Danecdotes: 2021 a year full of highlights
2021 sports highlights from the Echo Journal sports pages
Once again, another unconventional year has come and gone.
The COVID-19 pandemic more or less derailed the world of sports in 2020. Some sports were forced to start late. Some had to end early. Some were canceled entirely.
Thankfully, local sports were relatively normal for the 2021 season in terms of the way seasons played out, albeit with some weirdness tossed in – particularly in the early months of the year when some athletes had to compete in masks and fan attendance was limited at times.
Through all of the strangeness, the local teams persevered, and some of them even found some success along the way.
One area team won a section championship for the first time. A few others found themselves in a similar situation once again.
It was a different year, just like the last one, but in many ways it was a successful one.
Let’s take a little look at some of the highs and lows of the year, shall we?
After weeks of restrictions due to COVID-19, the winter sports seasons finally began on Jan. 4. Hockey and basketball players were required to wear masks in practice and competition.
The Northern Lakes boys hockey team started the season with a 10-0 shutout over Park Rapids. Goalie Adler Hoagland had 22 saves in the game.
The Patriot boys basketball team topped Park Rapids by 50 to remain undefeated.
The PR-B girls basketball team moved to 6-0 with a win over Browerville/Eagle Valley.
The Lightning boys hockey team topped Sauk Rapids to move to 8-1.
The Patriot girls basketball team upset ninth-ranked Esko in what coach Brian Lempola called “a huge win.”
Road Crew wrestler Connor Tulenchik became the team’s all-time wins leader, and coach Travis Hoffarth earned his 200th career win.
The Lightning boys beat Breckenridge-Wahpeton for their 13th consecutive victory.
The Road Crew captured its first section title in six years, but then fell to Princeton in the state quarterfinals.
Pequot Lakes’ Calia Chaney finished 44th overall at the state alpine ski meet.
Pequot Lakes gymnast Josie Harguth tied for first on the balance beam at the Section 8-2A finals to advance to state. She finished 29th at the state meet.
Road Crew wrestlers Owen Carlson and Connor Tulenchik advanced to the state championship round.
The Lightning boys team topped the Monticello Moose to win its first section championship.
The Lightning were shut out by Gentry Academy of St. Paul in the opening round of the state championship.
Road Crew 170-pounder Connor Tulenchik finished second at state.
The Patriot boys fell to Moose Lake-Willow River in the section finals.
The Patriot boys and girls track teams both started on the right foot with a first-place finish in the Pequot Lakes Frostbite Invitational.
The PR-B baseball team throttled Kelliher/Northome 28-9.
The Tiger softball team picked up its fifth consecutive victory with a win over Cass Lake-Bena.
Five local students – Dalton Wells, Marshall Larson, Sophia Nordby, Tierney Johnson and Jared Hamilton – earned first-place finishes at the Region 1 High School Rodeo in Backus.
Pequot Lakes golfer Tyler Seeling shot a 2-under 70 to win the Mid-State title.
Patriot senior Bode Magnuson was named the Midwest Red District Football Player of the Year.
The Patriot boys track team won the Section 8-2A True Team title.
The Tiger softball team topped Kelliher/Northome to tie for the Northwoods Conference championship.
The Pequot Lakes softball team got 10 strikeouts from pitcher Morgan Eckes as they defeated Pine River-Backus 12-0.
The Patriot girls golf team shot a two-day 726 to win the Section 6-2A championship.
Twelve members of the Patriot track team advanced to the state meet.
The Patriot girls golf team finished fifth overall in the state meet. PR-B girls golfer Hannah Barchus took sixth as an individual.
Pequot Lakes boys golfer Tyler Seeling finished 23rd at the state meet, while PR-B’s Joe Zaczkowski took 60th.
The 4x800 relay teams for both the Patriot boys and girls finished fourth at the state meet at St. Michael-Albertville.
After changes were made to the event in 2020 to stagger racers, more than 1,000 runners participated in the 2021 Firecracker Run in Nisswa.
Pequot Lakes runner Calia Chaney finished sixth at the Nike Outdoor Invitational at the University of Oregon.
Pequot Lakes trap shooter Cooper Johnson placed 27th at the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship.
Patriot runners Jesse Clausen and Dawsin Ackerman claimed the top spots in the Dru Sjodin Purple Elephant races. Clausen finished first in the 5K while Ackerman finished first in the 10K.
The Pequot Lakes tennis team started the season by winning its first eight matches.
The Tiger football team cruised past Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 44-0 in the season opener.
The Patriot volleyball team started off with a win, topping Wadena-Deer Creek 3-0.
The Pequot Lakes boys and girls cross-country teams finished first at the teams’ home invitational, with Jesse Clausen and Calia Chaney finishing first.
The Pequot Lakes volleyball team topped PR-B 3-0 to move to 7-0 on the season.
Patriot tennis moved to 22-0 with a win over Sauk Centre and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
After winning its first three games, the PR-B football team fell to New York Mills 26-12. It would be the team’s only loss of the regular season.
The Tigers won five to finish first in the Bertha-Hewitt volleyball tournament.
Senior Megan Muller picked up her 100th career win as the Patriot tennis team finished the regular season 24-0.
Calia Chaney set a new school record in cross-country with a time of 18:28.7.
PR-B football got the best of Ada-Borup on homecoming night, winning 35-26.
The Patriot football team got its first and only win of the season, topping Pillager on homecoming night.
Calia Chaney won the Mid-State Conference Championship.
PR-B grad Brady Raph – competing for the University of Minnesota, Morris – was named the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year.
Both local volleyball teams won a tournament on Oct. 21 – Pequot Lakes in Fergus Falls and PR-B in Upsala.
The Patriot boys cross-country team, along with girls runner Calia Chaney, qualified for the state meet. Chaney finished third at the state meet while the boys finished 13th.
Both the Pequot Lakes and PR-B volleyball teams were section runners-up.
The Lightning girls hockey team opened the season with a three-game winning streak.
Both the Patriot boys and girls basketball teams opened the season with a victory over Pine River-Backus.
Pequot Lakes junior Maci Martini was named the Brainerd Dispatch’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.
Lightning goalie Ethan Kunz stopped 54 shots as the Northern Lakes boys hockey team beat Brainerd 4-2.
The Road Crew wrestling team finished second at the Jackhammer Invitational in Pequot Lakes – a tournament that featured 28 teams.