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 Alexandria girls hockey team got its first twin on Saturday evening as the Cardinals (1-1) traveled to Mound Westonka and came home with a 2-1 victory. Eighth-grader Anna Doherty got her first varsity goal in the first period to give Alexandria a 1-0 lead early. That held up until late in the second period, when Mound Westonka's Liz Schepers scored on the power play to make it 1-1.
Alexandria native Heidi (Raymond) Revels didn't run cross country herself in high school. She ran track, and at that point she was more of a sprinter. Now she's the head coach of a cross country team that produced the top two female finishers at the Class AA state meet on Nov. 5. "I had no idea, no," Revels said. "I probably have 10 years of coaching experience in track between middle school and high school, but I wasn't really thinking I would be a cross country coach."
The Alexandria girls basketball team has dealt with some of the toughest losses a team could face in the section championship game each of the last two years. A 43-42 loss to Thief River Falls in 2015 left the Cardinals hungry to get back to an 8-3A title game last winter. They did against that same Prowlers team, only to fall just short again in a 57-55 overtime game. The same core group of players is back this season as seniors. There's 11 of them in total, and they are motivated to get over the hump in their final winter playing basketball together.
Every season is welcomed with a lot of anticipation, but maybe even more so for the Alexandria boys basketball team this winter. The Cardinals haven't forgotten how their season ended this past March. They were up 10 with less than four minutes left when Fergus Falls stormed back. Sophomore guard Nathan Rund took over, scoring 13 of his 34 points in the final three minutes, 30 seconds.
This is a look at how some area athletes are doing at their respective colleges or in their athletic careers. Similar pieces will run periodically through the fall, winter and spring seasons. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any more detailed information on the athletes listed or the names of other athletes who are playing college sports that you would like to see included in future publications.
The Alexandria Blizzard went into Thanksgiving with a win on Wednesday night as Rochester came to the Runestone Community Center and left with a 3-1 loss. Alexandria (11-7, 22 points) led 2-1 after one period and never relinquished that lead. Emil Lindfors of Helsinki, Finland continues to pile up points for the Blizzard. His goal at 6:01 in the first gave his team a 1-0 lead.
The honors for the Alexandria football team keep coming in after the Cardinals made their run all the way to the state tournament this season. The recognition has come on the field and for players' work in the classroom. Senior quarterback Jaran Roste was recently named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State football team, while senior teammates Will Odland and Luke Paschka were named academic all state.
Osakis girls basketball coach Pat Kalpin has been at this long enough to know that rankings don't put banners up in the gymnasium at season's end. "You look at the NCAA — who's always ranked in the top five at the beginning of the year?" Kalpin said after an Osakis morning practice on Nov. 17. "I don't put too much into that and I never have because ultimately you have to win games at the end. I've been ranked number one all year long one year and got beat in the section finals in 2005."
Alexandria's Megan and Bethany Hasz posted times in high school during the cross country season that suggested they would translate to immediate success at the college level. One never knows, though, until it happens. These are different courses with different difficulties. It's generally a greater distance, going from 5K in high school to 6K at most college meets. Strategy throughout race day becomes even more important going up against some of the best college runners in the country. In short, it's everything the twin sisters wanted.
Class 5A's top-ranked Elk River football team got past Alexandria in the opening round of the state tournament and punched its ticket to the championship game this past weekend. The Elks (12-0) were pushed in their closest game of the season but got by Owatonna (9-3) in a 19-7 game on Nov. 18. It was tied 7-7 late into the second quarter before Elk River got two touchdowns from running back Sam Gibas on runs of one and four yards inside the final three minutes of the half.