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When Allison Kosobud started skiing in the Brainerd Warriors Nordic program in the winter of 2007-08 the conditions were similar to this year. Lack of snow this season has forced Brainerd to practice anywhere from French Rapids to Forestview Middle School to Northland Arboretum to downhill venues like Ski Gull. “It was hard to keep going,” Kosobud said of her first season. “Skiing is fun when you’re on snow.”
When the Brainerd Warriors clipped the Alexandria Cardinals 64-63 at Alexandria Dec. 22 they needed a last-second shot by Tony Sauer to win. In Monday night’s Central Lakes Conference rematch at Brainerd High School, the Warriors didn’t need any late heroics. They built a big lead and held off the Cardinals for a 67-58 win. The Warriors’ defense and opportunism overcame Alexandria’s size. Brainerd converted 18 Cardinal turnovers into 21 points. The Warriors’ sticky defense caused Alexandria to shoot just 38 percent from the field.
Jack Sauer is one of many Brainerd Warriors who have thrived with the switch to a motion offense this season. The junior sharpshooter leads the team in scoring with 235 points through 16 games (14.7 average), scoring 20-plus in three games. “It fits us a lot better,” Sauer said of the new offense. “We’re not the tallest team. We average about 6-foot. It gives us a chance to run around more, make the defenses tired. We have a lot of shooters on our team. This opens us up a lot.”
On teacher appreciation night, Brainerd teachers had to be appreciative of the Warriors’ effort. Each Warrior player selected a teacher who has been influential in their life and walked onto the floor with them before the contest. Unfortunately, the Warriors couldn’t sustain their effort. Brainerd let a 6-point halftime lead disintegrate as the Cardinals outscored them 30-18 in the second half for a 48-42 Central Lakes Conference victory.
For the first time since the 2005-06 season, Brainerd Warriors boys and girls teams captured Central Lakes Conference championships Tuesday at Powder Ridge in Kimball. The Warriors also won three of the four individual races, with Zean Baker winning the boys classic title, Riley Nelsen the boys skate title and Allison Kosobud winning the girls classic title. “Obviously, both coach (Chris) Hanson and I are delighted with the results,” Warriors co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan said.
EAST GULL LAKE – Thor Linnerooth finished 16th while his rival, Wolfgang Brink, won Friday’s dual meet between the Brainerd Warriors and Lakes Area Alpine at Andes Tower Hills near Alexandria. Linnerooth was determined not to let his rival win Monday at Ski Gull, the Warriors’ home hill. The Brainerd senior rebounded from a third-place first run and screamed down the course on his second to finish with a total time of 50:02 to Brink’s 50.42.
EAST GULL LAKE – Mara Williams has skied into the Brainerd Warriors No. 1 position while teammate Savannah Stone recovers from an injury. The Brainerd senior won her third race of the season Monday in the Warriors’ Invite at Ski Gull, compiling a total time of 53.91 to outdistance runner-up Molly Magnuson of St. Cloud by 2.16 seconds. “I’ve been finishing my two runs, finding my outside ski, I’m really kind of putting it together and I’ve been solid and having some good finishes,” Williams said of her recent success.
Matt Pohlkamp moved into elite company during Thursday night’s Central Lakes Conference game at Brainerd Area Civic Center. The Brainerd senior right wing became the second-leading scorer in program history with four assists as the Warriors defeated the Alexandria Cardinals 7-4. Pohlkamp passed Josh Archibald for second place with a second-period assist. That assist gave him 158 points, one more than Archibald. Pohlkamp added three more assists, putting him just 13 points behind Brainerd’s all-time leader, J.P. Platisha.
Years from now, maybe at a class reunion, Jared Stearns can say to a former teammate something like, “Remember when we won at Roseau for the first time?” Stearns played a vital role last Saturday as the Brainerd Warriors won at Roseau for the first time in boys hockey program history, beating the Rams 5-1. The senior goalie stopped all but one of the 36 shots the Rams fired at him, won his fourth straight game and elevated his season record to 11-2-0.
First-year Brainerd Warriors adapted floor hockey coach Todd Person chuckled when informed Brainerd has never missed qualifying for the state tournament in its 16 years as a varsity program. “No pressure, right?” he said. Person replaces head coach Bruce Thompson and long-time assistant Ron Allord, both of whom retired following a state runner-up finish in 2010-11.