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Wetterling became a champ with Midway

Ex-Willmar Rail Steve Wetterling batted designated hitter for the Midway Snurdbirds, who won the Class C title in dramatic fashion over the Moorhead Brewers on Monday.

The Birds had a nice turnout of fans at Bill Taunton Stadium trail them down from the Menahga area. They helped celebrate the first title for Midway, nine miles west of Menahga, in 16 state trips.

Wetterling played for the Cardinals and Legion Post 167, graduating in 2001, He played for the Rails most of the decade. When he got a job in Park Rapids, where he is a production supervisor at a potato plant whose clients include McDonald's, it became too long a trip down U.S. 71 to play for the Rails.

He joined the Snurdbirds, who was in need of a catcher when their catcher moved to the Twin Cities. At the state tournament, Wetterling was the starting DH all six games. He didn't hit a ton (three hits, three RBI), but in the championship game he singled in Midway's first run and he drew a one-out walk leading off the 13th inning. His pinch-runner ended up scoring the game-ending run.

"I only got back to Willmar for six games the last time I played here," said the ex-Cardinal while taking a minute away from the celebration on the dark, damp afternoon. "Midway needed a catcher when Chris Baso moved. He plays for Shakopee and they won Class B today (in Bird Island). His brother, Mike, is our center fielder, so they both finished first."

Wetterling was one of two ex-Ridgewater College players on the Midway team. Zach Etter, who is from Menagha, threw the first seven innings, and then went to right field while Shane Hendrickson held a very good Brewers lineup without a run the next inning. The Birds won 5-4.

The state amateur program listed nearly two dozen former Ridgewater College players among the Class C and B players in the tournament.

Attendance for the three-weekend event was 11,247. That compares to 13,776 at Arlington-Gaylord last year. Chaska-Shakopee drew 14,116 in 2008 and Hamburg-Norwood 11,691 in 2007. Granite Falls-Marshall drew 10,981 in 1999 and 16,088 in 1989.

On the Fly

Retired Willmar Senior High School teacher and basketball coach Roger "Shorty" Schroeder is one of five 2010 inductees into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The Danube native coached at Appleton and Litchfield before coming to Willmar in 1967. His career includes the singular feat of taking the boys team to three state tournaments and, in the early 1990s, the girls team to two state tournaments. Among the other inductees is Chuck Gulsvig, who coached the Moorhead Spuds from 1983-2000,

The Cardinal Pride Hall of Fame has released the names of its two inductees for 2010. They are Kenny Johnson (Class of 1947) and Jon Habben ('75). Johnson was the fullback and captain on the 1946 team that finished 6-1. Habben made his lasting mark in swimming reaching three state meets and later attaining All-America status multiple times at St. John's University. The induction banquet is Sept. 24 followed by introductions at halftime of the homecoming football game that evening.

Jeff Ramey returns to the field where he was an all-CLC quarterback on his father Deryl's Cardinal teams in 1981 Both Jeff and Deryl are assistants under Ron Stolski, who has the second most wins in Minnesota high school football.

Dwight Kotila, the Cokato native and former Ridgewater College baseball coach, is head baseball coach and athletic director at Century College. Attending the state tournament last month, he said the college in White Bear Lake will field softball and baseball teams this year and play an independent schedule. Kotila said his recruits include Kevin Soine of New London-Spicer and Shawn Dollerschell of BOLD. Century College dropped athletics in 1985, but restarted collegiate sports again in 2005 with soccer and golf.

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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