If it seems like this has been the year of the Cardinals in high school sports, well, that's because it has been. Back in August 2017, we introduced the West Central Cup to determine the most successful prep athletic program in the area. Two sports seasons have now come and gone. The results show that it's the Willmar athletic department's world, and we're just living in it.
Wade Adamson and Dustin Overcash are trying to make Willmar great again. The Willmar Rails, that is. In light of an extended recent string of struggles on the field, Adamson and Overcash have taken control of the Rails this off-season, looking to get Willmar amateur baseball back on track. "I'm a high goal-setter," Adamson said. "I'd like to get the Rails back to where Willmar baseball was in the '70s and '80s. This was a hotbed for baseball." As of now, however, the Rails are a ways away from that goal after consistently struggling in the Cornbelt League.
At the end of each baseball season, the Tribune publishes its All-Area baseball teams to recognize the top players in the area, with nine players from that group selected to the first team. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on to earn a spot on the All-Area first team in the 2018 season. See 2018 Prep Baseball and Softball Previews in Thursday's Tribune print edition. Luke Ryan BOLD
As a steady downfall of snow piles up on west central Minnesota streets in early April, somehow extending a never-ending winter past Easter weekend, tucked away inside the basement of a Willmar home is an annual sign that no matter what the color of the ground is outside, spring is here. The members of The 12 GOG, a dynasty fantasy baseball league, their laptops and sheets of paper spread out over card tables, have assembled for the annual auction draft to kick off the 2018 season.
ST. PAUL — Minnewaska's season came to a close in a 72-42 loss against Breckenridge on Thursday in a Class AA consolation semifinal at Concordia-St. Paul. For the second straight day at state, the Lakers could not keep up in the second half, resulting in a loss. Minnewaska trailed by 12 at the half before being outscored 36-18 in the second half. Jackson Johnsrud scored 15 points to lead the Lakers. Derek Dahlgren hit four 3-pointers and had a game-high 20 points for the Cowboys. Noah Christiansen added 18 points.
Hancock guard Noah Kannegiesser was named one of the 10 finalists for the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association's McDonald Award this week. On a list chock full of metro-area players and Division I recruits, Kannegiesser stands out as the lone player from a Class A school. Kannegeisser led the state in scoring this season, averaging 36 points per game while taking the Owls to a 25-3 record. The all-time Tribune-area boys scoring leader, Kannegiesser scored over 1,000 points on a remarkable 57.3 shooting percentage.
MINNEAPOLIS — It was in a different sport, but Caledonia once again proved to be too much to handle in a state tournament. Minnewaska learned that lesson in a Class AA state quarterfinal on Wednesday night at Williams Arena as the Warriors ran away in the second half for a 80-41 victory. Trailing by 11 at halftime, the Lakers (21-8) ran into Caledonia (27-4) at every turn the rest of the way as the second-seeded Warriors outscored them 43-15 in the second half.
Over time, the West Central Tribune has named many, many All-Area boys basketball teams. In those 40-plus years of picking the best hoops players in the area, there have been plenty of talented teams with many standout players. From top-to-bottom, though, the 2017-18 first team might just be the best one yet. Leading the way on this year's All-Area first team is the state's leading scorer and, statistically, the best boys player in west central Minnesota basketball history, Hancock guard Noah Kannegiesser.
MINNEAPOLIS—Willmar forward Carly Wedel secured the rebound as the buzzer sounded on the Cardinals' heart-pounding 52-47 overtime win over DeLaSalle in a Class AAA quarterfinal on Wednesday. The players stationed on the Willmar bench leapt up onto the raised floor at Williams Arena and stormed toward their jubilant teammates on the other end of the floor. The heavy contingent of red-clad supporters from two hours west on Highway 12 loudly and proudly expressed their pleasure with the Cardinals' victory. Opposite them, the DeLaSalle fans had a much different reaction.
MINNEAPOLIS — To simply call it a comeback would be an understatement. The Willmar girls basketball team dramatically and emphatically flipped the script in the second half, erasing a double-digit lead and downing DeLaSalle 52-47 in overtime in a Class AAA state quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon at the Williams Arena.