Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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Alexandria's Jake Drew took the ball with the Cardinals' season on the line last year against the top team in the Section 8-3A field. He had earned that shot as a sophomore. Drew was named to the All-Central Lakes Conference team, but he and the Cardinals came up short in a 7-3 loss to eventual section champion St. Michael-Albertville in his final start. It wasn't the result Drew was hoping for, but it was an experience that he relished as a young pitcher.
Every Thursday in the spring for about a seven-week period, there's a group of guys 25-and-older that gather at the Runestone Community Center to act like kids again. There might be a few more aches and pains the next day from two hours of playing ultimate Frisbee, but the annual weekly gathering has drawn a lot of interest as an opportunity to meet new people and have some fun.
The Osakis boys and girls golf teams are ready to start the season with a new head coach at the helm in Alexandria native Brady Swedberg. Former head coach Steve Tax stepped down in the offseason, with Swedberg excited to step in and take on his first varsity coaching job after playing professionally himself on a number of different tours. Swedberg and assistant coach Andrea Dwyer are getting to know their new teams after the first week of practice.
Required ATV safety training for youth A required hands-on ATV safety training class for those as young as 11 and to age 15 will take place on Sunday, April 17 from 1-5 p.m. at the Alexandria Shooting Park. Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years or older is also required by law to complete a MN ATV/OHM safety online class before operating an ATV on public lands, frozen waters, public road rights-of-way or state or grant-in-aid trails.
The Alexandria baseball team is a program that has knocked on the door of getting to a state tournament many times over the past decade. This season, with a new-look Section 8-3A field, the Cardinals are looking to get over the hump while making sure they take nothing for granted.
The spring training schedule is on the backstretch, which means optimism reigns for every team in baseball. For the first time in a long time, that optimism feels justified for the Minnesota Twins. This is a team with some very intriguing parts. Many talented young prospects are finally here after years of hearing about them coming through the system.
The Parkers Prairie baseball team is looking to stay healthy and compete in the Park Region Conference after going 8-12 overall and 3-9 in league play a season ago. The Panthers lost Mitch Thoennes, Kyle Schlosser, Grant Yohnke and Logan Nibbe from that group, but return six letter winners hoping to lead the way this season. Five of those are juniors in Devin Glebe (OF), Levi Arnold (IF/OF), Harry Samuelson (IF/OF), Hunter McDaniel (IF) and Andrew Johnson (IF). Sophomore Matt Ferley (IF) is also back as a returning letter winner.
Alexandria native Brady Swedberg knew he wanted to be involved in teaching the game of golf when he moved back to the area in the spring of 2013, but opportunities have to present themselves. Swedberg played professionally in tournaments on the Dakotas, Gateway and Pepsi Tours after graduating from Jefferson High School in 2002. An elbow injury slowed down his own playing career before a position opened up at the Scott Dirck Golf Academy and Geneva Golf Club last spring.
Curt Soine was front and center with his work as this year's Carver of the Year at the Rudy Zwieg Decoy and Sporting Collectible Show in Alexandria on Saturday. The Granite Falls artist admires the work of the carvers who have earned that distinction before him from the local Mid-State Chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association. Now it was his turn to take the top booth.
Alexandria's Brayden Amundson hoped a strong junior season in baseball might get him an opportunity to play the sport at the next level. After hitting almost .340 last spring, Amundson said he heard from a couple schools. He went north for a workout at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where both parties decided it would be a good fit for him to continue his academic and baseball career.