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Willmar Notebook: Dunham wrapping up career with Concordia records

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

Concordia College quarterback Michael Dunham, the senior who started three seasons for the Cardinals, broke the school record for career passing yardage in the third quarter during the Cobbers' 27-13 loss Oct. 29 to No. 25 Bethel College at Jake Christiansen Stadium before a crowd of 4,120 in Moorhead.

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Dunham's 9-yard pass completion to Matt Peterson, senior running back from Alexandria, late in the period pushed him past record-holder Ethan Pole and into the No.1 spot on the school's all-time passing yardage list. Dunham finished the game with 235 passing yards and now has 4,959 career passing yards. He surpassed the mark of 4,889 set by Pole from 1995-98.

With one game to go Saturday at St. Olaf (1 p.m.), Dunham has completed 421 of 689 attempts and 29 TDs in three seasons. Head coach Terry Horan (WHS '85) made him the starter approaching the halfway point of his sophomore season. Besides the new yardage standard, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback also holds the school records for pass attempts and completions.

XC revisited

There's nothing quite like the state cross-country meet with the stream of runners flowing over the St. Olaf playing fields followed by great surges of yelling (and panting) spectators seeking another vantage point.

I've covered these races at Northfield since Carrie Tollefson's five gold-medal runs and don't remember crowds as large as for Saturday mornings' 4k and 5k stampedes. Willmar coach Jerry Popp assured me the crowd was near the same as other recent years, but he added he was particularly pleased to see so many former Cardinals show up to support the young boys teams that placed 15th. He said that support means a lot to him and the team.

To flesh out several items in last week's Notebook regarding cross-country, I neglected to mention that the Cardinal girls did have a senior. Marin Hanson is a six-year varsity team veteran who competed in the section meet. She had one of her best seasons while providing leadership as one of the team captains.

Four seventh graders ran at sections with three in the top five. The four are Jessa Hanson, Kayla Rudie, Sophie Schmitz and Savannah Anez. The section meet was also a colorful scene overlooking the Sauk River as it flows into Cold Spring.

Section meets are also much easier to cover for a newspaper since the runners actually wear numbers, unlike the regular season. Still, printed rosters are a rarity until state meet where the MSHSL produces a fact-filled program as it does for all tournaments.

In mentioning the MIAC meet, I failed to detect that former Cardinals C.J. Seifert did run the 8k for St. Thomas in 28:13 and former teammate at Willmar, Derek Ballandby, Hamline freshman, ran 30:45. Running fifth on the first-place Hamline team was junior Brendan Ruter (New London-Spicer) in a time of 26:22, 20th overall.

The NCAA DIII Regional is in Waverly, Iowa, on Saturday.

On the fly

n New member of the Baseball Coaches HOF Brad Skoglund (WHS '78) has generated a lot of support for baseball in the Paynesville community. The town and school are planning to add a grandstand, I'm told, to their fine baseball park behind the school. Said one close observer of the intense yet genial teacher/coach, "What's more important than the wins and losses are the players he's nurtured and the respect he's earned in the coaching community. He is a central figure in getting community members to donate their time and resources and in the end make it a cool thing for a kid to play baseball."

n Craig Sundberg didn't compete in varsity sports at Willmar but went on to coach gymnastics at New Prague and was a gymnastics judge for many years. His son, Leif, became a soccer player in high school at Mahtomedi and has just finished his college career at Bethel by being named MIAC Men's Soccer Player of the Week. He ended the season posting back-to-back shutouts in matches vs. conference co-champs St. Olaf and St. Thomas, giving him seven whitewashes for the season.

n Award-winning baton twirler Susi Haines (WHS '82) performed with other University of Arizona alumni twirlers during halftime of the Wildcats vs. Utah game in Tucson on Saturday. She was there for her 25th reunion along with her husband Mark Ruchie (WHS '81) and 7-year-old daughter Elvy.

n UW-Superior junior hockey player Chelsey Wierschem is now playing with two other skaters from the area. Jenn Paul of Paynesville is in her second year while Dani Schultz of Morris is in her first year. Schultz, a record-shattering scorer in high school for the MBA Storm, has had an immediate impact with a team-high five goals, plus an assist; Paul has a goal and four assists and Wierschem two assists as the Yellowjackets are off to a 3-1-1 start.

n George "Smokey" Nelson, who coached football a various levels in Brainerd for a half century, died on Aug. 4. Old-timers here tell me that's the same George Nelson, who played on the 1950 Willmar team that went 6-2. So popular was the P.E. teacher/coach the Brainerd youth football association named the 6th-Grade Championship Game on Oct. 19 the 1st Smokey Nelson Bowl.

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