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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The winning streak for the Alexandria Blizzard hockey team ended at four games as one of the best teams in the NA3HL swept the Blizzard this past weekend. North Iowa (12-0-1-1), co-leaders of the Central Division with the La Crosse Freeze with 26 points, is the only team in the league that has not lost a game in regulation yet this year. The Bulls handed Alexandria a 6-1 loss in Iowa on Nov. 4 after beating the Blizzard 6-2 a day earlier.
The Alexandria cross country teams battled on a cool day in Northfield on Saturday as the Cardinal boys finished 11th as a team and the girls took 12th. Senior Keaton Gruber paced all Alexandria runners as he capped off his impressive season with a 16th place finish overall in 15:58.4. Jackson Wichtendahl was 57th in 16:28.2. Nolan Christensen finished 121st in 16:59.9, Kyle Vandertuin was 126th (17:06.3), Jack Englund 143rd (17:22.1), Patrick Chromey 156th (17:34.5) and Blake Johnston 170th in 17:54.4.
The Alexandria football team had been to 10 state tournaments in its program history coming into Friday, but only once did those come in back-to-back seasons in 2001 and 2002.
The Alexandria football team celebrated a win this past Saturday that these players and coaches will likely remember for the rest of their lives.
There will be fan buses heading to Brainerd on Friday night for the Section 8, Class 5A championship football game between the Warriors and Alexandria. The buses are sponsored by the Cardinals football parents and are being organized for adults and students. Cost is $10 per person and game tickets can be purchased in Brainerd.
The Osakis and Swanville volleyball teams had met twice during the regular season with both teams taking one win in five sets. On Friday with the stakes even higher, Osakis took care of business a lot sooner. The third-seeded Silverstreaks (11-17) swept the second-seeded Bulldogs (13-11) on the road to advance to the 5A-South semifinals against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (16-13) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Long Prairie.
The Minnewaska football team was one of a handful of programs that looked capable of winning the Section 5, Class AA championship. On Saturday, another one of those teams had just a little bit more. A perennially strong Holdingford program secured a 21-18 win in the section semifinals on the Lakers' home field, and it came down to the final seconds.
The West Central Area-Ashby football team will play for the Section 6, Class AA championship this Friday after a late stop sealed a 28-27 win over Wadena-Deer Creek on Saturday. The Wolverines scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to get within one point. The six seed in the bracket opted to go for two and came up short as second-seeded WCA held on for the win and a date with top-seeded Pillager.
Section 8, Class 5A semifinals Alexandria 27, Moorhead 20 Section 6, Class AA West Central Area-Ashby 28, Wadena-Deer Creek 27 Section 5, Class AA Holdingford 21, Minnewaska 18 Section 4, 9-man Brandon-Evansville 30, Bertha-Hewitt 12
Alexandria football players got a day off the day after the regular-season finale in Moorhead, but the coaches gathered for a meeting with a 47-20 loss to the Spuds still fresh in their minds. It was a chance to go over what happened the night before and put together a plan for that same Moorhead team on Oct. 28. The Cardinals were within one point in the third quarter against the Spuds (6-2), but couldn't overcome explosive plays from the Moorhead offense. Of the Spuds' seven touchdowns, five came on plays of 30 yards or more.