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Willmar notebook: Snow brings icy thoughts of Freon

One of the last things Kevin Madsen would like to see accomplished in his last month as Civic Center manager is an engineering study.

Willmar, like almost every other community in the state with an ice arena, must kick the Freon habit by the end of the decade.

The Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act has mandated the end of a certain refrigerant that deplete the ozone layer.

What is not clear, Madsen said, is a reasonable replacement for R22.

An engineering study is needed to assess the practical alternative available to a city like Willmar.

“Just about everybody is in the same spot,” said Madsen, one of something like 120 arena managers with frozen floors all or part of the year.

In 1996, Madsen succeeded Bill Abel, who has been the Plymouth Ice Center manager ever since. Quoted in the Star Tribune, Abel said he intended to convert to environmentally-friendly ammonia at a cost of about $1 million dollars. He’s unsure where the money will be found, but he hopes the city or state helps.

Ammonia certainly is an option, Madsen said.

“It’s a good refrigerant but there are safety issues and it smells,” he said. Fortunately, he said, safety equipment has gotten “so much better’’ over the years.

Willmar ripped up its floor and replaced the tubing in 2000. Glycol surges through the arteries and to the compressor where it is cooled by Freon or R22. The adjoining Blue Line Center also runs on glycol and R22.

The Cardinal Arena compressor will be 40 years old in 2020, serving since the rink went on line in January, 1980. Madsen said it already is long lived and, like some airplanes, parts are no longer available.

One option an engineering firm might suggest is a common compressor for the two rinks. Or perhaps, an alternative to the rather expensive ammonia solution.

Madsen, a 1967 New London-Spicer grad, has plenty to keep him involved in arena activities once he retires. He is an advocate for curling and one of the country’s recognized experts in preparing arena curling ice. On June 1 he’s off to Lansing, Mich., to help make ice for the Arena Curling Nationals. In September, it’s a return trip to Hawaii for a second curling fundraiser.

Schaub’s 300th

Randy Schaub got his 300th coaching win on Tuesday when the Renville County West Jaguars beat Ortonville 7-3 at Sacred Heart.

Randy didn’t want to talk about himself pointing so many others who made it possible. He expressed appreciation especially to his assistant coaches Tim Tanner and Steve Agre.

“What a fortunate man I am to have had Tim and Steve as assistants. Couldn’t be better,” he said.

But let’s break down Randy Schaub a bit, who’s been on our radar since the late ’80s as a head coach.

He coached the last Danube Hawks nine in 1988 and then assisted Charlie Grams for one year after the merger with Renville-Sacred Heart. He took over the DRSH helm in 1990, which became BDRSH for a few years and finally Renville County West.

His lifetime record as of Tuesday evening is 300-237.That includes two seasons at Villard and one as head coach of Villard/Osakis in ’83-84. After a brief return to his hometown and a stop at Alden-Conger, he signed on with Danube in ’86-87 and has taught high school social science.

Schaub was a classmate of Willmar hockey coach and P.E. teacher Ross Dahl at Albert Lea (Class of ’76). “Ross was my sometimes catcher,” Randy said. “He was the school’s first top-level hockey star. He’s the same upbeat guy today he was then.”

Randy and his wife Shari (Massman) have three children. She’s a Villard native whom he met while teaching there. Griffin, the youngest of their three children, is a senior third-year starter. He had three hits in Tuesday’s win.

When Randy finally validated his career record and found out he was getting near the milestone, Griffin told his dad he wanted to make sure it happened while he was still a Jaguar.

“I think he felt more pressure to get it done than I did,” said Randy with a chuckle.

Mission accomplished. Both Schaubs can relax and enjoy the rest of the season … once the snow goes.

No. 300 for Amdahl

Alan Amdahl graduated from Atwater-Grove City High School in 1987 and went on to play football and baseball at Gustavus Adolphus.

He’s now in his 22nd spring as head coach of the Albany Huskies varsity baseball. Just like Randy Schaub, April 15 turned out to be a special day and not because of taxes.

The Huskies beat their Granite Ridge and area rival St. Cloud Cathedral 4-3 on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh at Avon.

It was Amdahl’s 300th career win (against 178 losses).

The Huskies play in a rugged baseball section that often includes Cathedral and Paynesville but did get to state in 2005 and 2008 (consolation champs). The economics/government teacher has also been a varsity football assistant coach for 17 seasons.

He and wife Dana, a Wisconsin native, have a daughter Martha, a senior, and a son, Anders, a freshman. His parents and a brother farm southeast of Atwater.

National wrestlers

Coming off a third consecutive state tournament visit, Cardinal wrestlers stayed busy on the mat. Varsity coach Ed Oehlers provided the following outcomes for his high school wrestlers:

At the Northland Youth Wrestling Association tourney at Rochester, Clay Carlson and Israel Navarro each won state championships. The NYWA is the main venue for K-8.

At the Brute Nationals in Independence, Mo., Travis Deegan and Matt Hennes each took second, Vaughn Johnson fourth, Israel Navarro fifth and Estevan Navarro and Justin Skaro each sixth.  As previously reported, Colten Carlson took third at the Virginia Nationals.

“Our wrestlers did very well representing Willmar and Minnesota at the tournaments; it’s the best our program has performed” in national events, Oehlers said.

Ridge football

Ridgewater head coach Rob Baumgarn expects 25-28 sophomores on next fall’s football teams at the college. That’s a high number of returnees. Northland has dropped football but North Dakota State College of Science and Dakota College at Bottineau (N.D.) have hooked up with the MCAC under a two-year agreement. NDSCS is in the five-team South Division and will play Oct. 11 at Willmar. The Warriors will open against the St. John’s University JV, at Clements Field, on Aug. 24, a Sunday.

The North Division will have six teams with Dakota College joining and Central Lakes in Brainerd, shifted out of the South.

On the fly

n Baumgarn and the WCER oversee middle school athletics. The tennis program is flourishing with 25 boys in spring and about 40 girls in fall (sixth-eighth graders). Track has about 100 boys and girls taught by four coaches. There is also seventh and eighth grade baseball and softball. Baumgarn’s duties includes field and court assignments, always a challenge but doubly so with bad weather.

n The plan now under review by the district and school board to expand the middle school and high school would mean additional gym space for students and the public. The tentative plan for the high school would include a dedicated practice area for the gymnastics team. What a plus that would be after more than four decades tearing down and setting up at the old high school, now Kennedy Elementary, on Seventh Street Southwest.

n Prep football programs are sending in a survey with information regarding their school, football program and wishes for the new district scheduling mandated by the MSHSL for 2015. The District placement committee will be meeting soon to start the process of placing schools. The survey form asks schools to prioritize enrollment, geography and “Like Schools” as most important when building a district schedule. It also wants to know the school’s three most “tradition rivals”. Information is also requested on enrollment declines and socio-economic factors, i.e. free/reduced lunches. .

n Warrior softball shortstop Brooke Wuertz (Paynesville) went 5-for-6 in the sweep of last-place Anoka-Ramsey and is now batting .526 (44-for-78). Courtney Olson (KMS) hit her seventh home run tying for most in the South. Brielle Hauge (KMS) drove in three runs and now has 27, second in the South. Heather Horning (Willmar) pitched her 10th win and has a thrown a league-leading 88 innings.

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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