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Despite finishing with an 8-17-2 overall record, Derek Ricke liked how well the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team competed in his first year as head coach. At the beginning of the season, Ricke stressed playing solid defense to give the Panthers a chance to win every time out. Led by strong defensive play and strong goaltending, the Panthers put a competitive team on the ice. Struggling to produce on the offensive end against the top teams in Section 8A prevented the Panthers from producing more wins.
James Sanchez wasn't sure what to expect from the Park Rapids-Nevis gymnastics team in his first season as head coach. Not only was Sanchez working with a group of unfamiliar gymnasts, but he was coaching at the varsity level for the first time after serving as a youth club coach for several years. Despite being in unfamiliar territory, Sanchez couldn't have been more pleased with the season the Panthers produced.
Park Rapids native Aaron Pike posted three top-10 finishes as a member of Team USA at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, which concluded Sunday at PyeongChang, South Korea. The 31-year-old Pike competed in four events, including three biathlon races (which combine cross-country skiing with target shooting). Pike opened his second Paralympic Winter Games for Team USA by placing 12th in the 20-member field in the 7.5km biathlon with a time of 26:15.3 on March 10. Daniel Cnossen of the USA won the gold medal with a time of 23:49.7.
Heritage Christian Academy used a 27-9 run starting late in the first half to advance to the state Class A consolation title game and end the historic season of the Menahga girls basketball team Friday morning at Concordia-St. Paul. For the second game in a row, the Braves faced an early deficit. Menahga wasn't able to recover in a 74-69 loss to Minneota in Thursday's quarterfinals, but managed to take the lead in the first half against HCA.
Park Rapids' Megan Olson competed in four indoor meets for the University of North Dakota women's track and field team this winter. Olson finished sixth in the 800-meter run in 2:25.02 and ran on UND's 12th-place 4 x 400 relay team that clocked a 4:16.51 at the Thundering Herd Classic at North Dakota State University on Jan. 13. The UND sophomore clocked a 2:22.23 to place fourth in the 800 at the University of North Dakota Open on Jan. 27 and clocked a 2:30.41 to place 58th at the South Dakota State University Indoor Classic on Feb. 10.
Park Rapids' Mady Vaudrin completed her final indoor season while Osage's Jake Clements completed his first indoor season as members of the Minnesota State University Moorhead track and field teams. Vaudrin, a senior sprinter, competed in seven meets while Clements, a freshman who graduated from Menahga High School, competed in three meets in the pole vault for the Dragons.
Park Rapids' Austin Carlson placed in two events in helping the University of Minnesota Duluth men's track and field team tie for third place at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Indoor Championships at Mankato on Feb. 24.
This time, the Menahga girls basketball team couldn’t overcome a halftime deficit. Menahga, which trailed by 11 points at the half and by 18 points with 12:49 to play, rallied to within 67-65 with 1:53 remaining before Minneota held on for a 74-69 win in a state Class A quarterfinal game at Williams Arena on March 15.
After surviving in double overtime to open the Section 8AA playoffs, the Park Rapids boys basketball team wasn't able to survive the performance of Hawley's Noah Glad in the quarterfinals. Glad scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the second half in leading Hawley to a 58-45 victory March 10 at Concordia College in Moorhead. Hawley, the No. 1 seed in the North, opened the second half with an 11-1 run to expand a 27-24 halftime lead to 38-25 to advance to the semifinals.
McKenna Brand set some lofty goals for her and the Northeastern University women's hockey team this season. The senior forward thought the Huskies had the talent to win the Hockey East title for the first time in school history, qualify for the NCAA Division I Tournament for the second time in school history and make a run at advancing to the Frozen 4 for the first time in school history.