Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper
- Member for
- 3 years 7 months
Ashley Smith is usually not too hard to find. Usually she is working - often on a volunteer basis - to improve the lives of the youth of Pine River-Backus. First, the Backus native can be seen at nearly every Pine River-Backus girls sporting event, either working the scorer's table or taking pictures of the action. She began writing sports stories for the Pine River Journal (now the Echo Journal) roughly seven years ago, and shortly thereafter was asked to take photos to complement those articles.
Alyssa Semmler recorded 25 points and 11 rebounds - earning a spot on the all-tournament team - to lead the Pine River-Backus Tigers girls basketball team to a 56-47 victory over the Cromwell Cardinals in the third-place game of the Mountain Iron-Buhl Tournament Thursday, Dec. 28. "At first, I was nervous, but after I got into the groove, I realized we were playing just another team that is going to have some weaknesses," Semmler said. "The post game was their weakness, so I just took it to them."
Another year is in the books, and with it comes my annual year in review of area sports. In my end-of-2016 story one year ago, I discussed at length the success the area teams had - with three different state tournament appearances - but this past year just may have been more successful for Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus, although the number of team state appearances was three once again.
Echo Journal editor extraordinaire Nancy Vogt recently wrote a column calling on holiday shoppers to take advantage of Small Business Saturday (usually the day after Black Friday) and patronize local shops in Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Pine River and Crosslake. That's great advice, and I did absolutely none of that. I suppose this piece will read like some "do as I say, not as I do" warning, but I really was not the most efficient Christmas shopper this year, and none of the gifts I'm giving will have that local lakes area flavor, I'm sad to report.
The Northern Lakes girls hockey team is coming off its best finish in team history. Even better, the Lightning lost just two seniors to graduation, meaning the team was entering the season with some experience. There was just one problem: The Lightning needed a goalie. Enter Pequot Lakes sophomore Maddie Wahoske, who had not played hockey before this season in any capacity and is now the Lightning's starting netminder.
The Pequot Lakes School Board stayed with its preliminary tax levy set in September, approving a final 2018 tax levy with a local option revenue of $724 per pupil - an increase of $99 per pupil - at the board's Monday, Dec. 18, meeting. In 2018, the district will operate with a total general fund of $2,531,656 and a total tax levy of $5,674,932.
After three straight losses, the Northern Lakes Lightning boys hockey team bounced back with a 10-4 victory over the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines on Tuesday, Dec. 12. "It was a good win for the guys to have after a pretty tough weekend," coach Craig Larson said. "It was good for them to come in and get a good run and get some better play up front with our forward lines." Shane Donovan tallied three goals and three assists for a Lightning team that were outshot by their opponents 33-26.
On Nov. 20, 1967, the Gull Lake Drifters were founded. Since then, the snowmobile club has worked to maintain area snowmobile trails and promote the sport of snowmobiling. "Our job is to take care of trails," club member and secretary Cindy Terwilliger said. "Some clubs have big fundraisers or different events or activities, but we are primarily a grooming club. We have 122 miles of trail in Cass and Crow Wing counties."
The Pine River-Backus boys basketball team picked up its first win of the season on Friday, Dec. 8, in at 69-54 victory over the Northome-Kelliher Mustangs. "I thought we played really well, except for the first three minutes of the second half," coach John Riewer said. "We had a 13-point lead and then Northome-Kelliher went on a 14-0 run. We called a timeout at that time and I was really impressed with the kids because we came out of that timeout and gradually built the lead back up. It was a nice conference win on the road."
When the Pequot Lakes girls basketball team kicked off its new season on Thursday, Nov. 30, it did so with Katrina Moody as the new head coach of the Patriots. Moody was hired as a math teacher and coach in the spring. She was a three-sport athlete at Barnum High School, where her father is the head coach of the boys basketball team. Her team qualified for four state tournaments, winning a state title her senior year.