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Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Craigs Corner 1/28/03 - 2/2/03
Wednesday, January 29th, 2003
Wayne Horgen's Otter girls hockey team will get a home playoff game! The Otters were seeded fourth in Section 3A and will host Thief River Falls on Friday, February 7th at 7:00 p.m.

That game on the 7th is a quarterfinal contest. In first round action on Tuesday, February 4th, number six Roseau will host Greenway with the winner moving on to play number three Detroit Lakes; number seven Park Rapids Area will entertain Silver Bay for the right to move on to face number two, Warroad; and eighth-seeded East Grand Forks will have home ice advantage against number nine, International Falls with the winner advancing to play at top-seeded Hibbing.

Semifinals will be played at Thief River Falls on Tuesday, February 11th with the championship game slated for Thursday, February 13th, also in TRF. If the Otters win on the 7th, they will play in the 5:00 p.m. semifinal contest on the 11th, most likely against Hibbing.

Perham's boys basketball team has put together a very good first half. They are the only team to have beaten Pelican Rapids this year and they have a record of 10-4 overall, 7-3 in the HOL. The Yellowjackets received some bad news earlier this week, though. Their center, Brady Winter is out indefinitely with mono.

Monday, January 27th, 2003
Super Bowl XXXVII is history and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were mighty impressive in their 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Paul Tommerdahl won our final NFL Prediction contest. Paul had the only perfect entry during Super Bowl Week. Congratulations to Craig Samuelson from Barnesville, our $125.00 winner in our NFL Prediction Contest cash drawing!!! Zach Malwitz of Mankato won the $75.00 prize and Michael Martineau wins $25.00.

The Tampa Bay defense has to rank right up there with the best defenses in NFL history. They had tremendous pressure on Rich Gannon throughout the game and their secondary is unbelievable. Their coverage and quickness was better than any secondary I've seen. Five interceptions and three returned for TD's? Phenomenal! The game was decided early, but the Raiders had some fight in them as they made it somewhat interesting in the second half. Tampa Bay looked a lot more ready to play than the Raiders did and you have to credit John Gruden for a lot of that.

Former Otter hockey player Ryan Kantrud scored his first collegiate goal and notched his second assist for the University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles in a 9 to 3 win over the Milwaukee School of Engineering on Saturday.
His goal was a go ahead goal and the second of the game for MNC and was scored at 3:18 of the second period assisted by his line mates Ryan Leadens (freshman, S. St Paul) and Theran Bauer (freshman, Spooner Wi.).
He assisted on a 3rd period goal scored by Theran Bauer and a second assist went to Ryan Leadens.
The Golden Eagles over all record now is 11 - 4 - 2.

The Regional competition in the Elks Hoop Shoot was held on Saturday in Wadena. Two Fergus Falls youngsters advanced to the State Hoop Shoot competition in Hutchinson on Saturday, February 15th. Taylor Shuck placed first in the 10 and 11 year old age division, making 21 of 25 free throws. The first place finisher in the 12 and 13 year old age group was Jonny Walvatne, who made 22 of 25 foul shots. Way to go guys and good luck at the state competition! Hats off the the local Elks Lodge for sponsoring a local event for the kids.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, January 20, 2003
Craigs Corner 1/20/03 - 1/26/03
Friday, January 24th, 2003
Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego will take on new proportions in Fergus Falls on Sunday. The First Church of the Nazarene is clearing out the church and bringing in lawn chairs, recliners, sofas and bean bags to view the big dance live on a massive, 9’ X 12’ high resolution video projection system. The event is open to the public, and will begin at 4:30 pm.

The Naz youth pastor, Dallas Rostad is fired up about the game. “Plain and simple, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and we’re doing the big dance in a big way! No preaching or teaching will be allowed once the whistle blows. Seriously, we may gag Pastor Steve after he preaches in the morning. Cheering, yelling, grunting and groaning, and end zone celebrations will be encouraged”.

Everyone is welcome. Bring your lawn chairs, recliners, sunglasses, slippers, and favorite snacks. Pool, ping-pong, foosball, and basketball are available during breaks. Pizza and refreshments will be served. Find your favorite jersey, friends, teddy bear, body pillow, and other sporting apparel and come to Diego at the Naz.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003
This is the time of year that the high school conference races start to heat up. The contenders have been clearly identified as they begin their second time through the conference schedule.

In the Heart O' Lakes Conference girls basketball race, two state-ranked teams are duking it out for the top spot. D-G-F, ranked sixth in the state in Class 2A, is 8-1 and leads Hawley, West Central Area and Breckenridge by a game-and-a-half. Pelican Rapids is two games behind. Hawley is ranked 7th in Class 1A.

Megan Ronhovde of West Central Area High School is the scoring leader in the conference with 18.8 points per game. Tonya Tripp of the Rebels is second with 17.7 points per game. Katie Stearns of Frazee is third at sixteen points per game and Amy Peeters of Perham is fourth at 14.6 points per contest.

Stearns is the leading rebounder with 14.4 per game, Ronhovde is second with 12.5 per game and Tripp is third with 9.6 per contest.

Jennifer Hensel of the Hornets averages 5.6 assists per game with Ronhovde at 4.0 and Hawley's Katie Walden with 3.9 assists per game.

The HOL boys standings have D-G-F and Pelican Rapids at the top of the heap with records of 7-1. The Vikings are currently ranked sixth in Class 2A. Perham is third at 6-2 and Hawley is fourth at 5-3.

Casey Restad of the Vikings is the leading scorer at 19 points per game. Adam Johnson of West Central Area is second at 18.5, the Knights Elliot Richards is third at 17.4, and Tyler Lage of Pelican Rapids is fourth at 15.9 points per contest.

Rebounding leaders are Richards with ten per game, D-G-F's Andre DiÁllesandro with 9 per game, Hawley's Ted Cox with 8.4 and Tyler Nelson of Lake Park-Audubon with 8 per game.

The Knights Johnson is the assist leader at 5.5 per game. Luke Rengstorf of Pelican Rapids is second with 5.2 per game. Luke Driscoll of the Rebels is third with 4.5 per game and Kyle Gustafson of Perham is fourth with 4.2 per game.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003
Okay, I've decided. Tampa Bay 20, Oakland 17. My gut feeling was Oakland ... but, then I started thinking about that Bucs defense and my thoughts convinced me to go with Tampa Bay.

Their defense is without a doubt, the best in the NFL. I believe they will get pressure on Rich Gannon, because they won't be able to have success running the football. I also believe that the Bucs style of defense will cause Oakland to commit many penalties, which they do against any team, but even more against a team that comes at you like the Bucs do. Look for more holding calls against the Raiders offensive line, especially as the game wears on.

Defense aside, I feel that the Tampa Bay offense is clicking. Brad Johnson has been impressive and I like their backfield mix. But, perhaps the biggest thought that swayed me was the intangible factor of head coach John Gruden going home to San Diego to coach his first year team against the team he left at the end of last season. Gruden is perhaps the best motivator in the league and now he has that additional intimate knowledge of his opponenet based on having spent the past several years with many of the players who make up the Raiders roster. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and I think he will exploit those weak areas. The teams have to go out and play of course, and they will, but Gruden, in my mind, gives the Bucs the slight edge. I really think we're in for a great football game! As I said at the start of the playoffs ... bring on the Mexican dip!!

2001 Fergus Falls High School graduate Justin Stock is in his sophomore year with the Illinois club hockey team. Last year, they were national runners-up to three-time defending champion, Penn State. This year, they were ranked number two in the country when they went to State College, Pennsylvania last weekend. The Nittany Lions were ranked number one and unbeaten at the time. Illinois beat them twice, 5-2 and 5-4. Here is what the Illinois Club hockey website says about Stock:

Justin Stock is a sophomore defenseman who hails from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Justin came to the Illini last year after a successful high school career with the Fergus Falls Otters. He played in 3 consecutive Minnesota State High School league hockey tournaments. There his team took 3rd and 4th places where he was named Outstanding Senior in his final high school season. Off the ice Justin is pursuing a degree in farm and financial management and is looking to return to Minnesota following his graduation so he can apply his new found knowledge and skill on his family farm.

Justin has a goal and two assists in twenty games this season. He's not a scorer, but a solid blueliner. Justin skates on the shorthanded unit and has a solid plus-minus rating. The goal was his first of his college career. Illinois should take over that top spot in the nation after their weekend sweep. They have a poll of their individual players on the website and one of the questions was, If you could go back in time and skate and play with any player living or deceased, who would it be? Stock's answer was my favorite player of all time, Bobby Orr. What a great player he was. I've said this before ... I love to get information on what former area high school student-athletes are doing in college and how they are performing at that level. If you have info, e-mail me at [email protected]

Monday, January 20th, 2003
Two former Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks have guided their teams to Super Bowl XXXVII, which takes place in San Diego, California next Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Rich Gannon, the League MVP, and Brad Johnson, have developed into outstanding quarterbacks. They were both very impressive on Sunday, leading their teams, Oakland and Tampa Bay, into the Super Bowl. How can you not root for these two veterans? Gannon is 37 and more productive than ever. Johnson is playing with new found confidence and fire under new head coach, John Gruden. I think it will be a great game next Sunday.

Is Jerry Rice amazing or what? The guy has caught at least one pass in a record 27 straight NFL playoff games. That is incredible! He works hard to maintain his physical strength. Think about it ... this guy is playing in the NFL with guys nearly half his age ... and he is excelling. He has proven that the 49er's were dead wrong when they said he was done.

Say what you will about Al Davis, the owner of the Raiders, but his former players, most of them anyway, would be hard pressed to say anything bad about the man. He treats former Raiders like royalty, inviting many of them back for every home game. The sidelines and press box are full of them. Guys like Jim Otto, the long time Raiders center, and quarterback Daryle Lamonica, the 'Mad Bomber', and 'The Stork', Ted Hendricks, an outstanding linebacker in his day. They were all on hand, along with others, for Sunday's big win over Tennessee.

Torii Hunter is signed for four years. That is good news. He is arguably the most complete centerfielder in the game. I think, as he matures and learns the strike zone better, that Hunter will hit between 30 and 40 homeruns every year. He also has the potential to be a .300 hitter. His defense, well, it's golden!! I would like to see the Twins put together an enticing package and make an offer to Montreal for Vladimir Guerrero. The Expos, with their uncertain future, are dropping salary and looking for bargains. Why not package a Kyle Lohse, along with Jacque Jones or Dustin Mohr or Michael Cuddyer or Bobby Kielty, and a minor league prospect or two? Guerrero's bat would have a huge impact on this lineup.

Item from the Spartan road trip this past weekend ... Next year, Coach Dave Retzlaff will be able to eat the buffet at the Bemidji Bonanza for $4.49 instead of $4.99. They offer the fifty cent discount to customers over 60!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Craigs Corner 1/13/03 - 1/19/03
Wednesday, January 15th, 2003
The NFL Conference championship games are this weekend. Bud Selig has made a GOOD decision. Two NHL teams have filed for bankruptcy protection. The winter sports scene is heating up!

The challenge brought by the winter sports season is somewhat overwhelming at times. This has been one of those stretches for me. It's time to just pause for a couple of minutes, catch my breath and just drop a few short comments about a variety of topic into this space. I have neglected Craig's Corner due the business of covering all of the area sports teams and reporting on their games. This column gets pushed to the back burner more times than not. But, it's time to spend a little time on it!!

First, the NFL Conference championship weekend. I'm picking the teams led by former Minnesota Viking quarterbacks Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson. Oakland is a 7 1/2 point favorite this weekend over Tennessee. I like the Raiders 28-16. In the NFC, Philadelphia has home field advantage and they are favored by 4 points. I like the underdog Bucs, 13-10. Both teams have great defenses and both have struggled somewhat on offense. Look for a defensive touchdown from one of the teams in this one.

Acting Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has made a decision I can applaud, finally. His decision to let the winning league in the All Star game have home field for the World Series will bring the game back to the Classic confrontation it used to be between the American and National Leagues. No more showmanship, and worrying about playing everyone who is selected. That's not what the game should be about. That's what the practice day is for. Let the fans see all the players on the day before the game. The Home Run Derby, infield and batting practice, autograph sessions and all the other hype that goes along with the event. However, when the game begins, let's play ball to win. The incentive will be there now and I think the fans will benefit from this decision by seeing very competitive games in the future. Congratulations Bud! Now resign.

Two NHL teams have filed for bankruptcy protection. Ottawa and Buffalo. Pro sports leagues and individual teams and ownership groups need to get their houses in order. This is ridiculous. Are these greedy owners/players/agents so blind that they can't see that they are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Where is common sense in pro sports? WAKE UP!!! I'm no genius, but common sense needs to dictate at some point. Is there any left?

Local sports teams are really busy with their schedules as conference races are heating up and the races for higher seedings at section tournament time are also getting hot. This is a great time of the year for high school and college sports fans. We have some exciting winter nights ahead in the local gyms and arenas. Be watching www.craigolsonsports.com for continuing game coverage of all the sports teams in our area. More later.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, January 6, 2003
Craigs Corner 1/06/03 - 1/12/03
Thursday, January 9th, 2003
Former Otter girls basketball player Janna Davis has decided to play for the Moorhead State Women's basketball team. Davis left NDSU, siting personal reasons, in October and trasferred to MSUM. She began practicing with the Dragons this week and could see some minutes as early as Friday.

The Elks Hoop Shoot competition was held on Saturday at the Fergus Falls Senior High Schoool gymnasium. The top two finishers in each age group, boys and girls, will now advance to Wadena where they will compete in the North Region Finals on Saturday, January 25th.

Advancing in the 8-9 division for girls is Haley Ness of Ashby. Boys moving on in the 8-9 division are Zach Rengel of Fergus Falls and Ramie Denzel of Underwood. The top two for 10-11 year old girls were Mackenzie Schmuck of Ashby and Hannah Rocholl of Underwood. The top two 10-11 year old boys are Taylor Schuck and Nicholas Risbrudt, both from Fergus Falls. In the 12-13 year old division, the girls top finishers were Paige Douglas of Underwood and Becca Rengel of Fergus Falls. Boys winners were Jonny Walvatne of Fergus Falls and Nathan Thompson of Fergus Falls.

Tuesday, January 7th, 2003
I just want to thank everyone who makes my job easier!!! You see some great pictures on my website. Many of these are contributed by people from around the area who love following our local teams and like to see them get the coverage they deserve.

Bob Franck from Ashby has been providing me photos for the past two years and does a great job getting me team information for the Ashby coaches. He does a tremendous job of featuring many different players in his photos throughout the season.

Ron Schalow of SportsZPhoto.com of Fargo is great at getting me pictures of any teams from my coverage areas that are playing in the F-M area. Visit his website for a great time viewing pictures of kids competing in athletics.

I started a second website in September,www.pheasantcountrysports.com
This website is centered in Morris and includes communities around that area like Hancock, Benson, Wheaton, Herman, Chokio-Alberta and others. Randy Larson from Herman has helped me with pictures from that area. Pictures make such a difference. Thanks guys.

The coaches provide information to me for game stories. Some provide me with a wealth of information. These are the lengthy stories you will see on my websites. Some provide me with a fair amount of information. These are the short to medium length stories you will see while surfing through www.craigolsonsports.com . If you don't see a story attached to a certain game, it simply means that I have not received any information on that particular game except (hopefully), the score. I can't do a story without information, and obviously, I can't be in more than one place at one time. I rely on the coaches to keep me posted on their teams. The amount of coverage they receive is directly related to their involvement in reporting the game or event information. If you don't see much coverage of your favorite team, ask the coaches to send me info. They all know I'm here and what I'm doing. I can't tell you how much I appreciate their input and their help! I have gotten so many positive comments on what we are doing and I want this to keep growing and getting better. We're in our fourth year and loving every minute of it (even the late nights which turn into early mornings and not nearly enough sleep!). Please, always feel free to e-mail us with questions, comments, suggestions, whatever! [email protected]
Monday, January 6th, 2003
Former Otter David Newell had a double-double on Saturday as Gustavus-Adolphus beat Hamline 70-52. Newell had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

He leads Gustavus in scoring and rebounding with 17 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. Newell is shooting 70% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. Gustavus is now 8-1 and unbeaten in the MIAC.

Posted By Craig Olson
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