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Cody Pulju inherits a talented group of players as he takes over as the new head coach of the Menahga girls basketball team. Last season, the Braves tied for fourth place in the Park Region Conference standings with an 8-6 record and finished 14-14 overall. Menahga received the No. 4 seed in the North half for the Section 5A tournament and opened the playoffs with a 71-63 win over No. 5 Nevis before being eliminated with a 69-54 loss to No. 1 Cromwell.
Head coach Aaron Morris can point to one area that prevented the Park Rapids football team from finishing with a winning record, hosting a Section 8AAA playoff game and making a run at playing for a trip to state.
Northern Lakes scored three goals at the start of the third period to take control in a 5-2 win over the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team Thursday night at Breezy Point. Mackenzie Rickard's goal at the 8:34 mark of the first period provided the only scoring as the Lightning carried a 1-0 lead into the third period. Northern Lakes held a 27-15 advantage in shots over the first two periods.
Seniors Tanner Becker and Justin Dravis received top team honors for the Park Rapids football team this season. Becker received the team's Gary Rehn Award as the team MVP while Dravis received the Mike McClelland Award as the team's Defensive MVP. Senior Kenny David received the Kip Gauldin Leadership Award, sophomores Cody Dravis and Payton Hill were named Most Improved, and senior Jake Dickinson received a Coaches Award.
Maija Hovelsrud fulfilled her mission by qualifying for the consolation finals and placing 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke at the state Class A girls swimming meet. The Park Rapids junior advanced to the consolation finals by placing 13th during Thursday's preliminaries at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center with a personal-best time of 1:09.05. During Friday's finals, Hovelsrud clocked a 1:09.31 to finish in 14th place to score 3 points.
Park Rapids' Isaac Overmyer was a main reason why the University of Minnesota Duluth men's cross-country team enjoyed a successful season. Overmyer had a successful sophomore season, being named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference cross country Athlete of the Week twice, being the Bulldogs' No. 1 runner in four meets and ending the season by earning NCAA Division II Central Region honors.
Alayna Lake received Park Region Conference honors while Leah Schwartz received all-conference honorable mention honors in leading the Menahga volleyball team to a 2-5 conference record this season. In the seven conference matches, Lake had 124 digs and five ace serves while Schwartz had 60 kills, 72 digs, four ace serves and three ace blocks. Those two helped Menahga tie for sixth place in the conference standings.
Having two season-ending injuries before the season began proved to be a bad omen for the Park Rapids girls and boys cross-country teams. Both the of Panthers' No. 3 runners from last year's Section 8A meet had to miss the season with injuries. Will Pickar broke his leg while a back injury kept Kendra Coborn from running this fall. That was just the start of a season filled with injuries and illnesses.
Considering only six of his 16 swimmers and divers had competed at a section meet before, Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze was satisfied with his team's sixth-place finish at Saturday's Section 8A meet at Bemidji. The highlight was having junior Maija Hovelsrud qualify for the state Class A meet by placing second in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:10.49. That gave the Panthers a representative at the state meet for the 23rd year in a row.
One of Gary Vaudrin's main concerns entering the season was whether the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team could produce goals. That wasn't a problem in the Panthers' season opener. Led by Taylor Pingrey's five goals, the Panthers opened the season with an 11-1 win over Morris/Benson Saturday afternoon at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena. Park Rapids finished with a 42-13 advantage in shots as five different players scored goals and seven different players had assists.