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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Seven Cardinal wrestlers have surpassed 20 wins and an eighth, Nate Mittag (19-4), would have but for an injury. The team competes Saturday in Section 6AAA in Robbinsdale. Front row, from left, Vaughn Johnson (21-11), Colten Carlson (29-4), Cass Herzog (28-0) and Travis Deegan (29-6); back, from left, Zach Lueders (25-4), Austin Miley (33-3), Mittag and Juan Resendez (22-12).

Willmar notebook: Section prize up for grabs

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The Willmar Cardinals wrestling team was an unknown in its new section a year ago.

No longer. They won’t sneak up on anyone.

The Cardinals beat Wayzata for the section title last February at Mound Westonka in the Section 6AAA final.

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The same two schools are favored to reach the championship match again this time. Wayzata is the No. 1 seed and the Cardinals No. 2.

The Trojans topped Willmar 37-28 on Jan. 22; neither team was full strength so the match-ups will be quite different this time should they meet in the afternoon final on Saturday at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School.

The Cards have had more than a full week to recover from the taxing post-holiday schedule that saw 11 events from Jan. 3 to Feb. 5.

“We had a season that consisted of a lot of obstacles,” commented co-head coach Ed Oehlers. “Injury and illness plagued our lineup, contributing to some close losses to strong opponents throughout the season.

“Our wrestlers have shown persistence and determination to improve while striving to meet their goals. With good health and a full lineup, we look forward to a strong showing at our section team tournament.”

Oehlers and co-head Justin Brown, plus assistant coach Carl Carlson, had 25 boys in the Red Room on Tuesday. Also on hand was middle school coach Nathanial Swoyer.

The section roster limit is 19, that is, 14 starters plus 5 alternates. For individuals on Feb. 23-24 only 14 will be in uniform.

In addition to the Cardinals in the photo here, the remainder of the team lineup for Saturday: Jacob Bollig (16-12), Estevan Navarro (14-9), Kory Welgraven (9-21), Augustine Hahn (0-0), Jalen Cabrera (9-17) and Matt Hennes (5-17). Listed as alternates are Logan Walkow (10-9), Eli Gunderson (5-13), Logan Wigton (4-12), Darius O’Neill (5-10) and Leon Richards (6-7).

The Cards (13-10) open at 10:15 a.m. vs. Buffalo (2-15). Mound Westonka (8-16) and Rocori (4-14) are in the other half of the lower bracket.

Selchow tabs his

able assistants

Of the two retirements announced this week, Larry Selchow’s decision to step away from coaching was the larger surprise, speaking personally.

Willmar has had just three head coaches in the program’s 40 years.

Selchow’s plan to resign became public at the end of the conference meet. Assistant coach Doug Rossum took the P.A. mic and announced from the stage that this would be the last Central Lakes meet after 18 seasons.

While waiting for the results, coach Selchow explained his reasons.

“There are several factors,” he explained. “The assistant coaches are ready. They know the sport. I’m hoping Jodi (Mottinger) and Doug get it as co-head coaches. They complement each other. Doug is a spotter and Jodi is so good with the book work and there’s a lot of that. Doug has worked closely with varsity and Jodi with the junior varsity. All along, they’ve both shown so much initiative.”

There are personal factors, also, that he shared.

His parents, who live in Eagan, are getting up in age. His wife MaryEllen has impaired vision and cannot drive. Winters he’s tied to teaching and the responsibilities of a head coach.

“We visited MaryEllen’s family in Boston over the holidays this year for the first time. Wow, I felt, this is what it’s like to have a break at Christmas. I didn’t know what we were missing.”

Selchow, who spent 10 seasons with the Apple Valley program before moving to Willmar in 1995, will continued to teach elementary physical education.

He is leaving a full cupboard. Numbers are good in grades 7-12, so high a third assistant coach, volunteer Nick Clauseman, could be put on the payroll. Only Cassandra Johnson is a senior on a young team that took its lumps the last two years but now is getting payback with a third-place in last weekend’s meet.

It will be hard to surpass Chow’s enthusiasm, his helpfulness or his expertise over those 18 seasons.

Rossum came aboard in 1998 and Mottinger in 2008.

Selchow’s teams have won four CLC team champions, the most recent 2000-01, a tie with Brainerd. Either Brainerd or St. Cloud Tech has won every title since, Tech the last nine.

He coached state champion Beth Zimmer in 2001, floor exercise. Lacey Kleist took sixth on vault the year before.

His final section meet is this weekend, fittingly in the Kennedy gym. Fans will have the chance to see Willmar’s fine, young team and also one of the state’s most exciting lineups in the Melrose Dutchmen, the reigning Class A champions.

College fastpitch

The Ridgewater Warriors will be off to Florida on March 6 for two days of practice followed by three doubleheaders at Chain of Lakes Park in Cocoa Beach.

Coach Todd Thorstad lists an 11-player roster. Brooke Carlson (.407 BA), Kari Shipman (.383 BA) and pitcher Brittany Nissen (5-2, .370 BA) are among seven returnees. Catcher Datriana Jensen, catcher/utility Brenna Holwerda, third-sacker Jenna Kincade and OF Justine Otremba also return. Newcomers are Breille Hauge (KMS), Alicia Koenen (MACCRAY), Jessie Kalenberg (BLHS) and Dani Emkes (Montevideo).

Next week, an update on the Warriors baseball team which begins formal workouts Friday.

Winter of ’63

Fifty years ago this month the Willmar Cardinals were on the way to a 15-6 season in boys basketball, losing to Litchfield in the District 20 Tournament after twice slaying the Dragons in West Central Conference play.

But the building blocks for consecutive 22-1 seasons were in place. Michael George, Dave Gort, James Norsten and Dean Rau were junior letterwinners; Jeff Hinz, Mike Fischer and Lane Erickson were talented 10th-graders who already played important roles for coach Russ Adamson.  Hinz was the only Cardinal picked first-team All-WCC.

The next winter (’63-64) Erickson, Hinz and Rau were all-conference and Hinz and Rau All-Region 5 and Rau All-State. Willmar lost to Edina 57-47 ending a 21-game win streak; the Cards beat St. Cloud for third-place at Williams Arena.

Erickson and Hinz again were All-Region in 1965 while center Ron Pederson made the All-State team. Willmar dunked Minneapolis Roosevelt 78-57 in the region semifinal to get to 22-0, only to lose to Minnetonka 65-58 in the final.

Small consolation to Willmar fans that the Skippers went on to win the state title, typical for the state’s toughest region.  In the 20 seasons from 1951 through 1970 (the last year of single class), schools representing Region 5 won 11 state titles. The Cardinals twice survived the Region 5 trial-by-fire: 1954 (consolation champion) and 1958 (third-place trophy).

On the fly

n The South Dakota State Equestrian Team ended the fall season with a first-ever, national ranking of ninth. The spring season has begun with a win versus UM-Crookston on Feb. 2. Willmar grad Laura Dunlavy is now 7-1 won-loss in head-to-head rides. She next competes in a triangular at Brookings on Feb. 23-24 against Sacred Heart (Fairfield, Conn.) and Southern Methodist.

n Jordan Martins, an all-conference soccer player, is experiencing a winter of discontent. First she got mono, taking her out of the girls basketball line-up. When she returned, she suffered a broken leg bone just above the heel in the game with Fergus Falls at Willmar Jan. 26. “I thought it was just a sprain at the time,” she said. But she’s on crutches with instructions to keep weight off the foot, which is not in a cast. She’ll be on the sidelines when the Cardinals play host to Marshall tonight and then travel to St. Cloud Tech to complete the schedule on Friday prior to playoffs.

n The Willmar boys hockey team closes out its schedule today at Sartell’s Bernick’s Arena. The Sabres won the first meeting 3-1 at Cardinal Arena on Jan. 10. Willmar’s top two scorers are seniors Hunter Schneider (27-29-56) and Zech Streed (14-9-23), but 10 of the next 11 in order are underclassmen.

n Chelsey Wierschem’s four-year career playing hockey at UW-Superior is winding down. Her final regular season series is this weekend vs. Finlandia University in Superior. Chelsey has 5 goals and 11 points (tied for third most on team). Dani Schultz of Morris leads the Yellowjackets (6-5-1, 9-6-1) with 17 points.

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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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