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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The start of classes is 11 days ahead, but let the games begin. I have no affection for the Vikings -- they always stomped a team I once favored long ago -- and other than Joe Mauer, the Twins hold little interest. These are the teams who matter -- and these athletes pay to play. The 2009-10 Willmar sports seasons launched this morning with the Cardinals girls tennis team hosting New London-Spicer at 9 a.m., and then playing Hutchinson in the afternoon. The Cardinals girls soccer team hosts Minnewaska Area at 5 p.m. today at Kennedy Field.
It's been five years since Alissa Tinklenberg debuted with the Willmar Cardinals swim team. She was just a seventh grader in August, 2004. No big deal: she would end the season with a third-place medal at the Class A state meet in the 200-freestyle and a fourth-place medal as a member of the Cardinals' 400-freestyle relay. "I re-member being in the pool that first year and thinking, 'Wow, I've got six years left.' Now, I it's hard to believe it's all ready my senior year and I'm down to the last one." It wasn't all that hard adjusting to swimming with much older kids that first year.
Valley Golf Course on the east side of Willmar may not measure up to Hazeltine National Golf Club in yardage, but it holds it own in other ways -- especially with seniors. About 100 senior men show up every Tuesday morning from May through August for league play. From the white tees, Valley measures 2,479. Times two, that's 4,958 yards. The pros at Hazeltine today are attacking a course that measures a record 7,674 yards. But this Valley is just as green and as well maintained. The parking is better, too.