SPORTS & SCHOOL
Journal-Press Internet Sports & School - April 23, 2015 Rob LaPlante
Journal-Press Sports Editor
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Buffalo with two walk-off wins; fall to No. 5 Chaska
By Rob LaPlante
Not many teams start the season out 2-4 and receive votes in the state baseball polls. But, that’s the scenario for this year’s Buffalo baseball squad.
Buffalo posted a pair of dramatic 4-3 conference victories -- the first coming at home on Thursday, April 16 over Big Lake; the second coming at home on Monday, April 20 over North Branch.
Both wins came down to the final at-bat. Bison senior Wyatt Brings was the hero against Big Lake hitting a walk-off single that scored junior Isaac Noble and sophomore Mitch Gabrelcik for the winning runs.
Prior to Brings’ at-bat, Bison senior Jonny Senger was plunked by Big Lake pitcher Trenton Monson which loaded the bases.
“I was hoping Jonny would end it,” Brings said. “He gave the pitcher a funny look after getting hit, and that seemed to make him a little nervous. When the first pitch came to me, I just swung. It was very exciting.”
Brings is off to a fast start this season leading the team in hits with nine and a .375 batting average.
“I’m in a groove. I don’t know how to explain it,” Brings said. “I’m just going out and giving it my all. I guess I’m just hitting it a little better.”
Head coach Mike Beilke notices a few subtle changes in Brings’ approach as early keys to his success.
“Wyatt had more of a relaxed approach and loose at the plate,” he said. “His swing is right there for them. He’s got a little power and he’s hitting for average and he can run the bases for us.”
Senger turned out to be the hero in Buffalo’s 4-3 victory over North Branch. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Senger stepped to the plate and hit a game-winning, walk-off single that plated sophomore Ramon Vega Jr. and junior Sam Therrien.
Senior Eric Newman and Gabrelcik combined to pitch a five-hitter over the nine innings. Gabrelcik picked up the win in relief.
Squeezed between the two victories was another outstanding relief effort by junior David Watermiller in a 7-5 home loss on Saturday, April 18 to No. 5 rated Chaska.
Chaska jumped out to an early 5-2 lead after two innings behind two homers from Blake Tritch and Justin Arnold off Bison junior starting pitcher Josh Munoz. Watermiller picked up the pieces after Arnold’s homer and finished the game allowing just one run and three hits over six innings.
Watermiller’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, or his coaches.
“David is a guy who has a bulldog mentality,” Beilke said. “He’s got a lot of heart and wants to play in the worst way. He’s going to go out and battle and he will never give in. He went out and threw 92 pitches and gave us a shot to win a ballgame.”
Buffalo closed a 6-2 fifth-inning deficit to 6-4 on RBI singles by Senger and junior Luke Merz. A base-running mistake with runners on first and third and one out resulted in a pickoff at second base. Senior Tommy Eckstein responded with a 2-out RBI single to close the gap to 6-5. The threat ended when Vega Jr. grounded out. Neither team crossed home plate after the fifth.
The loss was the third against a top-10 ranked opponent. In all three games, Beilke said the Bison had opportunities to win.
“We played Chanhassen, who I thought is a really good team and we had them by three runs,” Beilke said. I thought that was the same thing against Chaska. We had a couple offensive mistakes running bases which literally cost us two runs. We’re on a bit of a journey right now, but hopefully we’ll start beating some of these top rated teams. Hopefully come playoff time.”
As for team chemistry, Beilke said he couldn’t be happier.
“The atmosphere in the dugout is something I’ve never seen,” he said. “We have 22 guys in the dugout this year and there’s a lot of gratitude between players. The guys that are not playing are cheering and happy for the guys playing ahead of them. That’s a winning-type of attitude.”
The Bison are next in action with a 4 p.m. makeup game on Wednesday, April 22 at Monticello. They host Cambridge-Isanti at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23.
Buffalo 4, Big Lake 3
(Thursday, April 16 at Buffalo)
Hornets0 0 1 0 2 0 0 – 3 10 3
Bison 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 – 4 6 5 Bison hitters: Jonny Senger 1-3, run, RBI, walk; Wyatt Brings 2-4, double, run, 2 RBI; Tommy Eckstein 0-3; Luke Merz 0-3; Ramon Vega Jr. 0-3; Josh Munoz 0-3; Isaac Noble 1-3, run; Mike Sawdey 1-2; Mitch Gabrelcik 1-3, run.
Bison pitchers: Tommy Eckstein, 5.1 innings, 9 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, 2 strikeouts; Eric Newman (win), 1.2 innings, 1 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout.
Chaska 7, Buffalo 5
(Saturday, April 18 at Buffalo)
Storm Hawks 3 2 0 1 0 0 1 – 7 9 1
Bison 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 – 5 12 1 Bison hitters: Jonny Senger 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, walk; Wyatt Brings 2-4, double; Luke Merz 3-4, double, run, RBI; Tommy Eckstein 2-4, RBI; Ramon Vega Jr. 0-3; Josh Munoz 0-3; Isaac Noble 1-3; Sam Therrien 1-3, run; Mike Sawdey 1-3, run.
Bison pitchers: Josh Munoz (loss) 1 inning; 6 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts; David Watermiller 6 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 3 strikeouts.
Buffalo 4, North Branch 3, 9 innings
(Monday, April 20 at Buffalo)
Vikings 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 – 3 5 7
Bison 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 – 4 7 2 Bison hitters: Jonny Senger 1-5, run, RBI; Wyatt Brings 0-4; Luke Merz 0-4; Tommy Eckstein 2-3, double, run; Isaac Noble 1-4, RBI, Stolen base; Josh Munoz 0-4; Ramon Vega Jr. 1-4, run, RBI, stolen base; Sam Therrien 1-4, run; Mike Sawdey 1-4.
Bison pitchers: Eric Newman 4.2 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (0 earned), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts; Mitch Gabrelcik (win) 4.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts.
Trapshooters aim to defend title
The 2015 Buffalo High School Clay Target Trapshooting Team has 34 members this season. The second-year team will look to defend its state championship they won last spring in Prior Lake. Pictured are team members and coaches (front row, left-right): Megan Ratke, Mary Oehlke, Kaylee Reineccius, Sean Delorenzo, Captain Brandy Evens, Captain Max Hartman, Mike Miller, Wyatt Jacobson-Hanson, Cody Weber, Zach Berg, Robert Fink; (second row, left-right): Coach Mike Reineccius, Coach Sarah Hartman, Coach Warren Hartman, Anna Mundahl, Tammy Putz, Katie Brown, Austin Larson, Brady Ebnet, Max Frost, Carl Warner, Spencer Thein, Sawyer Sansevere, Braden Martino, Coach Sally Stevens, Coach Clint Potter, Coach Dan Rodelius, Coach Mark Stevens; (back row, left-right): Tyler Veches, Ben Rodelius, Ian Pappenfus, Kyle Schibonski, Carson Andrews, Wyatt Bomstad, Hunter Smith, Cam Potter, Carter Friendshuh, Andrew Grunwald, Matt Meister. Not pictured: Coach Greg Hygrell, Hannah Johnston, and Zach Lenz. (Submitted photo)
STMA Arena top-four finalist for Kraft Hockeyville USA
By Rob LaPlante
The St. Michael-Albertville hockey arena in Albertville has been chosen as one of four national finalists for this year’s winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA.
Fans have been able to vote online through a bracket format for their favorite selected community arenas. The final four cities were announced this past week during the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two cities from the East and two from the West will square off in an online vote to see who will faceoff for Kraft Hockeyville USA’s crown.
STMA Arena will square off in the West bracket against Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois. The East bracket is between Pullar Stadium in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan against Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The four community arenas will receive no less than $40,000 in arena funding, with the overall winner receiving the top prize of $150,000 and the runner-up receiving $75,000 worth of upgrades. They will also receive media attention and excitement of hosting an NHL pre-season game that will be televised live on NBC Sports Network.
More than 2,000 total rinks were nominated from all 50 states. The top two finalists will be announced on Saturday, April 25. The grand champion will be announced on NBC on Saturday, May 2. Finalists were selected on criteria that reflects community passion for hockey, community spirit, and creativity.
Kraft Hockeyville USA chose STMA Arena as one of the original candidates based on a letter that was sent by Kathy Lester, a parent of a league member of the STMA Youth Hockey Association. Chris Hansen, also a member of the STMA Youth Hockey Association, says the entire community is thrilled to be in this position.
“We are very grateful for the support,” Hansen said. “We are the largest association in the state of Minnesota with over 500 skaters to have only one rink. We really appreciate the support from across the state. Hopefully we can defend the title of the ‘State of Hockey,’”
Fan votes were tallied until 11 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22. If STMA Arena makes it to the finals, fans can text “Albertville” to 35350, call in a vote at 1-855-255-5975, or visit KraftHockeyville.com and vote online. Voting is open to all those 13 years of age and older, and voters can submit 50 votes via each method, for a total of 150 entries each day. Further details are on the Kraft Hockeyville website.
“Our tight knit community is going to pull out all the stops and shoot to win,” said Albertville Mayor Jillian Hendrickson, in a press release. “Thanks to Kraft, this Hockeyville experience is one our youth will look back upon and smile.”
Buffalo golfers heating up
By Rob LaPlante
With the weather cooling down, Buffalo’s No. 1 golfer has started to heat up.
Bison senior Gunnar Goodmanson earned his first medalist honor of the year after firing a 77 at the Mississippi 8 West meet on a brisk and windy Monday afternoon on April 20 at Monticello Country Club.
Goodmanson and junior Ben Zitur both fired rounds under 80 leading Buffalo to a first-place team score of 323. Zitur was third with a 79. Bison head coach Charley Keifenheim praised his entire team for sticking it out under adverse conditions.
“I was very proud of Gunnar and Ben breaking 80 in those conditions. They made a lot of “lunch bucket” pars where they had to get up and down (chip and one putt) to make par,” Keifenheim said. “The wind really played havoc on the approach shots so we did not have nearly the number of greens hit in regulation that we normally do. All six players contributed with at least one good nine-hole score.”
It was the second time in three Mississippi 8 West meets the Bison have finished in first place. The Bison lead the current West standings by a slim 32-31 margin over St. Michael-Albertville. Rogers is third with 18 points, Big Lake has six and Monticello has three.
According to Keifenheim, the Bison had their best meet of the season on Thursday, April 16 in the 16-team Becker Bulldog Invite at Pebble Creek Golf Course.
Buffalo fired a team score of 310, six strokes lower than second-place Detroit Lakes. Goodmanson finished with the field’s third lowest score shooting a 73. Austin Vansytzama of Delano was the individual medalist firing a 69.
“Gunnar had a fantastic day,” Keifenheim said. “I think it was just a matter of time before we bagged an invite.”
The Bison’s top-four scorers all scored 81 or less. Senior Jake Ramsey finished second for Buffalo and sixth overall with a 76. Sophomore Tom Russett was the third scorer with an 80 and Zitur was fourth with an 81.
“Maybe the best part of the invite were the two scores we did not use,” said Keifenheim, referring to Fischmann’s round of 82 and sophomore Luc Persson’s 84. “When you have six scores this low, you know you’re having a good day.”
Buffalo was in action with a 1 p.m. shotgun start on Wednesday, April 22 in the Pequot Lakes Invite at Brainerd’s Legacy Golf Course (check next week’s paper for results). They will participate at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 24 in the 17-team Edinburgh USA Golf Course in Brooklyn Park.
Becker Bulldog Invite
Team scores: 1. Buffalo 310; 2. Detroit Lakes 316; 3. St. Cloud Cathedral 322; 4. Waconia 322; 5. Becker 323; 6. Delano 326; 7. Hutchinson 327; 8. Legacy Christian 327; 9. Bloomington Jefferson 332; 10. St. Cloud Tech 338; 11. Little Falls 341; 12. Albany 350; 13. St. Cloud Apollo 366; 14. Princeton 366; 15. Watertown-Mayer 384; 16. Spectrum 406.
Bison scores: 1. Gunnar Goodmanson 73; 2. Jake Ramsey 76; 3. Tom Russett 80; 4. Ben Zitur 81; 5. Josh Fischmann 82; 6. Luc Persson 84.
Medalist: Austin Vansytzama (Delano) 69
Mississippi 8 West Meet
(Monday, April 20 at Monticello Country Club)
Team scores: 1. Buffalo 323; 2. STMA 327; 3. Rogers 344; 4. Big Lake 351; 5. Monticello 367
Bison scores: 1. Gunnar Goodmanson 77; 2. Ben Zitur 79; 3. Tom Russett 83; 4. Jake Ramsey 84; 5. Josh Fischmann 85; Luc Persson 86
Medalist: Gunnar Goodmanson (Buffalo) 77
Bison suffer first taste of defeat
By Rob LaPlante
The Buffalo boys’ tennis squad suffered its first loss of the season in a 7-0 defeat on Friday, April 17 at Orono.
After squeaking out a pair of 4-3 victories over Mound-Westonka and Hutchinson, Buffalo dropped to 2-1 overall as the Spartans powered past the Bison taking all seven points in straight sets.
Senior captain Jake Jungwirth was one of three Bison singles players who came into the match with a perfect 2-0 record. Seniors Andrew Christensen and Cole Hanson were the others. Prior to the Orono match, Buffalo had won seven of eight points in singles play.
Jungwirth’s streak ended in somewhat surprising fashion as he dropped a 6-1, 6-2 showdown with Spartan eighth-grader Conner Olsen at No. 1 singles.
“It didn’t help that I was double faulting a lot,” Jungwirth said. “(Olsen) played well, but I couldn’t serve the whole match. I just couldn’t get anything in.”
Six of the seven matches ended in less than an hour. The only competitive matchup came at No. 2 singles where Christenson was defeated by Nick Weins 7-6, 7-5.
After losing 6-0 in the opening set of their No. 3 doubles match, Bison sophomore Grant Wykle and freshman Nick Immel responded with a competitive second set, but fell short 7-5. While singles has appeared to be the strength early on, Bison doubles has dropped eight of nine matches to date this season.
Jungwirth said it’s too early in the season to panic about the lineup. However, he’s confident with more match play that things will improve.
“Our doubles will step up,” he said. “We’re a good doubles team. We’ll put points away. We have some younger guys that are in the lower doubles. They will start stepping up and get in a groove.”
Buffalo’s match on Tuesday, April 21 at home against the defending Mississippi 8 champions, Chisago Lakes, was postponed due to weather. It was rescheduled for a 4 p.m. start on Monday, April 27. The next match is a 4 p.m. road contest on Thursday, April 23 at Monticello.
Orono 7, Buffalo 0
(Friday, April 17 at Orono)
Singles: No. 1 – Conner Olsen (O) def. Jake Jungwirth (B) 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 – Nick Weins (O) def. Andrew Christenson (B) 7-6, 7-5; No. 3 – Cade Pfeiffer (O) def. Cole Hanson (B) 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 – John Kasner (O) def. Tom Fredrickson (B) 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles: No. 1 – Tucker Gilbertson/Patrick Codute (O) def. Ryan Bunting/Eric Olson (B) 6-2, 6-1; No. 2 – Ben Phelps/Tad Steele (O) Jon Immel/Victor Zwack (B) 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 – John Winson/Robbie Wesley (O) def. Grant Wykle/Nick Immel (B) 6-0, 7-5.
Knowledge Bowl success recognized at awards night
By Doug Voerding
“The journey is its own reward,” said Coach Lacy Schramm, as the 2015 Buffalo High School Knowledge Bowl season came to a close at an awards ceremony last Sunday, April 19.
The journey to the state tournament was more challenging this year, but in the end the Knowledge Bowl team took a strong third place at state. Buffalo High School has competed at the state tournament 13 out of the last 15 years, winning the AA division last year.
At the start of the season, Schramm and Assistant Coach Tracy Johnson knew they had strong individual talent and worked to create the best teams. Practices were structured to focus on weak subject areas and on team strengthening. The coaches also made sure the teams were participating in tournaments with tough competition.
This season, the competition in Region 7 was even more challenging. In fact, all five region teams at the state tournament earned medals. During the regular season, the Buffalo teams responded to the challenges and placed well in every invitational meet.
Said Schramm, “I am so proud of this state team. They played with integrity, played with heart, and got the last question right.”
The coaches awarded four special awards. The Rookie of the Year was Michael Dehmer, Most Improved was Sophie Lefebvre, and Coaches’ Award was Jon Thielen. Ryan Bowers received the senior award.
The entire Knowledge Bowl team voted Jon Thielen as Most Valuable and Travis Wolden as Strength for the Future.
Mississippi 8 All-Conference were Ryan Bowers, Evan Burandt, Tommy Dirks, Sam Hamann, Sophie Lefebvre, Jacob Nosbush, and Jon Thielen. Conference Honorable Mention were Dylan Harcey and Spencer Martin.
Receiving their fourth Knowledge Bowl school letter were Ryan Bowers and Tommy Dirks.
Receiving their third Knowledge Bow; school letter were Abbie Kunze, Jacob Nosbush, Jon Thielen, Sam Hamann, and Chase Schottler.
Receiving their second Knowledge Bowl school letter were Evan Burandt, Ryan Dirks, Tyler Dirks, Dylan Harcey, Brian Irwin, Rachel Lauer, Sophie Lefebvre, Ryan Mohler, Ethan Roadfeldt, Andrew Scherber, and Travis Wolden.
Receiving the first Knowledge Bowl school letter were Brandon Conrady, Spencer Martin, Kathleen Tierney, Adriana Weiss, Michael Dehmer, Anna-Helena Preugschas, Heidi Peterson, Rachel Peterson, Josh Thielen, and Kris Hamann.
Receiving participation certificates were Ryan Bednarek, Ryan Knutson, and Max Nagel.