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Crowe ending his pool years

sports Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/all/themes/wctrib_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Crowe ending his pool years
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

You might refer to Steve Crow in this town as "Mr. Youth Swimming." For 26 years he's coached competitive swimming for kids starting as young as five years old.

He's stepping down this month. No particular reason, he said. "It just seems right after 41 years (around the pool)."

The Stingrays swim club offers stroke and stamina training at the high-school pool with the option of entering meets about once a month.

Most events that the club attends are in the Twin Cities or occasionally at Hutchinson. If not for for the travel, the club could go to a meet every weekend.

"The distances make it difficult. In the Cities, clubs can compete every weekend," said Crow. "Essentially, it boils down to we're a feeder program for the high school."

All but one swimming record on the Cardinals' two record boards involve a former Stingray. The exception is Brad Lewis's butterfly standard set about the time Crow answered a want ad.

"They scraped the bottom of the barrel and I climbed out," cracked Crow this week.

To the contrary, his resumé was water tight. The California native swam competitively through his school years and into college where he played water polo. The Navy veteran moved here in the mid-1980s with his wife, Shelley, who owns the Century 21 office where Steve also works.

"In the early years, I'd go to practice and sometimes no one would show up," said Crow. "So after awhile, I'd lock the (junior high) door and go home. Maybe the few kids enrolled had another activity. After a while we'd got a half-dozen or so each night."

About the mid-90s, the club found its sea legs. Now there are 60 boys and girls registered with Minnesota Swimming. Practices normally pull about 30 kids, Crow said.

Crow has not been alone on the deck. Larry Laingen has been involved for years, while varsity assistant Scott Johnson, among others, now help tutor the youngsters.

The Stingray board will be seeking additional coaching staff. The retiring head coach will be recognized for his commitment and years of service at the Stingrays' Golden Goggles Banquet May 1.

No. 2 for Smith

The Eden Prairie Eagles won their second Class AA boys hockey title in three years on Saturday night, overcoming defensive-minded Duluth East, 3-2, in three overtimes. The tournament's longest championship game ever (80 minutes, 43 seconds) became an instant classic.

Head coach Lee Smith (WHS '84) said it was a "gut wrenching" evening.

"(Duluth East) took us out of our game for the first two periods," he related in an e-mail this week. "My theme for the third (period) was that if you're going down, do it playing Eagle hockey. We won the third (period) to get it to overtime. When we didn't score in the first OT, I was nervous. (Duluth East) seemed to have more energy."

Between overtime periods, "Our players rallied and said there was no way they were going back to the locker room without the trophy."

The winning goal by a sprawling Kyle Rau (Mr. Hockey) ended it.

The Eagles will lose 13 seniors. In 18 years, Smith's Eden Prairie teams are 346-124-25 with 12 trips to the section final and five state visits.

3 generations

There is one more player from the Cardinals 1947 state hockey tournament I've long wished to acknowledge. Jonathan Johnson, now 82, was a starting senior defenseman that year. What is unique about Jon is that he is the foundation of three generations of Cardinal hockey players. His son, Ron, was on varsity from 1974-76. Ron's sons, Ryan and Matt, played for Willmar varsity, graduating in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

Florida sunshine

The Ridgewater baseball and softball teams are back in the college gym after enjoying Florida's 70-degree temperatures last week.

The NJCAA Division III No. 3-ranked Lady Warriors went 5-2. Andrea Krause (Bloomington Kennedy) and Shannon Heitz (Glencoe-Silver Lake) tossed most of the innings. The infield looked good with Emily Roelike at shortstop and Whitley Strei at second base. Next on the schedule is three games at the Rosemount Dome on March 28. The MCAC opener is scheduled for April 1 against St. Cloud Technical College, a team that is under first-year coach Greg Thorstad, the brother of Ridgewater coach Todd Thorstad.

Joel Barta's baseball team went 5-1 against D-III foes and 6-4 overall. Barta said pitching was consistent, but the bats were sluggish, normally the case this early. Two of the four losses were to Heartland (Ill.), the top-rated team in D-II.

On the fly

* Kelsey Evans finished her sophomore basketball season at Brian Cliff University in Sioux Falls, scoring 22 points in two NAIA playoff games. The Chargers were eliminated on Friday by Davenport (35-0) 84-61. Evans scored 12 points in that game.

* Although the Cardinal boys basketball team lost their winning way midway through the season and will lose five seniors, six players will be back who saw considerable varsity action. That includes Jimmy Unger, who led the team in scoring with a 14.7 point average.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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