Area notebook: Former Card Hansen now a two-time champ

The sophomore at South Dakota State won her second staight Summit League title. Plus, Willmar PA announcer Mike Reynolds is honored and Willmar Cardinals have three athletes named Central Lakes Conference Performers of the Week.

IMG_0836 (1) (1).JPG
South Dakota State's Leah Hansen won the Summit League women's cross-country title individually and helped lead the Jackrabbits to a first-place team finish. Submitted photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

Make it a repeat for Leah Hansen.

The former Willmar Cardinal star now runs cross-country for South Dakota State. On Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she repeated as the Summit League individual champion, helping lead the Jackrabbits’ women’s cross-country team to its second consecutive Summit League title.

Hansen, a sophomore, won the 6,000-meter race with a time of 21 minutes, 3.78 seconds, earning Championship MVP honors.

Hansen became the first Summit League runner to earn back-to-back Championship MVP honors since North Dakota State’s Erin Teschuk did it in 2014 and ‘15.

She was one of three Jackrabbits to finish in the top six. And South Dakota State needed it. The Jackrabbits beat second-place North Dakota State by one point.


SDSU had 55 points, followed by NDSU at 56, South Dakota at 67, St. Thomas at 96, North Dakota at 98, Kansas City at 160, Western Illinois at 207, Nebraska-Omaha at 214 and Oral Roberts at 255.

It’s the third Summit League women’s cross-country title for SDSU. The Jackrabbits also won in 2008.

Hansen was joined on the All-Summit League first team by teammates Cailee Peterson and Anna Donnay. Peterson is a senior from Mayville, North Dakota. Donnay is a graduate student from Kimball who ran for Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball in high school.

Hansen and her teammates gear up for the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Nov. 12 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Reynolds honored

Long-time public address announcer Mike Reynolds was honored with the Willmar Cardinal Athletics Distinguished Service Recognition plaque on Saturday at the Cardinals’ section playoff football game at Hodapp Field.

It was a fitting location. Reynolds handled the microphone for Willmar sporting events for more than 30 years. He covered 46 different sports seasons. He retired after the 2020 football season.


According to Willmar activities director Ryan Blahosky, Reynolds started announcing and running the scoreboard in the fall of 1991 and helped at many different sports through the fall of 2009.

He began announcing girls basketball in the late 1990s through the 2005 girls basketball season and did boys basketball from 1998-2002.

He has done football games since 2006, covering the PA for more than 70 home football games.

Reynolds is the first recipient of the Willmar Cardinal Athletics Distinguished Service Award. It’s to honor him for his dedication, love and support of Cardinal athletics.

Card athletes honored

Willmar boys soccer players Abdullahi Mohamud and Andrew Ziebarth and girls cross-country runner Nina Dawson have been honored as Central Lakes Conference Performers of the Week.

Abdullahi, a senior, was named the boys soccer offensive player of the week in the CLC. He scored the game-tying goal in the state Class AA quarterfinals with six seconds left.

Ziebarth, a goalkeeper, was named the CLC boys soccer defensive player of the week. He had the key save in the state quarterfinals of the shootout victory over Worthington.

Dawson placed ninth at the Section 8AAA championships in Alexandria with a time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds, helping Willmar finish in first place.


Other athletes honored by the CLC:

From Alexandria, senior football players Will Heydt and Wyatt Odland; girls swimmer Jisella Haskamp; boys cross-country runners Joel Brault; girls cross-country runner Emma Decker; and junior volleyball player Charlotte Lempka;

From St. Cloud Apollo, freshman boys cross-country runner Elijah Preisler;

From Sauk Rapids, volleyball player Lexi Helmin.

Location updates

A section volleyball match and a section football game have finalized where they will take place.

In volleyball, the Section 3AA-North championship match between Paynesville and New London-Spicer will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Litchfield.

In football, NLS plays Pierz at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud Tech for the Section 6AAA championship.

110321.S.WCT.Reynolds award.jpg
Mike Reynolds (middle) is presented the Willmar Cardinal Athletics Distinguished Service Award by WHS Activities Director Ryan Blahosky (left) and WHS Principal Paul Schmitz during halftime of the Section 2AAAA semifinal football game between Willmar and Faribault on Saturday at Hodapp Field in Willmar. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

What To Read Next
At its board of directors meeting Thursday, the MSHSL approved a switch in the number of weight classes in wrestling and voted on a proposal to seed all eight teams in football state tournaments.
Paynesville boys basketball senior star Max Athmann talks on the Bulldogs' season, the bond the team holds, what is in-store for his future, and more.
The Tuesday, Jan. 31, game between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Watertown was forced to move after junior JT Rock broke the rim with a powerful two-handed dunk. Rock is committed to play at Iowa State.
The West Central Tribune sports staff chats girls basketball, wrestling, girls hockey and boys basketball