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SPORTS WRAP

Robb earns title in Las Vegas
Robb earns title in Las Vegas
By
Roy Koenig, Sports Analyst

Owatonna High School grad, and three-time state champ Peyton Robb, now a junior for the University of Nebraska racked up the wins to capture a title at the Cliff Keen Tournament in Las Vegas. No. 4 rated Robb won five straight matches to win the title at 157 pounds as the Huskers won the team title for the third straight year. He earned three tech falls to sail through to the semifinals. He scored a 5-3 win to reach the finals and won that match 7-3.

Robb was an NCAA All-American as a sophomore with a fourth-place finish at the national tournament. He’s a three-time place-winner in Big Ten competition. The closest Robb and the Huskers will get to Owatonna this season is a match against Iowa on Jan. 20. Their match with the Gophers is in Lincoln, Neb. this season.

Scot Davis Duals

The inaugural Davis Duals Wrestling Tournament is set for Wednesday, Dec. 28 at OHS. Scot Davis coached Owatonna for 25 years from 1986-87 through 2010-11 and says, “I am really honored to have had OHS coach Derek Johnson name this tournament in my honor.” The Huskies won state titles in 1998 and 2005 and Big Nine titles 13 times during those years. Davis’s record at Owatonna was 886-124-1. His overall coaching mark is a national record 1,250-209-4.

Davis has earned national coach of the year honors three times and is a member of nine halls of fame. He was a 1973 All-American and team captain for Augsburg in Minneapolis. He sees parallels between life and wrestling. “There’s so many struggles. You try hard and you lose. That’s life,” he said. “You got to pick yourself back up and keep going. I think it’s a great sport that way.”

Johnson was a two-time individual champ and four-time place winner. He was a member of the ’98 title team in addition to second place finishes in 1999 and 2001 and a consolation crown in 2000. He set many school and career records at OHS. He went on to wrestle at the University of Wisconsin. “He’s a first-class individual and his family was outstanding for us,” says Davis. “He really understands what we did with Owatonna High School wrestling.”

Davis is thrilled that a number of his assistant coaches and supporters are planning to attend, including Bob Phillips, Jeff Becker, Dale Benjamin, Larry Hovden, Steve LaCount, Derek Skala, Matt Paquin, Pat Paquin, Rick Paquin, Keith Stark, and Doyle Johnson. “All played important roles in Owatonna wrestling success over the years,” Davis says.

Four Seasons manager

Steve Schroht is celebrating over 25 years of working for Steele County, most of that time as Four Seasons Centre manager/director in addition to Steele County Park and Rec director. At the rink, he’s seen a fair amount of change. The expansion to girls’ hockey, the addition of a second rink, and a variety of junior teams headquartering in Owatonna.

But he says a lot stays the same.

“Our facility is so unique as far as what we do. We have ice for six months and then we go right into the transition of all the big dry-floor events. And then the end of the summer is the big county fair. We’re one of the very, very few facilities that does the amount of activities that we do, compared to if we were just an ice rink year-round. That part has stayed the same. Obviously, it’s gotten busier.”

Schroht was hired in 1996 as a maintenance guy, became assistant director in 1998, and was named director in 2004.  The second rink was added in 2000-01, just a few years after OHS added girls’ hockey as a varsity sport. Junior hockey came to town in 2005-06. The youth program continues to grow. Plenty of non-hockey events fill the building annually as well.

Junior hockey success

The Steele County Blades junior team is in its 12th season of calling Owatonna home. They have different needs than the Express, who played in a different league, required. “Right now, with the Blades. The way they’ve settled in,” says Schroht. “One thing that’s nice with the Blades is that we’ve shown it now of all the years they’ve been here. That, yeah, it’s tight when it comes to ice, but we can make it work. They’re a very good organization to work with and I enjoy it. It’s money coming into the facility.”

“As hockey programs continue to grow, which is a good thing to have, which says a lot about our community…ice is at a premium. We’re getting back to very late at nights. Getting back to early mornings. In a lot of ways, we’re kind of getting back to where we were when we had one [rink].”

Schroht sees programs building on one another. “We have very good caliber coaching at the high school level. It’s a trickle-down effect. When your high school teams do good, the youth teams want to do good. It brings the numbers back up. Then that trickles down to park and rec with kids learning to skate. The same goes with the figure skating…It’s good times now at the facility.”

Updates

A few years ago, the seating was upgraded, “That was way overdue. Nothing but positives. They’re handicap-accessible, which is a huge thing. The biggest thing too with them, is they’re easy to go in and out with. It’s basically a matter of a push button.”

“It’s a great facility. I’ve got a great staff. I can’t say enough about my staff. We’re all kind of family. It’s not our facility. We just get the joy of trying to manage it, operate it, try to make everybody happy.”

On the park and rec front, Schroht says a big project is coming up at Beaver Lake in 2024 while road construction could lead to the park being closed for a season. “We are in the middle of working with an architect to do a major upgrade out at Beaver Lake… It’s pretty exciting times out there. There’s some very good concepts of what to do. We are in the process of applying for grants.”

Blade’s big win

Steele County earned a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Squatch on Dec. 2. The expansion team, playing out of Elk River, has been one of the hottest teams in the league. The Blades zipped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Noah LaFleur (West Salem, Wis.) and Andrei Moskvitin (Russia). Brady Rossbach (New Berlin, Wis.) and Adam Knebl (Chech Republic) added second period goals. But Minnesota pulled within 4-3 entering the third.

Blades’ goalie Levi Preugschas (Buffalo) fended off 19 shots in the third and 49 of the 52 put on him to get the win. Steele County added an empty net goal in the closing minute from Rossbach. The Squatch are averaging nearly seven goals a game.

Fantastic finishes

Fourth quarter comebacks, including a touchdown as time expired highlighted the 40th annual Prep Bowl high school football championship games at US Bank Stadium Dec. 2 and 3. New London-Spicer won on a walk-off, 48-yard pass that included a lateral at the 17-yard line to beat Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 27-26 in Class AAA. Mountain Iron-Buhl scored with 25 seconds to go to win the nine-man title 50 years after they won in the first year of football playoffs. The Rangers rallied from a 19-0 first-quarter deficit.

Mankato West’s 31-game winning streak ended with a 29-26 defeat to Elk River. The Elks consumed the final 8:32 of the game on a 16-play drive, denying the Scarlets another chance with the ball. Elk River rushed for 400 yards and threw two passes. Elk River’s kicker became the first girl to score points in Prep Bowl history.

Barnesville beat Chatfield 35-20 for the AA crown. The Gophers’ Sam Backer ended his career at No. 2 on the all-time rushing list. Owatonna grad Jason Williamson is now the third-leading rusher in state history. Minneota captured the A title 38-21 over Springfield. Simley won its first title with a fourth-quarter rally 34-24 over Hutchinson. Maple Grove won the 6A title, its first, 27-10 over Rosemount.

The Minnesota State High School League fielded a proposal at their December meeting to seed the state football tournament. Class 6A, which is primarily Twin Cities schools, gets seeded for its entire bracket. While nine-man through 5A currently is on a geographical rotation for the quarterfinal matchups. The issue will be addressed at a future meeting.

Owatonna Live schedule

Thursday
OHS wrestling versus Austin and Rochester Century, 5 p.m.
Huskies’ boys’ swimming against Mayo, 6:30 p.m.
Owatonna girls’ hockey versus Dodge County, 7 p.m.

Friday
OHS girls’ basketball vs. Albert Lea, 7:30 p.m.
Medford girls’ basketball vs. Hayfield, 7:15 p.m.

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