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.
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Braden Kramer didn't think his resume was enough. Olivia King figured there were too many other qualified girls for her to win. Both were wrong as the two were named the 2019 Brainerd Warriors Athletes of the Year. "I had no idea," King said. "There are a lot of girls in this graduating class that deserved this award so I had no idea."
Once a Brainerd Warrior always a Brainerd Warrior. And while Heather (Kappes) Vulin graduated in 1994 after a solid high school athletic career, it's what she did after high school that earned her the right to be inducted into the Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame. Vulin played volleyball and basketball at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She was academic all-conference in both sports. In volleyball, she earned the Most Inspirational player in 1997. She was a team captain in basketball during the 1998-99 season.
Jane Peterson has referred to her husband Keith as a walking sports encyclopedia. She's not the only one. "Oh gosh yes," former Brainerd Warriors head baseball coach Lowell Scearcy said. "If you started doing trivia with Keith, not only in sports, but on music. You could pick out a song from any time and Keith could tell you who sang it and everything else. "Sports, you could pick any number out you wanted to and Keith could tell you all the guys who wore that number on their uniforms. He's a really smart guy. He knows a lot about a lot of different areas."
Dan Whirley was the rarest of athletes. He was a lineman on the Brainerd Warriors football team for Ron Stolski. He threw shot for the Warrior track and field, but then he was a diver on Brainerd's swimming and diving team. That's not a combination of three talents people often see. "He did quite a variety of sports," former Warrior swimming and diving coach Dave Herath said. "You don't see too many shot putters who are divers and football linemen who are divers. But he was just a terrific athlete."
Tyler Jensen was a student athlete who always looked forward. It's unsure if he foresaw his name being selected as a member of the 2019 Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. The 2008 Brainerd High School graduate was a three-sport athlete. He graduated top five in his class with a 4.18 grade-point average. And he's got one of the more memorable stories to tell from his high school playing days. From an October 2007 story in the Dispatch:
Emma Tautges Sport: Softball Position: Pitcher Year: Freshman Age: 15 Height: 5-foot- 8 1/2 Career highlight: Finishing third in the A bracket of the state tournament last summer Other sports: Basketball, soccer Grade-point average: 3.7 Favorite class: Yearbook Favorite food: Sbarro's pizza Favorite movie: "Maze Runner: The Death Cure" Favorite TV show: "Teen Wolf" Favorite website or app: Instagram Favorite restaurant: Northwind Grille Future plans: Attend college
The first time Brainerd Warriors hurdles coach Howie Jacobs saw Kelsi Ring leap over a hurdle he stopped her and asked her if she wanted to go to state. That's how confident Jacobs, who is now the head girls track and field coach, was that Ring would be special. She proved him right. In doing so, she also landed a spot in the class of 2019 Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.
Few people are excited for a Monday, but Adam Extrand is. The first-year head coach of the Brainerd Warriors is eager to get his players on the field to build confidence and hopefully collect the program's first victory. The second-year team features 26 players returning with game experience. Extrand hopes to parlay that into early momentum.
Jim Gogolin was destined to be a teacher. On April 29, he will be destined to be inducted into the Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame. A 1971 graduate of Dakota High School in Arthur, N.D., Gogolin received a scholarship from the Dakota High School Teachers Association to pursue a degree in education.
In its inaugural season of competing as a Minnesota State High School League team, the Brainerd Warriors gained valuable game experience. While they didn't win a game last season, going 0-13, the Warriors were competitive in many. With 20 of the 22 girls on the roster having played last year, the goal is to secure win No. 1.