Reaching the state tournament is the ultimate goal of every high school team. And plenty of local teams achieved that goal in 2021.
In addition to the state title won by the Hudson boys hockey team, and runner-up finishes by the Raider girls and boys soccer teams, the excitement of a state tournament run wasn’t limited to Hudson this year.
Somerset’s boys hockey team qualified for the state Division 2 tournament for the second straight year before losing to eventual state champion St. Mary’s Spring Feb. 18 in Wisconsin Rapids, while the River Falls gymnastics team made it to state for the 19th straight year and 31st in program history, placing fourth at the Division 2 competition in La Crosse with senior Autumn Tiede taking home a state floor title.
There were plenty of local basketball fans at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh March 6, where the St. Croix Central boys, in their first ever state tourney appearance, lost to eventual state champion Lake Country Lutheran in the Division 2 semifinals and the River Falls boys lost to eventual state champion Wauwatosa East in the Division 1 semifinals. It was the first state tournament appearance for the Wildcats since 2005.
In the spring, Hudson senior Bennett Swavely finished as state runner-up and the Raiders tied for fifth in the final team standings at the Division 1 State Boys Golf Tournament at Wild Rock Golf Club Wisconsin Dells June 14-15.
Fall postseason play started with the St. Croix Central girls golf team finishing as runner-up at the Division 2 state tournament in Madison, bolstered by Sally Vangsness placing fourth as an individual. New Richmond’s Lanie Veenendall tied for fifth in the Division 1 tournament to help the Tigers to a ninth place team finish.
At the state cross country meet Oct. 30 in Wisconsin Rapids, Hudson’s Haley Loewe placed sixth in the Division 1 girls race to lead the Raiders to a 14th place team finish while the Raider boys finished 18th overall.
River Falls had two teams celebrate sectional championships on the same day at the end of the fall season. The Wildcat volleyball team earned its fifth straight trip to state and lost in a Division 1 quarterfinal match Nov. 4 in Green Bay, while the Wildcat boys soccer team earned its first trip to state since 2015, losing to eventual state champion Oregon in a Division 2 semifinal Nov. 5 in Milwaukee.