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Sussenguth to play at Southwest Minnesota State

After three years on the Willmar Cardinal varsity and two with the Ridgewater College Warriors, Casey Sussenguth leaves town next fall to attend Southwest Minnesota State University.

"I really wanted to play at the next level," said Sussenguth, who averaged 20.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season. "It's a great conference (the NSIC is Division II), and I know it will be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."

Sussenguth, who is 6-foot-8, pushed his own recruiting cart. Since the MCAC isn't highly recruited, he contacted Mustangs' coach Brad Bigler. He also considered Concordia College and UM-Morris, but the Marshall college was his leading choice all along.

He likes the way things worked out at Ridgewater. "It was the right choice for sure," he said. "It helped me progress. It was a step up from high school in speed and being more physical."

Sussenguth said he encourages young friends to consider a junior college start. He notes that he got to play around 55 games, including two state tournaments.

For him, especially, the price was right at Ridgewater. He could live at home and receive free tuition, since his mother, Val Swanson, is employed at the college.

Casey plans to major in business. The Mustangs went 17-12 this season, 10-10 in the NSIC.

Boston Bound

Among area marathoners headed to the east coast soon is Steve Lueders, who has an insurance agency in Kandiyohi. He will be running his second Boston Marathon on Monday and his 12th 26-miler overall. He's been training with Paul Cool, who works for Q102 Radio in sales.

It will be the first Boston for Cool, a 1982 Marshall graduate who formerly worked for Schwan's. He's run five marathons, including Berlin in 1988 when he was in the army.

"Steve has been a blessing as a training partner," said Cool, 46, who is also a triathlete. "He's a fast runner, very positive and enthusiastic."

The 114th running sets off Monday morning with a cap of 25,000 entrants.

Heitzman back

Ken Heitzman, former Cardinal football coach, will join Rob Baumgarn's staff at the college this fall. He'll work primarily with the defensive line. Baumgarn will move from the defensive side to become the offensive coordinator.

Heitzman said he's excited to be back in football after a year away. He said Baumgarn approached him about joining the Warriors staff. He will still be able to watch his sons Matt, who will be a junior, and Michael, an eighth-grader, next fall in their games.

Heitzman will be coaching beside one of his former players, Justin DeLeeuw (WHS '98). Assistant coach Ken Nelson is taking this year off because of new demands as head groundskeeper at Baker Field.

Jackson Illies returns at quarterback, but Baumgarn said the offense will be "run first" this fall. Baumgarn projects 55 recruits, plus 18-20 returnees, when fall drills start in August.

Fields busy

With the emergence of the Stingers, Bill Taunton Stadium at Baker Field has become a games-only field. Park and Rec director Steve Brisendine said teams can use Orange and Blue, north of Willmar Avenue for practice.

The big field at the high school is being upgraded. Sunrise, at the east end of Willmar Avenue, is also available for softball and youth baseball overflow. Orange, or North Swanson, got irrigation and some new infield sod. Blue, which has a skin infield, needs the backstop to be relocated closer to the plate.

Rec director Steve Brisendine said conflicts with scheduling at Taunton seem minimal with only a few bumps. Most of the teams -- Rails, Legion and VFW I and II -- should not be inconvenienced.

"The biggest issue will be rainouts," he said. "So far, everyone is working together. We're aware of the needs (for field improvements). We just ask everyone to be patient in a tight economy."

On the fly

Jordan Smith, a freshman outfielder, leads the St. Cloud State Huskies (26-7) in batting average (.468), hits (51), doubles (11, tie), home runs (7) and is second in RBI (40) ... Civic Center supervisor Kevin Madsen is hopeful that a curling program can be worked out with the college. An open curling day drew 28 students. He projects both a curling class as a component of the physical education program and a club team. The fifth annual Curling League Banquet is expected to draw 70-75 people Friday at the Oaks to hear U.S. Olympic team leader John Benton of St. Michael ... A group of Cardinal wrestlers traveled to Kansas City for the Brute/Adidas National Folkstyle Tournament in early April. Nathanial Swoyer, who moved here from Kansas three years ago, competed along with fellow juniors Coty Milhausen, Eugene Stepan and Zach Morris, and senior Adam Fagerstrom. Four of the boys had top-eight finishes ... City Rec has added open volleyball at the city auditorium from 6:30-10 p.m. Tuesday with nets for both competitive and recreation level ... The Willmar Fest Softball Tournament should take off this year with a $2,000 added purse thanks the Willmar Convention and Visitors Bureau. City Rec hopes for 20 teams for the June 26-27 event. A Saturday grass-court coed volleyball tournament at Swansson Field will have a $1,000 purse.

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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