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What's it like to ...

<b>... make eight 3-pointers in a game?</b> Jake Armstrong, KMS (The senior guard drained eight treys in KMS's 93-70 win over RCW on Dec. 15. He finished with 30 points.) It's just one of those games when you are warming up and you can't hit a shot, but then game time comes around and you can't miss. I was just very comfortable out there. The flow of the game felt just right. I had my feet set all night, ready to step in and hit a shot. The majority of my threes came in the second half and came in ...1 / 8
<b>... hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer?</b> Erik Tengwall, New London-Spicer (The senior forward drained a three-point basket at the buzzer to beat Sebeka 72-70 on Dec. 12.) Wow, what a game. We were down late in the game, but a late surge got us back up to within three with nine seconds to play. We get a steal and a quick layup then called a timeout, down by one point. Sebeka turns the ball over and we take our last timeout. We set up our last-second inbounds play where we send one man to the...2 / 8
<b>... dunk a football over a goal post in an NFL game?</b> John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks tight end from Litchfield (After scoring a touchdown against Tennessee on Jan. 3, the former basketball star fulfilled a dream.) My brother (Alex) and I had always watched NFL games together and I remember Tony Gonzalez, a tight end for the Chiefs (now with the Falcons) who was also a very good college basketball player, always dunk the football over the goal post after he scored a touchdown. I couldn't do it in...3 / 8
<b>... nearly get pinned and come back to win?</b> Ross Neubauer, St. John's junior from Olivia (The 130-pounder fought off a pin at the 2007 state tournament and came back to win the match.) As a senior, my goal was to place at the state tournament, but I ended up losing my second match which sent me to the wrestlebacks. And the work I had put into that sport for an entire season had almost vanished in front of my eyes. I was wrestling a kid from La Crescent and I started out really well by getting ...4 / 8
<b>... catch your first pass in the NFL?</b> Jake Nordin, Detroit Lions tight end from Lake Lillian (The former ACGC star caught his first NFL pass from Drew Stanton against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 20.) The play called in the huddle was a bootleg to the right. I was on the left-hand side of the line. I was put into a fake motion to see whether or not the Cardinals' defense would be in man or zone, which gives the quarterback a better idea of who is going to be open. I had a 10-12 yard crossing...5 / 8
<b>... for a goalie to stop a breakaway in a game?</b> Tyler Sieben, River Lakes (The senior stopped 48 shots, including five breakaways in a 4-0 loss to Alexandria on Jan. 19.) Skaters might think of a breakaway as a great opportunity to put a point on the board for their team or a point in the stats book. I see a breakaway as a chance to show the other team that points are not going to come easy. As a goalie, I have one responsibility and that is to keep the puck out of the net. Stopping a breakaway...6 / 8
<b>... "stick" a backflip on the balance beam?</b> Abbey Weiler, Willmar (The sophomore scored a personal-best 9.25 on the beam last year against St. Cloud Apollo.) When I do a back tuck on the balance beam, the circumstances have to be dead on because there isn't any room for error when you're only working with a four-inch wide space about four feet off the ground. So many things are going through my head during a routine. I need to set up high and square my body on the way over so that I can land wi...7 / 8
<b>... score a goal on a breakaway?</b> Dani Schultz, Morris/Benson Area (The senior girls hockey forward is the area's all-time scoring leader with 60 goals and 47 assists.) As I'm skating in on the goalie I know that it is only between me and the goalie now. I am thinking that I had better score because my team (Morris/Benson Area) is counting on me. And I know that all eyes are on me and the goalie ... my team is watching me and the goalie's team is watching her. And they are al...8 / 8

We've witnessed a game-winning shot at the buzzer in basketball. The fans on the winning side go into a frenzy, while the losing fans are solemn. The players excitedly mob the player who hit the shot that put their team over the top.

Or we've winced as a gymnast backflips onto a four-inch beam and the wide smile she flashes when she "sticks her routine as if to mask her sigh of relief.

And we've felt the excitement as a goalie and a skater square off on a breakway. And like gunslingers in the Old West, only one of them will prevail in the duel.

We've also watched exhausted wrestlers try to find the strength and energy to last three periods, while also playing a chess match with their opponent, trying to determine his next strategic move.

But very few sports enthusiasts get the opportunity to experience any of these thrilling moments first-hand.

So we asked eight current or former area athletes to describe certain endeavors and give us an inside look at life in the limelight. Each tells how they felt before, during and sometimes after the accomplishment, letting us inside their mind for a moment. Perhaps the next time we witness an event, we'll get a better perspective on what an athlete goes through.