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 -- Back in preschool little Jordan Smith's crayon drawing on brown tablet paper told what he wanted to be when he got big. In block letters below two stick figures, he wrote -- a "policeman and a ballplayer." Sunday, it came true, the ballplayer part. A little over two weeks short of his 21st birthday, the 6-foot-4 third baseman/outfielder signed a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians organization. The framed bit of child's art was on display on the kitchen counter.
This spring, Tom DeBoer transitioned from playing hardball to coaching softball. The Raymond Rockets right-handed pitcher from Willmar took over the Litchfield Dragons prep softball team. "I was surprised how competitive I got and how satisfying it was," he said. The Dragons didn't win a game. A few games were close, many others were lopsided. "Toward the end of the season it got tough to keep the girls motivated," said the first-year coach.
ST. PAUL -- Aaron Wubben of Central Minnesota Christian and Morris Area athletes Cody Cannon and Rachel Moser topped the area medal haul at the state track and field meet on Saturday. All three jumped for gold in Class A. Wubben cleared 6-foot-7 in the high jump, Moser pole vaulted 11-0 without a miss and Cody Cannon won a narrow victory in the 110 hurdles. Second-place awards at Klas Field on the campus of Hamline University included Dawson's Ryan Swenson, running for Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd.
NORTH MANKATO - Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg took advantage of 16 hits en route to a 11-5 win over Blooming Prairie in the Class A third-place game Friday at Caswell Park. The win ends KMS's season with a 23-1 record while the Awesome Blossom's finish the year with a 21-3 mark. The Saints beat Hawley 1-0 and lost to New Life Academy 3-2 on Thursday. Erin Haglund got the win in the circle as she worked seven innings and allowed eight hits while striking out seven. At the plate she helped her cause as she went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and another run driven in.
NORTH MANKATO -- Although they lost on the scoreboard, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg won a victory of sorts late Thursday afternoon against New Life Academy. The Eagles (23-4) sweated out a 3-2 win in the Class A state softball semifinals on Field No.
NORTH MANKATO -- Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg won a meeting of undefeateds in the first-round of the Class A softball tournament in dramatic fashion Thursday morning at Caswell Park. The Saints (22-0) scored the game's only run on a Courtney Olson single in the top of the seventh to nudge the Hawley Nuggets (20-1) by a 1-0 count. Erin Haglund scored easily from third with none out. Haglund had reached on a single to right, only the team's second hit off Hawley ace Jessy Noreen (17-1).
NORTH MANKATO -- Nobody expects an easy trip to the finals at a state tournament. But Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's upper bracket in the Class A softball draw is steep and rife with potholes. Today at 9 a.m. at Caswell Park they take on Hawley, which can match the Fighting Saints' 21-0 record with a 20-0 slate of its own. The winner will play either Osakis (23-0) or three-time defending champion New Life Academy (21-4) at 3 p.m.
MONTEVIDEO -- When he was a little boy, Eric Johnson had his left foot amputated. Three months later he showed up for kindergarten eager to run and play with the other children. Today, he and doubles partner, Jesse Brace, compete in the Class A state tennis tournament in Minneapolis, representing the Montevideo Thunder Hawks. Eric, a senior, will be wearing an athletic prosthesis. His movements on the court are fluid and quick.
Rose Jackson, a sophomore at the high school, is one of eight Cardinals to qualify for the Class AA Track and Field Meet starting Friday. She will compete in four events: long jump, 100 and 200 dashes and 4x200 relay. In his 31 seasons as an assistant coach, Bob Bezdicek can't recall a Willmar athlete ever filling out their state track dance card to the max. Jackson is a medal contender in her three individual events. In the 100, just one time is better. "I'm just trying to do my best," she told me this week. "You're in the state.
WILLMAR -- Jordan Smith, a three-sport athlete and 2009 graduate of Willmar Senior High School, was selected Tuesday in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball's first-year player draft. Smith, who is 6 feet 4 inches and listed at 225 pounds, is playing the Cape Cod League with Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox this summer after spending last summer playing with the home-town Willmar Stingers. He is the 278th pick overall. The 2011 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Player of the Year led St. Cloud State with a .382 batting average, seven home runs and 57 RBIs.