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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Scheel, College Updates, Opening Day

Concordia freshman Abby Scheel is enjoying some early success as a part of the Cobber track and field program.  Scheel, a graduate of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, recorded the ninth highest score in Concordia history when she tallied 2,822 points in the pentathlon at the MIAC Womenís Indoor Track and Field meet on March 4.  Scheel won the long jump (16í 5-1/4Ē), was second in the high jump (4í 11Ē), third in the 55 meter high hurdles (9.68), seventh in the 800 meter run (2:38.06) and tenth in the shot put (26í 1Ē).  Abby is also competing in the triple jump for the Lady Cobbers.

 

Two former Fergus Falls High School athletes are also in the Concordia track and field program.  Nichole Brusven is a sophomore and runs middle distance events, and Paul Shol is a freshman who ran as a part of the 800 meter relay team at the MIAC Indoor meet and is listed as competing in a variety of events.

 

Former Pelican Rapids student athlete Alison Stengrim is a third baseman for the Concordia softball team.  The Lady Cobbers are 5-7 and went 5-5 on their spring trip to Tucson, Arizona.  Stengrim has batted only twice, has one hit, has scored two runs and has a stolen base.

 

Mel Harthun, a junior at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, has appeared in five games for the Dragons.  She has one hit in four at bats, a double, and has knocked in a run.  Harthun played high school ball for Ottertail Central and community college ball for the Spartans of MSCTC in Fergus Falls.

 

Another former OTC player, Kelli Baumgartner, is a junior at Valley City State University.  Baumgartner, an outfielder, has played in all five games this spring for the 4-1 Vikings.  She is hitting .235 (4/17) with a homer, four runs batted in, four runs scored and two stolen bases. The Valley City State University team is ranked eighth in the latest NAIA Region III softball poll.  Region III consists of teams from the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC), Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) and Northland College, Wisconsin, an independent team.

Adam Johnson, the former West Central Area High School athlete, is a sophomore pitcher for St. Johnís University and has a 2-0 record with a 1.86 ERA in four appearances this spring.  He has one start and three relief appearances.  He has allowed only three hits and walked two batters in 9-and-two-thirds innings on the mound.  He has recorded 16 strike outs and opponents have a meager .097 batting average against him.  Johnson is a lefty.


Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters
next fight will be against Teddy Muller of Moline, Illinois at the Wessman Arena in Superior, Wisconsin. Walters, the Minnesota Light Heavyweight Champion, will bring a record of 13-1 (10 KO's) into the fight against the veteran NAMA Light Heavyweight Champion Muller, 17-6-2 (7 KO's).

The six bout professional show begins at 7:00 PM on Saturday, April 22, with doors opening at 6:00 PM. Tickets are now on sale. Ticket prices are $20 for grandstand (upper level) general admission seating, and $35 for floor (lower level) general admission seating. Select VIP table seating is available by calling 218-310-5200.

Okay, I can hardly stand it.  Get me to Opening Day already!  Baseball Fever has taken control.  There is no cure except the start of the regular season.  Thankfully the first game is Sunday night between two of the teams set to battle the Twins in the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians and the defending World Series champs, the Chicago White Sox.  On Monday, several other teams open their seasons and ESPN will be televising a variety of games.  On Tuesday, more of the same and of course, the Twins opener in Toronto.  Johan Santana against Roy Halladay.  Should be a dandy.  For the third straight year I am subscribed to MLB Gameday Audio on MLB.com.  For $14.95 I for the season, I can listen to any and every major league baseball game broadcast through the internet.  I can listen to Vin Scully do the Dodgers or John Miller do the Giants or any other game I desire.  When I am updating my website(s) at all hours, MLB Gameday Audio will be keeping me company.  I have listened to games from noon to past midnight on some days while working on the web.  Yes, I am what you would call a baseball fan.  Remember, fan is short for fanatic and I will admit to being one when it comes to our National Pastime.  Have been since as long as I can remember.  For sure since I listened to Jack Kralickís no-hitter with my grandfather in 1962 and since I attended my first Twins game in 1963, a victory over the Yankees at the old Met.  I have so many great memories of Twins baseball and just baseball in general.  I have written about many of them in this space over the last seven years and will probably write about more of them in the future.  I will be at the Twins home opener against Oakland on April 11.  Itís become a tradition Iíve missed only a couple of times since coming back to Minnesota in 1981.  I hope to never miss another one.

Now, what about the Twins in 2006.  Here are a few observations and opinions for those of you who are interested.  Remember now, these are coming from a die hard Twins fan at the most optimistic time of the year.

The Twins will win the AL Central Division title, the American League pennant, and the World Series.  Laugh if you will, Iíll return the favor in October.  Their pitching rotation is as good as you will find in the American League.  Santana, Brad Radke, Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse, Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano give the Twins a solid rotation.  Each of them will give their team a chance to win every time out. I wouldnít be opposed to seeing them trade Lohse and use Baker and Liriano as the four and five guys, but Iím confident this is the year Lohse becomes a pitcher. Their closer, Joe Nathan, is one of the top three or four in the game.  The rest of their bullpen with Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier and Liriano is better than average and will do a nice job bridging the gap from starter to closer.  Because of their pitching strength, I really believe the Twins can win at playoff time.  Of course, they need to score more runs that they did last year, but I believe they will be much better offensively.  A healthy Shannon Stewart, the addition of Luis Castillo, a more experienced Joe Mauer, a veteran presence in Rondell White, Torii Hunter and Tony Batista, a breakout season from Justin Morneau and contributions from Jason Kubel and Lew Ford in right field and Jason Bartlett, Nick Punto and Juan Castro at shortstop, will provide the needed offensive punch to allow the Twins to win the aforementioned titles.  Michael Cuddyer and Reuben Sierra available to fill in where and when needed gives them some veteran bench strength.  Mike Redmond is a more than capable back-up catcher and Luis Rodriguez gives them some flexibility in the infield.  I like this team Ö a lot!

The Indians will be tough and the White Sox will once again be strong, although itís extremely tough to repeat and I donít see them doing it.  This has become an extremely competitive division and that will also help the Twins in the long run.  They need to beat the teams in their division head to head and I believe they can do that.  Letís get this season rolling.  A fast start is very important as the Twins open with a tough schedule.  At Toronto, at Cleveland, home against the Aís, Yankees and Angels and at the White Sox between April 4 and April 23.  That is a tough stretch of games to start the season and it will be interesting to see how they come through it.  Enjoy following the Twins this season.  I know I will.  Remember, you can hear John Gordon every Wednesday morning on Talkiní Sports at 7:20 a.m. on AM 1250, KBRF.  I have the privilege of visiting with the voice of the Twins every week and he always has interesting, up to date Twins topics to discuss! 

 

Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
More Updates on College Athletes
Freshman Stacy Busack continues her excellent first year as a University of Minnesota swimmer.  At the NCAA Division One National Tournament in Georgia, Busack was a part of the Gophers 400 freestyle relay team which placed fifteenth in the nation with a time of 3:21.87.  Sarah Perrott, Meredith McCarthy and Jenny Shaughnessy were the other members of the team.
 
Busack also competed in the 100 freestyle, taking 50th place with a time of 50.72 seconds.  The 23rd ranked Gophers scored 48 points and took 21st place in the meet.  Eight of the ten Minnesota swimmers competing in the event will be back next season.  Auburn won the meet with 518.5 points, edging out Georgia who had 515.5.
 
The UND baseball team just completed a ten game Florida trip, winning five games and losing five games to put their early season record at 6-8.  Fergus Falls High School graduates Troy Wasiloski and Ryan Hendrickson are seniors on the team, and junior Nate Meissner from Brandon/Evansville, who played two years for Kent Bothwell at MSCTC, are all members of the team.
 
Wasiloski had a big game in their 11-0 win over Calumet College of St. Joseph's, Illinois, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and six runs batted in.  Meissner went 2-for-4 with a RBI.  In a 1-0 win over a Minnesota Twins Rookie team Wasiloski drove in the only run and Hendrickson threw two shutout innings.  Total season stats were not updated on the UND website at the time this column was written.
 
Bethel University is in the midst of a ten day trip to Florida where they have gone 2-1 so far with a double header sweep over Babson College on Tuesday.  In their 5-4 win in the opener, Brandon Carr was 3-for-4 with a run batted in and two runs scored, while Kirby Carr went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI on a homer and a sacrifice fly.  Mike Gaustad had one hit in three trips to the plate.  In the nightcap, a 7-3 Bethel win, Brandon Carr stole four bases as he collected three more hits in four at bats and scored twice.  Kirby was 0-3 with a run batted in and Mike Gaustad was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.  On the season, Brandon is 10-for-10 stealing bases and has a .517 batting average. He has nine runs batted in and has scored nine times.  Kirby is hitting .385 with two home runs and six runs batted in.  Mike has a .226 batting average with three runs batted in and in his only pitching performance of the spring he struck out four and walked two while allowing 4 hits in five-and-two-third innings.  He gave up just one run.
 
Former Spartan quarterback Scott Strohmeier is the Head Coach at Northern Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa.  The team finished with a 2-6 record in his first year in the position.  Strohmeir served as Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri for one year prior to that.  Strohmeier spent six years as Offensive Coordinator at Concordia College in St. Paul before joining Truman State.  Truman State Head Coach Shannon Currier became familiar with Strohmeier when he was an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, where Strohmeier was a two-time all-conference performer and led the Trojans to the NAIA National playoffs in 1997.  He was also a two-time all-conference and all-region player for the Spartans.  Currier has another former Spartan, Aaron Rasset, on his staff as defensive coordinator.  Scott's younger brother Mike Strohmeier is the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at NIACC.  Mike was the quarterback for two seasons at Fergus Falls Community College until he suffered a career ending injury during his sophomore season.  He also served as the quarterbacks coach at FFCC in 2002.  From 2003 thru 2005 he coached at Eden Valley Watkins High School, were he was the quarterbacks coach and assistant offensive coordinator.  Thanks to Adam Steege and Tim Nelson for clarifying Strohmeier's current position so I could get it correct in this column! 
 
By the way, Nelson is beginning his second year as pitching coach at Jamestown College.  According to the college website, in 2005, Nelson coached the pitching staff to 7th in the nation for Team ERA (3.24), and 1st in the nation in total runs allowed (165). Tim was a two year starter for the Jimmies after transfering from Fergus Falls Community College. In 2003 Coach Nelson joined the top ten all time list for innings pitched.  In the summer, Nelson is the Legion Coach in Jamestown. He also finished his Business and PE degrees from JC in 2005.
 
Steege continues to serve as head football coach and head basebal coach at Hancock High School where he has enjoyed tremendous success with both programs.
 
Remember, I need your help in tracking former high school and community college athletes from our area as they move on to compete or coach at the next level.  Please contact me with information at [email protected]
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Vikings to Face Benson in State Quarterfinals
The Pelican Rapids Vikings take a 25 game winning streak and a 28-2 record into the Class AA State quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Target Center.  The Vikings will face the 22-4 Benson Braves, champions of Section 3AA, in the six o'clock game.
 
Pelican Rapids returns to the state tournament after a two-year absence to make their fifth appearance.  They  won one previous title in 1984 and were ranked number two in this year's final AP poll.  The Vikings average 73.8 points per game while holding their opponents to 54.2 points per game.  They shoot 49.7 percent from the field and 32.5 percent on 3's.  They also average 34.6 rebounds and 20.6 assists per game.  Senior Taylor Huseby is the leading scorer for the Vikings, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.  He is the school's all-time leader in both categories.  Senior Nathan Shulstad adds 14.1 points per game and is hitting 80% of his free throws.  Point guard Adam Johnson is averaging eight assists per contest.
 
In the 1984 tournament, the Vikings beat Wells-Easton 46-44 when Pat Westby hit a pair of clutch free throws with just three seconds left.  In the semifinal round, Westby scored 26 points in the Vikings 59-58 win over St. John's Prep.  Pete Larson had ten rebounds.  Westby then drained a clutch 18-footer with seven seconds left as the Vikings beat Winona Cotter 57-55 to win the Class A title.  Ironically, it was Winona Cotter who beat the Vikings in the championship game in 1971, in their first ever state tournament appearance, 60-47.
 
The Benson Braves are making their second state tournament appearance and their first since 1964.  They are averaging 69.9 points per game and also pulling down 30.9 rebounds per game.  They average 11.3 steals per game.  Junior Daniel Fragodt is the top scorer on the team with 22.5 points per game and is also averaging 7.8 rebounds per game.  Senior Joey Fragodt is the second leading scorer with 16.6 points per game and set the single season assist mark with 198, a school record.  Fragodt won the ExCel Award as a junior and was the school's Triple A award winner this year.
 
In the 1964 tournament, Benson was beaten by undefeated Proctor 64-63 in the first round.  In Ross Bernstein's great book, Hardwood Heroes, Celebrating a Century of Minnesota Basketball, he gave this account of the last part of the game.  'With 1:42 remaining, Bob Laney, who scored 33 points and pulled in 32 rebounds in the game, scored two free throws to give Proctor a 63-56 lead.  Benson then rallied behind Jim Hanson, Bill Brockmeyer and Dick Hawkins, all of whom scored, to slice Proctor's lead to 63-61 with just 18 seconds left.  Hawkins then scored again, but when Ron Swenson nailed a clutch free throw with just four seconds remaining it was Proctor's ball game.'  Brockmeyer, the point guard on that team, is the son of the late Winn Brockmeyer, the former Fergus Falls football coach, who was the Head Coach of the Benson boys basketball team at the time.  T'here is another Fergus Falls tie to that Benson team.  Center David Svingen, is a cousin to Fergus Falls attorney Kris Svingen of the Svingen, Hagstrom, Karkela, Cline and Dirks Law Firm.  The fifth starter on the Braves was guard Wally Svea.
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Hockey - From Super Sunday to the NCAA Tournament
Fergus Falls senior forward Matt Waclawik, has been selected to participate in the Great 8 Hockey Tournament in St. Paul.  High School A & AA sections will pair up to form eight sectional teams to play in a three day tournament March 31, April 1 and April 2 at Wakota Arena, located in South St. Paul.  Senior defenseman Isaac Vatnsdal of the Otters was selected as a second alternate on defense.
 
USA Hockey designates the Great 8 as a national development program and the event is sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League.
 
Waclawik netted 48 points, 31 goals and 17 assists for the 2005-2006 season.  He was fourth in the section 4A for leading scorers and was the top scorer for the Otters for the past two seasons.
 
Section 4A champion Little Falls is represented by defenseman Jim Pender and goalie Jake Kluver is the first alternate in the nets.  Willmar forward Tyler Wahl made the roster and defenseman Preston Stearns of Wadena-Deer Creek is the first alternate on defense.  Alexandria defenseman Jon Crouse is on the squad.
 
The Fergus Falls girls high school hockey team held their awards banquet, naming junior Megan Sjolie, who surpassed the 100 point mark for her career, as the Most Valualbe Player.  Katie Fredrickson was chosen as the Outstanding Otter, Jenny Grugel was named Most Improved Player and the Paul Ratz Award for lifting went to Erica Magnusson.  Fredrickson was named to the Central Lakes Conference all-conference team, while Sjolie, Magnusson, Grugel and Kim Grugel were honorable mention choices.
 
Junior Ryan Miller (an FFHS grad),  forward for Bemidji State University, participates in his second straight NCAA Divison I Ice Hockey Tournament when the Beavers step onto the ice in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Friday night in the semifinal round of the Midwest Regional.  Their opponent will be the number one overall seed in the tournament, the Wisconsin Badgers, who shutout the Minnesota Gophers 4-0 in the WCHA Final Five third place game to earn the top seed.  Miller's Beavers are 20-13-3 and the CHA Tournament champions.  Last year, the first ever NCAA appearance for BSU, they took the Denver Pioneers to overtime before losing.
 
The Beavers scored an average of 3.47 goals per game (sixth in the nation), and have a pair of good goaltenders in junior Layne Sedevie and sophomore Matt Climie.  They also went 4-2-0 against WCHA opponents during the season.
 
Minnesota, the number one seed in the West Regional, which will be played at Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks and hosted by second seeded UND, limps into the tourney after taking fourth place in the WCHA Final Five.  The Gophers are in the NCAA Tournament for the 30th time.  The Gophers played well at the Ralph, sweeping the Sioux in December.
 
As for UND, they enter the tournament on a roll!  Jordan Parise is the best goalie in the tournament.  They are 27-15-1 and an underwhelming 13-9-0 at home.  This is their 21st NCAA appearance.  The Sioux finished in a tie for fourth place in the WCHA but looked impressive in their win over St. Cloud State in the WCHA Final Five championship game which they won 5-3.  Parise, T.J. Oshie and Matt Smaby all made the Final Five All Tournament team.
 
Tournament action begins on Friday with the regional finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
 
The annual Super Sunday event, sponsored by the Fergus Falls Hockey Association, was held on Sunday at the Fairgrounds Ice Arena in Fergus Falls.  Three of the games take place at the Termite level, where they have a beginners group, an intermediate group and an advanced group. 
 
In the beginner's game, Bremer Bank shutout AMP Insurance 2-0 as Sophie Rausch and Brooke Lillemon scored the goals.  At the Intermediate level, Michaela Bock scored four times to help Security State Bank beat Ottertail Telcom 6-3.  Luke Hebert had a pair of goals for Ottertail Telcom.  The advanced game saw Sun Mart beat Floor to Ceiling store by a score of 6-3.  Dyson Thacker and Cole Mahler each scored twice for Sun Mart, while Carter Randklev had a pair of goals for Floor to Ceiling.
 
The Mite level saw Otter Risers soundly defeat the Breck/Wahp Blades by a score of 7-2.  Gus Kolstad scored a hat trick and Tosten Mann had a pair of goals.  The other Mite game featured a solid, one-goal battle with Godfather's nipping Shoremaster 3-2.  Mitchell Toso scored two straight goals to start the opening period.   Ryan Smith had a goal and an assist and Hallie Bach had a pair of assists. 
 
The third place game for Squirts featured a superb goaltending effort by Abbey Koep as the Noon Kiwanis shutout Service Food 6-0.  Bradie Wahlgren and Ian Bjorgum both scored twice for the Noon Kiwanis.
 
Fergus Tire Center won the final game of the season in Fergus Falls, taking the Squirt League Championship with a 6-3 win over Rotary.  Colton Buseth finished with the hat trick.
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, March 12, 2006
College Baseball Update
This time of year a lot of college baseball teams from the frozen North country head south for warmer climates and green fields.  Several area athletes are members of some of those teams and of course several parents of those area athletes have to schedule a special vacation trip to watch their sons play ball!  It's a tough assignment, but it is the proper parental thing to do!!

The Spartan baseball team is participating in the Port Charlotte Invitational.  Three former Fergus Falls High School players are on the roster including pitcher Casey Kowalski, first baseman Mic Johnson and pitcher/infielder Andy Price.

Brothers Josh Oslund and Anthony Oslund, both former Otters, are playing for St. Cloud Technical College.  The Cyclones just returned from a week in Florida where they played eight games, winning three and losing five.  Three of their losses were by one run.  They played against Itasca CC, Iowa Central, Kings College, Ashford and Urbana.  Total stats aren't posted on the school website yet, but Anthony went 1 for 2 with a double and an RBI in a loss to Itasca, and Josh had a pair of multi-hit games, including a 3-for-3 effort against the Vikings.

Brandon Carr and Kirby Carr are off to fast starts at the plate for Bethel College, while Mike Gaustad has struggled to begin the season.  Brandon is hitting .444 with two homers (one a grand slam), eight runs batted in and five runs scored through six games.  He also has four stolen bases.  Kirby is at .389 with one home run and 2 RBI.  Mike is hitting .227 with 2 RBI.  Gaustad also pitched in a game for the Royals and did quite well.  He struck out four batters and gave up only four hits in his 5 and two thirds innings pitched. The lineup that has been used for four of the six games had Brandon leading off, Mike batting second and Kirby hitting third.  Brandon is playing third base, Mike has played second base and the outfield, and Kirby has played center field and been the DH.  Sophomore catcher Jared Bangs, another former Otter, is on the roster but has not seem game action yet this season.  Bethel is heading to Fort Myers, Florida for ten games between March 17 and March 27.

For the second consecutive season, Bemidji State will be the College Hockey America automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers captured their second consecutive CHA Tournament championship, building a 3-0 lead and holding off a third-period rally to topple the Niagara Purple Eagles, 4-2.  Former Fergus Falls standout Ryan Miller had a goal and an assist in the championship game and was named to the All Tournament team.  Miller had an assist in the Beavers 4-3 overtime win over Alabama-Huntsville in the semifinals.  Miller has 16 goals and 11 assists in 31 games, including 7 power play goals.  He is the third leading scorer on the team. 
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, March 9, 2006
Kolle Remains Undefeated

Andy 'Kaos' Kolle, who got started in boxing with the Fergus Falls Boxing Club, under the tutelage of the late Chuck Elliott, improved his middleweight record to 9-0 with 7 KO's when he recorded a TKO victory over Vance Garvey at the Fargo Civic Auditorium on Saturday night.

According to an article on www.minnesotaboxing.com , 'Kolle used his advantages in height and reach landing stiff jabs and hard straight left hands throughout the fight.  By the end of the fifth round, Kolle's assault was showing its effects as Garvey's nose was bloodied and his legs looked weakened.  In the sixth round, Kolle started hurting Garvey with jabs. Soon thereafter, Kolle landed a huge left hand that buckled Garvey's legs badly. Referee Mark Nelson quickly stepped in and gave Garvey a standing eight count. Before he could finish, Garvey's corner had seen enough and mercifully threw in the towel.'

Kolle is set to challenge 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward in an HBO-televised fight on April 29th.

Kolle and Zach 'Jungle Boy' Walters are both managed by Chuck Horton of Sharky Promotions of Duluth.

Park Region Telephone / Ottertail Tel Com has been a participating sponsor of www.craigolsonsports.com since the beginning of my website adventure in September of 1999!  They have grown a lot since then, as have we, and I have become a customer of their new cable TV offering in Fergus Falls.  It is through this service that I am sitting here enjoying the Minnesota State High School hockey tournament.  All of the tournament games, along with all of the games from the Minnesota State High School girls basketball tournament and the Minnesota State High School boys basketball tournament, are going to be available on the Fergus Falls Cable TV system offered by Ottertail Tel Com on channel 2.  The Park Region Telephone Cable TV system which includes rural Fergus Falls and surrounding communities, is carrying the games on Channel 9.  I have heard from many high school sports fans since last year when none of the tournament games were made available on TV in Fergus Falls and it's great to have this option out there.  If you'd like more information on the availability of Cable TV through Park Region Telephone / Ottertail Tel Com you can call them at 218-998-2000.  Enjoy the action!!

Pelican Rapids Head Football Coach Dave Haugen has been selected to be an assistant coach for the Outstate All Star team when they face the Metro All-Stars on June 24th at St. Cloud State University.

We received word from Fergus Falls High School Football Coach Richard Risbrudt about Andrew Larson being named to the team and have now learned that Kyle Nash, the MVP of the North Tri-County Conference and an All-State Selection in 9-man football will also be playing.  Nash, a senior at Hillcrest, is going to attend Bemidji State University and play football for the Beavers.

As a Minnesota Twins fan and a lifelong baseball fan, I was extremely saddened by the passing of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.  His career was cut short by Glaucoma and now his life ends at 45.  The story of Kirby's downward spiral after his career ended is a tragic one.  There is little doubt that Puckett, in his prime, was an outstanding impact player for the Twins and is definitely the most popular Twins player of all time and probably the most popular professional athlete in Minnesota sports history.  His heroics in game six of the '91 World Series are among the most memorable in all of World Series history.  His infectious laugh and love for the game, his teammates and people in general endeared him to fans of all ages and all over the country.  His former teammate, Dave Winfield may have said it best when he said that in all his years in baseball he never saw any other player that was liked by everyone he came in contact with.  Look for the Metrodome to be packed on Sunday night when the Twins host a memorial service for Puckett.

Daunte Culpepper now says, trade me or release me.  I say, PLEASE DO IT SOON.  Daunte is of no further value to the Vikings.  It is time to sever ties with him and get on with the business at hand.  That would be trying to build the Vikings into a Super Bowl contender.  With the Vikings already 24 million dollars under the salary cap, they can make some huge investments in free agents who could provide an immediate impact on the field.  Add Daunte's multi-million dollar contract to that number and the Vikes could make some serious moves toward their goal of being a contender.  But first, clean house a little.  Get rid of the high priced, low production players who seem to dominate this roster.  I'm hoping the new ownership and coaching will take the steps needed to turn this franchise around sooner rather than later.

Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, March 6, 2006
Otter Boys Get Top Seed in 8AAA
The Fergus Falls boys basketball team will host a first round playoff game on Thursday night after receiving the number one seed in the North Half of Section 8AAA.  All four teams in the North have records under .500.  The Otters (8-16) will host Thief River Falls (11-13), while second -seeded Detroit Lakes (8-15) will be at home to Park Rapids (10-13).  Both games will be played at seven o'clock Thursday night.

The South half seeding has number one Rocori (20-5) hosting Little Falls (9-16) and number two Willmar (14-10) at home to number three Litchfield (9-16). 

The winner of the Fergus Falls versus Thief River Falls game will play the winner of the Willmar versus Litchfield game at one o'clock Saturday at St. Cloud State University.  The winners of the other two games would play immediately following the first game.

Since these are Section games, no passes are accepted.  Admission prices are six dollars for adults and four dollars for students.

The Otters beat the Prowlers 62-51 on January 27th in Thief River Falls.  The only other North sub-section team they have played was Detroit Lakes.  The Otters beat the Lakers 69-56 on February 7th in DL.

Rochester hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Minneapolis for the Region XIII Men's Basketball championship 88-85.  The Yellowjackets will represent Region XIII in the NJCAA Division III Men's National Tournament in Delhi, New York.  The Marauders had a fifteen point halftime lead but couldn't hold it after losing point guard Floyd Daniels to an ankle injury.  Minneapolis was ranked #2 in the nation and finishes with a 27-3 record.  Rochester will take a 22-9 record into the national tournament March 16 through March 18.

Trinity Bible College of Ellendale, North Dakota has qualified for the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) National Men's Basketball Tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The Trinity Lions have a former Rothsay player, junior Derek Simonsen, a co-captain and a third year starter on their roster.  Trinity has 24 wins and 10 losses.  They beat Crown College of Minneapolis 8n the North Central Regional to qualify for the National Tournament.

A Center for the Arts Childrens Choir will be singing the National Anthem prior to the Minnesota Twins game against the Milwaukee Brewers at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, July 1st at the Metrodome.  The group of 17 singers, under the direction of Joni Wasberg, will be selling game tickets for the "Fergus Falls Night at the Dome" as a fund raising project with $2.00 from the sale of each ticket going directly to the group.  Tickets are available at a cost of $18.00 apiece at A Center for the Arts in downtown Fergus Falls, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from ten to two on Saturday. The Center Kids Singers sang the anthem several years ago on a "Fergus Falls Night at the Dome" and the city of Fergus Falls was very well represented with between 200 and 250 fans in attendance.  It would be great to see that type of support once again this year.  It would be a great way to support the group and to kick-off the Fourth of July weekend!

Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Update on Sports
This is an exciting time of the year!  Tournament time, post season awards, spring training, the action never stops!  We have so many outstanding student athletes around this region and some extremely competitive teams to follow and I'm looking forward to the final few week of the winter season and of course the call of "Play Ball!" which is so close!

Congratulations to junior Megan Sjolie of the Fergus Falls girls hockey team.  Sjolie, who reached the 100 point mark for her career during the just completed season, has been named as an honorable mention selection to the Associated Press 2006 Minnesota all-state girls hockey team.

Former Battle Lake standout Tori Ehlert, now a senior member of the Concordia Women's Basketball team, was named as the MIAC Player of the Week last week.  Ehlert averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 steals in wins against Gustavus and Carleton in the MIAC tournament.  The wins helped the Cobbers to their first NCAAA Division III Tournament berth in ten years.

The Mr./Miss Basketball of Minnesota Committees have announced their All State Senior Teams for 2006.  From this list of awardees, the Five Finalists will be named prior to their respective State Tournaments.  From the named Five Finalists, the winners will then be crowned at the 32nd Annual Awards Banquet which will be held on Sunday, April 9th at the Minneapolis Sheraton West.  Taylor Huseby of the Pelican Rapids Vikings is one of the members of the Boys All State Senior team.  Osakis senior Brittany Quistorff and Central Lakes Conference student-athletes Megan Foley of St. Cloud Tech and Laura Nielson of Willmar, were named to the Girls All State Senior team.

Tom Uvaas has won a much deserved award as Section 3A Boys Swimming Coach of the Year.  The Otters finished second to Montevideo at the Section meet last weekend in Hutchinson and have qualified a total of seven individuals in nine events for the Class A State Meet at the U of M Aquatic Center in Minneapolis this coming weekend.  Tom is also one of the 25 Finalists being considered for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.  Another very deserving consideration.  Tom is so dedicated to the kids he coaches and teaches and is such a gifted teacher in the classroom and in the pool.  We are so fortunate to have people like him involved in the education of our young people.  Thanks Coach Uvaas!

Former Otter swimmer Stacy Busack, who established a new U of M school record in the 50 freestyle at the Big Ten Championships last week at Ohio State University, was named second team All-Big Ten for her performance in the meet.

Brandon Goltz, a former Fergus Falls high school and community college pitcher, who completed his college career pitching for NDSU the last two seasons, has signed a contract with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.  The following is from the RedHawks press release on his signing.  Goltz, 23, appeared in four games, including two starts, for the RedHawks in 2005 after signing with the club in mid-August. The former North Dakota State University hurler was 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA, allowing just eight hits in 16.0 innings pitched. He struck out seven batters and walked nine while holding opponents to a .143 batting average against him. The Fergus Falls, Minn., native picked up victories in starts against the Gary SouthShore RailCats and the Winnipeg Goldeyes.  His father, Dave Goltz won 96 games for the Minnesota Twins from 1972 to 1979 and played a total of 12 years in the major leagues, finishing up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels.  His career record was 113-109 with an ERA of 3.69 in over 2,000 innings of pitching.

Once again this season the Minnesota Twins games will be broadcast on Groovy 1020, KJJK AM, beginning Friday with the pre-season game against Cincinnati.  Seventeen exhibition games will be on the air, all beginning at 12:00 noon, and all 162 regular season games can be heard on KJJK.  I will also be interviewing Twins broadcaster John Gordon every Wednesday morning at 7:20 a.m. on Talkin' Sports.  That program is on AM 1250, KBRF and is sponsored by McDonald's of Fergus Falls.  John has been joining us every Wednesday during the baseball season for the past five years and I get more comments on that program than anything else I do, except the famous Sports Wrap TV show which is recorded weekly for play on the local Peg Access Channel 8, with 'Stars' Kris Svingen, Dave Retzlaff and Chris Wasberg.  Talk about a wealth of sports knowledge!!!  It's amazing how may people stop me in stores or talk to me at games about having seen the show!  By the way, Was, the young pup in the group, finally hit the big 4-0 recently.  He's still much younger than the rest of us and is actually young enough to be Retz's son!!  We keep him around to attract the younger audience!!

Saturday night, Andy Kolle will be boxing in Fargo at the Civic Auditorium on a card labeled "March Middleweight Madness."  Kolle's fan base in this region is getting larger and his career continues to grow.  The former Fergus Falls Boxing Club member had a big year in 2005, going 5-0 with 4 KO's.  Andy is managed by Sharky Promotionis of Duluth, who also manage Zach 'Jungle Boy' Walters.

Olufemi Solaja of the MSCTC Spartan Men's basketball team was voted the All-MCCC State Tournament team following the tournament last weekend at Minneapolis Community College.  'Femi' was also selected to the MCCC All Conference team and is a member of the All-Southern Division team along with freshman guard Dustin Monsebroten.  Solaja has drawn a lot of interest from four year schools and hasn't made a decision on where he will be playing ball next year as he continues his college education.

Of course, MSCTC claimed the consolation title at the MCCC State Tournament with their 79-66 victory over Central Lakes.  The win puts Coach Dave Retzlaff's final career record at 657 wins and 316 losses.  The Spartans won the final two games of Retz's coaching career.  Minneapolis beat Vermilion for the state title, 76-68, and third place went to Rochester with an 88-85 win over Rainy River.  That means the Region XIII tournament will feature Vermilion against Rochester at six o'clock Friday night and Minneapolis against Madison Area Tech at eight o'clock Friday night in Madison, Wisconsin.  The two winners will play for the title at two o'clock Saturday afternoon.  Congratulations to Jay Pivec of Minneapolis on being named the MCCC Coach of the Year! 

By the way, the Men's Tournament will see a couple of changes in format next year.  There will be no consolation round held and only one team, the state champion, will qualify for the Region XIII title game.  This year, the top three teams from Minnesota advanced to the Region XIII Tournament, joining the Wisconsin champion.  Next year and in subsequent years, just the Minnesota champion and the Wisconsin champion will square off to decide the Region representative at the NJCAA Division III National Tournament.

Sophomore Alicia Wunderlich of the Lady Spartans, was named to the Second Team All-Southern Division and to the Second Team All-MCCC.  The Parkers Prairie graduate was the leading scorer for MSCTC this past season.

Itasca claimed the Women's title, beating Minneapolis 79-74.  Ridgewater took third place with a 65-49 win over Rochester and Mesabi Range won the consolation title with a 56-51 win over Minnesota West.  The Region qualifiers for the women are Itasca, Minneapolis and Mesabi Range, which makes no sense to me at all.  Under the present format for the Women, there is a rotation in place which sends the top two Southern Division teams on to Regions one year and then rotates to the North the next year.  This year, that means the fifth place team, Mesabi Range, advances instead of the third or fourth place teams.  This rule has to change.  It is laughable.  Three teams qualifying for the Regions is fine, but make it the best teams in the state tournament.  Isn't that why we play it?

Former Spartans Archie Weatherspoon IV and Andy Parochka are heading for the NAIA Division II National Basketball Tournament with Dakota Athletic Conference champion Mayville State University.  The Comets are 26-5 and ranked seventh in the country.  They won the DAC with a 69-68 win over Black Hills State and will play in the National Tournament March 8 through 14 at Point Lookout, Missouri.

Steve King is leaving MSCTC to take the Head Football Coaching position at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids.  King, who has been the Defensive Coordinator for Lloyd Danzeisen for the last fifteen years, accepted the position last week.  He will be missed big time at the college.  'Kinger' has been Lloyd's right hand man over the years and is an excellent recruiter and coach who relates extremely well to the young men in the football program.  We wish Steve and his family the best, but selfishly, I wish he were staying!!  He'll do a wonderful job with Itasca.

Posted By Craig Olson
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