Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper
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The Tiger girls basketball team is currently 17-8 overall and is preparing for a postseason run beginning next week, based on the success they have found on both ends of the court. One aspect of the team's success has been its post game, thanks in part to the efforts of junior post players Alyssa Semmler and Gabby Rainwater. "Defensively and offensively, they have been huge for us," coach Randy Schwegel said. "Without them, we are an entirely different team."
The Patriots will be officially represented by a new team next year. The Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously agreed Monday, Feb. 12, to add clay target as a school-sponsored spring sport, beginning with the 2018-19 school year. A club-sponsored Pequot Lakes trap shooting team has existed for several years, with the team dependent on fundraising and volunteerism.
Pequot Lakes senior Calvin Maske has signed a letter of intent to play football for Minnesota State University Moorhead. Maske committed verbally to the team in a special event at Pequot Lakes High School on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Though he was the Patriots' Defensive MVP in 2017, Maske will play for the Dragons primarily as a fullback. "I just liked the environment there," Maske said. "The team bonding is good there and the coaches were awesome. I've heard good things about the school, so that was a big part of it."
The Tigers had four athletes scoring in double figures as they beat Northome-Kelliher 63-36 in a Northland Conference game Friday, Feb. 2. "The first half, we played a little sluggish," coach John Riewer said. "You could tell we had played the night before. In the second half, the kids came out and played really well offensively." Nick Ackerman had 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals in the game. Brady Raph totaled 13 points, and Torry Hirschey and Louis Bueckers each collected 10.
Alyssa Semmler scored her 1,000th career point after totalling 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Pine River Backus Tigers' 67-29 win over the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines Monday, Feb. 5. "We are totally a different team without her," coach Randy Schwegel said. "She obviously can score points, but maybe even more important for us is that she is a pretty good defender and a really good shot blocker. We depend on her on both ends of the court.
At their next regular meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board may consider sponsoring a new sport. The board used its work session Monday, Jan. 29, to look into the possibility of adding trap shooting as a school-sponsored sport for the 2018-19 school year. A club-sponsored Pequot Lakes trap shooting team has existed for several years - with the team dependent on fundraising and volunteerism - but a proposal to sponsor the team could see a budget of $8,000 coming from the school. Any funds required past that amount would have to be accrued in fundraisers.
Brady Raph hit six shots from behind the arc and scored a game-high 24 points as the Pine River-Backus Tiger boys' basketball team topped Swanville 73-51 in a Section 5-1A matchup Friday, Jan. 26. "That was our best game of the year," coach John Riewer said. "We just played extremely well on the road. It came at the right time. We needed a win, and we needed a win against a good opponent ... I just hope we can build on that." Torry Hirschey also hit double figures with 14 points, Nick Ackerman tallied 13, and Louis Bueckers hit for 12 as the Tigers improved to 8-9 overall.
Last summer, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of working at a Forum Communications newspaper. Reaching that milestone made me reflect on my time as a journalist, and I would say 80 percent of the job has been what I expected. The other 20 percent has taken me by surprise a bit. For one thing, I didn't think there would be a whole lot of math involved, and I was wrong.
The Northern Lakes girls hockey team overcame a 3-1 deficit to top Prairie Centre 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the Breezy Point Arena. "It was pretty emotional," coach Breanna Sheley said. "It was not the start I wanted. I was expecting to come out and get a couple of quick ones on them. We have been clicking lately, so it was a little disappointing for me to start the way we did, but you have to give (Prairie Centre) credit, because they are really good around the net and made some good plays."
With more than five decades of coaching experience, Bud Bjornaraa has plenty of insight to offer athletes. This spring will mark his 57th year as a coach, and sixth with the Pequot Lakes track and field team on a volunteer basis as an assistant coach and strength and conditioning consultant. Bjornaraa's career as an instructor and coach spans several schools across Minnesota and Wisconsin, but nearly half of his 57 years were spent at Apple Valley High School where he was head coach of a track and field team that won 17 consecutive conference championships.