Part One of Three

The rags to riches gridiron run to the state semi-finals in the Metrodome created lifelong memories for Lions both local and remote, but is just one of many success stories that characterized the 2003-'04 school year.

Two of the five Spring Grove teams claimed conference crowns. And two of the five shared (with Caledonia) sports teams also brought home league championships.

While softball and girls golf were repeat champions, SG won its first football and boys basketball championships in 25 years. The girls basketball and boys golf teams were conference runners-up.

Both boys and girls track teams made great strides, jumping from sixth place a year ago to third in the conference rankings in 2004.

The baseball Lions tied for fourth, and the volleyball team tied for fifth.

Athletes of the Year

Tim Morken, senior

Danielle Dehning, junior



VOLLEYBALL

5 wins, 18 losses

SEC: 5-9 (tie 5th/6th out of 8)

B-Team: 6-8

All-SEC: Jenna Ingvalson, Honorable Mention- Danielle Dehning.

SG awards

MVP: Stefanie Storlie

MIP: Kari Dokken

Hustle Award: Chelsey Dehning

Spirit Award: Becky Thompson

An inexperienced Lion net crew slipped from the previous year’s winning record and third place conference finish to a fifth place tie in 2003.

The girls lost all three matches that went to five games, including the season opening road setback. The Lions swept eighth place Houston and split with fourth place Glenville-Emmons and seventh place LeRoy-Ostrander as well as with Lanesboro who tied SG for fifth and sixth place.

Spring Grove held their greatest statistical advantage in ace blocks, averaging 4.28 per match while opponents averaged only 2.48 blocks.

The Lions made fewer attack errors than did their opponents, but SG had over 200 fewer kills.

Overall, SG hit 11 more winners (kills, blocks, aces) than they had errors, but their rivals hit 200 more winners and made 76 fewer mistakes.

Both the Lions and their opponents served more aces than they did errors.

Six of the 10 most used Lions will retain eligibility.

FOOTBALL

12 wins, 1 loss

State semi-finalist

Section Champions

S’east Conference Champions

B-Team: 1-5

All-State: Tim Morken, Iver Otterness. Honorable Mention-Patrick Longmire

All-Area Coach: Brad Groth

All-Area: Tim Morken, Iver Otterness, Bjorn Rud. Honorable Mention: Patrick Longmire, Greg Wiemerslage, Sam Morken, Jordan Goeden.

Conference awards

Lineman of Year: Iver Otterness

Defensive Player Year: Tim Morken

Offensive Player Year: Patrick Longmire

All-Conf: Goeden, T. Morken, Otterness, Longmire, S. Morken, Wiemerslage. Honorable Mention- Peter Solum

Spring Grove awards

MVP: Tim Morken

Off. Players Yr: Goeden & Longmire

Def. Player of Yr: T.Morken

Rookie Yr: Will Genadek

Scout Players Yr: Brett Wiste & Sam Wiste

It was a season without precedent as the football Lions closed the year at the Metrodome in the state semi-finals, the first SG squad to play in the state tournament and win a section title. It was the first undefeated regular season in 52 years and the first conference crown in 25 years.

Recording their first winning season in six years, the Lions obliterated their second longest losing streak in history (20 games) with the school’s longest winning skein - a 12-game stretch with records set for points in a season (388) and in a single game (72.)

The incredible departure from five losing seasons occurred during the unparalleled confusion of playing part of the season as an 11-man team and the other part as a nine-man squad.

The return of a few key proven players, the blossoming of another few holdovers, the infusion of some talented B-teamers, the transformation of a statistician into an explosive weapon and some key intangibles elicited success, excitement and pride among locals and notoriety throughout the state.

The offense centered on a bruising and record-setting ground attack, but also recorded the fourth best passing statistics ever.

The defense was dominant, and special teams saved the day more than once. Leadership and team chemistry were critical.

Adjectives are inadequate to describe emotions that will never be forgotten by those privileged to experience them.

Five of nine offensive starters will return along with six defensive starters and punter.

GYMNASTICS

Earning her second varsity letter, freshman Katie Wiste continued to make contributions to the Caledonia/Spring Grove gymnastics team, a shared sport hosted by Caledonia.

To be continued next week.