Caledonia Warrior Athletics: The Future's So Bright, They Gotta Wear Shades
By Dugan Thomas
CALEDONIA, MN - 1/05/2014
Which one of these statements is true as we move into the new year?
An eighth-grader playing varsity boys basketball, earning starter minutes, and proving to be a breakout star?
A freshman wrestling standout at a chiseled 182 pounds, with multiple state and national youth wrestling titles?
A girls basketball team without a senior on the roster, led by a pair of freshman stars named Schroeder.
In Caledonia Warrior Athletics, the truth is...ALL OF THE ABOVE.
I've heard about the youth movement, but this is crazy.
What's not crazy, is the future of Caledonia Athletics. It's looking incredible right now, and the future is looking outstanding. Hopefully these young Warriors have a nice pair of Oakleys or Ray-Bans laying around...because they're going to need them.
In the fall of 1963 organized wrestling was established in Caledonia. By 1970 Caledonia High School brought home the state wrestling title, beating every team in Minnesota in the one-class system.
This year we celebrated 50 years of Caledonia Wrestling with a convincing 43-28 win over perennial strong Decorah, Iowa. Under the direction of Head Coach Dan Goergen, the 2013-2014 young squad is turning heads again this year.
They started out the year with a huge win over Waukon, and a commanding first-place finish at the 16-team Tomah Scramble. Wins over Decorah and Fillmore Central, plus a 6th place finish out of 55 teams in the prestigious Bi-State Classic in La Crosse has this team rolling.
Breaking down the roster, with only three seniors, this team is dominant with underclassman, and many of them have been brought-up training in the Caledonia and La Crosse Wrestling Club's youth programs.
The fact Caledonia forfeited two weights at the Bi-State Classic and still finished in 6th out of 55 teams is impressive. I was really impressed with their dual meet victory over Decorah, and I see big things in store for this group.
Alex Goergen has big shoes to fill following his brother Austin, who's wrestling at St. Cloud State and was a two-time state champ, but after watching the Decorah meet he's definitely up to the task. He's a chiseled 182 pounds as only a freshman, and that's almost unheard of at his age. He's been wrestling since an early age with the La Crosse Area Wrestling Club, and has multiple state and national youth wrestling titles. You can see the experience and confidence when he wrestles, and he has a bright sports future ahead of him.
Speaking of Austin Goergen, he came onto the scene as a sophomore winning a state title and opening people's eyes. Well, Blake Mauss is a sophomore wrestling at 220 this year, turning heads with his confidence and strength, and racking up pins along the way. He came onto the Caledonia football scene this year on the defensive line, and did the same thing. One Caledonia wrestling coach told me, "he's one to watch".
Some of the individual highlights so far this season:
Kyle Cavanaugh (7th grade) - 106 pounds - 8th (Bi-State)
Justin Stemper (Junior) - 113 pounds - 1st (Tomah), 11th (Bi-State)
Jacob Winjum (Soph) - 120 pounds - 2nd (Tomah), 4th (Bi-State)
Hunter Hauser-Caldwell (Junior) - 126 pounds - 4th (Tomah), 7th (Bi-State)
Dylan Lee (Senior) - 132 pounds - 3rd (Tomah), 8th (Bi-State)
Drew Stemper (Junior) - 138 pounds - 1st (Tomah), 10th (Bi-State)
Mitchell Schmitz (Soph) - 160 pounds - 4th (Tomah)
Alex Goergen (Fresh) - 182 pounds - 2nd (Tomah), 12th (Bi-State)
Blake Mauss (Soph) - 220 pounds - 2nd (Tomah), 9th (Bi-State)
Caledonia Boys Basketball
In 1997 the Caledonia Warriors had the best team in the state of Minnesota. Aaron Middendorf scored 45 points in the state title game, and they brought home the trophy with a perfect 29-0 undefeated season.
Caledonia Boys Basketball head coach Josh Diersen knows how that team was built, because he was the final piece of the puzzle that year. 6'5" Aaron Middendorf and 6'7" Andy Foster led the dunk show for two years, and Diersen came back to his hometown team to provide the spark needed to give them that dream season.
Diersen also knows that solid basketball programs need to be built from the ground up, and that's where his basketball team is finding it's success with an outstanding 9-1 start to the season. The youth on this year's team is exceptionally strong, and the depth is outstanding. Caledonia's Scott Sorenson has been coaching multiple players during the summer on his Southern Minnesota Elite AAU basketball squad, and the work the team put in during the off-season is really starting to show.
The fast-paced run-and-gun offense, with the trapping defense is fun to watch, and if the Plainview game is any indication, the Caledonia gym is sure to be full for the rest of the season. If you missed Caledonia's dramatic 79-74 overtime victory over Plainview-Elgin-Millville, you really missed out. It was the best basketball game I've seen since 1997, and the hometown student body and crowd kept the team energized throughout.
I think every player on the team has a green light behind the three-point line, and most of them pull the trigger if they're open. Eight-grader Owen King showed off his sweet stroke behind the arc for 9 points, and Austin Bauer hit two monster three's in OT to put the game away and finish with 14 points.
Josh Nord chipped in 20 with four three-pointer's and five big free-throws in overtime to lead the team in scoring. Colton Lampert brought outstanding energy all game long and added 14. 6'7" Kyle Sorenson and 6"3" West Spier handled it down low and added 11 and 10 points each. Seth Twite, Justin Burg, Gavin Schroeder, and Tanner Gran were all in the heavy rotation, and contributed great defense as well.
If this young team can keep getting more confident as the season goes on, they'll definitely be one to watch in the post-season. They have the size with Sorenson, Burg, Spier, and Schroeder, and the ball handling of Nord, Lampert, Bauer, Twite, and Gran. You add in the impressive maturity, intensity, and three-point shot of Owen King, and this team is one impressive group of rising stars.
I'm still not convinced Chatfield had a better football team this year than the Warriors. When only 10 yards separates a win from a loss, it can't be any closer than that. The truth is, Chatfield won the state title and nobody played them tougher than Caledonia did. The best football in Class AA is still in Section 1, and I expect the Warriors to be back next year in a big way.
When I look at the Warriors roster for next year, the one thing that really sticks out is the offensive line. These guys are big, and they're all back from last year. Justin Burg, Brody Holter, Case McCormick, Brandon Tornstrom, Hunter Hoscheit, and Blake Mauss should all be in the mix. If these guys lock themselves in the weight room this summer, they should really be able to pound the ball next year.
Looks like a dual-threat quarterback will be back under center with Austin Bauer and Mitchell Schmitz, and a running back core of Devon Heaney, Hunter Hauser-Caldwell, Sam Stemper, and Eli Craig. Wide receivers should be a combination of Tanner Langen, Jacob Winjum, Colton Lampert, Seth Twite, and Tanner Gran.
I know this year is a rebuilding year for Caledonia girls basketball without a senior on the roster, but it looks like two of their best players are freshman. Mariah Schroeder is averaging about 15 points a game, and scored 22 in the win against Spring Grove. Sam Schroeder had 19 points against Dover-Eyota, and is the team's leading rebounder. Junior leaders on the team are Jordyn Krause, Brenna Werner, and Lydia DeMorett.
The Caledonia gymnastics team picked up a big win over West Salem 126.650-120. Sierra Hunter won the all-around and the floor exercise, and Kaylee Cavanaugh won the bars and was second in the all-around.