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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MELROSE - Willmar freshman Stephanie Thompson finished first on balance beam (9.575) and junior Cassie Johnson fourth on vault (9.350) at the Section 6A meet on Saturday qualifying them for the Minnesota state gymnastics meet on Feb. 25 in St. Paul. Two-time state qualifier Abbey Weiler, senior from Willmar, placed fifth in both vault and floor missing state by one place each time. Melrose repeated as the team champion with a score of 147.525 and will return to state for the 19th time in the past 21 seasons. Alexandria placed runner-up (141.65) and Willmar third (140.525).
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinal wrestlers get the No. 1 seed in 6AAA. Willmar will wrestle the winner of the Rocori vs. Buffalo play-in match in the 6AAA quarterfinals at 10:15 a.m. Saturday at Mound-Westonka High School. The semifinals are set for noon with the championship to follow at 2:15 p.m. The seedings and team records for Section 6AAA are: 1. Willmar (17-5) 2. Wayzata (12-6) 3. Hopkins (17-9) 4. Mound-Westonka (18-7) 5. Minnetonka (16-4) 6. Robbinsdale Armstrong (5-21) 7. Robbinsdale Cooper (3-15) 8. Buffalo (3-18) 9. Rocori (4-13).
Willmar gymnastics travels to Melrose Saturday for the Section 6A meet, sure to be dominated by the home team. The Dutchmen (Dutchgirls?) are the highest scoring team in Class A and second statewide to only AA leader Northfield. The rest of the field, 8 teams in all, will be fighting for the leftovers. The team winner is a foregone conclusion. Melrose has posted a high of 149.292 (the Dutch won the West Central meet Saturday at 148.23) while No. 9 Alexandria is at 140.125 and No. 10 Willmar at 139.659, according to the Minnesota Gymnastics Coaches rankings.
So, you want to be a state-meet wrestler? Warning! The wrestling room seems more a torture chamber than a practice zone. There's much agony. A wrestling meet must be like a day off. I drove out to the "Chamber" on Monday mainly to check on two senior wrestlers who, in the compressed time line of high school sports, have been around forever. Alex Johannes and Seth Pollack began inhabiting the high school red room in middle school.
Abbey Weiler joined the Willmar varsity gymnastics team at the start of the 2008-09 season. She was a freshman but a savvy competitor.
MAYVILLE, N.D. -- Two All-Americans for the national champion Ridgewater College volleyball team have signed to play at Mayville State (N.D.) College next fall. Outside hitter Hannah Smith of Willmar and setter Molly Hurrle of Kimball each signed a letter of intent on Jan. 13. Both women were key players on Ridgewater's back-to-back national championship teams.
Yes, Senor Smoke, boyhood dreams can come true! Ask T.J. Phillips. He was a Minnesota Twin for a week. He wore an authentic uniform with his name on the back. A catcher for the Cardinals and Post 167 22 years ago, Phillips hit and played the field with Twins' legends and retired journeymen at the spring training complex in Fort Myers this month. "It was the coolest thing I ever did in my life," he said over the phone. You could hear his smile. He was one of 30 or so camp rookies. Seventy other men were returnees.
By Rand Middleton firstname.lastname@example.org WILLMAR -- Every other year the Edina Hornets boys basketball team on their journey west stops at the "World's Biggest Ball of Twine" in Darwin before invading the Cardinals gymnasium. The Hornets finished their prairie adventure with an 80-68 road victory on Saturday evening. They enjoyed the Willmar gym -- shooting 50 percent from the floor, including 9 of 20 three-point tries, and dropping 17 of 20 at the free-throw line. It was the 11th straight win for Pat Dorsey's Hornets and gives them a 6-1 edge in the series dating to 2006, the Willmar na
Minnesota Hockey, Inc. proposes moving Willmar traveling youth hockey out of its home district and sending it south. The governing body will discuss district realignment on Sunday during its quarterly meeting at the Marriot West in St. Louis Park. District 5 has been Willmar's hockey home forever. The 10-program district extends from Hutchinson to St. Cloud to Buffalo and includes familiar high-school rivals like Sauk Rapids, River Lakes, and Sartell. The proposal is to push Willmar, Hutchinson and Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato down to District 4.
Jack Unger, one year out of high school, was competing in his first triathlon individually in mid-August last year. Unger had competed in four or five Green Lake Triathlons as a swimmer on a relay. This time he was gung-ho to do the Sprint course individually. He came out of the water in the top 15, made a speedy transition to his road bike in the Saulsbury Beach parking lot and began the 12-mile clockwise loop of the lake.