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Dave Otterness needed the help of the Akeley VFW to give some Park Rapids baseball players a chance to play ball this summer. A group of 16-year-olds were too old to play Babe Ruth ball and would be used sparingly on the Park Rapids American Legion team.
Even though the Park Rapids boys golf team entered this season with no seniors and only one junior, Jim Weinzierl expected lower scores than last season. The Park Rapids head coach wasn't disappointed as the Panthers carded better rounds than a year ago in almost every meet this spring. The Panthers opened the season by carding a 371 to finish 14th at the 16-team Detroit Lakes Invitational at Wildflower, rounds of 382 at The Pines and 364 at The Preserve to finish 14th out of 17 teams at the Pequot Lakes Invitational with a 746, and a 372 to finish fifth out of 11 teams at the United North
Walt Harrison thought the Park Rapids girls golf team had the potential to shoot under 400 on a consistent basis this spring. The Panthers did that by ending the season with five rounds under 400 in the final seven meets. Of the Panthers' top six golfers this season, only juniors Katie Kristofferson and Katie Walsh and sophomore Hannah Williams returned from last year's varsity lineup.
Jeff Renner knew this was going to be a rebuilding season for the Park Rapids boys tennis team. The Panthers returned only four varsity players from last year's team that went 3-10 in dual meets. The other six starting spots were filled by players competing on varsity for the first time. That lack of experience led to a 2-13 record in dual meets as the Panthers went 11-7 at No. 1 singles, 5-12 at No. 2 singles, 1-16 at No. 3 singles, 3-14 at No. 4 singles, 3-14 at No. 1 doubles, 2-15 at No. 2 doubles and 2-15 at No. 3 doubles. "This was a rebuilding year," said Renner.
Entering the state Class A track and field meet, Park Rapids juniors Summer Ellefson, Shelby Pierce, Lydia Lutz and Mandy Schirmers and sophomores Grace Bateman and Lora Remus joined Nevis junior Bryon Schuldt as leading contenders to bring home medals. All seven fulfilled their goals of finishing among the top nine during the finals at Hamline University in St. Paul. Lutz, Remus, Ellefson and Pierce entered the state meet seeded fourth out of 10 teams in the 4 x 800-meter relay while Pierce, Schirmers, Bateman and Ellefson were seeded seventh out of nine teams in the 4 x 400 relay.
Entering last Saturday's Section 8A track and field meet, Park Rapids' Lydia Lutz, Lora Remus, Summer Ellefson, Shelby Pierce, Grace Bateman, Mandy Schirmers and Herman Stieng were expected to qualify for the state Class A meet. Lutz (a junior), Remus (a sophomore), Ellefson (a junior) and Pierce (a junior) were the top seed in the 4 x 800-meter relay. Ellefson was seeded first in the 400 dash while Bateman (a sophomore) and Pierce were the No. 2 seed in the 300 hurdles and 800 run. Pierce, Schirmers (a junior), Bateman and Ellefson were the top seed in the 4 x 400 relay.
Entering the final event of the day, Corey Hill liked the chances of the Park Rapids girls track and field team to repeat as the Section 8A champions. The Panthers had 77 points, trailing only Bagley/Fosston's 82.50 total. Since Bagley/Fosston didn't have a team in the final event, Park Rapids only had to finish third to pass the Flyers and defend the section title. Shelby Pierce, Mandy Schirmers, Grace Bateman and Summer Ellefson locked up the section championship in style by winning the 4 x 400-meter relay in 4:09.92. That showing gave the Panthers 87 points and another section title.
Herman Stieng had never run in a track meet until this spring. His first season in track resulted in a trip to the state Class A meet. On Saturday, Stieng became the first member of the Park Rapids boys track and field team to qualify for the state meet since 2002 with a runner-up showing in the 400-meter dash at the Section 8A meet at Park Rapids. Stieng, a foreign exchange student from Norway, played soccer year-round before competing in football, basketball and track at Park Rapids this spring. Stieng turned out to be a natural on the track. "I heard from kids and the phy ed teach
Nevis' Bryon Schuldt and Annessa Feder are returning to the state Class A track and field meet as Section 8A champions. At Saturday's section meet at Park Rapids, Schuldt won the 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run to earn his fifth consecutive trip to state while Feder finished first in the high jump to qualify for state for the second time. Schuldt, a junior, entered the section meet as the top seed in both distance races. At the Subsection 8-29A meet, Schuldt won the 1,600 run in 4:50.67 and the 3,200 run in 10:17.83.
After tying the school record for wins in a season to advance to the Section 8AA championship game, the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team was looking to advance to the state Class AA tournament for only the second time in school history. In order to accomplish that goal, the Panthers had to defeat Fergus Falls twice at Frazee Thursday. The Panthers were in position to force a deciding game by jumping out to an early 5-2 lead.