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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Less than a year ago, Taylor Venz was wrestling as a 91-pounder at national youth tournaments. Coming off a high school season where he went 3-4 while going up against varsity opponents in the 103-pound weight class, the seventh-grader knew he would have to put on some weight to be successful. Ten months and 15 pounds of muscle later, Venz is the first Farmington eighth-grader to qualify for the state wrestling tournament. He captured the Section 1AAA title at 106 pounds by going 3-0 last weekend at Shakopee. "Last year I was really small compared to the other guys I wrestled.
The Farmington basketball team is making a habit out of winning in dramatic fashion. The Tigers held on for a last-second win for the fourth time in five games Friday night, outlasting New Prague 45-44 at Tiger Gym. The home team led by a single point, 43-42, with 38 seconds left when Johnny Dittman found Mac Bassett for a lay-up on a long inbound pass to account for the game-winning points.
Farmington will try to pull a Rochester Mayo in the opening round of the Section 1AAAA tournament. Last year, Mayo was dealt an early-season 63-38 loss by Farmington, but adjusted their lineup and improved throughout the season before finally upsetting the heavily-favored Tigers in the section championship game. This year, the roles have been reversed. Farmington lost several key players from last year's team, and was still without standout senior Taylor Meyer when Mayo came to town and rolled to a 60-36 victory in late December.
Those who reminisce about the '90s may remember a No Fear t-shirt that proclaimed second place to be the "first loser." Nadia Lorencz doesn't look at it that way, even though she's made a habit of placing second on the biggest of prep stages over the last year. She narrowly missed state titles in the 100 hurdles and the long jump at the Class 2A State track meet last spring, and most recently she earned runner-up honors in the vault at last Saturday's Class 2A State gymnastics meet at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.
Farmington will once again be well represented at the Class 2A State Swimming and Diving Championships. The Tigers, who placed 14th with six qualifying events at last year's state meet, will send five athletes in five events to this weekend's Class 2A State Meet after placing third at the Section 1AA Championships Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center. Christopher Kirchmann, part of last year's 10th-place state relay, will return in four events this year.
The Farmington boys hockey team didn't build the momentum it had hoped heading into the Section 1AA tournament. The Tigers lost their final four games of the regular season, including three where they scored a combined four goals last week, as they slipped to sixth in the final Missota Conference standings. After Saturday's 5-1 loss at 4-20 Rosemount, the 7-16-2 Tigers were given the No. 7 seed in Section 1AA and a date with No. 2 Lakeville North tonight at Ames Arena. "It's been a tough road for the coaches and players.
Nadia Lorencz will have a much busier schedule at this year's Class 2A State Gymnastics Meet. Lorencz qualified in three events, as well as in the all-around, while leading the Tigers to a third-place finish at the Section 3AA meet Thursday night at Park High School in Cottage Grove. Last year, Lorencz capped off her first season of high school gymnastics with a 10th-place state finish in the vault. The junior was once again at her best in the vault Thursday night, breaking her own school record with a first-place score of 9.725.
Nick Varner's three-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation forced overtime last Thursday night, then the Tigers hit 8 of 11 free throws in overtime No. 2 to outlast Northfield and complete a season sweep of the rival Raiders 83-75 at Tiger Gym. Mackinley Bassett led four FHS players in double figures, coming off the bench to score 19 points. Darren Beenken added 18 points, Zach Speikers 17 and Alex Chadwick 14. Varner scored nine points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The Tigers (8-14) are back home tonight against New Prague.
The Farmington wrestling team won its first section match since 2002 before bowing out to Lakeville North in the Section 2AAA team tournament Saturday morning at Tiger Gym. The Tigers, seeded sixth in the 11-team section, used nine forfeits to advance past 11th-seeded Bloomington Jefferson, 66-18. After three straight forfeit wins to open the dual, John Walz secured the team's first victory on the mat with a pin at 126 pounds. The Jaguars scored pins in three of the next five matches, but surrendered five more forfeits before Dakoda Louis-Dupay earned a first-period fall at 220 pounds.
Farmington was left with no choice but to foul when Northfield fed its big post players the ball in the lane Friday night. Northfield's three forwards combined for 37 points and the Raiders connected on 28 of 37 free throws as three Farmington players fouled out in a 47-44 Raider victory in Northfield. "We just didn't have an answer defensively for their size advantage," said Farmington coach Sondra Chadwick, whose team led 32-31 with 7:22 remaining.