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Will Whelan of Centennial
Will Whelan of Centennial


Will Whelan of Centennial


Centennial • baseball

When the Cougars run Whelan out to the mound, they are as good as any team in the state.

A senior lefthander committed to the Gophers for college, Whalen is 4-1 this season for Class 4A, No. 10 Centennial (11-7).

"He has been a huge leader for us on the mound this year," Cougars coach Robert Lynch said. "His competitiveness and confidence on the mound has led to great success."

Whalen opened the season with 17 strikeouts in six innings against Totino-Grace and threw a complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts against East Ridge.

"I consider myself a bulldog on the mound," Whelan said. "I am very competitive."

His command of the strike zone is a big reason for his success. He has struck out 52 and walked six in 30⅔ innings.

"That is where I have made the most progress," Whelan said. "I used to be a wild pitcher, all about velocity. The past year I really worked on my pitch location instead of just velocity."

Whelan, who plays first base when he isn't on the mound, attacks hitters with a 92-miles-per-hour fastball, a changeup and a slurve (combination curveball and slider). He turns to the latter in key situations.

"I will use that if I need a swing-and-miss," Whelan said. "Otherwise, I focus on how the hitters are attacking my pitches."

He's trying to drive the Cougars to their first state tournament appearance since 2009, the program's lone trip.

"At the end of the day, stats don't matter. It's about winning as a team," Whelan said. "We are looking at winning our section [Class 4A, Section 7] and making it to that state tournament."

Sunshine Vang of St. Paul Highland Park


St. Paul Highland Park • badminton

The senior won the badminton singles state championship 21-15, 21-23, 21-13 over St. Paul Harding's Kanlaya Thao. "During the tournament, Sunshine played calm, smart and controlled," Scots coach Brianna Pischke said. "She also was able to crack a smile during her matches, which not many players can do when the pressure is so high."

Luke Maas of Watertown-Mayer


Watertown-Mayer • boys golf

Maas was selected Wright County Conference West Division player of the year and moved up nine spots to No. 52 in the state rankings. He recently shot a round of 4-under-par 68 in the Dassel-Cokato Invitational at Oakdale Golf Club. "His leadership and commitment to details have not only helped him be successful but the team as well," Royals coach Kyle Och said.

Chloe Barber of White Bear Lake


White Bear Lake • softball

A senior righthanded pitcher committed to Wichita State, Barber is a big reason the Bears (16-4) are ranked No. 7 in Class 4A. She is 14-4 with one save and a 0.72 ERA and has allowed 46 hits while striking out 227 and walking 48 in 116⅓ innings. She is hitting .351 with eight home runs and 27 RBI.

Harlow Tong of St. Paul Central


St. Paul Central • boys track and field

Tong, a junior, has the state's fastest times in the 200-meter dash (21.79 seconds) and 400 (48.50), established in the Class 3A, Section 6 True Team meet. He also won the 100 in the meet with a time of 11.12 seconds.

Kate Burke of Edina


Edina • girls golf

Burke is ranked ninth in the state, and the Hornets are ranked fourth as a team. She has been medalist in seven events this season. "Kate can always be counted on for her consistent, solid play," Hornets coach Michael Kraft said. "It's not often you can run your No. 1 out in any match and know she's going to produce."

Gus Bell of Benilde-St. Margaret’s


Benilde-St. Margaret's • boys lacrosse

The junior attacker is the leading scorer for the two-time defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Red Knights (12-0). He has 36 goals and 16 assists for 52 points. Bell has scored at least three goals in nine of the past 10 games, scoring a season-high six against Eastview/Apple Valley.

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