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Monday, February 25, 2008
Walters Wins a Title, MCCC State Tourney Results, More
The WBC-ABU (African Boxing Union) Light Heavyweight belt belongs to Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters.  The belt became his when his opponent, Carl "The Squirrel" Daniels, was unable to answer the bell at the start of Round 8 of their title fight Saturday night at the Mertz Mortorelli Gymnasium in Superior, Wisconsin.
 
The win puts Walters at 22-2 and will only help to solidify his place as one of the top young fighters in his weight class in the world.
 
From Zach's My Space blog, "The full impact of winning a regional world title has yet to set in.  Where I am today is so far above any expectation I had for my career when I got going back in 2002.  What took place Saturday night was an accumulated effect of the six years I have spent in pro boxing.  What a crowning moment this is for me and my team.  The crowd was huge, packed to the rafters with boxing fans.  I am blessed to have a following like I do and I thank you so much for being a part of my career.  Even though I was in a tough fight I feel physically fresh.  I am back in the gym Monday and look forward to returning to the ring soon."
Congratulations Zach!  We'll keep you posted on any future fight news that comes our way.  Check out www.hortonsgym.com more more information.
 
The Region 13 Men's Community College Basketball Tournament will be hosted by the Central Lakes Raiders.  The Raiders won the MCCC State title on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis with a 66-59 victory over Vermilion.  The Minneapolis Mavericks became the third Minnesota team in the tournament when they beat Rochester 81-68 in the third place game.  Madison Area Tech will be the Wisconsin representative.  The tournament will be played in Brainerd on Friday and Saturday.  Minneapolis will face Vermilion at six o'clock Friday night, followed by Madison Area Tech against Minneapolis at eight o'clock.
 
Mesabi Range from Virginia earned the consolation championship with an 81-79 overtime victory over Northland Community and Technical College of Thief River Falls.
 
The Section 8AAA Girls Basketball Seedings have been announced and top seeded Fergus Falls will host Sauk Rapids-Rice at seven o'clock Tuesday night.  Number two Sartell-St. Stephen will entertain Little Falls, third-seeded Detroit Lakes is home to St. Cloud Cathedral and number four Thief River Falls opens at home against Rocori.
 
In Section 8AA, Crookston earned the number one seed in the West Sub-Section and will host number eight Pelican Rapids on Tuesday night.  Number five Perham is at fourth-seeded D-G-F, second seeded Hawley entertains seventh-seeded Wadena-Deer Creek and number three East Grand Forks is home to sixth-seeded Frazee.
 
The Alexandria girls hockey team claimed the Class A state championship when they beat the Breck School 2-1 on Saturday.  The Cardinals won the Section 6A crown with a 3-0 win over Fergus Falls on February 15 in Willmar.

 

Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Big Fight Day for Walters, Money Has Strong MIAC Meet
Saturday, February 23 is a big date on the fight calendar for Zach Walters as he fights for the vacant WBC-ABU Title (ABU stands for African Boxing Union).  The fight is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Mertz Gym in Superior, Wisconsin.
 
Walters' team was able to secure a fight for the African title due to the fact that Zach lived in Madagascar, where his parents were missionaries, for 11 years.  "Ever since I left the island I wanted to go back somehow," Walters said. "This fight is a big step in that direction.  The big picture for this fight is to win the title, defend it in Africa a few times, then win a world title and make my first defense of the world title in Madagascar.  Wouldn't that be awesome!"
 
His opponent for the fight has changed.  Originally he was slated to go up against a veteran fighter named Marlon "Rumblin' Man" Hayes (23-10, 11 KO).  His camp was informed less than two weeks before the date of the fight that Hayes would be unable to fight and that former WBA Junior Middleweight champion and current light heavyweight contender Carl Daniels (50-11, 32 KO), would be brought in as a replacement.  Walters and his team will face the rare task of battling a replacement opponent who could very well pose a higher threat than the originally scheduled opponent.
 
"I see this as an opportunity to beat another left-handed fighter, win a title, and complete a ten round match successfully," stated Walters.  "All the hard, physical work is done.  I am ready to fight ten rounds with whoever is in front of me.  The only changes that result from this are minor strategic differences."
 
Jungle Boy fans that made the trip to Grand Casino, Hinckley this past December will remember Daniels as the man who knocked out Minnesota light heavyweight Fred Moore (30-8) in six rounds.  Up until that fight, Moore and Walters were considered as the two best 175 pound fighers in the state.  Now, Walters stands alone and will be staring across the ring at the man who dominated his in-state rival.
 
Matching up with Daniels will give Walters the opportunity to see where his abilities stack up with some of the best fighters not only in his division, but in the world.  Daniels went ten hard rounds with current light heavyweight champion of the world Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, as well as several hard rounds with Chad Dawson, the WBC world title holder who many consider the best young fighter in Walters weight class.
 
"As I train up for this fight, I am also doing everything I can to pack the house with fan support," explained Walters. "This is a huge opportunity for my career and will set up even bigger things to come.  By winning this title I would legitimize myself as a worthy contender for any world champion in the Light Heavyweight division."
 
Walters is current ranked as follows: WBC #35, USBA #12, and NABF #9.  All of the rankings would improve significantly with a win over Daniels.
 
Former Fergus Falls swimmer Luke Money had an excellent MIAC meet for St. Olaf College, swimming his personal best time in three different events at the conference meet.  Money finished fifth (1:57.40) in the 200 yard butterfly, improving on a tenth place seed coming into the meet and a season best time of 2:02.68.  He was seventh in the 100 yard butterfly (52.37), swimming a personal best time of 52.20 seconds in the prelims and improving on a nubmer eight seed prior to the tournament and a season best time of 53.23.  Money also took sixteenth palce in the 100 yard backstroke (57.62), moving up from a number seventeen seed and improving on his season best time of 59.93.  He swam his personal best time in the prelims with a 56.68.  Gustavus-Adolphus won the team title with 874 points and St. Olaf was second with 743 points.  Carleton was a distant third with 431 points.
 
The pairings are set for the MCCC Men's Basketball Tournament which will be held at Minneapolis Community and Technical College Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24.  The tournament begins at one o'clock Friday afternoon when Northland (#3 North) takes on Rochester (#2 South).  That game will be followed by the three o'clock tilt between Ridgewater (#4 South) and Vermilion (#1 North).  In the evening session, MSCTC-Fergus Falls (#3 South) will square off against Central Lakes (#2 North) at six o'clock and the host school, Minneapolis (#1 South) will face Mesabi Range (#4 North) at eight p.m.  Consolation semifinals are set for one o'clock and three o'clock Saturday afternoon, while the championship semifinals will be played at six o'clock and eight o'clock Saturday night.  On Sunday, the Consolation title will be decided at Noon with the third place game scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and the Championship game starting at 4:00 p.m.  All games involving the Spartans can be heard live on the internet on www.craigolsonsports.com.
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, February 10, 2008
1998 Spartans Honored
A special ceremony was held between the women's and men's basketball games at MSCTC-Fergus Falls on Saturday.  The 1998 undefeated National Champion Spartan Men's Basketball Team was honored on the tenth anniversary of their perfect season (29-0) and NJCAA Division III National title.
 
Ten of the thirteen members of the team were in attendance at the event, despite less than favorable traveling conditions due to a winter blizzard advisory.  Fans viewed four minutes of the video "The Road to Delhi" after the players and coaches were introduced, and then heard comments from Coach Dave Retzlaff.
 
Here is a list of the team members and what they are doing now.
 
#3-Andy Lerberg lives in Crystal and is service manager at Plymouth Plumbing Corporation.
 
#5-Nate Grove lives in St. Joseph with his wife Amie.  They are expecting their first child in July.  He is a regional sales and marketing manager for a healthcare company in the Twin Cities.
 
#11-Tommy Chatman lives in Brookly Park with his wife Christine. They have three boys, Tommy Jr. (6), Taison (4) and Tian (6 months).  He is a basketball trainer/coach at 43 Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins.  He coaches on the AAU circuit where they play against some of the top talent in the country.
 
#13-Bob Schliemean is a Civil Engineer and lives in Detroit Lakes with his wife Teresa.
 
#15-Chris Fernholz lives in Oronoco with his wife Molly.  He teaches high school business at Kasson-Mantorville High School and is also Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Rochester Community and Technical College.
 
#21-Matt Davis lives in Brooklyn Park with his wife Laura and son Pierless (4 months).  He is a regional account manager for Comcast Cable.
 
#23-Jonny Reese lives in Minneapolis and works for the Minneapolis School District.  He is also owner of Jonny's Private Basketball Training, www.coachjonny.com.  He has two children, Jonathan Jr. (6) and Sihirah Monique (3).
 
#31-Andy Swedberg lives North of Alexandria with his wife Jessica and son Ethan (7 months).  He works at Swedberg Nursery in Battle Lake.
 
#33-Jason Retzlaff lives in Fergus Falls and is the Head Coach of the MSCTC Spartan Men's Basketball team and Spartan Golf teams.
 
#35-Nick Retzlaff is a land developer and lives in Minneapolis.
 
#41-Chris "Mad Dog" Heier is an IT analyst for Cargill in Fargo.  He lives in Hawley with his wife Anita and children Tanner James (4) and Kinsey Marie (18 months).
 
#43-Jim Schlieman lives in Hickson ND with his wife Callie.  He is a registered land surveyor with Houston Engineering, Inc.
 
#45-CJ Rutherford lives in Brooklyn Park and has one child, Jaden (5), and is a supervisor of inventory for Strategic Company.
 
Student Manager Joshua Noble is a substitutue teacher in the Fergus Falls Public Schools.
 
Head Coach Dave Retzlaff and Assistant Coach Rick Odden are both members of the Spartan Men's Basketball coaching staff.
 
Be sure to check out the photo gallery that accompanies this story.
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Early Tournament Seedings, Big Girls BB Weekend in FF

Early tournament seeding results are in and for Fergus Falls hockey, it means an adjustment to the schedule.

The Fergus Falls girls hockey team has received the number two seed in Section 6A and the first round bye that goes along with it. Alexandria is the number one seed. Morris/Benson Area is third, followed by Detroit Lakes, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek and Little Falls. The Otters will host Morris/Benson Area or Little Falls, depending on who wins their Saturday contest, at seven o’clock Tuesday night at the Fairgrounds Ice Arena. No passes are allowed for Section games. Admission prices are $4.00 for students and $6.00 for adults.

The Fergus Falls boys hockey game scheduled for that evening against Little Falls, will be played earlier in the day with the junior varsity contest starting at 3:00 p.m. and the varsity game getting started at 5:00 p.m. After the varsity game the arena will be cleared to prepare for the girls playoff game. Both games will be broadcast live on Z-103.3 FM, KZCR with Jeff Swedberg.

The Otter girls basketball team has two huge games this weekend. After this weekend's games, the Otters have only one more regular season home game which will be Saturday night, February 16 against Thief River Falls. That game will also be "Senior Night".

On Friday night, in a key CLC battle, they entertain the Brainerd Warriors who beat the Otters earlier this year in overtime to hand the Otters one of their three losses this season. After the game, the players will remain on the floor to sign autographs. 150 color team pictures will be available for fans to collect their autographs.

On Saturday night, Fergus hosts a make-up of part of the Tip Off Classic which was snowed out on December 1st. At 4:30, Crookston and Park of Cottage Grove tangle. This game will be followed by the Fergus Falls and Becker B-squads. At about 7:45, the Otters will take on the #3-rated and defending state champion Becker Bulldogs. The combined records of the four teams is 65-11. In the AP Poll, Crookston is rated #1 in AA, Park of Cottage grove is rated #6 in AAAA, and Fergus Falls #8 in AAA.

Ticket prices for Saturday's games will be $7 for adults and $5 for students. Fergus Falls passes and punch cards do not work for these games. Any student in grades K-12 wearing maroon and gold Otter clothing can get in for $3.

The Section 6A wrestling team tournament seeds have been announced. The tournament will be held on Tuesday, February 12 and Saturday, February 16. Wadena-Deer Creek is seeded number one, with New York Mills second, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale third and Barnesville fourth. The top four seeds receive opening round byes and host the first night of wrestling action. First round matches begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, with the quarterfinal round matches to follow at each site.

In Wadena, Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (#8) will face Pelican Rapids (#9) with the winner going up against Wadena-Deer Creek. In Barnesville, Ottertail Central (#5) faces Chokio-Alberta/Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (#12) with the winner advancing to meet the Trojans. In Bertha, Parkers Prairie (#6) squares off with Breckenridge (#11) with the winner going on to face Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale. In New York Mills, it’s Staples-Motley (#7) against West Central Area (#10) with the winner taking on the Eagles.

The Saturday competition will take place in Wheaton with semifinal matches slated to start at 1:00 p.m. and the Section 6A championship match will be held at 3:00 p.m.

Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, February 4, 2008
SUPER BOWL! Twins Talk Too
There haven't been many Super Bowls that have lived up to their name or their pre-game hype, but Super Bowl XLII will go down as one of them that did.  The Giants and Patriots did not disappoint.  Defense dominated for three quarters and the fourth quarter was an outstanding quarter of professional football.
 
The intensity level was tremendous.  The big plays were bountiful as the Giants got to Tom Brady for 5 sacks and a virtual unknown like David Tyree came up with perhaps the biggest play of the day.  Eli Manning led the late game winning drive and earned the MVP award.  Plaxico Burress caught the game winning TD pass, after it looked like Brady to Randy Moss with under three minutes to play might give the Pats the win.
 
This game had great defense by both teams, only two turnovers (one by each team), a fourth quarter that featured more lead changes (three) than any other previous Super Bowl fourth quarter, and the underdog defying the 12 point odds and pulling off the second biggest upset in Super Bowl history.  Not since Joe Willie Namath guaranteed a New York Jets victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III had their been as big an upset.
 
A record 97.5 million people watched the game as the New England Patriots stood on the brink of history.  After the Giants ruined the perfect season, leaving the Pats at 18-1, you had to wonder who was happier.  The Giants and their fans, Peyton Manning and the whole Manning clan, or the 1972 Miami Dolphins!! 
 
To me, the greatest fact of this 14-6 season that ended in a Super Bowl victory for New York was the 11-0 road record compiled by this team.  That is just unbelievable in the NFL.  What a great way for the season to end, and Vikings fans, remember Week 12 in the Meadowlands, a 41-17 Minnesota win.
 
A lot of people have asked me for my opinion on the Santana trade.  I have responded by e-mail with the following:
 
Well, we'll certainly have to wait awhile to see how good this trade is for the Twins.  Immediate impact: Advantage Mets, big time.  Long range impact: To be determined, but I like Carlos Gomez and have hopes for Deolis GuerraKevin Mulvey might be someone who contributes in some way at the big league level, but probably not a huge impact player.  Hopefully, Phil Humber is one of those who comes back strong after Tommy John surgery.
 
The way I've been presenting my comments on the criticism being directed at the Twins organization is this: Who was Johan Santana when the Twins got him in the Rule V Draft from Houston?  The Astros didn't think enough of him to protect him on their 40 man roster!  Also, when Kirby Puckett retired I remember cries of "Now what?  Who will be our center fielder?"  Some guy named Hunter did okay out there.  My point being, there are always young prospects who when given the opportunity grow into impact players and even All-Stars, Cy Young winners, Gold Glovers, even MVP's!! 
 
I have a ton of confidence in the Twins front office people.  I have heard Billy Smith's name for years and he is very well respected around Major League Baseball as a top evaluator of talent.  When the Yankees put Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera in a package along with a lower level prospect at the Baseball Winter Meetings, I would have had a hard time not pulling the trigger on that deal.  I still feel that way.  I would have preferred Hughes in the rotation and Cabrera in center field, however, I am not about to say this was a bad deal, long term.  Time will tell.  Unfortunately, people don't have a lot of patience!
 
I will say this, having saved about $30 million dollars a year (minimum) by not signing Hunter, Santana and Silva, I will be disappointed if the Twins don't pick up some free agents next off season to bolster the experience level of their major league lineup.  I also think we need to move Joe Nathan at some point this season, probably closer to the July 31 trading deadline.  I don't see any reason to sign him at the price he will command.  A contender will want him in July.  If they work something out ahead of that, during spring training perhaps, that's fine too.  At any rate, we're 55 days away from opening day and I can hardly wait!
 
The Fergus Falls Backcourt Club would like to sponsor a coach bus to St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday, February 12 for the Otter girls and boys basketball double header.  The girls varsity game begins at 5:45 p.m. and the boys will start at 7:30 p.m.  The bus will load at the Middle School South East parking lot at 1:30 p.m. and leave at 1:45 p.m., arriving in St. Cloud at approximately 4:00 p.m. allowing for fans to watch the JV/B squad games.  The cost will be $15 per adult, $5 per student (accompanied by an adult), $25 maximum per family.  If you are interested call Mike Wood as soon as possible at 739-0937 or 205-1709 anytime after 7:00 p.m. by Thursday, February 7.
Posted By Craig Olson
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