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Willmar Cardinals spring outlook 2013

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A look at Willmar High School spring sports teams, whose battles continue with the weather. Boys tennis and girls softball will be previewed later this week.

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Boys golf

Coach Dave Ellwood returns 2012 starters Tony Kallevig, Cody Magnuson, Levi Hauser, Hunter Schneider, Hunter Mottinger, and Zech Streed. Also returning are the following lettermen that should help: Austin Dahlberg, Jason Dickerson, Zach Berget, Jacob Croonquist and Brady Damhof. Ellwood also looks for Riley Grabow and Ian Carruthers, who spent a lot of time at the course last summer, to contribute.

Willmar paced fifth in the Central Lakes Conference, but with so many seasoned players it should move into the top three this spring. An invite at Becker was canceled and the CLC meet at Wapicada GC was moved to April 16.

Marooned indoors, the team has reviewed rules, etiquette and fundamentals and practiced their short game. The outlook this week remains bleak; the hope is to get in the 36-hole Willmar/Litchfield Invite April 19-20 with the first day at Eagle Creek.

Girls golf

Coach Jodi Mottinger has attempted to get her girls back in the swing by hitting whiffle balls while videotaping player mechanics. Scouts have gone out looking for a dry patch of turf to practice chipping.

Three players return from the section team: Five-time letterwinner Raelin Setrum (2012 All-CLC) and Elise Duininck, the captains, plus junior Megan Iiams, who just missed the CLC-Honrable Mention cutoff. Carlee Bach, Kendra Maxfield and Zahia Farhat graduated creating vacancies for eighth-grader Grace Sawyer, who led the JV squad; seniors Liz Haug and Lisa Damhof, freshmen Bergen Vollan and Jordan Sankey and sophomore Alex Kennedy.

Track and field

The Cardinals teams both ran second at the CLC Indoor meet at St. Cloud on Saturday in their first meet.

Coach Jerry Popp and his staff are working with about 130 kids. He expects a solid year with a nice nucleus back from a boys team that placed fourth and a girls team that placed fifth at true team state. The girls have depth and talent in most every event, though shot put is wide open. NDSU recruit Rose Jackson leads the girls team. Key losses from last year were Bailey Young in the 100 hurdles and Katie Lippert in the jumps.

The boys are deep with some talent in most events. Distance should be very good and the sprints will do well, too. Coaches will be looking to add depth in every field event to make another run at state true team, especially the throws, pole vault, and triple jump. Hurdles is another concern. Gone are Bennet Woltjer in pole vault and all-around, Chris Oden in the sprints, PV, and shot, Jacob Broberg in hurdles, plus a few kids who didn’t return. Despite the weather, the team is working hard to get up to speed.

Baseball

Head coach Mark Stier is assisted by Tom DeBoer on varsity; JaColby Anderson, JV; Tyler Steen, freshmen; Brad Haugen, Nathanial Swoyer, Jack Hartley, middle school.

Seventeen returning varsity players are led by captains Patrick Courtney (P/SS) and Josh Warne (P/IF) plus returning lettermen seniors Brandon Christianson and Austin Rambow and juniors Tony McCleary, Adam Nibaur, Tyler Stegeman, Trey Tollefson and Cole Hagen. Also competing for playing time are seniors Cooper Scott, Logan Wigton, Mitch Bombeck; juniors Cole Christianson, Brett Swanson, Evan VanDenEinde, Sam Schaefbauer and sophomore Carter Sack.

The hitting should be improved. Nine of the 11 returning letterwinners made starts last spring. Stier feels there are as many as six players capable of stepping into the role of clutch-hitter to replace Dean Stier and Jason Gunvalson.

Seven pitchers return. DeBoer continues his duties as pitching coach. Stier said the team goal is to win all the little battles so that the big battle is more easily attainable.

The JV team has 19 players. About 14 will see playing time, with a few of the athletes seeing some varsity action as well. Three strong freshmen will add depth. Anderson moves up to coach the JV group this year after Jim Mittness stepped down to spend more time with his young family.

The ninth-grade team also has 19 out with the addition of some eighth graders. The top ninth-grade (A) team should be a very competitive group. New middle school teacher/coach Tyler Steen takes the freshmen helm.

The team began its fourth week of indoor baseball on Monday. Willmar faces hurdles such as Rocori, Brainerd, Fergus Falls and St. Cloud Apollo in the CLC and Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and the Mankato schools in its section. The opener is now scheduled for Thursday at Sartell.

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