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Monday, January 30, 2006
Catching Up
January has been one extremely busy month and February will be quite busy, too.  I have neglected Craig's Corner long enough.  It's time to catch up on so many things!!

I missed the Twins Caravan this year because of Spartan basketball.  As many of you know, I am broadcasting all of the Spartan games over the internet this year and they can be accessed through COSports Radio, a part of www.craigolsonsports.com .  Just click on the COSports Radio link above the main story on the home page and then select the game you desire to listen to from the archives or click on the game being broadcast live.

Anyway, the caravan was once again a great success with nearly 400 people attending at the Bigwood Event Center.  Harmon Killebrew was certainly a big draw.  Michael Cuddyer has become a regular.  Dan Gladden will always be a World Series hero to Twins fans and Fergus Falls gave backup catcher Mike Redmond a friendly welcome.  Once again Lakes Radio will be broadcasting all 162 regular season games and several exhibition games.  The Twins also held their annual TwinsFest over the past weekend with more than 25,000 fans attending.  Twins pitchers and catchers will report to spring training in Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday, February 19.  Their first workout is slated for Monday, February 20.  The balance of the squad will report on Friday, February 24.  Full-squad workouts begin on Saturday, February 25.  For ticket information you can check out www.twinsbaseball.com .

Third Degree Junior Black Belt, Taylor Gray, student of the Master's Martial Arts Academy in Fergus Falls was crowned the "Grand Champion" at the Capital City Tae Kwon Do Invitational in Bismarck, North Dakota earlier this month.  Gray, 13, competed in five categories with over 100 youth competitors for the title of Tournament Grand Champion.  Competitors were awarded points for each position they placed within each individual competition.  Competing in the Junior Black Belt division, Gray placed first in sparring, first in traditional poomse (pattern), first in power kicking, second in weapons poomse and third in board breaking.  This earned him a total of 18 points, more than any other competitor in the tournament.

Former Otters Ryan Miller, Dan Perry, Ben Larson and Kyle Rohlfs are all playing college hockey.  Miller is a junior at Bemidji State University and the Beavers are 13-8-3 and tied for first in the College Hockey America Conference with Alabama-Huntsville, two points ahead of Niagara. 

Miller has scored eight goals, has seven assists and fifteen total points.  He is fourth on the team in goals and fifth in points.  Miller's plus-minus is a plus-ten.  He has 3 power play goals and one game winner.

Perry, a junior at Concordia College in Moorhead, leads the Cobbers with 16 points in 16 games.  He has scored ten goals and assisted on six others.  He has scored 4 power play goals and has two game winners.  The Cobbers are struggling in the MIAC with an 0-8-0 conference mark.  They are 5-11-1 overall.

Larson, a senior defenseman at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, has 2 goals and 7 assists in 19 games.  He has one power play goal and a minus-six, plus-minus rating.

Rohlfs, a sophomore at Gustavus-Adolphus, who is in his second season as a member of the golf team, decided to play hockey this year and the Gusties are 12-4-1 overall and 7-1 in the MIAC, in second place.

Former Battle Lake girls basketball player Tori Ehlert is enjoying a tremendous senior season at Concordia.  Ehlert is averaging 8.8 points per game and leads the Cobbers with 7.1 rebounds per game.  The Cobbers are 14-4 overall and 6-1 in the MIAC. 

Another former Little Eight Conference athlete, Jenna Freudenberg, a freshman guard from Parkers Prairie, is averaging 5.4 points per game and has started 14 of the 18 games played by the Cobbers.

Two former Spartans, Archie Weatherspoon IV and Andy Parochka, continue to enjoy a very successful season with Mayville State University as they have compiled a 19-3 record.  Archie is averaging 10.6 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.  His is hitting 61% of his field goal attempts and has made 67.7% of his free throws.  Andy has a field goal percentage of 40.9% from 3-point range and has hit 85.7% of his free throws.  He is averaging 7.2 points per game and 2.55 assists per game.

Andrew Haataja, a freshman at NDSU, has a 2-4 record at 184 pounds for the Bison wrestlers.  Haataja is a former Fergus Falls student-athlete.

According to the latest Class A rankings in the Guillotine, several area wrestlers appear.  Barnesville has three wrestlers ranked with junior Kirk Anderson ranked first at 125 pounds, senior Tanner Jorud fifth at 171 and freshman Ian Peppel is eighth at 103 pounds.  Breckenridge junior Spencer Beech is rated sixth at 112 pounds.  Pelican Rapids has a pair of ranked wrestlers with junior Kip Anderson fifth at 125 pounds and junior Dylan Evenson ninth at 215.  West Central Area senior Brady Schneeberger is ranked second at 130 pounds.

Results of the Fergus Falls Elks Lodge #1093 "Hoop Shoot" held on Saturday July 21st are as follows. 
8-9 year old Girls
1st Place - Madison Stumbo (Hitterdal)
2nd Place - Haley Henrickson (Ulen)
8-9 year old Boys
1st Place - Justin McGuire (Fergus Falls)
2nd Place - Dillon Omberg (Hawley)
10-11 year old Girls
1st Place - Veronica Newman (Hawley)
2nd Place - Mackenzie Strand (Pelican Rapids)
10-11 year old Boys
1st Place - James Erickson (Hawley)
2nd Place - Drew Reinertson (Fergus Falls)
12-13 year old Girls
1st Place - Lexi Schultz (Hitterdal)
2nd Place - Ellen Ferry (Underwood)
12-13 year old Boys
1st Place - Eden Beck (Fergus Falls)
2nd Place - Brett Severson (Hawley)
A total of 82 participants took part in the competition with first place finishers advancing to Central District competition.
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Wintry Weather Forces Postponements
The wintry weather that has blown into our area has caused several postponements of athletic events.  Some have already been rescheduled, but most are still in the process of trying to find a date that works for both teams involved.

Mike McCarney, Activities Director at Battle Lake High School, already has rescheduled dates for the girls basketball game against Osakis which will now be played on Saturday, February 18 in Battle Lake with the 'B' game beginning at three o'clock.  The boys game at Parkers Prairie will be made up on Thursday, March 2 with the 'B' game starting at six o'clock.  The wrestling makeup date is tentative but most likely will be in Battle Lake on Monday, January 30, against Osakis.

Fergus Falls A.D., Gary Schuler, has not announced any makeup dates for their boys and girls hockey games against St. Cloud Tech, their swimming and diving meet with Tech, their girls basketball game with Brainerd, the wrestling match at Brainerd and their gymnastics meet at Moorhead.

Fergus Falls seniors Karin Koenig and Alex Morstad have been selected as the recipients of the Arts, Athletics, and Academics Award for Fergus Falls High School  Karin and Alex were forwarded to the Section 8AA committee for state consideration.

Koenig is a straight A student.  She is involved in National Honor Society.  She also is a member of the Academic All-Start swim team.  She has been a captain and letter winner in girls swimming and is also a participant in track and field.  Her volunteer work includes Church and Special Olympic events.

Morstad is also a straight A student.  He is involved in National Honor Society and peer tutoring.  He has lettered in football and basketball and is a captain in basketball.  He is a member of the band and jazz band.  He also participates in the fall play and the one-act play.  He is involved in volunteer work at the Veterans Home and he participates in church activities and community theatre.

Koenig and Morstad will be among 30 other seniors invited to the Class AAA banquet which will be held on Sunday, March 5 at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd.  Section 8AA will honor these top seniors.  The top boy and girls from the section will advance to state competition.  The overall winner will be selected in March at the state boys basketball tournament.

There will be a Benefit "Lions" Pork Chop Dinner for Curt Olson on Thursday, February 16, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Underwood School Commons.  Curt, an Underwood teacher and assistant football and boys basketball coach, was diagnosed and hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, "French Polio", the week before Christmas.  This Free Will Offering will help Curt and his family with his medical costs.  Donations may be sent to the Underwood School, care of Curt Olson Benefit.
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Hall of Famer Coming to FF
Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew will be accompanying the Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan respresentatives when they stop in Fergus Falls on Wednesday, January 25th.  The 2006 Caravan is sponsored by Lakes Radio, Nelson Dodge GMC, Bigwood Event Center and Z103 Bar and Grill.  The event will begin at six p.m. at the Bigwood Event Center with all proceeds going to benefit the Fergus Falls Community Food Shelf.

As you might imagine, tickets are going quite rapidly for this event.  Killebrew is one of the most popular athletes the state has ever seen.  Joining Harmon will be current Twins players Michael Cuddyer, who has become a Fergus Falls area favorite due to previous caravan appearances, and backup catcher Mike Redmond.  Former player, now radio broadcaster, Dan Gladden is also a part of the group coming to Fergus Falls.

Tickets are available in advance at Lakes Radio and Nelson Dodge GMC for six dollars apiece.  They will be made available the day of the event for seven dollars each.  Ticket price includes a meal and a program.  Last year, such a large turnout resulted in some people not getting lunch!  Everyone who wanted to get in to the program got in, but once the food ran out, that was it.  It is definitely best to get your ticket in advance, even if you aren't sure that you'll be going.  The worst that can happen is that you wind up donating to the Food Shelf!

Fans are also asked to please bring a non-perishable food item and help us fill a Dodge Caravan with goods for the Food Shelf.  This is not required for admittance, but we'd love to see that Dodge Caravan plum full of food items!

Participating businesses include Vikings Coca-Cola, Barrel-O-Fun, Service Food, Ag Country Farm Cred Service, Cass Clay Creamery, Inc., and Sunmart/Sara Lee Bakery.

The Fergus Falls Elks Lodge #1093 annual Hoop Shoot competition is scheduled for Saturday, January 21st.  Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Fergus Falls Senior High School gymnasium.  Boys and girls ages 8 to 13 are eligible to compete.  Trophies will be awarded to first and second place winners in each category.  Winners will advance to Wadena to compete at the District level on Saturday, January 28th.

Fergus Falls Youth Traveling Soccer registration is coming to the Middle School commons on Monday, January 30th and Monday, February 6th.  Hours of registrtion will be from 6 to 8 p.m. each night.  Participants need to bring a current photo and a parent's signature is required on the registration form.  Cost is $115 for the season, $65 for 9 and 10 year olds.  Soccer uniforms can be ordered at registration.  Practices and games will start in May.  Please use the North door for access to the soccer registration.

Spartan Men's basketball volunteer assistant Rick Odden always told me he would quit when Dave Retzlaff retired.  Now that Retz has announced his retirement from coaching, Rick, who along with his wife Becky became grandparents last summer, has decided the time is right to step away from his 16 years with the program.

"Rick and his family have been a blessing to this program," said Retzlaff.  "They have been a second family to many of the players through the years.  Rick has given me wonderful support, invaluable advice, loyalty, and someone to share many wonderful times with.  Rick and Becky have touched many lives and certainly have touched Deb and mine throughout these basketball years.  My gratitude to Rick will be unending for the great contributions he has made to help make Spartan basketball the championship program it has been over the years."

I would just like to add my thanks to Coach 'O' for all the help he has provided to me through the years I have been fortunate enough to follow the Spartans.  He has been a great traveling companion and is a very caring individual.  I know he and Becky are digging this grandparent thing!!!  Best wishes Rick and it would sure be fun to take one more trip to New York!
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, January 2, 2006
Back Up and Running
Well, 2005 ended with some frustration, but we are up and running as we enter 2006 with lots of excitement in store for the new year.  Thanks for the many, many e-mails while we were experiencing some critical issues with our server.  The down side to all these tremendous technical advancements is the fact that every now and then there is something out of our control that knocks us for a loop.  Thankfully, there are people out there who know how to get to the bottom of those issues and get things back to where they need to be! 

Apologies to those of you who were unable to enter the NFL Prediction Contest due to the fact that you couldn't access the site late in the past week.  I know it was probably as frustrating for you as it was for me!!  I'm just thankful that no data was lost and that all of the MWSPN sites are fully restored and functioning better and faster than ever!  We have a new server in place that will provide us with even better access to all of the valuable information we share with our visitors.  Thanks for your continued support of www.craigolsonsports.com, www.lakesareasports.com and www.pheasantcountrysports.com , along with all of the affiliated MWSPN sites.  We appreciate you and look forward to providing up to date coverage of regional sports information in 2006! 
Remember, we will be doing weekly NFL contests throughout the Super Bowl, so enter now!!  You can also stop by Olson Oil Company in Fergus Falls and enter a second time each week!

Our Internet coverage of Spartan Basketball continues with a very busy month in January, starting with six games this week!  To listen to live broadcasts just click on the COSports Radio link on the home page of www.craigolsonsports.com and select from the list of Spartan Women's and Men's games as game time arrives.  To listen to previous games, click on the archive file of the specific game you wish to hear.  Thanks to those of you who have been listening to the games in November and December and for the many e-mails we have received concerning the internet broadcasts.  Please share the information with your friends and and Spartan fans you are in contact with!!!  This has been a great experience for us and with our working relationship with MSCTC, we are looking at possibly adding more events in the future.  Your feedback is a necessary part of this ongoing program.  Please e-mail me at [email protected] with any questions or comments.

A Fergus Falls J.O. Volleyball registration and informational meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Fergus Falls High School cafeteria.  Any girls interested may sign up at that time. 

Mike Tice is history.  The Vikings new ownership group has decided to head in a different direction and I think that is a good thing.  Tice got the team to the playoffs only once in his four years at the helm and there were so many other issues that weighed against him including the Super Bowl ticket scalping scandal involving Tice and his coaching staff, and of course the recent off field troubles.  I just think it's time for a fresh start and Zygi Wilf will make a solid decision on Tice's replacement.  I think he's a class guy who wants to run a class organization and I think he will be committed to building a team that can be a Super Bowl contender.

Tice isn't the only one who was fired after the final weekend of the NFL season.  Mike Sherman is out in Green Bay, Jim Haslett was let go in New Orleans, Dom Capers in Houston and Mke Martz in St. Louis.  Add to that list, Steve Mariucci who was fired by the Detroit Lions earlier this season.

According to a story from www.iwon.com sports, the list of potential successors in all cases starts with two successful college coaches with NFL experience: Notre Dame's Charlie Weis and Southern California's Pete Carroll, both of whom got contract extensions at their schools. Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, also a former NFL assistant, is likely to get overtures, and so is Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who could be one of the candidates to replace Dick Vermeil, who retired in Kansas City.

The leading candidates among NFL assistants include Gregg Williams, Washington's assistant head coach for defense, who is a former head coach in Buffalo, along with defensive coordinators Ron Rivera of Chicago and Tim Lewis of the New York Giants and offensive coordinator Brad Childress of Philadelphia.

Williams, Rivera and Lewis are all in the playoffs with their teams, meaning they can be interviewed by teams with vacancies during a short window, but not hired until their teams are eliminated.

If their teams reach the Super Bowl, that means they will have to wait until after the game on Feb. 5, a delay that in the past kept such coaches as Weis and Cleveland's Romeo Crennel, who came from New England; Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis (Baltimore); and Carolina's John Fox (Giants) on the market for an extra year.

Jim Fassel, the former Giants head coach and current offensive coordinator in Baltimore, is being pushed for a head coaching job by Ravens coach, Brian Billick. Billick was told last week he would return despite a disappointing season by his team, which finished 6-10 and 0-8 on the road.

Posted By Craig Olson
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