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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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.
WILLMAR - Seventeen games into his second season behind the bench, Chris Blaisuis is out as head coach of the Willmar WarHawks. Steve Yurichuck has been named the team's interim head coach. The WarHawks play Wednesday in Alexandria. The dismissal came shortly after Saturday's 5-3 win over the Wisconsin Whalers at the Willmar Civic Center. Blaisuis met with the team following the game and was met by team owner Chris Canavati who, Blaisuis said, told the coach, "we're letting you go."
Area wrestlers haven't even hit the mats yet competitively but that hasn't stopped them from standing out. The Guillotine, a website dedicated to Minnesota amateur wrestling, released its preseason team and individual rankings on Nov. 10, marking a number of local athletes in its top 10 for each weight class. Willmar captured the area's top team ranking with a No. 5 spot on the list in Class AAA. Apple Valley, Anoka, Prior Lake and St. Michael-Albertville hold the top four spots as the Cardinals get ready to begin the season as favorites to win Section 8AAA.
On the frigid tundra that was Viking Bank Field at Alexandria High School, Jake Arnold skated while others looked frozen in place. The Paynesville running back wasn't expected to be the first option for the Bulldogs in the Class AA quarterfinals against Barnesville but he let everyone know he was the most dangerous option in the stadium on the second play from scrimmage with a 66-yard touchdown run.
The two day extravaganza that is the Section 3A swimming and diving meet starts today afternoon at Willmar High School. The Cardinal swimming and diving team will host some elite talent with Hutchinson and Delano, two of the best five teams in Minnesota, looking to make waves, said Willmar head coach Carl Shuldes. "We have a really tough section," Shuldes said. "But that's a good thing. You don't want it to be a weak section. It forces us to have to be fast. If we're not, we'll get blown out of the water."
NORTHFIELD — Plenty of people spent Saturday getting their last outdoor runs of the fall and that's exactly what dozens of area athletes did as well. They just happened to do it faster.
The entire 2017 football season felt like a warmup for an inevitable battle between BOLD and Minneota. Friday morning in Marshall, the Section 5A match of the undefeated lived up to the hype. In a game that felt more like a constant tug-of-war, the Minneota Vikings took the win and the state tournament berth with a 35-22 win against the top-seeded Warriors.
Chris Blaisuis had a sense of organizational calm entering this hockey season that's rare for a team heading into its second year. There were plenty of returning players from last year's squad and Blaisuis felt better suited as the boss of the bench after learning from some mistakes of his own in his rookie year. But the Willmar WarHawks head coach and director of hockey operations had one big question mark that he couldn't quite shake: who was going to be the man between the pipes? Through 12 games the answer has been resounding. It's Luke Fry.