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
- 3 years 9 months
Persistence. Katy Johnson had it Tuesday. Maria West did, too, as the lone Brainerd Warrior senior wasn’t going to be denied her moment to shine at Brainerd High School. The two varsity veterans hit key shots down the stretch to lead Brainerd to a 49-45 victory over the Little Falls Flyers. For the second straight game the Warriors rallied for a victory. On Monday, Brainerd overcame a 35-21 halftime deficit to beat Sartell 69-64.
Rachelle LeBlanc called last season a blessing. She’ll be praying even harder this weekend. The Little Falls Flyers senior gymnast will be competing in her fourth Class 1A state meet and third as an all-arounder. During last year’s Class 1A state tournament, LeBlanc placed third with a 37.425. She tallied a 9.175 vault, a 9.2 on bars, a 9.55 on beam and a 9.5 on floor. Her vault score placed her 20th. She finished ninth on bars, third on beam and fourth on floor.
For Chris Ortman it’s all about feet. Quick feet plus fast attacks equals takedowns, which will hopefully lead to state tournament success. The Pierz senior wrestler is already headed to state as part of the Section 7-1A championship Pioneers. He’ll look to qualify as an individual for the fourth time Saturday.
On senior night, a sophomore grew up. Brainerd’s Kobe Ahonen, a 6-foot-5 first-year varsity player, erupted for a career-high 21 points, 13 coming in the second half, to help the Warriors to a 63-53 victory over the Little Falls Flyers Thursday night at Brainerd High School. Ahonen, who has started every game this season, was coming off a 15-point performance Tuesday against Sauk Rapids. He topped that Thursday by shooting 7-of-9 from the field and 7-of-10 from the line. Combined with Isaiah Smith’s long-range attack, the two tallied 46 of Brainerd’s 63 points.
Tristan Litke is making all the right choices. The senior has been clutch with his decision making, helping the Pillager Huskies to two important Park Region Conference victories. During the Huskies 78-75 win over Menahga Feb. 6, Litke finished with 28 points, six rebounds and two steals. He shot 6-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-7 from 3-point, and 7-of-8 from the line. “That was just a real steady performance throughout that game,” said Pillager head coach Erik Uselman. “Down the stretch, he had two possessions late in the game where he really stood out.
Bailey Nordean is on the move. Always on the move. Aitkin Gobblers head girls basketball coach Rob Williams said his point guard’s best physical attribute is her endurance. “Endurance is the perfect word,” said Williams. “That’s a great word to describe Bailey. In key games, she may only sit for a minute or two minutes because we need her stability at the point guard. She really allows our offense to bloom. Our other players don’t have to worry about turnovers and our rhythms stays in check.
Maria Hauer capped off a remarkable senior season with all-state honors Thursday. The Little Falls Flyer finished 12th at the state Nordic ski meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik for the best finish ever by a Flyers girl. The program’s previous best was 13th by Jackie Thelen in 2009. Hauer was in 10th place after the skate race with a 19:51, but dropped off a podium finish with a classic time of 19:35.8 and a pursuit of 39:26.8 under snowy, difficult conditions.
There is no hiding Mathew Massmann’s goals. The senior for the Little Falls Flyers Nordic ski team writes them down. Then he tells one person and that one person, along with himself, has to hold him accountable. Massmann has been accountable all season, but he still has work to do.
Maria Hauer is prepared to be the best. The Little Falls Flyers senior has the physical attributes to become the most heralded Nordic skier in school history. Hauer won every meet the Flyers competed in this season except for a sixth-place finish in the country’s largest Nordic ski event Jan. 11 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Seven-of-24 from the free throw line. Brainerd shot 29 percent from the line. Five of those misses were front ends of one-and-ones and still the Warriors had a chance for victory Thursday at Brainerd High School. Down 51-48 to the Alexandria Cardinals with 14.3 seconds left, the Warriors screened DJ Kraemer for an open 3-point attempt. The long-range specialist’s shot bounced off the rim and the Cardinals enjoyed their sixth-straight victory.