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Willmar notebook: Swimmers, wrestlers take on state

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton This will be the first state meet for junior Trent Flegel, left, and the third for senior AJ Derouin. They will compete on both freestyle relays and Flegel also in the 100 butterfly.

The Cardinals are sending two relays to the state swimming meet on Friday. Individually, Trent Flegel will compete in the butterfly and Michael McLain in both the 100- and 200-freestyle races.

A.J. Derouin and Connor Haugen join McLain and Flegel on the freestyle relays.

Coach Carl Shuldes says both relays have a shot at reaching Saturday’s championship heat at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

McLain medaled in both his races last year. Shuldes said the senior, who is at his fourth state meet, is primed to lower his seed times.

“He always has good races at state,” said Shuldes. “He’s ready.”

McLain holds the school’s 200-free record. Shuldes gives him a shot at cracking Scott Hagemeyer’s program standard in the 100-free (46.72), which is 10 years old.

Flegel is the only junior here; he’ll be a team leader next year. This is his first state meet, though he has swam in the spacious U of M pool in team competition. There are 24 flyers trying to advance to Saturday’s two heats of 8 each.

Willmar’s 200-relay is one of 8 teams with a seed time under 1:31.0; the 400-relay is at 3:22.15 with seven times under 3:22.0.

Area swimmers to watch include junior Jack Speath of Montevideo and Eric Dahlseng of Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield. Dahlseng returns in the backstroke where he placed second as a junior.

Ready to wrestle

Luck plays less of a role in wrestling than other sports. No bouncing pucks or pigskins here, no wind-blown popups and the officiating much less seldom draws criticism or even a comment.

So don’t look for Willmar to upset No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville, or even stay close. The Knights are superior. Willmar has eight individual state qualifiers but the Knights have 12. I count five state medalists in the matting order who finished top three at the Xcel a year ago. Willmar had seven state qualifiers last year but none got to a medal match.

For the record, the Knights are 30-1, losing only to a team from Florida. In three section wins they gave up 20 points total.

The Cardinals’ aim here is to be primed to win its second round match today, the consolation semifinal. There they expect to see Centennial of Circle Pines. A year ago Willmar lost to eventual champ Apple Valley in the first round and then by a point, 31-30, to White Bear Lake in the second round.

This year’s Cardinal team is perceived to have more balance. If they can win the 11 a.m. match, they would wrestle for the consolation trophy at 5 p.m.

We’ll also be keeping a close eye today on Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. Both schools have won state championships this century. No. 4 KMS meets No. 5 Chatfield while No. 3 ACGC wrestles unseeded Sibley East of Gaylord, both matches at 11 a.m.

Individually, on Friday, Nate Mittag (23-6) faces Austin Jordan (36-6) of Stillwater at 126, at 132 pounds Austin Miley (39-3) meets Austin Walz (33-7) of Sauk Rapids in the Round of 16. Colten Carlson (33-5) faces Will Noll (32-10) at 152, heavyweight Cass Herzog (33-0) takes on AJ Dehn (21-18) of Osseo. Those are Willmar’s best shots of advancing to the quarterfinals. Estevan Navarro at 138, Travis Deegan at 145, Vaughn Johnson at 160 and Augustine Hahn at 182 rate as sizeable underdogs. Navarro meets Apollo’s Mitch Bengston (40-0), No. 1-ranked in his weight class. Hahn is harder to peg with just eight matches, all in postseason.

Dispute at finish

Here’s what we’ve so far found out about that tumultuous ending to the boys game at St. Cloud Tech on Monday.

The best explanation I got is from a colleague on the sports beat on the radio side, Todd Bergeth. He did the play-by-play for KWLM Radio that night.

The incident happened during a Tech timeout with 7.8 seconds on the overtime clock. Willmar had the ball out under its own basket but needed a basket trailing 64-62.

Bergeth was broadcasting with recently retired girls basketball coach Brad Atchison providing analysis.

Here’s Bergeth’s recounting: “We were talking through the timeout instead of taking a commercial break because we wanted to set up the play. We didn’t see the Tech assistant coach walking over behind our bench, apparently neither did the officials because we have contacted several and to a man said a technical foul should have been called. That would have changed the game and perhaps the outcome.

“What alerted us to something going on was seeing Cardinals assistant coach Matt Williams engaged in a heated conversation with the Tech coaches, then assistant coach Dale Becker addressing one of the officials and coach Steve Grove and coach Mike Trewick of Tech arguing. The play happened and we didn’t score and lost.

“Immediately after the game long time girls head coach and now boys assistant coach at Tech, Greg Martig, who is friendly with “Atch” came over and explained to him (which we caught on air) that their B-Squad coach had indeed walked over behind our bench to try and get information but none was relayed to the team.”

Bergeth speculates that Tech was worried because of what happened at the end of regulation. With :04.8 seconds left and the score tied at 56-all, Grove diagrammed a play that was executed perfectly by Austin Rambow and Alex Grove, except that the contested shot bounced off the rim.

Atchison told me in an email that in his coaching career stretching into five decades he had never witness an incident like this. He wonders if a technical foul might have been called on the Tech bench.

Stay tuned, there may be more developments.

By the way, KWLM is covering Cardinal team wrestling today with two-time state champion and former Gopher Chad Carlson providing the move-by-move.

Runke’s White Hawks

Doug Runke, who graduated from WHS in 2001, has been in the Mound Westonka boys hockey program for eight years, the past five as head coach.

By now we’ve all seen or read the news reports of the suspension of six White Hawk hockey players on the day of a playoff game, along with nine other students, who mimicked the “Harlem Shake,” the YouTube video that has been described as “suggestive.”

Coach Runke won’t comment on specifics since the situation is still fluid.

But he did say: “It was an unfortunate turn of events, we’ve had to deal with some adverse situations, and we’re working hard as a team to move past this. We play sports to have fun and learn real-life lessons while doing it. The entire team is using those lessons learned and are attempting to apply them throughout this process. We are emphasizing respect, class and character; just as we emphasize it throughout the season.”

The White Hawks went into the 2A quarterfinal at Parade Ice Garden the No. 2 seed and with a seven-game win streak. The Blake Bears were seeded No. 7 but beat the depleted Hawks 6-4.

The Star Tribune reported Tuesday that Mound superintendent Kevin Borg apologized Monday night for the suspensions of the six players “Telling a crowd of angry parents that the school activities director had been put on leave pending an investigation of the incident.”

College finale

Chelsey Wierschem polished off a four-year career playing forward for the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets last weekend.

She was the team’s MVP her sophomore season when she led the team in goals and points.

She was a plus 19 her last two seasons and is a team captain.

She ends her college run with 62 career points on 30 goals and 32 assists.

Chelsey lettered five years for the Cardinals girls hockey team and was the team MVP each of her last four years graduating in 2009.

HOF nominations

Nominations for the 2013 Willmar High School Cardinal Pride Athletic Hall of Fame are being accepted now through May 1.

Nomination forms are found on the Willmar High School website under the athletics tab. Nominations are for one of three categories: athlete, coach or community member.

Questions? Call Mary Amon 222-8566 or talk to any Cardinal Pride Board member.

Coaches lauded

Section 6AAA wrestling coaches voted Willmar co-head coaches Justin Brown and Ed Oehlers Section Coaches of the Year. Carl Carlson was voted Assistant Coach of the Year.

All are now eligible for state AAA honors.

On the fly

n Ridgewater Warriors volleyball coach Joe Sussenguth has announced the signing of 6-foot-2 right-side Amy Bolin of Onamia and 5-10 middle hitter Hailey Osland from Revere (Westbrook-Walnut Grove).

n The Ridgewater Warriors football team will open the season with a Thursday night home game against Itasca College. The game will follow the Cardinals sophomore game at 5 p.m.

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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