by Eric Oslund
The 2016-17 school year has been one to remember for Elk River athletics. It has just been one of those years where everything thing aligns just right.
It all started with the football team. It was the 125th year since the sport was first played at the high school, and all season long the players, and the town, rallied behind the fact that they were Team 125.
They were a group led by a senior class that wasn’t quite like any the school had seen before. Head coach Steve Hamilton said that he had his eye on them since they were in eighth grade and won the championship for that level. He knew they would be special, and sure enough, they were.
The team went undefeated during the regular season, made their way through the section playoffs and then into the state tournament where they would take home the school’s first state title for football by defeating Spring Lake Park 42-14.
That game brought an end to the fall season, but soon the winter season set in and a number of other Elk River teams were looking to follow suite of Team 125.
Multiple players and teams had their hearts broke at one point or another, but there was one who carried the torch through the entire year, and it was one that shared a lot of the same qualities as the football team.
The Elk River girls basketball team had another season to remember, one just as magical as the football team’s.
They were one that was led by a group of seniors who have been impacting the varsity team since most of them were in ninth grade. It was a group that they coaches had their eyes on for a long time, and everyone involved could tell all season long that something special was brewing.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” head coach Jeremy Digiovanni said after their last game of the season. “We just got done talking downstairs, when they came up in our program years ago, we could tell there was something special, not only of their talent, but how they carried themselves on the floor. How hard they work, and that just continued. Not only in the years to come, but this year as seniors. They were the leaders of our team and they set the tone.”
The girls, like the football team, went undefeated during the regular season, made it through the section playoffs and into the state tournament. They were able to get past the first two rounds and into the finals where they squared up against Hopkins in a game that featured two undefeated teams for the first time since Class AAAA was established.
It was close throughout, but the Elks were able to come out on top 64-60, giving Elk River their first ever title in girls basketball.
And once again it was that magic number, 125, that the team was able to rally behind. There were 125 days in the girls basketball season, so from their first practice on they always said that they wanted to be playing on Day 125.
From Team 125 to Day 125, it has been a historic season for the city of Elk River and it’s one that has everyone looking forward to seeing what’s next.