|Monday, April 28, 2003|
|Craigs Corner 4/28/03 - 5/04/03|
|THURSDAY, MAY 1st, 2003|
With May comes the beginning of the end of the school year and many athletic awards nights will be held in the next several weeks. First among them is the 31st Annual FFCC All Sports Honors Night, sponsored by the Spartan Boosters.
This year, the awards night and banquet will be held at VFW Post 612, located at 420 East Washington Avenue in Fergus Falls. The social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with the banquet at six p.m. Tickets will be ten dollars for adults and one dollar for student athletes. They are available from any FFCC coach or Spartan Booster officer.
As a part of the awards night, three former standout athletes at FFCC will be inducted into the FFCC Sports Hall of Fame. Laurie Rueckert, Amy (Nelson) Trast and Scott Colbeck will be receiving that honor. For more on the inductees, check out the related article on this website.
Fergus Falls boys soccer coach Scott Bjerke and girls soccer coach Eric Van Sickle are providing an opportunity for boys and girls in grades 7 through 12 to improve their soccer skills. The two varsity coaches are offering a fun 5 v 5 Sunday League which will stress more touches on the ball and free play, which translates into less structure than a practice session would have. It also provides the opportunity to improve individual skill level while emphasizing the importance of having fun. Summer coaches are encouraged to use this league to take the place of a practice each week. The league is not intended solely for players who play summer soccer, anyone in 7th through 12th grades is welcome to play. The dates will be May 11th and 18th, June 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th, and July 13th and 20th. All sessions will be held at Cleveland Soccer Field. The cost is twenty dollars per player. For more information contact Bjerke at 739-2838 or VanSickle at 736-0799.
With the True Team track and field meet coming up next Tuesday, Brandon Deckert is battling some back pain. The outstanding shot put and discus thrower has lost some distance in recent meets due to the injury, but it hasn't stopped him from competing. Another Otter, distance runner Micah Lenthe is continuing to progress after missing three weeks with an injury. His time is improving every time he runs.
How about that Otter Girls Track and Field team? The 4 X 800 Relay team of Jenny Reff, Anna Becklund, Sam VanWechel and Emily Winans ran a 9:55.79 at Breckenridge on Wednesday. That time set a new meet and school record. They had just set a new school record at their last meet. These girls are good. Look for another record in this event either Friday at DL or at True Teams.
There will be a lot of girls playing Junior Olympic softball this summer. Fergus Falls will have three teams, a 12 and under team, a 14 and under team and a 16 and under team. Coaches will be Renae Erickson, Jess Holicky and Pat Evavold. Right now, Fergus Falls girls are playing a 7th and 8th grade schedule against area schools with Holicky and Michelle Morris coaching.
Jamestown College won their first ever DAC-10 Conference baseball championship last weekend. The Jimmies swept league-leading Valley City State on Saturday, 6-0 and 8-0 and followed that up by doing the same to defending champ Mayville State 7-6 and 5-1 on Sunday. Mayville State had won 17 consecutive conference titles.
Tim Nelson, a 1999 graduate of Frazee High School, who pitched for them when they won the Section 7 championship in 1999 and went to the Minnesota State High School Tournament is a member of the Jamestown team. Nelson was also an All-State pitcher for FFCC in 2001 and is now a senior with the Jimmies.
Nelson was the winning pitcher in teh 8-0 shutout of Valley City State, allowing only three singles in the game. Nelson struck out four and walked none. "That was definitely a highlight for me personally," said Nelson. "At times we haven't pitched as well as we could, so this was a big weekend for us. We have a lot of confidence going into the regional tournament."
Jamestown plays Huron, South Dakota in the opening round of the Regional Tournament this week.
MONDAY, APRIL 28th, 2003
The second annual 'Remember Romie Gail' fundraiser is set for Sunday, May 4th at Balmoral Golf Course. All proceeds from this event will be given to an outstanding Fergus Falls athletic organization or individual.
A lot of Romie's friends and acquaintances through his years as a referee attended last year's inaugural event and I'm sure they'll all be back again this year. Please call Barb Gail at (218) 736-5317 and leave your name and the number of people in your part that will be attending. If you decide to come at the last minute, that's fine too. People who are golfing 18 holes will tee off around noon and those gofling 9 holes will tee off around 2:00 p.m. After golfing, everyone is invited to stay at Balmoral for burgers and a time of reminiscing. Even if you are not planning to golf, you are invited to join family and friends at anytime.
Also, if you are unable to attend but would still like to donate, donations can be made at the Community First Bank to the Roman Gail Scholarship Fund.
Seniors at Fergus Falls High School need to apply for the scholarship by May 2nd. Application forms are available at the Fergus Falls Senior High counselor's office.
I haven't had the opportunity to play Balmoral yet, but hope to soon. People who have played it say that the course is in good shape. I now John Young has been making some great improvements and has some plans in store for more improvements this year and down the road a year of two. We'll talk more about those improvements in a future column!
The Svingen, Hagstrom, Karkela, Cline and Dirks Law Office hosted their annual Senior Student Athlete of the Week Banquet at Thumper Pond on Sunday night. 58 student-athletes from the nine schools in their service area were honored. These area seniors have been featured in radio interviews over the last several months on KBRF AM in Fergus Falls and KPRW FM in Perham. The law firm has been hosting this tremendous event, recognizing senior athletes for their academic excellence while participating in a varsity sport, for four years now. Elmer's Texas Barbecue catered the meal for the third straight year. I get a lot of comments from coaches, athletic directors, parents and students about this event. It is done up right! I'll be putting some pictures and related stories on the website in the next couple of days.
|Monday, April 21, 2003|
|Craigs Corner 4/21/03 - 4/27/03|
|FRIDAY, April 23rd, 2003|
Butch Benson, who has been the Fergus Falls Parks and Recreation Director for the past 24 years is retiring. Benson's last day on the job is Friday, May 2nd.
Before coming to Fergus Falls, Benson served in the same position for eight years in Huron, South Dakota. South Dakota is his home state. He has done a lot for the city of Fergus Falls over the years. He was instrumental in improving the city parks and overseeing the upkeep of those parks, which have added so much to Fergus Falls, plus the construction of new softball, baseball and soccer fields at DeLagoon Park have taken place during his watch. Butch is going to join me on Talkin' Sports on Friday, May 2nd at 7:20 a.m. on KBRF AM 1250. We'll have a good time visiting about the past 24 years and what Butch will be doing in retirement. Hope you can listen in and in the meantime, if you see Butch around be sure to thank him and wish him well in his retirement.
Zach Walters be boxing Gerald Shelton of St. Paul at the St. Paul Armory tonight. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the fights will start at seven o'clock. It is an All-Pro Boxing card slated as 'Future Stars' in pro boxing. Tickets are available at the door ($25 gen adm./$50 ringside). Zach is 6-0-0 with 3 KOs.
Justin Arneson had surgery on his left wrist, removing some damaged tissue, and will spend the next month re-habbing the injury. Everything went well during the surgery on Monday and Arne should be able to bounce back quickly. He will head back to Florida on Sunday and rejoin the Gulf Coast League Twins to begin a rehab program. He expects to be assigned to Elizabethton, Tennessee or Quad Cities, Iowa after he completes his rehabilitation.
What a great NBA playoff game!! The Wolves stunned the Lakers 114-110 in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in their best of 7 series. Now, I'm not a big NBA fan, but when the playoffs roll around, I do watch with a lot more interest. With the T'Wolves involved and playing some tough basketball, I'll be even more interested. The most impressive thing about the win last night (this morning?) was the fact that KG fouled out and wasn't involved in the OT period and the Wolves still won. Troy Hudson and Marc Jackson were tremendous in the overtime. Hudson scored 27 points and made all 8 of his free throws on the night and Jackson added 12 points and 8 rebounds, making 4 of 5 foul shots. The Wolves were 24 of 26 from the free throw line. Garnett had a monster night before fouling out on the first series of overtime. He scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. They did what they had to do, took a game in L.A. How about 2? We'll have to wait until Sunday afternoon for that one.
WEDNESDAY, April 21st, 2003
There's a new look to the restaurant area at Pebble Lake Golf Club. Putter's Bar & Grill is officially open for business. A Grand Opening celebration is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 25th.
Brenda Knutson is the new owner/operator of the restaurant and bar. She will also be in charge of the beverage carts that make the rounds throughout the day at the golf course. Putter's will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day of the summer. They are going to offer a daily 'Burger and a Bucket' special from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., a perfect way to spend your lunch hour. Brenda already has several special occasions booked for the summer. The change will be a welcome one. The old restaurant and bar area was looking pretty worn and you won't recognize the place with all of the refurbishing that has been done! Several prizes will be given away during the Grand Opening on Friday night, including two grills, golf packages, cart packages and the grand prize, a set of Callaway X-16 irons. Mark it on the calendar and bring an appettite to sample many of the menu items.
What a great game for the Minnesota Wild last night! Manny Fernandez was absolutely incredible!! Andrew Brunette made a great rush to the net to score the overtime game winner, but answer me this ... what happend to the Colorado defense on that play? Brunette had a free pass through three Avalanche players before getting to the net. I was shocked that nobody took the body on that play. You have to challenge a guy in that situation and the Avs didn't. Patrick Roy is probably miffed, and he should be.
Now, it's on to Vancouver for the first game of their best of seven second round series against the Canucks. Isn't this fun!?!?!?!?
KG had his best playoff game ever and the result was a resounding T'Wolves win over the Lakers in game two at Target Center. What an unlikely and impressive turnaround from game one. The question is, can Minnesota take at least one game in L.A.? Stay tuned.
TUESDAY, April 20th, 2003
The Fergus Falls Ducks Unlimited Chapter is once again hosting "The Worlds Largest Green Wing Event", the annual Green Wing Duck Fair at the West Otter Tail County Fairgrounds from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 26th.
Over $5,000.00 in prizes will be given away during the event and several special attractions will be featured. The cost is only ten dollars per child. This is a great opportunity for the kids and the Fergus Falls Ducks Unlimited members are to be applauded for putting on the best Green Wing event in the world. Many other chapters have patterned their Green Wing event after the one in Fergus Falls. That's a sure sign that you're doing something right.
|Tuesday, April 15, 2003|
|Craigs Corner 04/14/03 - 04/20/03|
|Saturday, April 19th, 2003|
The Wild have survived an elimination game in Denver. An impressive performance by the underdogs from Minnesota! Manny Fernandez was tremendous and now the Wild get to come home to try to even the series at 3-3.
There's nothing like playoff hockey! It is as exciting as it gets. I love the NCAA hockey tournament, which Minnesota won for the second straight time. I love high school tournament action and I love the NHL Playoffs. The pace never seems to let up. The action is intense. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't really come back to being a big NHL fan since the North Stars left. I grew up as a North Stars fan and attended many, many games over the years, including several playoff games. Saw some great battles between the North Stars and Chicago and the North Stars and Edmonton through the 80's. It was great hockey. I turned down $100.00 per ticket for a couple of playoff games with the Black Hawks. It was a tough ticket and once you had them ... you used them!! Without the NHL in Minnesota, it was tough to be a pro hockey fan and once the Wild came to town, I didn't get behind them right away. I'm still not what I would call a Wild fan, in the sense that I am a Twins fan. I want the Wild to do well and I'll watch them, if it's convenient. Perhaps having them in the playoffs for the first time will be just what I need, and maybe some other old North Stars fans like me, to get back into being a big NHL fan. At any rate, it's been fun to see them succeed this year and who knows, maybe they have new life after their performance today!! Anything can happen at playoff time. GO WILD!
The Spartan baseball team has already been outdoors more this spring than they were all of last season. They have played some good baseball and were 10-5 through their first fifteen games. Their team ERA is an impressive 2.29 and seven different pitchers have wins. Wade Reichmann is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA to lead the team, having thrown 26 innings. Brandon Goltz as a 0.93 ERA in five appearances, four of them in relief, and is 1-0. Lucas Fischer is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA in three games and Aaron Welle has appeared in six games, five as a reliever, compiling an ERA of 1.17. Spartan pitchers have struck out 120 batters in 104 innings and walked 53. Opposing teams have scored only 68 runs, 34 of which have been earned.
At the plate, the Spartans aren't as explosive as they have been the last few years, but they have been productive. They are hitting .295 as a team and have scored 111 runs. Of their 120 hits, only 19 have gone for extra bases with just four leaving the yard. Charlie Woida and Bill Nelson each have two roundtrippers. Woida's 11 runs batted in leads the team. Benji Kieffer, the lead off hitter has scored 20 times. The Spartans do run, having recorded 31 steals, led by Kieffer's 7. Ten different Spartans have recorded a stolen base. They are a good contact team having struck out only 82 times. They have also drawn 66 walks. Kieffer is hitting .436, followed by Woida at .396, Ryan Hendrickson at .386, Brad Bonk at .342 and Dusty Christenson at .316.
FFCC is the host site for the Region XIII Baseball Tournament May 9th, 10th and 11th. The Spartans need to be one of the top two teams in their division by the end of their division schedule on May 4th to qualify for the double elimination tournament. More on the tournament as the dates approach. Check the FFCC baseball schedule on www.craigolsonsports.com and get out to see the "Hustling Spartans". They are a fun team to watch.
Wednesday, April 16th, 2003
Today is the day that high school seniors can declare their intent to play college basketball. A couple of area seniors have made that decision public.
Fergus Falls High School guard Matt Draxten has decided on the U of M, Crookston after visiting Bethel and Valley City State University.
Matt was the recipient of the Bud Kilde award as the Otters MVP this year. Draxten averaged 10.9 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game his senior year. He will be pursing a business degree in college. Crookston has a new head coach, Jeff Oseth. Oseth, was the interim head coach this past season and was elevated to full time head coach recently. He replaced long time Crookston coach Gary Senske, who once coached the Underwood High School boys basketball team. Senske retired at the end of the 2001-2002 season.
Dave Retzlaff has announced that Jon Botz, 6-foot-6-inch post player from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School will play for the Spartans next season. Botz, a two-time All-Conference selection, averaged 15.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He was named to the 2003 State All-Tournament team after leading the Storm to a 2nd place finish in Class 3A. Botz also participated in the Minnesota All-Star games this spring.
Former NDSU and FFCC place kicker Luke Draxten has decided to attend Concordia College in Moorhead and will kick for the Cobbers football team next season. Luke has three years of eligibility remaining after spending a redshirt season at NDSU and a year at FFCC.
Monday, April 14th, 2003
This is a big week around our house. My son Ben has a birthday, his 18th. My wife has a birthday, her ---- whoops, almost blew that one! Plus, the high school golf season gets underway, which means a lot of excitement around the house for the next couple of months.
Many of you have children involved as a member of a sports team or an individual sport. You know the commitment that goes into that particular sport when it is in season. Commitment by the family member personally involved of course, but commitment by the entire family, too. Having children involved in activities, athletic or otherwise, makes an impact on the whole family. It's exciting, it's unpredictable, it makes for interesting conversation, it's nerve wracking, it's enjoyable, it's many different things to different members of the family.
As Ben embarks on his final (is that possible) season of high school golf, I can't wait to watch him compete and watch his team, the Otters, attempt to challenge for a section championship, in what is a very tough section once again. I can't wait to see the improvements in his game. I believe there will be many. He has worked hard throughout the last year to improve his game in many areas. I can't wait to get out on the beautiful golf courses these kids get to compete on. Thank you to all the clubs and pros who make it possible for the high school kids to play their courses. What a thrill! I can't wait for a lot of things surrounding his senior season of Otter golf. And yet ... I can wait. I don't want to see this experience come to an end for him ... or for me! Being a parent of a high school athlete can be full of excitement, joy, frustration and many other emotions.
Excitement for the opportunities presented to the kids through involvement in athletics and the anticipation of each of those opportunities.
Joy when you see their hard work at improving their game pay off with a personal best score, or more consistent play from round to round, or a lower score at a course than the last time they played it, or the smile when they drain that long birdie putt.
The frustration of trying your hardest but just coming up short, of playing golf in 13-above wind chills during a Minnesota April, of not being able to play for a few meets because you didn't live up to the academic requirements to remain eligible.
When Ben was an eighth-grader he wanted to try out for the high school golf team. He went and talked to then coach Roger Johnson and made the team. He actually got to play in 3 meets that year. He played in most of the meets his freshman year and has been penciled in to every meet since his sophomore year. He played number one for all but a couple of meets last year, meaning he had the experience of playing with other teams number one golfers, pushing his game and his mental approach to a higher level. He has had the opportunity to play golf with some very good Fergus Falls golfers over the years he has been involved in varsity golf. Pat Tuel, Kevin Ackley, Dustin Harris, John Ouren ... just a few who come to mind off the top of my head. Now, it's his turn to finish his varsity golf career at FFHS. His senior year. A year with hopes and expectations. But, no matter what happens, it's another year of opportunities to compete and try to accomplish great things in the arena presented to him. What a challenge!!! What a thrill!!! I have no doubt that through his involvement in high school golf, Ben has matured more quickly in some areas of his life, has learned much about himself and others, and has seen his love for a game he started when he was 10 or 11 years old grow to a point where he enjoys it like nothing else.
There is a lot of pressure applied to student-athletes these days, peer pressure, coach pressure, parent pressure, self pressure, cultural pressure. My message to Ben and his teammates and to all of those great kids competing in a sport is this: RELAX, FOCUS, HAVE A SOLID WORK ETHIC, BE A TEAM PLAYER, PLAY HARD & HAVE FUN!!!!!!
I know I'm going to try to have as much fun as possible watching Ben and all of the other athletes compete, especially the seniors, who need to step back and realize what they are experiencing before it passes them by. Do your best, shoot for the moon, but enjoy the journey. These are the opportunities and experiences you will treasure your entire life. Make the most of them.
Parents, be an encouragement for your kids as they compete, support them, their teammates, their opponents, their coaches. Thank the people who make it possible for them to compete. Don't get so wrapped up in winning that it becomes a stressful time of your life. Parents also need to step back and realize that these are precious times for them in the lives of their children. Don't be a hinderance to them. Be there to listen, advise, support and encourage. You need to make the most of it, too, because these are also some of the times that will be treasured by you, forever.
I want to thank a few people who have been supportive of Ben through his years in golf. His coach, Ben Jurgens, his Pine-to-Palm caddie (and a very popular teacher and coach with the kids) John Tufte, golf pro Brock Swanson and all of you who have played with him for a round or two at Pebble. Many times people have told me they played with my son the other day. Thanks for the words of encouragement to him and to me! Good Luck this season Ben, and enjoy your 18th Birthday on Thursday! GO OTTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|Sunday, April 6, 2003|
|Craigs Corner 04/07/03 - 04/13/03|
|Thursday, April 10th, 2003|
According to unconfirmed reports, Justin Arneson is headed back to Minnesota for treatment of an injury to his wrist. Arneson is reportedly going to see the Twins medical staff next week. At this time I don't have specific information on the nature of the injury but will report on it when I can confirm this information.
Arneson, who was a member of the State Champion Spartan baseball team last spring, is beginning his second summer in the Minnesota Twins organization. Arneson spent last summer with the Twins Gulf Coast League Rookie League team in Fort Myers, Florida and was scheduled to start this season with them as well. Arne is becoming a switch-hitter and is learning a new position, second base. Let's hope the injury isn't a serious one. More later.
The Twins will be holding Youth Baseball Clinics in 30 communities this summer. The only one in our immediate area in in Ortonville on Friday, July 25th at the Ortonville High School. Clinics are also scheduled for St. Cloud (July 25th), Nisswa (July 26th), Bemidji (July 19th) and Litchfield (July 11th). The three-hour clinics are open to boys and girls ages 6 to 16. I remember taking part in several of the Twins Clinics during the 1960's in Brainerd. Angelo Giuliani, a longtime Twins scout created the program in 1961. More than 800,000 youth have participated in the Youth Clinics through the years.
Master Joe Aguilar's Fergus Falls Tae Kwon Do students participated in the New York Mills Tournament on Saturday. Here are some of the top performances by students in their age groups and belt levels.
First place finishers in Sparring including Taylor Gray, Austin Ewert and Michelle Burris.
First place in Forms went to Taylor Gray, Doug Gray and Christopher Haugrud.
Adam Tietz was first in Breaking.
Carl Aschnewitz placed second in Forms.
Third place in Sparring went to Adam Tietz, Christopher Haugrud and Chase Johanson. Johanson and Ewert were also third in Forms.
Ginger Rapp placed fourth in Sparring and Forms.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2003
Josh Anderson and Kevin Ackley recently completed their sophomore seasons at St. Lawrence University, playing hockey for the Saints. The two former Otters were both honored at the recent awards banquet.
Anderson, will be the first junior to wear the "C" as a Saint captain since 1981. Josh was the sixth leading scorer for the Saints this past season with nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points.
Ackley, who had an outstanding season in goal for St. Lawrence, won the award for Defensive Player of the Year. He was the Rookie of the Year last season. Kevin played goal in 24 games, recording a 9-12-3 record with a very impressive 3.12 Goals Against Average and a .905 save percentage.
Cedar Rapids ousted Topeka in the USHL Playoffs on Sunday. The loss for the ScareCrows ended the first season as a member of that team for former Fergus Falls standout Ryan Miller. Miller had an extremely successful season, scoring 17 goals, adding 15 assists for a total of 32 points in 59 games. Ryan had a plus-minus rating of +8 and tallied five power play goals. He also recorded 51 penalty minutes. The ScareCrows won 36 games, lost 17 and tied 7 on the way to second place in the USHL Western Division, with 79 points. The division winner, Lincoln, had 83 points. Cedar Rapids was second in the East with 61 points (27-26-7).
Monday, April 7th, 2003
Opening weekend was a forgettable one for the Twins. Toronto came in and gave them a good old fashioned whipping. The 103,000 plus fans in attendance over the last three days witnessed some pretty poor baseball by their favorite team.
It's always fun to be a part of opening night and Friday was no different. The Metrodome was packed and noisy, but the Twins bats were silent. Kenny Rogers' Twins debut was weak. Tony Fiore was very hittable in relief, and the Blue Jays had no mercy. What made a bad night of baseball even worse was the traffic trying to get out of downtown Minneapolis. It was as jammed up as I've ever seen it!! Cost us supper at Chi-Chi's. Arrived at 11:02 p.m., two minutes past closing time, for the kitchen anyway. Why do restaurants in the metro area stop serving at 11:00 p.m. on Friday night? I've never been in the restaurant industry, but it sure seems like poor business to close down before midnight in a population area like that. Someone enlighten me on this, okay?
Saturday, Roy Halladay, one of the up and coming young pitching stars in the American League, put the clamps on the Twins for most of the night. We were able to force extra innings, but wasted many opportunities to win the ballgame.
Sunday was awful. So awful that my wife and son and I left early. I never leave early, but it had been a long, frustrating weekend, and we decided to listen to the final couple of innings on the way out of the metro area. I'm glad we did. Brad Radke would have had trouble getting me out on Sunday. It was like batting practice for the 'Jays. Plus, the Twins did nothing offensively. All in all, it was just a bad weekend against a pretty good Toronto team. Give them some credit. The Twins will play a lot of great baseball this summer, but their home start is something I'd just as soon forget. It's important now for them to go on the road and play well. A tall order with the Yankees and Blue Jays on the schedule this week.