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A return to familiar territory

It's refreshing to return to familiar territory.

Being the newest sports reporter on the West Central Tribune staff, that has a couple different connotations.

I've made stops on both ends of Highway 23. It started in St. Cloud, where I'm a St. Cloud State University grad, as well as a former part-timer at the St. Cloud Times. It's where I got to learn a little bit on the prep beat about the Central Lakes, Central Minnesota and Wright County conferences.

After the stint in St. Cloud, I made my way to the other end of Highway 23 with a 2-1/2 year stint as the Marshall Independent's sports editor. There, I covered one half of the Camden Conference; now it's time to cover the other half.

It'll be a little jarring at first to cover some familiar schools like Yellow Medicine East and Dawson-Boyd, where I most notably covered the Blackjacks' 2011 championship football team back in the Metrodome.

Between conference realignment and district football, among other changes, things do look different. At least the school names stayed the same around here.

After years on both ends of 23, I got to spend five very gratifying years as the sports editor at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where I was able to do the best work of my career along the Mississippi River.

Geography aside, joining the WCT sports desk will be a much-needed return to form.

The first six months of 2018, I dipped my toes into the news department for Rivertown Multimedia and for myriad reasons, it wasn't for me.

After covering sports for nearly a decade, school board meetings just didn't have the same excitement as a postseason basketball game or a Friday night in the fall.

Plus, I'm a night owl. Those 6 a.m. alarm clocks got real grating in no time.

I'm back to what I excel at, ready to patrol baseball diamonds, basketball and volleyball courts, football fields, wrestling mats and so on in and around Willmar.

To be honest, I'm a Twin Cities guy from Fridley and I didn't think I'd be back in this part of the state. But, here I am, with a new-found sense of enthusiasm.

And after going from one end of Highway 23 to the other, it was about time I met in the middle and settled into Willmar.

So, what does that mean for readers in west central Minnesota?

Whether it's in schools I know like Dawson-Boyd, YME or Paynesville, or fresh communities like Willmar, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City or Montevideo, I want to tell the stories that define your sports community.

And not just the stories with a box score at the end. It doesn't matter if it involves the star forward, the medalist on the golf course or the less-heralded players like the long snapper or the pinch runner. If there's a great tale, I want to share it with the community.

With Tom Larson and Jake Schultz already on board here at the Trib, I want to help make a great product even better for both the die-hard fans in the area and the casual readers from across the state and beyond.

I'm excited to be back in familiar territory. And, I'm ready to bring sports coverage in the area to uncharted territory.