Hoops showtime for Willmar boys

Willmar boys basketball plays at St. Cloud Apollo this evening and then is back home Tuesday to play Rocori. Willmar trails both by a game in the Central Lakes Conference race.

Willmar boys basketball plays at St. Cloud Apollo this evening and then is back home Tuesday to play Rocori. Willmar trails both by a game in the Central Lakes Conference race.

In a tense encounter at Willmar, the Cardinals beat a good Marshall team 52-50 for their 19th win Tuesday.

The two upcoming tilts will help answer the question is this a Cardinal team that will be remembered for decades to come?

Apollo hasn't lost since playing in Willmar Jan. 11.

"They're big, fast and athletic," said Steve Grove, Willmar's coach. "Preston Whitaker and Kendall Smith were pretty quiet when they played down here, so I'm sure they'll be up for this game."


The road to the CLC and also the Section 8AAA championships goes through Cold Spring. Willmar took the Spartans to overtime up there on Jan. 16 before losing.

The Cardinals will need their three-point sites adjusted for both games after shooting 19 percent against Marshall from the arc Relentless defense keeps the Cardinals in those games where things aren't going well offensively.

Rocori hits 71 ppg and Apollo 66, 1-2 in the CLC.

Swimmer's gold

Gustavus Adolphus swimmer Scott Hagemeyer ended his fourth and final MIAC championship meet with a flourish.

In the last event of the final day at the University of Minnesota aquatics center, Hagemeyer swam the anchor leg on the 400 freestyle relay team. the relay team finished first in a meet record time of 3:02.21.

This was in the same pool where Hagemeyer four years earlier won Class AA gold medals in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events while swimming for the Willmar Cardinals.

Last Saturday, in the 100 freestyle, he and his senior teammate (and roommate), Brian Amundson, reached the wall together at 45.69 to share first place.


Adding to Hagemeyer's medal haul at the MIAC meet was a first place in the 100 backstroke (51.52) on Friday, his third career MIAC gold in that event. That was on the second day of the meet.

On Thursday, Hagemeyer won his fourth gold medal in the 50-freestyle (I reported incorrectly earlier that he was second to Amundson, but that was in the prelims). His winning time was 20.69, near his meet record time of 20.41 set as a freshman.

Hagemeyer also helped the 200 freestyle relay team set a meet record on Thursday. In all, he won two individual golds outright, tied for another, won two relay golds and two relay silvers.

The Gusties, however, lost their bid for a sixth straight MIAC title, falling to St. Olaf by five points in the tightest 1-2 finish in the 77-year history of the meet.

Hagemeyer's times automatically qualified him for nationals (March15-17 in Houston, Texas) in the 50 freestyle and on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. He and several teammates might also qualify in other events where they posted NCAA Division III provisional times.

Last year at the nationals in Minneapolis, Hagemeyer earned All-America honors in two events and honorable mention in three others.

On the fly

Krista Koenen, a sophomore swimmer at Gustavus Adolphus, helped the Gusties win the MIAC championship over favored St. Olaf -- the Gusties third in six years. Koenen finished 11th in the 50 freestyle (25.7) and 12th in the 100 backstroke (1:03.88).


Willmar advanced two relays to the state meet at last year's section meet. The same swimmers are back (though Steve Kluver has been injured), so the Cardinals will be trying to do at least that well at this season's section meet Friday and Saturday at the regional fitness center on the Minnesota-Morris campus.

Cardinal wrestling had only one state qualifier last year, a junior who did not return to the team for his senior season. However, Drew Larson, Trent Molacek, Brandt Haglund, Erik Borgos and Brandon Rieckman each finished in the top five at section and all are back this year. The 2AAA individual tournament is Friday and Saturday at Eden Prairie.

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