Hulne: Familiar faces have teamed up with a Hayfield native to bring Blossoms back on top in Section 1A

Published 10:56 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

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In Blooming Prairie, many of the names have changed, but some remain the same. Through it all, the tradition is back.

When Ali Mach was head coach of the Awesome Blossoms softball team, she led the team to four straight state tournament appearances with the team taking second in 2012 and first in 2013.

Now Mach is the athletic director for BP, which is headed back to state for the first time in 11 years. Along with Mach, BP has another familiar face in the dugout in Shelbi Swenson, who was BP’s ace pitcher in 2012 and 2013. Swenson has served as an assistant coach for the Blossoms and her calm demeanor has certainly helped BP pitcher Macy Lembke make the transition from shortstop to pitcher in her senior season.

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One face that is vastly different this time around for BP is head coach Cam Rutledge. When BP was winning state in 2013, Rutledge was attending Hayfield High School as a standout baseball and basketball player.

Rutledge’s emergence as a coach in BP has been great for the Blossoms, but it has added a level of intrigue as it meant he has had to coach against his younger sister Kenna, who is a second baseman on Hayfield’s softball team. Rutledge is also the head boys basketball coach at Blooming Prairie, where he had to coach against his old coach in Hayfield head coach Chris Pack. 

After BP clinched the Section 1A title, many of Rutledge’s basketball players stormed the field to congratulate him and sisters Kenna and Carrie, who was a standout three-sport athlete at Hayfield herself, rushed to wish him well. 

While notching wins against his old school, Rutledge has also brought the communities together as he still has many allies wearing blue and gold. It’s been a fun plot twist in the world of high school sports and one that adds intrigue every time Hayfield and BP clash.

Rutledge may have been a Viking in the past, but he’s been an integral part in bringing the winning tradition back to BP. In just a few years, he’s taken the boys basketball and softball programs to heights they hadn’t reached in a long time.