Tribune Notebook: Hard hat goes to Cardinals' Stark

Willmar senior defenseman earns a team traveling trophy after three-goal effort

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Willmar senior Ethan Stark pulls off a deke near the blueline during a game against Hutchinson on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Ethan Stark has picked up the covered Cardinal Hard Hat and it was well-earned.

The senior defenseman scored three goals, including the game-winner, in Willmar's 4-3 overtime victory over Morris/Benson Area on Thursday night. With the big game came what could best be described as a traveling trophy that makes its way through the Cardinal locker room after victories: the Cardinal Hard Hat.

It's a hard hat that Stark received from teammate Cullen Gregory, who earned it after Willmar's win over Hutchinson. Gregory received it from assistant coach Mike Bowman, who got the hard hat after Willmar's first victory. Bowman helped retrieve a lost stick.

Head coach Jamie Hagen just hopes that Stark can pass the hard hat on to the next recipient soon. The Cardinals' next opportunity for a victory is against Prairie Centre at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Willmar Civic Center Arena.

"We'll take everything we can get," Hagen said. "It (the victory over MBA) wasn't a pretty game. We lost Trent Larsen (to a lower leg injury) in the second period. We've got a small group. We were shuffling our lines around. Obviously, getting the win was big."


Stark, he said, played great.

"He was our hard hat winner of the game," Hagen said.

Prairie Centre is off to an 0-3 start, with losses to Northern Lakes, Wadena-Deer Creek and Detroit Lakes. Willmar is 3-1, having beaten Breckenridge/Wahpeton, Hutchinson and MBA and fallen 7-4 to Sauk Rapids.

Hagen said the Sauk Rapids score was deceptive. Willmar trailed 5-4 and gave up a couple of empty-net goals at the end. He's enthused by his team's improved play this season after going 5-21 last year.

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The annual North vs. South High School All-Star Game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The game features most of the top senior talent in the state this season, including three West Central Tribune area participants.

Playing for the North is Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg outside linebacker Isaac Rudningen. Rundingen, listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, is headed to the University of Sioux Falls, an NCAA Division II school, on a football scholarship.


Also playing for the North is Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa wide receiver Jamison Reed. Reed is listed at 6-5, 200.

Playing for the South is Noah Gullickson of Renville County West. Gullickson is a 6-0, 295-pound offensive lineman.

BOLD head coach Derek Flann is an assistant on the South team.

The University of Jamestown volleyball team celebrates after winning the NAIA national championship on Dec. 6 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Submitted photo

National champ

Former New London-Spicer star Aleah Zieske is a national champion. The freshman outside hitter is a starter on the University of Jamestown volleyball team that won the NAIA national championship Dec. 6 in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Jimmies beat Corban University 3-2 to earn the championship. Zieske was a key contributor. She was second on the team with 13 kills. Jamestown went 37-2 and had four seniors on its roster. The Jimmies are coached by Jon Hegerle, who is in his 14th season at Jamestown.

Athlete of the year

Former Willmar star Leah Hansen has wrapped up her cross-country season at South Dakota State with another prestigious honor. The junior has been named the Summit League Female Athlete of the Year.

Hansen is the first athlete to be named to the league honor three consecutive years and is the second athlete to earn the award three times in her career. Hansen has earned three consecutive league titles and was the championship MVP, leading the Jackrabbits to a second-place team finish. She finished 19th at the NCAA Midwest Regional.


SDSU's Ben Olson was named the Summit League Male Athlete of the Year. And, Jackrabbits head coach Rod DeHaven was named the Summit League Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year for the seventh straight season.

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Wrestling honors

Former Dawson-Boyd wrestling coach Loren Hacker is being presented with a lifetime service award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Minnesota Chapter on April 22 at the Austin Holiday Inn Conference Center. Hacker spent 32 years coaching in McIntosh, South Dakota, Canby and Dawson-Boyd. He's a long-time volunteer at the state tournament and coached Canby to a state tournament appearance in 1982. He also was an NCAA Division III All-American and has been inducted into the Bartelma Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The former long-time superintendent was a standout heavyweight wrestler at Canby and the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Also being honored with a lifetime service award is Steve Ricard of Benson. Ricard has served as a coach and official for 31 years. He's a former wrestler at Fertile-Beltrami and Minnesota State-Moorhead, where he was a four-time NAIA national qualifier and two-time Academic All-American. He has directed the Dave Bartlema Hall of Fame as chairman for nearly 20 years and is a section representative.

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Willmar senior Kim Joneson shows of her skills in her balance beam routine during a meet against Sartell on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

CLC performers

Willmar's Cullen Gregory, Kim Joneson and Zoe Schroeder have been honored as Central Lakes Conference performers of the week.

Gregory is a junior on the Cardinals' boys hockey team. He scored five goals in two wins last week. Joneson is a senior on the gymnastics squad. She took first place on the uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise in a meet. Joneson had scores of 8.2 on the bars, 9.25 on the vault and 8.175 on the floor. Schroeder is a senior forward on the girls basketball team. She had five rebounds and four steals to earn CLC defensive player of the week honors.


Former Willmar star Cameron Murphy has been named to the 2022 All-REgion 6 team. Murphy was a senior offensive tackle on the St. John's University football team that went 10-2 this season. Murphy also earned All-MIAC honors this season for the Johnnies, who won their fourth straight MIAC championship, their 36th in school history, a conference record.

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