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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Diamond Tello, a 118-pound 12-year-old, peppers a male opponent during a sparring session Jan. 23 in the city auditorium basement, which mutates from romper room to hotbox each Monday and Wednesday evening starting in November.

Willmar notebook: Boxing club has a Diamond in the rough

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Willmar notebook: Boxing club has a Diamond in the rough
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Not too long ago, the Hockey State considered the puckish sport the boys’ domain. That changed irreversibly in the 1990s.

So it is with boxing. The Willmar Golden Gloves Club has long been integrated with regard to the sexes.

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But bouts are still hard to find.

Willmar boxing czar Kurt Davis has a promising female talent in the bright playground/gym in the city auditorium basement.

She’s even comes with a prizefighter’s handle.

Diamond Tello is 12 years old, a sixth-grader at the middle school.

Watching her spar last week in rotation with several teenage boys, she took punches as good as she gave, and she gave plenty. She’s quick with good footwork. She’s also fearless.

Davis got her a fight up at the Wadena armory in mid-December. Her opponent was two years older but Diamond dominated the three-round bout for her first victory in her first fight.

Davis can only hope to get her another match soon with not that many girls “gloved up.”

Diamond’s little sister, Angelica, age 9, a fourth-grader at Kennedy, is also in the gym and eager to box.

Their mom, Luanna, was watching the Wednesday evening workout.

“We have a gym in our basement with two bags,” said Luanna. She said her husband Alex isn’t a boxer himself but has always been interested in the sport.

Said Diamond: “Dad tells us ‘Train hard, win easy.’ ”

So far, so good.

Hello, Grand Rapids

Recently Notebook inquired of Roger Wilson, the Central Lakes Conference secretary, what led to the league adding three schools to the football standings.

Wilson told me that the athletic directors felt that it would be easier to do the football schedules if all the games were counted as CLC contests. Up until now, Bemidji and Moorhead, both independents, have played up to seven CLC schools in the regular season or as few as four apiece last year. Grand Rapids, another orphan, is the third independent to seek shelter under the CLC awning; the three will help make up the new North half of the now two-division conference.

The conference football coaches met last Aug. 8 and voted to invite the three schools in as full-fledged football members. Four days later the CLC AD’s backed the move.

On Nov. 14, the CLC Governance Board (Supers, principals and ADs) approved the invitation while specifying that the newcomers would be non-voting and football-only.

Now, all varsity games starting this fall will count towards the CLC championship.

Wilson said the football coaches voted for North/South divisions (or pods) with a blind draw to determine the three foes from the other division. The ADs added their blessing.

This fall Willmar plays its five CLC-South opponents at Sauk Rapids, Aug. 30; at Sartell, Sept 13; Apollo, Oct. 4; at Rocori, Oct. 11 and Tech, Oct.16.

 As a result of the draw, the Cardinals will face Brainerd, Sept. 6; Grand Rapids, Sept 20 and at Alexandria, Sept. 27.

 In 2014, Willmar will flip sites and play the same eight teams. In 2016 and ’17, Willmar will play the three other North members Bemidji, Fergus Falls and Moorhead.

Lend-a-goalie

Gunnar Banks, 12, is a sixth-grader at the middle school.

He’s also the goaltender for the Sartell B Peewees team.

A turncoat who couldn’t get along with the local team?

Hardly. It so happens, he’s just helping out both programs.

Gunnar’s parents are Eric and Andrea (Fredrick) Banks. “Ernie,” as he’s known affectionately (usually) on the city’s courts and ball fields, refereed the adult hoops tourney at the city auditorium on Saturday.

Between games, I asked how it was his son is playing hockey for a team north of St. Cloud.

To summarize: Sartell was without a goalie for their “B” team (they have three Peewee teams to Willmar’s one). It turns out that their “B” team’s goalie, Devin Peterson, and his mother were in an automobile accident last spring and Devin still displayed concussion symptoms this fall.

The Willmar Peewee Bees were overstocked with three goalies. Sartell knew Willmar had three goalies and initiated contact. Sartell felt Gunnar would be a good fit, if his parents were willing. The plus for Willmar is goalies Caden Johnson and Dylan Schaeffer rotating would see more ice time than three sharing the net.

Both hockey boards signed off and so did the districts. It all got done by Jan. 1 when rosters must be set. Gunnar practices with Willmar but tries to get to Sartell for one practice a week at Bernick’s Arena.

There are usually 3 games a weekend but only two last weekend. As soon as the horn ended the championship hoops game Saturday, Ernie stashed his whistle and the family drove to Brainerd where Sartell played that evening and then at Sartell on Sunday. The Sabres’ B PeeWee is 18-4.

On the fly

n The first rule of journalism is getting the name right. With that in mind, my apologies this week to Concordia wide receiver Ryan Lawler, Cardinal basketball player Sami Doering and 6-year-old Twins fan Hunter Wall.

n Rocori High School athletes not infrequently cross paths with New London-Spicer and Litchfield as well as the Cardinals. Graduates Ricky Bell, who played for the Vikings in the early 1980s, and now Eric Decker of the Broncos are two of the best known. The Cold Spring campus has been especially prolific as a supply line to St. John’s University, which is just over hill and dale to the north. But the Johnnies missed out on some ringers from the Class of 2013. Nate Guetter, Bob Brink’s successor as head boys basketball coach, reports that four of his players will play a sport at either the DI or DII level next school year: Mac Mueller, who scored 28 points at New London Monday, will play football at Bemidji State, Jeron Terres has committed to North Dakota State for baseball, Nick Thorpe to UM-Duluth for football and Jonah Eisenshenk to the Bulldogs for basketball. Mueller quarterbacked Rocori to the Class 4A title as a junior.

n  Junior Alissa Tinklenberg and senior Sarah Hund swam on the first-place 200-free relay (1:39.08) but the Gusties fell in their final dual meet to St. Thomas 131-111 at the Gustavus Adolphus Lund Center Natatorium. Tinklenberg also won the 200 (1:58.65) and the 500 free (5:19.5). Shelbie Walsh, a freshman from Litchfield, posted the Gusties’ best score in diving , a 194.45 on the one-meter board.

n  Card boys hockey is at the MAC to play St. Cloud Apollo tonight where they will have to deal again with Jared Christen (30-28-58), who scored 5 straight goals at the Cardinal Arena on Dec. 20. The Cardinals (5-4-1 in 6A) are battling for a No. 3 seed behind Little Falls 6-0-0) and St. Cloud Apollo (7-1-0). With 4 points in Tuesday’s one-goal loss to Brainerd, Hunter Schneider now has 27 goals, 28 assists and 55 points, No. 9 state wide. Tanner Picht (40-26-66) of Morris/Benson is No. 1 for goals and points not only in 6A but the state, according to this week’s section report.

n  Willmar’s version of the coaching Harbaugh siblings is Lee Engstrom and his sister and former Gopher Tracy Cassano. She coaches the Chaska/Chanhassen Storm Hawks, an independent, whose 10-11-2 record includes a 6-6 tie with current No. 4 (AA) Eden Prairie. Lee coaches not far away in Shakopee where the Sabres are 4-15-1 as a member of the Missota Conference and 2AA ruled by mighty Edina. Lee played in the Green Lake Pond tourney last weekend for Papa Swany’s bringing along his assistant coach Jason Carter, a native of Rogers.

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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. 
(320) 214-4334
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