Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children.
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WILLMAR -- To be clear, Traci Grussing never retired from coaching. Even when she left Central Minnesota Christian School in 2006 after taking the Bluejays to nine state tournaments in 10 years, she continued to coach Junior Olympic volleyball teams based in Willmar and Bloomington. Also, in 2010, she was back on the Bluejays bench as co-head coach to take some of the pressure off former player Lindsey (VanderWell) Taatjes, a first-year coach with work obligations and expecting late in the fall season. This fall Grussing returns to high-school coaching full time heading up the Willmar Cardi
WILLMAR -- This was Rick Freiburg's weekend. Leading the 82nd Lakeland Tournament from the start, the 51-year-old Monticello native didn't crumble when 4-time champion Andy Jacobson pulled into a late tie and forced a playoff on the near 90-degree afternoon. Instead, it was Jacobson who proved vulnerable in a playoff. Freiburg won his first Lakeland with a par on No. 11, a short par 4. Jacobson, who made up two strokes with 3 holes to go in regulation, 3-putted from the back edge. That hurt but added "I was just happy to get back in it and force a playoff.
The Green Lake Road Race comes up, oddly, on July 1, this Sunday. The fireworks won't be until Wednesday evening. The Spicer Slow-pitch tournament is this weekend but the 3-on-3 Hoops by the Lake is not until July 7. Area police and firefighters square off this Friday evening at the Green Lake Diamonds in the annual Guns and Hoses softball game. The 38th annual Green Lake Road Race starts at 7 a.m. Sunday at the beach.
WILLMAR -- One never knows who will show up race day. Saturday morning in downtown Willmar, it was 2011 NCAA Division III Cross-Country champion Ben Sathre of Chaska. The 22-year-old spring graduate of the University of St. Thomas won the 18th-annual Foot Lake 4-mile run, hosted by Rice Memorial Hospital. His time of 20:10 (a 5:03.3 per mile average) put him more than two minutes up on another former MIAC runner, Austin Hinrichs, 23, the Clara City native who ran for Bethel College. Hinrichs, third last year, finished the circuit around lower Foot Lake in 22:26.
INDEPENDENCE -- Andy Jacobson won his sixth straight match in three long days to claim the title of the 34th Minnesota Golf Association Players' Championship at Windsong Farm. The 32-year-old Willmar insurance agent defeated Tim Hamm of Rush Creek (Maple Grove) 4 and 3. "It was by far my biggest win," Jacobson said on his drive home Wednesday night. "I had never won a state tournament. That was big." Jacobson, whose home course is Eagle Creek Golf Club, parred the 499-yard, par 4 hole while Hamm bogeyed on No. 15. Jacobson, the tourney's No.
She's only completed her second year on campus, but 2010 Cardinal graduate Alissa Tinklenberg has been voted the Female Student/Athlete of the Year at Gustavus Adolphus College. A six-year varsity swimmer at Willmar, Alissa had a solid freshman year on the St. Peter campus with a first- and second-place finish at the MIAC Championships. But it hardly forecasted the huge strokes she'd make as a sophomore. Right away, in early November, she helped the Gusties' 200 free relay set a Lund pool record (1:38.11).
MAPLE PLAIN -- Andy Jacobson won his sixth straight match in three long days to claim the title of the 34th MGA Players' Championship at Windsong Farm. The 32-year-old Willmar insurance agent defeated Tim Hamm of Rush Creek (Maple Grove) 4 and 3. Jacobson, whose home course is Eagle Creek Golf Club, parred the 499-yard par 4 hole while Hamm bogeyed. Jacobson never trailed and was two up at the turn after getting a birdie on No.
DELANO -- Andy Jacobson, 32, of Willmar held on to defeat Colton Buege, 20, of Rogers 2&1 on Wednesday morning in the semifinals of the 34th MGA Players' Championship at Windsong Farm. He plays Tim Hamm of Rush Creek GC at Maple Grove for the championship. That match was scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS -- There's an old Swedish saying that "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy." The Lac qui Parle Valley high-school baseball team looked a little out of their element among the skyscrapers of downtown Minneapolis on a hot Monday afternoon. Batted balls the Eagles had gobbled up in the Section 3A playoffs and in the first two Class A Minnesota State Tournament games went through the wickets or bounced out of gloves.
Dear Boss: After frying my high forehead in the blazing sun chasing athletes at the state track meet, you generously ordered me to take a few days off and "think only about trains" since I had a chance to board at the Willmar station. One problem, the sports reporter still had to fill the empty screen under the Willmar Notebook header. There must be an angle here, somewhere? ... faithfully yours, R. Middleton The familiar orange and black engine pointed west trailing a string of silver coaches.