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Wednesday, March 29, 2000
Its Over
When it ends it ends quickly. In my business, sports broadcasting, one day you're following four teams and two days later you're done. That's the cruel reality of the playoffs. It's never easy to see a season end for a team you've followed all year long. This year was especially tough because of the fact that my son, Dan, is a senior and I've seen these kids grow up. I've coached some of them, coached against some of them, marvelled at their God-given athletic ability, watched them succeed, and seen them interact away from the arena of competition. The seniors at Fergus Falls High School and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy are more than talented athletes and good students, they are nice kids. These are young men who will meet with great success in their college and adult lives. It's been a pleasure to watch them play and to watch them grow up.

Fergus Falls has suffered many tough losses through the years and Saturday night's 65-64 loss to Alexandria in the Section 8AAA finals ranks up their with the toughest. The Otters played well in building an 11 point lead but couldn't hold off a Cardinal team that got hot in the third quarter. They hit their first seven shots and 8 of their 10 shots in the third quarter. Brett Swedberg's emphatic jam at the end of the third quarter cut the lead to two points and established the enthusiasm and momentum Alexandria took into the final quarter. Justin Arneson took only three second half points and didn't have a field goal conversion. After making their first 10 free throw attempts the Otters missed their last two. Luke Draxten missed his second after giving the Otters a 64-63 lead and then Dustin Cossette missed the front end of a one and one situation with just over 12 second remaining. Give the Cardinals credit, they never give up. They find ways to beat you. 63.5 percent from the field in the second half didn't hurt. They should beat Cloquet on Tuesday night in Hibbing.

Hillcrest lost a tough one on Thursday night, letting a 14 point lead slip away against a good Ortonville team. The Trojans turned the game around in the second half as they got hot and the Comets couldn't buy a bucket. Gregg Preston's team had another tremendous year, but it ended a lot sooner than the Comets had hoped. Okay, I'll say it one more time. What if Nick Hansen had been available this year? I think the Comets would be playing this week in Minneapolis. Although Hillcrest got great contributions from several players in his abscence, Nick would have made a very good team, a great team. John Kilde had another tremendous year and I'm hoping we'll see him at FFCC.

Rothsay bounced back strong on Saturday with an overtime win in the third place game at the Class A state tournament. Kristen Moen came back from an 0 for 12 shooting performance in the semi's to light it up on Saturday with 6 of 8 shooting from the field and 7 of 8 from the line, scoring 19 points. Brenna Rollie showed her all-state talents with games of 24 and 27 points and double digit rebounds each game. Coach Troy Davis is to be commended for an outstanding season. It's a very emotional time for him. He started coaching in Rothsay when this team's seniors were freshman. They've been through the wars together, losing two section championship games before finally getting a title this year. He does a great job in Rothsay and is truly committed to his players.

John Kent's Ashby Arrows had a tremendous boys basketball season. They, like the Hillcrest Comets, lost to Ortonville in the Section 5A playoffs. An anonymous Arrow Fan sent me an e-mail on Friday night after the loss to the Trojans. Here's part of what it said:

"It's a magical think to live in a small town this time of year. ONce the hometown team makes it into the tournament, time stands still. Restaurants close early, every high school kids is given the night off, and everyone in the Legion listens with baited breath to every word on the radio. It's as if the hope of success is just what we need to make it through these last weeks of winter. I just witnessed a remarkable sight - every ambulance and fire truck in town went out to meet the bus at the interstate - you could hear them coming five minutes before you could see them. For a solid three miles (into Ashby), lights, sirens, and honking horns announced the return of our team. Even when they don't win, they never let us down. We're proud of them no matter what."

Well said, and thanks to the area teams and athletes for creating some more great memories for us this winter.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, March 22, 2000
Decision Time
Some of our area high school student-athletes have already made their decisions know concerning college, others are still waiting to decide. We know about Fergus Falls football players Tim Erickson and Justin Arneson deciding on NDSU and Janna Davis on the Lady Bison basketball team. What about the rest of the outstanding senior student-athletes in our area?

Rothsay girls basketball players Brenna Rollie and Jesse Toso will certainly play more ball. Toso is set on attending FFCC and Rollie is evidently leaning toward Augustana in the NCC, although NDSU still seems to have some interest.

West Central Area's football players will be contributing to several different schools this coming year. Jake Sternhagen and Chad Davison have both accepted scholarships from Moorhead State University, Dallas Koplin from Crookston and Brian Bye at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. That means, they will all play each other at some point in the future. Sternhagen decided against being a part of the "Down Under Bowl" because of prior commitments. Bye is participating in the National Wrestling Tournament out in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this Thursday through Saturday.

Sounds like Naomi Moerke of the Lady Knights may be attending FFCC and would like to play for Ann Williams and the Lady Spartans. I feel very confident saying that FFHS senior Justin Retzlaff will play at FFCC for father Dave next season. Ryan and Jason both experienced national tournaments at FFCC. Now the pressure IS on, Retz.

As far as Debbie Slack (Brandon/Evansville), Tina Kunkel (Pelican Rapids), John Kilde (Hillcrest), Ben Brimhall, Titus Christianson, Ross Johnson and who knows how many others from FFHS, are concerned, no firm word on commitments yet. I think the possibility is there for several of the aforementioned student-athletes to begin their college days at FFCC. This could be fun. Caleb Rudnick committed to NDSCS in Wahpeton on Wednesday. Caleb will be a good player at that level.

Former Otter all-around athlete and Fergus Falls Legion baseball standout, Aaron Olson, just returned from a trip to Texas with Minnesota State's baseball team. Aaron relates to us in an e-mail that the weather was good with some great hot days! He is playing JV and dressing for varsity games. The first weekend of their Southern swing they played in Missouri and Aaron started a varsity game. He went 2 for 6 with a pair of doubles and a walk. He drove in three runs and scored twice. Down in Texas, he played just JV, going 5 for 14 with two doubles and a homer. Aaron said that it is very hard to sit and watch games when you're used to playing every game. I think he'll get his share of varsity at bats. If you can hit like Aaron can hit, they'll find a spot for you.

Marquee matchup at the boys state basketball tournament ... Staples-Motley versus Litchfield, Class 2A semifinal on Friday night at nine p.m. Don't miss that one.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Elite Company
The 1000 point club at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is an elite club. In fact, there are only two members. Scott Colbeck, the charter member of the club, was joined by John Kilde this past week. On Thursday night at West Central Area High School in Barrett, Kilde hit 1000 with his fourteenth point. a free throw, with just two minutes to go in the first half. It was met by loud applause and a standing ovation from Hillcrest fans, who obviously knew what had just happened, and his teammates. Everyone else in the building probably wondered what the big deal was about a free throw that gave the Comets a 20 point lead. John Kilde is the only returning starter off last year's state Class A runners-up. He is leading the Comets around 19 points per game and finished with 26 in the win over Brandon-Evansville on Thursday and 18 against Eagle Valley on Saturday in the Section 5A quarterfinals. He is a consistent scorer, but much more than that to his team. He is also their best defensive player and is always assigned the task of guarding the best player on the other team. He takes a lot of pride in his defense. John is quick, and smart on the court. When he's on, he's a joy to watch, and he's normally on. Selfishly, I'd love to see John attend FFCC and give both football and basketball a try. I think he'd do well at both. Congratulations John, and move over Scott! Colbeck's career point total of 1206 is beyond Kilde's reach, but I think they'll enjoy each other's company in the 1000 point club.

Fergus Falls senior guard Justin Arneson has moved into 7th place on the career scoring list at FFHS. His 23 points in the win over Sartell on Thursday night and his 21 points against Willmar put him at 813 points, 35 more than Tim Swenson. It's likely that Arne will catch #6 on the list, Noel Olson, who played from 1947-1950. Olson has 820 points. Arneson's 443 points this year put him at number 11 for points in a season for the Otters and before it's over this year, that total could land Arne in the top 6. His 18.34 points per game is also among the highest in a season for the Otter boys. He has scored more than 20 points in 8 consecutive games. The Otters game on Saturday at St. Cloud State against Alexandria should be a classic title game matchup. The two teams have split their two games so far this season and will settle the Section Championship on a neutral court. I like the Otters right now. They are really playing some intense defense and took such great care of the ball against Willmar, committing only five turnovers in the game. I thought Justin Retzlaff had the best game of his career against the Cardinals, with 12 points and 8 rebounds, and a tremendous defensive effort on their big gun, Travis Jones, holding him to 9 points. Alexandria pulled off a great win over Rocori last week when Brett Swedberg hit a three as time ran out to win it 45-42. That 3 came on the heels of a three by Rocori with 3.6 seconds remaining to tie the game. The winner of the Saturday game will play Section 7AAA champ (Cloquet or Cambridge-Isanti) on Tuesday night in Hibbing in the state quarterfinals.

The Rothsay girls basketball team executed their game plan exceptionally well against Brandon/Evansville on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers played a 1-3-1 zone that challenged the Chargers to beat them with their outside shooting. They couldn't do it, hitting only 2 of 28 shots from the perimeter and 1 of 19 from 3 point range. Rothsay scored the final 4 points of the third quarter and the first 9 points of the fourth quarter to open up a 35-26 lead and held Brandon/Evansville without a fourth quarter point until the 3 minute mark of the quarter. Debbie Slack and Brenna Rollie each had 19 points and 19 rebounds. I think the fact that Rothsay played five straight games at Concordia really helped them against the Chargers. Plus, the Chargers 28.6% shooting percentage on Tuesday was not a typical performance for that team. You'd have a hard time convincing me that playing for the first time in that building this season didn't play into the way they shot the ball. The loss ended the Chargers 18 game winning streak and propelled the Tigers into the Class A semifinals at Williams Arena. The team they play at three o'clock on Friday, the Fosston Greyhounds, has an impressive 26-1 record. They also have a second team all-state freshman guard, Kelly Roysland, who in two years as a starter has scored 907 points. Roysland is averaging 16.6 points and 5.4 assists per game. The Greyhounds have four players averaging double digits and have only one senior in their top eight players. Rothsay on the other hand, has 9 seniors on the roster and have five seniors in the starting lineup. I believe the winner of Friday's game will be the Class A state champs.

Jesse Toso, senior for the Tigers, told me after the game that she is definitely going to attend FFCC and play for the Lady Spartans. I think she'll be a very good player for Ann Williams. She has a lot of competitive fire and takes a lot of pride in her defensive play. In fact, she told me she'd rather make a stop on defense than a basket on offense. Rollie is leaning toward Augustana, but word has it that NDSU may step up with a scholarship offer.
Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, March 11, 2000
A Tiger First!
I felt bad last night for the Roseau Rams. Certainly not because of their 55-46 Section 8AA Championship win over Breckenridge, but because of the fact that they didn't get to cut down the nets following their win at the Cobber Fieldhouse in Moorhead. Cutting down the nets in the gym where you won your title is a time-honored tradition in basketball and Roseau was robbed. With another title game to follow, time wouldn't allow the Rams to experience that jubilant moment when your captains snip the last couple of strands of the net and swing it over their head while standing ten feet up on a ladder. We've all seen it, many times. The Rams girls missed out on experiencing it. Rothsay didn't! They took down both nets following their 56-45 victory over Laporte in Section 6A. Jesse Toso did the swinging of the first net, Brenna Rollie the second. What a week for Troy Davis and these senior girls. They are like a cat with nine lives. Comeback is their middle name, the 'Cardiac Kids' would fit. It's a good thing Troy is still a young man, or I'd be concerned for his health. His team fell behind by 17 in the Section quarterfinals on Monday night against New York Mills and won by 7. His team trailed by 11 midway through the fourth quarter on Thursday, to an excellent Hawley team, and won by 3 in overtime. On Friday night, his team was behind by 9 early in the third quarter. By the end of the third they were up by two and then proceeded to allow only four points the rest of the way as they won by eleven. It has been an incredible run. Davis says, "this is a team of destiny. How else do you explain the way we have won our games this week." How about this, a never say-die attitude from a core group of five seniors who have experienced the Section wars before (this was their third straight Section final), and believe in themselves. The last two years Rothsay had the misfortune of matching up against Hancock (the Owls went on to win the state title in '98) and Brandon/Evansville (the Chargers did the same in '99), in the Section Finals in 5A. This year, you might say the Minnesota State High School League did them a favor by putting them in Section 6A. Not to knock the caliber of teams in that section, but honestly, they don't compare to the strength of Section 5A. It's not that 6A is bad, just that 5A is great. Consider that the last two state champs reside in 5A and that two Little 8 Conference teams (Rothsay and Brandon/Evansville) have now advanced out of those two sections this year. Obviously, the quality of the teams is there. Troy stated, "if you put Ashby down in Section 4 and move Battle Lake to another section, it's conceivable that the Little 8 could have half of the tournament field. The conference is that tough." You know, even thought those comments were made tongue in cheek, he might be right. Rothsay will now play the Chargers on Tuesday at four p.m back on their home-away-from-home court, Concordia.

Brenna Rollie makes it happen. She is, in Coach Davis' words, "a stud". Rollie will play more basketball. She has verbally committed to attend Augustana and play in the North Central Conference, although I understand the Bison are increasingly interested in her. How interested? Show me the scholarship! Brenna will be a good player at that level, quickly. By the time she's a junior and senior, she'll be a great player in the NCC. She's very good one-on-one and can spot open teammates and get them the ball ... NOW. She's one of those players, like a Larry Bird, or a Wayne Gretzky in hockey, who has that sixth sense while playing her game. She knows where her teammates are and who should be open if she is double or triple-teamed. She has it, as Davis says, "between the ears."

Jesse Toso has a lot of fight in her. She is as scrappy as anyone on a basketball court. Toso is reportedly coming to FFCC next year and will fit into Ann Williams program beautifully. Any coach has to love her ability to defend. I would absolutely hate to be guarded by her, because she is so relentless and tireless in her aggressive approach to defending her opponent. Jesse and Brenna spent many evenings watching the Lady Spartans this year, and their former teammate, Alayna Follingstad. They even showed up to watch the state tournament games at Anoka-Ramsey. We already know what Toso looks like in blue and gold, and she'll be very comfortable continuing to wear those colors at FFCC, is she indeed decides to become a Lady Spartan.

The Otter hockey team dropped two games at the state tournament this week. They had a tough first round draw, Breck, and gave them a good fight. What killed the Otters in that game was the fact that when they cut the lead to one goal, on two different occasions, Breck scored shortly thereafter to increase the margin to two again. That's the sign of a good hockey team. Against Rochester Lourdes, the Otters scored first, but allowed four straight goals and couldn't recover. Josh Anderson had a solid tournament. He scored three of the four Otter goals. His speed and strength really showed in the state tourney. Josh will probably rejoin the F-M Ice Sharks next season for a full year of juniors. After that, look for him to either attend a Division One hockey school or be drafted by the NHL and spend some more time in juniors or in the minors. Josh has a solid chance at becoming the first Fergus Falls High School player to make the big time. He has a lot going for him. He's not afraid of hard work, and he's an intelligent kid. Plus, he's a very nice young man. He says he will play baseball this spring for Phil Link at FFHS. He's an excellent all-around athlete and could have helped the football team in the fall, too. With Josh, a legitimate argument can be made for specializing in a sport. He has a great opportunity in hockey and he needs to pursue it. I think he's handled it well. The experience he's gained by being a part of the Ice Sharks in the fall of the past two seasons will only help him, yet he's still a member of his high school team, and still willing to be a part of another sports activity, which he loves. Baseball will give him a break from hockey, which, I think, will be very healthy for him.

Bad news for former Otter athlete, Nate Crabtree. Crabtree has a disc problem in his back and will need to undergo surgery. That will put him on the shelf for this baseball season. Crabtree was being counted on as the ace pitcher at Northwestern Bible College in the Twin Cities. He's hoping to start a rehabilitation program this summer in preparation for next season. Nate has three years of eligibility remaining. He played his freshman year as a part of the Concordia Cobbers baseball team, but transferred to Northwestern during the last school year.

Get out to some games this week! There's nothing like tourney time and we have some exciting basketball teams still alive!

Send us some e-mail too! Let me know what you think of what we're doing and send along some suggestions. Also, check out the 'Blast from the Past' and the 'Special'. They change at least twice a week!
Posted By Craig Olson
Friday, March 10, 2000
Horgen Ends Cobber Career in Style
Clayton Horgen is ending his college baseball career in style. The Fergus Falls High School graduate has enjoyed four very productive years at Concordia College in Moorhead and in his senior season he has led the Cobbers in 15 offensive categories. Clayton finished the year hitting .462 collecting 49 hits in 106 at bats, registering a slugging percentage of .744 and an on base percentage of .538. His 14 doubles, 5 homers, 40 runs batted in, 30 runs scored, 20 walks and 82 total bases also led the team. His fielding percentage at first base was .964 in 33 games. The Cobbers were 19-21 this season and 10-10 in the MIAC. In his career, Horgen hit .391 in 93 games with 114 hits in 291 at bats, driving in 78 runs and scoring 73. He had 26 doubles, 13 homers and 189 total bases and finished with a .408 slugging percentage. Clayton was named to the All-MIAC team for the second straight year, was team MVP and finished fifth in the league in hitting, 2nd in hits and 5th in RBI. Horgen was also the punter and place-kicker for the Cobber football team for four years, finishing as the career punting leader averaging 38 yards per pund and the third leading scorer in Cobber football history with 183 points (102 PAT's and 27 FG's). His longest converted field goal was 42 yards and he was succesful over 61% of the time on his attempts. He was an All-MIAC selection in football, too. Clayton also skated for the Cobber hockey team as a freshman. Local baseball fans can see Clayton play for the Fergus Falls Hurricanes this summer in the Countryside League. He is the son of Wayne and Marilyn Horgen. Wayne was an All-Conference player for the Cobber hockey team. When you see Clayton this summer be sure to congratulate him on an outstanding college athletic career.

Three former Perham players played for the Cobbers this year. Jeremy Morgenroth hit .367 with 18 hits in 49 at bats, Cory Brasel hit .353 with 12 hits in 34 at bats and was succesful on all three of his stolen base attempts and Marc Winjum hit .276 going 8 for 29 at the plate. Brasel and Winjum graduate this year, while Morgenroth has another season remaining. Brasel finished with a career batting average of .275 with 19 hits in 69 at bats. Winjum hit .297 in his Cobber career (58-195).

Junior Jesse Rostad from Barnesville contributed some good numbers for Concordia, hitting .373 with 25 hits in 67 at bats, 8 runs batted in and 18 runs scored. His on base percentage was .442, slugging percentage .493 and he was 5 for 5 on stolen base attempts. Rostad plays the outfield.

Lyndsi Harworth is home for the summer. The former Otter athlete spent this spring playing softball for the Bulldogs of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She had a great spring, as did her team. The Bulldogs won the NSIC post season title and the regular season championship. UMD was 26-12 overall and 15-3 in conference play. They won fifteen of their last eighteen games. Harworth led the team in walks (11), was second in on-base percentage (.387) and homeruns (2). She also was fourth in slugging percentage (.421), fifth in batting average (.316), hits (30) and total bases (40). Lyndsi was the primary designated hitter for Duluth. She was named to the All-Tournament Team and was an Honorable Mention All-Conference selection.

Former Otter standout golfer Pat Tuel plans on playing some competitive tournament golf this summer including the Resorters in Alexandria, the Pine to Palm in Detroit Lakes and the Minnesota State Amateur. Pat was redshirted at the Iowa State University his freshman year.

Former Underwood three-sport athlete Jenny Gronner will be sidelined for the next six weeks. She has a knee injury that may include a tiny tear of her ACL. An MRI revealed a stretch and maybe a tiny tear, along with a bone bruise. She suffered the injury in a spring volleyball tournament in Ames, Iowa. Gronner is finishing up her first year at NDSU.
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, March 5, 2000
An End and a Beginning
I've always been a rather sentimental person, but the older I get, the more sentimental I become. Tournament time brings out that extra dose of sentimentality in me. Do sports and the athletes that play them have that affect on you? Or am I just weird?

The last three days I've either covered a sporting event or attended a sporting event where student-athletes played their final games for their teams. It's always a bittersweet feeling. I'm always very thankful for the opportunity I've had in my line of work to have been privileged to follow young people in athletics. The traits they acquire through that team experience, the work ethic they learn to apply, the constant striving to improve themselves and the sheer enjoyment of participating are all elements of athletics and fine arts activities that add up to an educational experience that can't be duplicated in other settings. Plus, the friendships that are made during those times usually are for a lifetime.

Thursday night I called the Otter girls basketball playoff game against Sartell. The Otters were at home, the number four seed ... and Sartell was the number five seed. Four against five is usually a battle, and this night was no exception. Sartell played tremendous defense, but the Otters are survivors. Despite going 4 for 22 from the field in the first half, the Otters were still in it. Sophomore Jess Holicky single-handedly brought them back in the third quarter with a masterful 13 points, including 3 three's, but on this night, the free throw shooting would haunt Fergus Falls. They made only 7 of 17 from the line including 3 of 9 in the fourth quarter and overtime session. The numbers tell the story in a two point overtime loss, but the looks on the faces of the players, coaches and fans tells a much deeper story. For two seniors, Janna Davis and Britt Schuetze there is no next year as far as their high school careers are concerned. It is an ending, and a beginning. For Janna, that beginning is as a member of the premier Division II Ladies basketball program in the country, Amy Ruley's NDSU Bison. What a joy it has been to be able to see Janna mature as a ballplayer and get to the point she is at now. To look at her list of accomplishments should make her parents, coaches and teammates proud of her. But, the stark reality of this team never playing together again, hits hard after a final loss. You could see it in the tears of Jess Holicky and the far-away look in Janna's eyes as she stood in the gym after most everyone had left. Remembering, perhaps. Disbelief that it was over, for sure. If there's one thing we all have in common, it's a lack of control over the passage of time. It goes much too quickly. Davis finishes fifth all-time in scoring with 955 points and fourth all-time in rebounding with over 500 boards. She also is fourth and fifth on the list for most points in a season, and fifth on the list of most rebounds in a season. The Otters will miss her, and the fans will miss watching her play!

On Saturday afternoon at FFCC, Mandi Boyack and Beth Gilyard played their final games for the Lady Spartans. What a way to go out. Hosting the Region 13 Playoffs in front of your family and friends. Not many teams end their season with a win, but the Lady Spartans did. Third place in the region, a 20 win season, and a whole lot of memories. Mandi was a great captain for this young team. The post player from West Central Area is a very unselfish ballplayer and a really nice person. I was very happy for her when she was named to the all-tournament team at the MCCC State Tournament. She played three very solid games and deserved the honor. Mandi is not a spectacular superstar type player, but she is the type of player you need to have on your team. Someone who will lead by example and isn't afraid to work. Ann Williams will have a lot of players returning, 8 of her 10, but it won't be easy to replace Mandi's influence. Beth Gilyard, who transferred in from Concordia College in Moorhead, was the leading scorer this season for the Lady Spartans and a good fit with this team. The fans are the unfortunate one's as they only got to see her play for one season. I think Beth might wish she would have come last year, but it certainly is great she came this year. What a fun player to watch, very athletic and smooth.

While both of those games had a variety of emotions involved for a variety of people, Saturday night's Bison Men's basketball game was the most emotional one. The reasons are many. Jason Retzlaff, truly one of the nicest young men you'll ever come in contact with, played his final college basketball game. It just doesn't seem possible. I have been in Fergus Falls for the past 18 1/2 years and have known Jason for about 17 of those years. My earliest memories of him are at FFCC, always with a basketball in his hands, tagging along with his older brother, Ryan, or his dad, Dave, dribbling, shooting, talking to anyone and everyone, and just enjoying what he was doing. Jeff Kolpack of the Fargo Forum wrote a great article on Jason last Thursday, prior to his final game as a Bison. In the article he referred to the Nerf Hoop games that Jason and his brothers played in the basement. What he didn't say was that the arena wasn't limited to Jason's brothers. His friends, his parents friends, and probably many Spartan basketball players were also willing victims, I mean opponents, at Nerf Hoops. In fact, I even had the opportunity to play H-O-R-S-E with Jason and Ryan a few times when I was visiting the Retzlaff's. Now, I'm not a very good shooter, especially with a real basketball, but I thought I could hold my own in Nerf Hoops against some little kids, right? Wrong. Some of those Nerf Hoops games in the Retzlaff basement were probably the most competitive games of Jason's life. I don't think he and Ryan gave each other an inch! Some of those patented Retzlaff moves were created with Jason as Larry Bird during those moments. I know a lot of people who love the game of basketball, but I don't know of anyone who loves it more and enjoyed playing it and practicing it more that Jason Retzlaff. To think that his playing days, at least on an organized competitive team, are over. I know it's difficult for Dave and Debbie, because so much of their family life revolves around basketball. They have had some truly hectic years, first with Ryan at FFCC and Jason at FFHS, then with Ryan at Carleton, Jason at FFCC and Justin at FFHS, then with Jason at NDSU and Justin at FFHS. They have logged some miles and seen some hoops, and made some tremendous family memories. The highlight, of course, was the 1997-1998 Spartan Men's season when dad coached son and had the perfect season. 29-0 and an NJCAA Division III National Title. Being a part of that, and seeing Dave and Jason together at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, seems like a movie. A movie with a perfect ending! They even won their 29th and final game on my birthday and we had a ton of fans listening on the radio. I know, because people still talk to me about it. About how excited they were for the Spartans and, as they tell me, the Retzlaffs. People love stories like this and it couldn't have happened to a nicer family. It's hard to believe that two years have passed since that title was won, but it's even harder to believe that Jason's career has passed. Look for him in the area coaching ranks in the not too distant future.

Thanks for putting up with this nostalgic rambling of mine. It's one of the rights I have because, this is my column! Thanks for reading it. Send me some e-mail and tell me what a sentimental old fool I am, and then tell me if you are, too.
Posted By Craig Olson
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