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Gruhlke, Fransen step down as wrestling coaches

Tom Gruhlke and Scott Fransen have been business partners for 16 years now at Farm Bureau Insurance in Olivia and Granite Falls. And the partners, who have also been head wrestling coaches at BOLD and Renville County West, respectively, for several years have decided recently to step down as coach.

Gruhlke guided BOLD to a state title in 2003 and also coached four state individual champions.

"I will always miss the wrestlers and the practice room," said Gruhlke, who coached Bird Island, Buffalo Lake-Hector and BOLD for 26 years in all. "That daily contact with the youth is a lifeline toward staying young. The parents and boosters are another group that I will miss a great deal. Their support for the program and the tradition that BOLD wrestling maintains is infectious."

Gruhlke also said the bonding with other coaches will be a big void in his life.

"I'm really going to miss the time with the other coaches at matches and during tournaments," he said. "There are some really great coaches out there and I've become friends with a lot of them."

David Williams, an elementary teacher, has been named the new head coach at BOLD.

Fransen was considering stepping down as head coach at RCW last season, but planned to stay two more seasons.

"I don't think people realize the time and energy required to be a head coach, even at the high school level," said Fransen. "I will be able to attend my daughter's junior high basketball games and will also be able to attend my son's basketball games."

Fransen, who has been head coach at RCW for 11 years and six years as an assistant coach before that, thought by stepping down earlier than he initially thought, the new head coach would have more time to establish himself in the program.

"There are some state-caliber kids coming back from last season," Fransen said. "And I think it will give the new coach some immediate success. We do need to work on getting more kids out in the younger grades, but our elementary program has seen expanded numbers."

Gruhlke and Fransen employ a couple of their former wrestlers in the insurance business, so the wrestling stories will always be a part of their life.

"I've coached some very good teams and some teams that have struggled to get wins," said Fransen. "But no matter what, I have had fun. I'll also miss getting on the mat and wrestling with the kids in practice. It's always been a great way to pretend that I'm still young."

RCW has not made an official announcement on who the new head coach will be.

Kinny has career day for Litchfield

Litchfield quarterback Zach Kinny sure didn't play like a first-year quarterback last Friday in Litchfield's 43-20 win over Watertown-Mayer.

The 6-foot, 155-pound sophomore completed 16-of-20 passes for 333 yards in shattering the school record for single-game passing yards. The previous record was held by Hans Hoeg, who threw for 274 yards against New London-Spicer in 2001.

"I think Zach's success was due to five main reasons," said Litchfield coach Jon Johnson. "He throw the ball very well. The linemen gave him time to get good looks. Most teams are set up to stop our run. He is maturing as a quarterback, meaning he can look off defenders and check down his options and the find the open man. And it was a great night to throw the ball, weather-wise."

Jordan Godejahn, a 5-8, 150-pound junior running back, also had a stellar night for the Dragons, just missing a 100 yards rushing and receiving. He scored on runs of 9, 3, 2 and 4 yards, and finished with 99 yards in 28 carries. He also caught seven passes for 136 yards.

And defensive end Isaac Northquest, a 6-1, 190-pound junior, returned two fumbles for touchdowns in the game, scooping up a loose ball and reaching paydirt from 33 and 67 yards away, both times in the fourth quarter.

Monte's Douglas lean and mean

Montevideo's Jake Douglas isn't your prototypical huge defensive lineman that wreaks havoc on enemy quarterbacks by overpowering offensive linemen. But that doesn't make Douglas any less of a menace in the opposing team's backfield.

Douglas, a 6-3, 175-pound junior defensive end, leads the area with seven sacks this season. Twice he has recorded three in a game.

"Jake has a motor that never stops; he is relentless," said Montevideo coach David Vik. "He absolutely refuses to let up or lose. Jake is strong, quick and powerful with a lot of leverage. His knowledge of the game and the game plan also play a role in his success."

Douglas, also a running back, is third on the team in rushing and also has caught a touchdown pass this season.

"Jake is as coachable an athlete as you will find," said Vik. "And (he) constantly is wanting to improve."

Jaeger does it all

Like a pesky fly that refuses to go away, Cody Jaeger was all over the field last Friday in Benson's 38-8 rout of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in a West Central South Conference football game.

The 6-foot, 170-pound senior quarterback/defen-sive back, had a hand or a foot in all but one of Benson's six touchdowns. In the first quarter, Jaeger returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown and kicked the extra point, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Carter Fennell and returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown.

In the second quarter, Jaeger scored on a four-yard keeper.

And in the third quarter, he fired a 30-yard scoring strike to Derek Hilleren and added the conversion kick.

He finished with 57 yards rushing in nine carries, completed 9-of-14 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and also recorded a sack coming off the edge on a cornerback blitz.

That sack set up fourth down and he returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown.

"Cody is extremely quick and has an extra burst of speed," said Benson coach Scott Gonnerman. "On offense, we run a spread and mostly shotgun, so we're able to utilize his strengths by running him, sprinting him out and throwing the ball."

Jaeger was formerly a running back and now is in his second year as a quarterback.

"He sees the field well and uses his blockers well," said Gonnerman. "(Against LPGE), he threw to four different receivers. He doesn't isolate on a favorite target."

The other Benson touchdown came on Hilleren's punt return. It was the third return touchdown of the season for Hilleren after returning kickoffs for touchdowns in the season opener against Mora and in Week 2 against Paynesville.

RCW finishes 0-8

Renville County West made it official that it would no longer have varsity football this fall and instead have opted to finish the season by playing a junior varsity schedule. They will take on Lakeview Friday in JV, which originally was schedule to be the Week 5 varsity game on Friday.

RCW does not have the numbers, experience or depth to continue playing a varsity schedule, according to RCW administrators and coaches. The team finishes 0-8, including four forfeits.

"The kids are making progress with each week," said first-year head coach Ryan Hebrink. "I haven't heard any complaints from them since we announced we would be switching over to JV. We don't look at it as if are 'shutting down' but rather switching gears. We will still practice and prepare as if we are playing a varsity schedule."

YME's Dyrdahl back

Derek Dyrdahl, a 5-10, 180-pound senior running back/linebacker, was sorely missed in Yellow Medicine East's 21-0 loss to Montevideo in a West Central South Conference football game last Friday. The versatile Dyrdahl missed the game with an upper-body injury sustained the week before against BOLD.

Dyrdahl, who leads the Sting in rushing with 203 yards and is also one of the team's top defensive players, is expected to play Friday night against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in a West Central South Conference game.

RCW looking to pair in wrestling

Renville County West is looking to pair its wrestling program be-cause of a lack of participants in recent years.

The Jaguars have several good wrestlers, but have been forced to forfeit several weights in recent years. Letters were sent to Willmar, MACCRAY, BOLD, Redwood Valley and Yellow Medicine East inquiring whether any of those school districts were interested in pairing that particular sport.

The best scenario would be for MACCRAY and RCW to join forces on the mat since they are already paired in track and cross country and because both wrestling programs are down in numbers.

MACCRAY is also looking for a wrestling coach after Andy Bristle resigned after three seasons.