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Replacing much of his front row hitting corps and an all-conference player in the back row are among the challenges facing Brainerd head coach Jared Diem as the Warriors prepare to open the season Thursday night, Aug. 25, at Pequot Lakes. Front row hitters Kirsten Johnshoy, Nicole Borg and Mercedes Stavig graduated leaving senior Katie Jobe and sophomore Courtney Russell as returning hitters. In addition, All-Central Lakes Conference player Maddy Stall has graduated from the back row. "Replacing our starting hitters is a daunting task," Diem said. "We've replaced them with non-seniors, minus Katie Jobe. Then, not having Maddy Stall in the back row, we have to replace that need as well."
When the Brainerd Warriors scored 22 goals in 16 games last season, that total represented the eighth-most goals scored in program history in a single season. Averaging 1.375 goals per game doesn't win many games. And, 22 goals in a season indicates that defense is what the Warriors have played best in the program's 19 years. "That tells you a little bit about Brainerd High School boys soccer history—that we don't score too often," Warriors coach Tom Grausam said. "We're more defensive-minded. We need to change that strategy into scoring. ... What we have to do is make more runs out of the middle and out of the back."
A heart-wrenching shootout defeat in the 2015 Section 8-2A quarterfinals put an abrupt end to one of the most successful seasons in Brainerd Warrior girls soccer history. Winning 15-straight games after a season-opening loss to Rogers, Brainerd entered the section tournament against seventh-seeded Elk River as the No. 2 seed. The host Warriors had beaten the Elks 5-2 during the regular season. The playoff game was tied 2-2 after regulation and after a 20-minute overtime. Elk River went on to win by outscoring the Warriors 5-3 in the shootout.
Doubles appears to be where the Brainerd Warriors have the most open competition as they prepare to begin their season Monday, Aug. 22, at the Hibbing Quadrangular. Brainerd returns eight players with varsity experience from last season when it finished 7-3 in the Central Lakes Conference, 15-6 overall, and lost in the semifinals of the Section 8-2A tournament. Kennedy Rusk, Taya Person and Brittney Fletcher are returning doubles players which leaves three doubles positions for the taking. "We have (six) matches before school starts," Warriors coach Lisa Salo said. "We're going to get a lot of chances to feel the team out and where we're at with our positioning. Doubles will be the piece that we need to figure out."
Heather Vulin says she was a "decent" athlete at Brainerd High School and at the University of Minnesota-Morris. The former Heather Kappes was an All-Central Lakes Conference volleyball player at BHS and received honorable mention All-CLC in basketball. At UMM, she was a 4-year letterwinner in basketball and volleyball, receiving academic all-conference honors in each. Vulin may not have been a Division I athlete but she is a Division I coach. In April, she was hired as head women's basketball coach at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., in the Bronx after 16 years as an assistant at North Dakota State, Sacred Heart, Villanova and Virginia Tech.
John Wesley Donaldson may be the best baseball player most Americans have never heard of. The African-American's career spanned 1908-41 enduring the Great Depression and segregation and an era when black athletes were barred from playing professional baseball. As a result, Donaldson played for at least 25 different teams, including barnstorming and town teams as well as Negro League teams. According to research unearthed by the Donaldson Network, which has amassed more than 5,500 newspaper references to his career, the left-handed flamethrower won 399 games and struck out 4,942 batters. The network also estimates Donaldson played in 550 cities in 25 states and Canada.
During the regular season, the Fort Ripley Rebels defeated the Nisswa Lightning 7-1 and 3-2. In the Victory League North Division playoffs, the Lightning returned the favor, prevailing 6-2 and 6-1. Saturday's Region 8C winners bracket game will be the rubber match as the Rebels and Lightning meet at 7 p.m. at Freeport. Both have already clinched berths in the Class C state tournament which opens Aug. 19-21 at Dassel, Hutchinson and Litchfield. Having played four times this season, as well as many times in years past, means there are no secrets between the teams.
On his website, Kelly Burnham's voice is described as "Powerful, bass, unique, distinguished and dominant." Beginning Aug. 28, that booming voice will thunder through the public address system at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis when the Minnesota Vikings play the San Diego Chargers in the first NFL game in the $1 billion facility.
Throughout his high school and college career, Josh Archibald has always been an ace. He amassed 157 points in a three-year career with the Brainerd Warriors and was Mr. Hockey finalist. He accumulated 94 points in three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he set school and career marks for goals scored in a season. At UNO, he was a Hobey Baker Finalist, was voted the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's Player and Forward of the Year and was an NCAA First-Team All-American.
Nikki Anderson Team: Minnesota Gophers Height: 5-10 Position: Left-handed pitcher Number: 18 High School: Brainerd (2012 graduate) In May, flame-throwing left-hander Nikki Anderson completed a stellar career with the University of Minnesota softball team. The Brainerd High School graduate compiled a career 3.38 ERA and 25-11 record in 91 games (27 starts) with six saves for the Gophers. In 260.2 innings, she allowed 305 hits and 126 earned runs with 59 walks and 211 strikeouts. Opponents batted a modest .283 against her.