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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Not often do twins end up playing on the same team at the junior college here. In 31 years on the beat, I don't recall, off hand, another participating duo prior to the Pierz pair of Mike and Breck Weber. They play basketball under Bob Knutson. The Warriors head coach actually went to Pierz to land Chad Lanners, the Pioneers' outstanding floor leader and top scorer. He did get Lanners and picked up the twins as a bonus.
The Willmar boys hockey team is off to a 4-0 start in the Central Lakes Conference. The last time that happened was in the 1982-83 season, the breakout year for Cardinal hockey. The second incarnation of high school hockey (a few will recall a post-World War II team that lasted two years) in this railroad town that began in 1972 was only 10 years old. While hockey had its fanatical followers, the sport still was on the margins and had not yet left a dent in conference or postseason play. That was all about to change.
WILLMAR -- How big was this game for Alex Lippert? "I couldn't sleep last night," said the Willmar Cardinals senior center.
WILLMAR -- The Benson Braves put up a struggle but in the end they were unable to derail New London-Spicer. The Wildcats (8-0) delivered a 46-37 victory in the opening act of the West Central Tribune WildCard girls basketball tournament Tuesday. "That was the hardest team we've played so far," said the Wildcats' 6-2 junior center Abbey Knisely. The No. 1-ranked team in Class AA will meet Willmar for the fourth year in a row in tonight's championship match. Benson led at 12-11 and the game was tied twice at 14-14 and 18-18.
WILLMAR -- Tonight will be a matchup of highly-ranked girls basketball teams when Willmar and New London-Spicer play for top honors at the West Central Tribune WildCard Tournament. Willmar, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, decked Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 61-37 in Tuesday's nightcap. Earlier in the evening, the No. 2-ranked team in Class AA rejected Benson's upset bid 46-37. "I think we match up well," said Willmar coach Brad Atchison of the impending showdown of county neighbors. "Our girls are experienced enough to do the job versus their pressure and our size gives us good matchups inside.
WILLMAR -- "Classic" gets thrown around like cheap luggage when it comes to naming holiday tournaments. But occasionally, it really fits. At least it works for the concluding game of the two-day Bremer Bank Holiday (Boys) Classic. In a memorable overtime game before 960 fans at the Willmar Senior High gymnasium, the Cardinals slipped by New London-Spicer 58-56. Taylor Filipek's two free throws with seven seconds left in the extra period were the difference.
WILLMAR -- New London-Spicer, as expected, breezed into tonight's championship game of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic with a 97-53 win over Fond du Lac Ojibwe School of Cloquet on Saturday night. But credit must be given to the Ogichida, which translates as Warriors. Seven players and two coaches needed 6½ hours on snow-covered highways for the opportunity to play the No. 2 team in Class AA.
WILLMAR -- For the seventh December in a row, the Willmar Cardinals and the New London-Spicer Wildcats will tangle for county honors at the boys basketball holiday tournament. Willmar topped a tenacious Benson team 66-57 in Saturday's late game of the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic. NLS is now 8-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class AA. Willmar is 6-0 and No. 4 in AAA.
Call it Holiday Madness, Kandiyohi County style. The annual Bremer Bank Classic at Willmar and the West Central Tribune/WildCard -- this year at New London -- feature tantalizing possibilities as the double-zilch decade comes to a close. Fans and, yes, sportswriters can be forgiven for anticipating a New London-Spicer vs. Willmar showdown in each. The Willmar boys and girls are both rated in the middle of the Class AAA top ten while the Wildcat juggernauts are at the top in Class AA. All four teams head to Christmas undefeated. The Bremer Classic starts 6 p.m.
WILLMAR -- School was dismissed for the holidays at mid-afternoon and much of the time it looked like the Willmar girls basketball team already was on vacation Tuesday night. Despite a sputtering offense, the Cardinals picked up their fifth win without a loss by holding off Sartell 52-44 in a Central Lakes Conference game. The home debut was marked by turnovers and fouls and plenty of scrappy play. "We just weren't intense," said Willmar senior guard Mariel Aamot. "We're still staggering on offense; like running in mud.