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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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.
There's a good chance a victory over Red Wing Friday night would have given Farmington a home game to start the Section 1AAAA tournament. Instead, the Tigers shot 25 percent from the field and had a late rally fall short in a 55-51 loss to Red Wing on Senior Night at Tiger Gym. That dropped the team's record to 10-16 and gave 10-14 Rochester Mayo the No. 4 seed and the home court advantage for Wednesday night's 4 vs. 5 tournament opener against Farmington despite a 72-70 loss to the Tigers in early January.
The Farmington swimming and diving team couldn't match last year's 14th-place finish, but it was still a successful weekend for the Tigers at the Class 2A State Championships. The Tigers competed in five events, advanced to the meet's second day in two of them and scored eight points while placing 34th out of 42 scoring teams in action at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. "It was a fun weekend at state this year," Farmington coach Ryan Hamen said.
Farmington eighth-grader Taylor Venz looked far from intimidated in his first time competing at the Class 2A State Wrestling Tournament. Venz, the first Farmington eighth-grader to qualify for state, won two of his four matches in the 106-pound division last weekend at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. He finished the season with a record of 32-7. "Taylor wrestled very well at the state tournament. I was extremely impressed with the composure and maturity Taylor displayed.
The Farmington girls basketball team was four minutes away from pulling off a big upset against Rochester Mayo in last Wednesday's Section 1AAAA tournament opener. The Tigers committed some costly fouls and turnovers down the stretch and saw a six-point lead disappear in the final four minutes as the second-seeded Spartans advanced with a 47-42 victory in Rochester. "It was a great game. We had it within our grasp," said Farmington coach Sondra Chadwick, whose team finished 6-20 in her first year at the helm. "The team played outstanding defense in the game.
Farmington's Darren Beenken was one of 50 juniors -- and fewer than 10 quarterbacks -- to attend the invitation-only University of Minnesota football Junior Day last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. Beenken and the rest of the group began the afternoon by listening to an introductory speech from head coach Jerry Kill.
Farmington scored the first goal, but it was all Lakeville North from there on out in last Thursday's Section 1AA hockey opener at Ames Arena. The Tigers held a 1-0 advantage over nine minutes into their game against the second-seeded Panthers courtesy of a power-play goal by Sean Johnson (assists to Jack Buss and Jordan Lugowski) at 7:52. The upset bid was quickly halted as the home team scored six unanswered goals over the next 22 minutes and cruised to an 8-2 victory. Lakeville North and top-seeded Lakeville South square off in the section finals tonight in Rochester.
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.