From Alaska to Aberdeen, they came
At a junior college, a bit south of Lake Wobegon, you can't be sure who will show up.
Take, for instance, the wrestling team at Ridgewater.
Freshman Ryder Torgeson is from Sitka, Alaska, the son of a commercial fisherman. He himself has drawn a paycheck crewing on the boats since age 11. His dad, Dewey, has fished for a living for 50 years. They fish for halibut and black cod from the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea. Torgeson said 90 percent of the cod is sold in Japan.
Sitka is on Baranof Island, just miles off the Pacific coastline and south of Juneau. It's smaller than Willmar, but it attracts over 200,000 visitors each summer, many arriving by cruise ship.
"You can't drive to Sitka," said Torgeson. "You take a boat or fly."
He wrestled three years on the Sitka Wolves varsity. His senior season he went 44-2 and was the Alaska runner-up at 160 pounds.
"There's no college wrestling in Alaska," Torgeson said. "I went to a couple of J Robinson Wrestling Camps (at the University of Minnesota) and that's where I heard about Ridgewater."
He visited the Willmar campus and met with coach Tom Beyer. He liked the fact he could pair wrestling and welding.
"They're talking about putting another pipeline across Alaska ," said Ryder, explaining his employment prospects, beyond fishing.
He has a 5-3 record this season, though he sat out the last two meets with a bad knee.
"It's my first year away from home, so that's a little tough," he said. "But I've traveled quite a bit. So it's fine."
Chase Tempel came here out of Aberdeen (S.D) Roncalli, a Catholic high school. "I'd never heard of Willmar," he said this week. "I had no plans to go to college. But Coach Beyer called me and I decided to give it a shot. I got into the carpentry program and it's gone well. I might go to Moorhead (Minnesota State) next year and wrestle or play football and study construction management."
He medaled three years in the South Dakota state tournament. He has a 6-6 record after going 1-1 at 165 at the Iowa Lakes quad.
Beyer said he learned of Tempel when checking results of Minnesota meets. "He wrestled some kids I knew about, so I checked with some coaches and then got in touch with Chase," said Beyer.
Tempel did hear from some other colleges, but it wasn't until he heard from Ridgewater that he changed his mind on college.
Kansas University head women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson was the first girl in Willmar school history to score 1,000 points (1981).
Her Jayhawks are off to a 7-2 start after beating Northern Colorado 81-54 on Sunday in Lawrence. Other wins have come against Michigan, Iowa and UCLA, part of a 15-game non-conference schedule prior to Big 12 play. The Jayhawks were 22-14 last year, her fifth at KU. That followed seven years at Virginia Tech where her Hokies went 158-62.
On the fly
Jordan Olerud of Redwood Falls and Carina Fesenmaier of Sauk Rapids have both found success in four-year programs after playing on back-to-back Ridgewater College teams that reached the NJCAA championship. Olerud, an outside hitter, led Minnesota-Morris (15-15) in ace serves (44), digs (297) and was second in kills (232). Fesenmaier had 1,087 sets for Dakota Wesleyan (13-23) at Mitchell, S.D., and was one of two Tigers to make the Great Plains Athletic All-Conference team. Both are juniors.
Matt Carlson (WHS 2005), a senior at Minnesota Mankato State, has completed his internship in Sports Management while working in the Willmar High School activities office. Though he's fulfilled his intern requirement, he continues to assist activities director Jamie Thompson.
Minnesota Basketball News ranks Willmar No. 1 in boys Section 2AAA where other contenders include Mankato West and Marshall. In the CLC, St. Cloud Apollo (25-4 last year) is bolstered by 6-8 junior Simon Krych, who averaged 20 ppg and 9.2 rpg for Holdingford last season. Little Falls (18-12) has a top player in 6-8 Dan Kornbaum (21 ppg, 9 rpg). St. Cloud Tech (31-1) suffered key losses but remains the king until someone knocks them off. Their 18-0 mark last season makes them only the fourth team to post an unbeaten CLC season. The others: Willmar (14-0 in 1978-79, 10-0 in 1984-85) and Tech (10-0 1985-86).
Jennifer Knake, the Cardinals' 6-foot senior post, has signed a letter of intent to play for Jamestown (N.D). College, head women's basketball coach Mark Wiest announced Tuesday.
The Central Lakes Conference named Cardinal senior Taylor Filipek the Defensive Player of the Week in boys basketball. He had 13 rebounds, two steals and one block in a 69-65 win over Hastings.
Senior post Alex Lippert was named girls basketball Top Performer in the CLC for her two-game totals of 27 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Ridgewater College sophomore Casey Sussenguth, who is averaging 18.3 ppg and 9.5 rpg, was named MCAC Southern Division Player of the Week for Week 3.