"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"I remember the parade for him in Morris"

Jerry Koosman in his Mets heyday. (New York Daily News photo)
(Note: This post is part 2 of 2.)
The Morris High School marching band was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, during a summer way back when, probably 1970 or '71. Even though we were there to march, we were aligned on a stage as a concert band at one point. Our director was consulting with a local musical colleague in front of us.
We heard the colleague say he didn't know much about Morris.
"Jerry Koosman!" bellowed Scott Groth, a big, strapping young man who played saxophone and was drum major when we marched.
At this point I'm tempted to write this whole post about Scott. But it's about Koosman, a one-time big name associated with Morris.
I sense this connection has been largely forgotten. I'm quite sure Koosman doesn't care because he never sought attention. He always saw himself as an unassuming "country boy."
My how time passes. I would guess that a majority of Morris residents today, probably a large majority, are unaware of the Koosman-Morris connection or of Koosman at all.
A friend of mine who lives in Cold Spring remembers. "I remember the parade for him in Morris when they won the World Series," he wrote recently.
"They" were the 1969 New York Mets. It's one of the most famous teams in major league baseball history. They emerged from their pathetic roots (as a chronically losing expansion team in 1962) to win it all in '69.
Adding to that charm was the way they surged from way behind in the National League East division race that season.
To help place that year in time, I'll point out this was the year the Minnesota Twins won the A.L. West with Billy Martin as manager. The Twins got swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs, and the Orioles went on to face Koosman and the Mets in the Series.
Koosman might have been the most important player for the Mets as they won the Series in five games. He was the No. 2 starting pitcher. He's remembered as a big, overpowering lefthander.
He grew up in Appleton and graduated from the West Central School of Agriculture in Morris (UMM today).
The Met Lounge in Morris owes its name to our Koosman connection, a fact that many of its patrons might not even know. It's my understanding he was a founding partner.
Morris held a grand celebration for Koosman after that World Series. I played in the high school band, directed then by John Woell. There was a ceremony in front of the public library. Yes it's trite but "Koos" was presented with "the key to the city."
One of the guests was Halsey Hall, a broadcaster for the Twins' early years. We remember Hall as a colorful character as much as anything. There wasn't any doubt Hall enjoyed himself here.
Some of the festivities were on the UMM campus. I'm sure Koosman appreciated all this but he didn't bathe in it.
The friend who emailed me about Koosman had a downbeat reason for having his memory tapped. He came across a news item about Koosman's legal troubles. I'm sure Koosman will get past all this and land on his feet. But he has had bumps in the road.
My Cold Spring friend learned that big Koos, already on probation for a tax conviction, was arrested for drunk driving. Federal officials declined to cite him for violating terms of his supervised release. His drunk driving arrest was on September 15 and it happened near his home in Osceola, Wisconsin.
He told probation officers he had been drinking at a golf tournament and was surprised to learn that his blood alcohol content was measured at .22, nearly three times the state limit. Koosman was ten weeks into a one-year probation term that was part of a Federal sentence for "willfully failing to file an income tax return."
Koosman, a "tax denier" a la Wesley Snipes, was also sentenced to five months in prison.
Koosman admitted to being "suckered" by anti-tax rhetoric. He was released from a Federal prison camp in Duluth on June 30, 2010. How the mighty have fallen? Not really. Koosman comes across as at peace and contented.
This is sensed when looking at the "shout out" he gives the new Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in rural Morris. The shout out is via Facebook from Koosman's own page to the church page. Given where Koos grew up, it's a good bet this was his childhood church. It's a classic white country church that has been moved from several miles south of Alberta to just north of Morris. Its opening will be a big deal here.
Having driven out there recently, though, I fear there's a chance the place could be a big mudhole. The custodian for that new church will earn whatever compensation he gets. It would be a tremendous delight to see the legendary Mets lefthander there for a visit.
Back in about 1981 I did a full-page tribute spread on Koosman for the print media. Morris had a newspaper back then (LOL). I put that together in much the same manner I'm writing this post now, without actually interviewing the big guy. I confess that I've never talked to him.
I did try. I had a nice phone conversation with his wife once. My efforts to track him down never yielded fruit. The late Judge Terry Collins always sort of needled me about that. He'd say "have you talked to Jerry yet?"
The hoped-for interview with Koosman became the Holy Grail of my career - sought but not achieved. We probably all have a phantom goal like that. I'd still welcome the chance to talk to him.
Writing a newspaper spread isn't like what I'm doing now. In newspaper writing, in theory at least, you're supposed to be 100 percent certain of all your facts. Oh, but that's ideal, isn't it? In an ideal world, yes. But it's hard to affirm virtually everything when you're writing about a topic.
Sometimes you'll write from your recollections and be "quite certain" about something. I can do that here. Any error can be corrected, clarified or deleted.
Of course, you don't want to be less than certain about very important facts, where a mistake might hurt someone. But the innocuous details shouldn't be that big a deal.
Newspapers, i.e. ink on paper, have that annoying permanent quality. Mistakes haunt. Thus there's an unreasonable standard of perfection set for newspapers. It's unreasonable because it can hold back the process of probing and sharing on important matters. Online you can post when you're 90 percent sure of stuff, because it's fluid - a work in progress.
I'd still prefer 100 percent of course.
I do not miss losing sleep over whether every "i" was dotted and "t" crossed in a paper that has just been sent to press. I do miss having a paycheck (and health insurance) though.
Technically Morris still has a newspaper but it's mostly a vehicle for dispensing advertising. I think it's a nuisance. Morris is a small enough community that we all know where we can go and spend our money, without being showered with all those advertising circulars that become an issue for disposal.
Many people have told me they take that stack of circulars and dispose of them without even looking at them. The sheer number of circulars makes it hard, if you sponsor one, to have it actually be noticed. You're in there with Elden's Food Fair, an Alexandria grocery store. Ridiculous.
Koosman's name was originally spelled with two n's at the end. He'll always wear the Mets blue in our memory, but he also pitched for the White Sox, Phillies and our Minnesota Twins. His big league career spanned from 1967 to 1985.
He broke into the Mets starting pitching rotation in '68. He made a special mark that year too, striking out Carl Yastrzemski for the final out in the All-Star Game, a game won by the Nationals 1-0. He was runner-up to catcher Johnny Bench for Rookie of the Year in '68.
In his defining season of '69, capped by those magical Series moments, he had a 17-9 record with 2.28 ERA and struck out 180 batters.
Forgotten is the bad game he had vs. Atlanta in game #2 of the National League playoffs. Atlanta with Hank Aaron got to him for six runs in 4 2/3 innings but the Mets won anyway, 11-6.
In the World Series Koosman loomed big and overpowering on the mound in the eyes of Baltimore's Orioles, who had the likes of Frank Robinson and Boog Powell then.
I'll never forget watching Koosman on TV - that relaxed and self-assured look on his face as he'd get set on the pitching rubber for his next delivery.
They were called "The Amazin' Mets." Casey Stengel came up with that name.
Jerry Koosman was one of the most amazing individuals. Hopefully he'll "stay clean" with the law henceforth.
Judge Collins, I'll hang in there.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

1969 World Series has a special niche

(Note: This is the first of two posts on the New York Mets of yesteryear and their big lefthander, Jerry Koosman, who has roots here.)

George Burns as God said to John Denver in "Oh God!" that "the last miracle I performed was the '69 Mets."
A five-game World Series might not normally be considered a classic. But mention the '69 Series to any boomer-age fan and a twinkle is likely to cross the eyes. People had a bigger emotional tie to baseball and the World Series then.
Minnesotans love going to Target Field today but it seems as much for the experience as for the emotional connection to the team. When I was a kid there was an emotional connection.
The '69 World Series between the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles holds a special place. The World Series today quickly passes even if it arguably has exciting moments.
Dave Barry wrote a few years ago that post-season baseball games are "games played after everyone has gone to bed."
That stuck in my mind because as I get older, I desire to retire earlier.
The '69 Series was played before the players got substantial power and forced the whole organization into a relentless money-seeking machine. Pushing the games into prime-time for TV became essential.
The team owners in the previous era were "sportsmen," the term used by Bowie Kuhn in his memoirs. Kuhn pointed out that the game's pure appeal was considered essential by those people, even though they were the type who appreciated a profit.
Once the players got that power, the Calvin Griffiths of the world became dinosaurs. I remember Kuhn called them "church mice."
(I read that book thanks to our Morris Public Library.)
People my age looked at Kuhn, who was commissioner of baseball, as a heartless sort. As commissioner he did have to advocate for the owners' side as the division with players grew. But as I read his book reflecting on his career, he seemed totally human and feeling, someone with a passion for the game. He presided in a time that seems quaint now. The dollar figures being bandied about were markedly smaller.
We learned with time that the players had no better grip on idealism than the owners. It wasn't enough to obtain some basic rights. The players sought every shred of power they could. This led to the strike of 1994 that had a far-reaching and still very much felt impact on fans' psyche.
The reason owners "looked the other way" and allowed the steroid era to proceed is that they were desperate to shake the effects of that strike. It seemed to work for a while. In my opinion it just cheapened the home run, just like the arena football league cheapens the touchdown.
Barry Bonds is on trial. Players with the steroid stigma are shunned by Hall of Fame voters.
A part of us pines for that earlier era when players were simple human beings with a love for the game and seemed to invest their emotions more. Money wasn't their master. Nor for the owners, not that there were holes in anyone's shoes.
Today there's a lawyer or agent around every corner. Every conceivable advantage is sought. And we can't even remember who last year's World Series winner was. I'm sure I was in bed for most of it. The World Series has clearly lost its iconic status.
Mention the 1969 World Series and boomers smile. Can you imagine anyone 40 years from now having such feelings about a Series of today?
For the life of me, I don't understand how major league baseball draws the fans it does, even with our terrific Target Field, when you consider our nation's apparent economic travails. It costs a fortune.
When I was college-age I'd buy the "dollar size beer," i.e. the "large" size" at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. The dollar figures that appear in Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" tome make your eyes pop out, so small they are (from the year 1969, the year reviewed in that seminal book).
The '69 World Series ranks up there with Woodstock as a defining background event in the maturation of the boomers. As kids we observed the Mets as a chronic but charming loser. They were horrible at their inception. They were the butt of jokes, an image that grew with early manager Casey Stengel.
Then came 1969. Out of nowhere the Mets put a winning formula together. In baseball all you need is one or two pitchers blossoming to make a run. The Mets had Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.
Koosman had his roots in West Central Minnesota. He was a native of Appleton and graduated from the West Central School of Agriculture in Morris. He was a big, quiet country boy. He never sought publicity. He just went out and tried to win. Seaver seemed more comfortable with celebrity.
I remember "Koos" saying in 1969 that "you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy."
It's ironic that this sort of hayseed ended up starring in "The Big Apple" of New York City. Those distractions never seemed to get to him. He was so low-key, the media just seemed to leave him alone. Roger Maris wasn't so lucky a few years earlier.
The Mets lurked behind first place for much of the '69 season. The Chicago Cubs were in the unusual position of seeming in command. It was the first season of the East-West divisions. Prior to that season there were two ten-team leagues. The Mets had been doormats, never progressing that much from their absolutely forlorn first year of '62.
The Mets had never placed higher than ninth in the ten-team National League. Even in mid-August of 1969, the Mets looked like anything but a team of destiny. They were in third place, 9 1/2 games in back. Koosman kept going out to the mound dutifully every fourth or fifth day. (Three-day rests were more common, even standard, back then.)
Koosman and his mates caught fire. Whether George Burns had any role we won't ever know. The Mets won 39 of their last 50 games. Seaver was the Cy Young Award winner.
Koosman might have benefited from having the spotlight off of him. But "Koos" performed in the post-season like he was Sandy Koufax. I remember watching on TV at the time.
Seaver lost game #1 of the '69 Series. The Mets played the Orioles who had beaten our Minnesota Twins in the American League playoff series. Koosman was on the mound when the Mets wrapped up the World Series in five games.
The Mets took the lead with two runs in the eighth inning of Game 5. Koosman pitched the complete game win and was given the game ball by teammate Cleon Jones who caught a fly ball for the last out.
Koosman was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1989. He attended the 40th reunion of the '69 team at Citi Field on August 22, 2009.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Is Good Shepherd Church dividing flock?

The new Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will reportedly hold its first services for Palm Sunday. Photo by B.W.

I visited Good Shepherd Lutheran Church twice when it was in its previous location. This classic country church was located several miles south of Alberta. The family and I attended two lutefisk suppers there.
We got a good look at the sanctuary because that was the waiting area after you got those number slips. Not that our wait was real long. On both occasions we waited a reasonable period of time before going downstairs for the big meal.
We appreciated the relatively short wait because the opposite can happen. We had an ordeal at the Nora church one year. Eventually the risk of the long wait caused us to abstain from such functions.
But we have good memories of our Good Shepherd experiences.
You had to wonder how viable this church could stay. It was truly in the middle of the country, in a setting where the demographics had to be a staggering challenge.
I read that as recently as the 1960s this church was very stable with its numbers. But times have changed significantly since. The rural population has diminished.
Gone are the days when the countryside was dotted with towns each capable of fielding a high school basketball team. The Graceville Shamrocks are gone. The Appleton Aces are gone. And now the Chokio-Alberta Spartans are added to that list.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church might have died. The only thing resuscitating it was getting moved to Morris. The structure was physically moved.
Our family is reminded of that every day because when Agralite switched off the power for 2-3 hours during the moving process, the main wall clock in our house didn't resume working when the power was turned back on. Praying for it to start again hasn't helped.
We never dreamt when attending those lutefisk suppers that this church would literally become our neighbor. It's right down the road from us basically.
We live on Northridge Drive. The church is just to the north of Dan Sayles' Cimaroc Kennels, along County Road 5. It's still surrounded by pastoral countryside but now it's next to a community, Morris, that we think is still viable.
Sometimes I'm not sure, given some of the closings and the desperate way we have to maintain some of our amenities. Look at the golf course issue. Certainly we have to worry about how much the rural population drain will affect Morris.
One of the things I enjoyed about living in St. Cloud for four years was that St. Cloud had no fundamental existential dilemmas. It had both feet on the ground and many of its challenges had to do with growth.
I looked through the Foley newspaper when visiting friends about three years ago, and learned this community was grappling with rising school enrollment. Foley is a bedroom community of St. Cloud. It's such a contrast to Morris.
Foley would probably give its right arm for the kind of public school campus we've developed here. Can we sustain ours? It's a good question.
But Morris seems to have no issues with churches. There are plenty of them to serve the many seekers we apparently have. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church adds to the mix. It's a more conservative Lutheran church than the so-called "mainstream" ELCA ones.
I surmise that the people who brought Good Shepherd here sought an alternative because of some of the supposedly progressive decisions of the ELCA.
When I was a kid and heard the initials "ELCA," the last thing I thought of was controversy. The ELCA was a pillar of faith. There might have been a line drawn with Catholics, but Lutherans didn't draw lines all that much among themselves.
Yes there are different synods. But the ELCA seemed monolithic.
Today it seems unstable.
When people spend considerable money to move a church building to their backyard, to escape the ELCA, it's concerning.
Not conservative enough? Not fundamental enough? When I was young, ELCA Lutheran churches were part of the web that us boomer youth called "the establishment." Today its progressive tendencies, which defenders say merely reflect society, are scaring off some of the old guard.
I did some checking around the web for Good Shepherd Lutheran there. I found a statement that it puts forward as definitive, saying "in code" that it rejects the trends it sees in the ELCA.
Without referring to the ELCA, Good Shepherd proclaims - I'm paraphrasing - that it reflects fixed Christian principles and not the trends in society.
Good luck if you ignore societal trends. Churches have always reflected changes in our society to a degree.
Even people with reservations about the gay lifestyle know the door is being opened to this faction of society, certainly on a legal basis. The tide of history is with this.
The ELCA's direction reflects that tide. But the backlash to this and other matters, like removing gender-specific language from church literature, has been marked. Many people have ingrained views.
The gay ordination decision was just a matter of inevitability, I feel. It's not unlike the inclusion of non-white baseball players in the late 1940s.
The people opening these doors aren't necessarily more broad-minded on a personal level than anyone else. But these are wise and prescient people who see the increasingly impractical nature of continuing an exclusionary policy.
It doesn't mean the ELCA is going to wildly start sending out gay pastors. It just shows sober prudence.
I'm sure the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America doesn't relish controversy. It certainly doesn't want to lose members or (more importantly?) money.
Without a doubt, the new Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Morris is siphoning members and money from existing churches in the area. The hardship is felt.
My own church of First Lutheran in Morris recently voted to have one pastor instead of two. We're currently in the process of determining who that pastor will be. My family was hoping that Pastor Ali Boomershine would stay. But congregation members got a letter from her Thursday saying she's headed to Annandale, MN.
I would be willing to bet that Good Shepherd's pastor will be a man, a patriarchal type who exudes authority.
Be careful what you wish for, Good Shepherd parishioners. The boomer generation grew up to reject the kind of stern, unyielding authority projected by many pastors.
My former boss Jim Morrison says "our generation never took to churchgoing much."
We saw a lot of the madness around us, like the Viet Nam war and closed-mindedness on race, ethnicity etc., and withdrew to a more secular place where we could actually think.
Is Good Shepherd saying "we'll do your thinking for you?" I actually think so. It contradicts the ethos that most boomers embraced by the time they came of age.
Boomers have evolved a little to become more conservative, but I think much of that is in economics. We might have adjusted our political leanings.
But religion? Be careful if you transplant your conservative inclinations into matters of faith. Because if boomers stand for anything it's the principle of individualism and thinking for yourself.
Fundamentalist Christians might cringe at the words I just typed. They see an unyielding and judgmental God rather than an understanding and empathetic God.
I have been around fundamentalist Christians all my life and they have their place. But I don't usually associate "Lutheran" with them.
Good Shepherd Lutheran will be a conservative alternative but how successful will it be? Will it have novelty value at the start? Will it "hit the ground running" with all the expected amenities (like a decent parking area)?
I hope it's not a distraction for the nearby dog kennel. A friend and I jokingly refer to the new church as "the dog kennel church."
I personally have wanted to see County Road 5 stay as serene and peaceful as possible, i.e. undeveloped. It might be the best bike-riding route in the area. When I was a kid it wasn't paved. The rumbling school bus could kick up a lot of dust.
Today I can ride my bike along that road and see names on mailboxes that I remember from those school bus days. (When you get to the bald eagle chainsaw sculpture, you've gone a long ways!)
I'm reminded of Wendy Boettcher who died in a horrible horse accident when she was high school age. She was very attractive.
Rural school buses promote interesting bonding (or they can bring out bullying).
Since Morris is not a growing community and in fact seems to be showing signs of stress, I don't welcome a new church here. The existing churches would already be struggling to keep vitality.
A good source told me Friday morning that the Catholic diocese is going to spread its resources thinner in this area.
There might be a thrill with being part of something new. One of my Sunday school teachers of the 1960s has "defected" to Good Shepherd Lutheran. I suspect he'll at least have some private misgivings. He might have been influenced by family.
I can see leaving a church because of being disillusioned about faith. I withdrew from churchgoing for about 35 years. I suppose when I was a kid, our church asked us to pray for our troops overseas. I would have preferred praying for the Vietnamese people.
This schism took a long time to heal. I can comfortably attend an ELCA church today. Simply leaving to join a new, more conservative Lutheran church is not good judgment, IMHO.
Let the dogs have peace and quiet out there.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taylor Witt on prestigious all-star team

The last time I posted about St. Cloud State University, the subject was that institution's cancellation of Homecoming. The time before that, it was about their consideration of axing the football program.
There is a much brighter reason to give SCSU attention now. Morris native Taylor Witt is concluding a stellar college basketball career there. He follows in the footsteps of his brother Forrest as a Husky. Forrest now coaches the Alexandria Cardinals.
Taylor Witt is in the spotlight now for having been chosen for the Reese's Division II College All-Star Game in Springfield, Massachusetts. He's the senior captain of the Huskies.
Taylor is on the West team which will vie with the East at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, March 25). The venue is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
The honor is bestowed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Taylor is the second Husky to play in this showcase, having been preceded by David Dreas in 2008. The all-star game is sandwiched in between the NCAA "Elite Eight" semis, set for tonight (Thursday) and the title game on Saturday.
SCSU athletics reports "this will be Witt's final collegiate contest after turning out one of the finest careers in the SCSU men's basketball program's history."
Here in Taylor's hometown of Morris we all held our breath when he had a serious football injury once. Taylor and his mates were playing at the old Coombe Field. The Tigers tried a gimmick play when Taylor got hurt.
There was concern there could be long-term effects. But Taylor's stellar play has erased that. Tiger and Husky fans were blessed seeing his athletic gifts.
Taylor played quarterback on the gridiron for his father Jerry, the long-time coach here. Jerry had the task of helping coach the basketball Tigers when they hosted the Forrest Witt-coached Cardinals of Alexandria recently. Forrest won that rivalry.
Did Jerry lose any sleep over that? I would guess not, but it's in his genes to win - a trait obviously passed down to his sons.
We mustn't be negligent and omit mention of the eldest Witt son, Zachary. Zach was a state university athlete but it was at Mankato State University, home of the Mavericks, and his collegiate sport of choice was football. I remember Mankato State being in some very high-scoring football games but unfortunately losing too many of them. You couldn't blame the offense.
Forrest was a prolific basketball scorer for the SCSU Huskies.
Don Meredith of the iconic "Monday Night Football" broadcast team once said "you're always supposed to compliment your youngest brother as being best in the family."
Taylor did all he could to win those kind of kudos. He was named to the NABC All-Central District First Team for the second straight season. He's a three-time All-NSIC First Team player and three-time NSIC/Sanford Health All-Tournament Team member (including tournament MVP in 2009).
Taylor led the Huskies in scoring this past season, averaging 20.1 points per game. He poured in 39 points in the Huskies' NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament quarter-final game at Augustana.
SCSU athletics, where Anne Abicht runs the PR show most capably, reports that Taylor "played in more games than any player in school history, a total of 123, and made 95 straight starts."
Continuing: "He leaves the Huskies ranked fourth on the all-time scoring chart with 1,770 points, and fourth on the all-time assist chart with 484. He set the school record for freethrows in a career with 465. He was also named to the Daktronics Men's Basketball All-Region Second Team.
"Witt was a member of a senior class that played in three NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament Championship games, winning two straight in 2009 and 2010. The Huskies played in back-to-back NCAA Division II Central Region tournaments, winning the 2010 title and advancing to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
"In the Elite Eight game, Witt lit up the court with a 43-point performance that included a school and tournament record 22 made free throws."
(I also remember reading that Forrest sought to distract the foe by doing pushups after getting fouled - a Chad Ocho Cinco type of stunt!)

An alum before long. . .
Taylor will leave SCSU with rich memories of Halenbeck Hall and the campus, but he won't be able to return for Homecoming. Homecoming is RIP in Husky country.
People who are close to that place have a strong theory on how that decision was based. There was too much rambunctious behavior by the mostly young celebrants. There was too much unflattering news coverage as a result.
The situation festered for years and now finally it's resolved, having been wiped off the calendar. No more burning dumpsters.
SCSU is hardly the only place where Homecoming could be troublesome. It will be interesting to see if SCSU's decision becomes precedent.
Yours truly graduated from SCSU in 1978. It's possible I joined the Homecoming reverie to an extent that might not be considered exemplary. I know because someone took a photo of me and showed it to me later. (I confess that's a joke, stolen off a comment board).
Taylor Witt had the distinction of playing prep varsity football at both Coombe Field and the new Big Cat Field in Morris. He quarterbacked some high-scoring games at Big Cat, so much so that long-time fan Donnie Eich described it as "sandlot football."
Certainly the defense wasn't executed in textbook fashion, but it could be fun to watch.
One can only speculate how Taylor (or Forrest too) would have done had they took their quarterbacking to college. But hoops emerged as their specialty, which certainly no one regrets now. These were "go-to" athletes.
Parents Jerry and Holly might have a little more R&R now, richly deserved.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When tradition can take a flying leap

"If there were no change, there would be no butterflies."
- saying on a banner at the fellowship hall of First Lutheran Church, Morris MN

When something becomes more trouble than it's worth, get rid of it. Women do it with husbands. St. Cloud State University has decided to do it with Homecoming. A light bulb went on over the collective heads of administration.
It wouldn't be fair to just single out St. Cloud State for having had problems with the institution of Homecoming. Unfortunately it picked up a stigma years ago. St. Cloud State's sheer size makes it a magnet for attention.
Our U of M-Morris hasn't been immune from problems. We're out here close to the edge of the earth. The dragons and waterfalls are a stone's throw, according to the self-deprecating image we've cultivated. We aren't much of a magnet.
Now it looks like we might not even be able to maintain a golf course anymore. First our movie theater fell into an emergency situation, requiring a co-op to come into the picture. Now we're hearing "co-op" in connection with the golf course.
Are co-ops becoming a patchwork of rescue efforts? It almost sounds like we're becoming Communistic.
We want vacated buildings in Morris to be resuscitated, but when rumors surface about such moves, we too often hear about churches. Churches are beyond the scope of the real economy. We want the old UBC building to be a private concern, a lumber yard, and not a church. Twenty years from now, will Morris be nothing but co-ops and churches?
We'll still have UMM if the state can keep its financial ship afloat. In that respect we might have been better off if Tom Emmer had been elected governor. But that's water under the bridge (or over that waterfall at the edge of the earth, probably near New Effington, South Dakota).
I'm sure the state's higher education circles are gripped with nervousness over finances. I'm sure St. Cloud State's issues with Homecoming grew as a higher priority due to this.
Why put up with a public relations embarrassment just for the sake of tradition? Have tradition take a flying leap. It's every man (or institution) for himself now.
UMM had better hope it can keep selling the liberal arts. Our campus has had several chapters in its fascinating history, and maybe liberal arts will end up being just one of those. Maybe something new will come along.
Whatever it takes to keep the campus viable and student numbers up, as well as having an obvious redeeming purpose, so redeeming you might not even have to "sell" it.
We keep hearing we need to preserve things like the movie theater and golf course because we're a college town. We need amenities. But it seems it's becoming more of a stretch to continue those.
Maybe we should just sell the fact we're a mere 45 minutes' drive from Alexandria. Then we can use Alex's amenities. We already are. Heaven knows we get enough advertising from there. Can a person walk into the Post Office and demand not getting the Fleet Farm ad circular anymore?
Golf courses? I'm sure the Alex area is blessed. I wouldn't know because I don't knock the ball around.
When you golf you get pegged as a "rich person." I'm not sure a co-op is consistent with a rich person's sport. A hippie grocery store, yes, a golf course, no.
I golf at the Pomme de Terre course once every ten years for my high school reunions. That next adventure should be in two years, provided our course isn't plowed under by then.
Yes, there is apparently an offer on the table that would result in the course becoming farmland. I wonder how people who built homes around the course feel about that. I'm sure a prime attraction for them was being next to a golf course. I wonder if they have any legal recourse.
The co-op people could come to the rescue just like for the movie theater, but it's starting to look like those performers who spin multiple plates on sticks. How many more can they handle?
There have been disturbing signs for the Morris area in the recent past. We're whistling in the graveyard. There is no more Chokio-Alberta Spartan athletics. The once-thriving and colorful program is now alive only in alumni memories. It added a lot to our area, even though Morris civic leaders probably wanted them to be assimilated here. Those leaders have their way now, at least with athletics, but I feel the net result for the area is negative.
I remember Cyrus High School and Cyrus Panther sports teams. As a media person I covered graduations and other special events there. The loss of that high school was a negative.
We have lost the restaurants in Cyrus and Donnelly. The closing of the Morris Coborn's store has changed the personality of our town. Coborn's was a hub of "people" activity on the north end of Atlantic Avenue. It's now a blighted spot, although the nearby McDonald's is doing fine. We no longer have a 24-hour grocery store. Willie's Super Valu is it. It all seems to make Alexandria more of a temptation.
The future of the University of Minnesota-Morris is so vital. Maybe the liberal arts will stay fully vital as a foundation. Personally I have my doubts.
I think UMM's enemy is the ubiquitous nature of information today. You don't need to be coached by some parent-like teacher or advisor who arranges hoops for you to jump through, to acquire information that will supposedly enable you to lead a happy and fulfilled life.
Making this model all the more impractical is the almost prohibitive cost of post-high school education.
People are going to look for alternatives. The mere act of getting enriched in liberal arts classes might not cut it anymore. All that information is out there for people to consume at will, sans cost, if they're simply interested.
I remember doing some advance research on a speaker coming to UMM from overseas. Actually the research was on the subject matter he'd share - a figure from European history. A child could have found this background information on the Internet, and by the time I was done reading it, I felt no need to hear the speaker. Save the money for flying him over here.
So much of this funding is for "legacy" systems.
"Well, we've always done it this way."
This will survive only in the short-term. But our leaders had better be prepared for adjustments.
If Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature don't want to make austerity moves like in Wisconsin - and with Dayton there isn't a prayer of that happening - the University will suffer along with other priorities. Maybe the pro-union faction of academia will learn a new outlook.
St. Cloud State University, my alma mater, is learning a new outlook with its abrupt cancellation of Homecoming, which has been a long-time embarrassment there. (Let's just say the celebrants have trouble managing their behavior.)
Forget the "legacy" value of Homecoming i.e. "We've always done it."
Well, times change. The West Central School of Agriculture bit the dust here. All bets are off.
It's 2011 and the economy is teetering as if by those waterfalls at the edge of the earth (near New Effington, SD).
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hancock girls fourth in Minnesota Class 'A'

"Bittersweet" might describe the end of the Hancock girls' stellar season. Fourth in Minnesota is undoubtedly lofty. But there's a tinge of bitterness when you lose your last two games.
It was painful for yours truly to write the post on the Owls' state semis game, a game that was winnable for coach Jodi Holleman's squad. The Owls had a prime opportunity slip away at the end of regulation in that Friday game, played at Target Center.
Us scribes can feel the emotions with everyone else.
Today I'm a new media practitioner so I don't have to pretend I'm stone cold objective about anything. My palms were sweaty just like what characterized the Hancock fans.
Now my task is to write about the Owls' third place game, played Saturday morning. The teams are playing for third but it's not the most spirited atmosphere. Both teams were knocked from the ranks of championship contenders the day before.
Having to play in the morning might almost be seen as adding insult to injury.
Coach Holleman had made the "number one" goal her mantra. The Owls could taste it. But it slipped away Friday in two overtimes against Maranatha Christian Academy (Brooklyn Park).
Maranatha returned to the Target Center floor Saturday and won the state 'A" title, 59-52 over Nicollet.
The Hancock Owls met Mountain Iron-Buhl, the Rangers, Saturday at Concordia College of St. Paul. The Owls sought as best they could to focus.
Could there have been some lingering disappointment from Friday? It's a plausible thought. Whether this explains the 61-45 loss the Owls were dealt, no one knows.
The ups and downs of sports can be hard to explain. March Madness is perhaps designed for manic depressives. Still, in spite of losing, the proud Owls could get off the bus in Hancock after their adventure feeling 100 percent proud.
Surely they had matured further as young women.
Coach Holleman might have developed a couple extra gray hairs, but she wouldn't trade that for anything. She has become a veteran with the coaching reins in Hancock. She didn't lose a beat after her own daughter Bree graduated. Presumably she's in this for the long haul.
Mountain Iron-Buhl owned a 21-19 lead at halftime. Hancock unraveled after that. The Rangers outscored the Owls 40-26 in the second half and earned that 61-45 victory and the third place trophy.
The valiant Owls could nonetheless clutch that fourth place trophy with supreme pride. They are the "small school" of Stevens County, sitting next to Goliath Morris which has the Taj Mahal-like athletic facilities but fields basketball teams that this year couldn't get out of the starting gate in the tournament.
Heaven help us if Hancock ever folds like Chokio-Alberta (at least their athletic program) has. We're a richer community with multiple schools.
Charlotte Overbye of the Rangers gets kudos for her Saturday play. This Ranger, who struggled in the semis, looked comfortable on the Concordia floor, pouring in 21 points. The senior guard made eight of 13 field goal attempts. (Concordia is home of the "Comets.")
Kathy Ostman scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Rangers.
Let's review Hancock's individual scorers: Aria Walstad 4, Kendra Schmidgall 11, Olivia Koehl 1, Illissa Koehl 12, Shae Brown 4, Sami Schmidgall 2, Serandon Bigalke 1 and Courtney Greiner 10.
A big congratulations to Kendra Schmidgall who was named to the All-Tournament Team!
What a season and what memories for Owl-land of Hancock!
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Owls' title dreams dashed in state semis

Maranatha 60, Owls 57
Making the state tournament means there's a good chance that in short order you'll come up against a school with religious terms in its title. Private schools are in the fray with the conventional town/public schools. In the latter category we have Hancock.
The Hancock girls basketball team has carried the banner for our county in a high-profile and distinguished way. One by one they mowed down opponents in the post-season. There was Ada-Borup (for the 6A title) and then Goodhue (top-ranked in state) in that succession.
Being in state means you might come up against foes with names like Rochester Lourdes or Christ's Household of Faith. Hancock did not play either of these schools in the state semis Friday, but they did play Maranatha Christian.
Some might say the private school can achieve advantages not easily available to their public school brethren. Yours truly will take no side publicly right here, right now.
I'm old enough to remember when private schools had their own state tournament with the "independent" label. This tournament was buried under the attention received by the "real" (for all practical purposes) state tournament. I imagine that private schools employed lobbyists to erase that dividing line.
It does strike me as odd that public schools are supposed to steer clear of any acknowledgment or endorsement of religion in their day-to-day affairs. And yet if a team makes state, you might play "Christ's Household of Faith" or "Maranatha Christian." Such is the way of the world.
Our Hancock Owls battled valiantly against the Mustangs of Maranatha Friday at Target Center, Minneapolis. Michael Rand of the Star Tribune called this "a game of attrition." It was a marathon requiring two overtimes. Teams were tested with key players fouling out.
Hancock had a chance to pull away at the end of regulation with freethrows. Alas, two freethrow attempts were off the mark with 21 seconds remaining. Maranatha had enough time to erase Hancock's two-point edge on the scoreboard.
Onye Osemenam made a layup for Maranatha that tied the score and set the stage for overtime. Osemenam, who finished the game with eleven points, ten rebounds and seven blocks, was clutch again in the second overtime by making a freethrow. This broke a tie.
From there, her teammate Josie Taggatz-Ott added distance on the scoreboard with two freethrows. Finally the battle of attrition was done and Maranatha was the 60-57 winner.
Maranatha could advance to the Saturday Class 'A' championship game.
The attrition story had Maranatha's top scorer, Alexis Long, get retired to the bench with fouls with 4:33 remaining in regulation. The Mustangs led by two at the time. Owl standout Illissa Koehl experienced the same fate in the first overtime.
It was a Koehl field goal that gave Hancock a very promising lead at 48-46. The Owls could have polished things off with better freethrow shooting. The Star-Tribune's Rand quoted Hancock coach Jodi Holleman saying: "If we make our freethrows, we're in the title game."
Maranatha is coached by Jim Hammond. He implored his team to "step it up" after "Lexi" Long fouled out. There were concerns among Maranatha fans that this might be an insurmountable handicap. Hammond challenged his student athletes, who, as it turned out, are made of the same stuff as the Owls.
Osemenam was a second half leader after a quiet first half.
Maranatha players were quoted saying their team's tough schedule, including the likes of Hopkins, Minneapolis South and DeLaSalle, was a factor in outlasting Hancock.
Consolation games are always a letdown and pose a supreme challenge of "psyching up" again, and the Owls arose this morning (Saturday) facing that challenge. I doubt there are any special pills that would help. Hancock's challenge this morning (Saturday) is to play Mountain Iron-Buhl at Concordia College of St. Paul. Maranatha is facing Nicollet at noon at Target Center for the 'A' title.
A footnote: Maranatha girls basketball had nine season losses going into today, but that's a misleading number. Only two losses were at the hands of Class 'A' opponents. In fact, five of the Mustangs' losses came against AAAA schools.
The Owls did quite fine shooting three-pointers Friday. Shae Brown and Aria Walstad were both one-for-one in that category. Kendra Schmidgall was one-for-two and Illissa Koehl one-for-three.
Here's the individual scoring list: Kendra Schmidgall 15, Courtney Greiner 16, Illissa Koehl 18, Shae Brown 3, Aria Walstad 3, Olivia Koehl 0 and Abby Ascheman 2.
Greiner was team-best in rebounds with 13 followed by Schmidgall with eight and Illissa Koehl with seven. Greiner and Schmidgall each dished out three assists. Illissa Koehl and Walstad each had a steal, and Schmidgall blocked two shots.
The Owls made 19 of 56 field goal attempts. The freethrow stats were 15 of 25.
Maranatha led 30-21 at halftime. The first overtime had a 7-7 deadlock.
The Owls enter today's third place game with a 27-3 season record. Most certainly there will be a jubilant welcome home for the squad.
Hats off to the maroon-clad standouts with the avian nickname. The memories are etched permanently. Now it's time for some quality rest, for the fans too (and the pep band director, "Kenny G," Ken Grunig).
Click on the link below to see coverage of the Owls-Maranatha game on the "Girls Basketball Hub" website.

-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

Owls topple top-ranked Goodhue by four

Was it the kind of halftime locker room talk remindful of the movies? Dramatic or not, creative or not, loud or not, it did the job. And that's what mattered.
Indeed, the Hancock girls basketball Owls bounded back onto the court for the second half Thursday fueled with extra focus.
Jodi Holleman delivered those well-chosen halftime words. The location was Williams Arena. So many March Madness memories have been made there.
Coach Holleman's Owls added to those annals Thursday. Playing in the state quarter-finals, the Owls shook a deficit and beat their higher-ranked foe. That foe was Goodhue - the Wildcats.
The Thursday outcome was a 58-54 win over top-ranked Goodhue, enabling the Owls to advance to the Friday semis phase. This post is being put up on Friday. The Owls are playing at Target Center, home of the NBA's Timberwolves, today.
From now on they're on TV. Owl Kendra Schmidgall, a prolific scorer, was quoted in the Star Tribune saying "we had to gather ourselves at halftime and step it up. We didn't want to go home."
Schmidgall was a good player to seek out for quotes. The standout junior student athlete, who plays center, scored 15 of her game total 19 points in the second half. Her prowess was a big reason why Hancock shook the ten-point deficit that hung over them at one point.
Star Tribune writer Ron Haggstrom summed up Holleman's halftime talk as: "Toughen up or go home."
Going home would be a long bus ride. The Owls weren't ready for that yet. They could taste the state 1A championship and wanted to show their mettle by getting past the top-ranked team.
The Owls enter today's semis challenge with a 27-2 season record. It makes you wonder why they weren't ranked No. 1!
It wasn't coincidence that Schmidgall came to the fore in a special way in the game's pivotal stages. Coach Holleman reported to Haggstrom that the second half tactics had Schmidgall in a primary role. Haggstrom got this quote from the coach: "I told Kendra at halftime to put us on her back and carry us. She just smiled back at me."
Did Goodhue choke at halftime? My goodness, the Wildcats played a man-to-man defense in the first half that disrupted the Owls. The Owls had trouble maintaining possession of the ball. Goodhue withdrew from that stance when the second half unfolded.
The switch was like a gift-wrapped present for Schmidgall. The center poured in seven points in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half. The game now had a new complexion with the score tied up: 36-36.
Most of Hancock's opponents have found man-to-man to be the most effective defense against them, even though Hancock has proven to be able to overcome any kind of defense.
Were the Goodhue players showing some fatigue playing the chaotic man-to-man style? Who knows? But the Wildcats lost that earlier edge they had carved out. Still they were very much in this game with a few minutes left.
The Owls took the lead for good when Illissa Koehl, senior guard, made two freethrows. Koehl finished the afternoon with 19 points. She wasn't done with her poised freethrow work. With 3.4 seconds left, Koehl made two freethrows that sealed the outcome.
Haggstrom quoted Koehl saying "we had to take care of the ball better in the second half. If we didn't, it would be our last 18 minutes of the season."
How much steam did Goodhue lose in the second half? Goodhue made just seven field goals in that span.
Another quote from Holleman: "We turned up our defensive pressure in the second half. We didn't come this far to play one game. We came here to win it all."
The Owls could breathe a sigh of relief coming away with the win despite a game total 27 turnovers. A stat like that against a top-ranked foe might surely spell defeat. But the Owls look as though that word is foreign to them.
Goodhue finished second in state last season. The Wildcats have made state three straight seasons.
Hancock got a break when the top Wildcat scoring threat, Erica Tipcke, left the game due to fouls with 1:08 remaining. Tipcke had just six points on the day.
Goodhue's top scorers Thursday were Mikayla Miller and Chanel Robert, each with 12 points. Goodhue girls basketball closed out 2011 at 27-5.
Here's the individual scoring list for the victorious Owls: Shae Brown 2, Aria Walstad 4, Kendra Schmidgall 19, Courtney Greiner 11, Illissa Koehl 19 and Abby Ascheman 3.
Olivia Koehl didn't break into the scoring column.
The Owls had a sharp three-point shooting eye at Williams: Illissa Koehl and Kendra Schmidgall each made two of three attempts.
Walstad had a team-high five assists and Greiner had four. Schmidgall blocked four shots, and Greiner had two steals. The Owls made 18 of 33 shots from the field. The freethrow numbers: 18/24.
Update: The Owls were stopped in the state semis, in the most dramatic game of the tourney thus far, 60-57 by the Maranatha Mustangs. It took two OTs for the Mustangs to prevail.
The season is nearly done for HHS - the title drive is over - but the players and fans can embrace rich memories. The team carried the banner for Stevens County in the classiest way.
Congratulations from "I Love Morris" (BW).
Click on the link below to see the kmrs-kkok tribute page to the Owls on their website. But hey guys, "Owl's" doesn't have an apostrophe!


Click on the link below to access the Hancock girls basketball page on Maxpreps:


-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hancock GBB: a long, continuing tradition

Anyone who checks this blog from time to time knows I write a lot about the change around us, both local and at the macro level. It's reassuring to see that certain things don't change, like the Hancock girls basketball program.
This quality has gone from one coaching regime into the next. The current regime is overseen by Jodi Holleman. She deserves a grade of A-plus. Anyone who works with her knows she goes the "extra mile," readily doing a lot of the little things that might not be spelled out in her contract.
Ensuring a strong summer commitment is part of this. Plus, nurturing the talent at the lowest grades (where organized basketball is practical).
Dedicated as the current regime is, let's not forget that it picked up the torch, as it were, from a regime that really set down building blocks. That previous regime was overseen by an individual who, as it turned out, had human failings that resulted in dire legal consequences. There was prison time.
The history of that person at Hancock can never be assessed without weighing those flaws that brought him down in terms of his teaching/coaching career. But if we could put blinders on for a moment regarding those flaws, and remember his coaching years, what a program that was for such a small school!
Who can forget the packed UMM P.E. Center for tournament games? Many of those years were when the two-class system was in effect. Making state was arguably harder.
Sometimes I think the two-class system actually made teams work harder, because they knew they weren't going to be insulated from larger schools in the post-season. It almost seemed like a baseball player swinging a weighted bat while getting ready to hit. The extra weight made you work harder.
Hancock had the ability to outplay a lot of larger schools. Was it superior talent? Look, these were great kids and they had ability, but with all due respect I would answer "no" to that.
After watching Hancock I would sometimes feverishly tell people around Morris that there was nothing magical about what was happening there - that those principles could be applied here if we just chose. I got stigmatized a little for talking like that.
We here in Morris face a paradox: we have found it suitable to build such state of the art, extensive and downright opulent new facilities for sports. And yet we seem complacent when it comes to setting the highest standards for sports achievement.
It's as if we feel guilty suggesting that the Hancock model is doable here.
Part of us insists that school exists for academics. Yes, you're so right. But my goodness, we decided that our 1968 gym wasn't even good enough anymore. Now we have these new facilities that are absolutely cavernous.
Meanwhile Hancock sticks with its old reliable facilities and they're in state, playing at Williams Arena.
The performance gap probably isn't as great as it once was. I worked in the media in the 1980s and it was often perplexing how to handle the way smaller schools outperformed Morris so often. If they weren't outperforming Morris they were at least playing even with Morris. And I'm talking schools as small as Cyrus.
The problem with Morris Area today is a mysterious lack of spark for the post-season. Tiger teams that do well in the regular season mysteriously seem to flame out when the post-season begins.
Is there a psychologist we could consult? Is the school administration sending the right messages?
I don't know, but once again let's consider that paradox: we have opulent athletic facilities while at the same time having reservations about how committed to athletics we should be.
I remember a town leader in the 1980s saying that the superintendent "probably came up against an intelligentsia" because of UMM. It's not often I hear the word "intelligentsia."
Academic people can view sports as sort of barbaric, but the thinking isn't as prevalent as it once was. It's not as prevalent because the philosophy behind school sports has shifted.
The old "Hoosiers" model of elite sports has been modified so that participation and fairness are enhanced so much more. More sports are offered. The boomer generation (mine) would have really appreciated the new approach. We were born too early.
I think academic people as a whole have softened in their views toward athletics. Athletes aren't "heroes on campus" anymore. They are student athletes who blend these experiences with gaining knowledge.
I don't think University of Minnesota-Morris professors have any problems with athletics anymore.
UMM football players blend in with the overall student population much better, seamlessly probably, than in the 1970s when so many of these individuals had a "swagger" that could be annoying. Annoying as it was, most local people kept these thoughts to themselves.
The citizenry was also reluctant to suggest that our high school sports programs might be underfed or under-motivated. Making this judgment just seemed too "political" for most people.
As a media person I couldn't escape the realities. It was all plain as the nose on your face.
If I broached the subject, I risked being ostracized here on Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street."
Hancock got a reputation for climbing mountains in the 1980s and it probably didn't start with girls basketball. I think the tone was originally set by wrestling, where a unique personality name of Spencer Yohe plunged forward undaunted. Girls basketball picked up on that momentum.
The Hancock girls developed a running and pressing personality. You might say it wasn't ladylike. Who cares? Is this what held back Morris?
Finally Morris got a reprieve when the four-class system was instituted for post-season. No longer would Morris Area have to be compared so closely with those Hancock Owls.
But the ghosts of that earlier era are surfacing again as Hancock plays at Williams Arena while the Morris basketball programs, boys and girls, are languishing in terms of post-season.
The Morris boys mysteriously lost to West Central Area at home in the first round - a first-round knockout. The Morris girls lost to Osakis at the start.
I won't claim I know all the answers. But it seems we need programs that are a little more befitting our facilities here, and our status as the "big school" in the Morris area.
BTW, Happy St. Urho's Day!
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

Owls defeat Ada-Borup 44-39 for 6A title

"March Madness" can coincide with "weather madness" in Minnesota. Both of these phenomena were very much in evidence this past weekend. Our Hancock Owls - I'll say "our" because they represent Steven County now - were to have played Friday night.
Winter roared through the Upper Midwest and forced lots of adjustments. Game-time was moved to Saturday. Not that Saturday was going to be a whole lot better. It was hardly better at all. But the Minnesota State High School League can wait only so long with these things.
Stevens County fans would have loved having this game slated for our P.E. Center on the U of M-Morris campus. But in 2011 it was time for Concordia of Moorhead to get its turn. It's a fair distance up the highway to be sure.
Fans couldn't be blamed for staying home. But "the show must go on," and go on it did, at the spacious fieldhouse of Concordia-Moorhead.
The Hancock girls took the court there in pursuit of the Section 6A championship. Their opponent was Ada-Borup. The Owls were fresh from getting past Parkers Prairie in the 6A-South title game here at UMM.
They stayed on a roll Saturday at the expense of the Cougars of Ada-Borup. Coach Jodi Holleman's Owls worked to a 44-39 win in front of the March Madness crowd.
The success was in spite of having some trouble shooting freethrows. But the Owls came on strong with other attributes, showing they truly are a state caliber team for 2011. They are now in that elite state field.
Next for the Owls: a contest vs. Goodhue at 11 a.m. Thursday at the U of M's Williams Arena.
One of those top attributes Saturday was holding Ada-Borup to under 40 points. In this respect the game mirrored the Parkers Prairie game (score of 40-37 over the Panthers).
The Owls asserted themselves in first half play, putting in 25 points to Ada-Borup's 16. A-B outscored the Owls 23-19 in the second half.
Illissa Koehl was a top contributor for the Owls with her 19 points, plus she stole the ball four times. Her nine of 14 freethrow numbers were decent compared to the team's overall woes in that department (18 of 35).
In total field goals the Owls made 13 of 36 attempts but were skunked in three-pointers (0 for 6).
Courtney Greiner joined Koehl in double figures scoring, putting in ten points, and Courtney also collected 13 rebounds.
Kendra Schmidgall was held below her normal standards partly because of being double-teamed. She also got hampered by fouls but she contributed seven points and three steals to the winning cause.
Shae Brown scored four points and Aria Walstad and Abby Ascheman added two each.
Greiner's 13 rebounds were followed by four each by Schmidgall and Ascheman. Walstad and Greiner each dished out two assists. Koehl was the steal leader (4) followed by Schmidgall and Brown each with three.
Megan Kolness led Ada-Borup in scoring with 16 points.
The Hancock girls basketball Owls enter state with a 26-2 season record. A-B closed out the season at 25-3.
Bring on the state tournament! Williams Arena is a storied floor and the Owls will make permanent memories there, win or lose.
Lose? What's that?
Click on the link below if you'd like to review the Owls' climb through the sub-section, in which they beat WHN, Hillcrest and Parkers Prairie:


Click on the link below to reach the Hancock girls page on Maxpreps:


Click on the link below to reach the Hancock girls page on Pheasant Country Sports:


- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We recollect history through prism of today

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
- William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
A friend once called me when he was in transit, such was his excitement about having just seen the movie "Almost Famous." The friend was my age so his excitement was well-founded. It was a tailor-made movie for the boomers.
It showed our excitement about the rock music of the 1970s (an era that by extension includes the '60s). It showed our vices but didn't show any long-term bad effects of them.
Our vices were more like a rite of passage, perhaps even more like a badge of honor. They were a part of rebelling.
I once read a book about how public reminiscences have more to do with issues of today than the issues we're reflecting upon. A big example was the centennial of the end of the U.S. Civil War.
Boomers like me tend to look back on all our passages as leading to a totally fulfilled conclusion.
"Almost Famous" was actually made through the prism of when it was made (2000). It was made in a time of heady optimism. It came before Wall Street stumbled.
The movie ended with all the sympathetic characters getting everything they wanted. Thus it fit the mold of movies made at that time. There is still a lot of optimism in our movies but maybe not as much.
"Almost Famous" was set in the early 1970s when young people were almost like a mob. There were so many of us!
We grew up in systems that had lots of imperfections. We stumbled badly in our free time. An idle mind is the devil's workshop indeed.
"Almost Famous" had some accuracies but it showed everyone happy at the end, whereas there weren't that many happy endings in that era. There were issues gnawing at our national psyche.
It took an excruciating span of years for common sense to prevail in terms of getting out of Viet Nam. Our "connected" society of today would never have permitted that.
Kids with special needs pretty much "toughed it out." A lot of racial and cultural attitudes were still Neanderthal. My generation saw all those defects but found odd ways to rebel.
I'll make a confession today that I'm not sure I've ever shared with anyone: I never enjoyed marijuana. Oh, we called it "pot." I'm not sure where so many of my peers got those little plastic bags of the stuff. I wouldn't have been savvy enough to do that. Weren't they afraid of being caught in some sting?
"Almost Famous" had a scene where a kid pulled out his "stash" at a typical party of silly and aimless boomer youth, at the home of an affluent family where the parents were of course not home.
The parents seemed distant back them. Perhaps because of the adversity they experienced when young, e.g. the trauma of WWII, they were just thankful for their standard of living and left their kids alone. If the kids "went wild" to a certain extent, so be it. This theory has circulated quite a bit.
Kids should have just been thankful for their environment. But we were restless and had a hard time feeling happy. Mad Magazine crafted humor out of parodying the very symbols of the good life our parents gave us.
Our parents were "uptight," to use the lexicon of the time.
For some reason we saw marijuana (pot) as symbolic. I can't believe that a substantial portion of us actually enjoyed it. To the extent it was political, just think back to how ostracized you'd feel if you rejected it. You'd be persona non grata with many of your peers. I won't say "all."
There is always a portion in any generation that quietly goes about addressing the proper priorities in life. My hats off to those in my generation who could do this.
To the extent that "protest" was needed, this could be pushed through the conventional political channels, once we got a little older and got some power (and money).
Perhaps the problem was we were too impatient. We can easily forget how powerless we were back then.
Some of the rock and pop music performers who are bathing in money now, playing casinos and the like, could barely scrape by when they were "contemporary." Their fans were young and lacked money. Oh, the fans were loud but not well-endowed. Those rock music crowds in "Almost Famous" were a sea of adrift youth.
Ironically, the performers we liked (like the fictional rock group in the movie) are doing much better as "retro" acts. When I last checked, Paul Revere and the Raiders were still doing their thing.
Boomers loved the Raiders. Mark Lindsay was their lead singer in their heyday. I still have a couple of the 45 RPM records in their jackets - items that would be interesting to take on "Pawn Stars." I remember liking the song "Too Much Talk" which was actually not one of their more popular hits.
My generation grew up before our elders could give us a lot of the programs and resources we might have deserved. I say "might have" because our elders perhaps thought we didn't need a lot of that stuff. But as the boomers themselves grew older, we sure thought it was needed.
By "stuff" I mean highly organized, regimented activities designed to protect kids from emotional abuse. When I was a kid, everyone knew about bullying but there were no programs to combat it. Just "tough it out." Same for kids with learning disabilities.
When we got older, we thought we were smarter. We set up organized programs for kids because of our desperation that they not end up like us, dipping into bags of marijuana in idle time. We wouldn't say that, but this was in fact our motivation. Have kids rise early, go to bed late and be fixated on constructive, safe activities in between.
I don't think I could have cut it. I'd want to find unstructured diversions. But I'm a boomer at least by definition. I'm not sure I'm proud to be a boomer. I've already confessed in here that I never liked marijuana. So I'm probably disowned by my generation anyway.
Why a mind-altering substance would be an essential rite of passage is beyond me. You've heard the old expression "man without a country." I guess I'm a man without a generation.
OK, I'm exaggerating, or perhaps just venting some bitterness or confusion. I resent the peer pressure that often guided us down a self-destructive path. In hindsight, was all of that essential as a way of protesting what we saw as the confining norms of the older generation? But wait, wasn't that generation the one that let us "run wild?"
There is irony and confusion here. All I know is, the 1960s and '70s were not a time of happy endings, not like in the movie "Almost Famous."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 11, 2011

West Central Area boys stun MACA

West Central Area 62, Tigers 61
It wasn't supposed to be this close. MACA fans might have expected the Thursday game to be a tune-up. Why? The Tigers, owner of the No. 3 seed in sub-section, had beaten their foe handily in a previous game. Their foe was West Central Area.
A check of Pheasant Country Sports shows the Tigers handled WCA with relative ease on January 22, winning 60-41. That game was at our home gym. But so was Thursday's, so there was reason to expect that the comfortable feeling of playing at home, in front of so many enthusiastic orange and black boosters, would yield a similar result.
Alas, prep sports can defy prediction. Once a group of five boys take the court for the opening tipoff, their focus and drive can go so far in bringing a desired result. It was the visiting Knights of West Central Area who got their desired result Thursday. It was a stunning loss for coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers.
The Tigers entered the night with a season record of 17-7. As the No. 3 seed they had reason to expect success vs. the sixth-seeded foe, especially by taking advantage of home gym.
This 6AA-West quarter-final game had a thrilling conclusion. Not one but two overtimes were needed. Finally, Knight Colton Blasyck put up a layup at the buzzer of the second OT that made the difference. The WCA fan throng erupted in a frenzy of cheering as their Knights had turned back the proud Tigers, 62-61. Fans won't soon forget this one.
The Knights are regrouping for continued sub-section play. They'll take the "big floor" of UMM for the semis tomorrow (Saturday, March 12). There they'll take on Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, a squad that beat Staples-Motley in the quarters (69-44). In other sub-section play Thursday, it was Minnewaska Area over Osakis 69-40 and Breckenridge edging Benson 66-64.
West Central Area will play LP-GE at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, at UMM.
Blasyck was a thorn in the Tigers' side Thursday. He was team-high in scoring with 23 points.
The Knights had to mount a second half comeback as they found themselves down by ten in that half. Rally the Knights did, but Cole Riley of MACA scored to give his team a one-point edge that again put the Knights on their heels. The score stood 61-60 with 17 ticks of the clock remaining, which of course can be an eternity in hoops. Cole led the Tigers in scoring on this night with 14 points.
This was a night for WCA to show poise when down, totally undaunted by being the visitor. WCA seized the lead in those waning moments of regulation, but MACA got the score tied with a freethrow. Overtime!
WCA made a bid to end this game in the first overtime but again the Tigers made a freethrow to tie the score up just in time. Now the score is 55-all. Overtime No. 2!
The second OT ended with Blacyck making that layup as time expired, and all the wind went out of the sails of everyone associated with MACA, right at that moment. WCA had prevailed 62-61. Congrats to them.
Both the boys and girls hoops teams of MACA were eliminated in the first round of playoffs. It seems we wouldn't be doing any worse if we were still playing in the 1968 gym. (Remember that?) Heck, yours truly can remember watching some Tiger games at the old elementary auditorium. That was before girls basketball existed. (Imagine the movie "Hoosiers" - it was like that.)
The Tigers led at halftime 18-16. Looking over the game's statistics, one department that jumps out is three-pointers where the MACA numbers were 0-for-10. A donut! Making just one of those would have spelled victory.
In total field goals the Tigers made 25 of 56 tries. In freethrows: 11 of 20.
Cody Cannon and Eric Riley each scored eleven points to trail Cole Riley's 14. Alex Erickson put in nine points and Riley Arndt eight. The list is rounded out by Mac Kampmeier and his six points and Dan Tiernan with his two. Cole with his 12 rebounds led in that department too. Eric Riley set the pace in assists with five. Erickson had four steals and Cannon three.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys basketball closes out the season with a 17-8 record. Quite nice but hardly any consolation to cover what happened Thursday.
The West Central Area boys came out of Thursday with an 11-14 season record. Surely they're peaking at the right time.
(". . .And don't call me Shirley" - Leslie Nielsen RIP).
Now that prep basketball is done here in Motown, we can better focus on another sport, golf, where we're all supposed to reach into our pockets for our wallet or checkbook to support a "fundraiser" for the local Pomme de Terre Golf Course, to keep it going I guess. To keep it from getting plowed under.
I'll offer an opinion here that there are more worthy fundraisers (like the Morris Area School Foundation) than one to support a rich man's sport. But these are apparently not routine times in ol' Motown.
And, a question: Is this supposed "offer" from an ag group, to farm the land if acquired, totally verified? Wheeler-dealers can posture in all sorts of ways and they mean no harm by this, but if I were you I'd just leave my wallet or checkbook where it is.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hancock girls climb to top of 6A-South

Owls 40, Parkers Prairie 37
The P.E. Center on the U-Morris campus became a hub for March Madness Tuesday night with Hancock meeting Parkers Prairie in girls hoops. At stake was the 6A-South title. "South" denotes sub-section.
Hancock had something special to prove Tuesday. The Owls had to "slay the dragon," as it were, because Parkers Prairie has been a pesky obstacle for them. The Owls were eliminated by the Panthers the last two years in post-season. The task wasn't going to be easy in 2011.
A hard-fought game developed with Parkers owning a one-point lead at halftime, 17-16.
But when the two halves were done, it was the Owls and their jubilant fans who could savor victory. By outscoring Parkers by four in the second half, 24-20, coach Jodi Holleman's crew came out on top 40-37.
Hancock girls basketball sits atop 6A-South. More important business lies ahead. The Owls will get re-focused for their section championship battle which will be at Concordia of Moorhead. They'll battle Ada-Borup at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 11.
Are the Owls on the path to state? Fans are savoring the challenge lying ahead and the possibilities.
Parkers Prairie was a significant obstacle. The Owls gained fuel with an eight-point run in the late pivotal minutes against Parkers. That run resulted in the Owls sitting in an apparently comfortable position, up 40-34 with 35 seconds left. Ilissa Koehl was a key Owl in the decisive run, but impressive as these heroics were, the game wasn't "in the bag" yet.
The Panthers got this far by showing some resilient attributes. Tamara Schmidt of the Panthers executed a three-point play. This was now a one-possession game with under 30 seconds left.
Some tense moments suddenly unfolded as the Owls misfired in trying to inbound the ball. The ball was snatched up by the Panthers. The pressure was on as the Panthers desperately sought a three-pointer or a three-point play.
Two three-point shot attempts were off the mark. But the suspense wasn't over as Parkers inbounded on the Hancock end for one last try. They got off a decent shot attempt. It clanged off the rim and Owl Aria Walstad gained possession. The buzzer sounded with Walstad having fallen to the court but in secure possession of the ball and the HHS victory. What an outcome!
The Owls had a balanced scoring attack led by Illissa Koehl with eleven points. Kendra Schmidgall, whose layup in the last two minutes gave a key push, scored nine. Courtney Greiner also scored nine. Shae Brown scored six points and Walstad five.
Schmidgall and Greiner led in rebounds with seven and five respectively. Walstad was tops in assists with three and in steals with two.
Madison Dorn led the Panthers with 14 points.
The Owls own a sparkling 25-2 record as they prepare for the Friday challenge at Concordia of Moorhead. (Yours truly wonders if they still serve such terrific bratwurst there.)

Owls 50, Hillcrest Academy 33
The sub-section semis story for Hancock had Hillcrest of Fergus Falls as the opponent on Saturday, March 5. This game too was played at the "big floor" of UMM. Taking advantage of numerous freethrows, the Owls got past the Comets in a pretty routine way. Coach Holleman's athletes made 25 of 35 freethrow opportunities as they downed Hillcrest 50-33.
The Comets weren't exactly streaking in the first half as they were held to seven points by the determined HHS defense. The Owls meanwhile scored 19 first half points.
The Owls' freethrows made up for a not real scintillating performance in field goal shooting. The numbers in field goals were 12 of 39 with one successful "three." Kendra Schmidgall made the three-pointer.
Courtney Greiner set the pace in scoring with 15 points, barely edging Schmidgall and Illissa Koehl each of whom scored 14. Aria Walstad, Olivia Koehl and Serandon Bigalke each scored two points and Abby Ascheman one.
Schmidgall attacked the boards for ten rebounds and she was followed in this category by Greiner with nine and Koehl with five. Walstad was the top assist producer with five. Walstad and Schmidgall each had four steals to lead here, and Greiner and Shae Brown each stole the ball three times.
Rhoda Christenson was Hillcrest's top scorer with 14 points.

Owls 64, Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 51
Top seed Hancock lived up to its status on Thursday, March 3, with a comfortable win over Wheaton-Herman-Norcross in 6A-South's opening round. The Owls had the privilege of playing this game in their own gym, where they scored 64 points to WHN's 51.
The Owls had a sense of command at halftime, up 38-22.
The success was in spite of the fact that WHN showed real sharp three-point shooting. The visiting Warriors made six shots from beyond that three-point stripe. Roseanna Wilts excelled with four of those makes. Tracy Boehmlehner had the other two. Surprisingly Wilts was not WHN's leading scorer. That distinction was owned by Shaela TeKrony with 16 points.
The Owls' scoring charge was led by Kendra Schmidgall who poured in 20 points. Schmidgall did quite fine with her three-point shooting eye as she sank three shots from that distance. Shae Brown and Aria Walstad each made a three-pointer. Add 'em up and there are five successful Owl threes, nearly matching WHN on this night of "bombs away" shooting.
Walstad and Courtney Greiner each scored 13 points. Brown's point total was nine. Rounding out the list we have Illissa Koehl with seven points and Abby Ascheman with two.
Schmidgall's four rebounds put her tops in that category. Walstad dished out six assists followed by Brown and Koehl each with three. Walstad stole the ball four times and Schmidgall three.
It was a night for the Owls to retire to their home locker room with optimism and satisfaction. From there they moved on to UMM's big floor for continued 6A-South conquests until they finally could celebrate the #1 distinction.
Can they celebrate #1 in section come Friday in Moorhead? Fans are looking ahead in anticipation, and don't forget to inquire about those brats at the concession counters.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homecoming RIP at St. Cloud State U?

My college alma mater can make the news in odd ways. They're at it again. "St. Cloud State nixes Homecoming." That was a headline on page B3 of the Saturday Star Tribune (actually the "Early Sunday" edition thanks to a marketing gimmick by the Strib).
St. Cloud State is where I honed the craft you're (hopefully) appreciating right now: writing/journalism. It was a nice experience.
The school had a little baggage but it didn't bother me. Some felt that it sought size at the expense of quality - it has about 18,000 students today - and then, ahem, there's the partying component.
A black mark? I think many of us were bemused by that reputation (partying) during my days there. Like many popular reputations it led to caricature.
I have argued before on this site that St. Cloud State offers opportunity. It won't necessarily hold your hand. It can't promise an intimate setting like our U of M-Morris. But it becomes what you make of it. The tools and resources are there.
Tony Hansen, a 1971 Morris High graduate, teaches meteorology there. I think he'll hold your hand.
I have always bristled when UMM advocates belittle St. Cloud State. I even heard a former UMM chancellor engaging in this, in an informal moment. I also heard a retiring UMM professor do this formally in a retirement speech, by insinuation (toward all larger state institutions). It rankled me.
Today people are not inclined to sit around and just shrug about a dubious reputation, so St. Cloud State is doing something "proactive." I put "proactive" in quotes because I don't think this buzzword was around when I was a student. Or "win-win."
I read the Saturday Strib article with fascination while sipping the coffee brought to me by my favorite waitress, Felixia, a UMM student who I hope appreciates UMM's attributes. You go to school where you fit.
I didn't mind getting "lost" in the larger setting of St. Cloud and SCSU for four years. The school took on the "University" title during my time there (from "College"). The name change was of course superficial.
But what of the partying reputation? This would come to the fore with real gusto on Homecoming weekend. This aspect of the reputation was not myth.
Excessive as it all was, I don't think it brimmed into the statewide news until the 1980s. I seem to recall newspaper articles and photos about such things as dumpsters ablaze.
Once that reputation got imprinted on people's consciousness, there was no turning back. "Party school," I heard that UMM chancellor (not the current one) mutter, at the RFC.
At a school of 18,000 students, any dubious reputation can be hard to rein in.
UMM has had its own problems with Homecoming, quite serious really, but we're small and out on the prairie. We have had gender issues with our Homecoming royalty. There was the terrible goalpost incident that I've written about before, and may have affected my ability to survive in the media industry. I also recall reading about minor injuries from a Homecoming tug-of-war.
But I have never heard any murmurs about Homecoming being cancelled here.
Will St. Cloud State University be a trendsetter? Will we start to get the message that Homecoming is anachronistic? Historically it has been associated with a football game. But today women's sports are supposed to have equal footing.
We have developed quite far beyond "Hoosiers" and the male exclusiveness we once associated with school sports. Colleges always list women's sports events with Homecoming promotion, but still it seems football is the big selling point. In terms of revenue I'm sure it is.
So, Homecoming is no more at the home of the Huskies: St. Cloud State. It has a history dating back to 1925.
The article in the Saturday Star Tribune quoted an old college classmate of mine, Mike Nistler. I thought it was odd because his title was given as "spokesman" (with a small "s") for the school. The title was put before his name which means it's supposed to be capitalized if it's a formal title.
Was it not a formal title? If not, on what basis was he quoted? Maybe he should have been identified as "well-known SCSU product and media maven." Nistler and his wife Jeanine (Ryan), who also attended SCSU, gave us "Minnesota Moments" magazine. It looks like today the Nistlers are part of the circle of SCSU advocates pulling every conceivable string to eradicate any baggage the school has, in these austere economic times for colleges.
Last fall, St. Cloud State hit us with a headline about how football might be cut there. I immediately wrote a post about that because I blew a gasket about how preposterous that proposal was. Regardless of the economic stresses, that simply wasn't going to happen there.
I instantly saw the proposal (or idea) as posturing, to get the right people aroused to get the overall ship financially righted.
The football issue blew over, I guess, and today the Huskies continue playing at their still-new Husky Stadium, a grand facility that overlooks the Mississippi River. Just imagine a larger version of our Big Cat Stadium.
Now that St. Cloud State has actually cancelled Homecoming, maybe I ought to look back and take that earlier football suggestion more seriously. Maybe there really was a cloud hanging over that program.
Now that the financial situation (noose?) has seemed to tighten even more with public institutions, maybe anything is possible. Look at the discord in Wisconsin. And, I have argued many times on this site that colleges in general are going to feel duress as the "information age" continues. All the information in the world is online.
Colleges had better give young people value. Lawmakers are going to watch this process closely. While there may have been a time when excessive partying by SCSU students might have seemed cute, we're really not inclined to think that way now. I think Nistler and his fellow SCSU advocates are trying to tamp all that down by any means necessary.
Cancelling Homecoming? It sure seems drastic. The last time I was at St. Cloud State it was for Homecoming and I enjoyed doing the morning 5K run which was a big attraction. I guess I won't be doing it again. There certainly are no behavior problems in connection with the 5K run.
Nistler was quoted saying SCSU is "transitioning away from Homecoming to spirit/pride activities." Sorry Mike, but that statement suggests "spin." I can smell PR talk instantly.
Actually, anyone who read the article would have come away with more negatives than positives about SCSU. I can't imagine that President Earl H. Potter III would be pleased. The second paragraph cited "school officials" saying "dwindling attendance" led to the decision. That's certainly not encouraging.
I sensed tremendous enthusiasm at the 5K run. Excellent numbers too. It was overseen by Brad Pickle who once ran our RFC in Morris. It was state of the art, including computer chip thingies you'd put in your shoes. Of course you paid for it.
You also paid dearly to attend the football game, if what you wanted was a single-game ticket. I shelled out for it but it was a one-time thing. I suspect that season passes are much more economical. But why stick up people for a single game? Maybe that's part of their problem.
I wasn't enthralled sitting and watching football. St. Cloud State has essentially a small-college program when it maybe ought to be at a higher level like NDSU.
SCSU official Wanda Overland was quoted in Saturday's article explaining further the SCSU decision on Homecoming. Frankly, these quotes came off as lame. She said "scheduling Homecoming grew difficult with so few home football games." Also, that Homecoming coincided with deer hunting season. It seems to me that deer hunting season has been around for a while.
School officials are singing a new song, that "alumni are welcome back anytime." My impression is that this is nothing new either.
I noticed a note of discord in the article. An athletic department spokesman seemed to be nonplussed. Anne Abicht said athletics reacted to the decision with "disappointment." She said Homecoming has always been tied to athletics.
An alumnus was quoted expressing disappointment.
An Alumni Association spokesman followed the institutional party line, talking about dropping attendance. But why crow about that, and are there really numbers to support it? Have the people studying this figured in the 5K run which surely includes lots of alumni? There was a "sea" of people at the starting line when I was in it. It gave me a chance to appreciate the wonderful walking/biking trail proceeding from Halenbeck Hall - an asset that wasn't there when I was a student. The trail goes along the river.
The Star Tribune article quoted a Chronicle of Higher Education spokesman. Andrew Mytelka, news editor, said of the Homecoming cancellation that "I've never heard of it (happening)." And then: "They must be doing something wrong if they're not getting enough people."
The Star Tribune article by Paul Walsh omitted the "elephant in the room!" That's the party reputation of SCSU which becomes inextricably associated with Homecoming.
Media people sought police blotter information after each year's SCSU Homecoming. I could be blunt here and say it was becoming kind of a joke. So was "move-in weekend" at SCSU.
With 18,000 students there are going to be issues like this. And the troublemaking certainly isn't done exclusively by SCSU students. This is a point that President Potter would certainly make. I would know because he has emailed me.
My conclusion: Intelligent people ought to know that SCSU is a place of serious study, always has been, and the occasional incidents to the contrary only create a caricature that doesn't reflect reality. So I think SCSU has overreacted, big-time, in cancelling Homecoming.
They "blinked."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Riley Arndt freethrows turn back Benson

Boys basketball: Tigers 67, Benson 64
The M-CA boys hung on for dear life in the second half of Friday's game at Benson, hoping their halftime advantage would be sufficient to make this a successful night. Indeed, the Tigers lost steam in the second half of this WCC-South game at Benson.
Whether it was a loss of focus or Benson's adjustments - who knows? - the Tigers saw their fortunes fade to where the host Braves actually took the lead at 61-60. The Tigers led at halftime 41-26. Brave Sam Peterson made the basket that put the Braves up by one and brought an eruption of cheers from his home crowd.
Those cheers resonated but they didn't faze Tiger Riley Arndt who put up key freethrows at the end. The poised Arndt made three of four of these within the last minute. These were like a dagger to Benson's come-from-behind victory hopes.
The Braves had to retire to their locker room wishing they'd done a little better in the first half.
Coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers could celebrate a 67-64 victory. They closed out the regular season with glittering 17-7 overall won-lost numbers. In league the books are closed with the numbers at 12-4.
Those numbers spell optimism with the tournament now at the forefront of everyone's thoughts. Yes, that time of year is finally here, helping us cope with, or perhaps forget, this seemingly endless winter.
Here's a refresher: the Tigers are in Section 6AA-West. Game #1 will be in the quarter-finals of the West sub-section. The Tigers are seeded third. Minnewaska Area owns the No. 1 seed.
The Tigers' initial assignment in the post-season will be to host West Central Area, the sixth seed, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10.
Against Benson yesterday (Friday) the Tigers made 24 of 44 field goal attempts but were lukewarm in threes, where the stats were three of 12. Tyler Roske had two of the three-point successes and Alex Erickson had the other.
Cole Riley was the top rebounder with seven. Alex Erickson was tops in assists with six. Eric Riley had four steals to set the pace.
"Balance" tells the story of the Tigers' scoring. Would you believe Alex Erickson with his modest total of ten points was team-high? There were many chefs for this broth. Here's the complete list: Cole Riley (8), Mac Kampmeier (8), Riley Arndt (7), Eric Riley (8), Dan Tiernan (8), Tyler Roske (8), Alex Erickson (10), Cody Cannon (9) and Brody Bahr (1).
Arndt's clutch freethrows were part of 16 of 23 team numbers on the night.
The Braves' charge was led by Peterson and Logan Connelly each with 18 points. The Braves ended the week with a 13-12 overall season record, 10-6 in league.

Girls basketball: Osakis 50, Tigers 49
The girls hoops post-season always begins before the boys. The Morris Chokio Alberta girls were hoping for a longer post-season life but it wasn't to be. Debuting Thursday as the No. 5 seed in 6AA-West, coach Dale Henrich's Tigers were edged by one point. This heartbreaker had Osakis as the opposing team.
When the No. 4 seed faces No. 5, there's really no favorite. So the close final score shouldn't have surprised anyone.
The score was tied 49-all when the pivotal moments unfolded. Key in those final moments was when the Silver Streaks - love that name - put up freethrows. Alas, they made one of two attempts with just over six seconds remaining. This gave them that lead of one point which they were able to preserve then they intercepted an M-CA pass. The final score: 50-49.
Looking at the stats, you might think the Tigers' six successful three-pointers would be part of a winning recipe. Not quite. But those long-rangers certainly reflected a sharp shooting eye, and there were two Tigers making two each: Hannah Sayles and Katie Holzheimer. Natalie Johnston and Shadow Olson each made one long-ranger. The successes came in 17 attempts, and in total field goals the squad was 17 of 42. In freethrows: nine of 15.
Erica Domnick scored a team-best 12 points and Sayles came through with ten. Continuing with the list we have Erin Schieler (8), Holzheimer (6), Olson (5), Beth Holland (3), Johnston (3) and Holly Amundson (2).
Schieler and Domnick each collected six rebounds. Sarah Kuhn was the top assist producer with four and she was followed by three teammates each with three: Schieler, Kelsey Loew and Holland.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta closes out the season with an 8-16 overall mark. It was Henrich's maiden voyage at the head coaching spot.

Wrestling: two Tigers in state
Two Tigers carried the MAHACA banner in state wrestling Friday in St. Paul.
Zach Gibson, vying at 285 pounds (Class AA), won a 1-0 decision over Dylan Hoyt of Chisago Lakes/Goodridge. He resumes action today (Saturday).
Tim Ostby, vying at 152 pounds, dropped a 12-7 decision to Jesse Munos of South St. Paul.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com