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Monday, July 24, 2000
Summer Tournaments Heat Up
The summer baseball season is heating up and then it will end quickly. On www.craigolsonsports.com we're committed to keeping you as informed and up-to-date as possible on all the action. Thanks to John Dermody we have a comprehensive page on Amateur baseball which will allow our regional viewers to keep on top of the Countryside League and Hi-10 League playoffs. John is as well-informed as anyone in the are on the amateur baseball teams and will have a lot of information, along with some special articles to share with us over the next several weeks. Check it out!

The just completed District 9 South-Sub District American Legion Tournament is featured also. Second-seeded D-G-F beat top-seeded Pelican Rapids in the title game on Saturday. Both of those teams, along with Barnesville and Breckenridge will represent the South in the District Tournament, a double elimination event, beginning Thursday in Ada. The top two teams will advance to the state tournament, won by Barnesville last season.

Darren Opsahl of Barnesville American Legion Post #153 won the Minnesota Lakes Conference MVP award. Opsahl is a pitcher and shortstop for Al Krueger's team. Other members of the Barnesville team selected to the all-conference squad are second baseman Brian Field, pitcher/first baseman Jake Thompson, and catcher Pat Ward. Pelican Rapids is represented by pitcher/shortstop Josh Wilm, catcher Matt Kantrud, pitcher/center fielder Jerod Heintzelman and left fielder Jon Warmbold.

The American Legion Post 30 baseball team will host their District Tournament beginning Wednesday with a game at five o'clock between Underwood/Ashby and Detroit Lakes. The tournament features four games on Thursday, five on Friday, 3 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday and if necessary, another game on Monday night. Fergus Falls will open play at 11 o'clock Thursday morning against East Grand Forks. Post 30 should be at full strength for the tournament. Brandon Goltz suffered a bruised jaw and a cut below his right eye when he ran into the left field fence trying to chase down a foul fly on Saturday afternoon. Brandon's a little swollen but will be okay. Check out Justin Arneson's numbers on our Athlete of the Week page.

Two members of the VFW Post 612 baseball team were among four boys who are very lucky after being involved in a rollover accident over the weekend. Matt Draxten and Kirby Carr were among the passengers riding in the vehicle when it rolled. All of the boys are alright but Draxten's status for the upcoming tournament games at Perham is unknown at this time. He's the catcher for Post 612 and if he can't go Matt Price and Josh Haus would share that duty. Carr has been clobbering the ball recently, hitting his fifth homer of the season at Moorhead on Friday night, along with a double and a triple. Fergus Falls will be getting Mike Gaustad back just in time for tournament play. Gaustad has been sidelined for a few weeks with a deep contusion to his right hand. He suffered the injury when he tried to knock down a line drive back to the pitchers mound in a game. His return should help bolster the pitching staff and the offensive attack. The pairings won't be known until sometime Tuesday.

Golfer Dustin Harris finished the Minnesota PGA Players' Tour with the second best point total for his leg of the Tour, finishing as runner-up to Mike Fiedler of Faribault. Dustin has consistently been in the top ten and has finished in the top three on a few occasions. The tour consists of six different events with a field of 43 boys and 9 girls competing for top honors every week. This past week at The Preserve near Nisswa, Harris and fellow Fergus Falls golfer Ben Olson, each shot rounds of 78. John Sjoberg won the event with a 3-under par 69 and Matt Gorden of Detroit Lakes was second with a 71. Erik Bjerke shot a 72 and Fiedler was fourth with a 73. Harris is among the top 17 golfers who advance out of this leg of the tour to the Tournament of Champions on August 16th and 17th at Izaty's. He and Olson will play in the MGA Regional Tournament this Friday at Buffalo Lake. Frances Rise of Perham, winner of the Tour Event at Perham Lakeside on June 28th, is also competing in that event as one of the top 6 girls on this leg of the tour. Rise shot an 86 at The Preserve to take sixth place. Sarah Butler of Roseau was medalist with a 76 and Dana and Mary Hasselberg of Staples tied for second withi 81's.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, July 17, 2000
Only a Few Fans but REAL FANS!
I wrote earlier in this column about my disappointment in the low number of baseball fans signed up for my bus trip to the Metrodome, which took place this past weekend. The fans in attendance from our group, saw Sammy Sosa homer on Saturday night as the Twins lost 8-4 to the Cubs, and saw Mark Redman throw a beautiful game on Sunday as the Twins beat the Cardinals 5-2. I think everyone had a great time! The crowds at the Dome were the second and third largest of the season. Sunday's crowd would have been even bigger if not for the injury to Mark McGwire. Both crowds were over 30,000 with over 36,000 on hand for the Cubs game. I haven't seen lines so long at the concession stands in a long time! Sammy made a lot of friends in right field, throwing balls to the crowd every inning after his warm-up tosses in the oufield. When he homered you would have thought we were in Chicago. Everyone in the dome must have applauded for him. That's what everyone came to see and Sammy didn't disappoint. The small turnout for the bus trip is causing me to re-think my plans for a trip to Cooperstown next July/August for the induction ceremony. Both Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield are on the ballot for the first time and I've got to believe they'll both be first time ballot inductees. If you have any interest in information on a possible trip that would take about a week and would feature games at Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, please send me e-mail. Only serious inquiries please. I'll be making more info available on the site in the next few weeks and will have a deadline of January 1 for a 50% down payment on the trip. If there aren't enough interested individuals we'll cancel it at that time.

Monday, my son Ben and I attended another of the Junior PGA tournaments, this one at North Oaks Country Club, north of St. Paul. What a beautiful course! The fairways were like carpet and it was extremely well-groomed. I hope the kids involved in this junior tour appreciate the opportunities they're getting to play some great courses. They play at The Preserve in Nisswa on Thursday. As nice as the course was to play on, the scores were high! Only six scores in the 70's with Joe Seltz from Alexandria shooting an impressive 73 which included a 33 on the back nine, the side Joe started on in this shotgun start. He had a great spring for the Alexandria Cardinals, including a state tournament appearance, and has continued his good play in the summer tour. I had an enjoyable conversation with Joe and his dad, Jack. Both said Joe hasn't been able to score well at Pebble Lake! It's probably the only course he's struggling with these days. Joe is the nephew of long-time Fergus Falls resident Al Seltz, retired from Ottertail Power Company. After Joe's 73, four golfers shot 78's to tie for second. Jamie Quesnel of Eagan won a putting playoff to claim the second place placque and Jake Pearson of Cambridge took third by finishing second to Quesnel in the playoff. The other two golfers at 78 were Michael Lundberg of White Bear Lake and Eric Bjerke. My information doesn't list Bjerke's hometown. Dustin Harris of Fergus Falls was the sixth golfer to break 80 with a round of 79. Dustin has also had a good summer on this tour. I'd tell you Ben's score, but I have to co-exist with him at home. He and Dustin did qualify for the MGA Regional Tournament to be held on July 28th at Buffalo Lake. Dustin shot a 71 and Ben a 74 at an MGA event in Sauk Centre to qualify along with Brady Swedberg of Alexandria and Josh Sherlin of Minnewaska Area.

The Summer 3-on-3 Sizzler Basketball Tournament is coming up Saturday, August 5th in Elbow Lake. This event is being coordinated by West Central Area girls basketball coach, Harold Nelson. It will take place at the West Central Area North Elementary School in Elbow Lake. Divisions will be formed for boys and girls in grades five through nine, as well as divisions for 'B' Squad and varsity high school players. Cost is $52 for 7th through 12th graders and $28 for Elementary age students. For more information on this 3-on-3 basketball tournament contact Harold at 218-685-5226or by e-mail at [email protected] , or Lorna Johnson at 218-685-5170 or [email protected]

Got any interesting information or tidbits on athletes from around our area? Let me know! We hear a lot, but I'm sure we miss some, too! We love to hear info about athletes, current and former, from around the area! Also, if you have something from the past to share with us concerning a team or players from the area, please submit it for our 'Blast From the Past'.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, July 10, 2000
Local Kids Get Taste of International Competition
Over the past several years many student-athletes from around the country have had the opportunity to experience international competition. Some of them have been from our immediate area and two of them have just returned from such trips. Shanna Hensch from Battle Lake High School and Hickory Smith from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

Shanna was a part of the North Dakota All-Star girls basketball team that participated in a tournament in Hawaii. Shanna was asked to play for the team by coach Mark Wisniewski of Lidgerwood, North Dakota when he saw her play a game this past season. The team practiced together six times and played five games in Hawaii. "We really came together quickly as a team," said Hensch. "In fact, we got along so well that we're getting together Friday night in Gwinner during their Centennial weekend. We all bought these bright Hawaiian dresses on the trip and we're going to wear them to the street dance!" In addition to basketball the girls did do some sightseeing, taking in Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and a Luau, along with doing some snorkeling. Hensch was the only non-North Dakotan on the team.

The North Dakota contingent won their first four games, beating Campbell 39-19, Hawaiian state tournament entry Nanakuli, 32-22, Aiea, 32-14 and Radford, 55-8. Their only loss came to the runner-up team in the state tourney, Kalakaua, 44-39. "The rules were different than over here," said Hensch. "If you were fouled on a shot you didn't shoot free throws and we played two-eighteen minute halves of running time. The only time the clock stopped was in the last two minutes of the game." Hensch averaged between six and eight points per game and recorded three blocks in the tournament. One of her teammates, Kari Nims from Lisbon, will become a classmate this fall when both attend Moorhead State University. Nims will be playing basketball for the Dragons while Hensch is going to be a member of the volleyball team. Shanna will report to school on August 14th to start her freshman year.

Hickory Smith went down under to particpate in an All-Star Football game. Smith was representing Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. He just returned from his trip on Sunday evening. More information on the trip is forthcoming.

Another PGA Junior Players' Tour event was held on Monday at Majestic Oaks in Ham Lake. Joe Sauer from St. Cloud won the boys event with a two-under par 70. Two golfers, Jamie Quesnel (Eagan) and Joe Seltz (Alexandria) tied for second with scores of 71, forcing a playoff for second place, which Quesnel won. Arie DeGrio of Grand Rapids and Alva Wendland of Plymouth were tied for fourth with 72's. There was a four-way tie for sixth with scores of 74. The four golfers were Eric Winter (St. Cloud), Michael Lundberg (White Bear Lake), Mike Fiedler (Faribault) and Eric Bjerke (Unknown). Two Fergus Falls golfers are on this leg of the tour, Dustin Harris, who shot a 77, including a one-under par 35 on the back, and Ben Olson, who finished with a 79, parring the back nine. Frances Rise from Perham, who won the event at Perham Lakeside on June 29th, took second in the girls division with a score of 86, six strokes behind Laura Lundbohm of Roseau. These kids play some outstanding golf and the Minnesota PGA does a great job putting on the tournaments. Erika Ochs is the person in charge of this particular tour. There are four different legs of the Players' Tour this summer with each group playing six events. The final two events will be Monday at North Oaks and Thursday at Nisswa.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, July 5, 2000
Post 30 Set to Host Local Tournament
Coach Scott Bjerke is excited about this weekend. His Fergus Falls American Legion Baseball Team is hosting their annual tournament. A six-team, round-robin event which will be a good test of this team's pitching and depth. "That's what I really like about this tourney," Bjerke told 'the Corner', "it's like a mini-district tournament. You need to win five games to win the district in a four day period and that's what we're going to try to do this weekend."

Bjerke also likes the fact that he'll have everybody on the roster available for this weekend, for the first time this season. "I won't know how to coach with so many people on the bench," joked Bjerke. "It will be great for us to have so many options. This is the time of year we need to get set into a regular pitching rotation, too." Bjerke's rotation will begin with his two veterans, Tim Erickson and Justin Arneson on Thursday and continue with Eric Anderson and Nate Schiesser on Saturday. "Schiesser has emerged as our number four pitcher," stated Bjerke. "On Sunday we'll probably look at a few guys on the mound and then resume our four-man rotation when we get back into district play on Wednesday at Moorhead."

Erickson will throw against Crookston at 5:30 Thursday and Arneson opposes Morris at 8:00 p.m. After an off day on Friday, Anderson faces Bloomington, last years tournament champs at 10:00 a.m. Saturday and Schiesser will go up against Bismarck at 3:00 p.m. Sunday's game begins at 2:00 p.m. against Coon Rapids.

"As far as a tournament favorite, it has to be Bloomington," said Bjerke. "This is the team that dominated our tournament last year and went to the Legion World Series. They're basically Jefferson kids. Bismarck is going to be tought too. Gene Severson has had a number of good years managing there and is always among the best teams in North Dakota. Coon Rapids is always a state contender so we know they'll be tough, too."

All games in the tournament will be played at Legion Field at DeLagoon Park. Last year, the teams involved were very complimentary of the organization of the tourney. "Bloomington said that of the three tournament they were involved in that ours was the best, so that makes you feel pretty good," added Bjerke.

Post 30 takes an 8-7 record into the four day event. All five Fergus Falls games can be heard live on AM 1250 - KBRF radio.
Posted By Craig Olson
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