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 Carlos Whitecaps senior baseball team was 0-6 at one point this season before a meeting among the players helped turn things around. Since that point, the Whitecaps rattled off wins in 11 of their next 12 games. It was capped off this past weekend with a Class B state title after Carlos beat Apple Valley 4-2 on Saturday and the Belle Plaine Gray Tigers 3-2 in the title game on Sunday. It's the second B title in the last six years after the Whitecaps won it in their inaugural season in 2010.
No one wanted the main show at the Viking Speedway to end the way it did on Saturday night. Not fans, not speedway officials and certainly not drivers of the Fallen Linemen Modified Special that had $2,000 on the line for the winner. Twenty-seven cars lined up for the final feature of the night that Nelson driver Josh Thoennes ended up winning as he held off Kensington's Zach Johnson before the 10:45 curfew came and ended the race with nine laps left.
The Osakis volleyball team ran into a now 6-0 Paynesville team on Tuesday night on the road and came home with a 3-0 loss to the Bulldogs. The Silverstreaks (2-3) fought in all three games but couldn't quite get over the hump in 25-22, 28-26 and 25-18 losses. "We started out point for point with a very strong and quick Paynesville team," head coach Kirsten Wessel said. "Both teams made a lot of serving errors to start the match, energy, jitters."
The Alexandria football team has more than 20 seniors that it will lean on to try to get back to and maybe even further than where the season ended a year ago. The Cardinals put together a 6-4 campaign in 2015 and went all the way to the Section 8-5A title game. They ran into a dominant Moorhead team there that has lost a lot of the seniors from that group as the Spuds head into 2016. That may seem to open a door, but Alexandria knows programs like Moorhead and others in the section can reload quickly.
A relatively young cross country program in Osakis is trying to take another step this fall season as the Silverstreaks enter their third season of the program with some established runners. Osakis lost just two letter winners in Jason Nystrom on the boys' side and Issy Szech for the girls.
The Osakis volleyball team will feature a bit of a different look this fall after losing seven letter winners to graduation. The Silverstreaks go into almost every season as one of the teams to beat in the Prairie Conference and that is still the goal for a new group of athletes looking to leave their mark on the program.
The Alexandria volleyball team might not be on a lot of other team's radars right now within the section or conference picture, but that's something the Cardinals hope to change by season's end. Alexandria lost seven players from last year's roster and return just four seniors in Jordyn Lamb, Syri Williams, Abby Pohlen and Kayla Feldhake. All of them are big contributors, though, as they hope to help their team surprise some people throughout the fall.
The Alexandria girls cross country team will feature a young nucleus this season but a group that head coach Travis Hochhalter says has a lot of talent and leadership ability. The Cardinals will be without the services of Megan and Bethany Hasz for the first time in a long time as the twins prepare for their first season running in the Big Ten at the University of Minnesota.
The Alexandria boys cross country team will lean on a big junior class and 22 overall runners to try to put together a competitive group by season's end this fall. "We have a solid group of runners who have put some miles on during the summer months," head coach Travis Hochhalter said. "It will be exciting to see the result of their efforts."
Kayla DeBlieck had just gotten done making her own rope at the Alexandria Shooting Park on Sunday afternoon and was ready to hurry on to the next event. It was down to the last hour of the five-hour Youth Outdoor Activity Day, and there was still so much to do. "I don't really like to go fishing, but I really like to just do stuff in nature," Kayla said. "I like to be in the outdoors so much because I want to explore."