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Monday, December 25, 2000
Craigs Corner 12/25/00-12/31/00
Monday, December 25th, 2000
MERRY CHRISTMAS! The Holiday season, especially this week between Christmas and the New Year, always cause me to think back over the year that is nearing completion and of course the sports highlights from that year.

This week, we will be looking back at some of the top teams, athletes and events of the past year. I would like to enlist your help in making the selections. Please e-mail me at [email protected] and let me know what the most memorable items were over the year 2000 in local, regional and national sports. I will refer to them in columns later in the week. Please participate! I don't want to leave anything out! I'll look forward to hearing from you!

Also, do you think the Vikings can win even one playoff game? Given the injuries and the lack of emotion on the football field over the past three weeks, I'm doubtful. The only thing that might save them is playing on their home field, which they will do in their first playoff game. It would be nice to see the Giants get bumped off and the Vikings win, setting up a home field advantage for Minnesota in the NFC Championship game. I like Tennessee and the Bucs right now, although I still wouldn't count out the Rams in the NFC or the Raiders in the AFC. My underdog pick is Indianapolis. This team hasn't played it's best ball of the season yet. I do think the Vikes have. New Orleans and Philadephia, along with Miami and Denver are all pretenders in my book. Baltimore could be interesting. I don't give the Giants much of a chance because of their questionable offense. Defense will keep them in the games, though. It will be a good playoff season.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, December 18, 2000
Craigs Corner 12/18/00-12/24/00
Saturday, December 23rd, 2000
Former Fergus Falls High School hockey goalie Kevin Ackley has made a commitment to St. Lawrence University of the ECAC for the 2001-02 season.

Ackley is currently playing for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League (formerly the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks) and has had some impressive numbers so far this season. His record, at the time of the announcement, was 10-10-2 with a 3.37 goals against average and .909 save percentage. He also has two shutouts and leads USHL goaltenders in minutes played.

St. Lawrence is in Canto, New York, has an enrollment of 2,000 and made it to the NCAA Hockey Final Four last season.

Ackley is a teammate of another FFHS hockey product, Josh Anderson. The two of them live together with a host family in the Chicago area.

FFHS volleyball coach Renee Erickson will now also wear the hat of FFHS softball coach. Erickson, who has assisted coach Caroline Schmidt in the program the past two seasons, will take over for the Fergus Falls Sports Hall of Fame member this coming spring.

A former Otter coach, Bob Bjorklund, has his team at Bethel College off to a 4-3 start (1-1 in the MIAC). They played a solid game in beating a strong St. Thomas team but also had a disappointing loss to Macalaster. Bob says that he has a group of guys who enjoy competing and are great to be around.

He also updated us on his son Tyson's high school basketball career. Tyson is a junior for the Mounds View Mustangs and is a starter for them. So far the Mustangs are 4-0 with all four games being tight contests.

Bob's wife Carol is working with Physical and Other Health Impaired students (POHI Consultant) in the Mounds View School District, and daughter Alisa got married in the past year!

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Take time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason we celebrate this season.

Wednesday, December 20th, 2000
A tough break for Jeff Sturgeon of the Otter hockey team. The senior suffered a broken ankle in Tuesday night's game against Fargo South and had surgery on Wednesday morning at MeritCare in Fargo.

Sturgeon had been seeing increased playing time because of his good production on the ice in recent games. He started slowly this year because of a bout with mononucleosis that left him behind in conditioning at the start of the season. Sturgeon is also a varsity tennis player for the Otters. It is hoped that he will be able to be ready for the tennis season this coming spring.

I think the defensive effort of the Staples-Motley Cardinals rubbed off on the Otters on Tuesday night. After falling victim to a smothering second half defensive performance by the Cardinals on Friday night, the Otters were inpenetrable in the first quarter of Tuesday's game against West Central Area, tossing a shutout at the Knights for the first eight minutes and holding them without a field goal until the 2:20 mark of the second quarter.

After getting the first four games of the Underwood Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament completed on Tuesday, the weather turned bad again Wednesday and forced postponement of the makeup day games to Thursday and the addition of January 6th, a Saturday, as the final day of the tourney. Games on Thursday will be played at six o'clock and 7:30 in the Underwood High School gymnasiums.

Monday, December 18th, 2000
The weather hasn't been too cooperative over the past few days. Underwood Athletic Director Margo Shebeck is trying to find a day that will work for a makeup date after Saturday's scheduled first round of the first annual Underwood Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament was postponed.

The first round games will be played on Tuesday night with two games at six o'clock and the other two at 7:30 p.m. Games will be played in both the new and old gyms at the Underwood High School. The 6:00 p.m. games will feature Verndale against Campbell-Tintah-Fairmount and Menahga versus Barnesville. At 7:30 p.m., Swanville battles Eagle Valley and Ashby faces Underwood. Thursday is still scheduled as one of the three tournament dates, but the third day is uncertain at this time.

The Fergus Falls girls basketball game with Detroit Lakes that was postponed on Saturday will be made up on Thursday night at 7:30 in DL.

The Otter Wrestling team will head to Valley City for the Valley City Invitational on Friday. The meet was originally scheduled for last Saturday.

The Fergus Falls girls hockey game at Warroad has been rescheduled for Friday, January 5th.

The Spartan basketball teams are done for the holiday break. The men are 9-1 and the ladies are 6-3. Freshman guard Justin Arneson suffered a slightly twisted ankle prior to a practice session when he slipped in a snow-covered gutter. Arne played at UND-Lake Region but was slowed by the injury.

Former Otter and Spartan Cody Norman, now at Mayville State, was honred last week as the DAC-10 men's player of the week. He had 20 points against Valley City State in a Comets victory. Norman is averaging 10 points per game and his team is off to a 7-3 start.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, December 11, 2000
Craigs Corner 12/11/00-12/17/00
Friday, December 15th, 2000
Underwood will show off their new gymnasium by hosting their First Annual Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament starting on Saturday.

The first game is at one o'clock with Verndale facing Campbell-Tintah-Fairmount. The 3:00 p.m. contest features unbeaten Menahga against Barnesville. At five, Swanville plays Eagle Valley and at 7:00 p.m. Ashby will face Underwood in a Little 8 Conference showdown. All Saturday games will be in the new Underwood gym. The tournament continues on December 19th and 21st with some games in the old gym and some in the new. One of the big plusses of a facility like the one Underwood has built is the ability to host a tournament like this and handle the crowds that will come in to watch. Look for several sub-section and section tournaments to be hosted there in the future.

The first of four Fergus Falls band boosters BBQ feeds is tonight from 5:00 to 7:30 at the FFHS Cafeteria. Funds raised go to help the band raise money for their New York trip. Dairyland is serving the BBQ's this year. Pat and Jean Connelly are big youth supporters and are always looking for ways to help.

The game features the always tough Staples-Motley Cardinals, off to a 2-0 start this season. Lynn Peterson has gotten the job done in Staples for many years and has probably the best won-loss record in the state with 514 wins and 126 losses. That's an incredible winning percentage of .803. Guard Jeff Brever is a four year starter for the Cardinals. Take a look at our top story for some news on an exciting halftime opportunite at Otter boys basketball games. Hope to see you tonight!

Thursday, December 14th, 2000
Former Otter girls basketball coach Denny Hanson is at it again! Denny is doing what he loves to do, only in a warmer climate.

At the end of the last school year, Denny retired from District 544 and he and his wife Gail moved to Arizona this fall. Now, Denny is coaching at Fountain Hills High School, a 3A school in a 5A system. As Denny said in a recent e-mail, "Once it gets in your blood it's hard to let it go."

Shortly after getting settled in Arizona, Coach Hanson called on the athletic director at the school, inquiring about any openings for a basketball coach. He was told that they had just hired an entire new girl's basketball coaching staff, none of them with any basketball coaching experience. After talking with the head coach, Denny was welcomed with open arms, in fact, he basically turned practices and games over to Coach Hanson saying he really wanted to learn from an experienced coach. In essence, Denny coaches on the floor and doesn't have to do any of the extras that can get time consuming and wearing on a head coach.

The girls have responded well, winning 7 and losing 2 as they head to the Christmas break. The girls told Denny that they had played for seven different coaches in seven seasons and are hoping for some program stability! "I've learned one very fundamental thing," writes coach Hanson, "basketball players everywhere are great to be around. I feel like I have been truly blessed to be able to be in this situation again."

Denny also said girls games are not broadcast on the radio and get very little fan support compared to Minnesota.

The Hanson's are enjoying seeing kids and grandkids on a regular basis and are playing tennis daily in addition to working on their house. It was great to hear from Denny and we'll keep you posted on his team's progress.

One of Coach Hanson's former players, Erika King is teaching and coaching junior varsity girls basketball in Bakersfield, California. That tidbit of information comes from former Fergus Falls Daily Journal Sports Editor (and Bakersfield High School alum) John Bryan. John said he stopped by the high school a few weeks back and had the opportunity to visit with Erika for a few minutes. She was fun to watch at both FFHS and FFCC. Always a hard worker and someone who made great strides in her game through the years. I'm sure she'll be a great coach.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, December 4, 2000
Craigs Corner 12/04-12/10
Saturday, December 9th, 2000
Former Rothsay girls basketball standout Brenna Rollie hit a buzzer-beating game-winning shot for the Augustana Vikings last night, beating the Lady Bison at NDSU.

It marked the first time since the 1980-81 season that Augustana has won in Fargo and only the second time in the history of the matchup.

Rollie released a fade away from the baseline as the clock expired and hit nothing but net to lift the Vikings to a 73-71 win, stunning the Bison in their NCC opener. Augustana is now 5-2 while the Bison are 8-2.

Rothsay coach Troy Davis had his whole Tigers basketball team in attendance to watch Rollie. Over 2,000 people were in the seats when Rollie made the shot.

Former Fergus falls post player Janna Davis has played in seven of the ten games for the Lady Bison, scoring 7.1 points per game and averaging 3.9 rebounds per game. She has hit 48.5% of her field goal attempts and 65.4% of her free throw opportunities. Janna is getting about 15 minutes of playing time per game and is fourth on the team in rebounds per game, fifth in points per game and sixth in field goal percentage.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2000
1993 Fergus Falls High School graduate Katie Weiss has been named the new head coach of the Women's Golf program at Division I East Tennessee State in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Weiss becomes one of the youngest head coaches of a Division I collegiate sport in the country. Katie played collegiately at South Carolina after an outstanding high school golfing career at FFHS. Katie is looking forward to the challenge of heading up a division one program. Her first day on the job was Tuesday.

West Central Area graduate Matt Swanson, a cornerback at NDSU, has been selected to play for the West Squad in the 8th Annual Cactus Bowl Division II All-Star game. The game was formerly known as the Snow Bowl when it was held at the Fargodome. The Cactus Bowl will be played on January 12th in Kingsville, Texas.


Monday, December 4th, 2000
Two Fergus Falls boxers have won Silver Gloves state titles and will box in the Regional Silver Gloves Tournament on January sixth and seventh in Fergus Falls. Adam Devorak and Eli Ugstad claimed titles in Rochester over the weekend.

Devorak was an unopposed champion at 139 pounds in the 12 and 13 year old age division. He fought an exhibition club show match against Cerisio Fort of St. Paul, losing a close decision. Ugstad won his semifinal bout at 112 pounds in the 14 and 15 year old division by an RSC, beating Chris Cody of Caledonia. In the title match, Ugstad won a decision over Cody McManigle of Wadena.

The Regional Silver Gloves Tournament will be held at either the Armory or the Eagles Ship in Fergus Falls. Chuck Elliott has done a great job keeping the Fergus Falls Boxing Club afloat and has become very well known in boxing circles around the state, region and nation. He takes a lot of pride in hosting an event like the Regional Tournament and hopefully fans will support the clubs efforts. More on this later.

Ashby senior Ryan Risbrudt has been named to the 9-Man All-State Football team for 2000 as a cornerback. Risbrudt was very versatile for coach Terry Miller and could have made the team as a runningback, receiver, maybe even a quarterback! He's joined in the secondary by another Pheasant Conference player, Chris Braemer of Verndale. Pirate runningback Matt Kern also made the squad as did two members of the Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross Spartans. They are runningback Randy Backman and junior offensive lineman, Ben Reimers. Reimers is the only underclassman to be named to the team.

Some early season injuries to report in girls basketball. Rachel Longfors, outstanding post player for Pelican Rapids, is still nursing an ankle injury. Her return date is unknown at this time. Rothsay point guard Amber Balken is out with a knee injury.

Fergus Falls sophomore guard Matt Draxten is nearly fully recovered from an eye injury that has limited his practice time. He'll be available to the Otters in their games this week, but may wear protective goggles through the first week or two of the season.
Posted By Craig Olson
Lake Region Healthcare
Cline Jensen P.A.
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