dombeck, Rachel Sand and Lauren McHenry, earned All-Missota Conference honors.
Boys basketball team wins first conference title since 1962
The Farmington boys basketball team finally completed its turnaround in 2008-09, winning 20 of its 28 games and finishing first at 12-2, a game ahead of tradtional power Shakopee and rival Northfield, to win its first Missota Conference title since 1962.
The Tigers were just 7-6 after a 21-point loss to Shakopee in late January, but caught fire after that and went on an 11-game winning streak that included impressive wins over Shakopee, Northfield, Prior Lake and New Prague, among others. The team improved to 20-7 with a first-round win over Rochester Century in the section tournament, but the season came to an end with a 53-51 loss to Winona in the next round.
The Tigers were led by a quartet of seniors that each provided a unique set of skills. Josh Zitzmann had the quickness and athleticism to get to the rim, Jake Lippert could score both inside and outside, Brent Beenken was a three-point threat who also excelled at rebounding and tracking down loose balls and David Steege was a 6-foot-10 center with a knack for blocking shots.
The team also got nightly contributions from Logan Hussung and current players Justin Lavey, Kyle Winkelman and Connor Duffy.
Farmington sports make the move to the new high school
The new high school on Flagstaff Avenue opened in the fall of 2009 and brought with it a new era for Farmington athletics.
The fall sports season opened in late August with a girls soccer game on the turf of the new Tiger Stadium. The girls team went on to have its most successful season in program history, and while the boys soccer and football teams struggled to pick up wins, the stadium itself drew larger crowds to the games than in years past.
The volleyball team made a bit of history of its own in the first year playing home games in the new Tiger Gym by qualifying for its first-ever state tournament. The gym is also the new home for the Tiger boys and girls basketball teams, and they have combined to go 4-1 so far on their new home court.
The new high school also features a new wrestling room that is already in use, as well as a new weight room. The new track, baseball and softball fields on the north side of the school will be used for the first time this spring.
Girls basketball makes surprising run to section championship game
Perhaps no Farmington high school team turned its season around as quickly and as drastically as the girls basketball team.
Sitting at 10-13 in mid-February after back-to-back losses to Shakopee and Red Wing, the Tigers had to win their last three regular season games just to finish at .500. They did that — beating Hutchinson, Northfield and Prior Lake — but they weren’t finished. The winning streak continued right into the Section 1AAAA Tournament where the Tigers beat Hastings in the first round and then upset Rochester Century, 59-53, in the semifinals. The team’s five-game winning streak came to an end against Rochester John Marshall in the finals where — playing without Taylor Meyer — the Tigers fell, 46-38.
Lone senior Kirstee Rotty led the team, averaging 15.8 points per game and finisher her career as a 1,000-point scorer. Key contributors Meyer, Elena Koch, Lauren McHenry, Isis Alexander, Jamie Kenealy, Jordan Bridges and Sarah Silber are all back on coach Jason Berg’s roster this season.
FHS athletes advance to state golf, wrestling, swimming and cross country
In all, 26 athletes represented Farmington as individuals at the state level. Six of those were members of the boys track team that scored a program-best 22 points at the state meet. Logan Hussung was third in the discus and seventh in the shot put and Josh Jackson, Adam Sturm, Josh Zitzmann, Derek Waldbillig and Mike Amofah also qualified. The girls track team scored 20 points at state, led by the third-place 4x800 relay team of Jackie Beckett, Maria Kiminski, Kaitlyn Mincke and Nicole Clifton. Mincke was also sixth in the open 800 and Katrina Fitzgerald earned fifth in the pole vault. Alyssa Parco also qualified in her first year in the hurdles.
The boys swimming and diving team was led at state by the 10th-place relay team of Nick Haugen, Tyler Smith, Brandon Molnar and Brian Huls. Tyler Magalis also made a return trip to state and placed 12th in the 1-meter dive. The girls team was paced by Kaitlyn O’Reilly’s 12th-place swim in the 100 backstroke. Also representing the Tigers at state were Sarah O’Reilly, Elizabeth Wolfe, Kristin Peters and Caitlin Kracke.
Wrestlers Nick Albano (third) and Carl Elmer, cross country runner Elliot Fenske (28th) and golfer Greg Werner (11th) also qualified for their respective state tournaments.