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Tyler Shepersky has always had a love for sports. That passion has powered Shepersky to a pair of national sled hockey titles. The Menahga eighth grader helped the HOPE Inc. Hurricanes capture the Youth A Level sled hockey title at the 14th annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival April 12-15 at the Leaf Ice Centre in West Dundee, Illinois.
First-year head coach Nick Jasmer is counting on versatility and desire to offset a lack of varsity experience as the Menahga baseball team looks to once again finish above the .500 mark. Jasmer returns only five letterwinners from a senior-dominated team that went 9-5 to tie for third place in the Park Region Conference standings en route to a 12-9 overall record. Being counted on to lead the Braves this season are juniors Lars Keranen and Thomas Litzau, sophomores Corey Hataaja and Jonah Howard, and freshman Eddie Salmen.
Mike O'Rourke is counting on the Nevis fastpitch softball team to put another competitive unit on the field this spring. The Tigers return six starters from a team that finished second in the Upper Mississippi Conference standings with a 6-2 record. Nevis earned the No. 4 seed in the North for the Section 5A tournament and saw a 9-8 season end with a 12-2 loss to Menahga in the first round.
Buying into the program led the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team to one of the best seasons in school history.
Head coach Tim Wurdock is looking for the United North Central boys and girls golf teams to finish near the top of the Northern Pines Conference standings and send golfers to the Section 8AA tournament. The Warriors return three golfers who competed at last year's section tournament in seniors Madi Womble and Toni Noland and junior Mason Hotakainen.
A dozen winning performances led the way as the Park Rapids boys and girls track and field teams swept titles at Monday's Park Rapids Invitational at Vern Weekley Field. The boys won four events and added four runner-up finishes to top the seven-team field with 206 points while the girls won eight events and posted five runner-up showings in tallying 223 points to top the eight-team field.
Justine Rittgers became hooked on long-distance running as a freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Inspiration by the president of MSUM helped the 2014 Park Rapids Area High School graduate fulfill a runner's dream of completing the Boston Marathon. During her senior season competing for the Park Rapids girls track and field team, Rittgers competed in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and 4 x 400-meter relay. Rittgers also entered local 5K races, but didn't consider running longer distances until her first year of college.
The 1983 Park Rapids football team will be inducted into the Panther Athletic Hall of Fame during the 41st annual All Sports Banquet on Wednesday, May 23. That football team made history by advancing to the Class A championship game. After posting a 9-0 record during the regular season, the Panthers marched through the state Class A playoffs with wins over Crookston (13-9) in the first round, Cloquet (17-15) in the quarterfinals and Albany (14-6) in the semifinals before falling to Hutchinson (34-14) in the championship game.
After just missing sending an athlete to the 2017 state Class A meet, head coach Tom Smith is hoping at least one member of the United North Central boys and girls track and field teams will qualify for state this spring. At last year's Section 6A meet, Jake Clements and Annika Aho fell one spot short of advancing to state with a pair of third-place finishes. Clements capped off his senior season by placing third in the pole vault by clearing 12 feet, 6 inches while Aho placed third in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:24.68.
A senior-dominated lineup has head coach Bill Dent expecting another successful season from the Nevis baseball team. The Tigers return eight starters from a team that finished second in the Northland Conference standings with an 8-3 record and 14-7 overall. Nevis received the No. 4 seed in the West for the Section 5A playoffs and was eliminated in the first round with a 15-9 loss to Pillager, which went on to defeat Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in the section title game to advance to state.