Recent Totino-Grace graduate Jake Svihel missed state titles in wrestling his first three championship match attempts, but he went out a champion in his fourth attempt March 2.
He beat Bryon’s Mitchel Petersen 7-3 for the 126-pound title in the Class 2A individual state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Svihel, who will wrestle at Division I Wyoming next year, beat the wrestler who denied him the title the year before.
“It meant the world. I’ve been working for it for so many years,” Svihel said in an interview after the tournament. “I came up short the past two or three years, and that’s something that just made this victory so much more sweet because it took so long, and I put so much more time into this.”
Svihel’s state title run will be remembered as one of the biggest sports stories of the 2018-2019 school year for Sun Focus area teams. Here’s a look back at some other athletes and teams who excelled in the postseason this past school years.
Thompson win wrestling title
Totino-Grace had two wrestling champions last winter with Joey Thompson also winning a title at 113. He beat Maxwell Petersen of Byron 10-5 in the championship match.
Eagles section dominance continues
Totino-Grace won its seventh-straight section wrestling title Feb. 17 with a 43-28 win over Orono. The Eagles sent nine wrestlers to state individually and produced two state champions. The Eagles also took sixth as a team at state.
Waldemar’s big spring
Recent Irondale graduate Kaley Waldemar finished her high school girls track and field career strong with a state title in the discus.
The Division I South Dakota State University women’s track and field recruit threw a distance of 126 feet, two inches for the title. She also won the Section 5 and Northwest Suburban Conference titles in the event.
Totino-Grace hockey resurgence
After recent lean years, Totino-Grace regained its edge in boys hockey. The Eagles won their division of the Northwest Suburban Conference and made the Class A Section 4 title game. Mahtomedi ended the Eagles’ season with a 5-0 win March 1.
Fridley swimming team takes ninth at state
Fridley sent its boys swimming and diving team to the Class A state meet last winter and placed ninth overall. The Tigers scored 88 points with several swimmers making the podium.
Recent graduate Andrew Akerman placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle at one minute, 44.15 seconds. He also placed sixth in the 100 butterfly at 52.49.
Akerman helped the Tigers 200 medley relay finish sixth at 1:39.64. That team also included Ivan Pugachov, Graham Hoglund and Colton Bielawski. All four also swam the 400 free relay and finished sixth at 3:16.69.
Meyer keeps running strong
Totino-Grace’s Emilie Meyer reached state in girls cross country and track and field this past school year. Meyer grabbed the final state spot in the Section 5 cross country championship last fall with a time of 19 minutes, 30.1 seconds. She made the top 100 at state with a 96th-place finish. In track, she won the Northwest Suburban Conference title for the 1600-meter run and the Class 2A Section 5 8000 title. Meyer took fourth at state in the 800.
Tigers tennis duo at state
This year’s Fridley boys tennis team didn’t match the success of recent years, but the Tigers sent a doubles tandem to state — Leland Salter and Andrew Stevenson. They went 1-1 in the Class A doubles tournament.
Fridley wrestling sweep
Fridley swept the Tri-Metro Conference wrestling championships this season. The Tigers won the conference tournament Feb. 9 with 198.5 points, more than 30 points ahead of second-place St. Agnes. The Tigers also went unbeaten in conference duals to win the regular season title. Fridley also had a fifth-place finisher at state in 195-pounder Josh Franklin.
Tigers come shy of fourth state appearance
Fridley football came a game short of making its fourth-consecutive state tournament appearance. St. Anthony Village ended the Tigers reign Nov. 2, 2018, in a 27-7 victory. It ended at 19-year state tournament drought for the Huskies. Fridley finished 7-3 overall.
Irondale lacrosse success continues
Irondale boys lacrosse took second in the Northwest Suburban Conference this spring and kept the momentum going in the postseason. The Knights (12-3) beat Tartan to open Section 4 tournament play May 30 but fell to section runner-up White Bear Lake 16-10 June 3.
Young Hylanders make noise
Columbia Heights graduated almost everybody from its 2017-2018 Class 3A state runner-up boys basketball, but the young Hylanders didn’t quit in 2018-2019. The Hylanders went 10-15 in the regular season but made the Section 4 semifinals after beating St. Anthony Village 52-44 March 6. The Hylanders fell to section champion Mahtomedi 78-59 semifinals March 11.
Eagles boys hoops short of state
Totino-Grace reached the Class 3A Section 4 championship game in boys basketball despite a losing record in the regular season, 13-16. The Eagles won their first two tournament games by double figures before falling 58-49 to Mahtomedi in the championship March 14.
Totino-Grace reaches section final
Totino-Grace girls basketball made the Class 3A Section 4 championship game March 7. The Eagles edged Hill-Murray 54-52 March 2 to reach the final. The Eagles then fell 65-49 to DeLaSalle in the March 7 final. DeLaSalle went on to win the Class 3A state title.