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John's Journal: Multi-Sport Athletes Experience Multiple Success Stories

From Greenway To Asuma And Beyond, Having Priorities Is Important

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2024 - 6:22 PM


Cherry High School basketball star Isaac Asuma also plays football and baseball.


Providence Academy's Maddyn Greenway.

Every year, there are many high school student-athletes who have memorable experiences in multiple sports. Here are just a few from 2023-24…

--St. Cloud Cathedral’s Cole Hwang medaled in three state tournaments during his senior year. He was a member of the Crusaders’ third-place soccer team, played on the state championship hockey team and ran on two relays, including the state runner-up 4x200-meter team that broke a 55-year-old school record. Cole, a 4.0 student, is heading to the University of Wisconsin in the fall.

--At Waseca, Damarius Russell – who just finished his junior year – played on the Blue Jays’ state tournament football and basketball teams and wrapped up the year at the state track meet, where he competed in the 100 meters, long jump and two relays. A day later, Russell committed to play football at South Dakota State University.

--At Totino-Grace in Fridley, junior Josiah Young played on the Eagles’ state tournament football team, on their two-time basketball state champions and was third in the high jump at state track. On Thursday he committed to play football at Northern Iowa.

One of Minnesota’s highest-profile young athletes is Providence Academy’s Maddyn Greenway, who closed her sophomore year at state track by winning the Class 2A 300-meter hurdles; she was fourth in the 100-meter hurdles and also ran on the Lions’ ninth-place 4x200 relay team. She is a star on her school’s basketball team, which has won the last two Class 2A state titles. She also plays soccer for the Lions, who went to state in 2022 and 2023.

Experiences and results like those beg the question: How does a young person manage their time, their sports and their school responsibilities?

Greenway, who has her pick of the nation’s top college women’s basketball programs, said priorities are critical.

“Honestly, it just takes kind of a lot of sacrifice, sacrificing a lot of things outside of sports to train and basically be the best that you can in your sport,” said Maddyn, whose father is former Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, a decorated high school multi-sport star in South Dakota. “And I think with age and maturity I've kind of realized that to be a high-level athlete, you have to sacrifice things, and I think that's the biggest thing. And during the school year, you really just have to prioritize academics and athletics.”

Isaac Asuma, who just graduated from Cherry High School and will play basketball at the University of Minnesota, is finishing his three-sport high school career with the Tigers baseball team, which lost to Springfield in the Class A state semifinals Friday in St. Cloud.

Asuma, who plays shortstop and pitcher, skipped the last two high school baseball seasons because of commitments to AAU basketball. He was a member of Cherry’s football team, which went 9-2 last fall, and led the Tigers basketball team to the last three state tournaments, including the school’s first championship this year.

“I came back (to baseball) this year for my last go-round, my last time playing baseball ever, and it's been going really good so far,” Asuma said. “It’s just awesome. Everyone on our team is just super loose, we all play super free and I think that allows us to succeed and have confidence.”

Asuma has been traveling to the U of M campus for offseason basketball workouts. He left St. Cloud for Minneapolis after Thursday’s state quarterfinal game and returned to St. Cloud on Friday morning.

“The (U of M) coaches are super supportive of me playing baseball and finishing it out,” he said. “I'm super thankful to have the support from them.”

Nine members of Cherry’s 19-player varsity baseball team played in the Class A basketball state championship game in March, a 78-40 decision over Fertile-Beltrami. (Speaking of multiple sports, Fertile-Beltrami won the Class A boys golf state championship on Wednesday, with a team that included three golfers who played in the basketball state championship game: Mason Nowacki, Derek Sorenson and Caiden Swenby.)

On the first pitch Asuma saw Thursday in the state quarterfinals against Lac qui Parle Valley, he lashed a rocket down the third-base line to drive in a run and give Cherry a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. He scored on a single by Sundquist (another basketball-baseball player). Asuma went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the Tigers’ 6-3 win.

It isn’t just small-school athletes who are busy with sports in every season. At Edina, Liam Holberg – who will be a senior this fall -- ran on the Hornets’ eighth-place 4x100 and fourth-place 4x200 relay teams at the state track meet. He is also a football player and wrestler, with football his No. 1 sport.

“I do track to get faster for football, but then I love to compete, too. It’s a good mix,” he said. “I’ve wrestled since sixth grade and I just like being physical and competing. I do weight training all the time, and then all my sports are spread out through the year so I have enough time for it all.”

Like Asuma, Greenway plays AAU basketball in the spring as well as competing in track. That means more sacrifices.

“I've been traveling for AAU,” said Maddyn, who began the spring with an injury. “I kind of had a shortened track season because I was in a boot for the first two and a half weeks. Once I got back into it, I just kind of took off from there.

“Soccer was kind of my first love when I was younger and I wanted to keep playing that at the high school level. Obviously we have a great team so it's really enjoyable. And then with track, once I started in eighth grade, there's nothing like winning when it's all kind of on you and the work you put in.”

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] or [email protected] 

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