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Molly Aukes saw stretches of solid play from the Park Rapids volleyball team in every match this season. The inability to consistently maintain that solid play throughout entire matches led to a 5-18-1 record. The Panthers started off the season strong by going 3-5 in the first eight matches.
Having the most balanced offensive attack in school history gave the Park Rapids football team a chance to advance to the state playoffs for the first time in almost three decades. The Panthers set a school record by passing for 1,551 yards and added 2,505 yards rushing in going 5-6 and advancing to the Section 8AAA championship game at the Fargodome. That marked the first appearance in a section title game for the Panthers since 1985. "From Day 1, our goal was to get to the Dome," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "I knew we'd be competitive.
Kaylyn Eggena's two goals and an assist led Northern Lakes to a 4-1 win over the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team Thursday night at Breezy Point. Bailee Jerger gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the first period before Northern Lakes scored three times in the second period to take 3-1 lead. Eggena's goal in the third period sealed the win for the Lightning, which improved to 1-1 on the season. Northern Lakes held a 32-12 advantage in shots.
Park Rapids seniors Katherine Erickson and Hannah Williams fulfilled a goal by placing in their final appearance at the state Class A girls swimming meet. Erickson, Williams, junior Taylor Graham and sophomore Lauren Rossman finished 15th in the 200-yard medley relay while Erickson placed 13th in the 100 backstroke and 15th in the 200 freestyle at Saturday's state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Those three finishes gave the Panthers 10 points for 35th place.
The roles were reversed for the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country teams this season. Last year, the girls advanced to the state Class A meet as a team while the boys qualified one individual. This year, the Panthers ended the season by sending the entire boys team to state while the girls qualified one individual. Led by sophomore Isaac Overmyer's fourth-place finish at the Section 8A meet, the Panthers sent the entire team to state for the first time since 1997.
Shania Johnson was impressive in the nets despite a loss by the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team Tuesday night. Johnson set a school record by making 80 saves against the top-rated Class A team in the state as Warroad used an 89-9 advantage in shots on goal to defeat the Panthers 9-0 at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena. After a goal by Mariah Gardner just 1:47 into the game, two goals by Kim Schaible and a goal by Lisa Marvin gave the Warriors a 4-0 lead after the first period.
It was a smooth transition for Brianne Morris and the Park Rapids girls tennis team this season. The Panthers compiled a winning record for the third year in a row and were represented at the state Class A tournament for the fifth year in a row in Morris' first season as head coach. Park Rapids, which finished with a 13-6 record in dual meets, capped off the season by sending juniors Julia Renner and Christina Smith to the state meet in doubles.
Even though the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving team fell short in its quest to win the Section 8A title Saturday at Warroad, head coach Todd Fritze couldn't complain about the Panthers' effort. During Friday's preliminaries, the Panthers clocked 33 season-best times and had all 19 swimmers and divers advance to Saturday's finals. In the finals, the Panthers clocked 15 season bests, had all 19 swimmers score points and qualified eight individuals in seven events for the state Class A meet.
Eight different players scored goals and nine different players had assists as the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team opened the season with a 9-0 win over Morris/Benson Saturday afternoon at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena. Abby Fischer had a goal and three assists, Lexi Hinkley-Smith had two goals and an assist in her first varsity game and goalie Bailey Moore recorded the shutout as the Panthers held a 57-6 advantage in shots on goal. The Panthers held a 26-2 advantage in shots in jumping out to a 3-0 lead after the first period.
At last year's state Class A tournament, the Nevis volleyball team rallied late in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the championship match. Win-E-Mac relied on a late rally in Thursday's quarterfinals at the Xcel Energy Center to prevent the Tigers from contending for a spot in this year's championship match. Nevis, the No. 4 seed, held a 2-1 lead before the No.