My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University.
My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
- Member for
- 7 years 6 months
Hailea Books had to redefine herself as a basketball player. The senior guard for the Pillager Huskies spent the last few years in a support role for 1,000-point scorer Gabby Martin. With Martin and four other players graduated, Books needed to become a scorer.
Good programs develop all-around athletes and the Brainerd Warriors had that on display Tuesday. Upon hearing distance standout Connor Lund would be out for the remainder of the season with an injury, Warriors head coach John Zemke looked at his lineup and made changes. He didn't have to look far as senior Gunnar Niemeyer stood at the ready. Niemeyer is no stranger to distance swimming as he advanced to the Class 2A state 500-yard freestyle race last season. On Tuesday he showed he still had what it took with wins in the 200 and 500 frees to help Brainerd defeat the Willmar Cardinals 101-73 at the Brainerd High School pool.
Brainerd Warriors head boys basketball coach Scott Stanfield is a retired police officer, and with one comment may have summarized the feelings of many high school coaches across the state. "I go from being a cop to this, and it's one stressful job to another and it's time for a break," Stanfield said. "Coaching was worse. Coaching has been way worse. "If you win, it doesn't matter. If you lose, it doesn't matter. If their kid doesn't get enough playing time—look out."
Winning 100 career matches wasn't a goal for Jake Andres, but he still did it. The Pierz Pioneers' junior picked up career win No. 100 during the Pierz quadrangular Jan. 4. He pinned Eden Valley-Watkins' Taylor Ludwig in 5:14, propelling the Pioneers to a 70-10 victory. He scored an 18-2 technical fall over Carsten Jacobson of Osakis in a 50-18 win and pinned James Mann in 3:51 to help Pierz to a 46-27 victory over Rocori. "I'm not going to lie, that wasn't one of my goals this year," Andres said. "I knew it would just come with wrestling well and learning new moves and expanding my wrestling. I knew that would come with time."
In a season of change, one thing hasn't—Olivia Lane still dominates. The Pequot Lakes Patriots have a new head coach in Katrina Moody. It's her first head coaching stint and she and her players are learning and coming together on the fly. But they seem to be learning quickly, and having the 6-foot-1 Lane on the floor helps.
Call it a culture adjustment. A perceptual refocus to all five senses. Going from the formal, martini-bar style dining of Iven's on the Bay to the casual, kick your feet up dining of the Northern Cowboy Flame N'Brew north of Brainerd on North Long Lake is abrupt, but not unwelcome.
It was just Brainerd's unlucky night. St. Cloud Tech senior point guard James Kaczor missed the last three weeks with a broken hand and Tuesday was the day his cast was removed. It was also the day he returned to the floor as he helped lead the Tigers to a 51-47 Central Lakes Conference victory over the Warriors at Brainerd High School.
Brainerd's state title defense starts in earnest this weekend when the Warriors face what head coach Todd Person believes will be the top three opponents of the coming season. The Warriors open the year in Rochester, where they will face the Rochester Raiders Friday followed by back-to-back games Saturday against Dakota United and Robbinsdale Armstrong. Last season, Brainerd finished 5-0 against those opponents on its way to a 15-0 season and the state title. Brainerd collected the third state title in program history thanks to a high-scoring offense that set state records for most goals in the tournament (36) and most goals in one period (9). The Warriors tied state records for most goals in one game (17) and most goals by two teams in a championship game (12).
Cambridge-Isanti head coach Mike McDonald used one word to describe his team Thursday and that word was havoc. The Bluejackets spread that havoc all over the Brainerd High School gymnasium leading to an 81-70 road victory over the Brainerd Warriors. Cambridge forced the Warriors into 21 total turnovers and used those extra possessions to build insurmountable leads in each half.
Claire Wolhowe was preparing for one of the most exciting days of her young life. She was ready to sign her NCAA National Letter of Intent to play Division II basketball for the Bemidji State Beavers next season. The Staples-Motley senior was coming off a successful girls tennis season. She also concluded a fall AAU basketball league and was two weeks away from starting her final season as a Cardinals basketball player. Her future path was becoming crystal clear. Then Nov. 1 put a dense fog on everything.