By Greg Hoogeveen
This year was a year to remember for local athletes and coaches.
Several teams completed school history-making seasons while others had individual standouts among their ranks. (See related story).
At the Star Herald we tried to capture the excitement and significance in the accomplishments.
One thing stands out among all the sports stories – all the time, effort and practices paid off in their accomplishments.
Here are the Star Herald’s top stories for 2022 (in no particular order.)
Luverne girls’ hockey
The Luverne girls’ hockey team continued its dominance in the region by claiming the Section 1A Championship for the third year in the row.
It was a hard-fought season coming down to meeting rival New Ulm in the championship where the Cardinals emerged with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Coach Tony Sandbulte reflected on a successful season capped by the section championship.
“It’s hard to put into words. It’s truly been a dream season,” he said. “The girls set goals and worked hard to achieve those goals together. Winning a section championship over New Ulm only made it that more special.”
In the state tournament, the Cardinals met up with South St. Paul in a loss and lost to River Lakes in the consolation semifinals.
Luverne boys’ and girls’ tennis
The Cardinal boys’ tennis team continued their dominance in Section 3A by winning their 12th consecutive title and gaining entrance to the state tournament.
The streak began in 2010 (excluding the 2020 no-sports pandemic year).
The girls’ tennis team made school history in 2022 when the team of Priscilla Muehr, Tori Hemme, Katharine Kelm, Sarah Stegenga, Augusta Papik, Caitlin Kindt, Morgan Hadler, Cassandra Chesley, Roselynn Hartshorn and Rayann Remme earned the school’s first Section 3A girls’ tennis team title and made their first state tournament appearance.
At the state tournament, the Cardinals lost both matches, but the magic of the season was still apparent to coach Jon Beers.
“You never know just how good the other section teams will be each year, but I always felt that if we played our best, we had a really good chance at making it to state,” Beers said.
“The girls had a great season and should be very proud of everything they accomplished this year.”
Luverne track and field
Luverne continued to be the team to beat during the 2022 track and field season as the Cardinals earned back-to-back Section 3A championships.
They took their talented team to the state meet in 2022 where several athletes shined.
Thirteen Cardinal athletes earned All-State honors by finishing in the top nine places in an event in the state meet. They added three Class A state titles (a program best), two additional finishes in the top five, and the athletes set three new school speed records.
The titles included:
•Cardinal Boys’ Track - Fourth-Place Team.
• Senior Ashton Sandbulte - State Champion 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.
•Cardinal Girls’ Track - Fifth-place Team.
•4-by-800 Relay State Champions - Elizabeth Wagner, Tiana Lais, Jenna DeBates, Tenley Nelson
•Senior Tenley Nelson - State Champion 800-meter run.
Making the record books were Ashton Sandbulte who broke his own 200-meter record (21.94), the boys’ 4-by-100 team of Bucky Dara, Zachary Terrio, Eli Radtke and Ashton Sandbulte (43.72) and Tenley Nelson broke her own record in the 800-meter run (2:14.68).
Luverne boys’ cross country
The Luverne boys’ cross country team achieved the best state tournament finish in school history in November 2022, when they were awarded silver medals at the Minnesota State High School League Class A Cross Country Championships in Northfield.
It was the first time in 26 years of school history that a boys’ cross country team finished in the top three teams in Class A state championships.
The boys’ team had never made it to the podium before, and the team of Owen Janiszeski, Camden Janiszeski, Ryan Fick, Sage Viessman, Leif Ingebretsen, Carson Tofteland and Kaleb Hemme placed second.
Owen Janiszeski placed fifth individually.
Coach Peter Janiszeski was proud of what this year’s boys’ team accomplished in 2022.
“They’ve won the most meets that they’ve ever won. They’re probably the most talented and fastest group that we’ve ever had, and that testifies to all their hard work,” he said.
At the state meet, the boys’ team placed three points away from the gold medal.
H-BC track and field
As a team, the girls finished seventh and the boys finished 17th in the section.
The girls’ 4-by-100-meter relay team of Brynn Bakken, Layla Deelstra, Abby Harris and Brynn Rauk were Section 3A champions and placed seventh at state.
They broke the school record. (These girls broke and rebroke the record they set earlier in the season.)
Brynn Bakken – Section Champ in the 100 meters and 200 meters. Seventh place at state in 100-meter dash.
Girls’ all-conference honorees: Brynn Bakken, Layla Deelstra, Olivia Deelstra, Kenadie Fick, Abby Harris, Brynn Rauk, Larissa Steinhoff.
Boys’ all-conference honorees: Liam Raymon, Ty Bundesen, Luke Fuerstenberg, Beau Bakken, Cooper Gehrke, Eli Taubert.
State Legion baseball
Luverne put their best foot forward when the city hosted the Division II Minnesota American Legion Baseball State Tournament.
As hosts, the Luverne Senior Legion team received an automatic berth in the eight-team tournament.
The team made an impressive start during the July 29-31 event at Red Bird Field.
Luverne lost a heartbreaking 1-0 game in 22 innings to eventual champion Wadena to place them into the consolation semifinals. They lost to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
For the host city, the weekend was nothing but wins.
“We heard nothing but positive comments about the tournament, facilities and community from visiting players and fans,” said Barry Shelton, local tournament director. “It was a great weekend.”
What a year!
By Greg Hoogeveen