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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To play a sport in high school is a blessing. When injury interferes, faith is tested. The highs and lows of wins and losses come and go, but the aftermath of a physical setback lasts much longer. This is how four varsity athletes at Willmar have met crippling knee injuries head on and battled their way back to the competitive arena. Becca Freese: The left wing for the girls hockey team scored two goals Friday in a Cardinal victory over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals ended 23 minutes of overtime frustration in one week when Hunter Schneider punch-ed in the winning goal to slip by the Fergus Falls Otters 4-3 on Saturday night at the Civic Center. With only a minute left in sudden-death overtime, it looked like Willmar would settle for its third Central Lakes Conference tie in five days. But Zech Streed won a battle behind the Fergus Falls net, guarded by goalie Austin Carr, and whacked the puck to Liam Johnston just above the goal line.
When Lonnie Booshu, an Eskimo by birth, went home for the holidays, it was a 15-hour-plus trip via Alaska Airlines. He's back now, in Willmar, admittedly a little homesick already. Booshu wrestles at 125 pounds for the Ridgewater College team. He graduated in a class of 46 from Nome Beltz Senior High School last spring. On Saturday, he went 3-1 at the Warrior Open for third place. In Alaska, he qualified for the state tournament every year starting with his freshman season. He was the 125-pound runner-up in 2009 and 2010. Wrestling is not a big sport in Alaska, said Booshu.
Rob Baumgarn, the head coach of the Ridgewater College football program, felt keenly the tragic death of two young men last week. Lukas "Luk" Neubarth, 18, of Brownton died last Thursday evening when his snowmobile plunged through thin ice near Nevis. The 2010 graduate of Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop had visited the Willmar campus in December. Baumgarn was quite sure Luk, a linebacker, would follow his older brothers to Ridgewater.
NEW LONDON -- The thing about the press is that you either break it or it breaks you. New London-Spicer ducked and weaved and passed their way through the vice-like Bloomington Kennedy full-court pressure just enough to win a riveting finale to the West Central Tribune WildCard Girls Basketball Tournament on Friday, 56-52. The Wildcats (7-1) built a 28-19 halftime margin up to a 41-22 advantage with 10:25 left. But the Eagles downshifted and suddenly found some traction off their press-and-trap to ignite their inside game, which had been ineffective most of the evening. The Eagles' impress
NEW LONDON -- Shantel Kelly scored eight straight points to start the second half, igniting Willmar's comeback win over short-handed Minnehaha Academy 51-46 in the third-place game of the West Central Tribune WildCard tournament on Thursday. Willmar finished 1-1 at the tournament after bowing to Bloomington Kennedy on Wednesday. The Cardinals (3-3) trailed 27-21 after playing a sloppy first half. "I knew we had to do something at half to get mentally prepared and get something done," said Kelly, a senior forward.