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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SPICER -- After a week of intense heat around a thunder storm, the seventh annual Green Lake Triathlon got a golden break. On a mild Sunday morning with the temperature in the mid-60s, a swarm of athletes of all abilities swam, cycled and ran. "What a beautiful course," said Jill Ellenbecker of Coon Rapids, who won the women's Sprint course. "There was a strong headwind the last four miles of the bike, but I just love the setting for this race and the weather was near perfect." The Green Lake Triathlon is four races in one.
Casey Johnson has the Willmar Cardinals wrestling program on an upward trajectory but he won't be on board to savor it. The 29-year-old physical education teacher will be teaching and coaching elsewhere this school year. "It's bittersweet," he said this week of his departure after three years as head coach. He's accepted a teaching and coaching position in Albany.
WILLMAR -- Like tennis, golf and bowling, stock car racing can be one of those lifetime sports. Perhaps not lifetime -- but a long time. Here's what some of the most veteran race drivers at the KRA Speedway had to say about their need for speed on the opening night of the Kandiyohi County Fair on Wednesday. Jamie Lemke, 45, of Hutchinson has been racing stock cars for 26 years. Wednesday night's Modified Special was his first return to Willmar since the season opener in May: "I do it for the thrills. It's still a rush. But this is my last year. My twin girls will graduate (in 2011).
Ridgewater College football begins two-a-days on Saturday. Practices are scheduled from 9-11 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Coach Rob Baumgarn, beginning his fifth fall as head coach, expects up to 70 prospects. High on the list of incoming freshmen is Paulo Sineos of Doral Academy in Miami, Fla. The offensive lineman is listed at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds. He arrived in Willmar earlier this week after making the 1,800-miles-plus drive with his mother, an aunt and an uncle, Ed Nunez, who is a professional sports photographer covering major college and NFL football. The Warriors will open Aug. 28 in St.
WILLMAR -- In his early thirties, Michael Gaffaney seemed like a man in search of a hobby. Unknowingly, his next-door neighbor had the answer. "Drag racing!" Gaffaney and his wife, Nicole, had bought a home on the south edge of Willmar. Their new neighbors were Rob and Tammy Esse, who spent their every other summer weekend at the drag strip along U.S.