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CraigOlsonSports.com... Your Area Sports Wrap!
Monday, November 29, 1999
More on Buckets
I saw the Fergus Falls girls basketball jamboree on Saturday, and I was impressed with the West Central Area Knights. Their scoring was balanced, they handled the ball very well, moved it with precision, rebounded efficiently, and worked hard on the defensive end. Harold Nelson has a team that will be a solid contender in section 8AA and in the state. Senior point guard Naomi Moerke missed the jamboree with an ankle injury but has experienced problems with the ankle for the past three years. She's expected to be back in the lineup possibly as early as this week.

Janna Davis scored 11 points in the Otters jamboree win over Minnewaska Area. She made her free throws which will be a key this season. First of all, she needs to get to the line a lot, and secondly, she needs to sink her opportunities. She looks very confident on the charity stripe. The Otters will get their scoring chances with Jess Holicky handling the point. She sees the floor well, delivers the ball well, and penetrates with the best of them. One area where the Otters were outworked Saturday was rebounding. They will need to be very aggressive on the boards and not rely on Davis to get all the rebounds. Teams will be working on blocking her out.

Pelican Rapids gave Moorhead a battle for their half, with big Rachel Longfors showing up on both ends of the court, with six points and a couple of blocked shots. She's not quick, but she did some nice things for the Vikings, including making her free throws. Tina Kunkel is their playmaker, and will create some opportunities.

I saw former Otter Cara Paulius at the jamboree. Cara is a fifth-year senior at Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she finished her four year varsity basketball career last season. She is majoring in elementary education and would love to teach and coach for a career. Cara is planning to play in the Otter girls alumni basketball tournament on December 27th from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Fergus Falls high school gym. Carleen (Rose) Holm is organizing this event. For more information you can contact Carleen at [email protected]

Jarrod Asmus will miss Tuesday night's game with UND-Lake Region because of a deep knee bruise. He suffered the injury in the second half of the Ridgewater game last Wednesday. Daron Anderson will also miss the game with an ankle sprain. He hurt the ankle during Sunday's practice. Kevin Loge is suffering from the flu and has missed two days of practice. He will most likely be unavailable for Tuesday's game.

Jason Retzlaff hit 5 of 8 three-pointers and led the Bison with 21 points and 7 assists in their 87-70 win over Rocky Mountain College on Saturday in Billings, Montana.

Fergus Falls High School graduate and former FFCC football coach Steve LeGrand, is now coaching at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. The Marauders shut down Rocky Mountain in the second round of the NAIA playoffs, winning 7-3. Quarterback David Short, the NAIA's leading passer, was sacked eight times. Mary is now 11-1 and will play Saturday at Northwestern Oklahoma State in the NAIA semifinals.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, November 27, 1999
Girls Basketball Teams Are Ready to Play
Many girls basketball jamborees have taken place this past week and the season starts for real on Tuesday night for several area teams. By the looks of things we should have some exciting girls teams to follow in our area, starting with West Central Area. The Knights are being tabbed as the pre-season favorites in Section 8AA and are ranked 10th in the state by Minnesota Basketball News (MBBN). Coach Harold Nelson's team returns 12 letterwinners and 8 players with starting experience. MBBN also ranks freshman Megan Ronhovde (6.8 ppg, 7rpg) among their top 100 players in the state.

The Little 8 conference is always a very good basketball conference and of course, last year the state Class A champion, Brandon-Evansville came from that conference. The bad news for the rest of the Little 8 is that Dick Simpson's Chargers return eight seniors from last year's team, including Debbie Slack (12.9 ppg, 10.1rpg). Brandon-Evansville is ranked eighth in the Class A pre-season poll. Last year's Section 5A runner-up to B-E was Rothsay, but the Tigers now find themselves in Section 6A with a senior dominated team and one of the area's most exciting players, Brenna Rollie (16.8 ppg, 8rpg, 8apg), also a MBBN top 100 player.

Other players making the list from our area include Tina Kunkel (12.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.1 apg), a guard for Pelican Rapids; Stephanie Mayclin (9.5 ppg, 7.5 apg, 4.6 spg), from Breckenridge; and Janna Davis, 6-3 senior post player from Fergus Falls (16 ppg, 8 rpg). Davis and Rollie were also on the magazine's pre-season all-state squad of 25 players. This is a great magazine for basketball fans. If you are interested in a subscription send an inquiry to MBBN, P.O. Box 222, Paynesville, MN 56362 or call 1-320-243-7460.

Battle Lake girls coach Mike McCarney had some observations after the Little 8 girls jamboree last Tuesday. "Brandon-Evansville will definitely be the team to try to compete with in the conference. They just have so many quality players. Ashby looked strong, Parkers Prairie (new to the Little 8 this year), will play well in our conference, and Hillcrest looked much improved, espcially on defense. Rothsay with Brenna is going to be an issue when she's on her game.

Boys Jamborees will be held this coming week with the Little 8 Jamboree on Thursday in Battle Lake. We'll be previewing several girls teams on their community school pages, accessible by clicking on the school's name on the left side of the screen. We'll also be addressing some of the top boys teams and players in the area in a column later this week.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, November 25, 1999
Bring on the Turkey and the Football
Don't you just love holiday traditions in our great country! How many of you are doing what I'm doing today? Sleeping in (7:00 a.m. is really sleeping in for me!), lounging around watching some of the Macy's parade, waiting for the 11:40 a.m. kick-off between the Bears and the Lions, anticipating a meal around 2 p.m. of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and all the trimmings, followed by pie, then Miami at Dallas, followed by a turkey sandwich and maybe more pie, and there must be a holiday themed movie on tonight like It's a Wonderful Life. As you enjoy this relaxing, reflecting day spent with loved ones and friends, pause to think about what you are truly thankful for, and to praise God for his many blessings.

Former Spartan Chris Heier may be done with basketball, at least for this season. Heier, a standout for the Spartans and for Staples-Motley in high school, is attending Mayville State University. He hasn't played for three weeks because of a sprained ankle and indicated to me at the Spartan game Wednesday night that he may not come back from it. That would be too bad, because Heier plays with a great passion for this great game, and can be an asset to any team under the basket, even if he isn't one of the tallest players inside. He makes up for it with sheer determination and desire. He also said, it's a lot different at Mayville than playing for Retz. Too bad these guys only get to stick around here for two years.

It sure is fun to see all these former Spartans coming around for FFCC games. It really tells me they experienced something very positive while they were here. Heidi Brunko was at the game and upbeat about her situation. Heidi was set to play volleyball at Mayville, she thought! However, she was a credit shy of being eligible and couldn't play. The good news is, she's straightened it all out and will be able to play basketball after the first of the year. She will also be able to play volleyball in the fall. Underwood's Lindsey Johnsen is okay with that ... she'll be a senior next year and is looking forward to having Brunko on the team with her. Lindsey's sister, Breck was also at the game, with former Spartan Aaron Grove. Aaron's brother Nate Grove was in attendance, as was Ben Amundson, the Retzlaff boys, Teri Johansen and Anita Follingstad. Anita's off to a great start at Mayville. The team is 6-2 with one of their losses to UND. Anita has started every game and is averaging 15 points per game, scoring a career high 29 against South Dakota-Huron. She has hit 52% of her shots from the field and 80% of her free throws! How's that for fitting in? I'm sure there were other former Spartans at the game Wednesday, but those are the ones I saw or visited with.

Former Otter hockey player Joe Cranston, is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls ladies hockey team. They are in their first year of organized hockey, playing at the Division 3 level. Joe's sister, Cathy, a former Fergus Falls skating instructor and middle school classroom teacher, lives in Wisconsin where her son Patrick is a senior in Somerset, and is playing hockey. Former Fergus Falls residents Gary and Gail Cranston have also transplanted themselves to Wisconsin and are watching a lot of hockey! The more things change, the more they stay the same! I don't know who said that, but I think it applies!

The Barnesville school board has voted down the addition of boys baseball and girls softball in the district. Superintendent Todd Cameron says the board just felt it wasn't feasible at this time. The estimated cost to add the two sports would have been close to twenty thousand dollars. The board may review the proposal again next year. Barnesville had a state qualifier in American Legion baseball last summer.

Apparently, Rothsay was shifted to Section 6A from Section 5A because they are located 2 miles closer to Barnesville than to Hillcrest. At least that's the rationale the Minnesota State High School League used for making the move. The decision came at such a late date, that Rothsay didn't even get an opportunity to appeal. The Tigers play in the Little 8 Conference with Hillcrest, Underwood, Battle Lake, Ashby, Brandon-Evansville and Parkers Prairie, all teams in Section 5, but now they will play teams like New York Mills, Lake Park-Audubon, Barnesville, Nevis, Northland, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Verndale, Waubun, Pillager, Onamia, LaPorte, you get the drift. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Especially when you understand that Rothsay has only 3 teams from their new section on their schedule and play several teams from their old section during the season. Go figure! Aligning these sections is a geographical nightmare I'm sure, but a little common sense has to come into play before rushing into a final decision on how they will be structured. Allowing the school some input, prior to making the decision, isn't asking too much, is it?

Get out to the rink for a little scrimmage action Friday and Saturday. Seven teams will be in town to join the Otters in a scrimmage format. There will be games all day Friday and through the morning and early afternoon on Saturday. The season starts for real next Thursday at St. Cloud against Tech.

If you haven't already, check out Mary Dolan's Special of the Day on the Fergus Falls Cross Country ski team. By the way, to get back to the home page from any page on the site, just click on the logo at the top of the page you are on. Or, I'll make it really easy for you here, click on this www.craigolsonsports.com

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, November 22, 1999
Winter May Not Be Here Yet, But Winter Sports Are
Today, Monday, November 22nd, 1999, (are all the comma's in the right places?), is opening day for high school boys basketball and wrestling. That means that only boys swimming hasn't started yet, and they'll get going next Monday. Fergus Falls coach Tom Uvaas will get a full four days off following his girls state tournament appearance this Monday through Wednesday. Tom is the head varsity coach for both girls and boys, and also runs the U.S.S. summer swim program. That's a lot of time in the water!

Basketball jamborees will be poppin' up all over the place, with Fergus Falls scheduled to host one next Saturday and the Little 8 girls jamboree being hosted by Hillcrest at FFCC on Tuesday. Defending Class 'A' state champion Brandon-Evansville, conference runner-up Rothsay, Underwood, Ashby, Battle Lake, newcomer Parkers Prairie, and host team Hillcrest Lutheran Academy will all participate. The Heart O' Lakes has their girls basketball jamboree Tuesday night in Hawley.

We should be in for a great winter (sports-wise, anyway), with teams from all-around looking like capable playoff contenders. In Fergus Falls, the Otters, Comets and Spartans are hoping to satisfy their loyal fans with state tournament appearances. Hillcrest played for the Class 'A' boys title last year and returns some key players to this year's team. Troy Davis has another very competitive group of girls basketball players, now with some great Section tournament experience, ready to challenge in the Little 8 and Section 5A. Be watching the individual school community pages for winter sports previews in the next two weeks.

At the college level, Jonny Reese, scored 9 points on 4 of 8 shooting, in his debut with St. Cloud State. The former Spartan guard helped his team to 73-59 opening night victory over Moorhead State. What happened to NDSU on Saturday in their opener? Cobbers win 69-67 at NDSU's Bison fieldhouse. A truly amazing win for Concordia and I'm sure a tremendously disappointing performance for the Bison coaches and players to try to recover from. Jason Retzlaff did have 17 points, 5 steals and 3 assists but commented after the game that the Bison need to step up their play. Former Otter guard Brendan Giese is seeing a good amount of playing time in the guard mix at Northwestern Bible College in Roseville.

Oh, there are still some fall things goin' on, too! GO KNIGHTS! West Central Area plays in the Prep Bowl for the first time in the history of the school. They are now 13-0, picking up number 13 on a less than perfect day of football on Saturday. You know it's special when the five communities that make-up West Central Area, have to close down on the day of a game because they are all at it! Hoffman, Kensington, Elbow Lake, Wendel and Barrett are all very supportive, and hungry for a winner!!! They have the right senior mix to make it happen this week. From there, who knows?

Erin Seeba has the fastest seed time in the state 100 breaststroke and hopes to set a new state record in that event. She and Sabrina Peterson, Kayley Uvaas and Jackie Sutor will compete in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. These girls have had a great season.

The Bison volleyball team has made it to the Elite 8 and will play in the Division II national tournament starting December 2nd. Pam Osterfeld (Perham) and Jenny Gronner (Underwood) are both on that squad, but seeing limited playing time (very limited in Jenny's case). What a great introduction to college volleyball for Gronner.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Friday, November 19, 1999
Sad Day for U of M
Mark Dienhart and McKinley Boston both resigned today, prior to the release of a 1000 page investigative report into the academic fraud involving the U of M men's basketball program. The report says that coach Clem Haskins oversaw widespread academic fraud in the program, lied to investigators and told his players to lie when the fraud was exposed. It also reveals that Haskins gave cash, up to $200, to three athletes, and arranged a standing hotel discount for parents of athletes. He was cited for a similar violation by the NCAA when he coached at Western Kentucky. Dienhart stated that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, but the report says there were several warning signs that administrators either chose to ignore or failed to act on. If you're the athletic director, you need to be on top of things that are happening in your programs, especially when they deal with policy involving academic assistance. It's amazing to me that telling lies has become so easy for us as a society. What's even more amazing is that we seem to think that it's no big deal. Whatever happened to being ethical and moral? If that's old-fashioned, then send me out to pasture! I feel bad for the current players and new coach Dan Monson. They will pay the price for what happened under Haskins, and that certainly isn't totally fair. There has to be a penalty paid, but how do you prevent innocent people from feeling the affects? It is indeed a sad day for the University of Minnesota. Maybe Glen Mason's team can take some of the sting away.

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, with Pedro Martinez a close second. The most amazing fact coming out of the voting was this ... two writers, George King of the New York Post and LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, didn't even have Martinez on their ballots. Can you believe that? Here's a guy who won 23 games for a playoff team, had a miniscule 2.07 earned run average, far below the league average, struck out 313 batters, and had perhaps the most dominant year for a pitcher in the history of the game, and he doesn't even make the ballots of two know-it-all writers! King and Neal will argue that the Cy Young Award, which Martinez won earlier this week, is the MVP for pitchers and that the MVP award is for everyday position players. The majority of the writers and the fans, will argue that the MVP award is for the PLAYER most valuable to his team, no matter what his position. Where would the Red Sox have been without Martinez? I'm not going to begrudge Rodriguez the award, I probably would have voted him first and Pedro second, but a strong case can be made for Martinez and to totally ignore him as a candidate is, in my opinion, totally irresponsible. I can cite one other vote that is even more irresponsible, in 1947 Ted Williams won the Triple Crown leading the AL in batting average, homeruns and runs batted in, but lost the MVP to Joe Dimaggio by one point in the balloting. Now, Dimaggio had a great year and the Yankees won it all, so he may have been equally deserving of the award. My beef is this, Boston Globe Writer, Mel Webb, left Williams off the ballot!!! Can you believe it? The guy wins the triple crown and this bozo doesn't even give him a single point! The reason? He didn't like Williams. That's right. A personality clash leading to totally irresponsible actions on his part. By the way, Rodriguez's numbers were outstanding, the best for a catcher in the history of the game, he hit .332 with 35 homeruns, 113 runs batted in, 116 runs scored and threw out 54% of would-be base-stealers. MVP numbers without a doubt.

I want to wish Ann Williams a speedy recovery from her appendectomy. The Lady Spartans basketball and volleyball coach was stricken during practice on Wednesday and had surgery to remove here appendix on Wednesday evening at Lake Region Hospital. Ann was dismissed from the hospital on Friday and knowing her, she'll probably be back with the team for their home game on Monday with St. Ben's J.V. team. Her assistant Brenda Johnson, and her volleyball assistant Renae Rasmusson filled in for her in the opening game victory over Valley City State's J.V. team on Thursday night. Brenda told me they rushed the tape up to her room right after the game. I'm sure Ann viewed it several times and probably has had ample time to pick it apart! Hurry back coach, but wait until you're totally healthy!

Nicollet, the team that eliminated Hillcrest in the 9-man state quarterfinals has qualified for the Prep Bowl championship with an impressive 55-30 drubbing of Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross. When you think of it, the Comets defense was simply outstanding last Saturday in that heartbreaking loss to one of the most explosive offensive teams in 9-man this year. Hats off to the coaching staff for putting together a tremendous defensive game plan and to the players for executing that plan efficiently.

The West Central Area Knights may be missing sophomore tight end/outside linebacker, Eric Reiner, when they play Braham on Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome. Reiner suffered a badly sprained ankle at practice on Wednesday and will be re-evaluated prior to the game. The Knights have been very fortunate on the injury front this season.

There's a good Bantam "A" match-up scheduled for Saturday at around 5:00 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Arena. The VFW Post 612 guys (2-0) will play a very good Grand Rapids squad. Hockey fans will want to catch this one if it's at all possible!

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, November 16, 1999
Parity or Mediocrity?
The NFL has been a tough call this year! Back when Pete Rozelle was commissioner he stated that one of his goals was to bring parity to the league, to do away with dynasties and doormats, to make an NFL title team unpredictable. It may be happening this year, at least in the NFC. The St. Louis Rams have the best record in the NFC, 7-2, and have a four game lead on San Francisco and Carolina. Dick Vermeil has done a great job building a respectable team in St. Louis in a short period of time, but are they Super Bowl material? They play a very weak schedule, but they do play a pretty tenacious defense. They have scored many defensive touchdowns and have allowed only 128 points, tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest points in the conference. Speaking of the Bucs, they have a great defense, but their offense will prevent them from winning it all. 139 points scored is the third lowest in the NFC, trailing only the injured Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals, playing without Jake Plummer, who is their offense. The NFC East has three 5-4 teams, Washington, the Giants and the Cowboys. The Skins' can score points with the best of them, 287 is second to the Rams, but defensively the have allowed more points than any team in the NFL, save the 49er's and Bengals. Dallas has too many injury questions and the Giants can't score with any consistency. That leaves the Central division and of course, the Minnesota Vikings. Since inserting Jeff George at quarterback, the Vikes have won four straight games. They are now within a half game of Detroit and would be tied with the Lions if Green Bay can beat them at Lambeau Field this weekend. By the way, Dan Schroeder, Fred Sailer, and diehard Packer Backer Mike Peterson, all from Perham, are going to be at Lambeau cheering for the Packers (yes, even Dan and Fred)! Mike's family has access to tickets and I believe are one of those Packer-season-ticket-holders-for-life families in Wisconsin. Back to the Vikes...they need to improve their defensive play, but if any team in the league can overcome shortcomings on that side of the ball, the Vikings can with their potent offensive attack. That is why I feel they are still a legitimate Super Bowl Contender. I'm confident that they can beat anyone in the NFC. Detroit will stumble, Green Bay is struggling, and Tampa Bay has no offense.

In the AFC, the East is competitive with some of the best teams in the NFL. Miami and Indianapolis are both 7-2, Buffalo is 7-3 and New England is 6-3. Plus, they have the top quarterbacks in all of football in their division. Guys like Dan Marino (when healthy), Peyton Manning, Doug Flutie, and Drew Bledsoe are very capable of winning Super Bowls. A challenge will come from Jacksonville (8-1) and Tennessee (7-2) and Seattle (7-2). The Jags have impressed even with a number of injuries and if they get healthy could be a real threat. Steve McNair is back for the Titans and with Eddie George running wild they could be in the mix. Seattle, under Mike Holmgren has looked tremendous. They are on a four game winning streak and have Joey Galloway back with them, which will only help their passing game. I'm of the belief that you need a top-notch quarterback and at least an above average defense to contend for the Super Bowl title. My pick is Indianapolis. I may be a year early, but this team is on the verge of becoming a great team, at least offensively. Edgerin James was a great addition to their offense this year, and Manning will be the best qb in the league for several years. Plus, Marvin Harrison has been called this year's Randy Moss and the numbers are bearing that out (64 receptions, 996 yards, 11 td's - all highs in the AFC). They may need one more draft to bolster the defensive side of the ball, but they are a team of the future. Colts and Vikings in the Super Bowl. It's probably as good a guess as any in this league of parity.

It's official...Mike Trombley is now longer a Twin. The relief ace has signed a three-year 7.75 million dollar deal to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles. Pitching at Camden Yards for one of the top managers over the last several years, Mike Hargrove. You know the Orioles are commited to building a winner, and that the Twins, right now, are not. Who will their new closer be? I'll ask John Gordon and let you know his response next time.

The Spartans host Valley City State's Junior Varsity on Thursday night at FFCC. The ladies open at six p.m. and the men play at eight. Kevin Loge is doubtful for the men, as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered during a scrimmage with Concordia.

Elissa Rolf of the Otter girls hockey team is nursing a pulled groin muscle. She played the first two periods of the opener on Tuesday night, recording an assist on the first goal of the year for Fergus Falls, scored by Katie Bolstad. The Otters had 41 shots on goal and will be a very good offensive team this year. Leah Graff had two goals, Jodi Hensch 3 assists and Amie Ecker 2 assists. They will also be tough defensively with Anna Permann back in goal and a solid threesome on defense, Rena Stigen, Trina Brennan (1 goal and 1 assist) and Kate Goepferd.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, November 14, 1999
State Bound
Erin Seeba had quite a weekend! The Fergus Falls swimmer set a new Section 2A record in the 100 breaststroke during Friday's prelims and then set another new record in the finals on Saturday. The newest record time is 1:07.77. Erin had the only first place finish for the Otters and will compete at the State Class "A" meet in that event and in the 200 individual medley. She took second with a personal best time of 2:19.89 in the IM. Sabrina Peterson met the state cut-off time in the 100 backstroke and will join Seeba at state. Kayley Uvaas and Jackie Sutor will fill out the medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay teams which also qualified for state. Seeba will compete in four events and Peterson three in the state meet at the U of M.

What a great weekend weather-wise for high school football playoff action. First of all, Friday night was a perfect fall evening, and the West Central Area Knights made the most of it. Their line dominated on both sides of the ball, and Jake Sternhagen was, well, Jake Sternhagen, rushing for 198 yards and three td's. The Knights recorded a 28-0 shutout at Deer River and are now 12-0 heading into the semifinals in Class AA on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The Knights are my pick to win the Prep Bowl in AA. They have all the weapons and they are very disciplined. They didn't draw a penalty flag at all on Friday night.

It was a beautiful day on Saturday at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, windy, but a great day, with two very good football teams battling for a state semifinal berth in 9-man. Unfortunately, someone has to lose and on this day it was the Comets. Coach Richard Risbrudt's game plan was solid. His team did what they had to do to shut down the potent passing attack of Nicollet. They had great pressure on quarterback Ryan Hulke all day and the senior was shutout on passing yards in the second half, finishing with 110 yards, completing 6 of 18 passes. John Kilde closed out a stellar career with 173 yards rushing and byh throwing a 27 yard halfback pass to Bill Nelson. Nelson also had a big day, making two catches for 81 yards and a score, and contributing some big special teams plays. Tor-Arne Torsvik converted a 40 yard field goal which gave the Comets a 9-7 lead, but a 20 yard field goal by the Raiders with 3:20 to go provided the winning margin.

Wayne Horgen's Fergus Falls girls hockey team opens play this week with a home game against Rocori on Tuesday and a road contest Friday at Park Rapids. Horgen has moved last year's leading scorer, Jodi Hensch up to a forward spot, from defense. Her blistering slap shot caused terror for many goalies and defenseman last season, and now she's working on a snap shot, that could be even more effective because of increased accuracy. Horgen has move Rena Stigen from forward to defense and feels like she has adapted very well to the switch. The Otter girls have high expectations, setting a Section Title as their main goal.

Spartans 113 Mankato-Bethany 87. A great start for Dave Retzlaff's guys. They shot the lights out in the first half on Saturday afternoon (27 of 37), and co-captain Jared Swanson (Morris Area) led all scorers with 31 points. The freshman made solid debuts with Cory Ohman (Wadena-Deer Creek) scoring 23, Michael Moenkedick (Wadena-Deer Creek) contributing 12 points and Daron Anderson (Belle Plaine) adding 14. Co-captain Jeremy Voeller (Crookston) scored 10. The Spartans played without Kevin Loge who is nursing a nagging back injury.

Former Spartan Chris Heier was in the crowd on Saturday. Heier, a junior at Mayville State University has missed three straight games with an ankle sprain. He's hoping to be back in the lineup next weekend. Jason Retzlaff and his brother Ryan Retzlaff were also in attendance. Jason, a senior at NDSU is excited about the upcoming Bison season, which starts next Saturday. He's playing the shooting guard spot for Ray Giacoletti and feels that this year's Bison squad will be a quicker, better shooting team than last year's.

Anita Follingstad, a junior at Mayville State, was also at the game Saturday. Her team is off to a 3-1 start and she is playing a shooting guard spot and contributing double digits every night. Anita, who played part of the state tournament last year with a broken wrist, said the wrist still isn't quite right, but since she doesn't handle the ball as much as she did as a point guard for the Spartans, it hasn't really caused any problems for her.

Monday marks the start of high school girls basketball, boys hockey and girls gymnastics. The boys basketball and wrestling teams begin practice on the 22nd and the swimming team starts on the 29th.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Friday, November 12, 1999
Wally and The Kid
Did you see the Wolves home opener Thursday night on MSC? A great debut for Wally Szczerbiak who scored 23 points on 8 for 13 shooting and 7 of 7 from the line. The Wolves were in desperate need of an outside shooter and if Thursday in any indication, they've found one.

Is there any doubt that Kevin Garnett is the best player in the NBA? Anyone who doubted that coming into the season is going to have a hard time arguing their case now. In the first three games, The Kid has established the fact that he is going to carry this team. 100 points in three games, including a career high 35 against the Knicks on Thursday night as he took charge late in the game and brought them back from a 14 point deficit. KG was 13 for 26 from the field and 7 for 7 at the line. He had 2 blocked shots and 14 rebounds, added 4 assists, and perhaps the most impressive state of the night NO FOULS. With his intensity on the court that last stat is incredible. The Wolves will be a factor in the West, and Garnett will be a factor in the MVP balloting, providing he stays healthy.

Future Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs has retired from baseball after 18 seasons, most with the Boston Red Sox, some with the New York Yankees, where he played on a World Series Championship Team, and the last with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Boggs finishes with 3010 hits, fifteen .300 or better seasons (including .301 last year), and five batting titles. He will be an assistant to the GM in Tampa.

Bob Hatlestad is a great volleyball coach and motivator. "Hat" deserves a state title and I believe he's going to get it. His Alexandria Cardinals are 30-0 after they defeated Eagan in the opening round of the 3A state tournament at Williams Arena. He has some great talent, led by Lindsey Spoden, Miss Volleyball in Minnesota, and a member of the Class 3A All-State team. Outside hitter Renee Barens was an honorable mention All-State selection. Hatlestad took four Perham Yellowjacket teams to the big show, but never won a title. It's time.

Debbie Slack, 5' 10" senior middle hitter for the undefeated Brandon-Evansville Chargers, was named to the Class A All-State squad. Slack had 159 kills and a .329 kill efficiency heading into the tournament. Teammate Kami Jesnowski, a senior setter, was honorable mention All-State. Seven players on the volleyball team were a part of the state champion basketball team last winter. Wheaton middle hitter Anna Lichsinn and Becky Ruebke, a middle hitter for Ada-Borup, were also named All-State.

In a column earlier this week we talked about Janna Davis signing with NDSU to play basketball for the Lady Bison. Janna's parents, Tom and Patti, are both NDSU graduates. Coach Amy Ruley had this to say about Davis, "Janna is a hard-working and determined individual, and obviously, a talented athlete. She runs the floor well and has great hands. She's not a big body kid, but she doesn't shy away from contact."

Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is making their seventh state tournament appearance in football. Their runner-up finish last year was their fourth second place finish in their first six appearances. They were runner-up in 1976, 1977, and 1982. The other two years they qualified were 1978 and 1981.

West Central Area is making their second appearance in the state playoffs, having qualified in 1995. Schools that make up West Central Area had some state success, including two state titles. The 1978 Hoffman Bearcats (check out the "Blast from the Past" at www.craigolsonsports.com ), and the 1980 Hoffman-Kensington Patriots won 9-man titles. Hoffman Kensington made back to back state appearances in 1987 and 1988. Elbow Lake never qualified for a state playoff game until they were a part of the 1995 West Central Area team.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, November 10, 1999
State Volleyball and Other Notes
Two former FFCC student-athletes have their volleyball teams in the Class "A" state tournament this week. 1979 graduate and Spartan Hall of Famer Janelle Bright is the coach at Bertha-Hewitt High School. Her team won the Section 5A title and opens state tournament play at 1:00 p.m. Thursday at the U of M Sports Pavilion against Buffalo Lake-Hector. 1984 graduate Terri Strom has her Brandon-Evansville Chargers up against Lanesboro Thursday at one o'clock at Williams Arena. If the two teams both win the would meet in the championship semifinals. If they both lose, they would meet in the consolation semifinals. Both were three sport athletes at FFCC, playing volleyball, basketball and softball for Ann Williams, who at that time, was head coach in all three sports.

Spartan middle hitter Cathy Selvig was named to the All-Region Thirteen volleyball squad. The Freshman from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy led the team with 32 ace serves, served 95% for the season, had an average of 1.1 blocks per game, 72 of her 107 blocks were solo blocks and her 239 kills was also a team high. Selvig also had 180 defensive digs. She was an all-division and all-state selection for the Lady Spartans.

Fergus Falls Senior Janna Davis has signed a letter of intent to attend North Dakota State University and will play ladies basketball for Amy Ruley's Bison. Janna is a tremendous student, carrying a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. She can also play hoops. In her high school career she has averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game. Her 584 career points puts her eighth all-time in Otter girls basketball. Minnesota Basketball News has named her as one of the top 100 players in the state this year. She played with the Minnesota Elite all-start team and was named to the Coaches Choice Team, too. Janna begins high school practice with her Otter teammates on Monday.

The Spartan Men's basketball team opens their season on Saturday at home against Mankato-Bethany. FFCC is ranked fifth in the nation in the NJCAA Division III pre-season poll. Jared Swanson, a sophomore post from Morris Area, is a second team pre-season All-American. Swanson averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists as a freshman.

Only one team, Eastfield College of Texas, has had more first team All-Americans, than Fergus Falls Community College. Eastfield has had five players earn that honor. The Spartans and two other schools, Sullivan County College of New York and the Community College of Rhode Island have had three players earn that status. Ryan Retzlaff was the first Spartan so honored, in 1996, and his brother Jason Retzlaff was named first team All-American in 1997 and again in 1998. Ronald Dodson, of last years' Minnesota State Champion Vermilion Ironmen, was a recipient of the honor last year.

Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is making their seventh state tournament appearance in football. Their runner-up finish last year was their fourth second place finish in their first six appearances. They were runner-up in 1976, 1977, and 1982. The other two years they qualified were 1978 and 1981.

West Central Area is making their second appearance in the state playoffs, having qualified in 1995. Schools that make up West Central Area had some state success, including two state titles. The 1978 Hoffman Bearcats (check out the "Blast from the Past" at www.craigolsonsports.com ), and the 1980 Hoffman-Kensington Patriots won 9-man titles. Hoffman Kensington made back to back state appearances in 1987 and 1988. Elbow Lake never qualified for a state playoff game until they were a part of the 1995 West Central Area team.

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, November 7, 1999
Roundball Season is Rollin
The Spartan Buddies got together for the first of four sessions at FFCC on Sunday afternoon. The popular instructional program for kids in kindergarten through sixth grades, is in it's twelfth year and there are close to 170 kids involved. The program will continue Tuesday, and again next Sunday and the following Tuesday. Each participant receives a t-shirt and a buddy ball, courtesy of Coke and Stop-N-Go, the two sponsors. When the kids where their t-shirt to a home Spartan game, they will be admitted free. It's a great way for the kids to become of aware of Spartan basketball, and to get to know the players and coaches.

FFCC will open their Mens basketball season on Saturday against Mankato-Bethany, with a 3:00 p.m. game. Coach Dave Retzlaff will most likely be using a three-guard offense this season. The Spartans return five players from last year's team, including post players Kevin Loge, Jared Swanson and Cody Norman. Guards Jeremy Voeller and Derrick McKatherine are also back. Mike Moenkedick, a 6-6 post, and Cory Ohman, a 5-11 guard, are freshman recruits from Wadena/Deer Creek. Both are expected to see plenty of playing time John Gullingsrud from Norman County East, a member of their state championship team of two years ago, will share time at the point with Voeller and McKatherine. Daron Anderson from Belle Plaine, and All-State Class "A" player Dan Scheid from Hillcrest are guards, along with Jason Kral and Dustin Solarz, two members of Lloyd Danzeisen's football team. Jared Asmus a 6-4 player from Morris Area will contribute inside. Coach Retzlaff on the team, "We won't be as athletic as we were last year, but we should have a good shooting team that is fundamentally solid. Our ability to rebound will be a key."

Six former Spartan players are participating at four year schools, including Jason Retzlaff at NDSU. Jason is playing the off guard for Coach Ray Giacolleti and scored 12 points including 2 of 4 on 3-pointers, in their 84-61 exhibition win against the "Dream Builders" team. Chris Fernholz and Chris Heier are playing at Mayville State, Fernie is a senior and Heier a junior. Johnny Reese is at St. Cloud State University and will bump heads with Jason twice during the season. Matt Davis is at Augsburg, along with Tommy Chatman, who transfereed from Northern Iowa after last season. Tommy may sit out a year and play his final season of college ball next year, when Davis is a senior. All six were members of the unbeated National Champs of 1997-1998.

Anita Follingstad had an excellent debut for her new team, Mayville State University. In their 58-57 win over Valley City State on Friday in the NDCAC tip-off classic, Anita scored a team-high 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. She also had 2 steals and two assists and buried all four of her free throw attempts.

Ann Williams had one day off between volleyball and basketball, last Sunday. The state volleyball tournament ended on Saturday and the first basketball practice was Monday afternoon. There are a lot of new faces on the Lady Spartans this year. Only Mandi Boyack returns. The 5-10 post from Elbow Lake will serve as team captain. Beth Gilyard, who spent last season at Concordia, is the other sophomore on the squad. FFCC will have some legitimate height at the post spot with 6-2 Sarah Sanford from Elbow Lake, 5-11 Amy Schoeck from Osakis and 5-8 Alayna Follingstad from Rothsay. Jess Berg from Ashby, Heidi Schaefer from Bertha-Hewitt and Julie Henker from St. Cloud Cathedral will battle for minutes at point guard. Other freshman include Kendra Roberts from Greenway-Coleraine, Kelly Martin of Hawley, Amanda Rinke from Wheaton and Jessica Draper from Morris Area. The Lady Spartans open their season on Thursday, November 18th at 6:00 p.m. against the Moorhead State JV.

Guess it's time to say, see you at the gym!

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Friday, November 5, 1999
Comets and Knights Continue!
Richard Risbrudt and Mike Frisch can both be proud of the Fargodome performance of their Comets and Knights this past week. Hillcrest played inspired defense and was able to control the tempo of the game against the powerful Verndale Pirates. The Comets explosive offense came alive for 22 second quarter points and Hillcrest has now advanced to their second straight state tournament. Players from last years' team will provide some valuable post season experience, and the strength of the Pheasant Conference schedule has certainly prepared this team for anybody they may meet up with, including Cromwell. As for the Knights of West Central Area, Mike Frisch's team remained unbeaten with a 28-14 win over Hawley. After the Nuggets rallied to tie the game at 14, it seemed that the Knights turned up the intensity a few notches. Lineman Dallas Koplin was quoted in the Fargo Forum as saying it was time to play "smashmouth football." They did! West Central Area will now play at Deer River on Friday night and it's hard to imagine any 2A teams any better than the Knights.

As excited as www.craigolsonsports.com is about continuing to watch the Comets and Knights participate in post season play, we are also sad to see this great season end for the Fergus Falls Otters. What a section championship game on Thursday at the Fargodome. Phil Link's team played their hearts out and "left it all on the field." Link said, "we were one play away," and, "that was a true championship game." Chad Hopponen's 84 yard run, Luke Draxten's 45 yard field goal, Ben Brimhall's escapability and passing proficiency, the big play potential of Justin Arneson and Tim Erickson, and the tireless pursuit of victory, to the final buzzer, by the entire Otter team. There is no quit in this group. To the seniors, you were great leaders, you played with a great love for the game. You were willing to pay the price with your commitment to hard work year 'round, and it showed up in an 8-2 season, a number one section seed, and the revival of tremendous fan interest and support. Your contributions to Fergus Falls football will long be remembered. To Ross Johnson, who worked his tail off to get back into playing condition after a knee injury last year, and unfortunately suffered another injury that ended his high school athletic career, you are an inspiration to all of us because of the way you handled this setback. There were over 100 players in 9th through 12th grades and the numbers at the younger levels were high, too. The future of Otter football is looking good.

Cathy Selvig of the Lady Spartans has been named to the MCCC all-state volleyball team. Cathy was the seventh best blocker in the state, averaging 1.20 blocks per game, and led FFCC in kills and attack percentage. She and Jodi Norgren were also named all-north division. Alayna Follingstad received all-tournament honors at the state tourney last weekend. The Lady Spartans finished the season 17-17.

Carleen (Rose) Holm is continuing her search for former Fergus Falls girls basketball team members. Carleen is coordinating the first ever Otter girls basketball alumni tournament, set for December 27th from 3 to 8 p.m. at the High School Gym. She could use your help in locating the following players: Kim Katzenmeyer, Carol Felcyn, Cindi Lambert, Jackie Johnson, Molly Hoff, Chastidy Anderson, Angie Swanson, Michelle Mortenson, Darcy Hall, Brenda Wagar-Ellingson, Sue Benson, Tara Stortroen, Jean Hoppe-Thomas and Jodi Norman. If you can help her, please e-mail her at [email protected]

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, November 2, 1999
Buckle Your Seat Belts!
Isn't high school playoff time exciting? I've been in this business for all of my working life (since 1970 - GULP), but I never get tired of following high school sports. This week a number of teams will be jubilant at the thought of participating in a state tournament. Several other teams will be disappointed as their season comes to an end. A large part of the excitement is the involvement of the fans. Entire communities become absorbed in their teams success. Businesses close early to leave for the game, and of course the last one out of town turns out the lights. High school sports brings a community together like nothing else, and the pride felt by people of all ages is infectious. It's possible that several of our area teams will be continuing their seasons with state tournament appearances in the coming days and weeks. In fact, if Hillcrest beats Verndale on Wednesday at the Fargodome they will host a state quarterfinal game on November 12th, and if Fergus Falls wins on Thursday night at the Fargodome against Sartell, they will host a state quarterfinal game that same day. Fergus Falls football fans might be treated to a state quarterfinal double header! The third team in our area with a chance at a state tournament appearance, West Central Area, would travel, most likely to Deer River, if they win on Wednesday.

In preparation for their game on turf, the Otters scheduled a practice Tuesday at NDSU's Dakota Field. Some of the Otters will be familiar with turf anyway, as they participated in a passing tournament over the summer (which they won), at the Fargodome. The Otters opponent, the Sartell Sabres, are currently 4-6, but their schedule is full of Central Lakes Conference teams and non-conference opponents like Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls. In fact, Sartell almost beat Detroit Lakes the first week of the season, but the Lakers pulled out a 19-14 win in the final minutes. The other common opponents they share with Fergus Falls are TRF and Rocori. They beat the Prowlers 35-21 and Rocori 28-0. The Otters beat TRF 27-14 and Rocori 28-26.

The Otters have been banged up the last few weeks, but people will have to play through their injuries now. Chad Hopponen continues to practice little as he nurses a hip-pointer, Justin Arneson is not yet at full speed with his thigh bruise, David Karst is hobbled although improving, and Brian Larrivy played sparingly on offense against Rocori because of a slightly pulled hamstring that effects his cutting ability. Of course Ross Johnson is out for the year with a major knee injury.

Carleen (Rose) Holm is continuing her search for former Fergus Falls girls basketball team members. Carleen is coordinating the first ever Otter girls basketball alumni tournament, set for December 27th from 3 to 8 p.m. at the High School Gym. She could use your help in locating the following players: Kim Katzenmeyer, Carol Felcyn, Cindi Lambert, Jackie Johnson, Molly Hoff, Chastidy Anderson, Angie Swanson, Michelle Mortenson, Darcy Hall, Brenda Wagar-Ellingson, Sue Benson, Tara Stortroen, Jean Hoppe-Thomas and Jodi Norman. If you can help her, please e-mail her at [email protected]

Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to us at [email protected] . We would love to hear from you!
Posted By Craig Olson
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