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—A strong performance by Rochester goaltender Luke Murphy spoiled a strong night by local high school graduates as the Willmar WarHawks fell to Rochester 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night. The WarHawks came out firing from the drop of the first puck, ripping 18 shots on Murphy in the opening period but the Rochester netminder turned each of those attempts away, setting the tone early for the night.
More than two months after his dismissal as head coach of the Willmar WarHawks, Chris Blaisuis is set for a return to the Willmar Civic Center with a different hawk on his chest. Now the Rochester Ice Hawks head coach, Blaisuis, and former WarHawk Evan Burke, will take on the Willmar WarHawks at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The WarHawks' first-ever head coach put up a strong start to the season with a 10-6-1 start in a flurry of games in the opening couple of months, but was let go Nov. 18 following a 5-3 win against the Wisconsin Whalers for undisclosed reasons.
High school sports are cyclical, especially in more rural areas where total enrollment numbers hardly reach triple digits. Sometimes those cycles skip a generation (or three) and others appear to flow seamlessly together. KMS wrestling coach Wes Haglund certainly has seen his share of cycles in his 38 years guiding the Saints in Kerkhoven. This year's installment of grapplers have battled the injury bug all season which has led to a few blemishes on the team's win-loss record.
Josh Proehl and Andrew Bengston make curling look effortless. All the best curlers do. If the New Year's Bonspiel in Willmar showed fans and newcomers anything, though, it's that curling is far from effortless.
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.