Bill Bentson: Minnesota Gophers surprise fans, all-state volleyball teams announced

Bill Bentson
Wheelin' with WEB

Was that an awesome win for the Gophers, or not? I have never heard "Minnesota Gophers" so much on ESPN, in my entire life.

The Minnesota Gophers football team is now 9-0 for the season, their best start, in what, “a 100 years”? There are only three regular season games left, but these next three games will surely define the season for Minnesota. Iowa is next, then Northwestern, both on the road, and then the season finale with Wisconsin.

The Gophers do not like losing to Iowa, or Wisconsin, their biggest rivals, and seem to always struggle against Northwestern.

Please Minnesota, keep the dream alive, keep “rowing the boat” and get three more wins, and go into the Big 10 championship game at 12-0, and a chance at the “Final Four,” in college football.

The Las Vegas odds-makers give the Gophers a 4% chance of making the playoffs. They (Las Vegas) don’t expect you to be there (Final Four); prove them wrong. Turn un-believers into believers! Show the world, we are "elite!"

Last Saturday I woke up, and, as usual, I clicked on the radio, that sits on my nightstand. Playing on the radio was a church service, and my first thought was, "holy cow, did I sleep through Saturday?" That definitely wasn’t what I expected to hear, and fortunately, it wasn’t Sunday. Whew!

I hear that Lexi Chase has "signed" with Iowa Lakes Community College to play softball. Congratulations, Lexi, and good luck, this spring and next year when you’re at Iowa Lakes.

I believe Iowa Lakes is a consolidation between Estherville and Emmetsburg. When I was a student at Worthington JC, way back when, we played both the “E’s” in basketball.


The high school volleyball season has officially ended for 2019. Everything went pretty much as planned in Class A.

Minneota (seeded No. 1) beat Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (No. 2), 3-0, in the championship match. Medford (No. 3) downed Fosston (No. 5), 3-0, for third and Greenway was the consolation champion, downing Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, also, 3-0.

Mounds Park Academy, seeded No. 5, went 0-2 in the tournament. Mayer Lutheran was the top ranked team during the regular season, but lost to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in the Section 2A finals.

Top ranked and top seeded Stewartville beat North Branch (No. 3 seed), 3-2, in the Class AA title game. Belle Plaine (unseeded) downed Concordia Academy (No. 5), also 3-2, for third, and Marshall (No. 2) beat Watertown-Mayer (No. 4), 3-0, in the consolation final. Belle Plaine upset Marshall, 3-1, in the first round of the tournament.

In the AAA championship match, Wayzata (No. 2) upended Eagan (No. 1), 3-2. Eagan was the top ranked team in Class AAA the entire season. North St. Paul (unseeded) took third place, beating Minnetonka (No. 4), 3-1, and Lakeville North (No. 3) downed St. Louis Park, 3-1, for the consolation championship.

Not only did North St. Paul upset Lakeville North in the quarterfinals, they shut them out, 3-0. North St. Paul was ranked 15th and 13th early in the season, but then never made it back into the state rankings. The Polars win over Lakeville North was the “talk of the tournament.”

The Volleyball Coaches Association has named their all-state teams. Several players from southeast Minnesota made the squads.

Class A All-state First team: Olivia Tjernagel (Mayer Lutheran, senior, middle hitter, Ms Baden Volleyball finalist); Julianna Boyum (Kenyon-Wanamingo, senior, middle hitter); Kensey Cronin (Medford, junior, middle hitter); Delaney Donahue (Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, senior, middle hitter); Abby Hennen (Minneota, junior, outside hitter); Lydia Lange (Caledonia, senior, middle hitter); Kenidi McCabe (Mabel-Canton, junior, outside hitter/setter); Ally Peterson (K-W, senior, outside hitter); Toryn Richards (W-E-M, junior, outside hitter); Natalee Rolbiecki (Minneota, sophomore, outside hitter); Claudia Stahlke (Mayer Lutheran, senior, middle hitter); Marlee Turn (Kittson County Central, senior, middle hitter); Claire Vekich (Greenway, junior, middle hitter) and Lilly Wachholz (Mayer Lutheran, sophomore, outside hitter).

All-state Honorable Mention: Kennedy Gravelle (Wadena-Deer Creek, senior, middle hitter); Morgan Hennen (Minneota, senior, right side); Emma Kniefel (Medford, senior, outside hitter); Kora Kritzberger (Ada-Borup West, senior, middle hitter); Ellie Ready (Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, junior, setter); McKenna Robb, Cleveland, senior, outside hitter); LeeAnn Stensrud (Lakeview, senior, right side) and Elli Wiertsema (New Life Academy, senior, outside hitter).

Class AA All-state 1st team: Cianna Selbitschka, North Branch, 12, OH*Ms. Baden Volleyball Finalist; Paige Andries, Marshall, 12, MH; Mikayla Coops, Belle Plaine, 12, RS; Kira Fallert, Concordia, 11, OH; Halle Jansen, Eden Valley-Watkins, 12, OH; Erin Lamb, Stewartville, 11, MH; Lauren Link, Holy Angels, 12, OH; Abby Neutz, Annandale, 12, OH; Kaitlyn Prondzinski, Stewartville, 12, OH; Mia Schnaible, Marshall, 12, LIB; Molly Schultz, Rockford, 12, OH; Logan Sherman, Marshall, 12, RS/S; Emilee Terry, Kasson-Mantorville, 12, OH/MH and Brooke Weichbrodt, Concordia, 11, S.

All-State Honorable Mention: Jaidyn Brower, Stewartville, 11, S; Estelle Haugen, Southwest Christian, 10, OH; Rilee Michaelson, Park Rapids, 12, OH/MH/RS; Ashlyn Olson, New London-Spicer, 11, RS; Sam Pogatchnik, Proctor, 12, RS; Paige Thibault, Watertown-Mayer, 11, OH; McKenna Westby, Sauk Centre, 12, MH and Alaina Wolff, Jackson County Central, 12, OH.

Class AAA All-State 1st Team: Maddie Whittington, Stillwater, 12, MH, 2019 Ms. Baden Volleyball Player of the Year; Skyler Germann, Minnetonka, 12, OH, Ms. Baden Volleyball Finalist; Elizabeth Helmich, Wayzata, 12, RS, Ms. Baden Volleyball Finalist; Lauren Crowl, Eastview, 11, OH/RS; Grace Daak, Hutchinson, 12, MH; Mikala Henderson, St. Michael-Albertville, 12, OH; Sami Hilley, Champlin Park, 12, MH/S; Christine Jurgens, Eagan, 12, OH; Kaylyn Madison, Eagan, 12, LIB; Kennedi Orr, Eagan, 11, OH/S; Emma Torstenson, Northfield, 11, LIB; Chudear Tut, Hopkins, 12, MH; Kali Wolf, Waconia, 12, OH and Halle Wolfe, Lakeville North, 12, LIB.

All-State Honorable Mention: Sophia Andersen, New Prague, 12, OH; Elizabeth Dille, Sartell, 11, OH; Lauren Galvin, East Ridge, 11, OH; Maddy Hornyak, Lakeville North, 11, OH; Karlee Jensen, Shakopee, 12, LIB; Sophie Jesewitz, Wayzata, 11, OH; Taylor Quan, Osseo, 12, LIB and Megan Reilly, Northfield, 11, OH.

You can see southeast Minnesota is well represented in Classes A and AA, but when it comes to Class AAA, the suburbs dominate it.

Another note: I understand that Erin Lamb, junior at Stewartville, has verbally committed to Kentucky, to play volleyball, not basketball. I also heard that she isn’t going to play basketball at Stewartville this winter. Ouch!

Stewartville’s other outstanding player, Kaitlyn Prondzinski, has committed to play volleyball at Illinois State. Congratulations to both of those gals. Congrats also to Lydia Lange, Caledonia, and Kenidi McCabe, Mabel-Canton.


The state semi-finals are set. I’ve included the final state rankings, along with the match-ups. In Class Nine-man, it’s Mt. Iron-Buhl (tNo. 12) vs. Hancock (No. 4) and Win-E-Mac (No. 5) vs. Mt. Lake Area (No. 1).

Mt. Lake Area moved into the top spot in week three of the state-wide poll. No. 2 LeRoy-Ostrander was knocked out of the Section 1A tournament by Grand Meadow and No. 3 Renville County West was knocked off in the state quarterfinals by Hancock (No. 4).

In Class A, No. 1 BOLD went up against Browerville/Eagle Valley (No. 11) and Ada-Borup West (No. 4) played Blooming Prairie (No. 2). BOLD has been No. 1 since day-one and the Awesome Blossoms have been No. 2 or No. 3 all season.

Ada-Borup West came on the scene about mid-season, right after they knocked off Mahnomen-Waubun. Browerville/Eagle Valley was a late season addition to the top 12, and never did reach the top 10. But, Browerville, alone, has been in the state picture for many years.

The Class AA match-ups are probably the most competitive: No. 1 Caledonia vs. No. 2 Barnesville and No. 3 Mpls. North vs. No. 5 Paynesville. All four have been in those positions (ranked) pretty much all season. Seven of the eight teams that made the Class AA state tournament, were ranked in the final poll.

In the Class AAA we have another No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the semi-finals: Pierz (No. 1) vs. Jackson County Central (No. 2) and Annandale (No. 7) vs. Dassel-Cokato (not ranked). Dassel-Cokato was ranked as high as No. 5 about mid-season, then fell off, but re-surged in the section playoffs.

Class AAAA has SMB (No. 2, St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake) vs. Hutchinson (No. 1) and Winona (No. 5) vs. Rocori (No. 11). Class AAAAA; Coon Rapids (No. 11) vs. Chaska (No. 3) and Elk River (t6) vs. St. Thomas Academy (t6). St. Thomas Academy beat Owatonna (No. 1) in the state quarterfinals.

St. Thomas Academy and Elk River were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 all season, until they lost games on the final day.

The 6A schools (I call them the "big boys") had seven ranked teams in the state tournament, and all were in the top 10. The semi-finals are loaded: Lakeville North (No. 4) vs. Champlin Park (No. 3) and Wayzata (No. 1) vs. Lakeville South (No. 2).

I planned on being at games on Friday and Saturday. The state championships won’t be until the weekend of Nov. 29 and 30.

Congratulations once again to all our veterans, past and present. Did you know we’re losing over 300 WWII veterans every day? Pretty soon we won’t have any left.

I would like to see our schools put in a service project as part of the graduation requirements. We should be interviewing these veterans and getting all their memories on tape.

That would be an excellent service project for our students. Just one more thing our students need, right?

We’re already asking so much of them: athletic teams, music programs, clubs and organizations, and then of course, we want them to be top students. Maybe we should be adding a year of high school, just to get everything in!

Hope you have a great week, one day at a time. Hey to the Great 8, my fab 4, and my lovely wife, Carol. Spending some quality time with her for a few days in southeast Minnesota.

Want to give a shout out to Jenny and Vina at Magic One Nails. My toes are in heaven! Hasta luego, my friends. Thanks, Jordan, hope I’m doing all right? WEB