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Monday, March 31, 2003
Craigs Corner 03/31/03 - 04/06/03
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2003
Zach Walters, also known as Jungle Boy, will battle Casual Chris Holt in a pro boxing match on Saturday at the Fergus Falls Armory. The card will feature pro and Golden Gloves Boxing, including a bout by Fergus Falls Golden Gloves boxer, Andy Kolle.

Walters is the son of Mark and Sharilyn Walters, owners of Walters Photograpy of Fergus Falls. He has so far won five professional fights, including two by knockout. Zach has been training for the past couple of years at Hortons Gym in Duluth.

The gates will open at six o'clock on Saturday night and the boxing card will begin at seven o'clock. Tickets are available in advance from Walters Photography and New Beginnings. General admission cost is ten dollars and ringside seats are twenty dollars. The tickets will be fifteen and twenty-five dollars if they are purchased at the gate on Saturday.

The night of fights has been dubbed Fistic Fury and I'm sure boxing fans from all around the region will not be disappointed at the action in the ring. It would be great to see a good turnout of local fans to support Zach. I'll be interviewing him on AM 1250, KBRF, on Thursday morning at 7:20 a.m. on Talkin' Sports.

Thanks to Leroy Quernemoen for the kind words he wrote in his Letter to the Editor in the Daily Journal on Monday. His compliments were much appreciated!! We work hard to keep the information fresh on the website and one of my stated goals is to have as much information as possible updated from the night before when people get up in the morning! I hear from a lot of snowbirds in the winter months who keep up on the area sports by visiting www.craigolsonsports.com everyday. Thanks Leroy!! You are a great fan of Fergus Falls and area sports. I know the teams and players really appreciate your support and enthusiasm and so do I!

Monday, March 31st, 2003
It's Opening Day. It may not be a recognized national holiday but it's a holiday at my house!! I am very thankful for ESPN and ESPN2. Plus, the first of 162 Twins games will be broadcast today on Oldies 1020, KJJK AM. It's baseball heaven!!

I like to pick my favorites at the beginning of each season and then see how it all pans out. Let's begin with the American League.

I really believe in the Twins. They are now a year more experienced and they have tasted the playoffs. Most of their position players are just coming into their best years and their pitching staff is a blend of veterans and youngsters. Defensively, they rival any team in the game at every position. Plus, their team chemistry, that great intangible, is tremendous. National media experts are touting the Twins as the team to beat in the American League and I have heard several say they will win the World Series this year. I'm with them. The Twins are my AL Central Division pick, my AL pennant winner and my World Series champion. Look for the White Sox to finish second with Cleveland and Kansas City battling it out for third and fourth in the Central. Detroit will bring up the rear.

The AL East will be a two-horse race. Of course, the Yankees are always in it, but I like the Red Sox to win the East this year. They have some great run producers and some strong pitching. Manny Ramirez may win the MVP Award and I wouldn't bet against Pedro Martinez for the Cy Young. I also believe that the Yankees will be the Wild Card entrant into the American League Divisional Series.

In the AL West, Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle are all capable of winning the division. Because of their superb starting pitching, I like the A's with the Angels a close second. Texas will be much improved and could make things interesting in the West for awhile, but they'll fade in the heat of July and August.

As for the National League, the best race in all of baseball may be in the NL Central. The Cardinals, Astros, Reds and Cubs can all lay claim to a legitimate shot at the division title. I sure like the progress the Cubs have made in building a contender, but they may be a year or two away. Tony LaRussa is always going to have the Cardinals competing and the Reds have an exciting daily lineup to put out on the field. Houston is my pick. I like their lineup and I really like their pitching rotation and closer. Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller will give the Astros a solid one-two punch and Billy Wagner is probably second only to John Smoltz as a closer in the NL. Plus, with the addition of Jeff Kent to an already potent lineup, look out!

The East will be interesting as the perennial champion Atlanta Braves will be challenged by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets could cause some problems but they'll have enough problems of their own. I look for the Phillies to edge out the Braves this year for the division title. The Braves, along with the aforementioned Cardinals, Cubs and Reds, should all be in the mix for the wild card, a race which will be extremely exciting to follow.

Can San Francisco repeat in the NL West? I don't think so. Barry Bonds may very well be the MVP again, but their lineup isn't nearly as potent as it was last year with Kent gone. If the Dodgers stay healthy, they could challenge for the title, but that's a big if. LA has had it's share of injuries, especially to their pitching. Arizona has Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who will once again give opposing hitters nightmares and challenge each other for the NL Cy Young Award. I think the Diamondbacks will survive the battle in the West and move on to the post season.

Okay, I need to pick a wild card winner and I'm going to go with Atlanta. I think the Cardinals, Cubs and Reds will beat each other up in the Central and Atlanta will take care of the East, with the exception of the Phils.

At any rate, the season is underway and it's going to be a great one. Among the reasons I enjoy opening day so much: Almost all of the teams are in action today, several of the ace pitchers are making their first starts, and it's a sure sign that spring has arrived and summer can't be far behind! PLAY BALL!!!!!
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, March 24, 2003
Craigs Corner 3/24/03 - 3/30/03
Thursday, March 27th, 2003
Some great people are leaving the coaching ranks. As awards banquets have been held, announcements have been forthcoming concerning a couple of guys who have given their hearts and souls to the kids in their girls basketball programs.

Mike McCarney has spent nearly three decades with the Battle Lake girls basketball team and as a member of the Battle Lake/Otter Tail Central football coaching staff. Ask anyone who has coached with him or played for him and they will tell you that he has a brilliant coaching mind. He knows his stuff. But, more than that, he knows how to teach kids more than the game they are involved in. That fact was driven home by the number of e-mail messages Mike and his wife Sharon received from former players. Several of them were posted, along with a few hundred photos, at the Battlers athletic banquet on Tuesday night. The fondness for their former coach and teacher was quite obvious in the e-mail messages. Specific memories, lasting impressions, lessons learned, sentimental recollections and more, came through loud and clear. Mike has made a tremendous impact on many lives throughout the years. He will continue his teaching and activities director duties, but his coaching presence will be missed. Dave Marso, his assistant for the past five years, will take over on the basketball court and Eric Olson will fill his spot on the football coaching staff. People will fill those roles, but no one will replace Mike McCarney. As a media representative who has had the privilege of working with Mr. McCarney through the last 22 years, let me just say that I have enjoyed working with him and appreciate the professionalism he brought to the court/field/classroom everyday. His passion for the game and the kids who play it is infectious. He does it right. Thanks Mike!

Another coach who is stepping aside is Harold Nelson of the West Central Area girls basketball team. Nelson has been coaching the Lady Knights for the past seven years. He, like McCarney, has a passion for the game and the kids who play it. He is a soft spoken instructor, who has been great at promoting his team and players. Another one of those professional who makes my job so easy. I appreciate how thorough he was at presenting information on his team and their games. It helped immensely when it came to publicizing the Lady Knights and passing useful information on to the fans. Pat Anderson, Harold's assistant coach, will assume the role of head coach. Harold, I'll miss working with you, but I know you'll continue to follow the Lady Knights with pride and enthusiasm, watching to see how the young girls develop over the next few years. Thanks for your dedication to the kids at WCA.

The final Little 8 girls basketball stats are out. Ashley Samuelson of Underwood led the conference in scoring (20.7 ppg), rebounding (9.2 rpg), and assists (4.4 apg). Chelsey Charest of Battle Lake was the top free throw shooter (78.6%) and Parkers Prairie boasted the top shooter in Kayla Revering (54%) and top 3-point shooter in Melissa Dorn (36.3%). The Panthers led all conference teams in field goal percentage at 46%. Battle Lake had the top free throw percentage (63.85) and top 3-point percentage (31%). Rothsay senior Christy Jensen was second in scoring (15.2) and third in rebounding (8.1). Another senior, Heidi Dirckx of Battle Lake, was second in rebounding (8.4) and third in scoring (14.8). Battle Lake senior Lindsay Willgohs was second in assists with 3.8 per game.

An update on former Otter Aaron Olson, playing second base as a senior at Minnesota State, Mankato. The Mavericks won 3 out of 4 down in Kansas City over the weekend and Aaron went 7-for-14 with 2 doubles, 2 HR's, drove in 9 runs, scored 7 times and is now batting .447 This weekend they start conference play with 4 games against UND at Mankato. Keep swinging the bat well Aaron!

Monday, March 24th, 2003
Gustavus Adolphus lost a tight 67-65 battle in the title game of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Saturday in Virginia. They fell to Williams College in the championship game.

Former Fergus Falls Otter David Newell, played only 16 minutes in the game and finished with only four points on 1 of 4 shooting from the floor and 2 for 2 on the line. Newell also had 4 rebounds.

Gustavus led 63-55 with 3:16 remaining in the game, but Williams came back strong and took their first lead of the game on a 3-point field goal with 48 seconds left. They sewed up the victory by making three free throws in the final four seconds of play.

In the semifinal round, Gustavus defeated Hampden-Sydney, 79-68. Newell made 3 of 7 shots, scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds while playing 21 minutes. He fouled out of the game with 1:21 to play.

Bowdoin College took third place by beating UW-River Falls 4-2 in the NCAA Division III Women's Hockey tournament on Saturday. The Falcons, coached by former Otter Joe Cranston and featuring former Fergus Falls girls hockey player Jodi Hensch, finished the season with a record of 22-6-4. The tournament was played in Elmira, New York. The Falcons lost a 2-1 contest to the host team in the semifinals on Friday night. Cranston, NCHA Coach of the Year, was one of six finalists for National Coach of the Year honors. Joe is in his fourth year as head coach of UW-River Falls.

Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, March 17, 2003
Craigs Corner 03/17/03 - 03/23/03
FRIDAY, March 21st, 2003
We knew the Otter boys basketball team had a tough schedule this season, but now everyone else knows it too. Three of the teams on that schedule are playing for state championships tomorrow.

First of all, Sauk Rapids-Rice, the Section 8AAA champion, will play Minneapolis Henry for the AAA title. The Storm beat the Otters 49-46 on January 28th in Sauk Rapids. Jon Botz, who led the Storm with 15 points and 12 rebounds in their semifinal win over St. Paul Como Park, is a Spartan recruit. He has told coach Dave Retzlaff that he will be attending FFCC next year. Keep that in mind if you get a chance to watch this championship game. There is another Spartan connection on the team. Their head coach is Jon Roesch, who played basketball and football at FFCC in the mid to late 80's.

In Class 4A, the Osseo Orioles, who beat the Otters, 62-50 on January 3rd, will battle Minneapolis North in the championship game. Osseo beat Tartan 48-46 in a tight semifinal contest. The Orioles are 23-6.

In 2A, the Litchfield Dragons, who dismantled the Otters, 65-36 on January 7th, are also advancing to the title game in their class. Post player John Carlson is headed to Notre Dame on a football scholarship and he is quite a basketball player, too. His older brother is the point guard at St. Cloud State University.

It's always fun to play top competition and the Otters certainly had one of the tougher schedules around the state. They were so close to bumping off Sauk Rapids-Rice, playing a solid game, but just falling short on a late turnover. They had possession, with under 20 seconds to play, down by a point, when they turned the ball over and had to put the Storm on the line, where they made a pair of free throws to beat them. You can bet that the Otters will be watching all three of these teams with additional interest in the outcome of their games. It just could be that they will have lost three games to state champs.

The Hancock Owls are having a tremendous season. Their play in the second half of the year was exceptional. Their season will end tomorrow in the third place game of the 1A state tournament. They will play Red Lake in that game tomorrow morning. They fell today to unbeaten, top-ranked, Mankato Loyola. Mankato Loyola is now 31-0. Hancock is 17-7, winning the section 5A title and moving on to the semifinals with a thrilling overtime win over Ulen-Hitterdal. They have a great group of athletes and are very balanced. Coach Dennis Jepma has said "We had great team play tonight," many times this season. Their team chemistry has been strong and it should be a good battle with Red Lake tomorrow.

The two-time defending NCAA wrestling champions, the Minnesota Gophers, are competing in the NCAA Tournament at Kansas City, Missouri this weekend. Minnesota placed five of its eight wrestlers in the quarterfinals after Thursday, with three in the wrestlebacks. They were fourth in the team standings after the first day.

Former Otter Tail Central wrestler, Jacob Volkmann, a three-time state champ for the Bulldogs, won his first round match at 165 pounds, 10-3, over Dustin Kawa from North Carolina State. He then beat Doc Vecchio of Penn State, 5-1 and defeated Tyron Woodley from Missouri, 4-0. Top-seeded Matt Lackey from Illinois, beat Volkmann, 6-3 to send him into the third place match.

Former Perham heavyweight, Justin Staebler, wrestling for Wisconsin, won three matches and lost two at 285 pounds. After losing to sixth-seeded Matt Feast in his first round match, Staebler beat Andy Bowlby of Oregon State, 3-0, knocked off Scott Coleman of Iowa State, 4-2, and defeated Willie Gruenwald of Oklahoma State, 4-2. Staebler was eliminated from the tournament by Penn State's Pat Cummins, 7-3.

THURSDAY, March 20th, 2003
FORE!! Golfers can celebrate!! The driving range at Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls will open at 10:00 o'clock Saturday morning. Club pro Brock Swanson says the range will be open from 10 to 5 both Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers are working to assure completion of the remodeling project of the restaurant area on the upper level of the clubhouse building at Pebble Lake Golf Course by the middle of April. All new tables and an all new bar are under construction, along with the additions of new recessed lighting and different wall coverings. A grand opening for the new restaurant is scheduled for April 25th.

Putter's Bar and Grill, will be owned and operated by Brenda (Jurgens) Knutson. The restaurant will be open every day of the season from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and is available for meetings, receptions or parties.

As for the date of the course opening ... "I'm not sure right now, let's just say as soon as the weather allows," said Swanson.

The Minnesota State, Mankato baseball team played eight games against some tough competition in Texas last week, recording four wins and four losses. The Mavericks beat St. Mary's, who won the Division II College World Series in 2001. Aaron Olson was 13 for 29 with 3 doubles, 2 homers and 10 runs batted in, on the trip. What a great start for the senior from Fergus Falls. In 9 games, Olson is hitting .424, with 12 RBI. The Mavericks will play three games in Kansas City, Missouri, over the weekend and are scheduled to open their home season on the 29th of March against North Dakota.

TUESDAY, March 18th, 2003
There's a strong Fergus Falls presence on one of the Final Four teams in Division III Women's hockey. The UW-River Falls Falcons are heading to Elmira, New York for the NCAA Final Four this Friday and Saturday.

The Falcons are coached by 1983 FFHS graduate, Joe Cranston, who played for the Otter hockey team from 1979 through 1983 and served as captain of the team his senior year. Cranston also played and captained the Northern Iowa Huskies of the USHL after high school, before returning to Fergus Falls to play for FFCC in the 1985-1986 season. Cranston was the captain and MVP of that team, finishing in the top ten in the nation ini scoring. He received his AA degree from FFCC in 1986 and his undergraduate degree in elementary education from UW-River Falls in 1990. Cranston coached the Somerset, Wisconsin boys varsity team from 1990 through 1998 and is in his fourth year as head coach of the Falcons. He was voted NCHA coach of the year, guiding his team to a 20-4-4 record, a regular season and playoff championship, and a Final Four berth. His career coaching record at UW-River Falls is 54-37-8.

One of Cranston's top players is former Fergus Falls High School standout Jodi Hensch, who tied for fourth in the conference in scoring with six goals and eleven assists for seventeen points. She has scored two power play goals and two game winners. Hensch was named to the All-Conference first team in the NCHA for the second consecutive year.

Another former Otter, Anna Permann, who was a goalie for Wayne Horgen's team, is serving as a team manager for the Falcons.

MONDAY, March 17th, 2003
WOW! What a great season and career for former Otter David Newell! Newell's Gustavus Adolphus Gusties have made the NCAA Division III Final Four, to be held March 21st and 22nd in Salem, Virginia.

This is the first time Gustavus has made it to the Final Four. David's older brother, Marc, reached the Elite Eight twice with Gustavus, falling to the eventual champions, Wisconsin-Platteville, in the sectio finals both times.

The journey started in the MIAC conference playoff semifinals when David hit a pair of free throws with one second left to defeat former Otter coach Bob Bjorklund's Bethel Royals, 65-64. Gustavus then went on to blow out St. Thomas (21-5) on their home court in the MIAC championship game, 62-36, receiving the automatic conference bid into the 48-team NCAA D-III tournament.

Gustavus defeated Whitworth College (23-3) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 65-55. Whitworth (Spokane) was the conference champion out of the Norwest Conference in Washington and was averaging 80 points a game coming into the tournament. The Gusties, ranked 9th in the nation in scoring defense, held Whitworth to a 37% shooting percentage and 25 points below their average. Gustavus next traveled to Wisconsin-Stevens Point (24-3), the regular season Wisconsin Conference champions. Although W-SP had a decided height advantage, Newell helped Gustavus out-rebound them 41-26, and Gustavus came away a winner on W-SP's home court, 75-62. Newell began the game with a dunk and ended the game with a dunk to finish with 10 points.

Gustavus then traveled to Storm Lake, IA for the Sectional (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight) games. Gustavus faced the #1 seeded Hanover College (27-1) out of Indiana. Hanover was boasting an 84 point-per-game scoring average and a 50% team field goal percentage going into the game. Gustavus held Hanover to 66 points and a 33% field goal percentage in defeating them 79-66. Newell had a double-double in the game, leading Gustavus with 18 points and 13 rebounds. In the Sectional championship (Elite Eight) game, Gustavus faced off against Occidental College (24-2) out of Los Angeles, CA. Gustavus held them to 56 points in a 74-56 18-point victory to secure the Final Four berth. Newell had 12 points in that game, including a resounding dunk in the second half as Gustavus pulled away, and was voted the MVP of the tournament.

Newell, a co-captain for the Gusties, averages 12.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds a game. He was selected to the MIAC all-conference team, leading the MIAC in field goal percentage shooting at 64.5%, which also ranks 5th in the nation.

Gustavus (25-6) will play perennial D-III power Hampden-Sydney, VA (28-2) in the Final Four semi-final game Friday night, March 21st, at 8:00 P.M. Williams College, MA (29-1) faces Wooster, OH (28-2) in the other semi-final game. The third place game and championship game are Saturday afternoon, March 22, at 2:30 PM and 5:00 PM.

David has had an outstanding collegiate career and it's hard to believe this is is final year of eligibility! What a way to go out. The way the Gusties play team defense, a national title is a distinct possibility.

As happy as I am for David, I also feel bad for Coach Bjorklund's Royals. To lose by just one point to the Gusties and come that close to knocking them off had to be tough for them to swallow. Bethel finished fourth in the MIAC at 12-8 and was 15-12 overall. Andy Gilbert was voted the conference player of the year. The Royals advanced to the conference playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, the longest current streak in the league.
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, March 9, 2003
Craigs Corner 03/10/03 - 03/16/03
Saturday, March 15th, 2003
Our final day in New York. Congratulations to Brad Strand and his Pelican Rapids Vikings boys basketball team. They have earned a berth in the Class 2A state tournament by winning the Section 8AA title over Pillager.

I have only seen the Vikings once this season, but they were impressive on that night in Barrett. Very good balance, inside and outside, a nice blend of veterans and youngsters, and a group that seems to have that intangible thing called team chemistry. I would think they have an excellent chance at moving on to Target Center next Friday. First, they will have to beat either Hibbing or Chisholm in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, in Bemidji. There's little doubt the road to the state championship will go through Litchfield. This is the first trip to state for Pelican Rapids since 1993.

The final HOL stats are out and the Vikings boast the top two scorers in the conference. Tyler Lage averaged 17.6 points per game and Casey Restad had an average of 17.1 points per game. Jerry Leonard was the third leading rebounder, with 8.8 boards per game and had the second best field goal percentage (60.2%).
Luke Rengstorf led the HOL with 4.3 assists per game.

West Central Area's Elliot Richards was the leading rebounder with 9.7 per game and was fourth in scoring with 15.7 per game. Adam Johnson of the Knights was third in scoring at 17 points per game and fourth in assists at 4 per game. He also was second in steals with 3.4 per contest.

Barnesville's Brent Durensky topped the steals chart with 3.9 per game. He was also third in two point field goal percentage (58.2%) and his teammate, Dustin Johnson was third overall (57.3%). Barnesville, eliminated in the Section 6A semifinals by eventual champion, Ulen-Hitterdal, was second to D-G-F in the HOL in overall field goal percentage (46.3%), two-point percentage (52.9%) and three-point percentage (33.1%).

Andrew DiAllesandro of D-G-F was the top shooter in the conference, hitting 62.4% of his field goal attempts.

Hats off to Dan Peterka and his Battle Lake boys basktball team. What a tremendous year!! The Battlers, 22-4, had won 18 straight games before falling to the Hancock Owls in the Section 5A title game. They hadn't lost since a January 3rd defeat at the hands of the Henning Hornets. Truly, one of the greatest seasons in Battle Lake boys basketball history! Tip your hat to Hancock, too. Dennis Jepma's guys really put it together the second half of the season and they are very athletic.

The Spartans take off right after the game today and should arrive back in Fergus Falls around five-thirty or six o'clock on Sunday night.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2003
Cooperstown was great! The Spartans bought some souvenirs and had a lot of fun looking around the Hall of Fame museum and the other shops in this quaint village in upstate New York. Now, they are on the floor at Delhi, in their final practice before the start of the NJCAA Division III National Men's Basketball tournament.

The games will be updated as they are in progress on the Delhi site which is www.championships-delhi.org, and there will be webcasting of the FFCC versus College of DuPage game on the NJCAA site. You can find that at www.njcaa.org. Of course, I'll be updating the Spartan games on this site as well.

Just a few pieces of information on this tournament. Delhi is hosting it for the 13th straight year. They also have a team in the tournament this year, with a record of 29-4. They are in the Spartans bracket and will play Richland College (22-8), of Dallas, Texas.

The best record of all the tournament teams belongs to Suffolk County Community College (29-1), out of Selden, New York. The Clippers will face Brookdale Community College (27-4), of Lincroft, New Jersey, in opening round play. The first game of the tournament is between Springfield Technical Community College (17-13) of Massachusetts and Montgomery College (20-10), of Rockville, Maryland. Springfield lists only seven players on their roster.

FFCC has the second best record, 28-1. Their opponent, the defending Division III National Champs, College of DuPage (23-9), of DuPage, Illinois, has only four sophomores on their roster. Their nickname is the Chaparrals and their colors are green and gold. Remember, you can listen to all Spartan games from the national tournament on AM 1250, KBRF. The first game begins at five o'clock Thursday afternoon with our pregame show starting at about 4:45 p.m.

Monday, March 10th, 2003
The Fergus Falls Community College Men's basketball team has qualified for their fifth National Tournament, their fourth trip to the NJCAA Division III National Tournament in Delhi, New York.

The team will leave at 12:00 noon on Monday, embarking on a 26 hour bus trip that will put them in the Holiday Inn at Oneonta, New York, by about two p.m. on Tuesday. Oneonta is about 20 miles from Delhi.

The first time a Spartan team qualified for a national tournament was in 1984 when they were competing as an NJCAA Division I school. As Region 13 champions that year, they hosted the Region 9 champs, from Sterling, Colorado. The Spartans lost that game, which was a qualifying game for the national tournament, but it was considered a national tournament playoff game.

Their first trip to Delhi was in 1994, when they lost a close first round game and won their other two games to claim fourth place as consolation champs. Their second trip, in 1996, they were 0-3, losing some tight games. Their third, and most memorable trip, came in 1998, when they completed a magical, undefeated (29-0), season by winning the national title game in overtime.

Co-captain, Josh Grove, is the third member of the Grove family to make the national tournament. Aaron Grove, now a member of coach Dave Retzlaff's coaching staff, played in '96 and Nate Grove was on the national championship team in '98. In fact, Josh was out in Delhi as a fan when Aaron played in the tournament. Now, they go together as player and coach!!

The tournament banquet will be held on Wednesday night and the team will be taking a trip to Cooperstown, New York on Wednesday morning to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This has become a regular part of the itinerary when the Spartans qualify for the tournament and is always a highlight! Thanks to the Spartans, I will be making my sixth trip to Cooperstown!!

Congratulations to Coach Retzlaff on his Region XIII Coach of the Year Award! It is much deserved. Year after year this man comes up with nice young men who compete hard and succeed. They have a tremendous work ethic, they love to play the game, and they have come together as a team. 28-1 with three wins over previously #1 in the nation, Minneapolis Community College. That is impressive! Congratulations Spartans. Looking forward to an exciting week of basketball!!

Spartan fans can sign up to ride the fan bus, which will leave on Wednesday around 12:00 noon. The bus will return right after Saturday's game and should be back in Fergus Falls by around midnight on Sunday, March 16th. For more information or to sign up for a seat on the bus, contact Doug and Nancy Hansen at (218)739-9564.
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, March 4, 2003
Craigs Corner 03/03/03 - 03/09/03
Thursday, March 6th, 2003
Congratulations to Larry Mollins and Jack Dretsch of the Lakes 99-5 FM, one of Lakes Radio's Power of Five stations. The two wrestling announcers were honored with the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Publicity Award this past weekend.

The award is for providing exciting live radio coverge of Frazee wrestling for the past 16 years. The presentation took place at the recognition bruncheon at the Radisson hotel on Saturday, March 1st.

"The Frazee community, school and most importantly, the sport of wrestling, has greatly benefited by the continued promotion we receive from Larry Mollins and Jack Dretsch," boasts Frazee Mayor, Frederic Daggett.

One would think that listening to High school wrestling on the radio would be rather dull and confusing. With these two broadcasters it is quite thrilling. Frazee Athletic Director Fred Sailer states, "Larry and Jack have the rare ability to capture the enthusiasm of the sport and pass it on to the listening audience. Their insight and interviews along with play by play, or in this case, move by move reporting, are second to none. It is quite common for fans in the stands to be listening to Larry and Jack while in attendance at a match or tournament."

A couple of personal notes on wrestling coverage on the radio. Larry Mollins has been a tireless pursuer of covering this sport on the radio. My first exposure to Larry came when I was a young rookie announcer at KDLM in Detroit Lakes. Larry was a slightly older, but young, head wrestling coach at Perham. He, and then Frazee head coach, Les Kertscher, who was Larry's High School coach, talked to me about covering a Perham versus Frazee wrestling match on the radio. They both helped line up some sponsors for the coverage, and to my knowledge, that match, probably in the 1973-1974 or 1974-1975 season, was the first time KDLM had covered wrestling. Larry and Les sat down with me and we put together a match-by-match preview, with both coaches commenting on their respective wrestlers. That information was used just prior to each match and in the early stages of each match that was wrestled. It provided insight for the listeners, educating them on the wrestlers competing in the matchup they were about to hear.

After being out of state from 1976 through 1981, I returned to Minnesota and became Sports Director at KBRF Radio. It didn't take long for me to hook up with Larry again, as he was still looking for radio coverage for wrestling around the area. One of the main problems at that time was finding air time to cover matches. With only one AM and one FM station to work with, and several sports to cover from Fergus Falls and surrounding communities, wrestling was kind of lost in the shuffle. We did work a few District and Region Tournaments together in the early 80's and Larry got up the courage to go solo on some state coverage. Once he became comfortable doing coverage on his own, after becoming familiar with the equipment and the format for covering an event, there was no stopping him!! I guess he and Jack started working together in the late 80's, and once Perham got its own station, KPRW FM, wrestling coverage became a regular season occurrence too. The fans have been the winners and they can thank Larry, the sponsors, and station management, for their willingness to work with him on making it happen. Congratulations Larry and Jack. You've done a great job in making radio coverage of area wrestling teams a great listening experience for the fans!!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2003
Former Fergus Falls High School tennis player, Titus Christianson, is off to a great start at St. Cloud State University. Christianson is playing both singles and doubles for the Huskies, both with great success.

Titus had rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder in October of 2001, and sat out a full year from tennis competition. Now, his shoulder feels strong and he has been playing some dominant tennis in his first year of collegiate competition. Titus has a record of 9-1 at number three singles, has gone 6-3 at number two doubles, paired with Josh Lunak, and is 1-0 when paired with Bob Skenzich at number one doubles.

"I've been playing a lot of tennis and I think my game has improved a lot," Christianson said. "People keep telling me to not play so much because they're afraid I might get burned out, but the fact that I had a whole year off from competition has really made me want to play a lot of tennis. It's been fun and the shoulder feels fine."

St. Cloud State is 10-1 on the season and will be playing some good Division I teams in Orlando Florida next week. They will spend a week in the warm weather and will have six or seven matches during that time. The Huskies returned five conference champs from a team that finished first in the NCC Tournament a year ago.

MCCC State Championship shirts are available at the Fergus Falls Community College at a cost of ten dollars per shirt. They can be purchased from Adelle Glynn in the administration building. Enter through the clock tower entrance.

The winner of this week's Region XIII tournament will play the first game in the evening session of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament on March 13th in Delhi, New York. The game would begin at five o'clock, central time. If the Spartans qualify, they would leave FFCC at about three o'clock on Monday afternoon. If they win the Region XIII title there will be a pep fest and send off for them at the college at two o'clock on Monday.

Rob Plath, the former standout basketball player for Barnesville High School, who moved from NDSCS to Northland Community College earlier this school year, was with the Northland Men's basketball team at the MCCC State Tournament. Rob has been on the bench, in street clothes, throughout the season, and is anxious to play for the Pioneers next year. I think Rob will be a very good player in this league. It had to be tough on him to sit out a year, but he'll have two years of eligibility now at Northland. He'll be a good addition to Rick Nikunen's team, which will lose seven sophomores. Northland is the only team to have beaten FFCC this season.

Section 8AAA will have a different look in basketball next year. Two teams, Sauk Rapids-Rice and Sartell-Saint Stephen, will be moving out of the section and into Section 4AAA. They will be replaced in Section 8AAA by Litchfield, whose enrollment increases enough to move them up a class from AA, and Willmar, who will move back to 8AAA from 2AAA. Detroit Lakes, Little Falls, Rocori, Alexandria and Thief River Falls will remain in 8AAA.
Posted By Craig Olson
Lake Region Healthcare
Cline Jensen P.A.
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