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Area Notebook: Willmar Cardinal swimmers amp it up

Willmar has a big week against Central Lakes Conference power Alexandria on Thursday, then is host to the true-team sectional meet Saturday

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Willmar senior Colin O'Farrell prepares to start against Apollo freshman Hunter Jokinen in the final stretch of the 200-yard freestyle relay on Thursday, Dec.23, 2021 in Willmar.
Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — It’s a big week for the Willmar boys swimming and diving team. The Cardinals are host to two important events.

On Thursday, Alexandria comes to town in a Central Lakes Conference meet. Alex went into Tuesday night with a 3-0 record.

“They and Brainerd are probably the favorites in the conference,” Willmar head coach Carl Shuldes said. “Alex and Brainerd should have a really good dual meet.”

Alexandria is coming off a title at 13-team invitational in West Fargo, North Dakota.

On Saturday, Willmar is host to the Section 3A true-team championships. Diving competition begins at 10 a.m. Swimming starts at 1:30 p.m. Eight schools compete.

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“It’s probably a real toss-up,” Shuldes said.

Sauk Rapids, Hutchinson and Monticello appear to be the favorites, Shuldes said. A good day for Willmar will be finishing fourth.

“I think if we have a real good day, we come out in fourth,” Shuldes said. “It should be a fun meet. There isn’t a clear favorite. It’s going to be close for all the favorites.”

At stake is a berth in the state true-team championships, Jan. 22 at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis.

Willmar is 1-2 in dual meets so far. There have been close losses to St. Cloud Apollo and Montevideo. The Cardinals’ top-line talent has performed well. Willmar continues to work on its depth.

“Some of the younger guys are getting better,” Shuldes said. “We’re still not at the level we need to be. A couple of the freshmen are starting to step it up.”

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Willmar's Kale Bockelman does a backflip during his second dive attempt during a Jan. 11, 2020 non-conference dual meet against Melrose/Sauk Centre at Willmar High School. Bockelman won with a score of 237.35.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Falcon connection

The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City boys and girls basketball teams got to compete in a doubleheader Saturday in St. Paul. The Falcons girls and boys both beat the St. Paul Washington Technology Magnet School.

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So, why are the Eagles on the schedule? There’s an ACGC connection. St. Paul Washington’s activities director is Jesse McCann, an ACGC graduate.

“He was looking to fill some open spots on their second and called us,” ACGC girls basketball coach Trever Heining said.

Heining’s response was succinct. “Why not?” he said.

The ACGC girls beat St. Paul Washington 69-20. The boys won 96-72.

CLC Performers of the week

Willmar’s Carter Schow and Sammy Chrisotoffer have been named Central Lakes Conference performers of the week.

Schow, a boys hockey player, had two goals and two assists in a win over Becker/Big Lake. Christoffer, a senior guard on the girls basketball team, accumulated 29 points, six rebounds, eight assists, eight steals and eight deflections in two games.

Last week, Willmar girls basketball player Jada Reiman was the CLC’s defensive player of the week. She had 18 rebounds and eight steals in three games. The Cardinals’ Kale Bockelman was the diver of the week after winning the Brainerd Invitational title. And, Willmar 160-pounder Jonas Anez earned a big win over Hibbing. He was ranked fifth in the state in Class AAA.

College updates

  • Former Willmar star wrestler Cael Carlson recorded his first career dual victory for the University of Minnesota team. Carlson, a redshirt sophomore, pinned Northwestern’s Erich Byelick in 3 minutes, 53 seconds in the Gophers’ 31-9 victory Sunday at the Maturi Pavillion. Carlson also wrestled against No. 1-ranked Iowa last Friday in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota, 22-10. Carlson lost his match to No. 1-ranked Alex Marinelli, 6-5.
  • Former BOLD three-sport star Drew Sagedahl has transferred to Bethany Lutheran in Mankato to continue his basketball career. Sagedahl, the 2020-21 Hengstler-Ranweiler male winner as the West Central Tribune’s outstanding three-sport athlete, started the season on the St. John’s University men’s basketball team. He played briefly in three games for the Johnnies. Like St. John’s, Bethany Lutheran is an NCAA Division III team.
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