Construction crews use excavators to begin the process of building Blooming Prairie High School’s new auditorium. Staff photo by Roy Koenig
Big changes are coming to Blooming Prairie High School. There are no signs of it indoors, but a large hole just south of the building is the start of a new auditorium. A competition gym is part of the construction project, that also brings the fifth and sixth grade into the school next fall.
Awesome Blossom Activities Director Ali Mach says the extra space is greatly needed. “I’m just excited about the opportunities it’s going to give our students and our community. Adding that gym space is going to be huge for us. We have so many activities. Not only our school activities, but our youth activities and community activities that will use that space.”
The new gym will have seating on both sides. Mach told the OwatonnaLive.com Coaches Show, “The auditorium, [I’m] extremely excited about. Not just the musical, but I really feel that space will be used every single day.”
Superintendent Chris Staloch highlights the changes. “The main part is we’re bringing our fifth and sixth grade out to the high school facility, creating a pod at the north end of the building.” He says the move is necessitated by the increase of elementary-age students in the district, and projections for that trend to continue.
“We’re adding a brand-new gym, new auditorium, we’re redoing our industrial tech area. We’re doing some reroofing [at the elementary] …two new art classrooms…flex spacing. So, we’ll rethink a little bit of how our kids operate throughout the day, having the opportunity to be a little more independent, especially with our older kids.”
Adding an auditorium has been a long-time coming. Staloch said, “We really felt that it was time that we really addressed the fine arts. I think sometimes we get caught up in doing a lot for our sports, which we’re super proud of, and we want to continue to promote them and support them. But fine arts is a huge piece of our kids education, and we really want to make sure that’s addressed.”
Other work at the elementary school includes classroom and bathroom upgrades and a new elevator. “Most things are going to be touched throughout this project, which is awesome,” Staloch indicated. “And the community support behind it is absolutely wonderful. We’re very blessed to be here in Blooming Prairie and have the opportunity to work in this community with the support we get. I don’t know if every school can say that.”
Move to Class AA
Mach says the move to Class AA in most sports for BP is “probably one of our biggest adjustments. That’s been hard. We have grown in numbers in our student body, but that doesn't necessarily translate into the number of athletes participating in our programs. And so, we saw that with football. We see that with basketball this winter. That is hard because we are competing against schools that just have more kids involved. We [are] a small AA school.”
More officials still needed
Most schools and youth organizations are struggling to find enough game officials. Mach says BP is doing well, but can always have more in reserve. “It is a big issue. I would say finding coaches and finding officials has been really difficult. We’ve been fortunate that we use an association out of Austin, and they’ve been great to us here at Blooming,” she said.
“We encourage some of our young athletes that have just graduated high school to jump in and officiate. And some have. I would like to do some more outreach to have some of those younger kids be involved. It’s good money. It’s just hard to get people to want to do it.”
“We’ll be moving games this winter, I’m sure, because of officials and adjusting as needed.” Mach adds that Blooming Prairie would love to add robotics back to its offerings if it could find a coach.
Another year, another Husky in the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game. Senior Drew Henson will take the field at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 10, following in the footsteps of Grant Achterkirch last year, and Zach Wiese in 2019, among many other players and coaches.
Henson told OwatonnaLive that soccer was his first love, but that shifted for him, as it did for his older brother Sam [a kicker at Concordia-St. Paul] during high school. “Going into my sophomore year,” Drew said, “I just thought it was going to be a thing I did and was just going to have fun with it. And then going into my junior year, I’m like, this is something I can really do. I can really go play in college. So, I put everything I had into it.” A college destination is yet to be announced. Their father Garrett punted for New Mexico State.
Coach Jeff Williams says, “Drew worked hard at his craft and became one of the finest kickers in Owatonna history. His strong leg meant that teams were likely going to have to march 80 yards [after kick offs]…Drew was very accurate on his PAT’s and field goals, and we were confident we would come away with points once the offense entered the red zone.”
Henson, who was named the Big Southeast Red Division Special Teams Player of the Year, connected on 4-of-6 field goal attempts this season with a long of 45. He went 25-for-26 on point-after tries. Henson punted 33 times, placing ten of those inside the 20-yard line. For his career he was 13-for-16 on field goal attempts and 54-for-57 on PAT’s.
Carson DeKam (OHS, Class of 2019) has repeated as an MIAC All-Conference selection while anchoring the Gustavus Adolphus College football team by leading the team in tackles. He was second in the league with 92 tackles, adding five tackles for a loss, two pass breakups, and a quarterback hurry. DeKam also earned Academic All-District honors. The Gusties went 7-3 this season with two of those losses by three points each.
Blades Players of the Week
A pair of players for the Steele County Blades junior hockey team recently earned US Premier Hockey League ‘Player of the Week’ recognition. Defenseman Andrei Moskvitin scored the team’s only goal in a loss to the Dells and added an assist in a win the following night over the Minnesota Mullets. The news release from the league states, “his presence is felt away from the puck. As a defender, he played a big part in limiting opportunities for the Mullets.” The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder hails from Russia.
Goalie Levi Preugschas from Buffalo earned his first junior shutout in that game against Minnesota, turning aside all 19 shots. He’s proud to be an assistant captain for the club. “I’m taking that with a chip on my shoulder. So, I can lead these guys on the team in the right direction,” he said.
Preugschas backstopped the Blades to a 6-3 win over division-leading Isanti on Nov. 23, making 31 saves. Noah LaFluer (West Salem, Wis.) had a goal and three assists. The Blades have won four of their last six games. Steele County is at the Minnesota Squatch on Friday. Their next home game is Sunday against the Mullets at 7:30 p.m.
The Blades’ shutout win came a day after a scary incident in which a Blades’ player had a medical episode during a game and had to be taken to the hospital. Elliot Bauer was awake and responsive, according to the team. He has since returned home to Colorado to recover from injuries this season. The team has displayed his No. 7 jersey at games to honor him.
Danglefest is Friday
A reminder that the Owatonna Blue Line Club hosts its second annual Danglefest fundraiser Friday to support OHS boys’ hockey from 6 p.m. to midnight at Torey’s Restaurant, downtown Owatonna. Meet the high school team at 6 p.m. Burger baskets, silent, and live auctions during the night. Live music from the Old Country Boys.
Owatonna Live Schedule
Medford wrestling quad, 5 p.m.
OHS girls’ hockey vs Winona, 7 p.m.
OHS boys’ hockey vs Mankato East, 7 p.m.
Medford girls’ basketball vs JWP, 7:15 p.m.