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Pete's Point: Sports success continues for Patriots

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Maybe its the water in the Pequot Lakes bobber tower? What ever the reason, the Patriots' high school athletic teams have been on a roll in recent years.

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Pequot Lakes athletes made occasional appearances at state for many decades, but the representation has increased with at least one Patriot team going to state competition in 17 of the past 20 school years.

And in the past four years, Pequot Lakes has had seven teams and dozens of individuals advance to state competition. The Patriots also claimed numerous Mid-State Conference championships.

"There was a time when Pequot Lakes teams didn't make it to state too often," said Jon Dale, a three-sport varsity coach with the Patriots, "but we have a nice streak over the last four years. The bar is set pretty high. If you don't go to state, people say, 'what's wrong?'"

Dale knows about success. He has traveled with teams or individuals to state competition in 11 of 12 seasons that he has coached over the last four years.

"My situation is pretty unique, but surely it's not about me. I feel fortunate to have had some really good kids."

Good kids, combined with a ton of dedication and hard work.

"I've always believed that kids have the chance to go to state as long as they put in the time," Dale said. "It's not magic as the kids also work hard during the off-season. Our athletes are dedicated and do put the time in the gym or the golf or cross country courses. We do have a lot of very good coaches (at Pequot Lakes) and we're blessed with a very nice sports facility."

Dale, whose girls' basketball and golf teams have made three state appearances in the past four years while his cross country squads have advanced individuals the past four seasons, adds that the success can't be attributed to a small group of athletes.

"Caitie Ryan and Jessica Faacks are the only two athletes that I coached in two sports this year," he said. "That makes our success even more unique that it's different kids.

"Overall, it was a great year for Pequot Lakes. It's not just my teams, the football team just missed going back to state, the wrestling team (combined with Pine River-Backus) went to state and all the teams did great this spring."

This spring, Dales notes that the Patriots won two state track titles, the girls' golf team was Class AA state runners-up, the softball team was section runners-up and the trap shooting squad won its conference.

"Plus, Maggie (Heggerston) was a co-medalist and Megan Snyder had a hole-in-one at the state golf meet," he said."What a way to end the school year. That success keeps me motivated to keep going."

The success goes beyond sports.

"So many of our athletes, and other Pequot Lakes students involved in fine arts, are also good in the classroom," Dale said. "I think it's because they're so internally motivated to do well.

"Our students are well-rounded. It's not just success in sports, but academics and community service."

Dale is optimistic about the future despite the recent graduation of many talented athletes.

"Success breeds success," he said. "My varsity players are currently running the girls' basketball camp. They are role models for the younger kids. It's more meaningful to have the varsity kids involved."

Tigers also had admirable season

Pine River-Backus athletic teams also enjoyed many milestones in the 2013-14 school year.

Last fall, the Tigers' football and volleyball teams compiled impressive regular season records. In the winter, the PR-B girls advanced to the subsection final in basketball while the Road Crew wrestling team competed at state for the first time and tied for the consolation title.

This spring, the Tigers' softball team was again Upper Mississippi Conference contenders while the track and field squad advanced a boys' relay to state for the first time in many years. Saul Sasse also represented PR-B at the boys' state golf meet.

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