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Monday, September 29, 2003
Craigs Corner 09/28/03 - 10/06/03
Tuesday, September 30th, 2003
Twins 3, Yankees 1. Doesn't that look good?!?! The Twins got great work from their bullpen, tremendous defense and took advantage of many opportunities presented to them in game one in New York.

After the development of a leg cramp sent Johan Santana to the locker room after his fourth inning of work, the bullpen was outstanding. Rick Reed and J.C. Romero did their job and Latroy Hawkins was superb. Eddie Guardado was hit hard by the first three batters he faced but notched the save, thanks in part to the defensive play of the game by Shannon Stewart in left field. One of the best catches I've seen in a key spot in post season play. Cristian Guzman stole a run to get the Twins the lead and the Twins benefited from poor fielding plays by Bernie Williams and Alfonso Soriano in scoring their other two runs. The Twins had many more opportunities but hit into a couple of double plays.

Winning game one in New York, against Mike Mussina (you remember, 20-2 lifetime against Minnesota), is huge. It means that the Yankees will have to win at least once at the Metrodome, twice if the Twins can beat them on Thursday night. I just don't see that happening. I think the Yankees will have trouble beating the Twins once at the dome. Sounds like Santana will be fine for his projected game four start and don't count out Kyle Lohse against Roger Clemens in game three. The crowd and the noise it will make in games three and four will be a major advantage for the Twins, especially if they are looking at a clinching game.

I picked the Twins to win in four and I'm standing by that choice. Here are my other picks. Boston to beat Oakland in five games with the Twins to beat the Red Sox in six games in the American League Championship Series. In the National League, I pick the Cubs over the Braves in five games, the Giants over the Marlins in four and the Cubs to beat the Giants in seven in the NLCS. My World Series pick, Minnesota over Chicago in seven games. Check these on October 26th and see how good (or bad) they actually are.

The Vikings should just rest Daunte Culpepper this week, whether he's ready to go or not. The Vikes have a bye week after this week so why not give him the extra time off and let his back heal completely. It just makes no sense to put him back in a game unless he's totally healthy. The Vikings are 4-0, they have an upper hand in the NFC North and their backup quarterback, Gus Frerrote is a veteran who handled his starting assignment quite well against San Francisco on Sunday. Don't take any chances. Play it smart. Rest Culpepper. The Vikings were just as productive without him in the lineup.

A reminder for Otter football fans. The quarterback club is taking a fan bus to Duluth for the Otters 5:15 p.m. start against Duluth Denfeld. The cost is twenty dollars per person and the bus will leave at 12:15 p.m. from the Middle School tennis courts. To reserve your seat or for more information contact Barb Miller at 739-2193 or Darla Jacobson at 736-2896. The quarterback club has their regular weekly meeting on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms.

Monday, September 29th, 2003
What post season team has the best record in baseball since the all-star break? Yes, that's right, the Minnesota Twins. They have played outstanding baseball in the second half and I believe that moementum will carry over into the 5-game series with the Yanks and the Twins will win it ... not in 5, but in 4.

Yes, I have a slanted take on this series. I am a huge Twins fan and perhaps see things with my heart more than my head sometimes. However, in recent memory, my heart has been right more times than not. Just go back and read some of my Craig's Corner columns from earlier this summer when everyone was extolling the virtues of the mighty White Sox (who still didn't have the team chemistry to put it all together, even with all that power and talent). The Twins have, as the movie said, 'The Right Stuff'. Go back to last years opening round series against the teared Oakland A's and that pitching staff that would just shut down the Twins. Didn't happen. Go back to 1991 when the Twins weren't given much of a shot against the Blue Jays in the ALCS or certainly not against the Braves in the World Series. Go back to 1987 when the Tigers, people said, would probably end the ALCS in 4 or 5 games. Well, the Twins ended it in 5 ... in Detroit. The Cardinals would certainly take care of the Twins in the World Series, they said. No, Twins in seven. The ingredients those Twins teams had are in the makeup of the 2003 bunch, too. That team chemistry, which you can't explain but you can't explain it away either. This club has it. They have made, as they did in each of their other championship seasons, changes along the way. The addition of Shannon Stewart at the top of the order and the insertion of Johan Santana into the starting rotation happened in July, just as the Twins began embarking on their tremendous second half. It's no coincidence that they started playing better ball at that time. These two guys were the catalysts. They will also be the catalysts in the post season.

The Yankees haven't seen this Twins team. I am so sick of hearing, 'the Twins lost 7 times to the Yankees this year'. That was in April. APRIL. The Twins are a much better team, (see Santana and Stewart above), now than they were then. The Yankees have not faced Santana this year. He will tie them up in knots in game one. He will win two games in this series, including the clincher in Game 4 at the Metrodome. Twins 5, Yankees 2 in the opener. More later.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, September 22, 2003
Craigs Corner 9/22/03 - 9/28/03
Friday, September 26th, 2003
Where has this week gone? The Twins have clinched a playoff spot! They get to face the Yankees for the first time ever in the post season. 0-13 over the last two years against the Yanks. Doesn't matter. Wipe it clean. The Twins will win this series.

Remember last year when everyone was saying, the Twins can't beat Oakland. Their pitching is too strong, blah, blah, blah. Well, the Twins did beat Oakland. It was Anaheim that no one could beat last season. This season, I believe the Twins will be in that Anaheim role.

They are playing the best baseball of any team in the Majors since the All-Star break. They have a re-tooled pitching staff since they faced the Yankees early in the year. The Yankees haven't seen Johan Santana as a starter and certainly Brad Radke is pitching his best right now. Plus, Kyle Lohse has been getting the job done. Add the possibility of Eric Milton pitching against New York, the team that traded him in the Chuck Knoblauch deal a few years back, and it makes for an interesting scenario. I know Mike Mussina is 20-2 lifetime against the Twins and that he will pitch the opener. This is a crucial game in a short five-game series. Santana will keep the Twins close and they will surprise everyone with a game one win, just like last year. The way the series is set up, Santana will be ready for game 4 at the Metrodome if necessary. Santana, Radke, Lohse, Santana and ???? if there is a fifth game. Rather than come back with Radke on 3 days rest, I'd give Milton a shot if it comes to that, but I'm getting way ahead of myself! More on this next week.

This is homecoming week in Fergus Falls and the big football game against Detroit Lakes is tonight. It should be a great game and it will go a long ways toward deciding the upper hand in seeding for Section 8AAAA. Both teams lost last week, making this game extremely important for seeding purposes. It is also the last home game of the season for the Otters so get out and watch it!! They were testing the new lights last night and it looks like they'll be debuted at tonights game. What a difference!!

You can help out Casey Kowalski and his family by stopping by for a hot dog, chips and a pop for a dollar prior to the game tonight. Stands will be set up at both entrances to the football stadium. Fans are encouraged to donate additional funds after paying the dollar to help the senior class meet their expenses for the fundraiser. Gary Schuler told me that the kids have done all of the preparation for this event. They really want to do something to help their classmate and several students, representing several different sports teams and other school organizations have rallied behind this cause. It's great to see so many young people working together for something like this. Hats off to Kyle Rohlfs and Josh Mohagen who have kind of headed this project. They'll be serving from 5:30 p.m. to kick-off! Donations have been received from Viking Coca-Cola, Master Bakery, Barrel O' Fun and Big Chief. Be sure to thank them! See you at the game!

Monday, September 22nd, 2003
The Fergus Falls Quarterback Club is sponsoring a benefit meatball supper for Casey Kowalski. The Fergus Falls senior was injured in the Otters game against Bemidji two weeks ago and may be headed home from the hospital as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

It's been a tough ten days for Casey. He has had four surgeries on his leg and has spent time in the intensive care unit. I know he has had several visitors and I'm sure he's looking forward to getting back home and the opportunity to get back into school.

The Quarterback Club has scheduled the benefit supper, to help Casey's family with medical expenses, for Monday, October 13th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at VFW Post 612. Thrivent Financial is providing matching funds up to two-thousand dollars for that dinner. Thanks, Thrivent!! Anyone wishing to help with the supper can contact Barb Miller at 739-2193 or Darla Jacobson at 736-2896.

There is also a fund being established at Security State Bank of Fergus Falls. More details will be forthcoming.

The Quarterback Club is also organizing a fan bus to Duluth for the Fergus Falls football game against Duluth Denfeld. The bus will leave at 12:15 p.m. on October 3rd from the Middle School tennis courts. The cost will be twenty dollars per person. To sign up for the trip call either Barb Miller or Darla Jacobson whose numbers are listed above.

Running back Nick Sorum of Pelican Rapids left the Vikings game against Breckenridge on Friday night with an injury and looks doubtful for Fridays game at Frazee. Junior linebacker Nick Torkildson is out for the season after suffering a broken ankle in practice last Tuesday.

Bethel College and Concordia College clashed on Saturday in MIAC football in Moorhead. The game was of interest to several football fans around this area because it featured former Hillcrest standout John Kilde and former Otters Kirby Carr and Luke Draxten. Another former Hillcrest player, Jake Carr, who also assisted Richard Risbrudt during the Comets state championship season of 2001, is a quarterback/receiver coach for Bethel. I know many fans from Fergus Falls made the trip to Moorhead for the game and saw Bethel win 36-19.

Kilde, a all-conference kick returner last season as a junior, is having a great start to 2003. He caught three passes Saturday for 107 yards and two touchdowns. His TD receptions were of 20 and 77 yards. He has caught four touchdowns in the last two games, catching five balls for 226 yards.

Draxten had three kick-offs of 62, 62 and 65 yards and punted 3 times for an average of 33 yards. He also had one punt blocked which Kirby Carr recovered. Carr also assisted on two tackles from his linebacker spot. My good friend for many years, Craig Holgrimson, has a son, John Holgrimson, who is a senior offensive lineman for the Royals. In fact, he has roomed with Kilde the past two years. Well, Craig told me that in last weeks game he saw Kirby make the hardest hit he's ever seen on a kick return. He said he was watching the return man and all of a sudden he saw this 'blue dart' out of the corner of his eye (Kirby). A moment later the return man was flat on his back after a crushing blow by Carr.

Another area athlete, runnning back Travis Christensen of Otter Tail Central, started in the Cobbers backfield on Saturday. He carried the ball only once for six yards. A high school teammate of his, Sean Belmont, is playing at Minnesota State, Moorhead. Belmont played the entire game on Saturday and had a very good day as the Dragons beat U of M, Crookston 35-20. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 130 yards and ran the football 17 times for 111 yards, including a 37 yard touchdown run. Former West Central Area standout Jake Sternhagen had 17 carries for 63 yards and a TD. Another former Knight, receiver Chad Davison caught just one pass for 8 yards but also hauled in a two-point conversion pass from Belmont. David Drexler, also a former standout for WCA, is quarterbacking Crookston. On Saturday, Drexler was 16-of-29 for 161 yards and a TD pass. It is so much fun to see these former area high school athletes succeeding at the next level. If you know of any that I'm missing, please let me know. I don't want to leave anyone out. I get many comments from people when I refer to former high school athletes in this column.

The Master's Martial Arts Academy in downtown Fergus Falls is proud to announce the promotion of two of its TaeKwonDo students from 1st to 2nd degree Black Belts. Rod Kittelson and Christine Dinsmore, both of Fergus Falls, completed a rigorous exam to successfully complete their promotion to 2nd degree Black Belt. Kittelson was promoted in August and Dinsmore in early September.

The exams, a test of physical and mental preparedness, were conducted by Master Eric Greenquist, a 6th degree in TaeKwonDo, 4th degree in both Kumdo, "The Art of the Sword," and a 4th degree in Hapkido.

The Master's Martial Arts Academy offers professional, certified instruction in the Korean martial arts of TaeKwonDo, Kumbo and Hapkido. They are located at 102 East Lincoln and their phone number is (218)205-6393.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, September 15, 2003
Craigs Corner 9/15/03 - 9/21/03
Friday, September 19th, 2003
Well, the Twins did it. They swept the White Sox and now have a magic number of 7 to clinch the AL Central Division title. A 3 1/2 game lead with 9 games left. Unless there's a total collapse by the team that has played the best baseball in the league since the all-star break, there will be October baseball in Minnesota!

The only time the Twins played in two consecutive post seasons was 1969 and 1970. Those were the first two years of the ALCS and Minnesota lost both times to Baltimore. The Orioles had one of the best pitching staffs in basesball and some of the great players of that era in Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Paul Blair and others. The Twins didn't do too well in those appearances as West Division winners, losing three straight each year.

Of course, last year, Minnesota bumped off Oakland in a thrilling five-game matchup to move into the ALCS opposite eventual World Series winner, Anaheim. Anaheim will not be playing October baseball this season. The rally monkey gets an early vacation.

The Twins have looked very good since the all-star break and you have to give credit where credit is due and I think most of the credit belongs in the following places:

#1-Shannon Stewart. This acquisition may be the best Terry Ryan has ever made. Stewart is a viable candidate and you might go so far as to say, the best candidate for league MVP. His contributions have been nothing short of extraordinary. He has put himself in a position to command an extremely high-dollar contract as a free agent next year. The Twins may not even be in the running for his future services but they are certainly benefitting from the situation this season. He has been, in my opinion, the main catalyst to the second half success. He is a true lead-off hitter and his placement at the top of the lineup card has allowed Ron Gardenhire to put other players, see Luis Rivas and Cristian Guzman, at spots in the order where they can have better success. Stewart hits for average, has some extra-base pop in his bat, runs extremely well, is an above average fielder with a strong arm and brings a positive work ethic and winning attitude to the clubhouse. What more could you want?

#2-The bullpen. It's simply the best in the American League from top to bottom. There are very few weaknesses and there have been very few failures, especially from the two main guys, setup man Latroy Hawkins, who has thrived in this role over the past two years, and closer Eddie Guardado, who just gets saves. Everyday Eddie could be called Automatic Eddie. It has been lights out when those two guys enter the ballgame. J.C. Romero hasn't had a year like he did last year, but he has still been very effective in providing that bridge from starter to setup man. Of course, for the bullpen to be able to show its strength, the starting pitching has to do their job and that leads us to:

#3-The starting pitching. Wow. What a job they have done the past few weeks. This part of the team was supposed to be their strength coming into the season. Everybody knew it. Even with Eric Milton sidelined until last weekend, the starters were still very solid with Brad Radke, Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays, Rick Reed and veteran Kenny Rogers. Well, they started out slowly and didn't get better until after the break and until after the guy who has been their best starter over the second half, Johan Santana, was inserted into the rotation. Santana has not only been the Twins best pitcher since the all-star break but he may be the best starter in the AL since the break. He has been that impressive, with just a couple of exceptions. He pitched tremendously in the win last Wednesday at Chicago which brought the Twins to within a game and setup that great performance on Thursday afternoon by Radke to put the Twins into a tie with the Chisox. In fact, if not for Stewart, Santana would get my vote for team MVP, and there are many candidates. Lohse has been as effective as any of the starters with a team high 20 quality starts. I don't particularly care for that stat (a quality start goes to a starting pitcher who lasts at least six innings and allows 4 runs or less), but as long as it's there, we'll use it. Even with Mays being ineffective when available and hurt much of the year, and Reed being the same way, the Twins, with Santana plugging holes in the rotation and Rogers pitching with a tremendous amount of heart and experience, have managed to see four of their starters record more than eleven wins. Milton looked ready to contribute and will have two starts left in the regular season (both against Detroit ... read 2-0). Look for Milton to be on the post season roster instead of Reed. I'm trying to temper my excitement about a healthy rotation of Radke, Milton, Lohse, Santana and whoever (Rogers?) for 2004. I wouldn't trade that front four for any other teams top four starters, including Oakland, the Yankees, LA, anybody. That rotation could be as good as any the Twins have ever had. The potential is definitely there and these guys are all still very young. They allowed 7 runs to the White Sox in the three game series that just concluded. The mighty, fearsome, powerful White Sox.

#4-Team Chemistry. That intangible in sports. The Twins had it when they won it all in 1987, they had it again in 1991, they had it last year and they have it this year. More so than any other American League team making a run at the World Series. As in '87 and '91, I wouldn't say the Twins have the best overall team heading into the playoffs, but I do think, like those two teams, that they have the best team chemistry. They must drive opposing managers and pitchers nuts with their lineup. It's not a lineup that strikes fear into opposing teams. In fact, teams most likely take the Twins lightly compared to say the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Mariners, yet they find ways to win ballgames. Different heroes every night. Like Jacque Jones last night, or Doug Mientkiewicz in a couple of the games against Chicago, or Guzman in Cleveland, Stewart, Pierzynski, Koskie, the rejuvenated bat of Torii Hunter, rookie Michael Ryan (gotta love him!), and an occasional big fly from Mathew Lecroy. Not only is the lineup one that gets the job done night in and night out, but it's the best fielding lineup in all of baseball. That is another part of this game that means so much. You need to play solid, smart, fundamentally sound defense and the Twins play it better than anyone. A part of team chemistry is heart and desire and that is definitely present with this group of players. They are easy to follow and to cheer for and fans are coming out to show their support as they have in best pennant winning years. The Twins have once again reclaimed their home field advantage after struggling much of the early part of this season at the Metrodome, just ask the White Sox! 113,000 plus fans for the three games in that series and they made an impact! This is going to be playoff baseball at its best.

Okay, there you have it. My four reasons, in much more detail than I had planned on, why the Twins are where they are right now, 3 1/2 games up on the White Sox, 4 1/2 games up on the Royals, a magic number of 7, with only 9 games remaining in the regular season, 7 of which will be played by a team that by the end of next week may have the worst single season record of any team in major league history and the Twins play them 7 times between now and September 28th. Boy, that was a long sentence! Don't tell me to worry about playing the Tigers. This is a bad baseball team. This is a very young baseball team. This is a team the Twins have owned for the past several years and that they will dominate this weekend at the Metrodome as they look to clinch a playoff spot. Don't feed me this line about how the Tigers have a lot to play for. They're playing for pride and to prevent themselves from earning that title of the team with the worst single season record EVER! That line doesn't wash with me. In fact, that pressure alone will be more than they can handle. Add to it the fact that the Twins are in the heat of a pennant race and playing their best baseball of the year, and you have BLOWOUT written all over this series. Yes, I am over confident, but I really believe I have several reasons to feel that way as a Twins fan and a baseball fan! I just hope they can carry the momentum they have built through the next week, clinch the division title by Thursday in Detroit and give the veterans a couple of days off to get ready for their first round playoff opponent, looking to be either the A's or the Red Sox, starting September 30th. Get ready to enjoy a tremendous ride! There's nothing quite like October baseball!! Thanks for hanging with me through this long column about the Twins. As you might be able to tell, I'm a bit juiced up about this. If you'd like to share your comments with me about your feelings on what's going on with the Twins, I'd love to hear from you. In fact, I'll even share parts of your e-mails in this space. So, e-mail me at [email protected]
GO TWINS!

Monday, September 15th, 2003
Some thoughts from a busy weekend of sports as we reach the middle of September and for some teams, the middle of the high school football season.

The Spartans threw 17 passes. I said, the Spartans threw 17 passes. FFCC, now Minnestoa State Community and Technical College, has been reknowned for the Spartan Air Show since coach Lloyd Danzeisen arrived on the scene in 1983. This year, the Spartans have turned into a running team, and an excellent one at that. On Saturday, they must have set many team rushing records. A total of 498 yards on the ground, including 220 yards by freshman quarterback Kurtis Elden. He and Ty Booker have been sharing the QB duties, but Elden definitely ended that with his performance at Thief River Falls as the Spartans beat Northland 58-24. The offense amassed 669 yards and Elden, who ran for 3 passes, also threw for 2. Freshman running back Kyle Potter had his second 100-plus rushing game and Horace Henderson also ran for nearly 80 yards. This is a football team that will be in every game this year and that means they will be in the hunt for the state championship. The Spartans host Itasca at 1:30 Saturday afternoon.

John Kilde and Kirby Carr had huge weekends for the Bethel Royals in their 40-6 win over St. Thomas. Kilde caught a pair of TD passes, one from 54 yards and the other from 65 yards. He also returned six punts for 90 yards and was one-for-one throwing a pass for 34 yards. Carr, playing extensively at linebacker, had 3 quarterback sacks and 4.5 tackles. Look for the Royals to have a great season in the MIAC. They play at Concordia on Saturday. It would be fun to see Kilde and Carr play but I'm going to have to wait for September 27th when they are at Hamline. The Spartans have a bye that week making for a rare Saturday opportunity for me to watch another college game.

Luke Draxten was 2-for-2 on extra point kicks and had a good day on kick-offs Saturday for Concordia as they posted a 24-2 win over Gustavus-Adolphus. Draxten averaged over 55 yards per kick and had one touchback and four kicks inside the five yard line. He also punted five times for a 34-yard average, despite having one blocked which he recovered in his own end zone for a safety.

Moorhead State running back Jake Sternhagen ran the ball 19 times for 81 yards, including a 7-yard TD run but the Dragons lost big to UNO 62-21. Chad Davison caught four passes for 25 yards and Sean Belmont was 1-for-3 throwing the football for 15 yards.

The Vikings weren't very impressive against the 'hapless' Bears. They really dominated the first half but couldn't finish. They scored with under two minutes to play to make things comfortable for the fans, but it was one of those games where you just didn't know if they were going to hold on to win it. They did and they are now 2-0. Chris Carter was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Fame. "All he does is score touchdowns." Famous quote by coach Buddy Ryan when he released Carter from the Eagles and was asked why by the press. Don't you want your players to score TD's?

How about Jamaal Lewis? Should have bid a few more dollars on him at the fantasy football auction. An NFL record 295 yards rushing on 30 carries. He broke Corey Dillon's record, which was set three years ago. Walter Payton, who held the record before Dillon, held it for 23 years. That's one of the most incredible individual performances in a single game by any player in any sport at any time. I still think the most incredible individual performance by a pro athlete was Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in a game.

Eric Milton had a solid performance after being out all season. He has worked hard in his rehab assignment and has been telling the Twins brass for the last few weeks that he was ready. They finally agreed to let him return and it looks like he is indeed ready. Look for him to take a normal turn in the rotation the rest of the regular season and to be named to the post season roster and take a regular spot their as well. Good news for the Twins!! How about Doug Mientkiewicz? He is on a tear!! A nine game hitting streak, a huge homer and two-out RBI single in Sunday's game and his normal great defense. All with a sore wrist. You need your veterans to step up and make the difference this time of year and he is.

Think Mike Ryan has a headache? A fly ball to right center field bounced off his forehead when he lost it in the sun. He's okay and the best thing is, Dustin Mohr caught the ball to record an out. Tough way to get an assist. Remember when a ball bounced off Jose Canseco's head and went over the fence for a home run? That was bizarre.

Twins and White Sox are still tied for first place in the AL Central with KC three-and-a-half games out. A win at Cleveland tonight will give the Twins a half game lead heading into their three game series with the Sox. Remember, the Twins play Detroit 7 times and Cleveland twice in the last two weeks of the season while Chicago has to play three against the Yankees, and 7 against the Royals. Things are looking good if you're a Twins fan.
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Craigs Corner 9/08/03 - 9/14/03
Saturday, September 13th, 2003
Happy Anniversary to my very understanding wife, Sue. It's hard to believe it was 28 years ago we walked down the aisle. No kids in school anymore and grandparents? What happened?

My wife knew what she was getting into. I've told her that for years. But, this isn't what I meant. Radio hours are strange enough and when you're a sportscaster doing over 100 games a year, you are gone a lot of evenings and weekends. You work when the games are played. It has made for many longer than normal work weeks through the years. Now, with the website, it's even worse!! It's 3:34 a.m. now as I write this column, after a busy couple of days of updating over 60 events between www.craigolsonsports.com and www.pheasantcountrysports.com, we are about to leave for Thief River Falls. Sue goes with me to at least one sporting event that I cover every year. It's on our anniversary weekend. We've been to exotic places like Ely, Virginia, International Falls, Duluth, Bemidji and this year, Thief River Falls. I guess I lived there for 9 months when I was between one and two years old. Anyway, Sue is making the trip with me and it will be good to have some time together. She is a part of what I'm doing on the internet. If not for the hours she puts in I don't know how I would get it all done. She does data entry of schedules and rosters at the beginning of each sports season. It is an incredible amount of information that is very tedious work, yet vital to the site. It's extremely important to have schedule information available to our visitors and roster info is very helpful when you're following a number of teams. Her role is very important to the day-to-day operation of the websites and I appreciate her spending some of her free time doing what she does. Maybe someday we'll take an anniversary trip to some really exotic location!?!?!?!? We have talked about repeating our honeymoon trip on our 30th anniversary. That would be fun. We started at the old Met watching the Twins beat the A's, went to Mr. Rushmore, Yellowstone and Colorado over a two week span and really had a great time. We crammed a lot in because you never know when you'll be able to do some of that stuff after you're married and the kids come along. We are both very glad we took a honeymoon trip like that. This one won't be quite as memorable and it will be brief, but at the hectic pace of life these days, it will be a welcome respite!

Hockey players and parents, take note! Hockey registration is a week away. On Friday, September 19th from 6 to 8 p.m. all first year skaters can register at the Fairgrounds Ice Arena. On Saturday, September 20th from 8 to 10 a.m. all first year skaters and Termites and Mites are welcome to register, followed by Squirts, 10U girls, Pee Wee's, 12U girls and Bantams between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. On Monday, September 22nd from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., registration will be open to anyone who could not register at the designated times. Hard to believe hockey is ready to start!

Smith Irrigation, a contractor out of Watertown, South Dakota, has begun installing a new irrigation system at Pebble Lake Golf Course. The present system has the capability of pumping 550 gallons per minute and the new system requires 1,000 gallons per minute. Installing the new system will take approximately 75 to 80 working days with substantial completion of the entire project taking place between now and October 31st, weather permitting, and the balance will be completed in the spring of 2004. During the construction there will be days when certain holes or areas may be difficult to play due to safety of workers or conditions on that hole. Golfers are asked to have patience and to cooperate with the workers during this time. The completion deadline is set for May 15th, 2004. Rick Odden, golf course superintendent, says the long range result of this project will be well worth the inconvenience it creates over the construction period.

In continuing our coverage of area athletes who are competing at the collegiate level, Tanya Hensch is off to a great start at NDSCS. Tanya, a 2003 FFHS graduate had a good night Friday as the Lady Wildcats beat Minot State-Bottineau in four games. Hensch had a team high 15 kills and also contributed 2 blocks in the victory.
Here's an excerpt from the program with a comment from her coach.
"We look for Tanya to be a great powerhouse for the 'Cats. She has tremendous jumping abilities and as she gains experience as a middle hitter she will help us to achieve our goals."
Before last nights action Tanya was leading the Wildcats against conference teams with 36 kills, (2.4 kills/game) and 16 blocks (1.07 blocks/game).

Bethel College opened play last week with a 25-10 win over Whitworth College. Senior John Kilde (Hillcrest Lutheran Academy) led the Royals with 4 receptions for 83 yards including a 70-yard reception in the first quarter. Former Otter Kirby Carr saw action at linebacker in his first game as a Royal. Carr was in on one tackle. You can bet he will be seeing increased playing time every week. Former Hillcrest player and assistand coach Jake Carr is the quarterbacks coach at Bethel and another former Comet, Steve Moline is listed as a fullback on their roster. This week Bethel plays St. Thomas.

Adam Johnson of West Central Area, the HOL football MVP last year, missed last nights game against Agassiz Valley and will miss at least one more game with a sprained MCL knee injury. After his two weeks off, he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

Casey Kowalski, a senior linebacker/fullback for Fergus Falls, was hurt in the first quarter of last nights game with Bemidji. The on field diagnosis was a broken left tibia. I don't have any further information on his injury but will keep you posted.

Hillcrest receiver Ty Crabtree got good news when he went to the hospital in Wadena after having his neck snap backwards during the Comets game with Verndale. The X-rays were negative and although he'll be sore for awhile, he'll be fine. He's a bit upset, however. It seems that when he got to the hospital, the attending nurses and physicians cut his jersey off. It was a new game jersey that Ty had grown attached to. Athletes are like that, you know. Everyone is glad he'll be back on the field in short order. Coach Risbrudt will find him another jersey!!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2003
We will once again be tracking former area high school athletes as they play for collegiate teams in a variety of sports. This past weekend was the opening weekend for many college teams and we got our first look at how some of the area players performed.

Senior Jenny (Gronner) Roisum, former three-sport standout at Underwood High School, had 24 kills, 4 blocks and 10 digs as the tenth-ranked women's volleyball team in Division II, NDSU, defeated number 9 West Texas A & M University and St. Edward's University to win the Division II premier Challenge Silver Bracket volleyball tournament. NDSU is now 7-2 on the season. Earlier this season NDSU head coach Zaundra Bina earned her 350th coaching victory.

At the annual Power Bowl between Concordia and Minnesota State, Moorhead, the Cobbers won 42-28. Former Otter place kicker Luke Draxten made his debut, converting an extra point kick after having his first one blocked. He also punted four times for an average of 35 yards.

Former Ottertail Central running back Travis Christensen ran for 36 yards on 7 carries for Concordia. A couple of other former OTC players also saw playing time for MSUM. Sean Belmont, a sophomore quarterback for the Dragons, completed 5 of 9 passes for 54 yards with one interception and ran the ball twice for five yards. Sophomore offensive tackle Phil Risbrudt and junior outside linebacker Micah Tysver both started for the Dragons. Tysver was in on five tackles in the contest.

Former West Central Area running back Jake Sternhagen ran the ball eight times for 25 yards and former Knights receiver Chad Davison caught seven passes for 134 yards and a TD.

Former Bulldogs, Mike Peyerl (FR/DE), Jeremy Christensen (FR/LB), Grant Seipkes (FR/LB), Aaron Boyum (FR/OT) and Nick Ellenson (SO/CB) are also members of the Cobbers.

Former Knights Jared Olson (FR/OL) and Mike Raths (FR/WR) are also on Concordia while Ryan Giese (JR/DT) is on the Dragons roster.

Former Underwood student-athlete Ben Aakre (SO/CB) is at Concordia.

Two other former Otters join Draxten on the Cobbers. They are Mitch Gabrielson (FR/CB) and Scott Masten (FR/DE).

Pelican Rapids has two players at Concordia, Kris Lindberg (FR/LB) and Wade Thompson (JR/OT), and one at Moorhead, Kirk Peterson (JR/DT). Peterson is also a former Spartan football player, a member of the 2001 MCCC state championship team.

Speaking of the Spartans, Defensive End Octavius Winston was the Southern Division Defensive Player of the Week in the first week of the season when MSCTC beat Hibbing 20-12. Winston, a 6'0" - 290 pound sophomore from Taft High School in Chicago, recorded four tackles and 3.5 quarterback sacks. The Spartan defense recorded seven total QB sacks.

Sophomore hitter Sally Week from Brandon-Evansville High School and Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Fergus Falls was named the MCCC Player of the Week. Sally had 39 kills, attacking 40% in two division wins over Riverland and Minnesota West. Fergus Falls is 9-1 overall, 2-0 in the Southern Division.

Former Spartan and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy standout Cathy Selvig is coaching the 'C' team for the Comets. Selvig is student teaching at Cleveland Elementary School in Fergus Falls.

Former FFHS, FFCC and NDSU basketball star Jason Retzlaff has been hired on at Fergus Falls High School as a health instructor. He replaces Scott Bjerke who has been named as Dean of Students. Bjerke will work with Assistant Principal Gary Schuler in his new capacity.
Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, September 6, 2003
Craigs Corner 9/01/03 - 9/07/03
Saturday, September 7th, 2003
What a week. The finish to the Pot-O-Gold and Labor Day Classic on Monday, the loss of Man's Best Friend, three football games to cover on the radio, the start of the NFL season, the tightening of a pennant race and a multitude of sporting events to cover throughout the week! The rush of fall is here, and I'm glad of it!

I'll start with the Man's Best Friend story and I'll try to keep it short. This is after all, a sports website, but sometimes you just need to talk to someone. Well, since you're reading this column, I've chosen to share this special part of my life with you. Call it therapy, or a tribute, or something that happens when you get over tired and easily emotional. With the business of everyday life, I haven't had much of a chance to grieve this week. Our family lost Jake on Labor Day. Many of you knew Jake or knew of him. He's been frequently mentioned on the radio over the past 13 1/2 years and if you live in Woodland Heights you certainly knew him or had heard of him. Jake was our golden retriever who kind of became the neighborhood dog over his lifetime. He was an extremely friendly dog who seemed to get along with almost everyone. In fact, many times through the years Jake would join many different neighbors for walks around the loop. He also had his rounds to make on a regular basis, visiting various neighbors and wandering off to take shelter at certain safety zones he had discovered during thunderstorms. Some referred to him as the weather dog. If they saw him coming and seeking his safety zone, they knew severe weather was in the near future.

One of Dan's classmates, Ryan Carlson, who has been a close friend of Dan since they were about five years old, figures into one of my favorite stories about Jake's popularity. Ryan grew up with Jake, too. He didn't have much of a chance not too since Jake made it a habit of hanging out with the kids all the time. Watching them play ball, playing ball with them, following them when they took off on their bikes, you know the routine. Well, Ryan's family put their dog in a kennel for their graduation open house. Didn't want to expose the dog to all the strange people coming around that day and didn't want to subject the visitors to having to put up with the dog begging for food or just hanging around them. Just an easier situation all the way around. It just so happened that there was a storm the night before and apparently, Jake sought shelter over at Carlson's. Once the party started, he stayed. Whoops. Bless their hearts, the Carlson's treated him like an invited guest. When I think of it, it's probably fitting that he was there. He spent a lot of time with Ryan. Ryan was also his caretaker on several occasions when we would go out of town. He and Dan penned a song about Jake that their band performs at all their concerts. I have heard about that from many people who have heard them. They all mention "the song about your dog."

Okay, to wrap this long story up, we have known the end was year for a few weeks. In fact, I was really concerned about Jake lasting the summer, especially with the high temperatures we've had, but he came through the hottest times pretty well. He has certainly slowed down and after the 4th of July when those noisy firecrackers and fireworks scared him off twice in a week, he has been around constantly, just not up to his regular self. Things deteriorated rapidly over the weekend (always happens on the weekend), and by Monday morning I called Dr. Dave Nelson, who was willing to come in to euthanize Jake if that's what we wanted to do. Well, if you've been at that decision making point in your life, you know how difficult it is, unless the pet is in obvious pain. Jake wasn't in pain. He was laboring more in his breathing, but was comfortable. He refused food and water the last two days and was content to lay in his spot in the flower garden. Jake knew what was coming and so did we. We decided that we would just make him as comfortable as possible and if he was still with us on Tuesday morning I would take him in. Well, Jake passed away at about 3:30 Monday afternoon, September 1st, peacefully in Sue's flower garden, which she gladly gave up to him this summer. He was where he wanted to be and I'm glad. I was not looking forward to Tuesday morning. Funny isn't it, how dogs or for some people, cats, become a part of the family. We have been fortunate to have two tremendous pets over the past 27 years, both living to be 13 1/2 years old. We kind of refer to our lives as "that was when Hollie was about 8 or 9" or "Jake was just a couple of years old when that happened".

With my busy schedule, I didn't get to see Jake a lot or spend a lot of time with him, but everytime I came home, he was there to greet me. We'd sit for awhile and I'd pet him and talk to him and he'd look at me like he knew what I was saying and lick my hand or my arm and be content. What a great friend. I will miss him a lot, but I am so thankful that we had the pleasure of his company for so many years. Our youngest son, Ben, graduated this past June and Jake had been a part of his life for all but five of his 18 1/2 years. The boys grew up with him and that chapter of life has now closed.

The reason I mentioned I'm glad the business of the fall season is here is twofold. First, I just love following kids in athletics and getting into the routine (although tiring) of broadcasting events and covering them on the website. Second, it's helped me deal with the loss of Jake by keeping busy.

I left home about 4:15 on Monday, 45 minutes after Jake passed away, to snap a few pictures at the Pot-O-Gold and Labor Day Classic at Pebble Lake Golf Club. Got some good pictures, saw some good golf, came home and wrote the stories. Back to the routine. Joel Myhre and Chris Daniels were a good team and they took the Pot-O-Gold. You can go back and read about both tournaments and view the pictures at your leisure, but I just wanted to mention the tournament here. It's a great club tournament. The low 32 handicappers are pair 1 & 32, 2 & 31, 3 & 30, etc., in the Pot-O-Gold and 33-64 are paired in the Labor Day Classic. The teams then compete in match play over a four day span, eventually deciding the champion on Labor Day, when two rounds are played. As teams are eliminated, they continue to follow the teams still playing and by Monday, there's an army of golf carts out following the final groups. You have the faithful friends and family following the consolation finals in both tournaments, a little larger group following the Labor Day Classic championship match, won by Randy Highland and Dean Birkeland, and the largest group following the Pot-O-Gold championship match. It's a lot of fun and a great way to end the competitive season at Pebble Lake. My first year in Fergus Falls was 1981. The first assignment I had was covering the Pot-O-Gold and Labor Day Classic. In fact, we broadcast the championship matches from one of Rick Odden's equipment carts. Doug Gustafson, who was the pro at the time, joined me for the play-by-play. It was fun and we had a lot of people comment on it. For that reason alone, I have always enjoyed following these tournaments. Maybe we can do that again some time. The key is always sponsorship, you know.

While we are on the topic of golf, congratulations to Rona Nitz!! Rona won her third Ladies Club Championship. It went two extra holes. Sharon Boldenow, Darlys Hagge and Rona were all even at 172 through 36 holes, forcing extra holes. Darlys had some trouble on the first playoff hole and was eliminated. On the second playoff hole, Sharon found the sand and had to settle for a double bogie. Rona bogied and won the tournament.

NFL Football is here. I'm sorry Viking fans, I just can't find a ninth win on their schedule. My pick for their record is 8-8. That might be good enough to be in the hund in the weak Central Division (whoops NFC North). I just don't think they have improved themselves enough on defense or special teams. Their kicking game is full of question marks. Offensively, they will have their moments, but the running back situation is a concern. I'm not ready to put the saviour title on Onterrio Smith, who will probably get most of the carries. Dante Culpepper is like that old saying (I don't even know where it comes from) "When he's good, he's very, very good ... but when he's bad, he's horrible." Hopefully he's more good than bad this season. 32 turnovers won't get the job done, even in the weak NFC North. 33% of the people responding to the poll we've had up leading into the season have said 9 wins. 22% say 8, 21% say 10 or 11 and 10% say 7 victories. We shall see. Opening with divisional rivals Green Bay (road), Chicago (home) and Detroit (road) will tell us a lot. The home game against San Francisco the fourth week will also tell us a lot.

September 6th and the Twins are in first place. Two years ago this is where they started their slide and fell out of contention. Last year, they had it all but sewed up. This year, the race is on. Three teams, one playoff spot available. A game-and-a-half separates them with 22 games to play. I still like the Twins chances. I still think the remaining schedule favors them and I really like the fact that we close the season with four games against the Tigers! That improbable win against Anaheim the other day tells me there is definitely hope. When you win games like that, you start to think you are destined to be there. The White Sox can't stay as hot as they have been and I'm still not sold on their 'team chemistry'. The Royals will fade. I have said it for months and I still believe it. I think they are where the Twins were at two years ago. They'll be out of the race first. The Twins have done this with many injuries, the most glaring one to Eric Milton. He's making rehab assignment starts and they're saying he'll be available for the playoffs if not before. What a boost that would be. Come on, jump on you fair weather fans! The pennant race will be an exciting one. It's going to be a great September!
Posted By Craig Olson
Lake Region Healthcare
Cline Jensen P.A.
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