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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Some Things that May Interest You
The Twins are into the final week of the regular season. They begin the playoffs in one week. They will either have the home field advantage in a series against the wild card team or be on the road against the New York Yankees.

Oakland is leading the AL West by just a game heading into the final week and they are a game-and-a-half behind the Twins in the chase for the home field advantage in the ALDS. The Angels are a full game behind Oakland and Texas is two-and-a-half out after Anaheim beat the Rangers 5-3 Monday night and Oakland nipped Seattle. Boston has a one game lead on Anaheim in the wild card race. If the season ended today, the Twins would play a best of five series against Boston and the Yankees would play the A's.

Who would you rather see the Twins play first? I'd go with Boston. We match up pitching wise with them and not many teams can say that. In fact, the Twins have the better bullpen so would get a slight advantage on the mound. The Red Sox can score runs and have some good power, but the Twins can also manufacture runs and have more power than in previous years from many different sources. Defensively, it's no contest. The Twins are light years ahead of the Bosox. Perhaps the best reason I can give you for wanting to play Boston in the first round is this ... maybe, just maybe, Oakland (or Anaheim) could eliminate the Yankees in a short series. The A's with Zito, Mulder, Hudson and Harden as their starting pitchers could do it. The Yankees are not the Yankees of previous years, expecially on the mound. I really like the Twins chances. They just need to keep everyone healthy over the next week.

The Gopher football team is sure playing some exciting football early on and they are fun to watch. Their win over Northwestern in the Big Ten opener was impressive. They are currently ranked 18th in the Division I College Football Poll. They will be in every game and have one of the top running attacks in the nation.

Several former high school football players from around the region are now participating at the collegiate level and we like to keep you posted on as many as we can throughout the season. I always hear a lot about it when we pass along an update on area student athletes so here is the latest.

Derek Jensen and Ryan Jensen, former Underwood players, are at St. Cloud State University. Derek, a starting linebacker, is second on the team in tackles through the first five games, all victories for the Huskies. He had five tackles in their 38-17 win over Minnesota State, Mankato last Saturday. Ryan is seeing limited playing time as a wide receiver and hasn't made a reception yet.

Sean Belmont from Ottertail Central is the starting quarterback for Minnesota State, Moorhead. He has completed 31-of-73 passes for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. A couple of other former Bulldogs are also with the Dragons. Phil Risbrudt is a starting offensive tackle and Micah Tysver is an outside linebacker. Tysver has two interceptions already this season.

Former Bulldog running back Travis Christensen is a senior at Concordia College in Moorhead. In Saturday's 40-15 win over Carleton, Christensen had 30 yards rushing and scored on a five yard run. Luke Draxten, a Fergus Falls High School graduate, is kicking off for the Cobbers and sharing the punting duties.

Former Otter Zach Stafford plays on the defensive line for Bemidji State. The Beavers are 4-1 and just put up their seventh consecutive game of scoring 40 or more points, the longest streak of its kind in NCAA Division II college football. Against Wisconsin-River Falls on September 18, Stafford had nine tackles and forced a fumble.

Another former Otter, Trent Scheidecker is a starting defensive back for Duluth. Scheidecker has two interceptions and sixteen tackles in the first five games and the Bulldogs are 3-2. Scheidecker has also broken up five passes and blocked a kick. Freshman Luke Schalekamp is being red shirted this season at UMD.

Bethel College is 3-1 to start the season and Kirby Carr is off to a solid start at linebacker. Carr had a sack and five tackles in the Royals 21-6 win over Hamline on Saturday. Kirby has made 22 tackles in the first four games and did score a two point conversion. His younger brother Brandon Carr is playing some wide receiver and some defensive back. He has caught one pass for 30 yards and has an interception. Jared Bangs has played a few downs at running back and has gained sixteen yards on three carries. He also has punted once for fifty yards. Former Hillcrest and Spartan receiver Luke Hansen is also at Bethel but hasn't caught a pass yet in his freshman season.

The Section 8AAAA Power Point Standings in high school football show Rocori and Sartell atop the pile with 37 points, Detroit Lakes next with 30, Fergus Falls has 29, Alexandria 23, Thief River Falls 19, Little Falls 12 and Sauk Rapids-Rice 5. Teams receive ten points for a win over a 5A team, nine points for a win over a 4A team, eight points for a win over a 3A team, seven points for a win over a 2A team, one point for a loss to a 4A team and two points for a loss to a 5A team. Fergus Falls plays at Alexandria this Friday night.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Homecoming Week
It's homecoming week at several area high schools. Festivities abound throughout the week with the excitement building as Friday night football games approach. More on this fun filled week later in this column, but first a couple of reminders.

The newly formed Hillcrest Football Booster Club invites the public to attend a post game meal following the Hillcrest versus Climax/Fisher game on Friday at HLA. The cost is five dollars to enjoy a footlong hot dog, beans, chips, cookies and drink. All proceeds will go to the Hillcrest Footbal Booster Club to support the varsity, JV, "C" squad and Junior High football programs at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

The Fergus Falls Quarterback Club is also holding a Barbecue feed in the upper parking lot at the Middle School from 5:00 to 6:30 on Friday. All football fans are encouraged to attend this fund raising event to support Fergus Falls football.

Freshman middle hitter Kerri Holtz from Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, is the Southern Division Player of the Week in the Minnesota Community College Conference. Holtz had 11 blocks in the Lady Spartans win against Northland last week.
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Honoring Jenny
Tonight (Tuesday) Jenny (Gronner) Roisum will be honored by Underwood sports fans when they host "Jenny Gronner-Roisum night at the volleyball match between the Rockets and Parkers Prairie.

The Division II All-American at NDSU and All-State high school player will be recognized for her athletic accomplishments and will be presented with a placque by Underwood coach Diane Ross. A placque will also be placed in the Underwood trophy case.

Jenny is now coaching the volleyball program at Battle Lake High School. She was the only player in Underwood volleyball history to record over 1,000 kills in her career until Liz Glesne broke her mark last season, however, current senior standout Ashley Samuelson is closing in on that number, needing only sixteen more kills to join them in that elite class.

A good win for the Vikings after a slow start. Bad news though as defensive back Kenny Irvin is out for the year with a ruptured achilles tendon. He suffered the injury during warmups prior to kickoff on Sunday. Michael Bennett's knee is feeling better after a work out but Mike Tice is probably not going to play him against Philadelphia on Monday night.

The Twins magic number is nine after they completed a sweep of the Tigers with a 5-3 win last night in Detroit behind another beauty of a pitching performance by Brad Radke. Any combination of Twins wins and Chicago White Sox losses totalling 9 will put the Twins into the playoffs.
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, September 9, 2004
Great to be Back into the Routine
It always feels good to get the school year underway and get all the fall sports seasons rolling. We are going to have several exciting teams to follow and some exceptional student athletes to follow once again this year.

I'm sure you have noticed the new look to my website. The Midwest Sports Network is now five websites strong and growing. We are interconnected so you can surf through over fifty high school and college sports pages with literally thousands and thousands of pages of information on each team at each school. Take some time in the next few days to sit down and travel through the network. You'll see what I mean!!

One of the great things about doing what I do is meeting and working with the coaches and AD's and of course the student athletes. It's exciting to get to know them and to see the passion they have for their sport and their job. I'd like to congratulate one of the best ... Coach Gary Schuler, the Activities Director at Fergus Falls High School, and his wife Shawna have become grandparents when Andrew Lee Schuler came into the world!! Andrew is the son of Trek Schuler and his bride. Congratulations on the new arrival! Trek is an athletic trainer in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

The Little Eight Volleyball conference has selected two players for honors this week. Selected as Player of the week for week one is Ashley Samuelson of the Underwood Rockets. Ashley has accumulated the following stats since the start of the season. 39-of-43 serving with 5 aces, 19-of-19 on serve receptions, 74-of-75 setting with 21 assists and a .280 assist percentage, 85-of-96 attacks with 45 kills, 19-of-22 digging and 36-of-36 blocking with 10 ace blocks. Ashley is a hitter/setter in the 6-2 offense being employed this year by coach Diane Ross. She is a four year varsity player and is the daugher of Gary and Sue Samuelson.

Player of the week for week two is Tessa Strom of the Brandon-Evansville Chargers. Tessa is 40-for-40 serving and has 55 assists as the setter for the Chargers. She reached a landmark achievement when she recorded her 1,000th assist against Chokio-Alberta last Thursday night. Tessa is a senior and a three year starter for Brandon-Evansville where she plays for her mom, coach Terri Strom. She is the daughter of Todd and Terri Strom. Congratulations to Ashley and Tessa and thanks to conference secretary Mike McCarney for relaying that information to us.

Speaking of Player of the week honors, Free Safety Kadafi Tunsil of the Spartan football team is the Defensive Player of the Week in the MCCC Southern Division. Tunsil made three interceptions with a total of 98 return yards in the Spartans loss to Vermilion on Saturday. He also had a punt return of 12 yards and two kickoff returns for 62 yards. Tunsil is a sophomore from Krop High School in Miami, Florida. The Spartans play their first home game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Northland Community College from Thief River Falls. Both teams have started the season with a pair of losses.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
What Say the Polls?
Everyone loves to look at the polls. Oh, there are those who say, "the pollsters don't know what they're talking about" or "polls don't mean anything" or "I don't look at polls". I don't buy it. People love to see where teams are ranked by the 'experts'. After all it gives us somthing to talk about, right?

Well, with the first games of fall now behind us, the first polls of the season have been released. Here are how some of the area teams fared in the Minnesota High School Football polls.

Moorhead, fresh off a 5A semifinal appearance a year ago, is ranked tenth. The top three teams in 5A are Eden Prairie, Cretin-Derham Hall and Wayzata.

In 4A, Farmington, Northfield and Totino-Grace are one, two, three, with Alexandria tied for eighth with Austin and Detroit Lakes in at number ten. Rocori, Fergus Falls and Sartell, other Section 8AAAA teams, all received votes.

In 3A, Becker is on top, followed by Albany and Delano. Perham is among those teams receiving votes.

Class 2A's top teams are Norwood-Young America, BOLD and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. West Central Area is tied for 9th with the Breck School. Otter Tail Central is receiving votes, but the pollsters better get up to speed with the Bulldogs who are now in 1A.

In Class 1A, Wabasso, Adrian and Springfield are at the top with Browerville, fresh off a one point win over OTC, ranked fifth.

The Hillcrest Comets are ranked sixth in 9-Man. Stephen-Argyle, Verndale and LeRoy-Ostrander are the top three teams in the 9-Man classification. Ulen-Hitterdal and Bertha-Hewitt received votes in the poll.

In boys Class A Cross Country, Perham is ranked number five in the state, up from a pre-season ranking of twelfth. Eveleth-Gilbert is ranked first and Staples-Motley second. Individually, Mike Torchia of Rochester Lourdes is the top-ranked Class A boys runner. Dan Huebsch of Staples-Motley is ranked sixth, Tyler Bjorhus of D-G-F is ninth and Perham's Jordan Menze is twelfth. David Krueger of the Yellowjackets also received votes.

In girls Class A Cross Country, Staples-Motley is on top in the team rankings and Nikki Swenson of Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd is the top-ranked individual. Britney Brenny of Staples-Motley is rated eleventh.

In girls volleyball, the top three teams in 3A are Chaska, Eden Prairie and Eagan. Moorhead received some votes but Perham is nowhere to be found. They will be.

In 2A, Jackson County Central is on top, followed by Renville County West and Kasson-Mantorville. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton is seventh in the poll.

The Underwood Rockets are still rated sixth in Class A. The top three are Bethlehem Academy, Fosston and Minneota.

Former Otter and Hurricane Ryan Olson coached the Moorhead Brewers Amateur Baseball team to the final weekend of the Minnesota State Amateur tournament this year. He sent along this recap of the experience which makes for some enjoyable reading for baseball fans.

We took 3rd place down at the MN state amateur baseball tournament. This was an unbelievable feat in my mind. I’ve waited 10 years to make it to the final weekend of this tournament and now have finally made it. Last weeks match-up against Fergus wasn’t easy with my brother in the other dugout. I think it was harder on my mom than it was on Aaron and me but she got through it. In my 20 so years of organized baseball I’ve never been on a team that has been so enjoyable to play on than the Brewers. We all love coming to the ball park early and staying late. We sit around talking baseball and situations until we are blue in the face. We truly appreciate the game and cherish every minute we get to play.

We had the second oldest team in the tournament by age but we still felt the youngest. We’ve got two former Post #2(Fargo) kids, Mitch Kary and Reed Kittleson, whp serve as our youth and are a major contribution to our team. The rest of the team consists of players that I’ve played with in college at Valley City state or played against during my college years.

We overcame a lot of adversity to finish in 3rd place. We had our starting second baseman and starting shortstop out. Our second baseman took a job in Oregon and our shortstop was in Dallas for a meeting.

The Brewers were led by the pitching of John Anderson who finished 2-1 and Brook Lyter who finished 2-0. John got a key win against Fergus to propel us into the double-elimination round. Chris Clemenson was spectacular at the plate. He tied a state record for RBI with 8 against Melrose the second weekend. He had 8 RBI before the 5th inning. They ended up intentionally walking him his next two at bats.

On Friday, September 3rd, we entered the last weekend undefeated. Our match-up with Blue Earth was not going to be easy. We got the bats going early and took a 4-0 lead in the first. It was capped off with RBI singles by Wade Snyder, former VCSU graduate, and Kirk Jacobs, former University of Mary graduate. We fell apart in the later innings giving up 4 errors that cost us the game. We lost 8-5.

On Saturday, Sept. 4th, we rebounded with a win over Elko. It was a tight game until we blew the game open in the 6th with a RBI single by Mitch Kary and a RBI single by Tom Fuchs. The final score was 5-3.

Sunday, Sept. 5th, game was a rematch from the previous week against Melrose. We knew we’d have to play solid defense and stack on the runs because they were a great hitting team. We got of the gates early with a 3 run lead but they answered in the bottom of the inning. The lead went back in forth until the 4th inning when we put up 6 runs. Dale Dingmann, former University of Mary graduate, got the win pitching 5 innings. Mike Nelson, former Minot State graduate, and Brian Oswalt, former Air Force University graduate, pitched solid in relief. The final score was 16-10.

Our final match-up with Wolf Lake was scheduled for Sunday evening but got postponed to Monday morning. We couldn’t get the bats going on Monday. Wolf Lake beat us 4-1.

We ended the season 31-9. Chris Clemenson, Dale Dingmann and Tom Fuchs were announced as a part of the All-Tournament Team.

Sounds like Ryan enjoyed the summer and I think you'll agree with me that he did an awesome job managing (and filing that report)!

Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, September 4, 2004
NFL Prediction Contest Returns
The NFL Prediction Contest returns for a sixth consecutive year. This year there's a new wrinkle. Olson Oil Company is the exclusive sponsor of the contest and each week participants can enter two different ways.

Contestants can enter by filling in a physical entry form when they visit the Olson Oil Card Express located at 1425 West Lincoln Avenue in Fergus Falls and they can enter online by visiting www.craigolsonsports.com. Each person may enter once online and once with a physical entry, giving you two opportunities to win each week. As with the past years, every entry into the contest will be automatically entered into the cash prize drawing at the end of the year. Weekly winners will receive twenty dollars in cash. Click on the NFL Prediction Contest link on the home page to submit your entry. Entry deadline for week one is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. as there is a Thursday game. Good Luck!!!
Posted By Craig Olson
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