A little over 9 days ago I remember being on the phone with Mr. Keenan at St. Cloud Cathedral asking to move our section semi-final game to 5pm so our cheer team could be at the game after their regional competition. He was kind enough to agree and that was the start of what was about to be one of the most exciting weeks I can remember.
On Thursday we had "prime running weather" as many of the cross country runners told me. I would say anything below 60 is not prime for anything, but I will defer to the experts. The course at Collinwood did not disappoint where you actually do run up hill both ways at both the start and the finish. It was amazing to watch Sal Wirth claim the section title and 4 other Cardinals claim state tournament tickets.
Saturday morning started with anxious excitement as our competition cheer team, which had been working toward this moment for the past 18 months, was set to travel to Minnetonka to compete in the UCA Thousand Lakes Region Competition. They went into the competition and not only qualified, but won the whole thing and will compete at nationals in February in Florida. The group then true to form came back and led a youth cheer performance and made it back for the game.
Moving onto the game against Cathedral, the last at Cardinal Stadium for our seniors, was another stepping stone on a collision course with Foley for a section championship. The Cardinals put on a show defeating Cathedral 48-8 to move to 9-0 on the season.
All eyes shifted to Tuesday and the rematch of the boarder battle with Maple Lake. Anytime we play Maple Lake it is always tough. We won a close 3-1 battle at Maple Lake earlier in the year and they were coming of a win over Kimball to reach the section quarter-final. This was also guaranteed to be the final match at home for our senior class and they played in front of a great crowd and swept the Irish to move onto the section semi-final on Thursday against another familiar opponent in Legacy Christian who they were swept by earlier in the year.
The Cardinals came out hot and didn't let off the gas winning three tight games over the Lion's to avenge the earlier loss in the season and advance to the section finals. We then watched as two Wright County teams battled with Watertown-Mayer finding a way to make it back to the section final. The stage was set for another Annandale and Watertown section final on Saturday Night, but there was so much in between.
On Friday night the football team had their rematch with Foley who gave the Cardinals everything they could handle in week seven at Annandale with the Cardinals coming out on top 21-6. It was a chilly, but overall calm night at St. Cloud Tech high school and the Cardinals went into half tied 0-0 after a 41 minute 1st half that looked like a classic battle in the trenches. Coming into the game the Cardinals had lost 2 turnovers the whole season, but on this night they would commit 4 mistakes, but the team kept battling and found a way to win 14-6 to claim their 5th section title in the last 6 years.
Saturday was the final chapter in this saga of Cardinal Championships as both the cross country state tournament and section volleyball final would bring this stretch to its final salvo. The cross country state tournament was held at a new old venue returning to the classic days at Les Bolstad Golf Course on the campus of the University of Minnesota where 5 Cardinals would be running. Olivia Minear and Imari Herrmann both ran great races finishing 65th and 74th in class AA. On the boys side senior Owen Fahey, and 8th grader Emory Wirth ran great races and Junior Sal Wirth picked up another state medal placing 4th!
The race was on as Cardinal Nation went from the U of M to the University of St. Michael-Albertville for our section final match for the 3rd year in a row with Watertown-Mayer who was the Wright County Conference co-champion with the Cardinals. The Annandale faithful filled over half the gym and were loud and and proud the whole night. The Cardinals fell to large deficits twice and came back to win. The final set the Cardinals finished off with a convincing 25-17 win to claim back-to-back-to-back section titles.
To summarize in the past 7ish days we have seen . . .
1 Regional Championship
1 Section Quarterfinal win over Maple Lake
1 Section Semi-Final win over Legacy Christian
1 Section Semi-Final win over Cathedral
1 Section Final win over Foley
1 Section Final win over Watertown-Mayer
2 tickets punched to the MSHSL state tournament
5 State Cross Country Qualifiers
1 State Cross Country Place Winner
What a great week to be a Cardinal and thank you to our coaches, players, and community for all the hours, blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice that it takes to lead to these moments.
It begs to ask the question. . . What could the next 7 days bring?!?!?!
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