I hope the new year finds you in good health and that your favorite teams and athletes are doing well or at least enjoying the competition. As I was cleaning out some files, I came across some items that I've been meaning to share with you.
Last fall's volleyball season saw a number of milestones, including several teams from the area advancing to the state tournament. Individual accomplishments saw Bertha-Hewitt's Morgan Kapphahn become just the second player in Bears' history to get 1,000th dig of her career. The other is Jessica Finck, who this season also got her 1,000th kill. Finck is the only player in Bertha-Hewitt history to achieve both. The other Bears' player with at least 1,000 kills is Courtney Stach.
Bridget Martini of Sebeka reached 1,000 digs in her career this fall as well. Martini also just surpassed 1,000 points as a Lady Trojans basketball player (more on that in a future column).
The Minnesota Amateur Baseball Association inducted six men into its Hall of Fame in 2009. They include: Bud Blindt (Granite Falls), Tom Gwaltney (Lake City), Joe Kreger (Green Isle), Tom Marquardt (Kimball), Bryce Pack (Lamberton) and Dan Plein (Red Wing).
Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons men's basketball Head Coach Stu Engen earned his 300th career win Friday night as the team defeated the Jamestown Jimmies, 79-59, on December 18 at the Wendy's Classic.
Engen, in his eighth season with the Dragons, has posted a career record of 300-219 in nineteen seasons. As the Dragons Head Coach, he has tallied a record of 106-109.
Martin Wind scored 33 points to lead the Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball team to an 82-47 win Friday, December 11 against Blackduck. Wind, a senior, set the Panthers' school record for career points in the win and was at 1,963 points following the game. Wind crossed the 2,000 career points mark two games later against Red Lake.
The Ridgewater College (Willmar) volleyball program announced that three members of the 2009 squad were named to the NJCAA Division III All-American team. Sophomore Stephanie Tillman and freshman Emily Roelike were named to the first team, while freshman Macy McKay was named honorable mention.
Tillman (Sartell) is the only player in Warrior program history to receive the All-American 1st team recognition each season. The 5'1" middle hitter finished the season with 264 kills, 81 blocks and 34 service aces during the 2009 season. Roelike (Belgrade) led the Warrior offense with 308 kills, tallied 305 digs and served 95.4% for the season. Emily had a .296 hitting efficiency for the 2009 season and added 16 blocks as an outside hitter. McKay (Granite Falls) was the only right side hitter named to the All-American team in 2009. She finished the season with 225 kills, a hitting efficiency of .325 and had 54 blocks.
The Lady Warriors finished 3rd in the 2009 NJCAA Division III National Tournament and held a 36-5 record for the season.
Roelike, who had an outstanding career at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, was also one of four Lady Warriors named to the 2009 Minnesota College Athletic Conference All-State first team in Volleyball.
Ben Wilson of Alexandria and a junior at St. Olaf earned All-Confernce honors when he finished 12th at the 2009 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men's Cross Country Championship. The top 15 runners received MIAC All-Conference honors.
Minnesota State University Moorhead junior right side hitter, Laura Tvrdik was named a member of the first team All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference after ending the season ranked sixth in the league in hitting percentage. When the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced their 2009 All-Region team selections on November 30, Tvrdik was selected to the honorable mention team. Tvrdik ended the 2009 season leading the team with 362 kills hitting .324. She was also one of five Dragon players chosen for the NSIC All-Academic Volleyball team for the 2009 all-athletic season. Tvrdik is from Farwell and played for Minnewaska Area High School.
April Hansen, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, received NSIC Honorable Mention. Hansen had the third most kills for the Bulldogs his season with 290, but the second best kill percentage of .313. She also had the second most blocks with 72. Hansen is from Brooten and played for the B-B-E Jaguars.
St. Olaf College senior Brock Edwards (Alexandria) had four first place finishes in helping lead the Oles to a team victory over Gustavus on Saturday, Nobvember 14. Edwards anchored the Oles' 200 Medley Relay with a split of 21.13, led off the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 47.90, and won both the 50 freestyle (22.14) and 100 freestyle (48.07) races. For his efforts, Edwards was selected as the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) men's swimming & diving Athlete of the Week.
Jim Conrad, coach of the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek varsity girls' hockey team won one of the 32 "3M Excellence In Coaching Awards" presented in 2008-09 by the Minnesota Wild. Conrad, along with Tony Couture, coach of the Little Falls boys hockey team, received the awards for the girls' and boys' varsity coaches in Section 6A.
Coaches were nominated for their efforts and dedication to youth in their communities and were honored at pregame ceremonies prior to select Wild games at Xcel Energy Center.
It was the seventh season that the Minnesota Wild has presented the 3M Excellence in Coaching Award, an award given to a boys' and girls' high school hockey coach from each section of both classes (A and AA) in the state during the season. The award honors coaches who display good sportsmanship, provide a positive youth sports experience, teach positive life skills and demonstrate respect for players and officials.
The Wild and 3M also teamed up to award the "Charlie Stryker 3M Coach of the Year" honor to Joe Heasley, Section 8AA Girl’s Hockey Coach from Elk River/Zimmerman High Schools and Albert Hasbargen, Section 8A Boy’s Hockey Coach from Warroad High School. The award is named in honor of Charlie Stryker, a long-time hockey coach instrumental in the development of girl’s hockey at the high school level.
MORE NEWS & NOTES
In case you hadn't noticed, it's back to a single team in St. Cloud girls' hockey this season. When only 13 girls showed up for a pre-season meeting at St. Cloud Tech, the school quickly joined forces with the combined Apollo-Cathedral team. The coop continues to use the Icebreakers name used in recent years by the combined Apollo-Cathedral team. Tech split from the old combo in 2000 and had played separately since. The three St. Cloud schools have a combined enrollment of 2,904 led by Tech's 1,320.
It is the second major city in the state to face declining turnouts. Duluth dropped back to a single team recently when East rejoined the Denfeld-Central combo. Those three schools have an enrollment of 2,787. Other major programs such as Moorhead and Warroad have been unable to field B teams in recent years as interest in girls' hockey appears to be declining. Bemidji joined that group this year with only 22 candidates turning out for the first week for practice and is unable to field a B team for the first time.
Speaking of Tech, that school's new boys' basketball coach is Mike Trewick. Trewick has been hired to replace Randy Jordan, who left the school to take over as head coach at Stillwater after leading Tech to a 60-4 record and two third-place finishes at the Class AAAA state tournament the past two seasons. A former basketball standout at both Sartell High School and St. John's, Trewick served as an assistant coach in football, basketball and baseball with the Johnnies before leaving to take over as head men's basketball coach at St. Mary's in Winona in 2004. He spent four seasons with the Cardinals, compiling a record of 24-75 before stepping down after the 2007-08 season. He returned to St. John's where he resumed his role as an assistant football coach last fall and coached the Johnnies' JV basketball team last season as well. Trewick is also expected to help coach baseball at the school.
Wade Haapajoki is the Brainerd Warriors' next boys' basketball coach. The 32-year-old Haapajoki is a 1995 BHS graduate and was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. He was an assistant football coach for the Warriors last fall and has been an assistant in the Warrior boys' and girls' basketball programs.
Haapajoki succeeds Matt Urbanek, who resigned in May. Urbanek was hired as the head coach at Jordan High School.
FINALLY...A BASKETBALL SHUTOUT
A Minnesota high school girls basketball team was shut out 65-0 on December 10. Wrenshall coach Michelle Blanchard said the ""shots just weren't going in" for her young, inexperienced team. Moose Lake-Willow River beat Wrenshall easily and coach Andrew Miller said he played his junior varsity players for nearly all the second half after leading 40-0 at halftime. He says the Wrenshall players worked hard, but missed 11 layups among their chances to score.