Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.
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While the Patriot boys cross country team return several athletes, they move forward without their only state qualifier, as 2018 graduate Reid Pierzinski finished 76th for the Patriots at last year's Class A state cross country meet. At the Section 8A meet, the Patriot boys were fifth overall as Pierzinski placed seventh, Max Johnston was 21st, Sam Person 37th and Russell Pierzinski 41st. However, the Patriots' returning runners looking to take the lead.
The Pine River-Backus volleyball team returns five seniors from a squad that finished 24-8 on the season (7-1 in the conference) and advanced to the Class A state tournament last season.
The Pequot Lakes volleyball team parted ways with five of its top contributors in the offseason, but will rely on the experience they have available, along with some relatively new faces. "Having graduated five seniors, we are still a work in progress," head coach Chris Ganley said. "Britt (Kratochvil) and Mariah (Rickard) have two years of varsity experience, but the rest of our team will have more significant roles than they have had in the past.
The majority of last season's varsity athletes are back this year as the Patriot tennis team looks to improve upon an already solid 15-7 record. Head coach Monica Sergent's team also tallied a 6-1 conference record in 2017, improving her 15-year career record to 223-75. This season, nine of those same athletes will continue to improve that record. "These players work hard both during the season and in the offseason," Sergent said. "Most of them are able to play both singles and doubles, which gives us flexibility within our line up."
The cancellation of the Pine River-Backus varsity football season was a disappointing situation for players, coaches, parents, fans and even your local sportswriter. As a huge football fan, I look forward to covering games once fall rolls around.
When the new school year begins Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Crosslake Community School, it will do so in a brand new, $7.3 million facility located in the heart of Crosslake. Still on the main thoroughfare - County Road 66 - the 35,000-square-foot, two-story building is on the property where the city's Catholic church formerly stood. It replaces the school campus in northern Crosslake, which saw the school's main and administrative offices, along with the cafeteria, in a separate building from the classrooms and gymnasium.
Coming off the best finish in program history, the Pequot Lakes Patriot football team now have a new head coach in Bill Magnuson and several players with varsity experience. "With the return of 16 letterwinners off of the 2017 Class 3A State Semifinals team, the 2018 season should be exciting," Magnuson said. However, the team parted ways with coach Chip Lohmiller and a large group of seniors who occupied many of the team's starting roles in 2017. Despite this, Magnuson believes that the "cupboard is not empty."
With only a handful of upperclassmen signed up for the upcoming season, Pine River-Backus High School coaches and officials have decided not to field a varsity football team this fall. Logan Gordon is the lone senior signed up to play football, along with eight juniors. Half of the team's 22 athletes are freshmen.
Madeline Pluimer went 2-0 at No. 4 singles and the Pequot Lakes Patriots swept all doubles matches in their home invitational against Bemidji and Little Falls on Monday, Aug. 27. "Bemidji is always a tough match for us, but we like to play them because they help us get better," head coach Monica Sergent said. "We believe this is the first year that we have been able to beat them, but we had very competitive matches at every position, win or lose."
A wide variety of sports have always been popular in the lakes area. High school sports often see the bleachers full, people enjoy taking part in summer baseball and softball, and pond hockey is often a common attraction at winter events. And of course, the local golf courses see plenty of traffic in the months with no snow. However, two newer sports are seeing an increase in popularity at a recreational level in the lakes area: pickleball and disc golf. Pickleball