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Willmar notebook: Hutch first challenge for new coach

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton At photo day Tuesday, Dustin and Emily Carlson stand ready to pose with the team. Dustin is head coach and Emily is the sophomore team coach. Both are 2004 Willmar graduates.1 / 2
Tribune photo by Rand Middleton These four Cardinals are returning state tournament individual entrants: from left, senior Nate Mittag, freshman Logan Walkow, freshman Colton Carlson and junior Austin Miley.2 / 2

Dustin Carlson and the 2012-13 Cardinal girls basketball team debuts Saturday evening at Willmar High School.

Nothing like jumping right into the fire.

The guests are the Tigers from Hutchinson, who last year finished 26-5, losing to Fergus Falls in the Class AAA third-place game at the state tourney.

Carlson takes over for Brad Atchison, who retired from coaching after a distinguished career that began at Clara City in 1977. Willmar has three senior regulars back from a team that finished 12-14, losing to Marshall in the first round of sections.

Willmar has only three seniors -- 5-foot-8 Heather Horning, 5-6 Kassy Linbo and 5-10 Anne Dunham. Right now the Cardinals are eight deep with 6-foot Caroline Bell out three to four weeks with a stress fracture. The rotation will also include 5-10 Kalley Fosso, 5-10 McKenzie Hastad, 5-7 Jordan Martins, 5-11 Jennie Magnuson and 5-8 sophomore Courtney Magnuson (no relation).

Carlson has installed a pattern offense but will not involve the swing that Atchison favored. Look for cuts through the lane and an up-tempo style.

Dustin, a middle school P.E. teacher who also coaches football (defensive coordinator), is assisted on varsity by Bryan Borgos, who teaches math at the ALC and was a volleyball assistant at New London-Spicer this fall.

Dustin's wife, Emily, a fourth-grade teacher, will coach the JV/sophomore team. All three are former Cardinal athletes.

The Tigers are coached by Bill Carlson (WHS '76), who is in this third year as the head coach. He lost five exceptional seniors, including Nicole Wittman who starts at Northern Illinois, Molly Monahan who is playing volleyball at Bemidji State and Kaylee Kucera who is swimming at Iowa State.

Four players back have varsity experience, he said.

Wrestler at Belgrade

The Cardinal wrestling team once again travels up U.S. 71 to Belgrade for the annual BBE Invitational. While this curtainraiser is always an exciting event for the young athletes after the long hours of rigorous workouts, many coaches and fans will be aware of the absence of Richard Vos. The much-respected head coach of the Jaguars, the host team, died in a tragic highway accident on Oct. 16.

Never has Willmar entered this individual-bracketed tournament with a lineup this tested, virtually intact from the state AAA tournament with Logan Walkow, Nate Mittag, Juan Resendez, Austin Miley, Estevan Navarro, Zach Leuders, Travis Deegan, Colten Carlson, Darius O'Neill, Augustine Hahn, Vaughn Johnson, Kory Welgraven, Matt Hennes and Cass Herzog.

Co-head coaches Ed Oehlers and Justin Brown are enthusiastic with a full room of grapplers grades 9-12 plus two eighth graders.

Stated Oehlers of pre-season preparations: "There was a high level of participation in our off-season weight-training program. We strive to train harder and more efficiently than our opponents, with strength training as an essential component of our program."

Willmar Cardettes

The Willmar Cardinals High-Kick dance team placed seventh at the CLC Tournament Tuesday in Brainerd.

The score were Kicks-(Technique) (Height/placement/timing) ( Difficulty): 84/150 ... Execution-( Placement/control) (Degree of accuracy ): 52/100 ... Choreography-(Visual effectiveness/creativity, practicality of content): 59/100 ... Difficulty-(choreography & combinations) (Formations/transitions): 55/100 ... Routine Effectiveness-: 28/50 ...Total Points: 278/500 ... Rank Points 21.5

Alumni hockey game

The second annual Stephen J. Reynolds Memorial Alumni Hockey Game comes up 7 p.m. Dec. 29 (a Saturday) at the Cardinal Arena.

Registration forms are available, I'm told, at Play It Again Sports, Walt's and Schwegman's Cleaners. This is for all alumni male and female, young and old, with a modest fee of $10.

Registration is unlimited but is due to close Dec. 20. More information and registration is available at Question may be directed to Joanna Schrupp at 320-894-2620.

Today is the one-year anniversary of Stephen's sudden death attributed to a heart anomaly. He was a former Cardinal attending Ridgewater College.

Fall a wrap

Willmar was the only Central Lakes Conference school to win multiple team titles this fall. The Cardinals took first place at Fergus Falls in both boys and girls cross country.

Rocori won its second straight football title (the Spartans and Brainerd tied for first in 2011). You have to salute Rocori, who held on this campaign despite losing their starting quarterback to injury at midseason.

Willmar volleyball tied for second with Alexandria at 8-4 behind 12-0 Fergus Falls. Girls swimming ended up fourth, boys soccer officially seventh though they tied for the fourth most wins (four). Girls soccer finished last. The girls tennis team came in third with a 7-4 record and 14-5 overall.

Swim team needs middle schoolers

The Cardinal swimming and diving team has a fine turnout of 38 this season, up 10 from a year ago. But Carl Shuldes would like to see more middle schoolers taking up the sport. There are only five 7-8th graders. There is an activities bus after school to transport to senior high. Practice only started Monday. Shuldes suggests students or parent interested contact the middle school athletic director.

Card Sunday tennis

Jim Anderson, tennis coach for both boys and girls, and WCER are offering Cardinal Winter Tennis every Sunday at the high school for a $30 fee. There are separate one hour sessions starting at 4 p.m. for Grade 1-5 (the Quick Start program includes free racket), middle school and high school. Jim can be reached at 320-905-9375 or see

On the fly

n Senior Alex Grove, who started three years at quarterback, said he's considering Concordia College, St. Cloud State and St. Thomas to continue his football career. Northern State, in Aberdeen, S.D., has also shown interest.

n Pete Aus is into his sixth decade coaching. He was the first hockey coach at Litchfield in 1972 and came to Willmar from 1984-92. He moved on to Bethel College has co-head coach and then assisted his son David (WHS '87) coach the Blaine Tigers. Now he's back as a head coach in high school hockey as the new skipper for the Roseville Raiders.

n The Willmar boys hockey team will travel to the far north Jan. 17-18 to engage Eveleth at the Hippodrome and Virginia at the Miner's Memorial Building. Former Cardinals head coach Reed Larson, a native Iron Ranger, is the head coach at Virginia. The same two teams will pay a visit to Willmar in the winter of 2013-14.

n Lee Smith (WHS '84) brings a 363-132-26 career record into the season coaching one of Minnesota's highest-profile boys hockey program. Eden Prairie won AA championships in 2009 and '11. Another ex-Cardinal just beginning his head coaching career, Lee Engstrom (WHS '01) is helming a young but athletic team at Shakopee. The Sabres are AA division in the Missota Conference.

n Laura Dunlavy finished the fall season 6-1 for the South Dakota State Equestrian team that beat third-ranked Georgia and ninth-ranked Georgia at Brookings for a 4-3 record.

n Gustavus All-America junior swimmer Alissa Tinklenberg won both the 200 backstroke in 2:12.48 and the 200 IM in 2:15.92. at the St. John's/St. Ben's Mini-Invitational on Saturday.

n The Ridgewater women's team (3-0) is one of two undefeated left in the MCAC and the only team with a field-goal average over 40 percent (88-186, 47.3%). The Ridgewater teams are at International Falls on Friday and Hibbing on Saturday.

n Gophers All-American junior wrestler Kevin Steinhaus of Pennock (KMS) is off to a 7-0 start at 184 pounds. Former Fighting Saints' teammate sophomore Joel Bauman is 6-1 at 197 pounds losing only to another Gopher Scott Schiller 4-1 at the Bison Open.

Card football awards

Team MVP: Zech Streed ... Offensive POY: Austin Rambow ... Defensive POY: Jordan Geurtz ....Special Teams POY: Josh Warne and Patrick Courtney ... Lineman of Year: Cass Herzog ... Pat Tillman Award: Alex Grove ... Lifter of Year: Bart Kerfeld ... Hard Hat Award: Jamen Bares ... Freshman of Year: Joel Engel ... Sophomore of Year: Michael Heitzman ... Captains: 2013: Hunter Mottinger, Buzzy Tollefson, Michael Heitzman

Can't miss runners

These 9 runners competed in all 12 events in the 2012 Glacial Lakes Championship Running Series: Bonnie Hauser, 51; Sara Sand, 35; Wendy Nelson, 59; Jessica LaPoint, 27; Tiffany Johnson, 29; Eric Lewis, 48, John Vornholt, 45; Raymond Cyr, 69; Marena Lewis 27. Vornholt, from New London, stretched his perfect attendance streak to five years.

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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