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Aaron Morris wasn't surprised that Park Rapids' offense struggled in the season-opening football game against United North Central Thursday night at Menahga. The Park Rapids head coach knew it would take some time for the Panthers to click with their new offensive scheme. Morris also expected UNC to put a solid defensive team on the field. Both offenses struggled in this defensive battle as the Panthers used a pair of touchdowns in the second half to pull off a 13-6 victory in this game between Midwest District teams.
Park Rapids' Lydia Kantonen clocked a winning time of 19:57 over the 5K course while the United North Central girls captured the team title with 59 points at Monday's Central Minnesota River Run Invitational at Blueberry Pines Golf Course. Annika Aho finished fourth in 21:39 and Alyssa Peterson was sixth in 22:17 in leading UNC to the title in this 14-team meet. Megan Hendrickson (15th in 23:40), Maria Isaacson (18th in 24:13) and Cierra Ahlf (19th in 24:20) rounded out the Warriors' team score.
Ron Litzau and Kim Rasmussen took control during the first 18 holes and stayed in control during the final 18 holes to capture the Men's and Women's Club Championships at Blueberry Pines. Litzau opened and ended with birdies during last Saturday's first 18 holes for a pair of 37s and a first-day total of 2-over par 74. That was good for an 11-shot cushion over Gary Marjama, who opened with an 85. Ken Mackley (88), Steve Weappa (90), Stan James (94), Dustin Berttunen (95) and Russ Weappa (96) rounded out the men's field.
After opening with an easy win over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, the Park Rapids girls tennis team dropped a Section 8A match to Crookston and a Mid-State Conference match to Pequot Lakes during a quadrangular meet Tuesday at the Depot Courts. The Panthers followed a 7-0 win over LP-GE with a 5-2 loss to section rival Crookston and a 4-3 loss to conference rival Pequot Lakes for a 5-5 overall record in dual meets this fall.
Ellie Ulvin accounted for 35 points as the Park Rapids girls swimming team opened the season at Monday's Laker Pentathlon at Detroit Lakes. Ulvin finished seventh in the 50-yard butterfly in 30.27, 13th in 50 backstroke in 33.24, 15th in the 50 freestyle in 28.49 and 16th in the 100 individual medley in 1:13.91 as the Panthers finished sixth in the team standings with 49 points. Detroit Lakes topped the seven-team field with 540.50 points.
It was only the first match of the season, but the Park Rapids volleyball team made a statement Tuesday night as Roseau had to rally for an 11-25, 25-19, 25-20, 20-25, 15-11 victory in this marathon battle of Section 8AA teams. Roseau was rated No. 9 in the first state Class AA poll. The Panthers finished with 54 kills as Jaiden McCollum (18) and Kamree Carlson (15) combined for 33 kills. Kamree Carlson served 16 points, Kennedy Carlson served 15 points and had 41 set assists, and Kaisa Coborn served 10 points.
A pair of touchdowns in the second half gave the Park Rapids football team a hard-fought 13-6 win over United North Central in the season opener Thursday night at Menahga. Kirby Hrdlicka's 1-yard touchdown plunge gave UNC a 6-0 lead with 5:30 to play in the first quarter. The Warriors had another drive stall at the Park Rapids 14 in the second quarter as UNC carried a 6-0 lead into the break.
Both the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country teams can look back at last year's Section 8A meet to provide motivation entering the season. Head coach Kerry Johnson saw the girls team miss out on a state bid by only one place while the boys formed a solid foundation for the future with seven underclassmen returning who competed on varsity.
One common denominator to the success of the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving program over the years has been depth. With only 13 swimmers and divers returning from last year's team, the Panthers will need to rely on quality instead of quantity to produce another successful season.
Outscoring the opposition by a 40.2 to 10.6 average allowed head coach Shawn Klimek to give 28 players varsity time a year ago. Even though the Tigers have to replace seven key players, the return of 16 letterwinners has Klimek anticipating another successful season.