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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Junior achievement: These three leaders on the Cardinal boys track team are 11th graders and each returning CLC All-Conference. From left, Chris Cunningham (200 dash), Jordan Linde (high jump) and Tom Seifert (800 run).

Willmar notebook: CLC track titles up for grabs today

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At the girls CLC track and field meet today at Sauk Rapids (3 p.m. start), expect  Alexandria, Sartell and Willmar  to finish at the top of the heap. But in what order?

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Head coach Jerry Popp admits he doesn’t take aim on the CLC like he does True Team and preparing for the Section 2AA meet, which leads to the State meet. He claims that’s a holdover from over two decades coaching in western North Dakota where there was small emphasis on conferences.

“I’m starting to understand it’s a bigger deal here,” he said.

Alex and Willmar finished 1-2 at the girls indoor meet in March, Alexandria prevailing by 28 points. Sartell eclipsed Willmar on Saturday for first at state Class AA True Team.

Willmar’s top point supplier is Rose Jackson. Her 18-6¼ long jump on Saturday ranks No. 1 in the state, if you go by Raceberry Jam. The winning long jump girls True Team AAA on Friday was 17-3. Jackson also soared 17-11 and 18-3 at the meet in Stillwater. The sprinter will run a relay today, instead of the 400 which she could well win, as a prep for post-season.  

The Alex girls finished No. 2 in the Class AA state meet last June behind Lakeville South. But its crackerjack distance runner Jamie Peipenburg has moved on to the Golden Gophers.

Still, they’re loaded, with the freshmen Hasz sisters, Megan and Bethany, who will counter some of Willmar tenacious strength in the distances and relays. High jumper Briquelle Bowden, a state gymnastics champ, tied Alexandria’s 33-year-old high-jump record clearing 5-foot-6 on May 17.

Alex also has ninth-grader Wensia Johnson. Track fans will recall that she won the 200 at State last year and placed second in the 100. Willmar’s Jackson placed seventh in each. Johnson set CLC all-time records in the 100 (12.10, tie) and 200 (25.06) at last May’s conference meet.

Both the Willmar boys and girls placed fourth a year ago; Sartell won both CLC titles. The Willmar boys return all three of their All-CLC performers from the 2012 meet: Tom Seifert in the 800, Chris Cunningham in the 200 and Jordan Linde in the high jump.

Tennis rising

Jim Anderson, himself a Willmar graduate but a non-school employee, brings a renewed energy to city tennis from starter program to varsity. He’s head coach of both varsity teams. I asked him to list highlights of where tennis is at:

“The boys team finished a respectable 5-9 with the youngest starting lineup in Cardinal history: sophomores Drew Corneil at 2-singles, Jarod Swoboda 4-singles, Tate Hovland at 1-doubles and Nate Revier 2-doubles. Ten seniors were on the 2012 team so considerable remodeling was in order. The Cardinal girls, too, will have 10 senior next fall, so many youngster will be need to step in the fall of 2014.

“The future is bright. There are 18 in boys middle school tennis coached by Bill Gabbert and 30 in middle school girls coached by Lisa Aagesen and assisted by Gabbert. Both programs are strongly supported by Willmar’s Community Ed administration.

“Willmar tennis has developed a game plan to build a community program and also a competitive middle school and high school program.

“The high school courts have been resurfaced and a composite quality hitting board has been installed, Cardinal Pride donated funds for construction of 8x12-foot tennis shed,

which was built by sophomore Tate Hovland as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“Generous donations by CDS, ACMC, Bremer Bank, Jennie-O Turkey Store and Subway have been received toward purchase of spectator benches on the berms.

“Mike Hanson, retired teacher/coach, planted trees donated by Stacy’s nursery as part

of the vision to give courts a warm stadium feeling and shield the court from the northwest winds.

“Improvements are planned for the resurfacing of the four middle school courts which are presently unplayable. Also the middle school courts improvements include the lighting on the courts.”

On the fly

The Willmar boys second-place finish in the boys CLC golf standings is the Cardinals highest placement since winning the title in 1996. Seniors on the team are Austin Dahlberg, Jason Dickerson, Cody Magnuson, Hunter Schneider and Zech Streed. Junior Tony Kallevig made all-conference a third year in a row. Alexandria finished first for the ninth times this century.

n Here’s who will compete for Cardinal tennis at the 2AA-South individuals Saturday in Mankato: Preston Peterson and Thomas Nilles-Melchert in singles; in doubles, Tate Hovland/Drew Corneil and Nick Courtney/Isaac Yoakum.

Joe Leuze, a two-time All-CLC selection in boys soccer, will play soccer next fall for the Jamestown (N.D.) College Jimmies.  

n Pitchers Colton Vien and Eldon Evans of Montevideo will be playing for the Century College Wood Ducks at the DIII NJCAA World Series beginning Saturday in Tyler, Texas. Head coach Dwight Kotila says this is probably his best pitching staff he’s had in 16 years coaching JC baseball at Riverland, Ridgewater and now on the White Bear Lake campus.

 n Greg Thorstad, 1996 graduate of Belview-Danube-Renville-Sacred Heart, got his St. Cloud Technical College Cyclones to the NJCAA DIII Fastpitch Tournament where they went 0-2 to finish 24-11. The Cyclones won their first region title in the program’s seven-year history. Greg, younger brother of Ridgewater athletic director/fastpitch coach Todd Thorstad, is in his third year as head coach. The Cyclones beat the Lady Warriors twice for the Region 13A title.

n Few men put together a fulfilling second career better than did Wes Westermann, who saw Valley Golf Course through most of its first two decades starting in the late 1970s. The retired pharmacist and wife Marty dispensed hospitality and straight talk to teenagers and fellow seniors, the membership base, on a daily bases. It seemed to me everyone was fond and appreciative of the couple. Wes died Sunday, age 80. The funeral is 11 a.m. Friday at Vinje.

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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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