THREE COUNT: Looking at three weight classes in Saturday's Larry Severson Invitational
Event: Northfield Larry Severson Invitational, 10 a.m., Saturday at Northfield High School.
Top teams: Northfield is ranked No. 6 in Class AAA and won the event last year, while Hastings and Lakeville South are receiving votes in the Class AAA poll and Mahtomedi is doing the same in the Class AA poll.
113 — The headliner of the 113-pound bracket is likely Pine Island’s Luke Williams, who’s ranked No. 6 in Class AA and is 7-1 so far this year. His one loss came in the finals of the St. James Invitational last Saturday against Marshall’s Dylan Louwagie, who’s ranked No. 2 in Class AAA at 106, and even that was by a narrow 5-4 decision, plus, six of of the seven wins for Williams have been by pin. He’ll be the only ranked entrant in the field, but a pair of younger wrestlers with solid starts to the year will join him in Northfield sophomore Beau Murphy and Cannon Falls’ Colten Black. Murphy has started the year 6-0 with three falls, a major decision and an 8-3 win against Faribault’s Tyler Boyd, who will also be in the field. Black, meanwhile, is 4-2 this year with three pins, one of which came against Mahtomedi’s Hayden Schaefer, who will be in Northfield on Saturday.
160 — This is probably the deepest bracket of the day going off the number of ranked entrants. Top amongst those is Lakeville South’s Willie Bastyr, who’s ranked second in the weight class in Class AAA and won a state title at 152 last year. This year, he’s 2-1 at 160 with the wins coming from a first-period pin and a 5-3 decision, both against unranked opponents, while he was pinned by Chaska/Chanhassen’s Aiden Brady, who’s unranked. Also in the field is Mahtomedi’s Reid Lawrence, who’s ranked sixth in Class AA at 152 but has wrestled exclusively at 160 so far. In seven matches this year, Lawrence is 7-0 with all seven victories coming via pin, six of those in the first period. Lake City’s Derek Meincke is ranked No. 8 in Class AA at the weight class, but he’s yet to wrestle this year and it’s unclear whether he’ll be on the mat Saturday. For Northfield, sophomore Darrin Kuyper will be the entrant in this bracket, and while he’s not ranked, he’s had a solid start to the year with a 6-1 record. Three of the wins have been by pin, while one was for an injury default, and the one loss was an 11-7 decision against Stillwater’s Hunter Lyden, who’s ranked No. 1 at 152 in Class AAA. Adding to the bracket’s depth is Rochester Century’s Owen Pharo, who’s started the year 8-2 and was a state qualifier two years ago.
220 — In what projects to be a Big 9 Conference heavy bracket, Rochester Century’s Seth Arndt should grab the top seed thanks to his No. 8 ranking in Class AAA during the early part of the season. So far this year, Arndt is 7-0 and won the title at the Edina Invite last Saturday with a pin and two major decisions. His biggest win so far was an 8-6 overtime decision against Class A No. 8 Tate Carver from Chatfield. He’ll face competition Saturday in the form of Northfield senior David Tonjum, Mankato East’s Kolin Beier and Tri-City United’s Jose Reyes. Reyes and Beier are both undefeated so far, while Tonjum has one loss this year, which came against Reyes in the finals of the Dick Shiels Invite in Faribault. That final ended 14-10 in favor of Reyes, who stormed back from a four-point deficit at the start of the third period. Beier, meanwhile, is 4-0 this year with each win coming via pin.
3-POINTERS: Raider girls basketball hosting Century on Friday
Game: Rochester Century (1-4) at (Northfield (2-3), 7:30 p.m., Friday at Northfield High School.
Last year: The Raiders comfortably swept the Panthers in both matchups last year by scores of 66-37 and 59-26.
Recent results: Northfield was nicked in the final minute by Class AAA No. 5 Red Wing, which escaped Friday night at home with a 56-55 victory, before an 80-48 loss against Rochester John Marshall. Rochester Century, meanwhile, is coming off a 67-54 win against Winona, a 70-39 loss against Owatonna and a 65-47 defeat against Mankato West.
1. The Panthers are in a similar boat to the Raiders, in that the team on the court this year will largely mirror the squad who take the floor next season. While Northfield is without any seniors on this year’s roster, Rochester Century sports only one senior, in addition to just one junior, while 11 of 19 rostered players are sophomores. One of those sophomores is Jordyn Sutton, who led the team in scoring last year as a freshman with 10.2 points a game and is back in double-digit scoring this year to lead the team.
2. Quickly, junior forward Annika Richardson has asserted herself as the dominant scorer through the first four games for the Raiders by averaging 14.8 points a contest. In the last three games, that figure spikes to 16.0 a game, which includes her 24-point outburst in the one-point loss at Red Wing. There’s potential for further growth as well, because while she’s nailing 91.7% of her free throws and 47.7% of her attempts from inside the arc, when she’s ventured outside the 3-point line she’s converted only 7 of her 28 attempts, good for 25%. If that number creeps back toward last year’s average of 50% (11 of 22), the scoring numbers will rise with the percentage.
3. So far, Northfield has been able to more or less pull off adjusting on the fly to a new offensive system. One area where that adjustment has been slow to fully install, though, is how often the team is turning the ball over. Through four games, the Raiders have turned it over 96 times compared to 68 assists, a pair of numbers Northfield will try to flip as the season progresses.
3-POINTERS: Northfield boys basketball travels to experienced Century
Game: Northfield (1-2) at Rochester Century (2-2), 7:30 p.m., Friday at Rochester Century High School.
Last year: The Panthers won a pair of highly entertaining games against the Raiders last year. The first came via a 70-62 win in Northfield, before a 93-89 battle in overtime.
Recent results: Northfield won its first game of the year Friday with a sometimes comfortable, sometimes collar-adjusting 79-65 victory against Red Wing before a 62-52 loss at Rochester John Marshall, while Rochester Century picked up its first win of the year on the same night with a 70-58 triumph against Owatonna and followed up with its second win in a 64-52 triumph at Mankato West.
1. The faces on Northfield’s roster might have changed from last year’s matchups, but Century is still led by primarily the same core who helped the Panthers to a 14-11 record a year ago. Most importantly, that includes senior guard Jack Fisher, who averaged over 20 points a game last year and once again leads the Panthers in scoring this year. In an 81-72 loss at Lakeville North, Fisher led all scorers with 23 points, but managed only 11 points in a 62-58 loss at Austin. In that Austin game, Stephen Olander led Century with 19 points, while senior Canon Tween racked up 20 points in the Lakeville North loss.
2. Historically buoyed by its 3-point shooting, Northfield attempted only nine 3-pointers during the win against Red Wing, with junior guard Kip Schetnan leading the way by making three of his six attempts. The Raiders, instead, held off the Wingers with their ability to get to the free throw line and then convert, sinking 26 of their 35 attempts. Junior guard Karsten Clay, who led the team with 21 points, finished 10-for-10 at the line. In the loss at Rochester John Marshall, Northfield stepped out more often but struggled in a 4 of 17 performance on 3-pointers.
3. Defensively, Northfield has gotten off to a slow start this year. Red Wing sophomore Deso Buck exploded for a game-high 31 points to keep Friday’s game close throughout, with the Wingers scoring 37 points in the second half after a cold shooting performance in the first half left them with 26 points. In a season-opening loss at Apple Valley, Northfield gave up a whopping 90 points, a total topped only twice last season — in the 93-89 loss to Century and in a 103-95 win against Rochester Mayo, although both of those games went to overtime. That changed some at Rochester John Marshall, which was only able to tally 62 points.
THREE STARS: Raider boys hockey travels to struggling Mayo
Game: Northfield (3-3) at Rochester Mayo (0-5), 7:15 p.m., Thursday at Graham Arena.
Last year: A year ago, the Spartans swept the Raiders with a 5-1 win in Northfield before a 5-2 triumph in Rochester en route to a third-place finish in the Big 9 Conference.
Recent results: This year has been a different story for Rochester Mayo, which is still winless and was most recently thumped in a 7-2 defeat against Mankato West, suffered an 8-4 setback against Mankato East and lost 4-1 against Farmington. Northfield, meanwhile, is coming off a 6-4 win against Mankato East, a 3-2 loss against Alexandria and a comeback 3-2 win at Mankato West.
1. Lost talent has plagued the Spartans so far this year. In addition to the graduation of their leading scorer Zach Stewart (24 goals, 30 assists in 25 games), and both of their primary goalies, Jacob Gathje and Joey Wigle, they also lost Maddox Fleming, who would be a sophomore this year, to Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Last year, Fleming tallied 18 goals and 27 assists in only 16 games before missing the back half of the season with a concussion. This year, Rochester Mayo has only received goals from five sources, with Will Weick (three goals, three assists) and Javan Hodge (two goals, three assists) leading the way in terms of points. In net, Payton Mancuso and Max Cothern have both started two games but neither has taken control of a potential starting job. Mancuso has a 7.50 goals against average with a .758 save percentage, while Cothern has a 5.00 goals against average and a .828 save percentage.
2. With so much top-end talent and depth lost to graduation, Northfield started the year unsure of its secondary scoring options. Through the first six games, the second line for the Raiders has emerged as a unit more than capable of pitching in on the attack. The forward trio of sophomore Spencer Klotz, junior Ryan Will and junior Bohde Hasse have combined for seven goals and nine assists. While one of Klotz’s goals came on the top power play unit, and another when joined the top line with the goalie pulled, the remainder of that production has come from when the three are on the ice together at even strength. For Klotz, Will and Hasse, these are the first varsity points of their careers.
3. Speaking of the power play unit, Northfield’s has struggled thus far. Entering Tuesday’s game at Mankato West, the Raiders had converted only one of its 22 opportunities, good for 4.5%. The one success came in the first period of a season-opening 5-3 win at Faribault, so the unit has been 0 for its last 21 chances. That unit found some success Tuesday, though, with the first goal of the 3-2 win coming in a 4-on-3 situation thanks to a Carson Van Zuilen goal from senior defender Kearic Gargrave. While the amount of even strength production (17 goals through six games) is encouraging, the Raiders will need to continue to jumpstart that power play if they’re wanting to compete with the class of the Big 9 Conference and Section 1AA.
THREE STARS: Northfield girls hockey hosts Rochester Mayo
Game: Rochester Mayo (2-5) at Northfield (6-2), 7:30 p.m., Thursday at Northfield Ice Arena.
Last year: Mayo turned in one of the most respectable Big 9 results against Northfield a year ago in a 2-0 defeat, before the Raiders crushed the Spartans 11-0 in the rematch.
Recent results: Northfield suffered its only two losses of the season back-to-back with a 3-2 defeat at St. Cloud on Nov. 29 and a 5-3 defeat at Warroad on Saturday, while Rochester Mayo topped Rochester Century 7-2 on Saturday.
1. The explanation for the two contrasting scores from last year’s series realistically comes down to one player: Makayla Pahl. Pahl was the goalie for the Spartans last year, and was one of if not the best in the state. In the 2-0 loss, she made an eye-popping 61 saves, while her counterpart, Rachel Bielenberg, only needed to make five saves to record the shutout. Pahl then didn’t play in the rematch, allowing Northfield to score 11 goals on 37 shots. Pahl was a senior last year and is now playing at the University of Minnesota, and her replacements, Abbie Jacobsen and Chloe Ruprecht, have combined to allow an average of 4.86 goals a game while facing 34.5 shots a contest.
2. Possibly because both teams are typically still feeling each other out, the first periods of Northfield games have typically been without much action. Entering Tuesday's 7-1 win at Rochester Century, the Raiders were outscoring opponents 8-2 in first periods, while that number jumps to 14-5 in second periods before tightening up to 7-5 in third periods. That number shifted some after Tuesday's game, in which Northfield jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first period.
3. Jessica Boland has heated up in a big way for Northfield, with the junior forward extending her point streak to seven to start the season. She’s also scored in five of the last six games, with the exception being the 4-1 win against Red Wing in which she dished out a pair of assists and her linemate, freshman Ava Stanchina, notched a hat trick. Recently, Boland scored twice and recorded an assist to help in the Raider scoring in the 5-3 loss against Warroad. Through eight games, Boland has scored 10 goals and dished out six assists for a team-high 16 points.