"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)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Original UMM "fight song" warrants fresh look

This post has a theme of UMM music. So does the post I just put up on "Morris of Course" which emphasizes UMM music travels, those adventures that have both an enriching and promotional purpose.
Click on the permalink below to read my "Morris of Course" post which has the headline "UMM music travels of today, and of times gone by."
Most importantly, don't forget to support the next big music event at UMM: the Jazz Festival set for April 4 and 5. Kevin Harris and Darren Barrett are coming.
Songs from UMM's birth
The University of Minnesota-Morris pep band played for basketball games (i.e. men's basketball games) at the old P.E. Annex in the early days. The annex is likely a fading memory. I think it's a shame we build these buildings and then find decades later they're dinosaurs.
The old annex had a swimming pool on the bottom level that my boomer peers and I used.
UMM had its own "fight song" that my father Ralph E. Williams composed. He was especially proud of the "UMM Hymn" which he also composed.
The Hymn has been revived through the years. UMM singers performed it as part of a Garrison Keillor performance at the P.E. Center ("Prairie Home Companion").
The fight song has been allowed to fade into obscurity. Perhaps the best current terminology would be "school song" and not "fight song."
It may have been put aside as a reflection of the social unrest bubbling on college campuses everywhere - a desire to shelve much that was considered traditional or conventional. It became kind of a knee-jerk thing.
To the extent that UMM has a (sort of) school song, it would simply be the U of M "rouser." A recording of this is what you hear played at UMM football games after UMM touchdowns. I don't think there's any other manifestation.
Is the band arrangement of the original UMM school song still in the UMM music library? If I had to guess, I'd say "no." I know the original "lead sheet" (melody, chords, lyrics) is in existence, and we have given some copies around to people who are interested, like UMM's chancellor.
I can't honestly say whether the song's popularity, its appeal, was a factor in it being phased out. I seem to recall a "company line" that UMM simply wanted to make sure everyone knew of our affiliation with the U of M, and the "rouser" would surely promote that.
However, the U of M rouser is a quite tired old song, and in the days when every little town around Minnesota had its own high school, it seemed like half of them "borrowed" the U of M rouser for their fight song. It actually got tiresome.
I remember being at a tournament game once when there was a smattering of laughter when a band struck up the rouser after we'd already heard it a couple times.
Of course, all this popularity is a tremendous tribute to whoever wrote this song.
Remember, for every popular song, there was a moment when its creator, perhaps wearing only his underwear and maybe scribbling on a napkin, first wrote it. I was fascinated visiting a Nashville TN museum once and seeing such napkins or scrap paper bearing the words, first born, for a song like "Oh Lonesome Me."
My father Ralph probably sat at a piano keyboard, playing chords as he gradually put together those seminal UMM songs.
Potential for revival?
Let's cut to the chase and talk about the original UMM "fight song." I wouldn't dare say anything "constructive" about this song were it still being used. Since it is not, we have to entertain the possibility it might need a "tweak." May lightning strike me. But I'm saying this in the name of trying to get that original song restored.
Maybe it could be restored not as our official school song, but as a piece with archival value. I absolutely guarantee you the melody "works." It has a crisp and distinctive quality. An instrumental version would satisfy everyone. I'm sure Wes Flinn of the UMM staff could do a dynamite job penning an arrangement.
So, what am I saying here? Ahem. I'm saying that maybe the lyrics need a little jump start. I'm talking about the second line of the lyrics where my father exercised artistic license. I would guess even the most gifted creative people can falter where artistic license is concerned. It can work and it can stumble.
Here's the first line: "Fight, fight, fight for Morris U."
Then, in the second line, my father actually achieved five rhyming syllables - incredible. "Hike, hike, hike a score or two." Gary McGrath sang these lines when he came back for UMM's homecoming two years ago. He smiled broadly.
None of us demands that the song lyrics we hear every day be totally coherent. Heaven forbid. But a fight song lyrics are sung repeatedly, or at least they used to be. Old traditions have faded.
Nevertheless maybe there's actually a "solution" for that fight song's second line, assuming this has ever been pegged as a problem.
My suggestion for a second line is something my father could not have even written, because it uses terminology from women's sports. I would suggest the following: "Spike, spike, spike an ace or two." There are four rhyming syllables instead of five. Certainly that shouldn't matter.
The UMM fans could do fist pumps with the first line of the song, and make volleyball spiking motions with the second (trying not to knock out the people in front of you). I think the students would "get into" this.
Fight, fight, fight for Morris U

Spike, spike, spike an ace or two.
At the very least, I think it would be terrific for UMM's instrumental musicians of today to do a nice crisp recording of the original song, and to have this played after some touchdowns this fall. It would sure be a conversation-starter. "What the heck is that tune?" 
Well, it's "ours," a song for the Morris campus, rather than the "old turnip" U of M rouser.
We don't need to play the rouser to remind how we're part of the U, because by now the identity is fully established. We sure don't need to be defensive. Let's have some fun with this.
Get this: Using the lyrics, we'd be the only college in the nation, most likely, to have a fight song using terminology from women's intercollegiate sports.
Hearing this song played again would be a breath of fresh air, IMHO. There is too much seriousness on the UMM campus. Let's lighten up and enjoy some traditional campus spirit like the campus in the Fred MacMurray "Flubber" movies. Those basketball players looked like they were playing in a place like the P.E. Annex.
The new science building stands where the UMM P.E. Annex was.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

The waves of time are many and varied

I have written about several of the World War II veterans of Stevens County in recent months. In my newspaper career I even wrote about at least two World War I veterans.
The stories about our WWII veterans are collected in the Stevens County Historical Society book, "The '40s: a time for war and a time for peace." There is at least one story in that book that is right out of hell, going beyond mere death, injury or accident, and helps us understand PTSD.
We allowed George W. Bush to take us into a needless war. We now hear cries from Republicans about how "weak" President Obama is about the Ukraine/Crimea matters.
Wars were blamed on Democratic presidents when I was a kid. Look who's jingoistic now. We'll be blessed if all we have to do is chase a few terrorists around.
The clunky war machines of WWII were right out of hell. War equipment was designed to tear human flesh apart.
The survivors of war, those who still have limbs and their general health, can talk about the noble nature of the war commitment. We hear speeches about this on such occasions as Memorial Day. I'm always a little troubled. Maybe I'm just a pacifist at heart.
Maybe I soaked in too much of the anti-war pleading of the 1960s. I have read about parents of WWII casualties who remained embittered for the rest of their lives. I read about the family of a D-Day casualty. They weren't going to be consoled by Memorial Day or Veterans Day speeches. They lost their own flesh and blood. To them the war was an intrusion.
War is waged by governments, or at least it was through the 20th Century. The generation that assailed our government for Viet Nam now makes up a good portion of the "tea party" that resents government. There's a common thread.
World War II is defined by the survivors. Those who didn't survive might not have such favorable things to say about our war commitment. Their parents didn't bring them into this life to experience this.
The WWII survivors came back to an America that was on the threshold of prosperity. The Depression would finally be behind us. War veterans found jobs relatively easily that enabled them to become breadwinners. They celebrated by having children.
In 1965, one-half of the U.S. population was under the age of 25. We could hardly be controlled, such were our numbers. Indeed, the power we had to rebel grew out of our sheer power of numbers. We had discretionary money.
Ever notice in those movies of "Hollywood's Golden Years" how teens were meant to be seen and not heard, in effect? Teens were subordinate and almost a burden for adults to deal with or acknowledge. It was an extension of childhood.
Children of that great WWII generation got empowered. The transistor radio allowed them to bathe in their own musical choices that made the music of just a decade earlier seem ancient. Marlon Brando in 1953's "The Wild One" made a statement as to our transforming culture.
J. Edgar Hoover called the new music "a corrupting influence." Ah, the generation gap. We learn this gap was "a product of widespread demographics and a predominantly white cultural zeitgeist that exalted novelty and shunned convention in spheres ranging from music to fashion."
I still have vivid memories of how so many of my college classes seemed preoccupied with eschewing convention. This was done to a fault, making me wonder just what kind of world these classes were leading us into. The deconstructionist voices were so strong, they seemed almost a parody of themselves at times.
I attended a state college - they're called "universities" today. I have learned since then that "state schools" were (or are) particularly notorious for promoting deconstruction ideas from the left side of the political spectrum.
I suspect that as institutions of higher education depend more and more on private funding sources, they will get steered to a more realistic perspective on life.
When I was done with college in 1978 - what a time to grow up - I wondered if I was supposed to believe in anything. This is hardly the kind of attitude you want in the nation's young people when they get to age 21 or 22. (I took until 22, sorry.)
I graduated from Morris High School in 1973. We were rebellious (I suspect, for the sake of being rebellious) with our class motto: "Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead." It's actually a quote from the U.S. Civil War: the battle of Mobile Bay.
Principal Wally Behm would tell us years later that he had a stressful time getting that motto pushed through the powers-that-be. Wally didn't keep up with the times very well - a shortcoming that I suspect is common among school administrators who can be slow recognizing generational changes. I don't know why.
Wally himself was dragged down by that pervasive feeling of resignation, feeling of cynicism or whatever you want to call it, that grew in the disco '70s. All that cocky optimism and enthusiasm for change in the '60s and the start of the '70s faded. Why?
It's the economy, stupid.
The year I graduated from MHS, 1973, may have been the worst year ever to graduate from high school. Economists remember the period of 1973 to 1983 as the "stagnation period."
I graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1978. It was at that institution that I heard an art instructor say that our tendency toward 90-degree angles in architecture might be due to Fascism. Is this how we got the science auditorium at our University of Minnesota-Morris campus? Or, our Morris Public Library with its slanted sides?
The pressure to avoid "convention" could be overbearing in the '70s. I think many of us have forgotten.
I remember when the TV series "My Three Sons" ended its run, and a looking-back special was presented. Right away Fred MacMurray said "This won't be a documentary," and later he said "We're not in the documentary business." What he was really saying was: "We're not doing this in the standard way, or the way you'd expect."
This TV show had its start in black and white and was a conventional sitcom. The Andy Griffith show followed the same path from B&W to color. While these shows remained pretty standard as sitcoms, they didn't seem quite the same in color, as if the cultural tumult across America had to force them to shift their focus. They couldn't be so predictable.
I'm reminded of male entertainers who felt they had to grow their hair longer than when younger. They were dragged along by that "zeitgeist." A bald or shaved head would have given you a stigma then. It's common and totally accepted now, along with being obese.
Young people became wild and crazy partly because of the unrest over Viet Nam which was totally understandable. Meanwhile that grand WWII generation kept living life as before, thankful for all their blessings, knowing how to pay the bills, going to church on Sunday (and to the Elks or Eagles Club on Saturday night, drinking to excess and acting stupid).
By 1978, when I got my SCSU diploma, the economic pain felt by the (economic) stagnation years had wiped out the cocky optimism which had resulted from the now-defunct post-WWII economic boom. Bummer, eh?
The world I entered after 1973, i.e. the world following the oil crisis of that year, was marked by - get ready - "stagflation." It might as well have been zombies. This "stag" thing was the combination of low economic and productivity growth, you kids, and high inflation (yuck).
An additional wrinkle: high interest rates! This is actually not consistent with secular stagnation. It was indeed hard for us to "damn the torpedoes" and proclaim "full speed ahead."
I think some of those torpedoes got us. It was hard to stay inspired by the 1967 John Lennon song "All You Need is Love." (The Monty Python gang modified this to "All You Need is Cash.")
My high school class recently had its 40-year reunion. We're becoming fossils, right? We have the wisdom of having experienced the shifting sands.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March basketball & how it pushes out weather

We're in March which is when we can be relieved winter is over. Winter can come at us with some last gasps.
March is a twilight zone kind of month in which the weather isn't neatly categorized. Every month has to stand for something. March is the basketball tournament month. At the prep level, Morris didn't put on much of a show for this. We're "Morris Area Chokio Alberta." We're still the Tigers.
We have the same old fight song which was written just for the "Morris" name. "M-H-S," we're supposed to chant. A friend tells me this has been altered. We must be careful tinkering with a composer's product.
Maybe someday we can be known as "Morris" again, with the simple understanding that we serve students from the surrounding smaller communities. Maybe someday we won't have to hear of "MACCRAY" any more, or "BOLD." These names are political constructions designed to appease certain parochial elements in their communities. In the name of suggesting there's no favoritism, we end up with school names that mean nothing and tell us nothing. It's a victory for paranoia.
I do think these feelings will soften at some point. They most likely already have, but change takes time. Very small towns are not as identity-conscious as they once were. There is less commerce in these towns. Increasingly they are bedroom communities or havens for retirees, people who really couldn't care less if the town is high-profile, and actually would prefer that the town be low-profile (quiet and safe).
(Mark Levin was recently taken to task by a caller for saying "could care less." It's "couldn't." Mark doesn't appreciate being corrected.)
When the Minnewaska school was on the drawing board, it was political to the max. Today, I don't that anyone in Starbuck has it cross his/her mind that there is no in-town high school in Starbuck. I do think it's a shame Glenwood doesn't have its own school, at least on the edge of town.
Once the state became committed to the "cornfield" Minnewaska school, it would make certain this school stayed viable, even with failed referendums (at least two). The state has a vested interest.
The state has also said it won't be allowed to happen again: no more "cornfield schools" like Minnewaska or Lac qui Parle. Glenwood lost out.
It's a shame a school can't be located in a community where a substantial number of school constituents might consider walking or biking to and from. With Minnewaska as it is, motorized transportation is necessary for everyone all the time.
We're so much more fortunate here in Morris. Our public school campus is almost breathtaking with its size and quality. The concert hall is incredible. We have a surplus of gym space. The old varsity gym (1968) seems almost a "ghost gym" now. Heck, I can remember when varsity basketball was played in the old elementary auditorium (razed now).
Morris has lots of blessings for its young people. No school is without issues. At present we have this very unpleasant business involving the high school principal.
I was also discouraged to see both our basketball teams losing out of the starting gate in post-season. The girls were especially mystifying. The regular season saw them handle the Minnewaska Lakers with no suspense. 'Waska was our first foe in sub-section. 'Waska was also our last foe. The "cornfield school" from the east took it to us.
'Waska not only won, they won with command and at our floor no less, our state of the art varsity gym.
Our teams were not state of the art in 2014. You can argue that the boys team had a rebuilding quality. The boys did pick up considerable steam after a loss streak that began the season. Noah Grove and Eric Staebler played like stars. But the Tigers failed to make any kind of statement in the post-season. We lost on the road to Eden Valley-Watkins.
But the MACA girls were the biggest mystery. It appears we should have cruised through that first round. I dutifully write about all these games. I know I have some readers but I don't know exactly how many. Regardless, it costs nothing to read my stuff.
I didn't feel like ending my basketball writing so soon. I decided to "adopt" the New London-Spicer girls basketball team. They're in our sub-section. They have a longstanding reputation for sharp play. I greatly enjoyed seeing the success round-by-round.
The Wildcats had to work for this success, as it was not routine. Somehow the coach seems to instill that little edge that gets them through close games. New London-Spicer with star player Taylor Thunstedt made it to state. Finally they lost, in a Wednesday night game vs. the Esko "Eskomos," in one of those low-scoring games that have appeared to become more common.
I had felt confident that NL-Spicer would beat Esko. When learning of the defeat the next morning, I felt that little emotional jolt of disappointment just as if it had been Morris that lost. Such emotions are a cornerstone of what March basketball is all about. I was happy to be along for the ride, even if it was with a team other than Morris.
Now my thoughts gravitate back to Morris. We have basketball teams that never had a chance to get "mad" with the "March madness."
I look outside and I see only the bleakness of cold March weather and "snirt" (snow and dirt). It's that twilight zone time in which we're best off not even thinking about the weather.
New London-Spicer basks in the afterglow of both its girls and boys basketball teams making state. Meanwhile here in Morris, we have headlines about when the trial date is set for the principal.
We always land on our feet here in Motown. We have so much state money pouring into this town, we can always thump our chest. Plus there's all the retirees with their Social Security checks. But let's not get complacent.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pearl Harbor shook Stevens County, typically

Think back to the overnight transformation that took place in early December of 1941.
Christmas should have been in the air. America was trying to escape the throes of the Great Depression. Life could be hardscrabble. For many people in that state of affairs, they didn't know the difference. Adversity had been the norm. We remembered World War I as "the great war."
The "America First" organization asserted itself strongly, convinced we didn't need to get involved in any foreign intervention. Charles Lindbergh was a leading "Firster." The European conflict was distant but worrisome.
Thanksgiving of 1941 had passed. I can't write with a straight face that we didn't have "Black Friday" back then. The calendar turned to December. The carols of Christmas should have been promoting a peaceful air.
Then everything changed. "It was December 7, 1941," wrote Rita Schuster-Spohnholtz, who back then was a seven-year-old Stevens County girl. She continued:
My mother was seated on a stool at the kitchen sink preparing food for the next meal. My younger brother and I were playing with, or more likely pestering, one another. Music could be heard coming from the radio on a shelf in the kitchen. Suddenly the radio announcer interrupted the music: "We interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement."
"Shsssh! Listen!" Mother said. The urgent tone of her voice let us know something important was happening. We immediately froze in our tracks and listened with her. President Roosevelt was telling the nation of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. "They have bombed our country," Mother explained. "This is serious now. The war is coming nearer!"
FDR referred to "The Empire of Japan." Americans began throwing around terms like "Japs" and "Nips" (for Nipponese). My mother Martha Ohlson-Williams was a high school student in Brainerd, which had a National Guard unit that got captured in the Philippines. Those poor men became prisoners of the Japanese.
Pearl Harbor has gone down in history books as a "surprise" attack. Various journalists, authors and retired military personnel have argued that parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may have let it happen with the aim of bringing the U.S. into the war.
There was no equivocation after the attack. Americans in unison joined in the war effort. The "Firsters" essentially evaporated. It's sad their aim could not have been realized. War is nothing but bad.
The quote from Rita Schuster-Spohnholtz is from the Stevens County Historical Society book, "The '40s: a Time for War and a Time for Peace." Our Historical Society and museum are to be commended for putting together this collection of accounts. It was done when memories were still reliable, in the mid 1990s.
These saintly Greatest Generation people are now fading from the picture. They lived lives that our young people of today could hardly begin to relate to. First the Great Depression with its "dirty '30s," and then the world war.
Once done, these people formed the great "middle class" with its prosperity that represented great leaps forward. Mostly they believed in government because it was government that won the war. It has been said that war is the thing government does best. Maybe that's why we should have mixed thoughts about it (government). As the National Guard leader said to the Timothy Hutton character in the movie "Taps": "War is just one thing, and that's bad."
We can rejoice in the commitment we've made in past wars. We know we represented the forces for good. We can salute our heroes. All quite justified, but consider all the lives that were cut short. Those men wanted to live. Think of all the suffering in addition to the actual deaths.
Mankind evolved to a state in the 1940s where certain nation-states around the globe felt they had to put their young men in uniforms, manufacture war machinery and strive to kill, take prisoner etc.
Today the threat is terrorists. We go after them with "special forces." It's conflict not on the scale of what we saw in the mid-20th Century.
World War II has been described with the absurd term "the good war." That term grew out of the obvious fact that Viet Nam was something other than good. In between we had Korea. It tests our determination to believe in God.
My old boss Jim Morrison says "our generation (the boomers) never took much to church-going." We were probably thinking of Viet Nam. We were thinking of Billy Graham kissing up to Richard Nixon. We were probably asked to pray for our servicemen in Viet Nam. I would have preferred praying for the Vietnamese people.
The men in uniform on all sides are just young souls doing what their government asks of them.
Healing effect of time
There was a time when U.S. veterans bristled mightily at the idea of the Japanese pilots joining the Americans for any sort of memorial event at Pearl Harbor. But those feelings eventually softened. Feelings always soften as we achieve emotional distance.
The argument on behalf of the Japanese is that they were just young men following their leaders. Fair enough. Let's blame government.
Someday emotional distance will allow us to watch movies that are vivid and graphic about 9/11. We're not there yet. Seeing Nicolas Cage get pulled from the rubble was just scratching the surface. Someday the barriers will come down and we'll see movies exploring every aspect of what happened that tragic morning, even a movie made from the perspective of the hijackers. Such movies will be made to satisfy curiosity. People can be ghouls too.
Us boomers sure didn't hesitate going to WWII movies at our Morris Theater in the 1960s. Our elders were strangely indifferent about war movies or war toys and games based on WWII combat. I'm amazed as I think back to this.
"Hit the Beach" was a board game. Nothing was more terrifying for U.S. service personnel, I suspect, than "hitting the beach" (island-hopping in the Pacific). My father Ralph E. Williams served in the Pacific Theater as gunnery commander.
My mother bought me as a Christmas gift one year a plastic hand grenade that worked on "caps" (as with a cap gun). She bought it at the old Varnum's Hardware Store on main street.
The curtain for war was opened on that fateful early winter day in 1941. Irene Croom Monroe reminisced:
I had sung in the choir at church in the morning. In the afternoon, a group of us filled bags with candy, peanuts and so forth, for Santa to give to the little kids when he made his call in Hancock. I did not arrive home until after dark, babbling about the neat things we had done, said and eaten. Dad and my brothers were outside looking after the stock - Mom was sitting in the living room with only the light shining in from the dining room and the glow from the hard coal stove. As I came in, she stood and told me, "The United States is at war." She turned to wipe her tears and I stared at the red coals in the stove and thought, "How can this be? How could anyone do this to us? How could anyone spoil our lives like this?"
I have fond memories of Irene, both from her role with her family photography business and the Morris Chamber of Commerce. She worked with the Chamber at the spot now occupied by "Stephanie Foto."  
There were two family photography businesses in Morris when I was growing up: Monroe Photos and Garberick Photo. Monroe's was located where the Willie's parking lot is now. Garberick's was across from the Stevens County Courthouse.
The old Garbericks' house was razed to expand parking for the courthouse. For the life of me, I don't see why those "islands" are necessary in the courthouse parking lot. That parking lot already lacks "breathing room" for people to maneuver larger than average cars.
The whole courthouse renovation scheme was cockeyed, I feel. As technology takes us into the future, bricks and mortar assets will be less and less important for government. It's happening rapidly.
I remember how Monroe's and Garberick's would grumble about those non-local "hit and run" photography services that would come to town. How quaint. The mom and pop businesses of the past have faded. We think nothing of a photography service setting up shop temporarily at City Center Mall. The world changes.
Change can seem like the only constant. It was so sudden on that early December day in 1941. Mary Olsen-Dripps remembers:
I had been out in the country with my mother and little brother helping my aunt, Amanda Winkels, tie a quilt. When we arrived home, my dad met us at the door and he was very shaken. He had heard on the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
It wasn't too long after the war started that my Winkels uncles, Albin and Victor, along with my cousin "Butch" Wartman, came up to our house to tell us goodbye. They were wearing their army uniforms and left with Battery 'B'. Later Doug Wartman joined the Navy. There were a lot of tears shed, but I was too young to understand why."
Young people had to grow up in a hurry. The servicemen did, and the youngsters like Mary who had to join in the sacrifice, foregoing some of the expected pleasures or diversions of life. The Depression had been hard enough. Now there was war.
In 1945 post-war, the pendulum went back and with a dose of actual affluence. The Greatest Generation had children like me, growing up with Captain Kangaroo on TV. And, ready to play with plastic hand grenades. Strange.
Conflict of such grisly proportions ought to be filed away in the past.
Mary went on to marry Bill Dripps who was "Mr. Oldsmobile" in Morris. Our family bought our "famous" 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado from Dripps Oldsmobile. What a vehicle! I could drive it in a parade today.
Stevens County natives were at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. Let's let the Morris Tribune of January 2, 1942, tell that story:
Two Stevens County youths who were on Navy duty in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at the time of the devastating Jap attack there on December 7, are alive and well according to word received by their parents the past week.
Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Van Horn on Wednesday received a card from their son, Robert L. Van Horn, stationed on the U.S.S. Nevada, saying that he was well. The card was dated at Pearl Harbor December 10, three days after the surprise attack on the harbor by the Japs.
Mrs. Wilbert Stambaugh of Donnelly received a letter last week from her son, Wilbert Jr., stationed on the U.S.S. Medusa in Pearl Harbor, but nearly the entire contents of the two-page letter excepting only the information that the young man was well had been blacked out by Naval censors.
Nevertheless, the messages from the boys, brief as it was, were welcomed by their parents.
The boys! That generation committed itself to the task at hand.
Today we worry about the Ukraine. President Barack Obama with U.S. allies wants to settle the tensions there with means other than guns and tanks. We pray the task is within reach.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wildcats edge Streeters before 2000 at SCSU

Wildcats 84, Streeters 81
March madness prevailed at Halenbeck Hall, St. Cloud State University, for the New London-Spicer vs. Sauk Centre game. High-caliber girls basketball entertained the crowd. So did the very hard-fought nature of the game.
A lot was at stake. These GBB powers were fighting for the 6AA championship. With that championship comes advancement to state.
NL-Spicer has a dynasty reputation but hadn't been to state since 2009. Sauk Centre has taken on kingpin status in section. Something had to give on Friday, 3/14, at St. Cloud.
The throngs of fans were treated to an overtime affair. Who would wear the 6AA crown? It's New London-Spicer.
The Wildcats came out of the same sub-section as our MACA Tigers. Indeed, it would appear there isn't a huge talent gap between our Tigers and the Wildcats. MACA beat 'Waska handily in two regular season games. 'Waska went on to challenge New London-Spicer well enough to have the score tied in the second half. So. . .
Anyway, NL-Spicer is the team with the premier status now, at least within 6AA ranks. We'll see if they can climb further. Teams that make state don't necessarily roll over everyone. NL-Spicer, coached by Mike Dreier, is certainly proof of that. But just watch those Wildcats: they do what it takes to win, and now they're in state - who knows? - they might win their next game by 20 points!
Maybe MACA can climb into that position in the next few years. It's not that elusive.
Right now the Wildcats have 24 season wins and will strive for No. 25 tonight (Wednesday, 3/19). They'll play Esko at 8 p.m. at Mariucci Arena. Esko brings a 25-5 mark. The state semis will be Friday.
The Wildcats beat the Sauk Centre Streeters 84-81 in overtime Friday. Halenbeck was rocking with about 2000 fans on hand.
NL-Spicer star Taylor Thunstedt was a cog in the wheel. Another cog was the post tandem of Ashlyn Geister and Olivia Setterberg. Geister executed very smoothly close to the hoop. She was an astounding 11 of 12 in her shooting! Setterberg was smooth with her six of eight shooting stats.
Kabrie Weber, a freshman, was highly poised in the clutch. Kabrie sank three of four freethrows in the pivotal final minutes.
The Wildcats made just over 50 per cent of their shots, with every made field goal absolutely essential.
Sauk Centre has owned the section over the recent past, but this year they had to develop five new starters. Even with that challenge, they were a hair's breadth from keeping the 6AA crown. But it's the Wildcats and their fan throngs who have celebrated over the last few days. First they had to survive overtime.
Regulation ended with the score 74-74. Thunstedt was inclined to put up 3-pointers on this night. Her success was modest: five makes in a whopping 19 attempts. But she made two critical 3's in the last three minutes, giving her team a chance to win in OT.
Thunstedt is a North Dakota State University recruit. She scored a game-high 28 points Friday. She had a critical steal in the late-going.
Sauk Centre took the lead at 73-71 thanks to a '3' by Ali Peterson, her fifth of the night. The time remaining: 40 seconds. Thunstedt answered with her own bomb, so NL-Spicer now leads by one with 18 ticks of the clock left. Streeter Madison Moritz made a freethrow to get the score tied. Overtime!
Weber passed to Setterberg who made a jump shot. Julie Bushard of Sauk Centre made a field goal to tie the score. Wildcat Geister then scored from close-in to put NL-S up for good. Weber made two freethrows. Alyssa Fredrick scored to make the score 81-76 with 30 seconds left in overtime.
Thunstedt made a freethrow. Madison Moritz of Sauk hit a '3' to draw the Streeters within three at 82-79. Thunstedt got fouled and made two freethrows with five seconds left.
Finally the Wildcats could celebrate. Bring on state! It's NL-Spicer's 15th appearance at that elite level.
The resilient Thunstedt played the full 40 minutes. She noted post-game that the team's plan to emphasize post scoring worked. New London-Spicer had the advantage with height. Coach Dreier deployed all weapons.
There are six seniors on the NL-Spicer roster. Dreier said they have been envisioning state since fifth grade. Dreier has 816 career wins and has a legendary reputation. Morris fan Rick Lucken, RIP, used to wonder if he wore a toupee.
Sauk Centre had a fine campaign and finishes with 22 wins. They say goodbye to eight seniors. They came within a whisker of making state for the fifth straight year. Now let's see the MACA Tigers climb up to that status.
NL-Spicer led Sauk 38-33 at halftime. NL-Spicer had 23 total 3-point attempts and made eight. Thunstedt with her five 3-point makes was joined by the following teammates each with one: Brianna Fredrick, Reiley Ness and Alyssa Fredrick. Geister had the team-best ten rebounds. Thunstedt was tops in assists with eight, and she had three steals too.
Thunstedt with her 28 points was followed by Ashlyn Geister with 23 and Olivia Setterberg with 12. Kabrie Weber scored seven, Alyssa Fredrick six, Bri Fredrick three, Reiley Ness three and Megan Thorson two.
Both teams threw up 3-point attempts a lot. The Sauk total in attempts was 37 - wow! - and they made eleven. Ali Peterson was five of 17 in 3's. Alea Gerhartz and Madison Greenwaldt each made two 3's. Julie Bushard and Madison Moritz each made one.
Moritz collected eleven rebounds for Sauk and she led in assists too with five. Peterson had two steals. Bushard set the pace for Sauk's scoring with 25 points. Amanda Weir scored 19 and Ali Peterson 16. Alea Gerhartz put in seven points followed by Moritz and Greenwaldt each with six. Rebecca Weir added two points to the mix.
The teams were even in freethrow shooting. The NL-Spicer numbers: 12 of 19. Sauk's: 14 of 21.
The "big dance" of state gets going tonight! Viva New London-Spicer girls basketball! Their boys made state too.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

We need "Airplane!" crew saving the day

Robert Hays in "Airplane!"
"Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles."
- Edwin Louis Cole
"All right, goodnight" sounds like a good name for a song. The Nashville music craftsmen could take this and run with it.
These words were actually the last message from that missing plane.
The speculation is endless on the cable news channels. They tell us all the news except that the plane has been found. Where is "Striker" when you need him? Robert Hays and the rest of the "Airplane!" crew would have matters well in hand. Maybe we should be asking if the crew had "steak or fish."
Why is it necessary for so many people to fly? Didn't civilization get along fine before commercial aviation? You might have distant relatives who you might not be able to see very often. Use Skype.
"Videoconferencing" did not take off as the fad that was at first foreseen. But the tools of "web 2.0" came along and offered the same advantages and in a more practical way, according to what I have read. (My own tech resources have been pretty minimal, as I in general live a minimalist lifestyle.)
I even wonder why people drive vehicles as much as they do. I remember that when I was still jogging, I'd be out along the bypass east of Morris and cars and trucks would just whiz by me. And I'd wonder: Where are all these people going? How did civilization get along before this ease of transportation?
Millennials might wonder: How did we all get along before all these tech gadgets of today? The answer is that we did.
We wouldn't trade our lifestyle of today for our past lifestyle. We too easily forget that in those days gone by, boredom and tedium were a problem. I think of this when I see the "bad guy" characters in "Dirty Harry" movies. Those poor souls regressed in life partly out of the boredom and tedium.
Scholars who analyze the "gangster" era in U.S. history conclude that many of these violent souls took risks because they didn't want to fall into the ranks of those faceless factory workers (with their "lunch pails") and the like.
Our tech world of today is causing change we can hardly keep up with. Boomers who once thought they were sitting pretty in the workplace now have to watch their back. I was probably a victim of this phenomenon myself.
I don't doubt that the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper has been able to use tech and synergy to boost its bottom line. But is it a superior product today? Of course it isn't. It gets smaller all the time. Lately there has been a pattern of 22-page papers rather than 24. It has now been several years since the paper went to once a week. A lot of overhead costs got knocked out. They laid off a couple people because of the ad production work being shifted to Detroit Lakes. You see, it's owned by a "chain" now.
Consolidation and efficiency. Networked computers. History books may someday tell us that networked computers were the biggest job-killer of all time.
Tech isn't helping us find that missing airplane. If only we could hear the triumphant voice of Peter Graves or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or be assured by the presence of that inflated "auto pilot." Where is "Striker" when you need him?
If only all the missing passengers could emerge unscathed. We could get a song entitled "All right, goodnight" and it could become a sentimental favorite. Doesn't seem likely.
Surely we should continue embracing hope.
"I am embracing hope, and don't call me Shirley."
Maybe the same UFOs that produce crop circles got ahold of the plane and transported it to another dimension.
Seriously, let's pray.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's spring but not all is happy for Motown

"snirt" (March phenomenon)
Spring has stumbled into the picture. It had to happen sometime. Long-time Minnesotans will realize we shouldn't get too giddy. Don't load up your closet with your short-sleeve shirts yet.
"Snirt" abounds around us. It's quite the March phenomenon. It's that mixture of snow and dirt of course. Maybe this is what winter is like in Iowa. In Minnesota we have the benefit of crisp, dry snow. Until spring.
Then we get the slush and those "rivers" of water from snow melt.
Yesterday (Thursday) the temperature got up to about 60 degrees. I took a nice long walk out toward the Pomme de Terre River. It's easy to underestimate the amount of outerwear we need this time of year. That's because of spring "giddiness." Turns out I was a little guilty of "over-dressing" yesterday. Better to do that than to feel chilly, I guess.
I didn't make it all the way out to that gazebo by the riverbank. Once I make it that far, I can declare spring to be fully here.
News isn't kind
It's kind of a bummer spring here in Motown. The pre-trial hearing for our high school principal is set for Wednesday, March 19. It's hard to know what all will transpire. There is potential for substantial media coverage. That's because this is a "man bites dog" story. That's the most common barometer for newsworthiness. You don't expect a "pillar of the community" like the high school principal to face such serious charges.
Let's review: We're talking about first degree criminal sexual conduct. This guy has been sitting around worried about serving as many as 30 years in prison. That's psychological torture. In theory, I suppose, he could actually be convicted of this.
When I hear the term "first degree criminal sexual conduct," I envision some sort of sociopathic monster. And this case just doesn't seem to conform to that. I'm commenting as a layman of course.
I don't know any of the principals in this - the accuser, Principal Peterson or the prosecutors. I wouldn't know the prosecutors if I saw them on the street. Even if I heard the name of the accuser, I wouldn't be so stupid as to type the name here. If Peterson is exonerated or at least cleared, maybe the accuser's name will come forth, I don't know.
I could swear that when this case first broke, the term "assault" rather than "conduct" was used. I just did an online check and found that the "Bring Me the News" website of Rick Kupchella, a popular state news website, did in fact use the term "sexual assault" in regard to the Peterson case, and in the headline no less. Is there really any difference between "conduct" and "assault?" I figure if there's a 30-year prison sentence, there must be some sort of assault involved.
I'm not Mr. Legal but I think one of the things that will happen on the 19th is that the judge will make decisions on allowing evidence. The principal faces not one but two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct. Re. allowing evidence, I have to wonder about the credibility of testimony from people who were admittedly "drinking" (I assume alcohol).
Not that this has ever happened to me, but any time you have to tell a police officer you've been drinking, they won't give you the benefit of the doubt on anything. "Been drinking, eh?" This sexual conduct case seems different.
Actually this pair of stumblebums appear to have run the risk of being pulled over for DWI. That didn't happen, but events as the night transpired sure resulted in an entangled legal mess. Is this trial going to be expensive for Stevens County? Does anyone think there's any chance that Peterson will be convicted of first degree criminal sexual conduct? Or that he'll be sent to prison for 30 years? I'm just talking about probability.
Anything is possible.
Two people have posted thoughts under the radio station's online article about this, and both seem to come from a sympathetic perspective toward Peterson. These individuals are Chris Hopkins and Sheila Reinke. "Mr. Peterson has been an incredible principal and just because he is accused of a crime does not mean he committed one," Reinke wrote. Hopkins emphasized the "innocent until proven guilty" line.
I'm not sure we can ever settle on uncontested "proof" in this disturbing case. Part of the reason is what I've already cited: alcohol consumption.
Our police prepared a report that asserted that Peterson "forced" the woman to perform oral sex on him. I'm trying to visualize that. Bill Clinton argued that oral sex wasn't even sex, remember? How was this "force" asserted or applied?
The police report says the alleged victim "fell asleep or blacked out." Blacked out? This whole thing just sounds strange or strains credulity. Was the "blacking out" from alcohol? And we're supposed to trust the accounts these people share?
I should note that there are some women who believe the very act of sexual intercourse is rape. Our very human biology means that a man is much more likely of being suspected for sexual assault than a woman.
So, would the Morris school system be advised to take the more risk-averse position of hiring women only? Maybe women are on the verge of taking over our whole world. Maybe men will be segregated off into places where their only purpose will be to supply semen, and that would come from only the most desirable or strongest males.
On to sports
We might feel better about spring if our high school basketball teams had done a little better. Both the boys and girls lost in the first round of post-season. I realize most people don't even follow this anymore. In the old days, Minnesotans talked about how we always seemed to get a blizzard at the time of the state tournament.
Remember the one-class state tournament? It was a big deal even though it was profoundly unfair, with the likes of Edina beating up on less fortunate, smaller communities. But as kids we got let out of class, if we wanted, to go watch these games on TV in the cafeteria. Edina would kill some town like Hayfield.
Today the system is totally fair but it doesn't draw the mass interest anymore. We get lessons on what "Christ's Household of Faith" is. Rochester Lourdes gets glory. "Praise the Lord," we all say, while the public school teams get forced to the sideline.
Can our MACA basketball teams be made stronger? Can we get to where New London-Spicer is now? Why not go for it? Well, our AD Mark Ekren is a little preoccupied now covering for the absent Craig Peterson. Our superintendent is distracted.
Will we learn that we have seen an example of prosecutorial overreach? It's a real phenomenon. The ethical code of the National District Attorneys Association emphasizes that prosecutors should be "ministers of justice." A white paper concludes that prosecutor misconduct is now widespread to the point of reaching "epidemic" levels.
It couldn't happen here in Motown in our bastion of prairie innocence? We used to think that about the Catholic priest misbehavior - that happens out in Boston, not here - but then we discovered quite the problem here in Morris, and a priest had to just mosey on down the road (forced).
Yes, there are discouraging aspects to our spring of 2014 here in Motown. My friend Del Sarlette has suggested in jest that we consider a "snirt festival" complete with a "snirt queen." I had a good friend in college, ol' Brad the "ranger" from Virginia MN, who said in March a long time ago: "It's spring and everything is new - except me."
Yours truly will continue taking those walks out to the east until I get to that gazebo. It would be fun to meet a woman there sometime. Except, that I wouldn't want to be accused of anything later. Lawyers just end up making money.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

New London-Spicer gets past Minnewaska at SJU

Wildcats 46, Lakers 32
New London-Spicer has long commanded major respect in girls basketball. That reputation isn't going to be dented at all this year.
On Saturday (3/8) they advanced past Minnewaska Area, the team that ended the season for our MACA Tigers. The Tigers were seeded fourth in sub-section, one notch above 'Waska, but that didn't help. Nor did the home court help our Tigers.
Coach Dale Henrich didn't have the answer for our orange and black. Minnewaska took command in that game, then they came up against the "buzz saw" of New London-Spicer in the sub-section semis. The Wildcats were clearly off their best game but it didn't matter. 'Waska couldn't summon the weapons to upset the Wildcats.
The Wildcats entered the weekend ranked fifth in state and showed superiority with their 46-32 win over the Lakers.
Certainly it wasn't an offensive showcase. NL-Spicer star Taylor Thunstedt had nine of her team's 12 turnovers. The Wildcats shot a cool 35 per cent from the field in the first half and it actually got worse from there. Minnewaska actually out-rebounded those 'Cats.
NL-Spicer despite its shortcomings improved to 22-5 on the season. Their Saturday success was on the floor of St. John's University, Collegeville.
Now the 'Cats are focusing on the Section 6AA-South title game which will pit them against Eden Valley-Watkins. Game-time is 6 p.m. Tuesday (3/11) at SJU again.
"Ugly" describes the first half between NL-Spicer and 'Waska. Turnovers were frequent. The Lakers were dogged and stayed in the game for an extended time. In fact, when Laker Bayley Pooler connected for a '3' early in the second half, the score became tied!
The Wildcats bore down to end the suspense after that. The next nine minutes were forgettable for the Lakers. NL-Spicer opened up a ten-point advantage. It's highly unlikely that a Wildcat foe is going to close that kind of gap in the second half.
NL-S is most often a smoothly-operating machine. Thunstedt may have had her fumbles in this game - rare for this standout - but she scored 23 points on the night, 16 coming in the second half. Her 23 points was game-high.
The Lakers went into lapses offensively in the second half, making just six of 31 shots in the half. There was no relief to be found at the freethrow line.
The Lakers had glimmers of hope entering this game. They have no dynastic credentials like NL-S. But their win with ease vs. a quality MACA Tiger team buoyed hopes. They entered Saturday having won seven of ten. Beating our Tigers Thursday was 'Waska's first playoff win since 2009.
We need to start scratching our heads here in Motown and start wondering what might be done to get more post-season success in hoops, boys and girls. Our AD Mark Ekren is a little preoccupied now covering for our absent principal - what a calamity, eh? We have bigger fish to fry with our school now. But let's keep sports on the back-burner.
The Tigers should have had a trip to St. John's.
The pre-trial hearing for our principal, Craig Peterson, is coming up on March 19. Circle that date. Will Nancy Grace be talking about this trial? We'll see. Or, Jane Velez-Mitchell. Or Jean Casarez.
Winning on a down night
New London-Spicer averages 60-plus points a game. The Saturday affair was no reflection of that prowess. Neither team was able to score during the last few minutes of the first half. Yawn. There was no relief early in the second half.
NL-Spicer fans would say all that matters is the final score.
Mike Dreier still has the coaching reins for those Wildcats. He's a legend. He coached there during my newspaper career. Fan Rick Lucken suspected he wore a toupee. A mystery, eh? He certainly coaches winners.
The article in the Willmar newspaper on this game is incredibly detailed. I can't imagine any more than a core group of fans being interested in reading this. It reminded me of the articles that Mike Martin once wrote for the Morris newspaper.
The Willmar paper recently screwed up with how it reported on the two MAHACA wrestlers who were in state. Al Hendrickson told me this morning that one of the two did in fact win a match, whereas the Willmar paper had them coming up winless. Those two grapplers: Travis Ostby and Myles Smith.
I feel bad because I used information from the Willmar paper for my own writing.
Carley Stewart was the only Laker scoring in double figures Saturday, and she managed but ten points. Pooler put up nine. Ashlyn Guggisberg scored six points, Ariel Ostrander five, Emma Middendorf and Madison Phillips two each, and Ashley Blom one.
(No, that doesn't add up to 32 points. The Willmar paper has it wrong.)
Pooler and Stewart each made two 3-point shots, a department where 'Waska struggled with four of 23 numbers. They weren't hesitant about the long-rangers.
Stewart was 'Waska's top rebounder with ten followed by Pooler with nine. Phillips led in assists with four followed by Stewart with three. Pooler and Stewart each had two steals.
Thunstedt with her 23 points was followed on the NL-S scoring list by Ashlyn Geister (8), Bri Fredrick (7), Petra Lothert (4), and Olivia Setterberg and Kabrie Weber each with two.
Megan Thorson led the 'Cats in rebounds with nine. Fredrick stole the ball four times.
Thunstedt had three of the team's five 3-pointers. Fredrick and Lothert each connected once from three-point land.
Minnewaska got just three freethrow attempts and made two, while NL-Spicer had the most robust numbers of 11-for-16.
Thunstedt was quoted in the Willmar paper saying "Once it started clicking, everything turned out fine." Many Morris residents are likely thinking the same on behalf of our high school principal for the upcoming trial (for sexual assault). Tune in to HLN?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, March 7, 2014

Minnewaska Area stuns MACA girls, here

'Waska 55, Tigers 36
The home court didn't help the MACA girls basketball Tigers Thursday (3/6). Not only did the Tigers have the home court in their favor (theoretically), they were seeded slightly higher.
The on-paper advantages faded for coach Dale Henrich's crew. The fourth-seeded Tigers were toppled by the fifth-seeded Lakers of Minnewaska Area. Ouch! Not only did the Tigers lose, they didn't put up much of a contest.
Was it scouting? Was it tactics? Was it mental focus? Whatever the explanation, MACA tumbled to a forgettable 55-36 loss. It was the first-round tournament game.
Alas, neither the boys nor girls in MACA basketball lasted past the opening round. The boys fell to Eden Valley-Watkins. I editorialized in my boys coverage that there ought to be a double-elimination format. One game doesn't seem enough to test a team after the long regular season.
MACA student-athletes will now have a long time to start preparing for the spring season. But how can any of us think about spring, given the horribly harsh conditions of late? I'm writing this on Friday. It's best to not even try to leave the house. Why do we live here?
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls lost to 'Waska in the Section 6AA-South quarters. 'Waska edged closer to .500 with its season record, and now faces the big challenge of playing the top seed, New London-Spicer. The Lakers and Wildcats will square-off at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. John's. I think I know where the smart money will be.
Minnewaska owns the modest won-lost numbers of 13-14, quite inferior to how the Tigers had fared. The Tigers end the 2013-14 season with a 16-10 record - not much consolation when you consider the disappointment at the end.
It was somewhat stunning to see the Tigers falter, because we had beaten Minnewaska Area twice during the regular season by a combined 34 points! The Tigers lost three of their last four games.
'Waska led the Tigers 27-14 at halftime. The Lakers kept the momentum, outscoring the Tigers 28-22 the rest of the way.
The Tigers sure didn't look comfortable shooting at their home gym. They were bricklayers with 14 of 66 total field goal stats, and one of nine in 3's. In one stretch they were eight for 52! Correy Hickman made the one MACA '3'. The team's freethrow stats were seven of 20.
Becca Holland led in rebounds with nine. Lauren Reimers dished out three assists. Becca was tops in steals with four.
The individual scoring totals were anemic with Beth Holland leading with her eleven points. Abbie Olson and Kaitlin Vogel each scored six. Lacee Maanum put in five, Rebekah Aanerud four, Hickman three and Reimers one.
The Lakers were really humming with three-point shooting. In contrast to the mere one make by MACA, the Lakers made nine 3's! Madison Phillips sank three of these. Bayley Pooler and Carley Stewart each made two 3's. Ashlyn Guggisberg and Taylor Amundson each made one long-ranger. Quite an onslaught.
The Lakers were also sharp at the freethrow line with 12 of 14 numbers. Ariel Ostrander was the top Laker scorer with eleven points followed closely by five of her mates: Pooler (10), Stewart (10), Phillips (9), Taylor Amundson (9) and Guggisberg (8).
MACA basketball has come to an all-too abrupt end for 2013-14. Surely there were highlights in regular season play.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thunstedt scores like thunder vs. MACA

NL-Spicer 73, Tigers 54
It's never a picnic to play New London-Spicer in girls basketball. The Tigers of MACA had that daunting task on Thursday, Feb. 27.
The Wildcats executed smoothly at our MAHS gym. They put up 73 points compared to 54 by our Tigers. The halftime score was 39-24.
NL-Spicer upped its season record to 19-5. Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers came out of the night with the still very good 16-9 numbers.
Thoughts are focused on the post-season now. MACA can embrace bright hopes. They're set to vie against Minnewaska Area at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the MAHS gym. On paper this is a close matchup with MACA (#4 seed) having the edge over the Lakers (#5 seed). We're in the ranks of Section 6AA.
I have become familiar with the name Taylor Thunstedt of the New London-Spicer Wildcats. She makes waves often on the basketball court. On Thursday she was a prime force helping separate the Wildcats from the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Taylor's point total was 29. She connected five times from three-point land. (It has been a while since I used the term "three-point land.")
Reilly Ness made three 3-pointers and McKenzie Peterson made one.
Megan Thorson was No. 2 on the NL-Spicer scoring list with her 14 points. Ness scored nine, followed by Ashlyn Geister (6), Peterson (3), Erin Tebben (3), Kabrie Weber (3), Alyssa Fredrick (2), Petra Lothert (2), Lauren Bratberg (1) and Morgan Swenson (1).
Geister grabbed nine rebounds. Thunstedt led in assists and steals with four and seven respectively.
The Tigers were cold in three-point shooting. Rebekah Aanerud made one '3' for MACA and that was it for the orange and black cause. The team numbers were one of 13. In total field goals the Tigers made 20 of 76. The freethrow numbers: 13 of 25.
Kayla Pring led the rebounding with her nine. Kaitlin Vogel had seven rebounds for the orange and black. Three Tigers each collected six boards: Becca Holland, Nicole Strobel and Lacee Maanum. The Holland sisters each had two assists. Correy Hickman stole the ball twice.
The MACA scoring was quite spread around. We simply needed more of it. Becca Holland with her ten points was the only double figures scorer. Three Tigers each scored six points: Pring, Vogel and Beth Holland.
Maanum put in five points followed by these three Tigers each with four: Piper Gibson, Lauren Reimers and Abbie Olson. Aanerud's three-point shot represented her only scoring on the night. Hickman, Strobel and Moira McNally each scored two points.
Boys basketball: EV-W 68, Tigers 60
One game? Is that all? This was the extent of the MACA boys' post-season experience for 2014.
It seems a shame, given the glimmers of potential the Tigers showed for high-caliber play, mixed in with the losses. They entered the tournament with the modest No. 7 seeding position. Still, fans knew this team could punch down on the accelerator.
Which Tiger team would show up for the "new" season (when everyone is 0-0)? The Tigers began the regular season on a losing skid. This would not be the norm for the 2013-14 winter, though. The Tigers showed they could take command on occasion.
How much command could they show vs. the No. 2 seed, Eden Valley-Watkins? The curtain opened for Section 6AA play on Thursday, Feb. 27. The Tigers as the lower seed had to be road warriors.
The early portion of the second half told the story. The Tigers went cold and fell to a deficit of 18 points. They then fought back, just not quite enough. That deficit got shaved down to five. In the end the host Eagles won 68-60 and could advance in 6AA.
The curtain comes down on the Morris Area Chokio Alberta season with a W/L record of 9-15.
Coach Mark Torgerson's crew entered the post-season having been idle from game action for nine days. The weather was a factor in the hiatus.
"We never quite found our complete game in this contest," coach Torgerson said.
Shooting was downbeat: 35 per cent from the field, four of 15 in 3's.
Coach Torgerson was impressed by Eagle senior guard Brett Mattice who scored 29 points. Freshman guard Reese Jansen put in 18 points for the Eagles. Junior post man Jared Streit put in 15 points.
The Tigers were dealt a setback when starting forward Nathan Anderson had to leave the game early in the first half with a shoulder injury.
Eden Valley-Watkins led 32-26 at the half. Noah Grove accounted for 18 of the Tigers' 26 first half points. The turning point seemed to be the opening of the second half, which saw EV-W go on a 12-0 run.
MACA's struggling was not for lack of good scoring opportunities, Torgerson noted. The Tigers bounced back to get within five points with 1:22 left to play. A pivotal moment arrived when MACA had an open look on a three-point shot that would have shaved the margin to two (with over a minute left).
Yes, it was a game that left Tiger fans with "what might have been" thoughts. That '3' attempt went off the back rim.
"The Eagles gained control from there," Torgerson said.
EV-Watkins used freethrows down the stretch as an insurance policy.
We have to accept that the season is done. Again, a mere one game in the post-season doesn't seem enough and doesn't seem fair, not for this group. How about a double-elimination format? Hey, MSHSL!
The Tigers put up bricks at the start of the season, going 0-7. But in the 2014 portion of the schedule, the W/L numbers were a quite pleasing 9-7. "It shows the vast improvement this group made," Torgerson said.
We say goodbye to only one starter via graduation: senior captain Bryce Jergenson. (I remember photographing Bryce's dad at the spring "Olympics Day" of Morris Elementary School.)
"The Tigers look like a team that could contend in 2014-15," Torgerson said.
Eric Staebler was a force as the Tigers' sophomore center. Staebler became one of the few Tigers in history to average a double-double for a season. He stands 6'3". His sophomore campaign saw him pour in 482 points (20.1 ppg). He snared 28 rebounds (11.7 rpg). His rebound harvest puts him in the top five in Tiger history for a single season.
Noah Grove, a junior, was an offensive force in many games, flirting with 400 points on the season. His 392 points translated to a per-game output of 16.3.
We'll get to see Andrew Goulet again next season. He's coming off his junior campaign. Andrew plays guard and is known for defensive prowess. Also coming off their junior campaign are Nathan Anderson and C.J. Nagel, post players who rotated at a starting spot.
The Tiger 'B' team had a promising group of sophomores.
Let's review some stats from the EV-W game. Noah Grove had the hot hand as he made three 3-pointers (in nine attempts) and led the team in scoring with 31 points. Bryce Jergenson made a '3' and finished with ten points. MACA was four of 15 in 3's.
Eric Staebler was held down some and finished with eleven points. These four Tigers each scored two points: Arbach, Zosel, Nagel and Goulet.
Staebler went up to grab 13 rebounds. Jergenson had six, Goulet three, Grove two, and Arbach and Zosel one each.
Riley Biesterfeld, Arbach and Grove each blocked a shot. Zosel, Grove and Staebler each had three assists, and Biesterfeld had one. In steals it was Grove and Staebler executing three each, and Jergenson two.
State wrestling: disappointment
The MAHACA Tigers had two from their ranks vie in state. Unfortunately neither won a match. Still, the accomplishment of making state is noteworthy.
Myles Smith at 145 pounds, a senior, dropped a 12-4 major decision to Jake Berthiaume of Monticello. He was eliminated. Myles' season record: 28-12.
Travis Ostby, an up-and-coming sophomore for MAHACA, lost by fall in the opening round to Kyle Nordstrom of Simley (time of 5:33). Consolations saw Travis drop a 14-4 major decision to Noah Bernier of Thief River Falls. Travis' season record: 26-16.
Congrats to these Tigers.
"I heard the news today, oh boy"
I had time for a quick glance at the Morris newspaper Sunday at church. Another sexual assault arrest headline? Aren't these getting a little tired? Are parents having to put the Morris newspaper somewhere where their kids can't see it? Of course, a great many Morris area residents simply don't buy the paper anymore. That solves it.
How much more refreshing it is to see the Senior Perspective paper with its upbeat human interest features, no "true crime" stories, no "district court report" full of names of your neighbors for seat belt and minor speeding infractions, and no "sports section" full of game details that you aren't interested in reading, not that you aren't happy these fine sports programs exist.
You'd think the world revolved around sports, to look at the Morris newspaper. The sports section glorifies teams and kids fortunate enough to be endowed with God-given athletic talent. We're happy for these kids, of course, but the youth population of Stevens County is involved in a wide array of enriching and uplifting activities.
As for the true crime stuff, I don't know the extent we really need to read about all the details, especially when verdicts haven't yet been rendered.
The details in these sexual assault articles make me want to wince. Is this necessary? Could we just sit back and let the law enforcement wheels of Stevens County turn without so much public exposure? Anyone agree with me?
Our high school principal is sitting there worried that he might have to serve as many as 30 years in prison. I don't think the taxpayers are interested in paying Craig Peterson's room and board for the next umpteen years as he sits in prison, his "three squares a day" included of course. Society is increasingly getting skeptical of prison as a remedy anyway.
Is it true Peterson is just sitting around doing nothing? While the school scrambles? What a mess.
Maybe there's a lesson to be taken: If you're contemplating having sex with someone who isn't your spouse, draw up a "contract for sex." Each would sign. The legal community loves having "things in writing," right? This would accommodate the legal community, members of which presumably make lots of money on cases like this.
If you're the man, consider having the woman take the top position in order to protect yourself.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com