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 -- Brainerd jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime and withstood a Willmar Cardinals' comeback in the fourth quarter to escape with a 21-14 Central Lakes Conference victory on Friday. A crowd approaching 1,400 watched the Warriors on a magnificent evening increase their winning streak over the Cardinals to 10 in a row this century. On the plus side, this is the closest the Cardinals have played the Warriors since a 14-6 win at Brainerd in 2000. After giving up three rushing touchdowns and 208 total yards in the first half, the Willmar defense turned off the Brainerd spigot the second
Willmar football engages Brainerd at Hodapp Field on Friday evening. Each fall at this time, a Cardinal fan feels ever hopeful. We're like Charlie Brown pining that this will be the time that there is a valentine in the box from the Little Redheaded Girl. Realistically, though the Cardinals are darn good this year, the Blue Wave visit yields only disappointment. Each year one looks for the chinks in Stolski's armada while building up the positives in the Willmar flood wall. But Brainerd has outgrown Cardinal football. There are 1,600 kids up there and a little under a thousand here.
WILLMAR -- Andy Jacobson has played plenty of golf in his 32 years but this is different. The Eagle Creek Golf Club member is preparing to represent Minnesota at the 10th USGA Men's State Team Championship. He and two other Minnesota golfers will compete against three-man teams from every state plus the District of Columbian and Puerto Rico. The three days of medal play runs Sept. 19-21 (no postponements) at the Galloway National Golf Club within view of Atlantic City. "This is a course you can't overpower," Andy told me last week in visit to his office at Strehlow Insurance.
Jordan Smith, the Willmar native who signed with the Cleveland Indians in June 2011, went 3-for-5 and scored four runs as the Lake County Captains spilled the Lansing Lugnuts 15-6 on Labor Day and advanced to the first round of the Midwest League playoffs. The Captains hosted Bowling Green at Classic Park in Eastlake last night in the first game of the best of three series.
With 11-teams stretching from New London to Victoria, the Wright County Conference will use a two-division format for football, basketball, softball and baseball.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. - New London-Spicer played an airtight game and lost Saturday afternoon in the third-round of the Class C Minnesota State Baseball playoffs. But the Irish played flawless ball, too, and took away a 2-0 victory to advance to Sunday's quarterfinal round at the MAC to play the Howard Lake Orphans. "We had our chances but we just couldn't string any hits together," said catcher Kevin Soine, who had two of the Twins' 7 hits against Green Isle's bull-shouldered righthander Mac Zachow. "It's not how many hits you get, it's when you get them." Indeed.
ST. CLOUD - Shaun McQuire limited Bird Island to five singles and the Fairmont Martins ended the Bird Island season 2-0 early Saturday afternoon in the third round of the Class C Minnesota State Amateur baseball tournament. McQuire, a big right-hander, barely outdueled Matt Geislinger, left-hand chucker drafted from Watkins. The Martins (34-6) scored the game's only runs in the top of the seventh on a hit batter with the bases loaded and then a single to left by catcher Alex Schmidt. The Martins got 6 hits off Geisingler, who walked 3 and fanned 9.
WILLMAR -- When auditions were held to fill the void at running back, a compact sophomore made an early impact on the practice field. On Friday, in the setting sun, on a perfect 75-degree evening with well over a thousand fans at Hodapp Field on Labor Day Weekend, the Willmar Cardinals lifted the curtain on a new season revealing 5-foot-6, 165-sopomore Michael Heitzman lining up in the backfield with third-year starting quarterback Alex Grove. By the end of the first quarter Grove had scored one touchdown and Heitzman two more, plus returning a kickoff 60 yards to set up another Grove TD run
News of the moment that has landed on desk or passed through cyberspace: A.D. steps in Willmar's new activities director Ryan Blahosky starts today with several meetings but won't put harness up officially until Tuesday. Ryan and Marcola and baby (twin) daughters are staying with friends in Danube with a move into a rented home in Willmar planned for Labor Day weekend. Interestingly, both Ryan and his predecessor, Jamie Thompson, have their roots in Lac qui Parle County and went to high school in neighboring districts.
ST. CLOUD -- How 'bout those Frogs? Bird Island, the No. 3 seed out of Region 11C, ousted St. Patrick, the champs of 3C, by a 6-4 score on Sunday afternoon in the second round of the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Tournament. The Bullfrogs lashed 13 hits at Putz Field. The biggest blows were a three-run homer by Tyler Hebrink in the first inning and a two-run double by Elliot Serbus in the third. The win went to draftee Adam Theis.