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Krogstad takes over Rails' helm; state date nears: Beyer recruits

Matt Sagedahl, left, of the Willmar Rails is shown bunting against the Raymond Rockets in this May 30, 2008, file photo at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

The Willmar Rails, now one year away from hosting the Minnesota State Amateur Tournament, open their season on Friday.

Coincidentally, the Rails travel to Bird Island to play the Islanders, who are co-hosting the tri-weekend event that starts in mid-August, 2010. Visitors to Lions Park this summer will note ongoing construction in preparation for the Class B and C tournaments.

Mark Krogstad takes over as Rails manager this month. He's pitched and played outfield for the Rails for last four years, but will now limit his play to "as needed" due to a bad shoulder.

The University of North Dakota law school student said he's ready to manage.

"Travis Michelson is going to help," said Krogstad. "He didn't play baseball here, but he knows the game and will be a big help."

Both are 2003 Willmar graduates. Krogstad replaces Rick Schwantes, who managed the team for three years.

Krogstad feels he has a grasp on running a program after playing three years of town team under Schwantes, plus Legion ball and VFW.

Most of last year's roster returns, including first baseman Matt Carlson, second baseman Lane Kleist and shortstop Matt Sagedahl. Anthony Stern returns after a year off.

Jordan Olson and Steve Wetterling, two of the more veteran Rails, told Krogstad they want to continue their affiliation, though both are working in North Dakota.

Outfielder Matt Seehusen and Jason Scheffler will join up after Southwest Minnesota State ends its season. The Mustangs are playing in the NCAA Division II postseason for the first time ever.

The Rails also play a Cornbelt League game at Milroy on Sunday.

Tom Beyer has got commitments for 10 student/athletes for the 2009-2010 season. Foremost among the area names is Evan Stock of Yellow Medicine East. Stock is a two-time state place winner, including fourth at 215 pounds in 2009.

Other local names are Josh Anderson of Montevideo and Dave Cowen of Minnewaska Area, both 2009 state entrants at the lower weights.

Beyer has also landed three-time state entry, and 2008 runner-up, Nate Freiderich of Montgomery-Lonsdale/Le Center at the opening weight. Also committing are wrestlers from two of the state's strongest programs: Adam Kermes of Albert Lea and Charlie Gelhaye of Simley.

"(These wrestlers) all come in with differing degrees of success ... but have in common a passion for the sport of wrestling."

Beyer expects more names will be added as young men make up their minds on their next step after high school.

Ridgewater College first-year baseball coach Joel Barta will manage the Thunder Bay (Ontario) Border Cats this summer. He formally coached the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods wooden-bat collegiate league.

His family will stay in New London. Road trips to Alexandria and St. Cloud will bring him close to home during the hectic 70-game schedule.

Barta didn't get the Warriors' job until August. He had no chance to recruit. He ended up with a team made of one returning sophomore and the rest freshmen that still managed to win 14 games and reach the state tournament.

He's target about 20 players to bring in next year with other's welcome to walk-on for the fall tryout. With a long list of returnees, competition at each position will be enhanced.

"We need a high-intensity environment to get (Ridgewater) back to the World Series and win it," said the North Dakota native who previously coached at four-year colleges in Wisconsin and Texas.

Barta said he has verbal commitments from Nathan Nietfeld and Shane Kampsen of Paynesville. Nietfeld will also play basketball.

n Willmar Cardinal junior Taylor Filipek was a member of the Minnesota Comets Elite AAU team that got to the semifinals of the Jayhawk AAU Tournament in Lawrence, Kansas. Also on the squad were Shaun Condon of MACCRAY and Erik Tengwall of New London-Spicer. All three were named to the West Central Tribune All-Area team. The Comets won five games against teams from Texas, California and Colorado, before bowing to Kansas City Pump 'n' Run in the championship semifinals.

- Tyler Horning, former infielder for the Cardinals and the Warriors, started 34 games in his first season at St. Cloud State. He batted .333 (34-for-102), with nine extra-base hits and 21 RBI.

- Mustafa Yusuf, running for Minnesota State, Mankato, finished fourth in the 1,500 meter run (4:02.14) at NSIC championships on Saturday at Wayne, Neb. Yusuf, who ran here on two state championship cross-country teams and a state-record-setting 4x800 relay, is a freshman eligibility wise. The Mavericks were conference champions of the 10-team meet.

- Graduating Willmar Cardinal football players Ryan Filipek and Alec Saunders plan to continue in the sport next fall. Filipek, a two-way tackle, is headed to Concordia College. Saunders, a quarterback/linebacker, is tabbed to play linebacker at Gustavus Adolphus College. He also plans to play baseball. He has earned all-area honors in both.

- Marco Vazquez, a four-year starter in boys tennis, played 3-singles and 2-doubles for Minnesota State Mankato as a freshman.

- Four former Ridgewater College baseball players are on the Southwest Minnesota State team that plays in its first NCAA region tournament today in Colorado: first baseman Scott Rambow, third baseman Matt Bauer, pitcher Brad Haag and catcher Matt Merten.

- Mary Erickson, a Willmar junior, was honored as Central Lakes Conference Performer of the Week in girls track after winning the discus throw at the St. Michael-Albertville Invite with a toss of 120-4.

- Post-season spring honors at the college for baseball are Jacob Wahl (All-Central Division, All-State) and Benji Hager (All Central) ... Softball: Sam Drees (All-South, All-State), Tara Thielke (All-South, All-State second team), Ashley Schmeling (All-South, All-State second team), Heather Thoma (All-South second team). Todd Thorstad was named Southern Coach of the Year.

- The Willmar Mustangs football team has stowed its equipment on the eve of the spring/summer season. Former owner and current coach Dave Blom said fundraising efforts were insufficient.

- Cory Nietfeld, a Ridgewater basketball standout from Paynesville for two seasons, plans to play next season at Minnesota-Morris.

- Warriors men's basketball coach Bob Knutson has 11 commitments for next year. Five return for the state tournament consolation champs.