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Monday, December 27, 2004
Reflecting on 2004, Part II
We continue our look back at some of the great area teams of 2004. Some great games, some great accomplishments, many great moments to remember.

Underwood Girls Basketball
The Underwood girls basketball team qualified for their first ever state girls basketball tournament appearance.

Underwood tied the school record for most victories in a season when they recorded number 21 in the North Sub-section 5A playoffs, beating Ashby 67-34.

In the quarterfinals, Underwood established a new school record for wins as they held off Browerville, 41-36. They continued to add to that record with a 44-42 win over Parkers Prairie in the semifinals and a 67-62 win over Osakis in the 5A championship game.

In the win over Parkers Prairie, Liz Glesne hit a shot with seven seconds remaining to break a 42-42 tie, and Ashley Kugler came up with a steal with under four seconds left as the Underwood Rockets moved into the Section 5A championship game.

“This was the best team effort we had all year,” commented Underwood head coach Chuck Ross. “They did a nice job executing their box-and-one on Ashley and Liz came through with just a great shooting performance.”

Against Osakis, Underwood trailed 54-51 after three quarters, however, they outscored the Silverstreaks 16-8 over the final eight minutes of the game.

“This was one of the best high school basketball games I've ever been associated with,” said coach Ross. “Our press gave them trouble early but they came back strong. Ashley took over in the fourth quarter, scoring eleven of her twenty-eight points.”

Samuelson also pulled down 18 rebounds, 13 of them on the offensive end. Glesne was also in double digits with 16 points.

With their first ever Section championship in hand and a number eight ranking in the polls, Underwood headed to Williams Arena to face Meadow Creek Christian, another first time qualifier with a record of 27-2.

Senior Shana Wigdahl made all four of her 3-point field goal attempts and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line as the Underwood girls basketball team won their Class A State quarterfinal game 52-39.

Wigdahl scored 18 points in the contest and the Rockets shot 42.9% (15/35), including 87.5% from behind the 3-point arc (7/8). Underwood was also 15-of-18 from the charity stripe for a blistering 83.3%. Samuelson led the Rockets with 23 points and completed another double-double with 14 rebounds.

As impressive as their quarterfinal win was, their 64-41 victory over Cromwell in the semi’s raised some eyebrows. Samuelson and Glesne combined for 55 points as the Underwood girls basketball team dominated the inside game. Samuelson scored 36 points and Glesne added 19 points as the Cardinals had no defensive answer to the Rockets inside play. Samuelson hit 14-of-19 field goal attempts and 10-of-11 free throw opportunities. She also had a team high ten rebounds as the Rockets outrebounded the Cardinals 41-27, including 18 offensive boards.

Against Wabasso in the title game, the Rockets mounted a valiant comeback effort in the fourth but the Rabbits weathered the storm and recorded a 59-48 win to claim the title.

Underwood had trouble with the Rabbits press, turning the ball over 22 times, and hit only 34% of their shots as they struggled to execute their offense until the fourth quarter.

Underwood fell behind 12-5 after one quarter and 36-16 at the half. After they dropped twenty-nine points behind at 45-16 midway through the third quarter, the Rockets went on a 14 point run to cut the lead to 45-30 with 6:30 to play. A 22-3 run saw the Rockets close to within ten at 48-38 with 3:24 remaining in the game. It was 56-48 with twenty-four seconds left, but Underwood could get no closer. Samuelson scored 17 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter as Underwood outscored Wabasso 25-14 over the final eight minutes.

Coach Ross was proud of his team, “There are no quitters on this team. Unfortunately we got going a little too late and just ran out of time. I was very proud of the way they came back.”

Samuelson and Glesne were both named to the All-Tournament and Samuelson was also voted to the Class A All-State team. Both were all Little 8 selections with Samuelson earning the conference MVP award.

“When you think about what this team accomplished this year, it was pretty awesome,” said Coach Ross. “Considering you’ve had the target on your back the whole season, teams are coming out and playing their best game against you hoping to beat a state-ranked team, to maintain your focus, make it to through the tournament and get all the way to the state championship game is quite a feat.”

Underwood ended the season with a final record of 26-4.

Barnesville Girls Basketball
The Barnesville girls basketball team, under first year head coach Trevor Schneeberger, qualified for the Class A State Tournament. The Lady Trojans wound up with a 23-6 record and were 13-5 in the tough Heart O’ Lakes Conference. Two of their five conference defeats came at the hands of the Class 2A State Runners-up, the Hawley Nuggets.

Barnesville was led by the play of senior Kim Lewis and freshman Erica Nord. Lewis averaged 19.2 points per game and shot 68% from the free throw line. Nord led the team with 90 assists and 70 steals, while averaging 13.5 points per game and hitting 62% of her foul shots.

The Lady Trojans cruised through Section 6A with wins over Norman County East, 55-23, Ada-Borup, 39-33, Ulen-Hitterdal, 33-27, and Cass Lake-Bena, 54-41.

“The girls gave it all they had,” said Barnesville head coach Trevor Schneeberger following the Section 6A championship game. “All the hard work really paid off. We came out strong and executed well. This is just an unbelievable feeling.”

In the quarterfinal round of the state tournament, Barnesville matched up with the impressive Wabasso Rabbits and lost to the eventual state champions, 57-28.

On February fifth, Lewis reached the 1,000 career point mark in dramatic fashion on in Frazee. Her 3-point field goal at the buzzer put her over 1,000 career points and also tied the game, forcing overtime. The Lady Trojans came back from a 23 point halftime deficit and ended up with a 67-60 win. Lewis finished with 30 points in the game.

Lewis was an honorable mention Class A All-State selection and along with Nord was named to the All-Conference team in the Heart O’ Lakes.

Fergus Falls Boys Basketball
The Fergus Falls boys basketball team brought a 13 game winning streak and a number two ranking in the the Class 3A poll into the state tournament as they made their eighth overall appearance and their first since 1990.

Their Section 8AAA tournament play featured a 65-54 first round victory over Detroit Lakes, a 44-40 win over Rocori and a 56-53 victory over Willmar.

Against Detroit Lakes in the quarterfinals, the Otters got off to a fast start. They made their first six shots from the field, mostly layups, and were 7-of-9 in the opening quarter, while the Lakers were a cool 4-of-13. The Otters led 29-13 before the Lakers cut the lead to 33-20 late in the second quarter. Luke Schalekamp nailed a long three at buzzer for a 36-20 halftime lead.

The Lakers pulled to within ten on four different occasions late in the fourth quarter but could get no closer as Josh Mohagen hit a couple of big treys and the Otters made their free throws down the stretch. Fergus was actually outscored by Detroit Lakes from the field 21-19, but converted 23-of-30 free throws.

In the 8AAA semifinals against Rocori, both teams started slowly in the defensive battle before the Otters got on the board first on a Mohagen 3-pointer. The Otters led 12-8 after the opening quarter, led by Nate Rengel’s 7 points off the bench. Mohagen had 9 points in the 2nd quarter, including two more treys and the Otters built the lead to 25-21 at the half. The Spartans had actually led 21-17 midway through the quarter before the Otters ran off 8 points in a row to end the half.

After Rocori scored to start the 3rd quarter, cutting the lead to two, the Otters went on an 8-2 run to expand their lead to 33-25 late in the quarter. After Rocori scored to cut the lead to six, Brandon Carr hit a huge three pointer at the buzzer for a 36-27 lead after three. Rocori fought back to within two points at 37-35 in the fourth, but Fergus Falls made 5 of 7 free throws down the stretch to ice the contest.

In the championship game against the Willmar Cardinals the Otters got off to a tremendous start, but Willmar wouldn’t throw in the towel. Otter Center Mitch Leifert hadn’t made a single 3-point basket all season and was coming off a season low 4 point performance in the semi-finals. That would change in dramatic fashion as Leifert drilled 3 baskets from long-range and netted 15 points in the opening quarter as the Otters raced to a 20-2 lead after one. After Willmar opened scoring in the game, the Otters scored the next 20 points in a row, including Leiferts third trey of the period at the buzzer.

The Otters cooled off a bit in the second quarter but still led 26-15 at the half. After the Cardinals caught the Otters at 31-31 with 1:40 left in the third quarter, a Leifert basket put Fergus Falls ahead 33-31 at the end of three.

Leifert hit a pair of free throws to open scoring in the 4th quarter and later added his 4th 3-pointer and the Otters started to open up the lead as they led 40-33 with just over 5 minutes to go in the contest. Less than a minute later Rengel hit another 3-pointer and the lead was back to 10 at 43-33. Willmar pulled to within 48-44 with 90 seconds to go, as Allen Huselid hit a three, but Mohagen hit a pair of free throws and Leifert got behind the pressing Cardinal defense for a break away slam dunk with just under a minute to go, but Willmar refused to quit. Leifert scored again inside and the lead was again ten at 54-44 with half a minute to go. Two more bombs from Huselid sandwiched around a free throw from Jake Haws made it 55-50 with ten seconds to go. Leifert hit another free throw and Huselid nailed another trey just before the final buzzer to make the final score 56-53.

The win over Willmar propelled the Otters into the 3A state tournament and a date with Section 1 champion, Red Wing, making their sixth consecutive appearance.

The Red Wing Wingers appeared comfortable from the start as they jumped to a 13-2 lead over Fergus Falls in the first four minutes of their Class AAA State quarterfinal contest at Williams Arena. The Wingers went on to take a convincing 73-45 win over the Otters.

Red Wing led 20-11 after one quarter and held Fergus Falls to just a Rengel 3-point field goal in the second quarter as they took a commanding 38-14 half time lead. The Wingers increased their lead to 54-24 after three and actually led by as many as 36 points in the game. The Otters never led as they fell behind 5-0 to start the game.

Red Wing blistered the nets at a 54% clip (22/41), including 43% (6/14) from beyond the three-point arc. They also made 23-of-30 free throw opportunities and placed four players in double digits.

Fergus Falls had only one player in double figures and that was senior guard Josh Mohagen who scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Mohagen made 3-of-4 from 3-point range but had to work extremely hard to get any good looks. Mohagen managed to get off only one shot in the first half.

Fergus Falls finished the season with a 22-4 record.

Head coach Gary Schuler ended his Hall of Fame coaching career by making his first state tournament appearance as head coach of the Otters. Schuler took the Warren Ponies to four state tournaments (1979, 1981, 1984, 1989).

MSCTC Spartan Men’s Basketball
For the first time in school history, the Spartan Men’s basketball team won back-to-back Region XIII titles. They did it by beating a team they had lost to twice during the regular season, Central Lakes.

The road to the Region XIII title was bumpy as the Minneapolis Marauders ended the Spartans dream for an undefeated division season with a 79-75 win over MSCTC in the final division contest of the year. The outcome of that game left both teams 13-1, co-champions in the Southern Division. It also forced a playoff game at Ridgewater Community and Technical College to decide which team would earn the automatic berth into the Region Tournament.

Trailing 16-10 in the first half, MSCTC ran off fourteen straight points to take a 24-16 lead and didn't trail the rest of the game. Their half time lead was 30-23.

Minneapolis cut the lead to 34-32 early in the second half, however, a twelve point run by the Spartans gave them a 46-32 lead. The Marauders cut the lead to two points late in the game but the MSCTC made their foul shots down the stretch to win by four points.

Fergus Falls made 23-of-29 free throws, led by Matt Johnson who was 9-of-10 on the foul line. Matt Hoie started out cold at the charity stripe, making only one of his first five, but finished strong by converting four straight from the line in the final minutes of the game. Minneapolis shot fourteen free throws and made only six of them.

Fergus Falls had four players in double figures, led by Hoie with 17, Johnson with 11 and Chad Anderson with 11. Anderson ignited the 12-0 run that gave MSCTC a 14 point lead in the second half, hitting three 3's and a pair of free throws. Andy Parochka contributed ten points for the Spartans.

The Marauders lost point guard Paris Kyles to an ankle injury early in the second half. Kyles sat out the final six minutes of the first half with three fouls and wound up missing about half the game due to either foul trouble or the injury.

MSCTC held 7-foot freshman post player Mike Kinsella to only six points, all in the second half.

"A tremendous win for our club, biggest of the year," stated Spartan head coach Dave Retzlaff. "Lots of people contributed at various times. It was a real team effort."

With the Region XIII berth sewed up, the Spartans headed to Minneapolis to attempt to repeat as State champs. After an 87-81 win over Rainy River in the first round, the Spartans fell to Vermilion 70-66 and saw their hopes at back-to-back state titles dashed. MSCTC then beat Ridgewater 88-73 to claim third place in the tournament. Johnson and Parochka were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Spartans placed Parochka, Johnson and Nick Hansen on the All-Conference team for 2003-2004, with Hoie joining the three of them on the All-Division team for the South Division of the MCCC.

In the semifinals of the Region XIII Tournament, MSCTC dominated Milwaukee Area Tech 82-60. The Spartans scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back, holding Milwaukee Area Tech scoreless for nearly four minutes at the start of the game. The Stormers, who brought a record of 24-8 into the tournament, cut the margin to four points at 16-12, after a 12-2 run, but were never closer as the Spartans built a 50-35 half time lead and led by as many as 24 points in the contest.

MSCTC hit 33-of-69 field goal attempts (48%) and 8-of-15 from behind the 3-point arc (53%).

Archie Weatherspoon had five dunks in the game including a Showtime lob pass for the slam from point guard Matt Johnson. Weatherspoon scored 13 of his team high 15 points in the first half and hit 7-of-10 shots on the night while grabbing a team high 11 rebounds.

Against Central Lakes in the Region XIII title game, MSCTC led 37-28 at half time and fought off a second half rally that cut their lead to two points at 48-46 with under eight minutes to play in the game. Andy Parochka nailed three-point field goals on back-to-back possessions to give the Spartans a 54-46 lead and some breathing room as they were able to build the lead back into double digits and win by eleven. Parochka hit four 3s on the way to a game high 17 points.

Three other Spartans were in double figures with Matt Johnson and Nick Hansen each scoring 12 points and Matt Hoie adding eleven. Hoie made 9-of-11 free throw opportunities and Johnson hit 7-of-8 on from the charity stripe. As a team, MSCTC knocked down 23-of-28 from the line and outscored Central Lakes 23-10. Hansen, the sophomore post player from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, was named the MVP of the tournament.

The fans were treated to a great first round game at the National Tournament as the Spartans went toe-to-toe with Eastfield, Texas for forty-five minutes of college basketball before losing 86-84 in overtime. The Spartans shot 51% (29/57) from the field in their opening round game of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament.

Eastfield used their aggressive play and quickness to force 17 Spartan turnovers and built a nine point lead late in the second half. Eastfield had only 12 turnovers in the game. The Harvesters also shot the ball well, hitting 46% of their shots from the floor (31/67).

The Spartans trailed 40-36 at the half but outscored Eastfield 39-35 in the second half to tie the game at 75-75 and force OT. Nick Hansen made a pair of free throws with under thirty seconds to play in regulation time to tie the game and when Eastfield missed a three as time ran down, the two teams were looking at overtime.

In the consolation semifinals the Spartans recorded an 82-74 win over Cayuga, New York. MSCTC never trailed in the game as they took a 4-0 lead, saw Cayuga pull even at 4-4 and then outscored them 12-2 to open up a 16-6 lead. They led by eleven in the first half and had a 43-34 half time lead. At one time in the second half they led by twelve, 48-36. Cayuga cut the lead to two points at 61-59 with 8:47 remaining in the game, but the Spartans scored the next seven points to kick the lead back up to nine points.

The Fergus Falls team made 28-of-35 free throw opportunities and shot 50% from the field (25/50). Matt Hoie and Nick Hansen each scored 20 points to lead the Spartans. Hoie made 11-of-12 from the free throw line and Hansen converted 6-of-7 foul shots. Andy Parochka made 6-of-8 on the line and scored 15 points. Archie Weatherspoon scored 14 points, hitting 7-of-8 field goal attempts for the second straight day.

The win put them up against Gloucester, New Jersey, ranked number two in the nation, in the fourth place game. MSCTC settled for sixth place in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, losing to Gloucester County College 71-56. Their sixth place finish marked the second straight year they took sixth in the nation.

Sophomore guard Matt Hoie, who scored 24 and 20 points in the first two games of the tournament, was named to the All-Tournament team.

The Spartan sophomores had a two-year record of 54 wins and 11 defeats. They became the first Spartan team to win back-to-back Region 13 titles and played more games in one season, 33, than any other Spartan team.
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Reflecting on 2004
How will we remember 2004? In many ways I'm sure. When I reflect on the year in area sports, many thoughts come to mind and I'd like to share several of them with you right now.

We had the opportunity to witness many outstanding accomplishments by area athletes and sports teams. I would like to address the team aspect of 2004, primarily, although several individual accomplishments will also be referred to. I will do my best to recall them all, however, please don't feel slighted if I miss one that was special to you!

I was thinking of doing a top 10, but there are more than 10. I was thinking of counting down from whatever to the number one team accomplishment of the year, but that is so hard to decide. There were so many amazing things that were achieved in so many different sports by so many different athletes. So, here, in reverse order by season, beginning with fall, are some of the truly fantastic teams of 2004.

Fergus Falls Girls Cross Country
In October, the Fergus Falls girls cross country team accomplished a first and a second as head coach Terry Harrington experienced a last.

For the first time in school history, the girls cross country team won the Section 8AA team championship, running on their home course at the Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls. It marked the second time in school history and the second consecutive year that the Otter girls qualified for the state meet, and it all happened in what was the last home meet ever coached by Harrington who is stepping down from his coaching duties after 33 years at the helm.

The Otters won the even decisively with five girls placing in the top eleven as the team tallied 38 points to finish well ahead of Sartell-St. Stephen. The Sabres had 61 points to take second.
The race was run in a steady rain that turned into a downpour as girls started crossing the finish line.

Detroit Lakes junior Hanna Grinaker won the individual title for the second straight year with a time of 14:08.9, nearly a minute in front of the rest of the field. Fergus Falls senior Emily Winans (15:04.6) was the runner-up.

Other state qualifiers for the Otters were eighth-grader Callie Shea (15:28.8), sophomore Anna VanWechel (15:36.3) and senior Sam VanWechel (15:37.3).

Fergus Falls runner Ramsey Vogt (15:41) took eleventh place, just missing out on an individual state qualifying spot. Kylie Zenner (16:29.4) and Anna Rengel (16:30.8) were the other two Otters participating in the race, placing 31st and 33rd.

Winans earned all-state honors by finishing 13th individually and the Otter girls cross country team ended up seventh out of sixteen teams at the Class AA State meet on Saturday, November 6 in Northfield.

Fergus Falls Girls Swimming
Another fall sport at Fergus Falls High School experienced a tremendous season, as the Girls Swimming and Diving team, led by sensational senior Stacy Busack did things never done before by Otters in the water.

They qualified six individuals for state in five individual events and two relays. Busack established two new Section 2A meet and pool records by swimming a 23.78 in the 50 freestyle and a 51.88 in the 100 freestyle, winning both events.

Busack was also a member of the second place 200 medley relay and the second place 400 freestyle relay. Karin Koenig, Breanne Pendergrass and Kara Fisher joined Busack in setting a new school record (1:52.75) in the 200 medley relay, while FIsher, Pendergrass and Jennie Miller were the other three members of the 400 freestyle relay team.

The Otters sent two girls to state in the 100 breaststroke. Kelly Ross (1:11.55) was second and Karin Koenig (1:11.81) third. Pendergrass (1:01.50) and Fisher (1:03.47) met the state qualifying time standard and are also going in the 100 backstroke where Pendergrass was third and Fisher fifth. Pendergrass placed third in the 100 butterfly but met the state qualifying standard with a time of 1:01.35, breaking her own Fergus Falls school record in the event.

Fergus Falls gave Hutchinson a run for the Section 2A team title, scoring 351 points while Hutchinson scored 360. That's the closest anyone has been to Hutch at the section meet in several years. They have won the Section title ten straight years.

Head coach Tom Uvaas was voted Section 2A Coach of the Year and Busack was voted Co-Senior Swimmer of the Meet, sharing the award with Lindsay Wegner of Hutchinson.

There were no new state records set this year by Busack, but she did successfully defend her state Class A titles in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle at the U of M Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

Busack won the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.73 seconds, improving on her preliminary time of 24.19 but falling just short of her state record time of a year ago, 23.59 seconds. She also took first place in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.92 seconds, again bettering her prelim time from Monday of 53.00 seconds but coming up a bit short of the record she set in winning the event last year, 51.74 seconds. Stacy was also a member of the sixth place 200 medley relay team and the 400 freestyle relay team which took eleventh place.

Kara Fisher, Karin Koenig and Breanne Pendergrass joined Busack on the 200 medley relay team, swimming a time of 1:53.34. Fisher, Pendergrass and Busack were joined by Jennie Miller in the 400 freestyle relay, turning in a time of 3:46.07.

Pendergrass placed eighth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:01.98. Her qualifying time on Monday was 1:01.73. Breanne was also tenth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:02.69. Her preliminary time was 1:02.51. Fisher placed sixteenth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:04.32 after qualifying with a prelim time of 1:04.08.

In the 100 breaststroke, junior Karin Koenig took thirteenth place, swimming a time of 1:11.50 after turning in a prelim time of 1:11.30. Eighth-grader Kelly Ross was fifteenth with a time of 1:12.20. Her Monday qualifying time was 1:11.85.

The Otters placed eighth in the team competition with 103 points. Section 2A champion Hutchinson won the Class A team title with 209 points. The team total was the highest ever recorded in a state meet by an Otter girls team and their eighth place finish is the best team finish ever.

Ottertail Central Bulldogs Football
The 'Dawgs' opened the season with a loss to the Browerville Tigers, 27-26. Talk about waking a sleeping giant! From that point on, OTC went on a mission. That mission was to not experience defeat again as they marched to a Class 1A title. They got their shot, but came up just shorts.

Ottertail Central went on a tear, winning the rest of their regular season games to qualify for Section playoff action where as fate would have it, they met Browerville in the Section 6A finals and avenged their only loss of the season when they trounced the Tigers 37-6 at the Fargodome.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs qualified for the state tournament for the third consecutive year and four of the last five. They beat Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 29-14 in the state quarterfinals and knocked off defending Class A champion, the Goodhue Wildcats 47-21 in the semi's. That put them up against Rushford-Peterson in the Prep Bowl at the Metrodome. R-P won the championship 20-6 with an outstanding second half.

"It was a great game," said OTC head coach Don Seipkes. "Both teams played extremely well with the
difference being the Bulldogs inability to score when the opportunity was close and then having too many turnovers. In most games when one team out gains another by over 100+ yards and has 6 more first downs, you would think they would have won. That was not he case on this day however. The Dawgs played hard and gave it everything that they had. They may not have accomplished their main goal, but in my eyes they are Champions. I am extremely proud of them. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Great job TEAM."

The Bulldogs ended the season with a 12-2 record.

Hillcrest Lutheran Academy Football
The Comet football team put up some very impressive numbers as they qualified for the State 9-Man playoffs. They dominated play in their inaugural season in the Tri-County North Conference, winning all eight regular season games and outscoring their opponents 355-74 in the process.

In the Section playoffs, Hillcrest continued their impressive play, beating Norman County West 46-18, Ada-Borup 51-20 and Ulen-Hitterdal 41-6 to move into the state playoffs.

A convincing 49-16 win over Albrook on the Comets home field, advanced them to a Metrodome date with regional power Bertha-Hewitt, in the 9-Man State Semifinals.

With the game tied and only 5:20 remaining in regulation play, here is what unfolded in that game.

Bertha-Hewitt Quarterback Nathan Haase hit Michael Riewer with a 52 yard pass that moved the ball to the Hillcrest 18 and then Haase scored on a fifteen yard run to lift the Bears to a 26-20 lead with only 2:57 remaining in the game. Matt Borowski blocked the extra point kick.

The Comets were stopped on downs at the Bears 40 yard line and then used their timeouts to stop Bertha-Hewitt and force a punt. Treston Wold returned the punt to the Bears 45 yard line and with five seconds to play the Comets had one last chance as Jake Stroud threw a desparation pass that went off Tyler Crabtree's hands near the goal line, resulting in a 26-20 Bertha-Hewitt victory.

Hillcrest finished an amazing football season with a record of 12-1.

Underwood Girls Volleyball
It appeared as if the three year hold on the Section 5A title might end for the Underwood girls volleyball team, but the Rockets rallied from two games down to qualify for their fourth straight state tournament with a 3-2 win over the Bertha-Hewitt Bears in the 5A championship match.

The Bears, who start four sophomores and use six sophomores in their player rotation, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match by winning the first two games 25-22 and 25-23. Underwood took charge in game three with a 25-11 victory and squared the match by winning game four 25-17. They finished the comeback with a 15-11 win in game five.

Ashley Samuelson was nearly perfect on her hitting as she was 74-for-75 executing attacks with 34 kills and added six ace blocks. She was also 37-for-37 setting with 10 set assists and 19-for-19 serving with a pair of aces.

Senior setter Mary Hamann recorded her 2,000th career set assist and distributed 27 assists on the night, while setting 74-of-75 balls. Hamann was 21-for-22 on the serving line with 4 aces, including a seven point run with 3 aces in the pivotal third game.

Libero Megan Ness, who recorded her 1,000th career dig during the Section 5A semifinal match against Browerville, was 36-of-40 on digs.

The Rockets went on to lose both of their matches in the Class A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. They fell to eventual state champion, Fosston in the first round and then lost to Tower Soudan in the consolation semifinals to finish with an outstanding season record of 26-6-2.

West Central Area Girls Tennis
The West Central Area Knights won their third straight Sub-Section 6A Title. The Knights defeated Osakis 7-0 in the first round and Minnewaska Area in the championship 4-3.
The wins advanced them to their third straight Section 6A Championship match where they faced Melrose in the championship for a third straight year.

The Lady Knights also qualified all six of their individual competitors to the Section 6A meet. "I am very pleased with the outcome today," said WCA head coach Sue Maier. "To have all six participants advancing shows the hard work and dedication they have put in."

The team went on to earn their first ever State Tournament trip with a 6-1 victory over Melrose to become the Section 6A champions.

"I couldn't be more proud of our team," stated head coach Sue Maier. "This is a fitting end to what has been a successful, long run for my nine seniors. Our goal has been to build our team up and make it to the state tournament for the last several years, and it seems unreal that we finally made it."

Senior Kristel Anderson also qualified for the State Class A Individual Tournament with a second place finish in the Section Singles competition.

At the state meet, WCA recorded an impressive 6-1 victory over Redwood Valley in the quarterfinals before losing 6-1 to seven-time defending Class A state champion Rochester Lourdes in the semifinals. Foley then beat the Lady Knights for third place in the state.

To summarize, the Lady Knights claimed their 3rd straight Sub-section championship, their first ever Section 6A Championship and finished fourth in the state. The Knights also earned the Academic Section 6A Championship with a combined GPA of 3.890. The Knights closed out their 2004 season with a record of 16-6.

"I want to congratulate the team on all their hard work and accomplishments this season," stated head coach Sue Maier. "It was our year. Everything finally fell into place. You guys proved that with enough hard work, enough determination, anything is possible. Our 9 seniors graduating this year will be missed."

The Knights also have individuals claiming Section & State participation. Kristel Anderson advanced for her 2nd straight year to the Individual State Tennis Tournament in singles. Kasey Maier participated in her 4th straight state appearance and Megan Shuck participated in her 3rd straight state appearance, both advancing to state this year with the team. Chelsey Knabe placed 3rd in Section play this season in singles, Shuck & Maier placed 4th in Section play in doubles.

Megan Shuck and Kristel Anderson both hit a high note this year earning their 100th wins. 9 ot of 13 letterwinners close out careers: Maier closed out her career as a 6-year letterwinner. Anderson, a 5-year letterwinner, and Shuck closed out her career also as a 5-yr. letterwinner.

This season 6 team members were named to the All-State Academic Team: Megan Shuck, Chelsey Knabe, Nicole Trulson, Judie Marshall, Erin Lee, & Sarah Emmel.

MSCTC Lady Spartans Volleyball
The Lady Spartans rallied for a 3-2 win over Rochester, clinching their second straight Region 13A championship and qualifying for the NJCAA Division III National Tournament for the second consecutive season and the second time in school history.

The Yellowjackets took the first game 30-25 but the Lady Spartans came back with a 30-23 win in game two. After falling 30-20 in the third game, MSCTC pulled even in the match with a 30-19 win in the fourth game. The Fergus Falls girls dominated the final game, recording a 15-6 win to qualify for nationals.

"I thought our blocking game really came through for us," stated MSCTC head coach Ann Williams. "It seemed like we were moving well and were in the right spot at the right time. It was a great match. I think Rochester was probably playing their best volleyball of the year and that helped bring out play up."

Tammy Kuechle led the attack with 16 kills and added 22 digs, Laura Herbranson had 15 kills and six blocks, Kelli Baumgartner contributed 12 kills, 2 blocks and 20 digs, Kerri Holtz ended up with 9 kills and 6 blocks and Mandy Wurm added eight kills and three blocks. Nell Amundson distributed 30 set assists, while Talia Otto had 21 set assists and two ace serves.

Baumgartner, Herbranson and Holtz were all named the Region 13 All-Tournament team and coach Williams was selected as the Region 13A Coach of the Year.

At the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, MSCTC did not qualify for the second day of competition as they placed 3-6 in pool play.

"We just had too many unforced errors," stated coach Williams. "We also were up against some very strong competition. I think as a whole, this year's tournament had some tougher teams than the tournament last year. It was great for this group of sophomores to accomplish what they did. Going to the national tournament in consecutive seasons is something to be proud of."

The Lady Spartans finished the season with a 28-10 record.

A couple of honorable mentions from the fall season go to Coach Rod Jensen's Hillcrest/Pelican Rapids combination of boys soccer players. The Comets earned the number one seed in Section 8A, shutout Detroit Lakes 2-0 in the quarterfinals and then were upset by fifth-seeded Sartell-St. Stephen 1-0 in the semifinal round. The Comets finished 16-2-1 on the season.

The Ashby football team had a remarkable year for head coach Roger Jansen. They opened the season 2-2 with losses to powerhouses Verndale and Bertha-Hewitt, but proceeded to win six in a row before falling to Wheaton in the Section 3, 9-Man championship game at the Fargodome. The Arrows ended a tremendous football season with an 8-3 record.

Moving on to the spring and what a spring it was!! We'll start with a first!

MSCTC Spartans Baseball
The Spartan baseball team won their first ever Region XIII championship with a 4-3 win over the Dawson Buccaneers of Glendive, Montana. The victory sent MSCTC to Batavia, New York for the NJCAA Division III National Tournament. The two teams sat through two rain delays before completing the game in Fergus Falls.

"This is just awesome," stated Spartan head coach Kent Bothwell. "What makes me feel so good was to see our kids go get that trophy. They worked their butts off all year and to see them come together the way they did was worth all of the hard work."

The Spartans scored an unearned run in the top of the first thanks to some heads-up baserunning by Chris Shea. Shea reached first on a one out error by shortstop Dustin Smith. Brandon Veches chopped a slow roller toward third base with Shea running on the pitch. As Alex Rivas made a play on the ball, Shea saw that third base was uncovered and continued toward third without hesitation. Veches beat the throw to first and the throw across the diamond was too late to get Shea. Cleanup hitter Ryan Hendrickson drove home Shea with a sacrifice fly to center field.

After the first rain delay, Jeff Dittel led off the bottom of the fifth with a base hit and scored on Nate Meissners homer to left field, giving Fergus Falls a 3-0 edge.

After the second rain delay, MSCTC made it 4-0 on Dittel's run scoring single which scored Mike Lloyd from second.

Winning pitcher Mick Hanan faced the minimum of fifteen batters through the first five innings as the Spartans threw out three runners on the base paths, including two at home plate. Dawson scored all three of their runs after two were out in the top of the seventh. RBI singles by Adam Karrels and Bryan Hutzley drove in two of the runs and the third scored on an error. An error on a two out fly ball to left center field kept the rally alive but Shea made an excellent fielding play behind second base which led to a force out to end the game.

The Spartans won three straight games in the tournament. Hanan struck out three, walked one and gave up seven hits in earning the victory.

"When I made the decision to pitch Mick in the championship game I considered his character and I had such a good feeling about putting him out there," commented Bothwell. "Hes a first class young man, a team player and a hard worker. When he steps up on that mound he becomes a real warrior."

Bothwell was named the Region XIII Coach of the Year.

"When I came to Fergus Falls I had some dreams for this field and for this program," continued Bothwell. "One of those dreams was to have a facility that would allow us to possibly host a Regional tournament and get in a position to play for the championship on our home field. To see that dream achieved is the ultimate feeling for a coach."

The baseball team is the third sports team at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls to qualify for a national tournament this school year. Their volleyball team advanced to nationals in the fall and the mens basketball team qualified for the NJCAA Division III National Tournament during the winter season.

In Batavia, New York, things got off to a bad start for the Spartans. Starting pitcher Tyler Knott left the game in the first inning after being hit on his pitching hand by a line drive and the Massasoit Warriors scored a national tournament record nine runs in the first inning on the way to an 11-0 five-inning victory over MSCTC.

After striking out Jared Mello to start the game, Knott was struck on his right hand by a line drive off the bat of Josh Marot. He scrambled to retrieve the ball and threw wildly to first base allowing Marot to reach second on the play. Knott then went to his knees in pain for several minutes while a trainer examined his injured hand. After throwing a few pitches he stayed in the game and faced three more batters before being lifted by coach Bothwell.

"Tyler's injury was a real unfortunate thing to happen to our team," stated Bothwell. "We just couldnt recover from that start."

The Spartans went on to play the second ranked Gloucester County Road Runners from Sewell, New Jersey, losing 12-4, and ending their season with a 26-17 record.

Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, December 13, 2004
Hillcrest Wins 9-Man Academic All-State Team Title
The Hillcrest Lutheran Academy football team has earned the 2004 Academic All-State team title in 9-Man football with a 3.68 GPA. The Section 6A Academic All-State team champion is also represented by senior Jake Stroud on the individual team. Ashby's Lance Koplin also earned a spot on the team.

Shawn Stroud, a 1982 graduate of Fergus Falls High School and the father of Jake Stroud of the Comets put it well when he wrote this in an e-mail to me earlier, "Of all the accomplishments on the field, I think this is the accomplishment that means the most!"

In Class 1A, Ottertail Central teammates Kyle Belmont and John Muehlberg were chosen to the Individual Academic All-State team.

Nick Torkildson was named to the Minnesota Class 3A Academic All-state Football Team. This award is based on both academic standing and their ability in football. With only 13 players named to this team in the entire state this is quite an honor.

Nick is one of the members of the Pelican Rapids boys basketball team. Torkildson averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds per game as a junior. The Vikings are ranked eighth in the state in Class 2A and will be a tough team to match up with for most Heart O' Lakes Conference teams. D-G-F and Breckenridge are among the teams expected to battle the Vikings for the conference title.

Sophomore Mandy Wurm of the Lady Spartans has been named the Southern Division Player of the Week in the Minnesota Community College Conference. Wurm just returned from an ankle injury in volleyball to score 41 points and record 19 rebounds and seven steals as MSCTC-Fergus Falls defeated Itasca and Northland. Wurm is a sophomore from Maple Lake High School.

The Girls HOL stats are out. Senior post player Gillian Bjerke of Pelican Rapids leads the conference in scoring at 15 points per game. Erica Nord of Barnesville is second at 15 points per game, followed by Katie Stearns of Frazee at 14, Laure Sczygiel of Perham at 13.3 and Jessica Garrett of Pelican Rapids at 12.5.

Katie Walden of Hawley leads in assists with 6.8 per game with Kelly Lopez of D-G-F second at six per game. Dani Stoll of Perham is averaging 5/7, followed by Jennifer Hensel of Frazee and Garrett of Pelican Rapids at five per game.

Breckenridge has two of the top rebounders in the league. Samantha Meyer leads at 10.4 per game and Kayla Mohs is tied for second with Lopez and Bjerke at nine per game. Stears and Dawnelle Askelson of Lake Park-Audubon are next at 8.3 rebounds per game.

Coley Nelson of D-G-F leads in steals with 5.5 per game, followed by Stacy Schmidt of West Central Area and Lindsey Schultz of Ulen-Hitterdal at 4.3 per game.

Mohs has hit a conference best 63.2% of her field goal attempts (24/38) and Danielle Jetvig of Hawley is perfect on 3's (4/4). Jenni Laney of LPA leads in 3-point conversions and attempts (10/24) for 41.7% efficiency. Brianna Vold of Breckenridge is 100% from the free throw line (9/9), with Kaitlyn Gottenborg of Hawley second at 84.6% (11/13). The Nuggets Katie Walden is third (9/11) at 81.8%.

Some area wrestlers are ranked in the top ten of their weight classes by The Guillotine.com

In Class 2A, Detroit Lakes (3) and Perham (5) are ranked in the Dirty Dozen team ratings with the following area wrestlers ranked in their specific weight classes.

112 - (10) James Rogers (Detroit Lakes)
125 - (2) Kip Anderson (Pelican Rapids), (6) Sam Goracke (Minnewaska Area), (8) Phillip Moenkedick (Perham)
135 - (3) Shad Tappe (Detroit Lakes)
145 - (5) Michael Guehna (Perham), (7) David Carruth (Lac qui Parle Valley)
152 - (8) Mike Griffin (Detroit Lakes)
160 - (8) Taylor Jergenson (Minnewaska Area)
171 - (9) Kenny Moenkedick (Perham)
189 - (9) Jon Flatau (Perham)
215 - (1) Brent Eidenschink (Detroit Lakes)
275 - (4) Andy Lundberg (Detroit Lakes)

In Class 1A, New York MIlls (3), Frazee (9), Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (10) and Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (11) are ranked in the Dirty Dozen team ratings with the following area wrestlers ranked in their specific weight classes.

103 - (4) Kevin Steinhaus (Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg), (6) Spencer Beech (Breckenridge)
112 - (10) Andrew Lockrem (Frazee)
119 - (1) Kirk Anderson (Barnesville), (4) Davey Kosen (Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton), (10) Jared Hotakainien (New York Mills)
126 - (4) Jeramie Weller (New York Mills), (5) Justin Skillings (Frazee), (10) Shane Fickes (Wheaton/Herman-Norcross)
130 - (4) Brady Schneeberger (West Central Area), (6) Ben Anderson (Frazee), (8) Jason Berg (New York Mills)
135 - (5) Brent Weller (New York Mills), (8) T.J. Severance (Wheaton/Herman-Norcross)
140 - (1) Casey Gray (Wheaton/Herman-Norcross), (9) Kerry Lockrem (Frazee), (10) Jeremy Hagen (New York Mills)
145 - (4) Cody Salo (New York Mills), (8) Dan Schermerhorn (Frazee
152 - (3) Scott Thompson (Benson), (10) Darrin Carlson (Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg)
160 - (10) Luke McArthur (Mahnomen/Waubun)
171 - (2) Cody Rinke (Wheaton/Herman-Norcross)
189 - (2) Matt Anderson (West Central Area)
215 - (7) Josh Wentzel (Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg), (8) Jon Brunner (Mahnomen/Waubun)
275 - (1) Jon Dosh (Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton), (4) Abe Miller (Benson)
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, December 5, 2004
Several Area Players Among Best in the State
Every basketball season the Minnesota Basketball News comes out with their top 100 players in both girls and boys high school basketball. This year, as always, there are several area players listed.

Underwood senior Ashley Samuelson, headed to Colorado State on a full ride scholarship, is listed in the top ten girls players in Minnesota, along with Pelican Rapids senior Gillian Bjerke, who will be attending Iowa State next year as a scholarship athlete.

Others in the top 100 include 6-1 senior center Jenni Strand of Alexandria, Jordanne Even (6-0, Jr.) and Hallie Hoganson (5-8, So.) of Detroit Lakes, Jenna Freudenberg (5-8, Sr.) of Parkers Prairie, Kaitlyn Gottenborg (5-8, Jr.) and Katie Walden (5-9, Sr.) of Hawley, Jackie Gulsvig (5-5, Sr.) of Moorhead and Lindsey Schultz (5-8, So.) of Ulen-Hitterdal.

Making the boys basketball top 100 list from around the area are Adam Holte (6-10, Sr.) and Jake Driscoll (5-9, So.) of D-G-F, Jason Speer (6-0, Sr.) of Battle Lake, Taylor Huseby (6-6, Jr.) of Pelican Rapids and two players from Park Christian School, Grant Gunhus (6-3, Sr.) and Austin Pennick (6-3, Sr.).

Posted By Craig Olson
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