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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Big moments in sports can do different things to different athletes. The best ones at any level can find ways to slow things down in the moment. To focus on the task at hand as it comes and not worry about the final outcome. Alexandria Blizzard head coach Jeff Crouse wasn't completely sure how his young goalie would respond to being put in net for two straight must-win games against one of the better teams in the NA3HL last weekend, but he could look back to 2018 to get an idea.
The Runestone Community Center in Alexandria was home to the Battle of the Blades figure skating competition this past Saturday as 101 skaters took part in the nearly all-day event. Twenty of those kids were from the Alexandria Figure Skating Club, which hosted the final competition for those who took part in the five-stop Central Minnesota Series this winter season. About half of the 20 who competed in Alexandria skated in the whole competitive series that made stops in different cities around the region.
The Vikingland Curling Club in Alexandria hosted its annual bonspiel on the weekend of March 9 with 19 different teams competing for championships across four divisions. Eleven of those teams came from out of town as the event drew groups from places like Chaska, Blaine, Detroit Lakes, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen, SD and Des Moines, Iowa. Four local teams also competed for the title in the Little Ole Spiel, which was won by the team of Brad Dumm, Ben Wenzel, Melissa Wenzel and Dan Zimmer after they took down Jason Christenson, Logan Moore and Luke Christenson in the finals.
Teams that have great regular seasons go into the playoffs hoping for a long postseason run. When it doesn't happen, the ending is sudden. That's the position the Osakis boys basketball team found itself in this past week. After falling in the Section 8AA quarterfinals in a 59-55 game to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (19-9) on March 11, the Silverstreaks were left looking back on a 26-2 season.
Viking Sportsmen banquet The 2019 Viking Sportsmen banquet is set for Thursday, April 4 at the Holiday Inn in Alexandria. Online tickets are available at www.vikingsportsmen.org . Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 7. Limited to the first 350 people. Money raised at the banquet goes to benefit local outdoor projects and programs. Included in that is the Youth Outdoor Activity Day hosted by the Viking Sportsmen and Douglas County Pheasants Forever that brought in more than 2,200 kids for a day filled with outdoor activities in 2018.
The Alexandria Blizzard is looking to fill at least 30 more spots on a fan bus to North Iowa for game one of the West Division final playoff series against the Bulls on Friday night. The cost of the bus is $45 per seat if they can reach at least 50 people taking the bus. That number needs to be reached, or it will be cancelled. If interested in attending, email DeniseMills1@hotmail.com for more information.
The spring sports season is right around the corner, and Alexandria's Drew Olson is getting a jump on his season in sprints. Olson, a senior for the Cardinals, recently competed in the USA Track and Field Minnesota Indoor Championships at the University of Minnesota field house. Olson raced in the 60-meter dash, where he won the indoor title by finishing in a time of 6.98 seconds against 19 other athletes. Nicholas Sharma was second in that men's 17-18-year-old field in 7.11 seconds, while Max Peckenschneider rounded out the top three in 7.15.
The Alexandria Blizzard is in a must-win situation heading home on Saturday night after the Granite City Lumberjacks handed the Blizzard a 6-1 loss in game one of the West Division playoffs on Friday. Top-seeded Granite City took advantage of its chances. Alexandria outshot the Lumberjacks 26-25, but Granite City blew things open with five unanswered goals in the final two periods. Three of those came in the second frame.
Two programs separated by less than 20 miles played for a little bit of school history on Friday night in the Section 6A title game. A win for Henning at the University of Minnesota-Morris would mean just the third trip to state for the Hornets and the first since 1966. The Panthers? They had never won a section championship. Through 32 minutes on Friday night, it looked like Parkers Prairie was going to get the monkey off its back before Henning stormed back to win a 60-58 game.
The Alexandria Area Hockey Association is closing in on the end of a successful season as two area youth teams will compete at their state tournaments this weekend. The Elden's Fresh Foods U15A girls team will compete at state in Blaine March 14-16. They enter with a 25-7-7 record after winning the regional tournament in Grand Rapids recently. After a bye in the opening round, the U15A team beat Grand Rapids 6-1. That was a prelude to a dominant 9-2 win over Moorhead in the championship, where Payton Boesl led the way with a hat trick in the win.