Armstrong, Cooper athletes look back on a strong spring sports season

Sports Editor
Armstrong junior attacker Riley Enderle pulls off a spin move during game action from the 2017 season. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky) Armstrong senior Nikita Snezhko completes a serve during match action from the Class 2A state boys tennis meet. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky) Cooper junior Josh Gabrick prepares to send a base hit to center field during game action from the 2017 season. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky) Cooper senior Rae Beaner chases down a pop fly in game action from the 2017 season. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky)
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Armstrong senior Nikita Snezhko completes a serve during match action from the Class 2A state boys tennis meet. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky)

The end of the 2016-17 school year for many local area high schools also marked the end of the 2017 spring sports season.

While the weather was suspect, to say the least, throughout the first few weeks of the spring, I believe many would agree that the end of the spring season brought great weather, great competition and great memories for many local athletes.

Every athlete, team and school made memories of their own during the spring sports season, but there are 10 specific moments that stood out to me throughout the spring.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 things from the spring season that I found particularly noteworthy.

Hurst continues to shine

Armstrong senior Alexandrea Hurst has become one of the state’s best athletes over the last few seasons. Hurst has consistently been one of the top throwers in the state, and this season was no exception. Hurst, who began competing in the state meet when she was a sophomore, defended her 2016 state title in the shot put with a 45-foot-4.75 inch toss, while placing third in the discus throw event.

Snezhko’s ride to third

Armstrong senior Nikita Snezhko entered the 2017 season as the state’s second-ranked singles player. After winning the state doubles consolation championship with teammate Joe Lipovetz in 2016, Snezhko, the third-seeded player at the state tournament, was able to post an undefeated record through the section tournament and his first two rounds of the state tournament before falling to Rochester Mayo’s Sebastian Vile in the state semifinal match. Snezhko earned a walkover victory in the third-place match, and ended his Armstrong career with a third-place finish at state.

Cooper sprinters take a step forward

The Cooper track and field team was carried by its sprinters this season, as the Hawks’ 4×100-meter relay team, along with 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash participants Sierra Lynch, Corteze Henderson, and Nascier Borden all posted tremendous times throughout the season. While Cooper did not send an athlete to the state meet this season, Cooper’s top sprinters will return next season, giving the Hawks a decent chance to reverse that trend next season.

Baker returns to state

After earning state trips in her first three seasons with the Armstrong track and field team, senior Michaela Baker completed her Falcon career with her fourth consecutive trip to the state meet. Baker, who won the state title in the triple jump competition in 2015, was able to qualify for state in the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump events. While Baker was unable to take home her second career state title, she was still able to end her Armstrong career with a strong showing at state.

Beaner’s farewell inspires Hawk girls

With Rae Beaner serving as the lone senior on the Cooper softball team, the Hawks’ focus this season was helping Beaner end her Cooper career strong, while hoping to improve for the future. With a roster filled with talented but young players, Beaner’s role on the team was helping the Hawks’ young players develop over the course of the season. Cooper played to a 4-19 record in 2017, but a strong streak of play to end the season gives the Hawks hope that they are ready to take another step forward next season.

Cooper lacrosse continues to build

The Cooper boys and girls lacrosse teams continue to take steps toward building for the future, as the two teams combined to post a 3-22 record in 2017, with the girls’ squad posting all three wins. The boys’ team was close to not having a season this year, but some late sign-ups prevented the hawks from forfeiting their season. With a young group set to return next season, Cooper will look to pick up its first victory since 2015. The Cooper girls, much like the boys, fielded a young team this season. With many promising young players on the roster, Cooper will look to continue to develop its talent next season.

Defense leads Falcon boys

The Armstrong boys lacrosse team featured a potent offense this season, but the team’s defensive abilities is what made it great in 2017. Armstrong posted a 10-4 overall record in 2017, and a defense that allowed an average of four goals per game is a big reason why. While the Falcons will feature many new faces next season after having a big senior class, the defensive skills picked up this season should help Armstrong continue to produce on defense in the future.

Hopkins halts Armstrong’s season

The Armstrong baseball team ended the 2017 strong, as it was able to defeat every section opponent it faced but one: Hopkins. Hopkins bested the Falcons in two one-run games during the Section 6AAAA tournament. Despite the tough losses to the Royals, Armstrong has a lot to be proud of about this season. With a solid core of starters returning next season, the Falcons are set to build off their strong showing at sections and look to advance to state for the first time since the 2015 season.

Rebuilding Hawks look for big 2018

The Cooper baseball team spent the 2017 season teaching its players the ins and outs of varsity baseball. With many first-year varsity players on the squad, the Cooper coaching staff had to teach the Hawks’ roster to learn the ins and outs of the varsity season. With a wealth of returning varsity players, Cooper will look to take a step forward next season.

Youth guides Armstrong softball

Despite showcasing a roster that features five seniors, the Armstrong softball team fielded a young group in 2017. With numerous first-year varsity players, the Falcons got off to a slow start to the year, but, as time went on, Armstrong began to play better. The Falcons won three straight games from May 6 through May 10, before winning three of four entering the Falcons’ Section 6AAAA quarterfinal game against Wayzata May 31. With the core of the team set to return next season, Armstrong is set up for a strong 2018 campaign.

Follow Sun Post sports editor Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris and on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.