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Willmar notebook: Three sister acts lead the way

Tribune photos by Rand Middleton These sister acts are leaders on their respective fall teams — Tennis: Cayle, left, and Bailey Hovland; cross country: Jessa, left, and Samantha Hanson; swimming: Alycia, left, and Kennedy Holwerda. 1 / 3
Tribune photos by Rand Middleton These sister acts are leaders on their respective fall teams — Tennis: Cayle, left, and Bailey Hovland; cross country: Jessa, left, and Samantha Hanson; swimming: Alycia, left, and Kennedy Holwerda. 2 / 3
Tribune photos by Rand Middleton These sister acts are leaders on their respective fall teams — Tennis: Cayle, left, and Bailey Hovland; cross country: Jessa, left, and Samantha Hanson; swimming: Alycia, left, and Kennedy Holwerda. 3 / 3

There’s a bit of duplication each day in the fall box scores for girls sports. In this office, we strain to keep straight, among others, the Holwerdas, Hovlands and Hansons.

Perhaps it was time to take a closer look at this trio of duos, which I did on Tuesday.

First, the Hansons, Samantha, or Sam, a junior, and Jessa, a freshman. They consistently run 1-2 for the Cardinal cross country team. Sam joined Jerry Popp’s distance runners only last year, switching from volleyball. She had run varsity track already for two years. Jessa started XC in sixth grade. Their dad, Mike Hanson, is a 1985 Willmar graduate, whose best sport was tennis, playing for Gil Idso. Mike’s name shows up near the top of his age group in the local Glacial Lakes series. This was the first summer that his daughters overtook him in the summer races. Mom, Jodi Fonkert, has her roots in Atwater but graduated from Anoka where she played volleyball.

The Hovlands, Bailey, a senior, and Cayle, an eighth grader, are the daughters of Willmar graduates Lyle and Jill (Hanson). Coach Jim Anderson put Cayle into the varsity lineup full time as a seventh grader. She plays No. 1 singles this year. Bailey hits at both the 2- and 3-spot. Jill and older sister Lisa both lettered four times in tennis for Hal Miller teams that dominated CLC competition. “Our mom was really good,” they said in unison. “We just hit with our family until we got decent enough to compete.” Like mom, they are also both discus/shot throwers in the spring. Not to leave dad out: Lyle letter four times in swimming and was MVP of the ’87 squad.

The Holwerdas, Kennedy, now a senior, and Alycia, a junior, both got to state swimming last November on relay teams and are looking to repeat. At the Cardinals’ win at the 11-team Bemidji invite Saturday, Alycia swam to three firsts and a second and Kennedy to a pair of firsts and a pair of seconds. Kennedy switched from gymnastics to Cardettes for the winter season and will continue in track. Alycia also plays basketball and softball. When Kennedy stood out at swim lessons, a coach suggested the competitive-level Stingrays. She soon brought Alycia with her. A third sister, Alex, plays JV volleyball. Father, Scott Holwerda, grew up in Danube and graduated from New London-Spicer where he captained the football team.

Speaking of getting sibling names flip-flopped, though I knew better, I put sophomore Max Trochlil, an American football placekicker, between the soccer posts recently, when of course it was older brother Charlie Trochlil, who has only been the Cards’ full-time goalkeeper for three years.

Smith of the Muddies

Indians Baseball Insider.com has the lowdown on all things Cleveland, including each minor league club. A writer with the southerly handle of Jim Pete holds a magnifying glass to the Carolina Mudcats, whom he affectionately calls the Muddies. His player-by-player breakdown mixes the keen eye of the scout and the glow of an everyday fan in the seats at Five County Stadium, not far from Winston-Salem. Here he gets to Jordan Smith, who turned 23 during his third year in pro baseball.

“I’m also a big Jordan Smith fan as well. Many look at him and immediately see his deficiencies. Believe me, I get it. Smith is 6-foot-4 tall, and only hit five homers playing right field [but] I can’t help but look at him and see his upside.

“Here’s what I like about Smith. He can hit. He has a career .303 average in the minors, and as the season heated up in 2013, so did Smith’s bat. He hit .369 in August after hitting .349 in June. He did struggle a bit in July (.267) … he likely will find himself pushing for a fourth outfielder position in the future, if things stand as they do now, but if he could manage to hit for a bit more power, and market himself as a guy that can play all three outfield positions, he could certainly pass Tyler Naquin on the prospect lists.

“Why? He has an efficient bat (62 walks vs. 72 Ks), who can steal bases (18) and play multiple outfield positions. He hit .290 vs. righties and .296 vs. lefties.”

Naquin was Cleveland’s first-round draft choice in 2012, out of Texas A&M. Smith’s 151 hits are the most by an Indians’ farmhand this season, including the AA Akron Aeros and the AAA Columbus Clippers.

Jim Pete goes on to muse as to why Naquin got bumped up to the Aeros late in the season, though Smith’s stats were superior in many categories, including two more outfield assists, even though Naquin is “known for his cannon arm.”

Smith heads back to the Arizona Instructional League in Goodyear; he won’t be far from his sister, Hannah, former Ridgewater volleyball All-American, who is a college student in Phoenix.

On the fly

n Official attendance at home football opener was 1,312. The Cards’ next home game is a week from Friday against Grand Rapids, a non-conference first-time clash.

n Points to Ponder: Marcella Johnson (WHS 1941), likely a long-suffering Vikings’ fan, had a short and snappy take on the QB after the opening loss at Motown: “Ponder! That’s the right name for him. Get that back-up in there right now. He’s had his chances.” We were attending a small birthday celebration for Muriel McCarthy, who, like Bud Grant, grew up in Superior, Wis. The youngest of Muriel’s six daughters, Katie, goes into the Cardinal Pride Hall of Fame in October. Muriel, 92, is the widow of Dr. Austin McCarthy, an orthopedic surgeon who was an unofficial trainer on the Cardinal sidelines for four decades.

n The Melbys, Jeff and Kina, are holding on at their sporting goods store, hoping to turn enough inventory this fall to stay in business. They have a website at igg.me/at/pias

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. 
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