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 - Sara Kallhoff and Chloe Donoho are in their final month of a six-year run on the Willmar Cardinals girls soccer team. They've played under three different head coaches. The senior pair played on varsity squads that won a total of four times their first two years. The last two seasons they've been a part of squads that have won five matches alone in the playoffs and are 1-0 this post-season going into today's 4:30 p.m. Section 2A quarterfinal at Kennedy Field. "They both know the sport so well," said head coach Chelsea Brown. "I think of them as 'universal players'.
ST. CLOUD APOLLO (1-4, 1-5) at WILLMAR CARDINALS (2-3, 3-3) A LOOK AT ST. CLOUD APOLLO: This is the first homecoming as head coach for Justin Skaalerud (WHS 2000). The Eagles, winless in 2009, won their season opener under their new coach (13-6 over Fergus Falls). Since then, the Eagles have lost five straight. Last week, Apollo fell to unbeaten Brainerd, 47-13. "They're young and headed in the right direction," said Willmar coach Jon Konold.
RIDGEWATER?OVERVIEW: "I liked the way we stuck together when we got down 14-0 early against Minnesota West," said Ridgewater coach Rob Baumgarn of last Saturday's comeback win. "Fond du Lac likes to throw, but our pass defense is strong." The Warriors have some key injuries. Running back Devontay Stevens has a pulled quad and wide receivers Marcus Thames (Achilles pull) and Elijah Lee (ankle) are also hobbling. Baumgarn said backup quarterback Colton Otto, who scored a touchdown in last Saturday's 24-20 win, has left the team, dropping the roster to 42.
Gen. George Patton once uttered the famous phrase "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom." We all get knocked down. There's despair. We get back up. And soon enough, if fortune shines, things get better. The wide appeal of the sports arena is that a drama can play out in a single evening or even a few minutes. This past week saw a trend of bust to boom. The Cardinals volleyball team started 0-9, but after a wrenching five-set loss at Sauk Rapids, surprised Little Falls 3-0 last Thursday. The young squad (three seniors) has gone 5-1 the past seven days.
WILLMAR CARDINALS (2-2, 3-2) at SARTELL SABRES (4-1, 4-1) Friday, 7 p.m. A LOOK AT WILLMAR: Less than one minute into the second half last Friday at Moorhead, the Cardinals were in a 20-6 hole. The turnaround began with a blocked punt and a quick touchdown drive as Willmar went on to outscore the Spuds 28-6 over the game's final 23 minutes. The win boosted Willmar's stock in Section 2AAAA, but its importance will quickly fade without a win at Sartell. "(The Sabres) were senior-dominated last year, but this team knows how to win," said Willmar coach Jon Konold.
WILLMAR -- The standout at the Optimist Cross Country Meet -- other than the champions Leah Jessen and Lukas Gemar -- had to be the venue itself, flush in fall colors. On a cool, but sparkling Saturday, delegations of runners swished back and fourth on the plush green, rolling fairways at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. There were six races from 2,000 meters to 5,000 meters, plus a children's race. Gemar, the 2008 Class AA boys state champion, ran alone far in front and covered the 5k course in 16:01.
MINNESOTA WEST OVERVIEW: The Bluejays are coming off a 17-6 loss to Northland College, whose vice-like defense also held the Warriors to a single touchdown. Quarterback Teddy Joseph has thrown for 730 yards with five TDs and nine interceptions. Running back Joe Harris is averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has six TDs.
A LOOK AT WILLMAR: The Cardinals have been erratic on offense, but seldom boring. Willmar gained 399 yards against Sauk Rapids but had only three touchdowns to show for it. Penalties negated three scores, plus there was an interception inside the 15 and a missed field goal from close range. "We still have to execute better on offense," said Willmar coach Jon Konold. "Our defense will have to stop the run. (Moorhead) is another (Class) 5A team, so you know they will come at you with a lot of people.
The hottest team in town, not the hottest ticket -- that would be Cardinal football -- is the Ridgewater College women's volleyball team. Crowds are small, but growing as the victories mount. The Lady Warriors are 21-1 and, for what it's worth, voted No. 1 by Division III coaches in the NJCAA. Winning is nothing new in this program. It's expected. Val Swanson established a vigorous program in the 1980s and took it into the new century. Joe Sussenguth took over in 2006, winning the national title in his first try.