|Monday, September 24, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 9/24/01 - 9/30/01|
|Tuesday, September 25, 2001|
My plea for info on area high school graduates who are still competing in college has resulted in a couple of responses!! Send me more!
West Central Area High School football has met with some great success in recent years and several of their former players will be battling this weekend in Crookston as the Golden Eagles host Minnesota State Moorhead. Eight former Knights play for those two teams.
Starting receivers for the MSUM Dragons are 1997 graduate Scott Swanson and 2000 graduate Chad Davison. Jake Sternhagen, also a 2000 graduate, is the third runningback in the Dragons 3-back rotation. Ryan Giese, Defensive End-2000; and Josh Leegaard, Wide Receiver-2001; are also on the Dragon roster.
The U of M Crookston Golden Eagles have three Knight grads on their roster. Brothers Dallas (2000) and Adam (2001) Koplin both have seen substantial playing time on the defensive line and 2001 Heart O' Lakes Conference MVP David Drexler has been moved up this past week as the #2 Quarterback as a true freshman.
Another West Central Area graduate on a college roster is Mark Reiner (2001), who is playing for St. John's University. 2000 graduate Brian Bye's football career with U of M Duluth ended with a knee injury. Bye has transferred to NDSU and is no longer playing football.
Thanks to Kraig Hunter, assistant football coach and head boys basketball coach at WCA for the info!
St. John's soccer coach Pat Haws informs us that a Fergus Falls connection scored a goal in the JV team's 2-1 win over the U of M junior varsity team. Freshman Matt Haws was setup by Hillcrest graduate Drew Spidahl for the second Johnnies goal. Spidahl, a junior, was playing a rehab game as he is coming off an injury. Haws is a freshman and the all-time leading scorer at FFHS.
Monday, September 24, 2001
Former Underwood standout Jenny Gronner is playing a key role for the NDSU Bison volleyball team as they are currently ranked number eight in the nation.
Gronner, a sopohomore, is sixth on the team in kills, third in kill percentage (among those players with at least 100 kills), second on the team with 50 blocks and has turned in some double-digit kill efforts for the Lady Bison. Against Minnesota State Mankato, she had 10 kills and 7 blocks in her team's 3-2 victory. That win was the sixth in a row for NDSU and snapped Mankato's 7 match winning streak.
Gronner sat out all of last year with a knee injury (hurt during spring practice, 2000), worked hard at rehabilitating the injury, and is now a key contributor to the squad. She's a great athlete, who has a great work ethic and it's exciting to see her comeback as strong as she has from the injury.
Former Hillcrest runningback John Kilde, is now at Bethel College and is playing some junior varsity football for the Royals. John made the varsity traveling squad but has seen very limited action with them. He is playing well on the JV squad and is very comfortable back at his familiar spot in the backfield.
Nik Pickett is getting some varsity playing time at St. John's University. The former Otter soccer goalkeeper has played parts of three varsity games. Matt Haws is also on the team, but a third Otter, Jon Matteson was cut prior to the season.
Luke Johnston, a 2000 graduate of Fergus Falls High School is playing soccer at the University of Superior in Wisconsin. He leads the team in scoring with a goal and three assists through their first four games. The team is inexperienced and off to an 0-4 start.
We love to hear about former high school athletes from our area and how they are doing in college. When we get info we'll share it in this space. If you have some info, share it with us please!!
|Monday, September 10, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 9/10/01 - 9/16/01|
|Saturday, September 15, 2001|
Minnesota Motors hosted a reception for the Lady Spartan basketball team and coaches on Saturday morning. It was great to see the members of the NJCAA Division III National Championship team together once again.
I have been so privileged in my years covering sports in the Fergus Falls area. Privileged to work with quality people in coaching positions and to cover teams that feature players with tremendous work ethics and pride. One of the highlights has been following the Community College basketball teams of Ann Williams and Dave Retzlaff. You don't find better people or coaches than those two. I know it, the fans know it, the players know it and the players parents know it. In fact, one of these days in the near future, I'm going to ask Ron Draper to write a story about being the parent of a Spartan athlete. He enjoyed every minute he had as a Spartan fan and supporter. In fact, I'm betting you'll see Ron at a few games this year even though Jessica is gone. What a great experience for those young people, spending two years under the tutelage and guidance of Retz & Ann. The girls on the National Championship Team gave it their all for their coach, their school and their community last year. They defied the odds, had the deck stacked against them with injuries and an undermanned roster (only by the numbers), and pulled off one of the truly amazing accomplishments I've witnessed in competitive amateur athletics.
It was fun visiting briefly with each player. So many memories of the past year went through my head. Ann said this was the first time since the bus ride home that the team had been together. I think they really had a good time. It was homecoming week at FFCC and I know that Steve Brimhall and everyone at Minnesota Motors wanted to honor this team, but nothing could be worked out last spring. I'm sure glad they persisted and got everyone together now. Here's an update:
National Tournament MVP Jessica Draper is thinking about walking on this spring at the U of M, trying out for the softball team. In addition to her basketball prowess, Draper is a very good softball pitcher. She sounded determined to give it a try! Why not? I know I'm not going to doubt that she can do it!! Jess is rooming with Amanda Rinke. Amanda said that her knee has totally healed and she's back to doing everything she used to do. Her injury was one of the truly unfortunate events of last year, but her desire to stay with the team as what amounted to a third coach and a constant supporter, was extremely important to what transpired throughout the season.
Captain Kelly Martin and aggressive post player Amy Schoeck are teammates at Valley City State University and are already practicing with their new team in preparation for the upcoming hoops season. Alayna Follingstad is attending Moorhead State University and hanging around Rothsay, doing some line judging at volleyball games and I'm sure watching little brother Arik quarterback the Agassiz Valley Thunder.
Heidi Malone is working at Broen Home and she and her husband, Bob, live in Fergus Falls, and Jeana Schaefer is currently working at the 210 & 29 cafe. She said the specials are always good and I think all Spartan fans get a discount(?). Julie (Ice) Hemker, who made the biggest free throws in Lady Spartan history, is back at FFCC studying to be a Dental Hygienist.
Of course, the lone freshman off last year's team, Naomi Moerke, is back at FFCC and is preparing for the upcoming basketball season. She's going to miss these girls!
Mark down Friday, December 7th on the calendar. That's the night the Lady Spartans will receive their National Championship Rings and a commemmorative picture will be unveiled. The picture will be displayed above the Ladies locker room, much like the Men's 1998 National Championship picture. Hope you can be there to honor these young ladies. They provided many moments of basketball excitement in their two years here and will always have a special place in Spartan history.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
There will be no NFL games this weekend. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made that announcement around noon today. Play will resume on September 23rd.
At this time, the NFL has not made a decision on the fate of the postponed games. They may not be rescheduled, or the league could decide to put them at the end of the regular season and push the playoffs back a week.
I think this is a good decision. It would be very difficult for the players and fans to pull their emotions together so quickly. Our country still grieves the events of Tuesday which have had such an impact on so many people. Plus, bring 50,000 people into one location for a sporting event may not be a great idea considering the terrorist activity of this week. Why invite potential trouble? Give everyone a little time. Resuming the schedule next week makes a lot of sense.
Many college football games have been postponed or cancelled, but the NCAA left it up to the individual conferences to make that decision. Many have decided to play their games as scheduled, including the Big Ten, which means Minnesota will host Baylor at the Metrodome on Saturday. The NCC is playing their conference games in both volleyball and football, but the NDSU game against Maine has been cancelled. Maine, a division I school, is not a conference opponent for the Bison.
Area high school games will be played as scheduled. I believe that makes sense, too. Kids are resilient and they need to get back into their regular activities. We, as parents and supporters, need to be their to encourage them and assist them in dealing with the issues that have transpired this past week. We need to help them move forward with their lives in the process. Sports can go a long way in assisting in the healing process. Please, show your support for these young people as they continue to compete in the weeks ahead. Come along side them and be there for them.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
As I write this, it is almost Wednesday morning. Tuesday was as long a day as I can remember ... ever. The cowardly, terroristic attacks on the U.S. brought the sporting world to a grinding halt.
Most area high school events were postponed. Some may not be made up, others may. Students around the country were watching, along with the rest of us, as the despicable tragedies unfolded on Tuesday. Out of respect for those who lost their lives, their families, those still not accounted for, and the brave search and rescue teams, local authorities called for after school activities to be scratched.
Major League Baseball also postponed their games, along with Wednesday's game between the Yankees and White Sox in the Bronx. Baseball, along with other sports activities, just don't seem so important right now. On the other hand, we need the games to resume as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. In this country, athletic competition provides an escape for the fans, a relief from the day-to-day anxieties and pressures we all face. Sports is good therapy. But it's also fun and games. The NFL is considering postponing their games this weekend. The threat is real and a crowd of rabid fans cramming into a stadium, is a possible target for more terroristic opportunities.
The games will be back, very soon. Athletic competition is woven into the fabric of this country and the games will go on ... they must go on.
Say a prayer for those families affected by this tragedy and for President Bush, and our nation's leaders, who
will be faced with critical decisions in the days, weeks, months to come.
Monday, September 10, 2001
Oh, my. The Vikings opener was a disaster. I didn't see the game, but I did listen to it on the way back from International Falls. What happened? A combination of things no doubt contributed to the poor start by the Vikes.
First of all, the Vikings high-powered offense is going to struggle early in the season for a couple of reasons. You don't replace all-pro players like Robert Smith and Korey Stringer without going through some adjustment time for the new players. It is totally unrealistic to expect their replacements to step in and perform at the level we are used to seeing at those positions. It will take time.
Secondly, the schedule throws some pretty tough opponents our way immediately. Carolina wasn't necessarily one of them, but George Seifert has assembled a better team than the Panthers have put on the field in recent years. The problems really begin next Monday in Baltimore with the defending champion Ravens. After a respite against the Bears, the Vikings will play Tampa Bay at home and then go to New Orleans. Both of the latter teams will be very tough teams for the Vikings. If they don't get something going in Baltimore, we could be looking at a potential 1-4 start!
Daunte Culpepper was at his worst yesterday. Observers said he had his worst regular season game as a Viking. Of course he struggled in the NFC Championship game last year, but the ankle was hurting and the rest of the team took him right out of it by getting behind big, early. However, Culpepper needs to play much better than he did on Sunday. He didn't play with the usual confidence we have seen and he didn't throw the ball the way he usually does. He's going to miss Stringer and Smith greatly.
Randy Moss was absent most of the game. He's going to draw double team attention all year. Now, all you Moss lovers out there, I thought he was the greatest athlete in the NFL!?! What's a little double coverage? He needs to put out 100% every play, not just when it's coming his way. They need him to be the gamebreaker that Jerry Rice became in San Francisco, double coverage or no double coverage, and Daunte has to be willing to spot some other receivers, too.
Who is the emotional leader on this team? Who fires them up and stirs their hearts and their confidence? Who challenges them to pick it up when things aren't going there way? Anybody? Chris Carter? I don't know. It seemed like there wasn't a whole lot of inspiration out there after the opening kickoff was returned for a TD. Just like last year's playoff game. When the Vikes fell behind early and the breaks weren't going there way, they started going through the motions. That can't happen if they are going to be a championship team. No pouting allowed. No ego's in the way. Just Play the Game!
It's only one game, but it's a red flag. Opening at home, ten point favorites, against a Carolina team that is not in the upper echelon of teams in the league, with a rookie QB, the emotion surrounding Korey Stringer ... ingredients for a blowout? Yes. Not the 24-13 loss that transpired at the Metrodome, 24-13 Vikings, was the expected outcome. The Vikes need to play well and put themselves in a position to beat the Ravens on Monday night. Nearly 50% of the respondents in our poll asking which team will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, said Minnesota. I certainly hope they're right! The fans have confidence, but the players need it. There were many boos coming from the crowd yesterday as the game went on. Only better play will quiet that reaction. I'd love to hear from you Vikings fans! Send me your e-mail comments and we'll share them with our viewers. Also, be sure to enter the NFL Prediction Contest this week. There's $20.00 up for grabs! It might as well be yours!
|Monday, September 3, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 09/03/01 - 09/09/01|
|Saturday, September 8, 2001|
I remember competing with many of my friends in the Punt, Pass & Kick competition as a youngster. We had a great time and kids 8 to 15 have an opportunity to participate on September 15th at FFCC.
The Fergus Falls Jaycees are once again hosting the local competition for the NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass & Kick. The date is Saturday, September 15th at the Fergus Falls Community College Football Field. The competition is open to both boys and girls, ages 8 to 15, and is free. Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. with competition to follow. All kids participating will receive free admission to the FFCC Spartan football game to be held that afternoon at 2:30 p.m. against Vermilion.
I lived in Brainerd when we had P, P & K. There must have been 75 of us down on the old Franklin Junior High School football field, Home of the Brainerd Warriors at that time. Long before the new football field was built. I loved watching Warriors games on that old field and playing Junior High football. We used to get neighborhood kids together and walk to the field to play pickup games. What a blast! I get excited for the kids who will be involved on Saturday, because I know they'll have a very memorable experience, competing on the FFCC field and getting up close to some of the Spartan players.
The top finishers in each of the four age brackets will advance to the sectional round to be held in Hawley on October 6th at 1:00 p.m. The winners there will have their scores compared with other sectional champs. The top five scorers from the pool of sectional champions will advance to the state competition to be held on December 9th at the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans football game. For more information contact Kris Wilke at 736-7596 or Paul Lundeen at 736-5433 and be sure
to thank the Fergus Falls Jaycees for hosting this event. There's a lot of work involved and several volunteer hours. Let's see a great turnout at FFCC on Saturday for the Punt, Pass & Kick!
Wednesday, September 5, 2001
The 2nd Annual Lee Franklin Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on Saturday at the Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls.
Proceeds from this tournament will be divided equally between the Lee Franklin Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Maroon and Gold Hockey Boosters. Several area businesses have made donations as hole prizes, team prizes, door prizes and silent auction items. The format is a 4 person scramble with a shotgun start.
There are some rather interesting autographed silent auction items including Michael Jordan autographed shoes, a Ken Griffey, Jr. autographed hat, a Glenn Robinson autographed game jersey, at autographed Anaheim Mighty Ducks Jersey, a Red Hawks jersey, several college hockey tickets and many other great items.
Brad Bergstrom put a lot of legwork into getting this tournament going and I know several Maroon and Gold Hockey Boosters are very involved in organizing it.
Lee Franklin was very involved in youth hockey for several years and was a huge supporter of youth activities in Fergus Falls. He was also a member of the City Council for many years. His sons Brad and Brian came up through the Fergus Falls Hockey Association programs and both played for the Otters. For more information contact Mr. Bergstrom or Kathy and Gene Lindblom.
Monday, September 3, 2001
It's officially here. The NFL season has arrived. Three things have happened to make me acknowledge that football is about to become the main sports focus for the next five months.
First of all, the final exhibition season games have been played. Nice that the Vikings finished 4-0, but what does that mean anyway? Let's see what happens now. I'm still quite skeptical about how they are going to replace Robert Smith. I like Michael Bennett, but right now, he's no Robert Smith. Korey Stringer? He'll be missed as much as Smith in the lineup. Those are two huge holes to fill, and the defense hasn't improved all that much since last season. I hope I'm wrong, but the Vikings will probably struggle to make the playoffs. The one thing that will help them is this: I don't think the Central Division is all that tough. Green Bay is better and Tampa Bay has a great defense (offense??), but Detroit and Chicago are bad. Half of the schedule is played against those teams, so if the Vikes fare well against them, they'll be right there.
Secondly, Fantasy Football League Drafts have been conducted all across this great land, and probably overseas (especially at military bases), with would-be NFL experts putting together a team of players they hope will contend for their league title and all the glory that goes along with it! The local league that I am a part of held their auction on Labor Day afternoon. We get $200 (fantasy dollars) and need to fill twelve roster spots plust an offensive team and a defensive team, without going over the limit. This can be a challenge and there are many strategies that are used. Some 'coaches' go after the big stars and spend the largest chunk of their change on a few blue-chippers, filling in the rest of their roster spots with fringe contributors, hopeful rookies, possible has-beens, and injury prone players with potential (if they are healthy). Others, settle for the sub-star players who produce consistent numbers and occasionally turn in a huge statistical day. It's quite an interesting four hours. By the way, I picked up Marshall Faulk, Jeff Garcia, Tim Brown, Warrick Dunn, the Tampa Bay defense and the St. Louis offense. The rest of my picks are hardly worth mentioning in this space. It's a fun time, especially when you have guys in the league who have been involved for several years. I'm thinking that Kris Svingen, Dave Retzlaff, Robbie Olson, Harlan Jones, John Erickson, Rick Odden and I have all been in the league since the beginning. Scott Bjerke and Carl Rose are veterans, too, but we also have some new young bucks who are trying their hand at this man's game. Another generation of fantasy players, Jason Retzlaff, John Svingen, Adam Erickson have been mesmerized by their fathers involvement through the years and now have teams of their own. It should be a blast!
The third thing is the NFL Prediction Contest is back on www.craigolsonsports.com! $20.00 cash will be given away each and every week to the winner of my contest! Plus, every entry throughout the year makes you eligible for the end of the year cash drawings where three participants win the big money!! Click on the logo on my home page and submit your picks this week and every week! It's a lot of fun, it doesn't cost you anything, and you might win some spending money!! Give it a try and enjoy the upcoming NFL season!