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What was great in '08 ... one reporter's notebook

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Memories are little mental snapshots we carry with us, sometimes for days, others for a lifetime. Here's my top recollections from the Willmar sports beat in 2008, in no particular order and in no way meant to be definitive.

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. Adam Lindblad hitting a pull-up jump shot from the side of the key with eight seconds left at Concordia University to put Willmar in front of Minneapolis Patrick Henry 64-63. Willmar, which had trailed by as much as 14 points in second half, held on to win its biggest trophy since the 1958 tournament.

. Jordan Smith accounts for all the Willmar points in a 24-14 win at Sartell. The wide receiver/safety catches two touchdown passes from Alec Saunders, boots a 26-yard field goal and returns one of his four pass interceptions for a TD.

. Mahad Hassan staggers to the finish line in the boys Class AA cross-country race, a half-second out of second place. A co-favorite before the race, Hassan runs to exhaustion but it's not his day. Still, it is the highest finish ever at the state meet by a Cardinal -- boy or girl.

. Lady Warriors volleyball program reaches NJCAA Division III national tournament final a fourth year in a row. Most all the players come from small towns within 75 miles of the Willmar campus.

. In the season opener at St. Cloud State's Husky Stadium, Warrior running back Alex McLaughlin slashes through the Itasca College defense for 251 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore from Apple Valley would finish with 16 TDs and a school-record 1,727 yards rushing, helping him earn NJCAA First Team All-America honors.

. A huge crowd (by soccer standards) at Kennedy Field and the exciting atmosphere when the Willmar boys soccer team played (and beat) Southwest Minnesota Christian in the first-ever section final for a Cardinal team.

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