Sports News

Winter Sports Update 2023 graphic

Minnetonka High School had an incredible 2022-23 Winter sports season.

Two Skippers teams won state championships! Boys Alpine Ski repeated as state champion while Boys Hockey made a magical run en route to the state title.

There were plenty of other Minnetonka team successes, as well. Girls Hockey and Boys Swim & Dive both finished fourth at their respective state tournaments. Swim & Dive also won the True Team state championship. Boys Basketball made its first state tournament appearance since 2008, Boys Nordic Ski finished 13th at the state meet and Minnetonka Cheer won a UCA National championship.

Among individuals, Marco Christiansen won a state wrestling title and swimmer Evan Witte was state champion in the 100 Freestyle.

Marissa Witte and Stella Stinnett finished second and eighth, respectively, at the Girls Alpine Ski state tournament. At the Gymnastics state tournament, Ellie Boettcher captured seventh in Floor, Emma Callahan was ninth in Bars and Elena Cantwell was 11th in All-Around. In Girls Nordic Ski, Nina Fedje finished 13th at state and Elena Hicks was 43rd. In addition to winning the state title in the 100 Freestyle, Witte also placed third in the 200 IM. The Skippers also captured third in the 200 Freestyle Relay.

 

Boys Hockey

Five years after winning the first state championship in program history, the Minnetonka Boys Hockey team did it again!

The Skippers defeated Lake Conference rival Edina 2-1 in the Class AA State Tournament championship on March 11 before a sold-out crowd at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It was the 20 straight win for the Skippers, who finished the season 29-2. The 29 wins is a new program record.

Sophomore forward Ashton Schultz scored what proved to be the game-winner with 8:35 remaining in the third period. After a beautiful drop-back pass from Jr. Robby House, Schultz made a series of nifty moves at close range and beat the Edina goaltender with a high shot over his right shoulder.

In the first period, junior forward Hagen Burrows scored on a power-play with 5:59 remaining. Burrows scored from practically behind the net as his shot hit the back of the Edina goalie and went in. His fourth goal of the tournament, it came on assists from juniors Gavin Garry and Javon Moore. The Hornets then tied the game early in the third period, setting the stage for Schultz’ game-winner.

Skippers senior goalie Kaizer Nelson had another strong tournament game. He had 22 saves while another shot clanged off both posts with 31.7 seconds remaining in the game. Edina outshot Minnetonka 23-15. Afterwards, Nelson recalled watching the 2018 Minnetonka championship as a young fan. “I remember exactly where I was sitting, I remember how old I was, I remember how excited I was,” he told Legacy Hockey.

In two previous meeting with Edina this season, the Skippers beat the Hornets 4-0 at Pagel Center on Jan. 19 and 1-0 on Feb. 11 at Braemar Ice Arena.

It was the second state title for Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy, who guided the Skippers to the championship in his first season in 2017-18. In six seasons, he has led Minnetonka to an impressive 118-37-9 record.

“Tonight, we kind of won it by plugging away and not panicking,” Goldsworthy told the Star Tribune. “That’s the toughest team we’ve played all year and we’ve done it three times.”

The state tournament appearance seemed like a long wait for Goldsworthy and the Skippers program after last appearing at state in 2018, when Minnetonka downed Duluth East 5-2 to win the championship.

But the wait was worth it. After being seeded No. 2 in the Section 2AA tournament, the Skippers began an unforgettable ride, culminating with the state title.

To reach the state finals, the Skippers survived a 4-3 overtime thriller against Hill-Murray in the quarterfinals and got past defending champion Andover 4-1 in the semifinals behind two goals from Gavin Garry.

Against No. 4  Andover, Burrows and Jr. Sam Scheetz also scored. Burrows scored the lone goal in the first period. In the second period, Minnetonka took a 2-0 lead as Gavin Garry made a beautiful play, redirecting Sr. Danny Pasqua’s shot from just inside the blue line for the goal. The action became tense for Skippers fans after Andover scored with 12:11 remaining in regulation time. But Gavin Garry restored Minnetonka’s 2-goal advantage with 7:30 left when he scored on a power play. Scheetz added an empty-net goal with 1:10 left.

Moore had 2 assists while Pasqua and Burrows also had assists. Nelson had 17 saves as the Skippers outshot Andover 34-18.

In the overtime thriller versus No. 3 Hill-Murray, Jr. John Stout scored the game winner with 39.4 second remaining in overtime. After the Skippers missed a chance from close range, Stout chased the rebound to the point and rocketed a seeing-eye puck through a maze of traffic. To force overtime, Burrows scored on a beautiful one-timer with 1:01 left in the third period to tie the game 3-3. His first goal of the game put Minnetonka ahead 1-0 in the first period. Sr. Max Krebsbach scored to put the Skippers ahead 2-1 in the second period.

Sr. Jack Sand, Gavin Garry, Sr. Liam Hupka, Schultz and Sheetz had assists. Nelson made 12 saves as Minnetonka outshot Hill-Murray 43-15.

Despite all the close calls, the balanced Skippers were the clear-cut favorite at state. Against state tournament teams, Minnetonka had a combined six victories during the regular season, including wins over Edina (twice), Andover, Hill-Murray, Moorhead and Lakeville South. Four players tallied 30 or more points, led by Burrows with 20 goals and 20 assists. For the season, including the state tournament, Minnetonka proved its dominance by outscoring opponents 135-36.

It wasn’t an easy path to even make it to state. The Skippers advanced to the state tournament with a thrilling 2-1 double-overtime victory over Chanhassen in the Section 2AA championship on March 2 at a sold-out Braemar Arena in Edina. Minnetonka was the No. 2 seed with a 25-2 record while Chanhassen was No. 1 with a 24-3 record.

It was a matchup worthy of a state finals. Minnetonka proved it was ready for the task in its first two section games, outscoring opponents Shakopee and Chaska by a 7-1 margin.

In the thriller against Chanhassen, Jr. Alex Lunski scored the game-winer in the second overtime. Prior to Lunski’s heroics, the two teams battled through two scoreless periods before Chanhassen pulled ahead with 7:31 remaining in the game. Minnetonka Jr. Luke Garry then tied it up 1-1 with 5 minutes left. The Garry goal came on assists from Pasqua and Schultz. In net, Nelson had 33 saves.

“This was such a high-end hockey game,” Goldsworthy said. “It was a championship-level game for both teams with a lot of good clean hockey.”

When asked about advancing to state, Lunski said, “If we play our game, then we can go pretty far. It’s all on us.”

Prior to this year’s championship run, Minnetonka had made six state tournament appearances: 1985, 1990, 1994 (AA), 2006 (AA), 2010 (AA) and 2018 (AA). In 2018, the Skippers defeated the Greyhounds 5-2 in the championship. In 2010, Minnetonka lost to Edina 4-2 in the championship.

In the section semifinals, Minnetonka downed No. 3 seed Shakopee 3-1. Krebsbach, Gavin Garry and Scheetz scored goals on assists from So. Danny Klaers, House, Moore, Luke Garry and Schultz. Nelson had 16 saves in net.

Against No. 7 seed Chaska in the section quarterfinals, Minnetonka outshot the Hawks 40-18 and Nelson posted the shutout en route to a 4-0 win. Goals were scored by Luke Garry, Schultz, Moore and Gavin Garry. Schultz, Pasqua, House and Luke Garry (2) had assists.

At the state tournament, four Skippers - Burrows, Gavin Garry, Stout and Hupka - were named to the Class AA All Tournament Team.

For his part, Nelson led all Class AA goalies at state with a 1.59 goals-against average. He gave up more than two goals in only three games (in 26 starts) this season, and set four school records: most victories (24), shutouts (seven) and lowest GAA in a season (1.22) and lowest GAA for a career (1.27).

The Skippers were led in scoring this season by Burrows with 48 points (24 goals, 24 assists). Other top scorers were Gavin Garry (20 goals, 24 assists), Moore (10 goals, 28 assists), Schultz (14 goals, 22 assists), Scheetz (10 goals, 16 assists), Stout (7 goals, 18 assists), Lunski (11 goals, 13 assists), Luke Garry (13 goals, 10 assists), Hupka (4 goals, 16 assists), Sand (6 goals, 10 assists), Klaers (1 goal, 13 assists), House (2 goals, 9 assists), Sr. Jake McCuskey (6 goals, 4 assists), Pasqua (3 goals, 6 assists), Krebsbach (4 goals, 4 assists) and Sr. Ryan Holzer (5 assists).

Minnetonka graduates Holzer, Hupka, Krebsbach, McCuskey, Nelson, Pasqua, Sand and Gabe Tibbitts.

The Skippers finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class AA Top 20 state rankings.

 

Girls Hockey

After being ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, the Minnetonka Girls Hockey team had its sights set on a state championship. However, the Skippers’ hopes were dashed by a 2-1 overtime loss to eventual champion Gentry Academy in the Class AA State Semifinals at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It’s a fine line between winning and losing at the highest level.

The setback to Gentry Academy was oh-so-close. Jr. Molly Ryan scored the Skippers’ lone goal on assists from juniors Kendra Distad and Lauren Goldsworthy, but Gentry closed the door in overtime.

The Skippers, who then lost to Lake Conference rival Edina 3-2 in the 3rd place game on Feb. 2, finished the season 26-4. It was the fifth straight state tournament appearance for Minnetonka, which has compiled a 19-7 all-time state tournament record. A year ago, the Skippers knocked off Edina in the state semifinals before falling to Andover in the championship.

Against Edina, Minnetonka received goals from Sr. Ava Lindsay and So. Ruby Rauk. Sr. Josie Hemp, Rauk and Sr. Grace Sadura had assists.

In the state quarterfinals, Minnetonka won a thriller over Centennial/Spring Lake Park 3-2 as Jr. Lindzi Avar scored with 42.7 second remaining in regulation. Centennial had tied the game 2-2 with 1:14 left to play, setting the stage for Avar’s game-winning heroics. It was her second goal of the game, while Lindsay had opened scoring for Minnetonka. Sadura, Hemp, So. Lauren Mack and Distad had assists. So. goalie Layla Hemp had 12 saves. It was the 10th straight win for the Skippers.

Avar was named to the Class AA All-Tournament team.

Minnetonka won Class AA state titles in 2011, ’12 and ‘13 and was runner-up in 2015 and last season. The Skippers also appeared at state in 2019, ‘20 and ’21.

The Skippers entered the state tournament as the No. 1 seed, finishing the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class AA Top 20 state rankings. Minnetonka advanced to its fifth consecutive state tournament by winning the Section 2AA title with victories over New Prague, Prior Lake and Holy Family.

Against Holy Family in the Section 2AA championship at Braemar, a 4-0 Skippers win, Minnetonka received two goals from So. Senja Leeper while Layla Hemp recorded her second straight shutout in net with 24 saves. The Skippers outshot Holy Family 43-18. Besides Leeper, Rauk and Avar both scored goals, with assists going to So. Bella Finnegan, Sr. Elly Klepinger, Goldsworthy and Ryan.

In Minnetonka’s 6-0 win over No. 4 seed Prior Lake in the section semifinals, Distad and Josie Hemp both scored twice while Ryan and Sadura also added goals. Layla Hemp had 14 saves. Against No. 8 seed New Prague in the quarterfinals, the Skippers exploded for 14 goals in a 14-1 blowout victory.

Besides finishing fourth at state and claiming the Section 2AA title, the Skippers won the Lake Conference championship and claimed the title at the Walser Holiday Tournament.

Avar, Distad, Goldsworthy, Josie Hemp, Klepinger, Lindsay and Sadura were named All Lake Conference. Finnegan, So. Ashlyn Hazlett, Layla Hemp and Mack were named Honorable Mention All-Conference.

Josie Hemp, Klepinger, Lindsay and Sadura were named All-State while Avar received Honorable Mention honors. Josie Hemp, Sr. Jaiden Lindemann, Lindsay and Sadrua were named Academic All-State (for seniors only).

Lindsay, the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, was named Star Tribune All-Metro first team along with Josie Hemp. Sadura was named to the third team. Josie Hemp and Lindsay were both named 2023 Ms. Hockey Semifinalists. Lindsay and Sadura were nominees for the 2022-23 USA TODAY HSSA Girls Hockey Player of the Year.

The top scorers for the Skippers this season were Lindsay, Sadura and Josie Hemp. Lindsay compiled 43 points (25 goals, 18 assists), Sadura 41 (16 goals, 25 assists) and Hemp 40 (9 goals, 31 assists). Other top scorers were Distad (15 goals, 15 assists), Avar (14 goals, 15 assists), Ryan (8 goals, 17 assists), Mack (8 goals, 17 assists), Rauk (10 goals, 13 assists), Finnegan (7 goals, 15 assists), Klepinger (5 goals, 12 assists), Goldsworthy (2 goals, 11 assists), Leeper (9 goals, 2 assists), So. Ellie Zakrajsheck (6 goals, 4 assists) and Karl (2 goals, 4 assists).

An interesting sidebar to the season was that five Minnetonka players - Avar, Distad, Layla Hemp, Klepinger and Lindsay - played on Team USA in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships in Sweden in January. Team USA advanced to the Bronze Medal Game, defeating Finland 5-0.

Eight Skippers have committed to play hockey in college. They are Goldsworthy (Mankato State), Karl (St. Thomas), Sadura (UM-Duluth), Avar (Cornell), Lindsay (University of Minnesota), Distad (University of Minnesota), Josie Hemp (University of Minnesota) and Klepinger (University of Minnesota).

 

Boys Alpine Ski

The Minnetonka Boys repeated as Alpine Ski state champions!

The Skippers raced to the Boys Alpine Ski state title on Feb. 14 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Minnetonka tallied 170 points to claim the title. The Skippers were followed by Benilde-St. Margaret’s (149), Stillwater (146), Blaine (127), Edina (119), Cook County (84), Minneapolis Washburn (74) and Lakeville North (69).

Sr. JD Landstrom led the Skippers charge in the team competition, finishing third on the Red Course in a time of 37.37 seconds and fifth on the Blue Course in a time of 39.01. His combined time of 1:16.38 placed him third overall among team competitors. Sr. Stephen Reddington had times of 37.92 to finish fourth on the Red Course and 38.92 to finish fourth on the Blue Course. He finished fourth overall among team competitors with a combined time of 1:16.84.

The other top 10 finisher for Minnetonka was Fr. Oscar Anderson, who was eighth overall with a combined time of 1:18.66. Fr. Steve Collin rounded out scoring for the Skippers, finishing 11th with a combined time of 1:19.00. Sr. Marley Barrett finished 13th with a time of 1:19.66 and So. Jack Wipson was 16th with a time of 1:20.90.

Among individuals overall, Landstrom and Reddington finished in the top 10, capturing sixth and seventh, respectively. Anderson was 17th, Conlin was 20th, Barrett was 23rd and Wipson was 31st.

“JD and Stephen both would have had a shot at top-three finishes, but they dialed it back and executed the race plan to a T,” coach Dave Gartner told the Sun Sailor. “Our execution as a team was perfect. We dominated more than we had some other years.”

Minnetonka also won state titles in 1996, ’98, ’00, ’12, ’17 and ’18.

The Skippers advanced to the state meet by winning the Section 5 championship on Feb. 7 at Wild Mountain. Reddington had a combined time of 1:00.51 to finish third. Also in the top 10 were Landstrom (1:01.34, 5th) and Conlin (1:0.2.22, 7th). Anderson was 11th (1:03.52) and Wipson was 16th (1:04.56).

Minnetonka won the Lake Conference championship on Feb. 1 at Buck Hill to compile a perfect 6-0 conference record. The top six scoring Skippers were all in the top 15 and the balance of the team was in the top 25 of 58 racers. Minnetonka was led by Reddington (2nd), Landstrom (4th), Conlin (5th), Anderson (6th) Wipson (12th) and 8th Gr. Chip Scott (14th).

Landstrom, Reddington, Conlin and Anderson were named All-State while Barrett received All-State Honorable Mention honors. Barrett, Landstrom, Reddington, Conlin, Wipson and Anderson were named All Lake Conference.

The Skippers JV team went 3-1.

“It’s satisfying to see kids reach their potential through intense training sessions while maintaining a fun atmosphere,” Gartner said of the team.

Witte and Stinnett Girls Alpine State Qualifiers

Girls Alpine Ski

Two Minnetonka Girls advanced to the Alpine Ski State Tournament at Giants Ridge in Biwabik on Feb. 14. The previous season, the Skippers Girls won the Alpine Ski state title.

At state, competing in the individual tournament, Jr. Marissa Witte finished second while So. Stella Stinnett finished eighth.

Witte had a 2-run combined time of 1:16.00 while Stinnett had a time of 1:17.93. Witte covered the Red Course in 37.23 seconds (4th) and the Blue Course in 38.77 (2nd). Stinnett had times of 37.93 (9th) on the Red Course and 40.00 (11th) on the Blue Course.

The Skippers missed out on a chance to defend their state title after finishing fifth at the Section 5 meet on Feb. 7 at Wild Mountain. Witte had a combined time of 1:05.93 to capture third while Stinnett had a time of 1:06.26 to finish fourth. Eighth-grader Liina Witte was 28th, So. Sephina Switz was 53rd and Jr. Briena Giebel was 96th.

Marissa Witte was a dominant force throughout the season, winning the first three Lake Conference meets. A year ago, she finished seventh overall at the state tournament.

The Skippers went 6-0 in the Lake Conference and won the Lake Conference championship on Feb. 1 at Buck Hill. The top six scoring Skippers were all in the top 15. Witte brought home first, Stinnett was second, 7th Gr. Charley Kinzer was fourth, Liina Witte was 10th, Giebel was 11th and Switz was 15th.

Marisa Witte and Stinnett were both named All-State. Marisa Witte, Stinnett, Switz, Liina Witte and Kinzer were named All Lake Conference.

The Skippers JV team went 4-0.

 

Boys Swim & Dive

Making their seventh consecutive appearance at the Class AA State Boys Swim & Dive Tournament, the Skippers finished fourth at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center March 2-4.

Lake Conference teams dominated the tournament, with Eden Prairie (263.5 points) taking top honors. Edina was second (219), the Skippers fourth (161) and Wayzata sixth (138). Rounding out the top eight teams were Prior Lake (3rd, 194), Lakeville South (5th, 152), East Ridge (7th, 110) and Chanhassen-Chaska (8th, 108).

Skippers who advanced to the March 4 finals included the 200 Medley Relay team (Fr. Ben Jabs, So. Daniel Shelstad, Jr. Myonghai Choi and Sr. Graham Muench), Ben Jabs in the 200 Freestyle, So. Evan Witte in the 200 IM and 100 Freestyle, Shelstad in the 50 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke, Jr. Trey Maroney in Diving, So. Reece Carlson and So. Max Louie in the 100 Fly, the 200 Freestyle Relay team (Witte, Shelstad, Fr. Brix DeWitt and Muench), Jabs and Jr. Carter Lawin in the 100 Backstroke, and the 400 Freestyle Relay team (Witte, Louie, Carlson and Jabs).

Like past seasons, the Minnetonka relays were a tremendous strength for the team. At state, the 200 Freestyle Relay captured third with an All-American Consideration time of 1:24.93, and the 400 Freestyle team was sixth (3:10.97). The 200 Medley Relay team was ninth with a time of 1:35.78.

While Witte swam on the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay teams, he also won the Class AA state title in the 100 Freestyle with an All-American Consideration time of 45.31 and was third in the 200 IM (1:52.37).

In the 200 Freestyle, Jabs was 16th (1:47.00). In the 50 Freestyle, Shelstad was 13th (21.52). Maroney was eighth in Diving with 375.25 points. In the 100 Fly, Carlson was 14th (51.51) and Louie was 16th (51.67). In the 100 Backstroke, Jabs was fifth (51.54) and Lawin was 11th (53.59). Shelstad was ninth in the 100 Breaststroke with a time of 59.46.

In the state prelims, Maroney was in eighth place after eight rounds to advance to the dive finals. The top 16 advanced.

The Skippers won their seventh straight section championship in convincing fashion. All Minnetonka section competitors earned points towards the team title, with 11 individuals, three relays and one diver advancing to the Class AA State Tournament.

Minnetonka won the Section 2AA title by swimming away in dominant fashion with 488 points. The Skippers were followed by eventual state champion Eden Prairie (412), Prior Lake (383), Chanhassen-Chaska (276), Waconia (183), Shakopee (152), Bloomington Jefferson (95) and Burnsville (92).

At the Section 2AA meet, the 400 Freestyle Relay team of Witte, Louie, DeWitt and Jabs captured third with a state-qualifying time of 3:10.74. The 200 Freestyle Relay team of Shelstad, Muench, DeWitt and Witte won the section championship with a time of 1:26.05. The 200 Medley Relay team of Jabs, Shelstad, Choi and Muench took third with a state-qualifying time of 1:36.06.

In the 100 Breaststroke, Shelstad finished second to advance to state. Shelstad also qualified for state with a third-place finish in the 50 Freestyle. In the 100 Backstroke, Jabs finished third and Lawin was sixth in a state-qualifying time. In the 100 Freestyle, Witte won the section title while DeWitt was fifth in a state-qualifying time. Witte also captured second in the 200 IM to advance to state. In the 100 Fly, Carlson was fourth, Choi was fifth and Louie was sixth - all three advanced to state. Jabs was third in the 200 Freestyle to punch another ticket to state.

Maroney placed fourth in Diving and qualified for the state meet. All four Skippers divers finished in the top 16. So. Rocco Ennen was 11th, Sr. Garrett Molitor-Kirsch was 13th and 8th Gr. Caelan Warmut was 15th.

Other Skippers in the Section 2AA meet were Fr. Soonhong Chua (5th) and Sr. Will Anderson (8th) in the 100 Breaststroke, while So. Eli Petrin was 9th. In the 100 Backstroke, Jr. Mitchell LeSage was ninth and Jr. Theodore Paulson-Luna was 12th. In the 500 Freestyle, Jr. Bennett Molitor-Kirsch was fifth, Sr. Ryan Fries was eighth, Sr. Isaac McFall was 13th and Fr. Alex Korolev was 15th. In the 100 Freestyle, Muench was seventh and Sr. Will Poey was 15th. Anderson was ninth in the 100 Fly. In the 50 Freestyle, Muench was seventh, DeWitt was ninth and Molitor-Kirsch was 15th. In the 200 IM, Choi was seventh, McFall was eighth and Chua was ninth.

In the Section prelims, all three Skippers relay teams and all individual swimmers advanced to the finals.

Minnetonka Boys Swim & Dive has won 11 state titles.

The Skippers also won the True Team Class AA State championship on Jan. 21 at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. It was the 10th True Team state title for the Minnetonka Boys. They also won Class AA True Team championships in 2008, 2011, 2014-18, 2020 and ’22.

The Skippers rolled to the True Team title in the 12-team field with 2,274 points, outdistancing second-place Wayzata (1,786 points). Prior Lake (1,683) and Edina (1,561) finished third and fourth, respectively. Witte won the 100-yard Freestyle with a time of 47.12 seconds - the fourth-fastest time in the state to that point - and swam the anchor leg on the victorious 200 Freestyle Relay team, which finished in 1:26.41, the best time in the state.

The Skippers finished second in the Lake Conference while the JV team won the Lake Conference JV championship, taking first in every event.

Minnetonka also captured second at the prestigious Maroon & Gold Invitational at the University of Minnesota Jan. 7. The Skippers led all teams from Minnesota in the Gold Division with 503 points to earn second place, finishing behind Nebraska’s powerhouse Omaha Creighton Prep (669 points).

 

Boys Basketball

The Minnetonka Boys returned to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. The appearance at state capped a memorable season for the Skippers, who finished 23-8 and recorded their most wins since 2008 and third most in program history.

The No. 4 seed Skippers’ state title hopes were dashed in the quarterfinals, falling to No. 5 Eastview 72-68 at Target Center on March 21.

The Skippers staged a late rally and tied the score, 67-67, on Sr. Jalen Cain’s and-1 with 1:54 left in the game. Minnetonka had its chances down the stretch but Eastview pulled away. The Lightning clinched the victory with a Myles Adams transition dunk and a pair of free throws from sixth-man Dylan Omweno, who finished with a game-high 25 points.

Jr. guard Andy Stefonowicz led Minnetonka with 22 points while Jr. Jordan Cain had 14, Sr. Ibo El-Amin 12 and Jalen Cain 10. Sr. Alex Jones, who fouled out with 5 minutes remaining, finished with 8 points. So. Duke Richardson added 2 points.

Minnetonka then lost to Andover 95-77 in the consolation semifinals March 22 at Concordia University in St. Paul. Jalen Cain scored his 1,000th career point in his final game for the Skippers. He joined El-Amin and Stefonowicz in the 1,000 point club.

It was the fifth state tournament appearance for Minnetonka. In four previous trips to state, the Skippers won state championships in 1965, 1998 (Class AAAA) and 2008 (AAAA), and was runner-up in 1999 (AAAA).

To advance to the state tournament, Minnetonka defeated Chanhassen 73-69 in the Section 2AAAA Championship in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Minnetonka High School on March 17. Jordan Cain ignited the Skippers in the second half as the No. 1 seed Skippers and No. 6 Storm battled back and forth. Cain scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the decisive half as both teams came alive on offense. After being ahead 25-24 at halftime, the Skippers outscored the Storm 48-45 in the second half.

The second half was a see-saw affair until Minnetonka put the game away with Cain’s thunderous dunk in the final seconds. The other top scorers for Minnetonka were Jones, who had 20 points, and Stefonowicz with 16. Jalen Cain also scored in double figures with 11 points while Richardson had 4 and Jr. Greyson Uelmen had 2. It was the second straight playoff win that Minnetonka was without El-Amin, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.

During the regular season, Minnetonka narrowly defeated Chanhassen 85-82 on Jan. 11.

The section championship was a special moment for the Skippers seniors, who were freshmen when coach Bryce Tesdahl took over the program four years ago after guiding East Ridge to the 2019 state tournament. “We got some shots when we needed them,” Tesdahl told the Star Tribune after the section finals. “Even though we couldn’t find a rhythm on offense, we still scored 73 points.”

To reach the section finals, Minnetonka defeated Prior Lake 84-66 in the semifinals at Minnetonka on March 11. Jordan Cain scored 30 points to lead the Skippers attack. His breakaway dunk put the Skippers ahead 49-34 in the second half. But Prior Lake then went on an 11-2 scoring run to close to within 51-45 with 8:49 remaining. The two teams exchanged baskets for awhile, then Minnetonka wore the Lakers down.

Besides Jordan Cain, other top scorers were Jones (19), Stefonowicz (12), Jalen Cain (10), Richardson (10) and Uelmen (3).

Against No. 8 Chaska in the quarterfinals on March 1 at Minnetonka, the Skippers relied on a balanced attack to defeat the Hawks 70-56. Jordan Cain had 18 points, Stefonowicz 17, Jalen Cain 10, El-Amin 9, Jones 7, Richardson 6 and Uelmen 3. Stefonowicz scored his 1,000th career point in the victory. In the decisive second half, Minnetonka outscored Chaska 37-21.

The Hawks took a 24-23 lead over Minnetonka with 6 minutes left in the first half. Jordan Cain scored three straight baskets to tie it up 29-29. At the half, the teams were tied 33-33. The Skippers pulled ahead 47-46 on El-Amin’s inbounds-play basket and then extended the lead to 12 points with 8:24 remaining in the game.

Besides advancing to state, another season highlight came in the regular-season finale, when Minnetonka defeated Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie 89-65 on March 3 at Eden Prairie. It was the 150th career win for Tesdahl. It also marked the first 20-win season for the Skippers since 2012-13.

Against the Eagles, El-Amin led the Skippers with 26 points while Stefonowicz (18) and Jordan Cain (16) also scored in double figures. Jones and Richardson added 8 points apiece, and Jalen Cain had 6 points.

Prior to the Eden Prairie game, the Skippers - ranked No. 4 in the final Class AAAA state rankings - defeated Class AAA No. 1 Totino-Grace 89-80 on March 1 at Totino-Grace. Jordan Cain scored 24 points while Stefonwicz compiled 23 points and 10 assists. Richardson added 10 points while El-Amin, Jalen Cain, Jones and Uelmen had 8 each.

After the big win over Totino-Grace, Tesdahl said, “We turned the page to March. March is a special month for basketball players. It’s why you play the other 11 months of the year.”

The Skippers finished second in the Lake Conference standings with an 8-4 record, trailing only eventual state champion Wayzata (11-1). Buffalo (7-5), Hopkins (7-5), Edina (6-6), Eden Prairie (2-10) and St. Michael-Albertville (1-11) rounded out the conference standings. It was Minnetonka’s highest Lake Conference finish since 2013.

“I am proud of this team of coaches and student-athletes for providing the Minnetonka basketball community with a season to remember and build upon for future years to come,” Tesdahl said.

El-Amin was named a Seimfinalist for the MBCA McDonald Award, which is awarded to the state’s top senior. El-Amin and Jalen Cain were both selected to play in the MBCA All Star Series on April 1 at Anoka Ramsey Community College.

Stefonowicz was named to the Star Tribune All-Metro Honorable Mention team.

Jalen Cain, Jordan Cain, El-Amin and Stefonowicz were named All Lake Conference. Jones, Richardson and Uelmen received Honorable Mention All-Conference honors.

Stefonowicz led the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game. Other top scorers were Jordan Cain (15.0 ppg), El-Amin (13.7 ppg), Jalen Cain (12.6 ppg), Jones (8.3 ppg), Richardson (7.9 ppg) and Uelmen (7.3 ppg).

Stefonowicz was also second on the team in rebounding (5.8 rpg) and led in assists (4.9 apg). Jordan Cain (6.1 rpg) led the team in rebounding. Jones (4.5 rpg) and Jalen Cain (4.2 rpg) were other top rebounders.

The Skippers graduate Joseph Adams, Dylan Braun, Jalen Cain, El-Amin, Jones and Lucas Martin.

 

Girls Basketball

Under the direction of first-year coach Brian Cosgriff, Minnetonka advanced to the Section 2AAAA semifinals where it lost to host Chaska 57-55 on March 3. The Skippers finished the season 17-11 and as the No. 6 state-ranked team in the final Minnesota Basketball News Class AAAA Top 20.

As the No. 4 seed, the Skippers fell behind the No. 1 seed Hawks 13-4 in the early stages but battled back throughout the first half. Minnetonka took its first lead of the game, 29-28, on So. Aaliyah Crump’s put-back basket as time expired in the first half.

Crump finished the game with 27 points before fouling out in the final minute. Other top scorers were Fr. Lanelle Wright with 10 points, Jr. Sidney Reed with 6 points, Sr. Tootie Cade with 5 points, So. Harley Wock with 4 points and Sr. Megan Corkery with 3 points.

A year ago, the Skippers lost to Eden Prairie 59-50 in the section semifinals.

To reach the semifinals, Minnetonka downed No. 5 seed Chanhassen 71-49 in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals on March 1 at Minnetonka. The Skippers jumped out to an 18-4 lead and led at halftime 36-27 before pulling away in the second half. Minnetonka was led in scoring by Crump with 27 points, Corkery with 12, Cade with 11, Reed with 10 and Wright with 9.

During the regular season, the Skippers recorded a signature victory with its 57-54 win over then No. 4 state-ranked Wayzata on Feb. 21. Crump and Jr. Grace Hamdorf led Minnetonka with 20 points apiece while Wright added 13 points, including two clutch free throws to provide the winning margin.

Another big Skippers win was a 55-50 victory over then Class AAA No. 1 ranked Becker in the Breakdown Granite City Classic at College of St. Benedict on Dec. 30.

Crump was named to the MGBCA Class AAAA All-State team. She was also named to the Star Tribune All-Metro Second Team. The highly-recruited sophomore has been invited to the Team USA tryouts.

Tori McKinney, a junior, was sidelined this season due to injury.

Seniors Maddie Prondzinski and Ellie Keenan were named Academic All-State for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or above. Besides Prondzinki and Keenan, the Skippers graduate Corkery and Ella Wolff.

Crump led the team in scoring with 22.0 points per game. Other top scorers were Wright (10.3 ppg), Corkery (8.4 ppg), Hamdorf (7.2 ppg), Reed (6.5 ppg) and Cade (5.7 ppg).

 

Wrestling

Prior to this season, only five Minnetonka Boys Wrestlers had ever won a state individual championship during the history of the tournament, which began in 1938. Now you can make it six!

Skippers junior Marco Christiansen claimed the Class AAA state title at 170 lbs. on March 4, defeating Adam Cherne of Wayzata 4-2 in Sudden Victory-1 in the finals. Christiansen finished the season 50-7 while Lake Conference rival Cherne ended 46-6. A year ago, Christiansen finished third at 170 lbs. at the Class AAA State Tournament. It was the third state tournament appearance for Christiansen.

“I loved it,” Christiansen told the Sun Sailor of his state championship experience wrestling in front of 13,000 fans. “All of my family and everybody from Tonka was there. The kids I grew up with watched my championship match, and the Minnetonka suite was packed. My teammates brought me a lot of energy.”

To reach the finals, Christiansen defeated Noah Torgerson of St. Michael-Albertville by 5-3 decision in the semifinals, Ian Pepple of Hastings by 7-0 decision in the quarterfinals, and Peyton Hoff of Winona-Winona Cotter by major decision 19-8 in the first round.

To reach state for a third time, Christiansen won the Section 6AAA Individual championship at Waconia. The other top Skippers finisher was Sr. David Brandt, who advanced to the 220 lbs. second place match, where he lost by fall. Other top finishers were Jr. Charlie Palm (126 lbs., 4th), Sr. Liam Dorn (152 lbs., 4th) and So. Joe McAnally (160 lbs., 4th).

In the Section 6AAA Team Tournament at Eden Prairie, No. 5 seed Minnetonka defeated No. 4 Chaska/Chanhassen 39-35 in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual section champion Waconia 68-12 in the semifinals. Christiansen got the Skippers’ lone victory against Waconia, winning by fall at 182 lbs.

Against Chaska/Chanhassen, So. Dylan Romero won by fall at 126 lbs., Palm won by decision at 132 lbs., Jr. Lance Hoglund won by decision at 138 lbs., Dorn won by fall at 152 lbs., Joe McAnallly won by fall at 160 lbs., Jr. John Mueller won in Sudden Victory-1 at 170 lbs., Christiansen won by fall at 182 lbs. and Jr. Shawn Johnson won by forfeit at 220 lbs.

Two Skippers - Sr. Bella Heaney (107 lbs.) and So. Karina Lee (114 lbs.) - competed in the Girls Section Tournament at Sartell on Feb. 11.

Christiansen reached the 125-win milestone for this career on Jan. 21 as he won the 170-lb. championship at the Raider Challenge in Arcadia, Wis.

 

Tonka Girls Gymnastics at Sections 2023

Gymnastics

At the Class AA State Gymnastics Individual Meet at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Sr. Elena Cantwell was 11th in All-Around, Jr. Emma Callahan was ninth in Uneven Bars and Jr. Ellie Boettcher was seventh in Floor.

It was the fourth straight state meet appearance for Cantwell and second for Callahan.

At the Section 2AA Meet, Minnetonka was edged out by eventual state champion New Prague, which had 147.775 points to the Skippers’ 141.175. Prior Lake was third with 138.675 points, followed by Mankato East (137.05), Eden Prairie (133.55), Waconia (129.825), Chaska-Chanhassen (128.475) and Bloomington Jefferson/Kennedy (122.125).

Cantwell finished second in the All-Around at the section meet, Callahan took first in Uneven Bars and Boettcher qualified for state in Floor. In Bars, Callahan scored 9.225, Cantwell 8.875, Fr. Sydney Breitling 8.10, Sr. Kaitlyn Sweatt 7.95 and Boettcher 7.275. In Vault, Cantwell had 9.00, Boettcher 8.85, Callahan 8.70, Breitling 8.60 and So. Bentley Hendrickson 8.45.

In Floor, Cantwell had a 9.40 score, Boettcher 9.225, Callahan 9.175, Jr. Ginaya Love 8.975 and Jr. Amy Lund 8.325. In Beam, Cantwell had a score of 9.150, Sweatt had 8.875, Lund 8.65, Boettcher 8.425 and Hendrickson 8.20.

Five Skippers were named All-Section: Lund (Beam), Boettcher (All-Around), Hendrickson (Vault), Callahan (Floor) and Cantwell (All-Around).

A huge season highlight for the Skippers was winning the prestigious Breck Luau on Feb. 4. Cantwell captured first in All-Around with 36.80 points while Boettcher was sixth with 34.80 points. The Skippers scored 141.35 points to outdistance runner-up Wayzata 141.125 in the 9-team field.

The Skippers finished second at the Winter Wonderland Invitational on Jan. 28 at Minnetonka High School. In the All-Around, Boettcher was second, Callahan was ninth, Lund was 12th and Hendrickson was 13th.

On Jan. 12, on Skippers Senior Night vs. St. Michael-Albertville at Minnetonka High School, Minnetonka delivered a meet for the ages, setting five school records. The Skippers set all-time team meet records in score (143.1), Bars (35.675) and Floor (37.5), and all-time individual records in All-Around (Cantwell, 37.25) and Bars (Callahan, 9.5).

Cantwell was named one of five Class AA MGGCA All-State Elite Gymnasts. Cantwell, Callahan and Boettcher were on the Star Tribune Metro Honor Roll throughout the season.

 

Boys Nordic Racing Team 2023

Boys Nordic Ski

The Minnetonka Boys finished as Section 2 runner-up and went on to capture 13th at the Boys Nordic Ski State Meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

In Pursuit at state, combining Classic and Freestyle times, Sr. Isaac Wilkey was 27th in a time of 28:05.5, Sr. Caleb Hunter was 72nd (30:13.1), Sr. Max Westerlund was 86th (31:22.4), So. Jack Malec was 92nd (31:50.9) and Sr. Hingfon Kong was 104th (34:21.0). In Team Sprint, Sr. Zach Eisenmann and Sr. Jack Callinan took 11th with a time of 15:35.43.

At the Section 2 meet Feb. 7 at Theodore Wirth Park, the Skippers tallied 367 points to finish second behind Eden Prairie (375). Bloomington Jefferson was third with 361 points, followed by Minneapolis Washburn (355), Minneapolis Southwest (352), Edina (349), Chaska/Chanhassen (320), Scott County West (293), Richfield (267) and Holy Family (174).

Wilkey led the team at the section meet, covering the course in 14:07.3 to finish sixth. Hunter was 11th (14:39.4), Westerlund 13th (14:40.2), Malec 27th (16:28.9) and Kong 28th (16:32.6).

In the Lake Conference Pursuit Championships on Jan. 31 at Hyland Park Reserve, Minnetonka finished third. Wilkey captured sixth overall.

 

Girls Nordic Racing Team 2023

Girls Nordic Ski

Two Skippers - Jr. Nina Fedje and Sr. Elena Hicks - competed at the Girls Nordic Ski State Meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Fedje had a combined Classic and Freestyle time of 32:02.5 to finish 13th while Hicks had a combined time of 33:24.9 to finish 43rd.

A year ago, Hicks was 46th at state and Fedje was 51st.

At the Section 2 meet Feb. 7 at Theodore Wirth Park, the Skippers finished third. Minneapolis Washburn won the section title with 387 points, followed by Eden Prairie (379), Minnetonka (366), Minneapolis Southwest (350), Bloomington Jefferson (342), Edina (336), Chaska/Chanhassen (297), Scott County West (284), Holy Family (241) and Richfield (119).

Hicks captured fifth at the section meet with a time of 16:30.9 while Fedje was sixth with a time of 16:32.9. Eighth-grader Evie Malec was eighth (17.25.5), Jr. Elizabeth Weider was 16th (18:13.7) and Sr. Maya Mor was 17th (18:25.7).

The Skippers finished second at the Lake Conference Pursuit Championships on Jan. 31 at Hyland Park Reserve. Three Minnetonka skiers finished in the top 10: Fedje was second, Hicks was fifth and Mor was 10th.

Another season highlight was finishing fourth out of 57 teams at the Mesabi East Invitiational on Jan. 7 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

 

Cheer at Nationals in Orlando 2023

Tonka Cheer

The Skippers won the UCA Small Varsity Non-Tumbling Division I national championship in Orlando. Minnetonka edged out Bishop Kenny High School 86.5 to 84.7 to capture the crown. It was the sixth UCA national title for Minnetonka Cheer. Minnetonka also captured third place in Small Varsity Game Day Non-Tumbling Division I.

Also in Orlando, the Skipper claimed top honors in the UCA/ICU World School Cheer Championships in Small Varsity Non-Tumbling and in the UCA/ICU National Cup Championships, recording the highest routine score out all all teams competing in their session.

At the MCCA State Cheerleading Championship in St. Paul, the Skippers won the Class AA Non-Tumbling Division I title. It’s the 26th state title in program history. Minnetonka took second place in Varsity Game Day Non-Tumbling Division I.

Another highlight was claiming first place at the UCA Pocono Regional National Qualifier in Pennsylvania in Varsity Game Day. The Skippers were second in Small Varsity Non-Tumbling.

Minnetonka also claimed first in Small Varsity Non-Tumbling and Varsity Game Day Non-Tumbling at the UCA 10,000 Lakes Regional National Qualifier at Minnetonka High School.

For end-of-season awards, Jr. Isabelle Harig was named Cheerleader of the Year while So. Madison Reese was named Most Improved. Coaches Awards were presented to So. Noelle Kirby, Jr. Mollie Yanda and Jr. Lily Ziebarth. Highest GPA honoree was 8th Gr. Kaylin Crosley while Sr. Ruby Cranbrook, Harig, Fr. Milah Lewis and Fr. Grace Severson were recognized for having a 3.5 or higher GPA. Sr. Meghan Becker, Noelle Kirby, Fr. Ryan Kirby, So. Linden Reinhart, Sr. Claire Tungseth and Ziebarth had a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Becker was Captain and Harig was Co-Captain.

The Minnetonka JV team was second at the Edina Sweetheart Classic, third at the University of Minnesota Cheer Championships and fourth at the Tonka Freeze Cheerleading Competition and MCCA State Cheerleading Championships.

 

Skippers Notes

Rebecca Wesley was named Minnetonka Girls Cross Country head coach. Wesley fills the role previously held by Hall of Fame coach Jane Reimer-Morgan, who coached cross country at Minnetonka for 32 years. Reimer-Morgan will continue to coach Girls Track & Field. Wesley served as the assistant cross country and track and field coach at St. Cloud State University from 2018-22. Wesley ran for the University of Minnesota and was a cross country letterwinner during the 2015 season. As an undergrad at Bethel University, Rebecca received multiple letters and All-MIAC honors… Minnetonka Wrestling Assistant Coach Christian DuLaney is currently training for the 2024 Olympics as part of the USA National Team… Buffalo Dance and Lake Conference teams honored former Skippers Dancer Layla Julien at the Competition Dance meet at Buffalo on Dec. 15… The Minnetonka-Wayzata Lakers Adapted Floor Hockey CI team had a great season, playing a full slate of games… Minnetonka Football’s Jack Liwienski played in the 50th Minnesota High School Football All-Star Game on Dec. 10… The Minnetonka Varsity Bowling team finished fourth at the State Tournament at Concord Lanes in St. Paul Dec. 4.

 

Arts & Activities Update

Minnetonka Theatre received a Starred Performance for its One Act Play “Honk & Holler” a the MSHSL One Act Play Festival at St. Catherine University’s O’Shaughnessey Auditorium in St. Paul. Honk & Holler won the Section 2AA championship at Minnetonka High School on Feb. 4… In Debate, Fernanda Arreola-Lucio, Brock Dodds and Tommy Robben competed at the State Tournament… The MHS Knowledge Bowl Team advanced to the state tournament. Team members include Gautam Venkates, Inba Rajashankar, Jerry Zhang and John Hultgren… The Minnetonka High School Esports team won the Valorant State Championship on Jan. 14 at the Minnesota Varsity League State Tournament… Brock Dodds reached the quarterfinals in Lincoln-Douglas Debate at the MSHSL State Debate Tournament on Jan. 14… Minnetonka Theatre’s Little Women the Musical SOLD OUT all 6 shows!

 

Tonka Recruiting Trail

Junior midfielder Juliet Carlson of Girls Soccer has committed to play at the University of St. Thomas… Aidan Boehle and Jacob McCalla signed to play football at Winona State and Moorhead State, respectively… Cosmo Guion has committed to play football at University of Washington in St. Louis… Following the state tournament, Marco Christiansen announced his commitment to wrestle for the University of Nebraska… Bella Heaney of Minnetonka Wrestling has signed to wrestle with Siena Heights University.

 

Former Skippers Update

Former Minnetonka Girls Hockey goalie Julie Friend, who was on the 2011 Skippers state championship team, was part of the KSTC 45 broadcast team at the Girls Hockey State Tournament… Former Minnetonka Girls Hockey standout Hanna Baskin of UM-Duluth was named a WCHA Scholar Athlete… Former Skippers Girls Hockey captain Molly McHugh played for Gustavus Adolphus in the NCAA Division III Hockey Championship. The Gusties defeated Amherst 2-1 in triple overtime to win the national championship... Former Minnetonka Girls Basketball standout Kiani Lockett advanced to the NCAA Tournament with Creighton… Former Minnetonka Boys Cross Country and Track standout Matt Wilkinson won the Raleigh Relays in the 3000-meter steeplechase on March 23. His time of 8:29.35 broke the meet and facility record… Former Minnetonka Boys Hockey standouts Josh Luedtke and Joe Molenaar won the NCC Frozen Faceoff championship with St. Cloud State University… Former Skippers Girls Soccer standout Jelena Zbiljic has transferred from the University of Illinois-Chicago to the University of Minnesota.

Marco Christiansen photo courtesy John Sherman, Sun Sailor.

Archives

2023-24 LOI Signings

25 Minnetonka senior student athletes sign Letters of Intent on Fall Signing Day, Nov. 8; 4 more on Feb. 7