Twins team up at Ridgewater: Willis at nationals

Not often do twins end up playing on the same team at the junior college here. In 31 years on the beat, I don't recall, off hand, another participating duo prior to the Pierz pair of Mike and Breck Weber. They play basketball under Bob Knutson. T...

Not often do twins end up playing on the same team at the junior college here.

In 31 years on the beat, I don't recall, off hand, another participating duo prior to the Pierz pair of Mike and Breck Weber.

They play basketball under Bob Knutson. The Warriors head coach actually went to Pierz to land Chad Lanners, the Pioneers' outstanding floor leader and top scorer.

He did get Lanners and picked up the twins as a bonus. Sadly, Lanners blew out his already perilous knee in preseason and gave up the sport rather than having a second surgery.

Lanners rooms with the Webers, along with Tyler Stein, a freshman guard from Sauk Rapids.


The Weber boys' home town is Sauk Rapids. They grew up there, though they always went to school in Pierz, about a 35-minute drive north.

The twins' parents, George and Marge, are 1981 graduates of Pierz. George is the superintendent at Pierz; Marge is a school social worker for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Nay Ah Shing Schools in Onamia.

The Warriors' duo, who have a 12-year-old brother, Aaron, had no plans to step into intercollegiate athletics together. Breck looked at Central Lakes College in Brainerd while Mike thought he might enroll at UM-Duluth for baseball and engineering.

Encouraged by Knutson, Breck visited Ridgewater and found it was what he was looking for.

Mike was still undecided in June. "I went up to Duluth and wasn't sure where I'd fit into their baseball plans," said the right-hander, who will pitch for the Warriors starting in March. "I looked at Ridgewater and it gave me a chance to play two sports and they had a pre-engineering program."

The boys are hardly identical. Though the program lists them both at "6-foot-4," Breck says he's "barely 6-2" and 165 pounds and that his brother is closer to 6-3 and 180 pounds.

While Breck lettered in basketball, Mike was a three-sport star who also quarterbacked the football team. Lanners, his prime target, first suffered MCL/ACL damage in the 2008 section final.

The Webers have found community college basketball a challenge.


"It's pretty amazing," said Breck. "I'd never come up against guys that were that much more athletic than myself."

Adds Mike: "I kind of expected it to be faster and more physical, but what I notice is that, unlike high school, there are no weak positions. Everyone you play is solid."

Knutson has been pleasantly surprised by both Webers.

"Breck is our No. 6 guy," said the head coach. "He's a terrific leaper and rebounder and plays great defense, though he's still trying to find his shot."

Mike starts at post where he averages 14.6 points and 7.6 rebounds-per game. Says his coach: "When he came here I kind of thought he'd be out of position (for his height), but he's turned into a great post player."

So, what is it like, boys, to have a twin?

"Breck and I always pushed each other," said Mike, "whether we were playing sports, or in musicals, plays or band. Since five or six we've been playing one-on-one football or basketball."

And having double the pleasure.


Sarah Willis was all-conference, a captain and named both "most improved" and "hardest worker" by her teammates in 2004, her senior year on the Cardinals cross country ski team. She carried that ethic of self improvement to Gustavus Adolphus where she competed for the Gusties in softball, skiing and for two years running cross country.

She now is enrolled in a graduate program in exercise physiology at the University of Montana, Bozeman. This week she is in Anchorage, Alaska, where she is among 500 competitors at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships. Her races include a 10k skate, a 20k classic and a sprint skate.

The event will select Team USA for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month.

While at home for the holidays, Willis trained on local trails, including Sibley and Swan Lake.

n The Ridgewater College 2010 baseball rosters includes 2009 Willmar grads John Sawatzky, a catcher, and infielder/outfielder Josh Oestreich. Second-year head coach Joel Barta plans to take the 31-player roster to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., March 6-13. Practice starts Jan. 15 for pitcher and catchers.

- In addition to a field manager, the Willmar Rails amateur baseball team is looking for an assistant coach who would handle administrative duties. Contact Rick or Carol Maursetter at 235-3519.

- The Willmar Cardinals boys basketball team's last 8-0 start was in 2004-05 when the streak reached 10 wins before losing at Rocori 41-40 on Jan. 6. The Cardinal boys are at Brainerd tonight. The girls basketball team, now 9-0 after nipping Alexandria 74-72 in overtime, is nearing the 10-0 start in 2002-03 when the Cardinals finished the regular season 24-0.

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