Tracy Cassano, Burnsville High School’s girls hockey coach for the last six years, last week was named to the same position at Minnetonka High School.

Cassano, a high school head coach for 12 years, has led two teams to the state Class AA tournament – Rosemount in 2011 and Burnsville in 2014. She was named Class AA coach of the year in 2014 following Burnsville’s appearance at state.

She will succeed Eric Johnson, who retired after 14 seasons as Minnetonka’s head coach. Johnson’s teams won three consecutive state championships from 2011 through 2013 and were Class AA runners-up in 2015.

Burnsville was 75-78-9 in Cassano’s six seasons there. The Blaze had an uptick in 2018-19, going 18-8 and finishing fourth in the South Suburban Conference. Burnsville was 21-9 in 2013-14, Cassano’s first season with the Blaze.

A two-time University of Minnesota women’s hockey captain and member of the Gophers’ 2000 national championship team, Cassano became a head coach in 2007 when she was named to lead the Rosemount High School girls program. In 2010-11 the Irish were 22-7-1, finished second in the South Suburban, won the Section 3AA championship and played in the state tournament for the first time in school history.

Cassano coached the Chaska/Chanhassen program from 2011 to 2013 before taking the Burnsville job and returning to the South Suburban Conference.

She is a physical education teacher at Rosemount High School.

Mega Meet still on

One of the events affected by the unpredictable – but frequently lousy – spring weather was Lakeville North’s annual track and field invitational, also known as the Mega Meet. Originally scheduled for April 27, it has been moved to Thursday, May 16, at Lakeville North High School.

Big Lake, Blake, Henry Sibley, Orono, Simley, Stillwater, Totino-Grace, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Lakeville North are the girls teams scheduled to compete. Most of those schools also will send teams to the boys meet. Competition starts at 3 p.m.

Another weather casualty was the South Suburban Conference relays, which were to be April 30 but were lost to bad weather. Track teams will have a busy May, starting with True Team section meets Tuesday afternoon. Class 3A True Team finals are May 17 at Stillwater High School. The South Suburban Conference championships are May 21-22 at Rosemount High School, and section qualifiers for the Minnesota State High School League Class AA meet are the final week of the month.

Lions Club awards

The 75th St. Paul Downtown Lions Club Athletes of the Year Banquet will be noon Tuesday, May 21, at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights.

Twelve high school seniors – six male and six female – are finalists for the awards. As in the recent past, a number of them represent South Suburban Conference schools.

Boys finalists include Bryce Benhart, a lineman on the state championship Lakeville North football team and also a state championship wrestler; Sebas Swiggum of Apple Valley, Class 3A 138-pound state wrestling champion and future University of Minnesota wrestler and medical student; and Max Otterdahl of Rosemount, defending state Class AA shot put champion.

Finalists for the girls award include Jenna Joerger of Eagan, a state Class AA swimming medalist; Elizabeth Juhnke of Lakeville North, a Ms. Baden Award finalist in volleyball and member of the Panthers’ 2017 state championship team; Megan Plaschko of Eagan, the goalkeeper on two Eagan state Class AA girls soccer championship teams and a future University of Minnesota player; and Arianna Passeri of Rosemount, a two-sport standout in track and field and gymnastics.

The Lions award started in 1944. After a one-year hiatus in 1945, it has been handed out every year since. In 1986, a male and female winner have been selected. Since 2001, the award has been given exclusively to high school seniors. Student-athletes from Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties are eligible.

Reservations for the banquet can be made online at

Erikson to the Hall

Chad Erikson, a state wrestling champion at Apple Valley High School and All-American at the University of Minnesota, was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Erikson was a four-time state individual champion at Apple Valley (1994-97) and was part of three state championship teams. He is one of 25 wrestlers in Minnesota high school wrestling history with four or more state individual titles.

At Minnesota, he had 105 career victories and is sixth all-time with 40 pins. He was a two-time All-American and wrestled on Minnesota’s national championship teams in 2001 and 2002.

Erikson is owner and camp director of Minnesota Elite Wrestling, which operates camps throughout the state and has a number of former Minnesota high school state champions as counselors.

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