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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Huddling up during New London-Spicer’s close loss to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Tuesday are these Wildcats, from left: Lindsay Vagle, Kelsie Rustad, Sydney Stone, Olivia Setterberg and Carley Cronen (14). Both the Jaguars and Wildcats are in Saturday’s tournament at Willmar High School.

Willmar notebook: Fall no time for idleness

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If you are not out in a duck blind this Saturday or at the Gophers homecoming and Big Ten opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes, there’s plenty to choose close at hand.

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The Cardinals all-day seven-team volleyball tournament starts at 9 a.m. Guests are defending champion Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Central Minnesota Christian, Benson, New London-Spicer, Renville County West and Sauk Rapids. It’s a round-robin format (two games, no tiebreaker) with a championship and third-place match.

(Between matches, you have the option to visit the annual Tribune Fall Garage sale next door at the twin Civic Center arenas).   

 The Cardinals cross country team holds its annual fall display on the gorgeous fairways of the Eagle Creek back nine starting at 1 p.m. It’s the most impressive combination of setting and timing (great weather with the leaves beginning to turn) this reporter has encountered covering this sport. The back-and-forth lanes, with plenty of climbs, offer multiple viewing opportunities. The meet also has a premier concession table, especially the selection of home-baked cookies and bars.

Incoming teams listed are Belle Plaine, Bismarck Century, Canby, Willmar Community Christian, Fargo North, Fargo South, West Fargo, Hopkins, Jordan, Moorhead, Morris/Chokio-Alberta, New Century Academy and St. Cloud Tech.

Last year Bismarck Century won girls with Moorhead second and Willmar third; the Card boys were fourth behind Moorhead, Fargo North and West Fargo.

There are six races. Willmar prides itself on winning or finishing high at all grade levels, girls and boys. If Willmar teams should win half the races, it would be an impressive afternoon.

What else? The sizzling Willmar football team is at Alexandria for a 3 p.m. kickoff. See preview on Page B3 and also in an item below.

The Willmar soccer teams play a twin bill at the Kennedy pitch with the boys against New Ulm at 11 a.m. and the girls against Mankato West at 1 p.m. The JV games are at the high school.

Meantime, at Collegeville, the Cobbers of Moorhead take on the rejuvenated Johnnies coming off their miracle win at No. 2 St. Thomas. Of course, the Johnnies earned the 19-17 victory but consider this: The Tommies’ placekicker made a 53-yard field goal to end the first half but missed (wide right) a 32-yard field goal for the victory on the last play of the game.

Both Concordia and St. John’s are undefeated. This game could attract 10,000 to the natural bowl, surely one of the top 10 venues in America for a sporting event.    

Saturday homecoming

I asked Dr. David Hartman, a Paynesville native, what gives with these high school homecomings on a Saturday. He responded by electronic mail: “We have held Saturday homecomings for four or five years.  It is working great, if the weather is good.

“We have had an increase in community support, plus it’s a great atmosphere and an opportunity for alumni to come back.  We have a parade of 50-plus units and a tailgate party before the game.

“Class reunions and alumni gatherings are scheduled in conjunction with this event.  We also have the homecoming dance that night and try to not schedule any other events that day.  Brainerd, Apollo and Rocori are also hosting Saturday homecoming events.”

Adams helps Cobbers

Concordia head football coach Terry Horan commenting on Nate Adams, his starting defensive end from Litchfield: “Nate is a gifted athlete. He has had a huge impact.  His athleticism, strength, and knowledge of the game have made him a force in the league.”

Horan (13th year), a Willmar graduate (1985), also told me that Alex Grove, junior Griffin Neal’s backup at QB, is “making great strides; he’s athletic with a really good knowledge of the game.”   Another former Cardinal QB, Mark Dunham, has several roles “as the holder on PAT/FG (very important) and is also taking some reps at our slot back position where he is adding serious depth to a banged up position.  His knowledge of our scheme has made his transition from QB to slot very easy for him.”

Benson’s Matt Ahrndt is working with the JV team at quarterback. He’s on the demonstration team as many freshmen do during their first year.  “He has a great attitude and athletic, too,” stated Horan.

An unfortunate note: wide receiver Ryan Lawler, junior from Willmar, is out for the year with an injury.

On the fly

n Augustine Hahn didn’t get the nod for CLC Offensive Player of the Week despite Friday’s performance (14 of 17 for 243 yards for 3 TDs, no INTs, plus 35 yards rushing in 6 snaps and a touchdown). His completion percentage is 69.2 percent on 65 of 94 for 964 yards. The offense is designed to present the 195-pound junior with high-percentage targets while keeping the defense jittery since he might decide to run.

n Cardinals junior setter Riley Grussing will break the school’s career assist record at the match in Rocori this evening. She’s within three of Alyssa Dahl’s Willmar record of 1,763.

n Nate Adams (see above) is the top tackler after three games. The 6-3, 255-pound junior has 21 stops, 9 of those for loss or sack. Luke “Pedro” Peterson (NLS) is tied for second with 19 stops on the Cobbers’ tackle chart.

n NDSU Bison hitter Emily Minnick is facing major college competition in her first year out of Willmar High School. At Lawrence, Kansas, this past weekend, Minnick was 14 of 20 hitting with 7 kills vs. Kansas, 24-26-12 vs. Notre Dame and 13-15-6 vs. Georgia. The Bison lost all three falling to 0-12.

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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