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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MARSHALL -- For the Yellow Medicine East Sting, the season ended one win short of state. Still, on Friday night, they were where they wanted to be. "This was our goal," said Emily Baker on the basketball court at Southwest Minnesota State University after the Jackson County Central Huskies had claimed the Section 3AA championship trophy with a 57-41 win. "We wanted to win the conference and we did that, and we wanted to get to the section final." The Huskies (26-2) were just too much for the Sting.
Dave Aus, whose Blaine Bengals played here in early December winning 6-4, takes the school from the Metro's north suburbs back to the boys Class AA state tournament a sixth straight year. Lee Smith's Eden Prairie Eagles got bumped out of sections by Minnetonka last year after winning the Class AA state championship game in 2009. The Eagles this season are the No. 1 seed. Smith played on a line with Brian Nelson, who went on to Minnesota-Duluth on scholarship in 1984.
MORRIS -- The last two years Hancock exited the Section 6A-West girls basketball tournament at the hands of Parkers Prairie. Last year was the more painful, losing on a Panther free throw in the final moments at the sub-section final. "We called this 'Unfinished Business,' '' said Owls' junior center Kendra Schmidgall. The business plan worked as the Owls squeaked out a 40-37 win over the Panthers at the University of Minnesota-Morris on Tuesday night. Hancock senior guard Ilissa Koehl made two big plays in the last 2:10 to spark an eight-point run that provided a 40-34 lead with 35 second
ST. PAUL -- Three area wrestlers, each a senior, won championships Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center. It was the first title for each. Jacob Braaten of Minnewaska Area won the Class A 112-pound title, Alex Steffel of BOLD was the 152-pound Class A champion, and Willmar's Nathanial Swoyer earned the title in the Class AAA 189-pound weight class. After Braaten's arm was raised in victory signifying his championship, he ran and jumped into the arms of the Minnewaska Area assistant coach -- his dad. In 1981 at the old St.
ST. CLOUD - Perhaps it's just not meant to be. Alexandria, seemingly at the top of its game, derailed Willmar's state ambitions 2-1 on Thursday night in the Section 6A championship game. Alexandria got the game's first and last goal. Much of the time, the underdogs seemed to win the race to the puck and have the more sustained offensive pressure. "We didn't hold it in the offensive zone," said Willmar head coach Dan Tollefson. "We just didn't generate as much offense as we wanted to." Willmar was playing in only its second section final since the current program began in 1972-73.
For young athletes, postseason is the time to shine. Willmar has 10 boys going to state in swimming and diving and five to state in wrestling. And tonight, the boys hockey team plays for what would be the school's first state visit since Harry S Truman was in the White House. In state waters It's a record nine swimmers off to the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. Plus, Bennett Woltjer dives in the preliminaries today, trying to improve on a 15th-place finish a year ago. Kyle Rozendaal medaled in the backstroke last year. His seed time of 55.75 is fourth best.
ST. CLOUD -- For a hockey team that got off to a wobbly start, Willmar sure found its edges. The fifth loss in a stumbling start was a 3-0 setback at Sartell on Dec. 23. Since then, the Cardinals are 15-3-3, including Saturday's 3-2 victory over those same Sabres in the Section 6A semifinals. The keys to the win were two Willmar scores in the first three minutes and the blockbuster goaltending of Finnish import Christian Yrttimaa. "We were ready for this.
ST. CLOUD -- The Willmar Cardinals upended No. 2 seed Sartell 3-2 on Saturday night and will advance to the boys Section 6A championship game Thursday back at Torrey Arena. No. 3 Willmar (16-8-3) will meet No. 5 Alexandria (11-15-1) at 7 p.m. at the MAC. Willmar bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes on goals by Liam Johnston and Grant Schow but Landon Peterson's goal in the second period turned out to be the game-winner as the Sabres (17-9-1) battled back. In another strong performance, Cardinal goalie Christian Yrttimaa stopped 29 of 31 Sartell shots.
ST. CLOUD -- The Willmar Cardinal wrestling team got five wrestlers through to the Class AAA state meet. Finishing first or second at the Section 8AAA meet on Saturday at Apollo High School were Nate Mittag at 103 pounds, Alex Johannes at 130, Coty Milhausen at 152, Nathanial Swoyer at 189 and Cass Herzog at 275. State individuals start Friday at St. Paul.