NDHSAA YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019-20 School Year


June 10, 2020 3:00 pm

By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – The 2019-20 school year provided many memorable moments in North Dakota High School Activities Association sponsored sports and activities.

Below is a year-end review which includes several top moments, stories and highlights of the 2019-20 school year – one the region will not soon forget.

HANNAH HERBEL, CENTURY GIRLS GOLF REPEAT

Bismarck Century and Hannah Herbel successfully defended their NDHSAA Class A Girls Golf state titles on October 1 at the 2019 NDHSAA Class A Girls Golf State Tournament held at Bois de Sioux Golf Course in Wahpeton.

Century recorded a two-day team total of 661 strokes, 19 better than runner up Williston (680).

The Patriots were led by freshman standout Hannah Herbel. Herbel finished the tournament with a two-day total of 156 shooting a pair of 78s each round.

Hannah Herbel was tied for second place entering Day 2, two strokes behind her twin sister Leah Herbel who was the Day 1 leader shooting a 5-over 76.

Hannah Herbel scored two birdies in her second round of the Tournament including one on Hole 1 to start her final nine holes of the tournament in a positive direction. Hannah Herbel became the first back-to-back individual medalist in Class A Girls Golf since Jennifer Marsh (Fargo Davies) won the 2014 and 2015 individual state championships.

LONGTIME FARGO SOUTH BOYS TENNIS COACH VIC YOUNGS RETIRES ON TOP

Vic Youngs wrapped up a 32-year prep boys tennis coaching career this fall. He exited the profession a winner. Youngs’ Fargo South squad defeated Grand Forks Central 3-2 for the 2019 NDHSAA team dual state championship match on October 10.

The Bruins swept the singles matches against the Knights to pick up the victory. Senior Geoffrey Youngs, Vic’s son, defeated East Region singles champion Gary Wu at No. 1 singles; senior Max Olson defeated Logan Sandberg 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 singles and senior Austin Zurn completed it by beating Kyle Stauss in three sets.

In Youngs’ tenure as coach the Bruins won five team dual state titles (1990, 1995, 2015, 2017, 2019). Eight times one of his singles players and six times two of his doubles players won individual state titles. 

EARLY SNOW PUSHES BOYS SOCCER TOURNAMENT TO NEW VENUE, NEW DATES

For the second year in a row an early snow storm impacted the boys soccer tournament. This fall it required a more drastic alteration to the schedule and venue of the tournament.

The 2019 NDHSAA Boys Soccer State Tournament remained in Mandan, however it was moved to the turfed Starion Sports Complex due to weather and field conditions.

The dates of the tournament also pivoted to Monday-Wednesday October 14-16. Once better weather conditions took hold of the region the tournament was played.

Bismarck High defeated Fargo Davies 3-0 in the championship match.Sophomore midfielder Dominic Williams opened the scoring getting a shot past Davies goalkeeper Jensen Waltz seven minutes, 28 seconds into the match.

Rodrigue Mugisha and Michael Matthews added goals for the Demons in the second half.

NEW TOWN CONTINUES DOMINANCE IN BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

The New Town boys cross country team holds the state’s longest active streak for consecutive team state championships in any NDHSAA-sponsored sport or activity. The Eagles won their eighth Class B state title on October 26 in Minot.

New Town scored 66 team points and had three runners finish in the top 20 to earn All-State honors.

The Eagles were led by senior standout Robert White who won the individual state title racing to a time of 15 minutes, 53 seconds.

MEGHAN FORD, REAGAN BAESLER ADD TO GROWING LIST OF CROSS COUNTRY HONORS

Two girls – Meghan Ford (Jr., Jamestown) and Reagan Baesler (Sr., Hillsboro/Central Valley) – turned in standout cross country seasons during the fall.

Prior to state both Ford and Baesler competed in the prestigious Roy Griak Invitationals in the Twin Cities on September 28. Baesler won the girls Maroon Division with a time of 19:04.1. Ford took 42nd in the girls Gold Division (19:32.40).

At state both runners defended their individual state crowns.

Ford won the Class A individual state championship for the second consecutive year in a time of 17:41. Ford became the first repeat champion since Tarin Lachowitzer won three straight from 2009 to 2011 competing for Fargo South in 2009 and then Fargo Davies in 2010 and 2011.

Baesler won the Class B individual state championship racing to a time of 18:27. Baesler’s individual state title was her fourth straight in a decorated prep career. Baesler became the first Class B girls runner to win four consecutive individual state championships since Bowman’s Staci Honeyman (1998-2001). Baesler also became just the third Class B girls runner to win four NDHSAA individual state titles since 1970 when the sport became sponsored – Honeyman (1998-2001) and Lindsay Anderson of Leeds/Maddock (2003, 2005-2007).

DAKOTA BOWL XXVII PLAYED AT FARGODOME

Dakota Bowl XXVII was held November 15, 2019 at the FARGODOME.

Four state champions were crowned:

9-MAN: KIDDER COUNTY 54, CAVALIER 32 

Kidder County made the most of its first Dakota Bowl appearance on November 15.

The Wolves defeated No. 1-ranked Cavalier 54-32 in the 2019 NDHSAA 9-man state championship game at the FARGODOME.

Kidder County jumped out to a 22-0 lead in the first half, but Cavalier stormed back to narrow the Wolves’ halftime lead to 30-16. The Tornadoes efforts to dig out of their deficit were fierce.

With nine minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the game, Cavalier senior running back Tanner Urlaub caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Colton Ratchenski. A successful two-point pass immediately followed and the Tornadoes took their first lead of the game 32-30.

Kidder County’s answer was equally fierce – and it didn’t take the Wolves long to respond either.

Less than a minute after Urlaub’s heroics – 8:21 left in the game – Kidder County junior wide receiver Payton Cauthon hauled in a 73-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jonah Harter.

Kidder County never looked back, scoring two more times to seal the victory.

Jonah Harter threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a pair of scores. Kidder County senior running back Isaiah Harter rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown. Cauthon caught three passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Urlaub led the Tornadoes with 93 yards rushing (1 TD) and 91 yards receiving (1 TD).

DIVISION A: LANGDON AREA/EDMORE/MUNICH 42, BISHOP RYAN 14

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich defeated Bishop Ryan 42-14 in the Division A state championship game on November 15 during Dakota Bowl XXVII held at the FARGODOME for its 25th straight victory.

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich was the No. 1-ranked team in the state’s Media Poll wire-to-wire and has now won two straight Division A state titles. Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich’s last loss came on November 10, 2017 at the FARGODOME – a 16-14 loss to Hillsboro/Central Valley in the Division A state title game.

The Cardinals’ dominance this fall carried over to the Dakota Bowl on Friday. Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich jumped out to a 22-0 lead on Friday.

Junior quarterback Simon Romfo was 14 of 19 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinals. He also rushed for 153 yards.

Langdon Area/E/M junior running back Grant Romfo rushed for 60 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Senior wide receiver Jackson Devlo led the Cardinals in receiving catching five passes for 84 yards and one touchdown.

Bishop Ryan was led by junior running back Jaxon Feller who rushed for 102 yards and scored a touchdown.

DIVISION AA: HILLSBORO/CENTRAL VALLEY 35, BEULAH 12

Playing in its third-straight Dakota Bowl, Hillsboro/Central Valley proved a leap to Division AA would not disrupt its recent success on the gridiron.

The Burros split their title games in Division A winning in 2017 and losing a tough one to Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich in the 2018 final. Friday, Hillsboro/Central Valley defeated Beulah 35-12 at the FARGODOME to complete an undefeated season.

Hillsboro/Central Valley (12-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead getting two touchdowns by senior running back and NDSU commit Oscar Benson – one a 32-yard touchdown catch and the other a one-yard run.

Beulah answered midway through the second quarter when Jace Lee rumbled to a 22-yard touchdown.

Before the half, the Burros got a big boost when Gavin Wright hauled in a 14-yard pass from senior quarterback Micah Gallagher on fourth-down with one minute, 45 seconds remaining in the first half.

Hillsboro/Central Valley led 21-6 at halftime. Gallagher scored on a one-yard keeper midway through the third quarter and from there the Burros were able to control the game.

Beulah was led by Nathan Battest who rushed for 124 yards. Tryston Miller also added a touchdown for the Miners. Beulah fished the year 10-2.

Benson finished with 134 yards rushing for the Burros. Gallagher was 2 of 3 passing for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

DIVISION AAA: BISMARCK CENTURY 10, WEST FARGO SHEYENNE 0

Experience in title games served Bismarck Century well as the Patriots defeated West Fargo Sheyenne 10-0 at the FARGODOME in the Division AAA championship game – the Patriots’ third state title in five seasons.

Friday’s game was an old-school Division AAA game – lots of gritty defensive plays on both sides. Ultimately, Century made enough plays on offense and took care of the football to edge the Mustangs completing an undefeated 12-0 season.

At the half, the game was gridlocked 0-0. With 24 seconds left in the third quarter, senior wide receiver Skyler Riedinger hauled in a 14-yard pass placed perfectly in the back corner of the end zone by senior quarterback Cade Feeney. It would be the only touchdown scored in the game and the only other points came in the fourth quarter when junior kicker Wade James kicked a 37-yard field goal through the uprights to make it a two-score game.

Century’s defense held the remainder of the game. The “D” was a big key to the Patriots’ victory. All four of Sheyenne’s turnovers were interceptions – bad conclusions to promising drives. Riedinger, Andrew Walter, Cody Sorenson and Jace Anderson each posted interceptions in the game.

Feeney made the Patriots offense tick on Friday. The senior standout led the team’s rushing attack with 140 yards on 19 carries. 

West Fargo Sheyenne (10-2) was making its first Dakota Bowl appearance. Sophomore quarterback Grant Warkenthien led the Mustangs with 128 passing yards. Warkenthien’s favorite target – senior wide receiver Tyler Terhark – caught seven passes for 88 yards.

REPLAY ADDED TO NDHSAA FOOTBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

Limited replay was introduced to the Dakota Bowl for the first time in 2019. A pair of replay officials – Jeff Risk and Ron Wright – were in the booth with WDAY-TV cameras and in the event a play meeting the replay protocol needed to be reviewed they would initiate the replay by buzzing on-field officials.

Two reviews took place at Dakota Bowl XXVII. The first replay review was a play on a kickoff initially ruled to have gone out of bounds, but was overturned to be a fumble recovery in the 9-man championship game. The second replay review occurred in the Division AA championship game (a fumble) and the call on the field stood.    

BISMARCK CENTURY WINS FIFTH GIRLS SWIMMING/DIVING TEAM STATE TITLE

Bismarck Century girls swimming and diving team continued its dominance in aquatics during the fall winning the program’s fifth straight state title.

The Patriots scored 355.5 points as a team November 16 at the NDHSAA State Meet held at Bismarck State College Aquatics and Wellness Center.

Century was led by junior Lexi Duchsherer who won individual state titles in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races while also swimming the anchor leg of the Patriots’ 400-yard freestyle relay that won a state title.

Duchsherer broke her own record in the 50-yard freestyle two times this weekend – once in Friday’s prelim race and again in the finals on Saturday. Her new state-record time in the event is 22.91.

FARGO DAVIES SNAPS CENTURY’S STRING OF TITLES IN CLASS A VOLLEYBALL

Fargo Davies, a program that had qualified for every NDHSAA Class A Volleyball State Tournament since 2012, was looking to take its next step as one of the top teams in the state.

At the 2019 state tournament the Eagles put together some program firsts. Davies advanced to its first ever state championship match and its opponent would be Bismarck Century – a team that would be playing in its ninth straight state title match and winners of the previous four Class A state championships (2015-18).

Davies held their own and came away with the 3-1 (13-25, 25-22, 25-13, 25-21) victory against the Patriots at the FARGODOME on November 23.

Grace Solberg led the Eagles with 14 kills and three aces. Maddie Cooper added 12 kills and two blocks for the Eagles.

LANGDON AREA/EDMORE/MUNICH VOLLEYBALL/GIRLS BASKETBALL WIN BIG

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich winning back-to-back Division A football state titles would be cause enough to celebrate, but the Cardinals were just getting started in mid November. The next week Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich fans returned to the FARGODOME to watch the Cardinals compete in the 2019 NDHSAA Class B Volleyball State Tournament.

The Cardinals defeated Oakes 3-1 (25-10, 19-25, 25-21, 25-19) in the Class B state title match on November 23. Morgan Freije, Lexis Olson and Callie Ronningen each posted 12 kills to lead the Cardinals.

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich’s success carried over into the girls basketball season. The Cardinals were the No. 2-ranked team the entire season and featured a total of nine athletes who had also been part of the school’s volleyball state title team.

The Cardinals completed an undefeated season on March 7 at the 2020 NDHSAA Class B Girls Basketball State Tournament defeating Grafton 52-41 in the championship game at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks. Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich entered the tournament as the top-seeded team and won the co-op’s first basketball state championship. Langdon won a state championship in 2005. The Cardinals finished the season with a 27-0 record.

Senior Callie Ronningen paced the Cardinals with 20 and seven rebounds in the title game to earn Tournament MVP honors. Sophomore Morgan Freije added 15 points and five rebounds for Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich. Senior guard Kaitlynn Scherr finished with 13 points to join Ronningen and Freije in double figures.

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich head coach Rob Scherr earned his 400th career win on Saturday night.

2020 CLASS B GIRLS BB STATE TOURNEY ENCORE AT THE BETTY A SMASH HIT

The 2020 NDHSAA Class B Girls Basketball State Tournament marked the second consecutive year the event was hosted at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich defeated Grafton 52-41 in the championship game on March 7 in Grand Forks. The 2020 championship session drew an announced crowd of 3,682 fans setting a new facility attendance record for the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The previous record was the championship session of the 2019 NDHSAA Class B Girls Basketball State Tournament (3,387 fans).

BISMARCK HIGH & LISBON SWEEP AT STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT

The Demons and Broncos are always in the mix to do big things at the NDHSAA state wrestling tournament and both squads didn’t disappoint in 2020. Bismarck High and Lisbon swept the team dual and team individual state titles in Class A and Class B, respectively.

Lisbon defeated South Border 32-26 in the Class B team dual for its second consecutive state title and also picked up its fourth straight team individual state championship by sending four wrestlers to the finals with three winning individual state titles.

Bismarck High defeated Minot High 41-18 in the Class A team dual state championship – the program’s 15th team dual state title. The Demons also sent seven individual wrestlers to championship matches with five winning state titles. Bismarck won its third consecutive team individual state championship.

Other individual milestones at state wrestling included:

New Salem-Almont standout Clay Gerhardt winning his fourth career individual state championship.

Napoleon-G-S standout Garrett Jangula winning his fourth career individual state championship.

Lisbon standout Jordan Sours winning his third career individual state championship.

Bismarck St. Mary’s standout Reece Barnhardt winning his third career individual state championship.

GRAND FORKS CENTRAL SEES ITS WIN STREAK AGAINST ND OPPONENTS SNAPPED

The impressive 81-game unbeaten streak against North Dakota opponents in boys hockey by the Grand Forks Central Knights came to an end January 14. Fargo South/Shanley defeated Central 3-2 at Scheels Arena.

The previous loss against a North Dakota opponent came on February 26, 2016 against Bismarck High. The Demons defeated the Knights 4-3 in the state semifinals.

During the streak Central was 79-0-2. Both of the ties came in the 2017-18 season against Fargo Davies and Grand Forks Red River.

Central also saw its run of three straight NDHSAA boys hockey state championships snapped later in the season as it lost to Grand Forks Red River in the state semifinals. Red River defeated Fargo South 4-1 in the boys hockey state championship game.

LENGTHY TITLE STREAKS CONTINUE FOR DICKINSON GYMNASTICS, BISMARCK GIRLS HOCKEY

In back-to-back nights this winter lengthy team state championship streaks continued.

Dickinson claimed their fifth team state crown in gymnastics February 28 at Dickinson High School. Longtime Dickinson High School coach Kent VanElls is retiring after this season so Friday’s state title carried extra significance. The Midgets swept all four team events scoring top marks in the vault (36.950), uneven bars (36.383) and the beam (37.233) and floor exercise (38.400). 

On February 29, Bismarck’s unprecedented streak of consecutive NDHSAA girls hockey state championships continued. The Blizzard defeated Fargo Davies 2-0 in the state title game at Scheels Arena and in doing so captured its sixth straight championship. Jayda Krikorian and Madison Brown each scored goals for Bismarck.

FARGO DAVIES SENIOR TY SATTER MAKES 12 3-POINTERS IN A GAME

Fargo Davies senior guard Ty Satter, a North Dakota State University signee for football, connected for 12 3-pointers in Davies’ 84-45 victory over the Grand Forks Central on February 4. The 12 3-pointers made in one game ties the unofficial overall state record held by Robins Uses Arrow of Solen High School. According to the running list of most 3-pointers made in one game maintained by the North Dakota Hoopster Magazine no Class A player had made more than 11 (Patrick Strom of Fargo Shanley and Ben Schmidt of Bismarck St. Mary’s) in one game.

Satter finished with 38 points on Tuesday. He was 12 of 17 from 3-point range and was 2-for-2 on free throws. Seven of the 12 3s came in the first half.

Davies’ previous school record for 3-pointers in one game was seven (held by Tanner Kretchman and Collin Larson).

DEVILS LAKE FORWARD GRANT NELSON, SHANLEY GUARD REILE PAYNE VOTED NDAPSSA MR./MISS. BASKETBALL AWARD WINNERS

Devils Lake senior forward Grant Nelson was named the 2020 North Dakota Mr. Basketball Award recipient as voted on by members of the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Nelson, a 6-foot-10 standout, is a 2020 NDAPSSA All-State First Team selection and was a NDAPSSA All-State Second Team selection as a junior. Nelson averaged 25 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks per game this season. He is signed to play basketball at North Dakota State University. 

Fargo Shanley senior guard Reile Payne was voted the 2020 North Dakota Miss Basketball Award recipient as voted on by members of the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Payne was a NDAPSSA All-State First-Team selection her senior and junior seasons and a second-team selection her sophomore season. She averaged 20.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game this season for the Deacons.

MLB UMPIRE, MINOT HIGH GRAD & FORMER NDHSAA OFFICIAL GARY CEDERSTROM RETIRES

Veteran Major League Baseball umpire Gary Cederstrom, a graduate of Minot High School and former North Dakota High School Activities Association official elected to retire announcing his decision in February.

Cederstrom umpired 3,579 career games including four World Series assignments (2005, 2011, 2015 and 2019). He served as crew chief for the 2015 and 2019 World Series.

Prior to his 31 seasons umpiring in Major League Baseball, Cederstrom umpired in the Midwest League, Eastern League, and American Association. He was named Crew Chief of the Year by Close Call Sports & Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (CCS & UEFL) in 2015 and 2019.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC PUTS A HALT TO SPORTS NATIONWIDE, NORTH DAKOTA

Just as March Madness was about to get into full gear, a virus known as COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus swept the globe putting a halt on virtually everything including sports. The global pandemic and subsequent emergency declarations issued at the national and state levels led the NDHSAA to suspend all remaining prep basketball tournaments and spring activities on March 13 during the Class A boys and girls basketball state tournaments.

As in-person education pivoted to distance learning at home due to school buildings being closed the remainder of the 2019-20 school year it became clearer that extra curricular activities would have to be canceled in order to slow the spread of the virus and to be in compliance with social distancing guidelines recommended by national and local health organizations.

On May 1 the NDHSAA Board of Directors voted to cancel all remaining basketball tournaments, spring sports and spring fine arts contests. It was one of the final states to vote on such cancelations.

FORMER SHANLEY DEBATE COACH ROBERT LITTLEFIELD GETS NFHS HOF NOD

In May, the North Dakota High School Activities Association announced that former Fargo Shanley debate coach Robert Littlefield would be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in the summer of 2021.

Littlefield, one of 12 inductees scheduled to be honored at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Summer Meeting set for June 28-July 2 in Orlando Florida, will be honored in the Performing Arts Category of the Hall of Fame.

Littlefield has been one of the top speech and debate educators in North Dakota and nationally for over 45 years. After beginning his career as director of forensics and fine arts in the Barnesville (Minnesota) Public Schools in 1974, Littlefield worked at the high school and college levels in North Dakota until 2016, when he moved to the University of Central Florida. In addition to serving as debate coach at Shanley High School in Fargo for eight years, Littlefield was the state planner and coordinator for speech clinics for high school teachers and students for more than 20 years. He also coordinated summer speech and debate camps for high school students and was founder and executive director of the Valley Forensic League.

During his time at Shanley, Littlefield revitalized the program and had teams regularly place at regional, state and national competition. During most of his time in North Dakota, Littlefield was a professor at North Dakota State University and directed the NDSU Speech and Debate Invitational for 25 years.

2019-20 TEAM STATE CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP
(*Consecutive titles listed in parenthesis if applicable) 

Class B Girls Basketball: Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich
Class A Boys Cross Country: Bismarck Century
Class B Boys Cross Country: New Town (8 consecutive state titles)
Class A Girls Cross Country: West Fargo High
Class B Girls Cross Country: Rugby
Division AAA Football: Bismarck Century
Division AA Football: Hillsboro/Central Valley
Division A Football: Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich (2 consecutive state titles)
9-man Football: Kidder County
Class A Girls Golf: Bismarck Century (2 consecutive state titles)
Boys Hockey: Grand Forks Red River
Girls Hockey: Bismarck Blizzard (6 consecutive state titles)
Boys Soccer: Bismarck High
Boys Swimming and Diving: Minot (3 consecutive state titles)
Girls Swimming and Diving: Bismarck Century (5 consecutive state titles)
Boys Tennis: Fargo South
Class A Wrestling (Team Dual): Bismarck High
Class B Wrestling (Team Dual): Lisbon (2 consecutive state titles)
Class A Wrestling (Team Individual): Bismarck High (3 consecutive state titles)
Class B Wrestling (Team Individual): Lisbon (4 consecutive state titles)
Gymnastics: Dickinson (5 consecutive state titles)
Class A Volleyball: Fargo Davies
Class B Volleyball: Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich
Debate: Fargo Davies
Class B Plays: Enderlin
Student Congress: Fargo Davies

* Please note that some NDHSAA sponsored sports and activities were impacted and subsequently canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.