Girls Swim and Dive
A year ago, Minnetonka Girls Swim and Dive was the No. 1 ranked team in the state, winning Lake Conference and Section 2AA titles. However, due to Covid, a state tournament was not held.
This season, under the direction of first-year head coach John Bradley, the Skippers picked up where they left off last season - and took one step further.
Making its seventh straight appearance at the state meet, Minnetonka won the Class AA state championship on Nov. 20 at the University of Minnesota's Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. The Skippers compiled a dominating 381 points to outdistance Edina (223) - the four-time defending state champion - and Stillwater (176).
Minnetonka took first place in two events. To open the meet, the 200 medley relay team of So. Paige Dillon, Sr. Quinci Wheeler, Fr. Annabelle Wentzel and Sr. Regan Miller touched the wall first in 1:42.97. To close the meet, the 400 freestyle relay team of Sr. Nadia Helm, Sr. Maija Kangas, Dillon and Sr. Audrey Soetanto won in 3:27.88.
The Skippers' 200 freestyle relay of Miller, Wentzel, Sr. Rachel Shelstad and Helm captured second with a time of 1:34.36.
In the 100 breaststroke, Wheeler was fifth (1:04.36). In the 100 breaststroke, Dillon was fifth (55.94) and Jr. Maggie Rhodes was sixth (57.03). In the 500 freestyle, Sr. Addie Diaz was third (5:00.20) and Kangas was seventh (5:03.97).
Miller finished second in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.05 while Helm was third (51.18). Miller also finished second in the 50 freestyle, swimming a time of 23.29.
In the 100 butterfly, Wentzel was fifth (56.37), Rhodes was sixth (56.73) and Jr. Emily Harstad was seventh (56.87). In the 200 individual medley, Dillon was second in 2:05.41 and Wentzel was eighth (2:11.41).
Helm captured second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:50.59. Diaz was sixth (1:52.69) and Kangas was eighth (1:53.72).
In diving, Sr. Rachel Patton - making her third straight state tournament appearance - finished 11th with 344.70 points.
It was the 12th state appearance for the Skippers, who won state titles in 1975 and '76.
At the Section 2AA meet at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake Nov. 12, the Skippers took first place in five individual events and all three relays. In all, 23 individuals and the relays qualified for the state meet. Minnetonka tallied 563 points, followed by Edina (394) and Prior Lake (286).
The meet started with a win in the 200 medley relay with an Automatic All-American (AAA) time of 1:43.17.
Diaz was second in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:50.71. Helm placed third with a time of 1:51.53 while Kangas was fifth in 1:53.00.
In the 200 IM, Dillon captured her first individual win, finishing in 2:05.19. Wentzel was second in 2:07.54 and Soetanto was third with a time of 2:07.70.
Miller was second in the 50 freestyle, swimming an All-American Consideration (AAC) time of 23.32. Shelstad was sixth, swimming in 24.33.
In diving, Patton placed fourth with 307.75 points to qualify for state. Sr. Natalie Smith was eleventh with 301 points.
In the 100 butterfly, all four Skippers qualified for the state meet. Wentzel placed second with a 55.53 time while Harstad was fourth in 57.16, Soetanto was fifth in 57.45 and Rhodes was sixth in 57.77.
Miller was second in the 100 free, swimming 51.18. Helm finished third, qualifying for state with her time of 51.79.
In the 500 freestyle, Diaz placed second in 4:59.95 with Kangas third in a time of 5:03.02 and Jr. Erica Weeks was fourth in 5:06.11.
The Skippers won the 200 freestyle relay in AAA time as Miller, Harstad, Shelstad and Helm swam 1:35.21.
Dillon claimed her second win of the night in the 100 backstroke, swimming 56.49. Fr. Henley Hatzung swam a time of 58.28, placing third. Rhodes finished right behind her in fourth place with a time of 58.38.
In the 100 breaststroke, Wheeler placed second with a time of 1:04.10. Jr. Rylie Ulett placed seventh with a time of 1:07.01.
Minnetonka finished with another win and AAA time in the 400 freestyle relay as Helm, Kangas, Diaz and Soetanto touched the wall in 3.27.32.
Fifteen different Minnetonka athletes qualified in individual events for the state meet, with eight qualifying for two individual events.
The Skippers entered the Section 2AA meet on a big blue wave, having won a third straight True Team state championship Oct. 27 at the U of M. Minnetonka won five individual events and all three relays at True Team state, beginning with a first-place finish in the 200 medley relay as Dillon, Wheeler, Harstad and Wentzel combined for a time of 1:45.07.
Dillon scored her first individual win in the 200 IM in a time of 2:04.70. She clocked her second win in the 100 backstroke in 55.88. Miller’s winning time of 22.99 in the 50 freestyle made her the Skippers’ second fastest all-time sprinter. She then set a new Minnetonka record as she won the 100 freestyle in 50.58. The other individual event winner was Wheeler, who took the 100 breaststroke title in 1:04.45.
Besides the 200 medley relay, Minnetonka won the 200 freestyle relay as Miller, Helm, Diaz and Shelstad finished in 1:35.31, and captured first in the 400 freestyle relay with Dillon, Diaz, Soetanto and Miller in 3:29.86.
In the Section 2AA True Team meet, Minnetonka won the championship at its home Minnetonka Aquatics Center, finishing with 505.5 points. Edina was second with 388 and Eden Prairie was third (273.5). The Skippers won seven of 12 events en route to the title. It was the sixth straight True Team section title for the Skippers, who have won state True Team titles in 2012, ’15, ’18, ’19 and this season.
Another highlight for the Skippers was winning the Maroon and Gold Invitational at the U of M Sept. 18.
The Skippers are the No. 1 ranked team in the country in the Swimcloud team rankings.
Three Minnetonka girls signed National Letters of Intent in November: Helm (Northern Michigan University), Kangas (Augustana University) and Shelstad (University of Nebraska-Ohio).
What a season for Minnetonka Girls Tennis!
Under the direction of first-year coach Brent Lundell, the Skippers won the Class AA State team championship and, a few days later, claimed Individual state titles in singles (Jr. Sarah Shahbaz) and doubles (Sr. Annika Elvestrom and So. Karina Elvestrom).
Minnetonka hasn’t lost a team match since 2019, when they were beaten by Edina in the Class AA Team finals. A year ago, Minnetonka was widely regarded as the unofficial state champ after going undefeated and winning the Section 2AA title. In 2018 and ’19, Minnetonka lost to Edina in the Class AA State finals.
This season, Minnetonka was a dominant force, going 21-0 in dual meets and defeating Blake 6-1 to claim the Class AA State team championship Oct. 27. In the singles finals, Shahbaz won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1, Annika Elvestrom won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2, Meghan Jurgens lost 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3, and Kate Feist won 6-1, 6-4 at No. 4. In the doubles finals, Jr. Kelsey Phillips and Karina Elvestrom won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1, Maddie Prondzinski and Emilija Medzuikaite won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2, and Alexa Cummings and Arianna Piedrahita won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3.
It was the third state team championship for the Skippers, who also won state titles in 1974 and ’75 (the first two years of the MSHSL state girls tennis tournament). “This team was challenged every day in practice,” Lundell told the Star Tribune. “We went after it every day. It’s well deserved for those players out there.”
In the Individual state tournament, Shahbaz captured the singles title with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-0 victory over Zoe Adkins of Maple Grove. She became the third girl in school history to claim the singles title, joining Isabella Lambert (2016) and Aria Lambert (2008, ’09). The Elvestrom sisters won the doubles state title in three sets - 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 - over Rochester Century’s Julia Baber and Paige Sargent. They became the fifth doubles team in school history to win the state championship. Previous champions were Shahbaz and Annika Elvestrom in 2019, Tara Baker/Eva Colson in 1990, Sandra Thomas/Robin Mackenroth in 1981, and Heidi Reed/Ann Huber in 1979.
Phillips took third in singles, while Prondzinski and Medzuikaite took fourth in doubles. Remarkably, all four Minnetonka qualifiers in the Individual state tournament advanced to the semifinals.
At the Section 2AA Individual tournament, it came down to Minnetonka vs. Minnetonka matchups in the championship matches. Shahbaz defeated Phillips 7-5, 7-6 in the singles final while the Elvestroms defeated Prondzinski and Medzuikaite in the doubles final.
It was also a case of Tonka domination at the Section 2AA Team championship, where the Skippers defeated St. Peter and Eden Prairie by 7-0 scores in the semifinals and finals, respectively. Minnetonka did not lose a set in the tournament bracket and lost just one game in three doubles matches in the championship. Doubles teams were Phillips and Karina Elvestrom, Prondzinski and Medzuikaite, and Cummings and Piedrahita. Without Shahbaz in the lineup, Annika Elvestrom won at No. 1 singles. Jurgens, Feist and Carter Nye also won at singles.
It was an incredible season for the Skippers and Lundell, who became head coach after the unexpected passing of longtime Skippers Boys and Girls Tennis coach Dave Stearns in December.
“This is what we’ve been talking about all year,” Shahbaz told the Star Tribune. “It’s exciting that it finally happened.”
Boys Cross Country
Nick Gilles made history Nov. 6 when he became the first Minnetonka boy to win a state cross country championship.
A junior, Gilles won the Class AAA Individual State title by covering the 5,000-meter race at St. Olaf College in Northfield in a time of 15 minutes, 22.81 seconds.
His effort helped lead the Skippers boys to a 4th place finish at the Class AAA State meet. Other top runners were Sr. Andrew Vos (15:22.81, 13th), Jr. Max Westerlund (16:03.06, 46th), So. Ryan Fries (16:43.87, 58th), 8th grader Sean Fries (17:16.46, 110th), Fr. James Thomas (17:26.23, 123rd) and Sr. Easton Freed (17:29.69, 125th).
It was the first state meet appearance for the Skippers boys since 1992. Minnetonka finished 3rd in both 1964 and ’65 (single class) and 13th in ’92.
The Skippers raced to the Section 2AAA championship Oct. 26 at Gale Woods Farm as Gilles took top honors. It was the second year in a row he won the individual section championship, also taking top honors in 2020 in Section 6AA. Gilles earned medalist honors with a time of 15:33.57 while Vos was 3rd in 16:10.37 and Westerlund was 4th in 16:31.44. Other top finishers were Ryan Fries (16:46.15, 10th), Sean Fries (17:07.25, 14th), Freed (17:18.12, 18th) and Thomas (17:59.35, 30th).
At the Lake Conference meet Oct. 14 at Gale Woods Farm, Minnetonka finished second 45-50 behind eventual state champion Wayzata. Five Skippers were named All-Lake Conference by finishing in the top 18: Gilles (15:16, 1st), Vos (15:53, 5th), Westerlund (16:29, 14th), Ryan Fries (16:33, 15th) and Freed (16:36, 16th). Gilles won the race by more than 32 seconds, claiming his second straight Lake Conference individual title.
Girls Cross Country
The Skippers advanced three girls to the Class AAA State meet: So. Ella Graham (18:55.37, 23rd), 8th grader Abby Downin (19:23.14, 45th) and Jr. Claire Cashman (19:49.56, 59th).
Minnetonka finished third at the Section 2AAA meet, narrowly missing out on a team trip to state by just 3 points. Graham finished 5th (18:44.09), Downin was 8th (18:57.13) and Cashman was 9th (18:57.14). Other top runners were Avery Marasco-Johnson (19:16.09, 16th), Sr. captain Kate LeBlanc (19:28.93, 17th), Elizabeth Weider (19:41.35, 19th) and Meredith Gilles (20:04.19, 22nd).
Ranked No. 1 in the state, the Skippers won the ultra-competitive Lake Conference championship on Oct. 18 at Gale Woods Farm, edging No. 2 Edina 58-59. Wayzata was third with 68 points. Minnetonka placed five runners on the All-Lake Conference team by finishing in the top 18. They are Graham (18:28, 5th), Marasco-Johnson (18:39, 7th), Cashman (18:56, 13th), LeBlanc (19:03, 16th) and Downin (19:04, 17th).
Minnetonka won the 15-team Victoria Lions Invitational Oct. 5 as all seven runners finished in the top 15. Graham finished 2nd, Cashman 5th, Marasco-Johnson 7th, Weider 9th, Downin 10th, LeBlanc 11th and Kyra Martin 15th.
LeBlanc signed a National Letter of Intent to run at North Dakota State University.
The Skippers put together an incredible season but faced a Farmington buzzsaw in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs Nov. 5. The two teams were scoreless until Farmington scored two touchdowns in the final 29 seconds of the first half. Minnetonka fell to the Tigers 34-0 to finish the season 8-2.
Minnetonka entered the game on a roll. In the first round of the state playoffs Oct. 29, playing at Minnetonka’s Einer Anderson Stadium, the Skippers defeated Brainerd 30-15 behind three rushing touchdowns from Jr. running back Jacob McCalla.
And, in its regular season finale Oct. 21, Minnetonka defeated Roseville 35-18 in convincing fashion.
The Skippers recorded one of their biggest wins of the season a week earlier, when they snapped Centennial’s 4-game winning streak with a dominating 31-7 victory at Minnetonka. At the time, Minnetonka was ranked No. 6 in the state and Centennial was No. 5. Sr. tight end Joey Gendreau scored three touchdowns, rushing for one score and catching two TD passes from Sr. quarterback Will Martin, who was 14-for-22 passing for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns.
For the season, Martin threw for 1,574 yards with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He completed 129 of 178 passes (72.5%). The top receiving targets were Sr. Cade Conzemius (43 catches, 393 yards, 4 TD), Gendreau (39 catches, 480 yards, 7 TD), Sr. Tyler Lien (37 catches, 497 yards, 3 TD) and Sr. Casey Miller (15 catches, 275 yards, 3 TD). Gendreau also added 2 rushing touchdowns.
On the ground, the Skippers were led by McCalla with 701 yards and 8 TD. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Other top rushers were Sr. Bret Worley (240 yards, 4 TD) and Sr. Benjamin Aeshliman (134 yards). So. kicker Keagan Zabilla made 4 of 6 field goals and 29 of 34 extra-point kicks.
Defensively, top tacklers were Sr. William Richman (97 tackles), Sr. Prentice Wheatley (73 tackles), Sr. Ashton Hoffman (51 tackles), Sr. Andrew McCalla (46 tackles), Worley (38 tackles), Sr. Seth Beil (36 tackles), Sr. Evan Swenson (35 tackles) and Sr. Andrew Dill (26 tackles), who also had 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Richman led Minnetonka in tackles for loss with 9, Swenson led the team in interceptions with 7, and Worley led the team in sacks (3) and was second in tackles for loss (7).
A linebacker, Richman was named Star Tribune Defensive Player of the Week for his 18-tackle performance against St. Michael-Albertville Oct. 1. He had a season-high 13 solo tackles in the game, a 23-20 Minnetonka victory.
Jr. Maxwell Pedersen (18 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack), Sr. Joseph McBain (18 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks), Jr. Cosmo Guion (17 tackles), Sr. Julius Nurse (16 tackles, 1TFL, 1 sack), Jr. Jack Liwienski (12 tackles, 1 TFL , 1 sack), Sr. Caden McDaniel (11 tackles) and Jr. Aiden Boehle (10 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack) also had 10 or more tackles.
One of the highlights for the Skippers was a 23-20 win over St. Michael-Albertville in the Minnetonka Homecoming game Oct. 1. More than 7,000 fans attended the game at Einer Anderson Stadium.
Beil, Lien, Martin, Andrew McCalla and Richman were team captains. Minnetonka was ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press Class 6A state rankings.
Gendreau was selected to play in the Minnesota Football Showcase game at US Bank Stadium on Saturday, December 4.
Minnetonka received a Class 6A Silver Academic Team award with a cumulative team GPA of 3.05. McDaniel was named to the Class 6A Individual Academic All-State team.
The No. 1 seed Skippers finished as Section 2AAA runner-up Oct. 19, losing a heartbreaker to No. 2 Edina 3-2 on penalty kicks after the teams were scoreless through regulation and overtime. Minnetonka split its two Lake Conference regular season games versus Edina, beating the Hornets 3-0 on Oct. 5.
In the section semifinals Oct. 14, Minnetonka defeated No. 5 Waconia 3-0, scoring all 3 goals in the second half. It was the second straight shutout win for the Skippers, who downed No. 8 seed Chaska 5-0 in the section quarterfinals at Minnetonka two days earlier. In that game, Sr. Charlie Pears scored 2 goals to lead the attack. Seniors Ewan Magowan, Torin Firehammer and Jack Olson also scored, while Jr. goalkeeper Peyton Olson recorded the shutout.
Minnetonka finished the season 13-3-2 and was ranked No. 7 in the final Minnesota Soccer Coaches Association Class AAA poll. The Skippers won the Lake Conference championship. They earned the title with a 1-1 draw versus Wayzata Oct. 9 behind Sr. Parker Flynn's goal. Minnetonka had an 8-1-2 record in conference play, outdistancing Wayzata with an 8-2-1 record.
Firehammer and Jr. Alex Gonikman led the team in scoring with 10 goals apiece. Firehammer also led the team with 9 assists while Gonikman had 4. Other top scorers were Pears (7 goals, 3 assists), Flynn (5 goals 4 assists), Jr. Ketav Udupa (4 goals, 5 assists), Sr. Jake Herbert (3 goals, 1 assist), Olson (3 goals, 3 assists), Sr. Ben Chung (2 goals, 3 assists), Sr. Yousef Eldashoury (2 goals, 2 assists), Magowan (2 goals, 2 assists) and So. Jake Hennen (2 goals). In goal, Peyton Olson had 55 saves with a .904 save average.
Herbert, a defender, was named Class AAA 1st Team All-State while Chung, a midfielder, was named 2nd Team All-State. Herbert was also named Star Tribune All-Metro Second Team.
Coach Mike Rogers was named Section 2AAA Coach of the Year and Alex Johnson was named Section 2AAA Assistant Coach of the Year.
After eliminating the Hornets from postseason play in each of the three previous seasons, No. 2 seed Minnetonka lost to No. 1 Edina 5-0 in the Section 2AAA championship Oct. 19
The Skippers, who won the Class AA State championship in 2018, were vying for a fourth straight section title and state tournament appearance. Undefeated Edina went on to win the Class AAA state title.
Minnetonka dominated its opponents on the way to the section finals. The Skippers beat No. 3 Eden Prairie 7-1 Oct. 14 behind 2 goals apiece from seniors Alyssa Marceau, Claire Carver and Riley Kelly. So. Gabbie Ryan also scored.
In the section quarterfinals, a 4-0 win over Chaska, Marceau and Ryan erupted for 2 goals each in the second half while Megan Mann recorded the shutout in goal.
In a 4-0 win over St. Michael-Albertville in the regular season finale, the Skippers received goals from So. Juliet Carlson, Claire Carver (2) and Ryan.
The Skippers finished the season 11-7-1.
Marceau and fellow senior Payton Mahady were named Class AAA 2nd Team All-State by the Minnesota Soccer Coaches Association. An attacker, Marceau led the team in scoring with 16 goals, including five games with at least 2 goals. She also had 2 assists. Mahady, a defender, scored 2 goals and led the team with 8 assists.
Other top scorers were Ryan (9 goals, 3 assists), So. Juliet Carlson (5 goals, 3 assists), Sr. Claire Carver (4 goals) and Kelly (2 goals, 4 assists).
Marceau, Mahady and Sr. Margaret Ravine were team captains.
Minnetonka, a No. 5 seed, advanced to the Section 2AAAA semifinals, where it lost to No. 1 seed Eden Prairie 25-19, 27-25, 25-19.
Against the Eagles, Jr. Kate Simington had 14 kills while seniors Abby Stanwood and Anna Shoemaker had 11 and 8 kills, respectively. So. setter Anna Lockhart had 27 assists, Sr. Morgan Ryan had 10 digs and 2 aces, and Stanwood added 12 digs.
In the section quarterfinals, Minnetonka upset No. 4 seed Prior Lake in a five-set thriller: 25-22, 20-25, 20-25, 25-22, 16-14. Simington and Stanwood each had 22 kills while Sr. Justina Felknor had a career-high 14 kills. Lockhart had 55 assists and 11 digs.
In the regular season finale on Senior Night, Minnetonka defeated Hopkins in three sets: 26-24, 25-12, 25-16.
The Skippers finished with a 20-10 record.
Stanwood led the team with 408 kills. Other top attackers were Simington (213 kills), Shoemaker (101), Felknor (91), Jr. Keely Campuzano (83 kills) and Sr. Nora Arndt (45 kills). Lockhart led the team with 773 assists while Sr. Kyla Borgendale had 103. Ryan led the team with 322 digs while Stanwood had 293, Lochart 130 and Sr. Macy Osenga 121.
Osenga, Shoemaker and Stanwood were team captains.
Stanwood was named Star Tribune All-Metro second team. She signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at Stony Brook University.
Minnetonka received the 2021 Gold Academic Award with a 3.75-4.00 cumulative team GPA.
At the Ten Thousand Lakes Regional at Minnetonka High School Oct. 30, the Skippers earned two bids to the 2022 UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships in Orlando in February.
Minnetonka competed in the UCA Mile High Regional in Denver on Nov. 13. The Skippers captured 1st place there in Small Varsity Non-Tumbling Division and Game Day Small Varsity Non-Tumbling Division.
• Minnetonka Baseball Coach Paul Twenge was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 13.
• 12 Skippers signed National Letters of Intent on Nov. 10. They are Nadia Helm (girls swimming, Northern Michigan), Kiernan Holmes (boys lacrosse, Jacksonville), Maija Kangas (girls swimming, Augustana), Kate LeBlanc (cross country, North Dakota State), Olivia LaRoche (girls hockey, Sacred Heart), Ki'Ani Lockett (girls basketball, Creighton), Ava Rajala (girls lacrosse, Liberty), Michael Rivera (baseball, Minnesota Crookston), Rachel Shelstad (girls swimming, Nebraska-Omaha), Abby Stanwood (volleyball, Stony Brook), Desiree Ware (girls basketball, Alabama Birmingham) and Courtney Youngquist (girls lacrosse, Kent State).
• Minnetonka Girls Hockey started the season 1-1. Team captains are Jr. Grace Sadura and Sr. Olivia LaRoche. Sadura is a University of Minnesota-Duluth commit.
• Former Minnetonka Baseball Coach Mark "Lunch" McKenzie, Class of '70, was inducted into the Skippers Hall of Fame in October.
• Former Skippers Golf standout Jacob Pedersen of Gustavus Adolphus won the MIAC Championship Oct. 4, shooting a record-setting final round of 65.
• Minnetonka Activities Director Ted Schultz was inducted into the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in September. A 1998 graduate, Schultz was an All-American tight end for the Auggies.