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Willmar notebook: Meeting of the year — just one hour

There is a good reason back in 1983 when I had to choose between going all news or all sports at this paper that I ended up in the B section. I didn’t have the patience to cover meetings, especially county board which was my beat.

At least with athletic events, there’s a predictable end within about 30 minutes. While the county board was composed of community figures who I greatly admired individually, their painfully drawn out deliberations went on endlessly like the final two minutes of a Division I basketball game. 

But there is one meeting annually I try to get to these days. Cardinal Pride held its annual meeting Monday night in the community room at the YMCA (that’s a busy place!).

From gavel to gavel, board president Mary Amon had us out of there in 55 minutes — now that’s how to run a meeting.

While I will spare you most of the details, it must be mentioned what this umbrella booster group accomplishes on behalf of Cardinal athletics.

Already this year $400 is donated to the baseball team for catcher pads and helmet and $1,500 for a tennis storage shed at the senior high courts.

In 2012, contributions totaled $8,576 topped by $3,000 for middle school helmets, $2,500 for girls hockey jerseys/socks and $1,500 for a used city snowmobile with groomer. Nordic coach Brad Haugen thanked the organization profusely for the donation, emphasizing what a blessing it was for maintaining the Swan Lake Trail at Eagle Creek. JaColby Anderson, new head girls hockey coach, also expressed his appreciation to the board (coaches rotate as guests).

In 2011, Cardinal Pride handed out $22,500. Nineteen contributions ranging from $50 (school song sign) to $4,500 (pool scoreboard) touched 13 different programs, including middle school and Pep Band.

The seasonal sports program is Card Pride’s biggest moneymaker. The program is free so ad revenue carries it. Amon stressed the tremendous support the publication receives from business and industry.

With the success of the Willmar Cardinal Open (see below), the C-Pride has increased the four Cardinal Pride Memorial Scholarships given out Monday at the Senior Awards Banquet from $250 to $500 each. The endowment fund, which also benefits from the golf event, grew to $34,500 by the end of 2012.

Fenske, after the six year maximum term, and Gabe Klaassen, due to work and family, leave the board, as well as Heitzman. Coming on are Brad Atchison, Tim Simenson and Mark Wedel.

Oh, sorry, I believe I might have bored you, after all, with the details.

Card Pride golf

The Cardinal Open golf outing (June 14, Eagle Creek), formerly the Dean Anderson/Lane Erickson Memorial, has secured two major sponsors in Mills Automotive Group and Marcus Construction. Chairman Bill Fenske wants to get the foursomes up to 20 this year from 17 a year ago. Coaches and parent/child get a discount on the $95 individual entry fee, which includes cart and buffet.

Fenske is also looking for volunteers to help in organization and also the day of. Contact him at 214-7601 or

HOF nominations

Nominations to the Cardinal Pride HOF are due May 1. Forms available at the high school website “athletics” bar. The induction ceremonies extend over Pep Fest, the American Legion banquet and homecoming, all on Oct. 4.

Though it’s no one’s fault, least of all present and past board members, I feel the HOF has a lot of catching up to do. It’s an accident of history. The Hall got started 10 or 15 years later than it deserved. That meant a lot of back tracking to round up all those deserving “old timers.”

That means the Hall has been not been able to keep up with the bumper crop of athletes that came through in the golden decade of the ‘80s followed by another bulge at the end of the century through 2003 (the class which just gained eligibility).

That’s not to say the book is closed on the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. When I look through the yearly team summaries, I see many graduates (1950-2003) whose plaque on the wall of honor would be a fine addition.

Part of the problem is that not all these ex-Cards/community members/coaches (by my recent count 35 minimum) have been nominated. Filling out the nomination form with facts and figures can be difficult. Stats and awards are hard to dig up unless mom or dad subscribed to the West Central Tribune and kept a scrapbook. Good luck on that.

Winter standouts

Boys Basketball: MVP-Austin Rambow; Most Improved-Sean Zuidema, Kyler Johnson; Best Defense-Joe Leuze. JV MVP-Joel Carter.

Girls Basketball: MVPs: Anne Dunham, Heather Horning; (John) Wooden Award: Kassy Linbo; All-State Academic: Horning. JV MVP: Megan Rudnick.

Danceline: MVPs: Mallory Loge, Waverly Sletta, Amy Larson.

 Gymnastics: MVPs-Cassandra Johnson, Stephanie Thompson. All-State-Hailey Mottinger, 6th-place medal;  Vault; Cassandra Johnson, Thompson.

Boys Hockey: MVP- Hunter Schneider; Cardinal Award/Hobey Baker-Zech Streed; Most Imroved-Evan VanDenEinde. Note: Schneider first-team 6A and Great 8 Participant. Team is Section 6A Academic Champions.

Girls Hockey: MVP-Madison Sandburg; Spirit Award-Amelia Amon; Most Improved: Peyton Setrum; Hobey Baker: Brooke Meyer; Top Rookie: Jordan Sanke; Hardest Worker and True Grit: Kierra Miller; Defense-Sandberg; Offense-Shelby Schneider.

Nordic Skiing: MVP-Jack Erickson, Samantha Hanson; Most Improved-Isaak Estrada/Madison Thomas; Hardest Worker-Ryan Haines, Ashlyn Boehme; Top Rookie- Andrew Haugen, Melana Groothuis

Boys Swimming: MVP-Michael McLain; All-State-Connor Haugen, Trent Flegel, AJ Derouin, Michael McLain. Note: Section Academic champions.

Wrestling: MVP-Cass Herzog; Outstanding Wrestler-Travis Deegan; Most Improved-Vaughn Johnson; All-State-Colten Carlson. Most-Dedicated: Nathaniel Mittag. Notes: Austin Miley set school record with 42 wins. Herzog scored 22 pins, Deegan posted a 3.92 GPA.

Card wrestlers compete in Kansas

Six Willmar High School wrestlers traveled to Independence, Mo., outside Kansas City, for the Brute Nationals at the Events Center Friday-Sunday.

Colten Carlson won the 155-pound Freshman Division with a 4-0 record. He was the Minnesota Class AAA state runner-up at 152 pounds. He’s the first champion from Willmar at this event in five years attending. Nathanial Swoyer, a Class AAA state champion in 2011 had a runner-up finish at this event.

Also placing and earning All-America were Austin Miley and Leon Roberts, each fourth, and Travis Deegan sixth. Also wrestling were Kory Welgraven, Darius O’Neill and Zach Lueders.

On the fly

- Kelsey Fehl is having a tough spring as the third-year head softball coach at Minnesota State, Moorhead where the Dragons are 2-29; Tuesday’s games at Minot State were postponed due to winter-like conditions. Fehl earned eight letters at Willmar and started all four years in the Dragons’ infield.

- Ken Heitzman will join the Cardinals’ football staff as offensive line coach in the fall. He had been coaching the Warriors defensive linemen over the last four seasons since stepping down as head coach of the Cardinals. He said he approached head coach Jon Konold about the opening and got a most favorable response. Heitzman’s son, Michael, will be junior; he led the team in rushing in 2012. Not only does Ridgewater lose a veteran coach but KWLM Radio loses an expert analysis in the booth. Also, Heitzman had to resign from the Cardinal Pride Board after one year since current varsity coaches may not sit.

- The 2012-13 boys hockey team is this season’s Academic Champions Section 6A with a cumulative GPA of 3.69.

- The Cardinals girls golf invite this coming Monday is a washout and won’t be rescheduled. The girls will host the CLC championship meet May 23. The boys only home meet now is CLC on May 13. The JV boys host the CLC at Eagle Creek April 29.

- Accepted and soon headed for the north edge of Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy is Preston Peterson, a top defenseman on the hockey team the past two years who will start his second year at No. 1 singles  should the tennis courts clear. He earned CLC-HM in hockey and is a Senior Scholar/Athlete. 

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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