Jake Schultz is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune, working his first job out of college. He graduated from St. John's University (CSB/SJU) in 2016 and is a baseball fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @StJake29.
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WILLMAR — Willmar's Nordic ski teams sure like hosting their own events. Both boys and girls teams won in the three-team Willmar Invitational Thursday afternoon in the school's first home meet in two years. The boys won the meet with 390 points, just ahead of St. Cloud Apollo at 372. The girls race featured plenty of drama as the Cardinals edged the Eagles 388-381. St. John's Prep followed in third place in both races.
Believe it or not, we're just six weeks away from the state wrestling tournament. Which means we're four weeks away from section tournaments. Which means there's about three-and-a-half weeks left until my head explodes.
Curling teams from around the state have slid into the Willmar Civic Center for the New Year Bonspiel held by the Glacial Ridge Curling Club. The event, which began its 12th edition Friday night, carries on through the weekend. The field features 15 teams of varying ages and skill levels from Alexandria, St. Cloud, St. Paul, and Bemidji.
WILLMAR — For the second year in a row, the bragging rights remain in Willmar. The Willmar Cardinals battled back to take a 67-56 win in a contentious rivalry match with New London-Spicer to end the annual Bremer Bank Holiday Classic. The middle of the game belonged to the Wildcats, who took a 34-27 lead into the break, but the Cardinals started strong and were eventually able to outlast their visitors.
Some people received new skates or a new pair of headphones for Christmas. The Willmar WarHawks got a new coach. Mike Bowman was tabbed as the WarHawks' new bench boss on Christmas Eve, becoming their second full-time head coach in as many years. He likes what he's seen so far. "Usually when you're a head coach taking over mid-season you need to make big changes. That's not the case here," Bowman said of the WarHawks, which enter Saturday's game at Alexandria with a 15-10-2 record and sit just four points behind West Division leader Granite City.
Every kid that has laced up skates to play hockey dreams of playing for an NHL team. Sure, it's not realistic, but a kid can dream, right? Willmar WarHawks goaltender Luke Fry got to live that dream last Wednesday when he suited up to play in a modified pick-up game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in St. Paul.
Believe it or not, Willmar wrestling is good again. I know, stunning stuff. They are off to a powerful start, worthy of their No. 5 ranking by The Guillotine, and maybe deserving of an even higher ranking, but hey, I don't get a vote. The Cardinals have won both of the individual tournaments they've participated in and also politely dominated in their lone dual of the season so far, a 63-6 win over Rocori.
Shea Oman scored 17 points for New London-Spicer Saturday afternoon, but it's pretty safe to say No. 6 was her favorite of the day. Midway through the first half, Oman scored the 1,000th point of her career as the Wildcats took a 72-50 win over West Central Area. Immediately following the bucket, NLS head coach Mike Dreier called timeout and her team celebrated, as posters scattered throughout the gym were raised to commemorate the moment.
If you ever go to high school games in the area you've probably seen West Central Tribune sports reporter Curt Hogg. He's tough to miss. He's six-foot-five with a mane that won't stop growing because he won't get it cut. Take one look at him and you probably think, "You know, he might be good at basketball."
WILLMAR—Noah Slagter tipped the ball away, picked it up and ran. Within a matter of dribbles he was in the air, gently laying the ball off the glass and in. It's a move he's done hundreds of times in a Willmar uniform but this one was different. Slagter's eyes raised to the sky, looking through the rafters, through the building, and pointed one finger towards the heavens. Head Coach Matt Williams called timeout. The fans chanted his name. With his 19th point in the first half, Noah Slagter was Willmar's all-time leading boys scorer with 1,428 points.