Area Notebook: Ness stayed on track for 38 years

GROVE CITY -- Jerry Ness didn't show up when track and field practice started in March for the first time in 38 years. Ness had retired from teaching four years earlier. When the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City administration determined to go with one ...

GROVE CITY -- Jerry Ness didn't show up when track and field practice started in March for the first time in 38 years.

Ness had retired from teaching four years earlier. When the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City administration determined to go with one head coach, instead of two, it seemed the logical time to relinquish his coaching duties, also.

Ness started at Atwater in 1973 and immediately picked up track duties.

"For the first 20 years we had no track," he recalled recently. "We practiced on a small field and later a 300 meter dirt track" three blocks west of the high school. It was along the slope to little Tadd Lake, which one day digested in its muck a rolling shot heaved by the Panthers' three-sport star Lee Monson.

One year he drove up to the Stearns life jacket plant in St. Cloud and picked up scraps of foam to stuff blue bags he placed in pits for his vaulters and high jumpers to land.


The shot put pit was a piece of plywood with an attached 4x4 for the toe board.

But there was no lack of talent, including future major league baseball player Mike Kingery who also ran track in the spring. In 1992, Atwater-Grove City/Cosmos shared first place at the Class A state meet with Rocori. Spurring the Blazers' run to the title was J.J. Beckstrand with runner-up finishes in the pole vault (14-1) and 110 hurdles (15.2).

In 37 years, Ness can count 25 conference titles, three top-three finishes at state and four individual state champions -- Randy Roeske (400 dash), Brandon Mortenson (800 run), Shane Hoag (triple jump), Kent Anderson (110, 300 hurdles). Ness was named 2001 Class A Coach of Year.

"Fortunately, I had most of the good athletes in the school out for track," stated Ness. "I had many great assistant coaches, especially my longtime friend and throws coach Terry Karlsgodt. I had a great time."

Prinsburg Legion

Baseball is back again in Prinsburg and appears to be thriving.

The varsity baseball program returned this spring after a two-year absence at Central Minnesota Christian School. This summer the village organized it first American Legion baseball team.

The Bluejays' varsity baseball coach Bob Stoel filed the paper work with the Minnesota Legion baseball office.


"After that we just had to pay the fees and have the insurance," said Stoel. "You don't need to have a Legion post as sponsor. We raised the money."

This spring the Bluejays played five sophomores and two freshmen. The first-time summer baseball program will give them time to improve their skills and enthusiasm.

The Legion team is 2-2 with wins over Cottonwood and Dawson. Prinsburg will play all 12 games on the road. Their baseball field is being renovated with new grass in the outfield and, for the first time, a grass infield.

Stoel said the youth program has a nice turnout with 65 kids starting at third grade. The youth teams play in the West Central baseball leagues administered by Willmar Recreation.

Broderius, Wubben competed at track nationals

Samantha Broderius of Hector finished her college track and field career for Gustavus Adolphus at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Ohio Wesleyan University. She threw the discus 133-10 and placed 14th. She was ranked fourth nationally going in with a top throw of 154-3.

Broderius, who threw disc all four years at nationals, won both the shot put and discus titles at the MIAC meet.

Briana Wubben of Clara City and former Central Minnesota Christian athlete, had two 10th-place finishes for Dordt (Iowa) College at the NAIA Outdoor National meet in Marion, Ind.


She made 5-foot-5 in the high jump and went 17-10¼ in the long jump. She also competed in the 100 hurdles but did not reach the finals despite times of 14.87 and 15.05 in qualifying.

Waska's Hoffman got 400th win

Steve Hoffman, head softball coach at Minnewaska Area High School, achieved the 400-win plateau this spring with a victory on the road at Lac qui Parle Valley. In 26 years of coaching his record is 409-139. He started with the Glenwood Lakers. In his fourth years as head coach came the consolidation with Starbuck and Villard to form Minnewaska Area.

Across the Pope County line to the west, the Lakers' West Central South rival, Morris/Chokio-Alberta, finished 20-4. That brings coach Mary Holmberg's career record over 32 seasons to 465-217.

Eileen Suter at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg moved into the fastpitch coaches association's 300 career wins list. The Fighting Saints' sparkling 23-1 season upped her record to 308-140. Willmar's Guy Nelsen retired after the 2006 season with a 361 wins.

Toops to coach Spuds' wrestling

Skip Toops, a New London native, has been hired to coach the Moorhead High School wrestling team. He takes over from Joe Gaughan, who retired after helming the program for two seasons.

Toops was an assistant coach at Crookston, which sent six wrestlers to the state meet in 2011, most in the program's history.


Toops was a team captain and a four-year letter winner at Minnesota State-Moorhead. He taught math at Crookston, but is slated to teach physical education in this new post.

Lindstrom retires

Jerry Lindstrom, athletic director at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School, is, as he put it in an email, "riding off into the sunset" starting this month.

He's been associated with the district since 1976 when he taught social studies and coached year around at Brooten. He was the Buccaneers' head football coach 1979-84 and started the softball program there in 1984.

He took over the new combined BBE Jaguars fastpitch team in 1990, coaching through 1996. He became the BBE athletic director in 2006 and was named Region 5A Athletic Administrator of the year in 2010-11.

The Appleton native and Concordia Cobber football player taught and headed the football program at Grygla his first two years out of college. That adds up to 37 years as an educator.

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