North Branch coaches recap spring sports seasons

Some of the North Branch Area High School spring sports athletes were present at the School Board meeting to be recognized for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom.  Photo by Derrick Knutson
Some of the North Branch Area High School spring sports athletes were present at the School Board meeting to be recognized for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom.
Photo by Derrick Knutson

North Branch Area Public Schools Activities and Community Education Director Brett Carlson noted at the School Board meeting Thursday that it was another tough spring weather-wise for sports, but the North Branch teams made the best of it and persevered.

Some coaches, most accompanied by a few of their players, were at the meeting to recap their seasons.

Adaptive bowling

First up was adaptive bowling coach John Grund.

Grund said all of the bowlers on the team earned an athletic letter, and all of them participated in the state tournament.

In that tournament, two bowlers shined: Marie Rogde and Chad Bauman.

Rogde earned a sixth-place finish in a field of 83 bowlers in the girls single CI division with at match score of 420. She bowled a 447 in the team competition to help her team to a seventh-place finish.

Bauman placed second with a score of 470 in the boys single CI division in a field of 123 blowers. He bowled a 440 in the team competition to aid his team in garnering a ninth-place finish.

The 470 score in the single CI division also landed Bauman in the record books; that score is now the all-time boys adaptive bowling high at North Branch Area High School.


Boys baseball coach Steve Christensen told the board the team finished with a 5-15 record, but that mark didn’t reflect how hard the players worked throughout the season.

He noted the team earned gold academic honors in the Mississippi 8 Conference, which is the highest honor a team can receive for its players’ collective work in the classroom.

He added that Jacob Kari was named all conference; Nick Pliz garnered an all-conference honorable mention, as did Michael Hensch and Charlie Linder.


Softball coach Ron Trunk said the girls had a solid season, finishing at 10-12.

Season highlights included going 3-0 in the Sauk Rapids tournament and advancing to the final eight in the section tournament.

In the classroom, Trunk said, his team shined: 22 of the program’s 24 students athletes carried a 3.5 percent GPA or higher, with eight varsity players earning academic all-conference. Two of three seniors, Mikayla Carlson and Casey Hovland, also earned academic all-state.

On the field, the team had two players earn all-conference awards: Mikayla Carlson and Kaylee Lofboom, and the two honorable mention selections were Paige Yoch and Megan Carlson.

Boys golf

Boys golf coach Ryan Minke said his team was in a back-and-forth battle with Cambridge-Isanti all season for the conference championship. North Branch ended up finishing second and had plenty of positive points to the season.

The team had three all-conference selections: John Bubotlz, Nick Kress and Joey Courtright. The team finished fourth in the section tournament, shooting its best round of the year, and sent Bubotlz and Regan Nelson to the state tournament.

Boys and girls track

Boys track coach Tom Kingsland said the team had four indoor meets to start the season, which helped the team once the weather was good enough for outdoor meets.

The team, which finished fifth in the conference, had 48 boys, 32 of whom were letter winners.

Six track team members were named all-conference, with eight garnering all-conference honorable mention.

The team was well-represented at state with a relay team of Eli Chouinard, Max Southbloom, Arik Steele and Matt Marrin; Marrin qualified individually, as did Arik Steele, Kyle Crandell and Brandon Thauwald.

While the boys team improved substantially over last season, the girls dominated.

The team took the Section 7AA True Team title for a second time and tied for second in the conference with St. Francis.

“That’s the first time ever in my 14 years in North Branch that we’ve placed that high in Section 7AA,” coach Norm Nagel said.

Six individuals and one relay from the team went to the state meet this year.

Of those who went to state, two placed: Rhianna Rinke earned an eighth place finish in the 1600-meter run, and Mikayla Johnson took third in the pole vault.

“We’re closing the gap on the Forest Lake kids,” Nagel said.

All-conference honors were ubiquitous on the team.

Those who earned the selection were: Rinke, Johnson, Cassie Kunshier, Maddie Kunshier, Haley Huset and Katie Burnside.

Those who earned all-conference honorable mention included the 4×200 relay team of Cassie Kunshier, Maddie Kunshier, Jessica Stendahl and Kadie Mattson.

Mattson earned an honorable mention in the high jump, and Katy Trunk received the honor in the long jump.

“It’s nice to see the kids grow and work hard,” Nagel said. “They just did a marvelous job for the kind of numbers we have.”

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