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 -- Like prepping a princess for the ball, scores of workers fussed over Bill Taunton Stadium at Baker Field on Tuesday. Raking, planting, painting and some construction went on at a furious pace in preparation for the Willmar Stingers opener at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against the St. Cloud River Bats. A ticket booth of hefty blocks is going up at the stadium entrance. The two-toned brown blocks match the concession stand on the plaza. City employees, including summer help, planted shrubs along the stadium ramp.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals rapped 13 hits to knock out Buffalo 12-5 on Thursday and now will face defending Secton 2AAA champion Eden Prairie on Monday. Nathanial Swoyer, the winning pitcher, had a double among his three hits to lead the Cardinals. Austin Adamson, Jake Rambow, Andrew Bangen and Ryan Horning had two hits apiece. Seven different players shared in the RBI total. Willmar ended the Bison's late-season surge that had reached four straight wins.
Fifty years ago this spring, a new senior high school on 7th Street Southwest graduated its first class, 239 students strong. The last class to graduate from the old high school on Minnesota Avenue in 1959 numbered 252, the largest in school history at the time. The transition from old to modern was sudden and dramatic, especially so for student-athletes. The football and track teams now had on-site locker rooms.
Mike Pillatzki began bowling in 1970 as a sub for high school friend Bob Lorinser at the old Bowladrome on Benson Avenue. Forty years later, at age 58, he's had a scrapbook year. Glance at the final leader board on the east wall of the Kandi Bowl and Mike Pillatzki's name is at the top -- 279 high game and 761 high series.
ST. CLOUD -- Ridgewater College baseball made great strides this spring, but that was small consolation to coach Joel Barta after losing 5-2 to Riverland College on Monday. "I don't care for silver," said the second-year leader. "It's not my favorite color." The gold medals went to the Blue Devils for the second year in a row.
Little seemed normal for the 2010 walleye opener at the halfway point in May. A bright sun hovered over calm waters and the mercury nudged 70. Sunburn, not hypothermia, was the primary danger to anglers who swarmed to the prairie lakes. "This is not a normal opener," said Gary Anderson of Danube as he loaded his boat with provisions at 6:30 a.m. Saturday at the Norway Lake public access. "It's often rain or sleet. The weather was so dreary this week, I wasn't very excited.