Eric Morken is the sports editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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Two former area wrestlers in Alexandria's Tom Bouressa and West Central Area's Jake Long earned Division III All-American honors with Concordia-Moorhead in March. Both guys helped the Cobbers to a 13th-place finish with good showings at the national championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bouressa took sixth at 285 pounds in his senior season, while Long was fifth at 149 pounds as a junior. Bouressa earned his second All-American honor at the national tournament and became just the fourth wrestler in Cobbers history to earn more than one in his career.
Logan Doyle loves to throw down a dunk in the flow of a game but admitted he was pretty nervous with all eyes on him during a dunk contest on the second night of the 2013 Minnesota Senior All-Star Series. "I'm not going to lie, it was kind of nerve wracking," Doyle said. "Having to dunk in front of that many people was kind of weird. I was kind of nervous because I didn't want to miss." Doyle put aside those nerves and impressed enough to take home the dunk contest title on April 6 at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Those close to the Alexandria baseball scene have watched as other communities have done what they can to prepare their fields during this terrible spring weather and asked why similar steps haven't been taken at Knute Nelson ballpark. The Alexandria baseball team is more than four weeks into its season and still hasn't stepped foot on its home field.
I can't be the only one who feels like Minnesota's spring turkey season has snuck up on us this year. My anticipation level usually reaches a fever pitch by late March. Winter snow gives way to the first sign of green grass. The toms start dancing in the open as the hens lead them out of the woods in search of the vegetation and bugs arriving in the fields. It's harsh, really. Here they are in all their glory, strutting their stuff in hopes of winning the heart of their one-and-only someone.
The West Central Area boys' basketball team named Dakotah Kashmark and Drew Peterson as their team MVPs at the season-ending awards banquet recently. Both players were also named to the All-Prairie Conference team, while Jay Zimmerman was an honorable-mention selection. Peterson, a senior, was also honored with the Hardest Worker Award and the Playmaker Award after leading the team in assists. "Drew is a top-notch kid in every aspect of life," Knights head coach Kraig Hunter said. "His character, integrity, his dedication, work ethic and leadership are all remarkable.
University of Minnesota men's basketball fans should have seen this coming. The track record of Athletic Director Norwood Teague indicated it was coming and the current state of Gophers' basketball all but guaranteed it. That's why the hiring of a young up-and-coming coach like Richard Pitino, son of legendary coach Rick Pitino, should come as no surprise. The Gophers were never going to get a big name who had already established himself. Fans wanted to believe they could.
The players and coaches who basked in the sun as winter changed straight to summer last year during a time usually designated for spring are paying for it right now. Perhaps we should have seen this coming as Minnesotans. Seventy degree days in March? That was obviously an anomaly. But would a few straight days of low 50s in early April really be too much to ask for? "I guess when we had a spring like last year, you get spoiled and expect it to be that way every year," Osakis baseball coach Shad Schmidt said.
Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series on how concussions suffered in hockey altered the life of Jefferson high School junior Kalley Kragenbring. Part one was published in the April 3 edition of the Echo Press. Kalley Kragenbring never imagined the game against Detroit Lakes where she suffered her second concussion in a span of 31 days would be her last, but as the months passed, the symptoms never diminished. Kragenbring said she dealt with headaches and fatigue every day for six months after the second concussion.
Alexandria's Mike Empting seems to like the challenge of replacing coaches with long and successful tenures in the Cardinal sports programs. Empting did just that in the fall of 2008 when he took over for Denny Kalpin as Alexandria's head football coach. Now he will do the same for the Cardinal boys' track and field team after Jerry Amundson stepped down from that position after 32 years as the head coach. "I feel like my last two positions here with football and now with track, I'm kind of moving in and replacing legends a little bit," Empting said.
The Alexandria boys' hockey team named senior goaltender Ben Allen the team MVP at its season-ending awards banquet recently. That was one of many awards Allen took home after posting a 92.7 save percentage and holding teams to a 2.4 goals against average. Allen was a second team all-section selection and an all-conference player. He also just got back from competing in the Great 8 Tournament, designated for some of Minnesota's top senior players. Fellow seniors Tom Schmidt and Jack Wensman joined Allen on the All-Central Lakes Conference team.