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Park Center junior LauBenra Ben in the midst of a triple jump during a recent track meet.
Park Center junior LauBenra Ben in the midst of a triple jump during a recent track meet.

Bruce Smith, Park Center coach

Laubenra Ben, Park Center track and field


Park Center • track and field

It's practically impossible to find a spring athlete who's not appreciative of this season, after not getting to compete at all in 2020. But for Ben, this spring has been all the more special.

The junior sprinter, a relative newbie to the world of track and field, still was harnessing her abundant natural talent last year when the season was canceled. Her parents, understandably concerned about the coronavirus, pulled her out of summer athletics, in her case basketball and track, as well.

"I was still learning how to run," she said. "I was just finding how interesting coaches found me because of how fast I was."

She played basketball at Park Center over the winter. Since the onset of the track season, Ben has been on an upward trajectory. Last week she won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes at the Northwest Suburban Conference meet. She added a victory in the triple jump.

"I just feel so proud, so full of joy," she said.

Her favorite race, she said, is the 200. An admitted slow starter, she gets a chance to "show off my speed,'' she said. She's still learning the technical aspects of the 400 meters and likes the triple jump "because you get to jump three times," she said.

"This season has been so important to me. It's my junior year, and I've got college to think about," she said. "It's going better than I expected."

Emily Moes, Lakeville South volleyball/glax, soph., 2020-21


Lakeville South lacrosse

In the Cougars' final three games of the regular season, the sophomore midfielder tallied 18 goals and six assists, giving her 60 goals and tying teammate Brielle Fannin for the team lead in scoring with 78 points.

Jacob Niemela, Dassel-Cokato baseball, sr., 2021


Dassel-Cokato baseball

The No. 14-seeded Chargers upset No. 3 seed Providence Academy 6-3 in the Class 2A, Section 5 playoffs thanks to a superb game from the senior. He pitched a two-hitter and drove in the game-winning runs with a three-run double.

Ben Scheller, Chanhassen distance runner, sr. 2020-21


Chanhassen track and field

The senior set a team and Metro West Conference meet record by running a 4:15.43 in the 1,600 meters. He also took first in the 3,200 meters in a time of 9:58.58 and helped the 4x400 relay team to a second-place finish.

Lizzy Schmidt, Belle Plaine track and field, 2020-21


Belle Plaine track and field

The senior captain won four gold medals at the Minnesota River Conference meet. She won the 400 meters (1:00.42), the 800 (2:28.09), pole vault (9 feet) and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team (4:13.83).

Chanhassen junior Sydney Schwartz pitched in a softball game against Hopkins Friday. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • Chanhassen junior Sydney Schwartz pitched in a softball game against Hopkins Friday, May 14, 2021...


Chanhassen softball

The junior pitcher threw the first perfect-game in team history, a four-inning 25-0 rout of Orono. She followed that with a one-hitter in a 7-0 victory over Chaska. At the plate, she was 5-for 5 with two home runs and five RBI.



Rosemount softball

The sophomore is another in a growing list of great-hitting pitchers in the metro area. She picked up two victories last week in 10⅔ innings and had 16 strikeouts. She added four hits, capped by a walk-off grand slam, in a 5-2 victory over Lakeville North.


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