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Hockey sure pick for Cards' Wierschem: On the fly

Chelsey Wierschem has made the Superior choice.

She'll play hockey for the Yellowjackets next year.

The three-sport senior athlete at Willmar High School might also play softball for the University of Wisconsin-Superior, which is across the harbor from Duluth.

The soccer coach at UW-Superior would also like to have her join the Yellowjackets squad.

Asked about this multiple choice in athletics, she responded:

"I've committed to playing hockey, but softball is a possibility. I was told five girls are already playing both sports and that it's not too difficult to do both."

The odds of playing a third sport are slim. She likes soccer and the Yellowjackets may need a new goalkeeper as soon as this fall, but "I've got to think about school, too," said Wierschem, who will study for a degree in education.

Besides Superior, she visited Bemidji State and Minnesota State, Mankato, both NCAA Division I hockey programs. UW-Eau Claire, a Division III school like Superior, also was in touch with her.

Yellowjackets hockey coach Dan Laughlin visited Willmar Dec. 19 and saw her play in a 7-0 loss to Brainerd/Little Falls.

"She can be a great forward for us the next four years," the sixth-year head coach commented in an email. "Her skills are ready for the next level. She's a fantastic athlete with excellent hockey skills."

Wierschem has won accolades and all-conference awards in three sports, but hockey is No. 1. Her older brother, Cass, was her mentor.

"I grew up with him pushing me around," she recalled. "He was a little mean. But looking back, he was just trying to make me be the best I can be. I give him a lot of credit."

She comes from an athletic family. Her dad, Lee, played quarterback for the Cardinals before graduating in 1977. Her mom, the former Mary Enestvedt, played volleyball and basketball at Sacred Heart. Her uncle, Scott Wierschem, is in the Cardinal Pride Hall of Fame.

Chelsey is in her fifth year on the varsity hockey team. She is second on the all-time list in career points with 144. She scored 34 goals last season, a program record.

Alyssa Dahl, a senior forward at Concordia College, holds the career record at Willmar with 190 points (90 goals, 100 assists). Dahl also played volleyball for the Cobbers until this year.

Former Yellowjacket Reed Larson, the current Willmar boys assistant hockey coach, recommended Chelsey to Laughlin and drove her up for a visit.

"I liked the atmosphere (at Superior)," she said. "Not too big. The buildings aren't too far apart. It just seemed to fit."

Chelsey's 5-10 height and athletic ability was an instant asset to the soccer team, though she had never played the sport before her sophomore year.

"Hannah Murphy and I used to play catch with the football and she said 'You've got good hands. You should play soccer.' " said Chelsey, who gave up volleyball.

She was an immediate hit, earning team MVP honors as a sophomore and all-conference honorable mention. Last fall, her ability to make big saves helped Willmar win a record number of matches leading to the team's first appearance in a section final.

But hockey is her sport.

"It's my passion." said Chelsey, who plans to pursue a degree in education.

n Mike Breen, 1997 graduate who played hockey and baseball here, is now practicing law in the Twin Cities. After graduating from St. John's University he studied journalism at the University of Minnesota. He got his law degree at the University of Kansas. He was in Tempe, Ariz., on New Years Eve for the Insight Bowl. His allegiance was split: "I bet on the Jayhawks, but wore my Gopher gear," he said. "I'd say the Kansas fans outnumbered the Minnesota fans two to one."

- The Ridgewater College baseball team is ranked third behind Joliet, Ill., and Gloucester, N.J., in the NJCAA D-III Preseason poll issued by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Warriors have only one player back from its national tournament team. First-year coach Joel Barta has told his team in pre-season meetings that they better be prepared because the ranking puts a target on their backs.

- Joel Jonsson, the Swedish exchange student who was the Cardinal boys hockey  MVP 2006-07, is back in the United States. He's been playing for Manchester in the New Hampshire Junior Hockey League. He would like to return to the Midwest and perhaps enroll at Concordia College and continue his hockey career.

- Pat Dorsey (WHS '88) and his Edina Hornets laid a 77-61 loss on Willmar to begin the season. That was no fluke; the Hornets are 9-0 after beating New Prague last night, including a win over last season's Class AAA champion Benilde-St. Margaret's.

- Kelsey Hanson plans to return to the Mayville State volleyball team in the fall. She took 2008 as a redshirt year. She missed half her sophomore year (2007) when she suffered a serious concussion when she collided head-to-head with a teammate at practice.