NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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A popular question around town lately has been, “Did you go to the game?” It’s obvious what that means: did you see our girls’ basketball team win the state championship? 

I went to the game on Wednesday, the 13th, but not the other two. The idea of riding in a SUV to the Cities with my 15-year-old brother and his friends didn’t exactly sound appealing, to put it nicely. I did watch one of the games, though, and I can honestly say I’m just as proud as everyone else of the girls’ success.

I know this topic is almost literally all everyone’s been talking about lately, so I hope I don’t bore you. However, going to that game, being around so many people and just observing everything made me realize some things.

Everyone around here already knows what a great group of girls make up the team, and now that they’ve claimed a state championship, the number of people with that knowledge continues to grow. I saw an article today on Yahoo! Sports about the game, which has a large enough audience. Add that to the news stations, newspapers, and any other publications that have reported on the tournament, and you’ve got a lot of people hearing about their success.

Carlie Wagner’s talent never ceases to amaze me. She’s got so much skill, but she remains level-headed and calm on the court, where she completely dominates — breaking records and leading her team to state two years in a row, just to name a couple. The things she’s achieved before graduating high school are impressive enough and much more than most people can say they’ve done in a lifetime. And with more practice and experience under her belt as she gets older and continues her basketball career, it will be exciting to see where the future takes this player.

Looking at all the people in attendance, NRHEG had by far more fans than the other teams. The amount of community support for this team is heartwarming; it’s nice to know we can come together and support a cause as one, even if it is just for a sport. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Am I surprised they won? Not at all. I don’t see how anyone could have — they went up there with very high expectations. 

Not only were they already the No. 2 ranked team with one loss all season, they barely missed the championship a year ago when they lost to Sauk Centre. I don’t even want to know what would’ve happened if they had lost. I can only imagine all the broken hearts.

I’ve never really been interested in school events, especially after I turned 16. I’m glad I went, though. It was fun to watch, and it’s so great to see a team that’s worked so hard finally get something they deserve. Our small towns aren’t well known, but with this achievement at least a part of our community will be recognized for something great. I’m so looking forward to next season, as I’m sure it will be just as exciting as this one was. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bring home another state championship. And if not, they’ll be loved just the same by their friends and family who want to see them succeed and be happy.

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