Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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By Tom Larson firstname.lastname@example.org MONTEVIDEO -- Many of the players on the Willmar and Montevideo boys basketball teams have been competing against each other since their travel-team days; they know the opposition almost as well as their own teammates. In the previous four seasons, the teams split four games and the average margin of victory was three points.
In the NFL, it's amazing what a new year can bring. In the first month of 2011, John Carlson was laying on the Qwest Field turf, a failed onside kick attempt cradled in his arms, fans roaring at ear-splitting decibels and his Seattle Seahawks just moments away from making NFL history. Carlson caught two touchdown passes that day to help the Seahawks dethrone the reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, 41-36, marking the first time that a team with a losing regular season record had won a playoff game.
Two area prep hockey coaches say the serious injuries sustained by two Minnesota players in the last two weeks won't necessarily serve as a stark, teachable moment for their players. They don't need singular events to preach on-ice safety since it's an issue addressed constantly, from mites to varsity. "We're always talking about checking and safety, but it happens," said Willmar boys head coach Dan Tollefson. "It's not that hockey is a bad sport, it just happens." Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore Jack Jablonski, 16, has been partially paralyzed since a Dec.
ROCHESTER -- The Ridgewater College volleyball team won a second-straight NJCAA Division III national championship with a four-game win over Brookhaven on Saturday. In a taut four-setter that seemed like it went five, the Warriors won the title 31-29, 17-25, 29-27, 25-22. Ridgewater finished 31-3 overall, the program's best winning percentage. The championship was the Warriors' third in six years and fourth overall. Ridgewater won the 2010 national title over Brookhaven, which was the 2009 national champ.
BROWNTON - During a messy sixth inning, just when it seemed Raymond's 2011 amateur baseball season was coming apart, it was really all coming back together again. Brandon-Evansville scratched together a five-run sixth to erase a two-run Raymond lead, but the Rockets rallied in kind in the seventh and tacked on a run in the ninth for an 8-5 win at Barney Tadsen Field in the first round of the Minnesota Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament on Saturday. Rockets pitcher Tyler Knott tidied up the whole affair with masterful relief work and Raymond is on to the second round to face Big Lake a
BROWNTON -- While Jeremy Hinderks rounded third and jogged to the plate on yet another home run trot, his Sacred Heart Saints teammates were joking in the dugout. "I'm not even going to go out to shake his hand," one said. "He doesn't even amaze me anymore," said another. Good-natured kidding aside, both headed out to congratulate the man who almost single-handedly put the Saints into the second round of the Minnesota Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament on Saturday. Hinderks hit two homers, accounting for all the run production in the Saints' 4-2 win over Pelican Rapids at Barney Tad
Sacred Heart. How could your amateur baseball team help but be anything but blessed when it carries that name? It wasn't so long ago that the team was struggling to win a few games every summer. Then younger area players - former high school stars who ventured off after graduation to the bigger cities -- began to filter back home.
WILLMAR -- Summer vacation will be a little shorter and the football season will be a little longer for two area prep teams this year. Minnewaska Area and MACCRAY are among 12 Minnesota high school football programs that, for the first time in 2011, will be allowed to open practices a week earlier and play their first games of the season a week earlier under new Minnesota State High School League rules designed to aid teams that encounter scheduling problems. "It's the lesser of all other evils, and we're happy to have an eighth game," said Minnewaska Area head coach Steve Hill.