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Badminton: Edina survives challenge en route to repeat crown

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - 9:37 PM

Edina Claire Watz

Edina junior Claire Watz recorded a dramatic victory at No. 4 singles in the semifinals and then another during the title match that earned the Hornets their second consecutive Badminton State Championship on Wednesday, May 15.

Edina’s reign as Minnesota’s High School Badminton State Champion was in serious jeopardy of being short-lived on Wednesday, May 15. The top-ranked Hornets were locked in their biggest challenge of the season in battling No. 5 St. Paul Highland Park in the semifinals, and the teams were deadlocked at three matches apiece with a berth in the team championship at stake. 

The lone match that hadn’t been decided was between Edina junior Claire Watz and Highland Park sophomore Nica Johnson at No. 4 singles. In three previous matches this season, Johnson had prevailed in the individual duel. With so much on the line and the drama building with each point, Watz and Johnson needed a third game to determine who would play opposite of No. 2 St. Paul Johnson in the team championship. 

To curb any building anxiety about her recent past matches with Johnson and the growing intensity in the Edina Activity Center as all eyes in attendance watched long rallies and tense action, Watz remained calm by singing to herself between points.

Yes, singing.

“Singing makes me feel lighter, and it made the fun prevail over the drama,” Watz said following a 21-11, 19-21, 21-18 victory. “Earlier this season had been a struggle against Highland Park, but singing in my head really helped keep things in a good place.”

After her clinching point in the semifinals, Edina then raced to a 7-0 victory over St. Paul Johnson in the championship match. Junior Hazel Dang clinched the second consecutive team state title for the Hornets with a 21-14, 21-11 victory over Johnson’s Savanna Yang at No. 2 singles. Moments later, Watz followed with a 21-13, 21-17 victory over Johnson’s Su Meh as the Hornets finished the season 17-0. It pushed Edina’s winning streak to 21 consecutive matches. The Hornets’ last loss was a 6-1 setback to St. Paul Johnson on May 2, 2023.

Edina’s latest title is the 206th team state championship overall for Edina High School. A year ago, the Hornets won their first Badminton state title and the school’s 199th crown, in part behind Watz, who recorded the clinching points in two victories, including a 4-3 upset of top-ranked St. Paul Johnson in the semifinals. 

“Last year’s championship really put us in the limelight here at school,” Watz said. “Kids are celebrating with us, and other athletes are coming out to support us and watch us play. It is really exciting to be a part of this.”

Edina Activities Director Troy Stein said participation in Badminton has doubled in the past year to about 80 students. 

“We are so thrilled to be able to provide these opportunities for students,” he said. “It is super cool to see these positive experiences.”

Edina’s victory in the championship is just the fourth time since the tournament began in 1996 that the winning result was 7-0. It is the first since 2017 when St. Paul Johnson raced past Harding. It is just the third time in its rich history that St. Paul Johnson has finished as the state runner-up. The Governors have won 12 Badminton state crowns, including six from 2015 through 2022. A state tournament was not held in 2020 because of the global pandemic. 

Edina 7, St. Paul Johnson 0


No. 1 --- Tenzin Tsephel, Edina def. Ruth Thaw Gyi, 21-8, 23-21. No. 2 --- Hazel Dang, Edina def. Savanna Yang, 21-14, 21-11. No. 3 --- Aarush Bhatnager, Edina def. Sou Xiong, 21-7, 22-20. No. 4 --- Claire Watz, Edina def. Su Meh, 21-13. 21-17. 


No. 1 --- Ivy Peterson-Sanna Coma, Edina def. Dao Sangwang-Goldy Moua, 21-17, 16-21, 21-17. No. 2 --- Juman Alkhatib-Bergen Pickett, Edina def. Anastasia Vang-Sammie Vang, 21-16, 21-17. No. 3 --- Ella Burke-Daisy Hennington, Edina def. Angelina Thao-Kathy Moua, 21-18, 21-16.

Edina badminton 2024

Meet Edina, the Badminton Team State Champion for 2024. It is the 206th team championship all-time for Edina High School.

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