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Willmar swimming coach back to practice after cancer surgery

The past two weeks were no holiday for Carl Shuldes but admittedly there's still something to celebrate. The social studies teacher and swimming coach had surgery for prostrate cancer at Rochester on Dec. 19. Two days later he and his wife Lynn w...

The past two weeks were no holiday for Carl Shuldes but admittedly there's still something to celebrate.

The social studies teacher and swimming coach had surgery for prostrate cancer at Rochester on Dec. 19. Two days later he and his wife Lynn were back home. He's healing and plans to be back in the classroom on Jan. 14 to start the term.

He looks forward each day to going to swim practice. It breaks up the long days of recuperation. As far as traveling to an away meet, it's "wait-and-see."

"I'm taking it slow," he said. "A couple of hours at a time. I get tired if I try to do too much."

Shuldes, 46, has been a teacher and swim coach here since 1987-88. He now heads up both the girls and boys swim programs and assists in track, a year-around coach with three children of his own.

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His battle with cancer began this summer. Physically, he wasn't quite right and he had "suspicions." Though still short of the age threshold recommended for the PSA test, it was ordered by his physician. It revealed, according to Carl, a "very high" count.

An urologist here recommended seeing a specialist at the Mayo Clinic. A biopsy found a malignant tumor in the prostrate about the time swimming practice started last fall.

Hormone therapy helped reduce the size of the tumor over the next few months.

The week before Christmas he and Lynn drove to Rochester for a check-up. He wasn't expecting surgery, not at the moment anyway, but it was recommended and the surgeon had an opening, due to a cancellation, the next day.

Surgery revealed that the cancer had spread to the bladder and lymph nodes. They took out what diseased tissue they could but could not get it all.

"We'll return to Mayo in March and consult with a radiologist," said Shuldes this week. "We can perhaps set up a program here of radiation treatment to control it. I'll probably be taking hormone treatment the rest of my life."

Impressively, he never appeared to lose his focus during the fall campaign, which was a highly successful one for the girls, followed by a rapid transition to the boys season.

"It's been frightening at times," he says, "but to sum up where things stand now it would be 'cautiously optimistic'."

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There's been an outpouring of support for Carl and his family from friends, church, relatives, colleagues, students and the swimming and diving teams. In a difficult journey, Carl and Lynn at least have had a comforting wind at their backs.

"It's been unbelievable, amazing," said Carl of the encouragement.

Students, both past and present, have rallied around Coach Shuldes on the website popular with youth, Facebook. A group has formed called "Praying for Carl Shuldes!" At last count, it boasts 297 members.

On the fly

- Bonnie Hendrickson (WHS '81) and her Kansas Jayhawks were a perfect 8-0 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence and are 10-2 overall going into the final pre-Big-12 tune-up against Xavier at Cincinnati on Friday. The former Virginia Tech head coach is in her fourth year at KU has a 208-114 record over 11 seasons.

- Hockey player Danny Swanson suffered a setback in his budding college career at Concordia of Moorhead while home on Christmas vacation. Skating with the Cardinal girls varsity on Dec. 21 he broke his right tibia (the small bone in the lower leg) about two inches above the ankle. The accident happened during a drill when he jumped to avoid another player's stick and slid into the boards. He played Juniors for Tulsa Okla., last season and made the Concordia squad this year where he was seeing regular ice time.

- Tyler Wahl, Swanson's former teammate with the Cardinals and at Tulsa, is among the top five scorers in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. At last report, the Granite City forward had 36 points in 30 games.

n Attendance for the two home basketball tournaments was as follows: Bremer Bank boys tournament -- 816 on Wednesday, 1,232 on Thursday, 2,018 total; West Central Tribune WildCard girls tournament: 448 on Friday and 577 on Saturday, a 1,025 total.

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- Matt Kroneberger, Josh Mead and goalie Ben Leitch made the River Lakes all-tourney team. The back-to-back shutouts posted by the Willmar defense and goaltender Leitch are the first consecutive shutouts by the Willmar boys hockey team since the 1984-85 season when senior goalie Mike Heck was an all-CLC.

- Peter Aus was in his first year as the Cardinals head coach (after a dozen years at Litchfield). His son, David Aus (WHS '87), head coach at Blaine, was featured in a front-page article, along with his cousin, Erik Aus, head coach at Centennial in the Dec. 27 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (the day after Blaine belted Central Lakes Conference leader Brainerd 8-3 at the Schwan's Cup). Dave is in his eighth year at Blaine, taking the Bengals to the last two state tournaments. After 13 seasons at the Bethel College helm, Peter retired last year after guiding the Royals to their first MIAC title and NCAA appearance.

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