What a comeback
The third-seeded North Branch volleyball team’s season nearly came to a premature end in the opening round of the Section 7AAA tournament.
Duluth East, seeded 11th, won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-12, and were well on their way to taking the set and match in the third game with a 15-5 lead.
Following a rousing timeout, the Vikings came back to take the third set, 25-22, and earn a win in set four, 25-16.
Tied at 11 in the final set to 15, junior Katy Trunk and sophomore Courtney Selbitschka combined for big points to win 15-13 to stay alive in post-season play.
Selbitschka tallied 31 kills, followed by Trunk with 11. Sophomore Morgen Coleman had 25 set assists while senior Cassie Doerr earned 18 digs.
Legendary NB coach inducted into hall of fame
Bill Baumann was the face of North Branch boys basketball for 31 years, earning an overall record of 414-335 and two state trips.
On Oct. 12, Baumann was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
As a teenager, Baumann competed in football, basketball, baseball and track and field at Waseca High School, where he played under two renowned high school coaches: fellow hall of fame inductee Manny Beckmann (basketball) and Clint “Tink” Larson.
After graduating from Waseca in 1969, Baumann attended St. John’s University, where he pitched for the baseball team and played guard in basketball.
During his time at North Branch, Baumann earned six Rum River Conference titles, two state appearances following section titles and was named Rum River Coach of the Year four times and Section Coach of the Year five times.
Though retired, Baumann now spends his time as an assistant coach for the Cambridge-Isanti boys basketball team.
Tigers softball team finishes atop GRC
The Rush City softball team won three of its last four regular season games and finished the season as Great River Conference Champions.
The team led the Great River Conference with an 11-2 record and was 11-3 overall.
Vikings baseball tallies trio of upsets in sections
The North Branch baseball team won its first three section playoff games, upsetting higher seeds Anoka and Elk River, and then lost the next in Section 7AAA double elimination play in late May and early June.
After defeating No. 9-section seed Chisago Lakes 4-2 in the first playoff game, the No. 8-seed Vikings traveled to Anoka and shut out the No. 4-seed Tornadoes 1-0.
The team then faced No. 1-section seed Elk River at Portage and came away with a 5-1 upset victory. The team finally fell to No. 2-section seed Forest Lake in Grand Rapids by a score of 12-3.
North Branch native enters senior season as an All-American
As a freshman at St. Scholastica, North Branch native Chelsea Johnson’s collegiate cross-country highlights included a personal-best time of 25:06 in the 6K and placing 20th at the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship meet.
Her sophomore year, Johnson took third at the UMAC championship and recorded a personal-best 23:51 at the NCAA Central Region championships. By late October of her junior year, Johnson shaved two minutes off of her best time at the UMAC championship with a time of 21:47, good for second place. Two weeks later at the NCAA Central Region championships in Northfield, she qualified for the Division III National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., where she not only competed but earned All-American honors by placing 15th with a new personal-best time of 21:30.
After suffering wear-and-tear injuries due to intense training, Johnson had to rethink her training strategy to reach a new goal, which she achieved: finish in the top-5 at the Division III National Championships in Indianola, Ind., the fall of 2013.
Tiger grad explores new heights
Three-time state entrant pole vaulter Max Maher, of Rush City, earned third place at the 2013 state track and field meet.
The 17-year-old qualified for the Junior Olympic Track and Field Meet in Aberdeen, S.D., after clearing a personal-best height of 14-4.
After beginning to pole vault in seventh grade for the Tigers and placing regularly as a freshman, Maher suffered a broken L5 vertebrae and torn sacroiliac joint in March of 2011. Two months later, he qualified for the state meet.
Maher plans on continuing his athletic career at St. Cloud State University, where he hopes to major in entrepreneurial studies as he further develops his own nutritional supplement brand, Muscle Matter.
NB track stars compete at state
North Branch freshman Mikayla Johnson took seventh place to earn a spot on the podium at the State Track and Field Championships at Hamline University in early June
Johnson made it over the bar at 11 feet to earn her medal while facing tough competition in the pole vault, where a new state Class AA record of 13 feet was achieved by Andrianna Jacobs of Rochester Century.
Also representing the Viking girls team at state were senior Gina Amundson (high jump), senior SherahLynn Linkert (300-meter hurdles), eighth-grader Rhianna Rinke (1600-meter run and 3200-meter run) and the 4×200-meter relay team of freshman Cassie Kunshier, sophomore Madison Kunshier, junior Kadie Mattson and Linkert.
Sophomore Arik Steele represented the North Branch boys team in the 110 hurdles and had an unfortunate trip in the preliminaries that slowed him down enough to keep him out of the finals.
Peterkin medals at state
Rush City freshman Demario Peterkin earned a medal and a place on the podium at the State Track and Field Championships at Hamline University in June.
Peterkin came in fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.39, competed in the 200-meter dash and just missed qualifying for the finals in the 100-meter dash by .01.
Freshman golfer makes state debut
North Branch freshman Nick Kress competed in his first State High School Boys Golf Championships in early June.
Kress was the third-youngest golfer at the state tournament at Bunker Hills aside from eighth-graders from Willmar and Wayzata, and finished 79th in a field of 88 with a score of 173 in dismal weather conditions. While Kress aimed to finish higher, he is still one step closer to his goal of reaching the state tournament all four years of his high school career and wants to keep building on his early success to play Division I or II in college.
Adjusting to the state of hockey
Dancing didn’t suit her, figure skating was too slow, and she wasn’t flexible enough for gymnastics. At 13 years old, Erynn Downey discovered a love for hockey while living in Tacoma, Wash.
The summer before Downey started high school as a freshman, her family moved to Minnesota to be closer to family in Missouri and so Downey and her then-10-year-old brother, Kaeyl, could play hockey year-round.
After three years in North Branch playing for the St. Francis/North Branch girls hockey team, Downey said the move was worth it: She made the cut for the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Junior Festival, reserved for the top high school juniors and upcoming seniors in the state. The hockey association holds tryouts across Minnesota in late winter, then chooses the top 112 players to form eight teams of 14.
Downey is in her senior year at North Branch and hopes to play college hockey while studying to be a pediatric or orthopedic nurse.