WILLMAR -- A more unified Willmar squad bounced back after getting swept by Little Falls on Monday by outlasting Alexandria 12-25, 29-27, 24-26, 25-13, 15-12 in a key Central Lakes Conference match that was five minutes shy of lasting two hours. Alexandria (3-1, 5-4) entered the match tied for first in the conference, but Willmar (4-1, 5-5) misfired on only two serves in 99 attempts to keep pace with Sauk Rapids (4-0, 8-1) in the conference race. Willmar also improved its passing game and defense after a slow start and got 20 kills from junior Greta King and 11 more from junior Jamie Wilson.
WILLMAR -- After squandering a 2-0 lead, Willmar fought off St. Cloud Apollo's comeback bid to post a 25-21, 25-22, 23-25, 19-25, 15-11 Central Lakes Conference win Thursday. The Cardinals (3-0, 3-1) outlasted St. Cloud Apollo (1-1, 4-3) in the first two games before the Eagles seized control of the match in the third game. After going on a 6-0 run for an an 18-10 lead, the Eagles tied the match at 2-2 with a win in Game 4. "We were too comfortable (after winning the first two games)," said Willmar senior co-captain Heather Thoma, who had 11 kills and four ace serves.
WILLMAR -- Behind another solid performance behind the service line and 12 kills from Greta King, Willmar swept Brainerd 25-11, 25-16, 25-22 Tuesday in a Central Lakes Conference volleyball match. Megan Junkermeier, one of only three seniors on Willmar's roster, ignited the Cardinals (2-0, 2-1) with her serving. Junkermeier collected nine aces to give her 23 on the young season. Five of the seven Cardinals that served notched at least one ace. Willmar also got help from Brainerd's miscues as the Warriors, playing their first match of the season, committed 36 errors.
Six area amateur baseball teams will be in action this weekend as the Region 9C and 15C playoffs get underway. Raymond, Willmar, Benson and Appleton are competing in 9C while Norway Lake-Sunburg and New London-Spicer are in 15C. Both regions have six teams fighting for two spots in the Class C State Tournament, which starts Aug. 17 in Miesville and Red Wing. Raymond will host three games on Saturday before the 9C tournament moves to Wheaton on Sunday for three more games. Benson (12-7), the Land O' Ducks Teal champion, will meet Land O' Ducks Wood runner-up Clinton (12-4) at 1:30 p.m.
WILLMAR -- For the fifth straight year the Willmar I VFW baseball team will be competing in the state tournament. Only this time, there will be a big target on its back. Behind seven solid innings on the mound from Jordan Ray Smith and two home runs, including one from Smith, Willmar drubbed Alexandria 9-3 to claim the District 5 title and remain unbeaten. The last time Willmar entered a state tournament unbeaten was in 1977. That team stay undefeated until it lost in the state final.
BENSON -- CeCe Terlouw has been lobbying for Benson to have a cross country program almost ever since she was hired by the school district 13 years ago. Her patience paid off as the school board approved Monday to add boys and girls cross country to its list of sports the Braves offer for students in grades 7-12. "I was advocating for cross country one year after I arrived to Benson," said Terlouw, who is a longtime assistant coach for the school's track and field team.
INDIANOLA, Iowa -- Kaelene Lundstrum, a three-time track and field medal winner from BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector, recently qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships after winning the heptathlon in a region qualifier July 7. Lundstrum, competing against athletes from Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as Minnesota, tallied 3,929 points in seven events July 6-7 to win by only 38 points.
This year's Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship will have a local flavor with seven players from the area scheduled to participate in one of the state's longest running tournaments. Five of those are still in college, one of which is Mitchell Mackedanz of Paynesville. Mackedanz made the 156-player field for the 103rd MGA Amateur Championship by finishing second in qualifying last week at Lynx National Golf Course in Sauk Centre.
MORRIS - During the regular season, Morris was outscored 72-46 and accumulated a record of 7-11. The Tigers were then given a No. 5 seed for the Section 6AA-19 tournament, but they didn't play like it. Morris outscored its five playoff opponents 32-6 en route to winning the Section 6AA title and securing a spot in today's Class AA State Baseball Tournament in St. Cloud. "For a five-week period we couldn't come through," said Morris coach Lyle Rambow. "It was uncanny. We had no clutch hits.
ONAMIA - Last year the Minnewaska girls' golf team qualified for the Class A State Tournament with a mix of veterans and rookies.