The Annandale-Maple Lake wrestling program struggled in the beginning of the season due to injuries and holes in many of the weight classes. Throughout the winter months, the Lightning have developed into a successful, well-rounded team which has risen past expectations and outwrestled opponents. On Friday, February 10, Annandale-Maple Lake overcame Litchfield, the number four seed in Section 6AA.
Coming off of a win and season sweep of BBE the previous Thursday, the Irish girls were thirsty for another victory on Monday, Feb. 6, as they faced a non-conference team, Milaca. This was the second game of the year the Irish have played on a Monday, which presents some issues because the last team contact was made approximately three days prior to game time.
Not letting the fact that it was a Monday game bother them, the Irish offense got off to a hot start, scoring 34 first-half points and taking a 14-point lead into the half. The offense was supported by sharp, outside shooting and quick fast-breaks, leading to easy baskets.
Now that the playing of basketball in the regular season ended for the Irish girls’ basketball team, it was time to get even more focused as the first round of the playoffs started on Thursday, March 1, against St. Cloud Cathedral. This game was the second match-up of the year for these teams. In the first match-up, the Crusaders took down the Irish by 3 (50-53). The upset-minded Irish were the #5 seed in the subsection 5AA North, while the Crusaders were the #4 seed.
The Annandale-Maple Lake wrestling program has experienced many successful events and overcome numerous obstacles. On Thursday, March 1, Jordan Hanan and Teddy Erickson added a trip to state on their list of things accomplished.
The two wrestlers were only given a few days to prepare for the tournament. However, with the help of their team and coaching staff, they were put through practices that provided mental and physical tasks.
On Tuesday night, Feb. 28, the Irish boys’ basketball team traveled to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted for a big conference game, which would determine the third-place spot. Unfortunately, Maple Lake would fall, 79-58.
“We struggled putting the ball in the basket,” said Head Coach Tim Staloch. “We were right with them for the first half, but defensive breakdowns and turnovers let them build a second-half lead.”
As the season is winding down, the girls’ basketball team was excited to make a trip to Howard Lake to play the first-place team in the conference on Tuesday, February 21. HLWW was 12-0 coming into the game. The Irish were 5-7 and fighting for a top-four finish in the conference. The first meeting between the two teams resulted in a Lakers’ win by a score of 74-57.
The Lakers jumped on the Irish early by a score of 15-4. The Irish then went on a 10-0 run to get within one point half-way through the first half. Both teams traded baskets for the remainder of the first half and the Irish trailed by four at the intermission, 25-29.
After a loss in the Section 6AA Quarterfinals, the Annandale-Maple Lake wrestlers had little time to prepare for their next chance at going to the state tournament. By competing in the individual section meet at Annandale on Friday, February 24, and Saturday, February 25, Lightning wrestlers had the opportunity to wrestle their way to the Xcel Energy Center, with Jordan Hanan and Teddy Erickson earning a trip to state.
After a brief pause last year because of cold weather, the Irish Scamper continued its trend of breaking participant records each year when more than 680 runners started the race in downtown Maple Lake on March 17.
And that wasn’t the only record broken. Nick Jamnick of Becker set a new race record for the 5K run with a time of 16:05.07. Winning the Women’s Division was Brooke Rasmussen of Big Lake in a time of 19:34.69.