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 - Sixteen-year-old Tom Strandemo did his best to prevent a weekend sweep by Andy Jacobson. He took Jacobson, nearly invincible on his home course, into sudden death before bowing out on the second extra hole at the Eagle Creek Shortstop on Sunday. Jacobson drained a 20-foot downhill putt on No. 11 for birdie to avoid the upset. The 30-year-old Willmar insurance agent had won the Little Crow Early Bird on Saturday by five strokes. Strandemo, who finished 10th at New London, matched Jacobson through 28 holes at Eagle Creek.
Danny Anderson, an ex-Cardinal, will join the Dakota professional golf tour in July. The 26-year-old St. Cloud State graduate said it's the first step in his goal to reach one of the professional tours. "I want to earn enough money to get to (the PGA) qualifying school," he said. "I figure I'll need about $7,500 for that." Anderson played four years for the Huskies. Though he has never won the Lakeland Tournament here, he's finished first in shortstops at New London, Benson and Willmar.
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.