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 - Two teams put on a show to justify their lofty rankings on Saturday afternoon at the high school. In a mild upset, Bemidji (9-1), ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, handed No. 4 Willmar its first loss 70-64 in non-conference girls basketball. The game was tied seven times, the last at 57-57. The final six-point gap reflected four Lumberjack free throws as Willmar was forced to foul. "I think that's the best we've played," said Bemidji junior forward Kayla Hirt, who scored 24 points, including a pair of three-pointers at crunch time.
WILLMAR -- In workmanlike fashion the Willmar Cardinals nailed down their 10th win without a loss, hammering Alexandria 61-44 on Saturday evening. Willmar takes a 5-0 Central Lakes record to St. Cloud Tech (5-0, 10-0) on Tuesday. Rocori is also 5-0 in the CLC, creating a three-way jam at the top. Willmar led the visiting Cardinals (2-3, 5-3) 37-24 at intermission.
WILLMAR _ The Bemidji Lumberjacks used 23 points from versatile Kayla Hirt to squeeze by Willmar in a see-saw battle 70-64 in a non-conference girls basketball match-up of top 10 teams on Saturday afternoon. It was the first loss for the Cardinals (10-1), ranked No. 4 in Class AAA. Bemidji, No. 6 in AAA, improved to 9-1.
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.
Golf course architect Kevin Norby (WHS '79) has recently been lauded for a public course he designed in Moravia, Iowa, about 90 miles east of Des Moines. The Preserve on Rathbun Lake was named runner-up for Best New Course of 2009 by Golf Inc., magazine. In addition, both LINKS magazine and Golf Digest named The Preserve one of America's 10 Best New Public Courses of 2009. The course is situated within the 850-acre Honey Creek State Park, which is administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
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.