Big Nine has Record School Year
The Big Nine Conference set a record for itself during the 2018-19 school year. Owatonna's Jason Williamson and Faribault's McKayla Armbruster each had a hand in it. The conference had four students named as the statewide player of the year in their sport. The previous high was three.
Williamson earned the Mr. Football Award after putting up staggering numbers during the Huskies' run to a second straight state 5A championship run. He also produced the unofficial Play of the Year with his spinning, hand-to-the-ground run for the difference in the Prep Bowl final victory over St. Thomas Academy. His career rushing yardage total is second all-time in state history.
Williamson is currently attending the University of Minnesota and recovering from a knee injury as he looks to begin his college football career. Two other Big Nine players have won the Mr. Football Award. Darrell Thompson, the Gopher radio network color commentator, won the honor with Rochester John Marshall in 1985. Phillip Nelson of Mankato West was named Mr. Football in 2011.
Matthew Hurt of John Marshall picked up the Mr. Basketball Award this past winter after putting up tremendous numbers. The future Duke player is one of the top scorers in state history. Previous Big Nine winners of the honor include Owatonna's Chad Kolander in 1990 and Faribault's Mitch Ohnstad in 1996.
This spring, Red Wing's Leah Herzog received the Ms. Golf Award and Faribault's McKayla Armbruster won the Ms. Softball honor.
The conference had three players of the year in 1997. Kelly and Coco Miller were the co-Ms. Basketball honorees and Michael Restovich won the Mr. Baseball Award. All played for Rochester Mayo.
Three Big Nine teams won state titles during the '18-'19 school year. In addition to Owatonna's state football title, Northfield won the girls' fast-pitch softball title and the Red Wing girls' golfers captured a state banner.
Northfield boys' swimming and diving was the state runner-up this past winter.
Teams that took third place hardware at state this school year include Owatonna gymnastics, Austin boys' basketball and baseball, Winona boys' swimming and diving, Faribault dance and Rochester Mayo girls' tennis.