Matt Steichen has been the sports editor at the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. He has previously been a sports writer at the Sioux City Journal and Le Mars Daily Sentinel and the sports editor at the Austin Daily Herald.
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Paul Harrington got his first chance to see the majority of his new team in action Saturday afternoon and, for the most part, the veteran head coach liked what he saw. No scores were kept, but Harrington said the Farmington softball team played Burnsville and Hermantown "even up" and "had the advantage" against De La Salle in three 70-minute scrimmages at the Eden Prairie Dome. "The two things I liked were that the physical errors and the mental mistakes were very minimal. It was good to see," said Harrington, whose team was without three letter-winners who were gone over spring break.
Hometown: Swanville, Minn. College: Saint Cloud State University Family: Parents: Ernesto and Randi Valencia. Siblings: Mari, Rita, Juan, David and Eric. Eleven nieces and nephews. Years at Farmington: First What's your favorite part of being an athletic trainer? Assisting the athlete with injury care and prevention to ultimately allow them to compete at their highest potential. At the high school level, athletic trainers are exposed to many different sports.
Last year's team finished with a record of 1-10, but you lost four of those games by a single goal and three others by four or fewer goals. What does the team need to improve upon to come out on the other side of those close games this year? Very good point. We just need to keep plugging away. We had some tough breaks last year, including losing our starting goalie in the third game of the season. Luckily, Kaitlyn Lacroix stepped in very well. We need to create more offense this year. We have the players to do it, we just need to execute.
A large group of returning letterwinners and an influx of talented young players are making it a difficult week for Farmington baseball coach Mike Winters. Fifty players reported to Tiger Field for the first day of practice Monday afternoon, including 12 returning contributors from a team that went 4-17 a season ago. In all, 12 seniors and nearly 40 sophomores and juniors are vying for the 14 or 15 spots Winters has available on his varsity roster.
The Farmington boys and girls track teams didn't have to wait long to face some competition. They followed up the first week of practice with an indoor scrimmage at St. Olaf College Saturday in Northfield. No official results were kept, but returning state runner-up Nadia Lorencz was likely among the leaders with her long jump of 16 feet, 1 1/2 inch and her 55 hurdles time of 8.47 seconds. She also ran the first leg of a 4x200 that also included Destiny Schmitz, Kelli Elmer and returning state qualifier Izzie Ferm.
Thirty-six Farmington youth wrestlers competed at the Minnesota/USA Wrestling State Folkstyle Tournament last weekend. Top finishers were Gavin O'Neill (first, Bantam), Luke Peterson (third, Intermediate), Zach Seufer (third, Schoolboy), Kyle Heusbourg (third, Schoolboy), Tyler Krzeszewski (fifth, Schoolboy) and Taylor Venz (second, Cadet).
Farmington senior Justin Hett participated in the Minnesota State Weightlifting Championships last Saturday at Inver Hills Community College. Hett, competing in the 69 kg weight class, placed second in the state with a snatch lift of 80 kg and a clean and jerk lift of 106 kg.
Paul Harrington has seen first-hand that pitching and defense lead to victories. The veteran head coach, in his first year at the helm of the Farmington softball team, already knows the Tigers have the pitching in junior Ashley Betzold. Now he's going to work on the defense. On the first day of spring practice Monday afternoon at the Boeckman Middle School gym, Harrington and his assistant coaches spent the better part of an hour dissecting the finer points of fielding a ground ball, from the ready position, to the footwork, the glove positioning, the transfer and the throw.
A red-hot Rochester Mayo team shot Farmington out of the Section 1AAAA tournament last Wednesday. The fourth-seeded Spartans connected on 63 percent of their shots and led 49-23 by halftime as they advanced past the fifth-seeded Tigers 88-54 in Rochester. The 88 points was the most Farmington allowed all season and the 34-point margin of defeat was the second largest of the season. "Mayo shot the ball extremely well and played very aggressive on defense. We anticipated that style of defense but did not respond at all," Farmington coach Shane Wyandt said.
Today marks the official start of the spring sports season for Minnesota State High School League softball and track teams. For photos from the first day of softball and track practices at Farmington and Rosemount, and previews of the upcoming softball seasons, check out Thursday's print editions of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages.