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Entering the season, Wendi Hartig was counting on her five returning letterwinners to lead the Park Rapids gymnastics team. As it turned out, those five veterans didn't compete in the same meet all season. Junior Emily Klingenberg was the only member of that group who competed in all 12 meets. Sophomore Jessi Andersen missed four meets with a wrist injury. Freshman Cassie Baxter competed in eight meets. Freshman Ellen Hoffman missed the entire season with a broken foot.
When reflecting back, Matt Clark thought the Park Rapids wrestling team had a successful season. Clark's goals at the beginning of the season were to win at least 10 matches and send wrestlers to the state Class A meet.
When the Park Rapids boys hockey team graduated 10 players off its 20-player varsity roster last season, head coach Pete Stahnke felt it was the perfect time to merge with the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley program. That merger gave the Panthers numbers with 20 varsity players and 19 junior varsity players. Although combining the two teams didn't result in immediate success, Stahnke believes the merger will make the program stronger down the road. "It was the right time for it," said Stahnke. "Our numbers were OK for this year and next year, but our numbers in the lower grades are low.
Sam Coborn capped off his junior season as a member of the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team by earning all-state, all-section and all-conference honors. Coborn led the Panthers with 35 goals and 29 assists for 64 points to earn a spot on the Associated Press all-state honorable mention team. Eight other players from Section 8A also received all-state honors.
Earning a trip to the state Pee Wees B boys hockey tournament this winter was cause for celebration for some Wadena hockey players who suffered through a catastrophe last summer. A tornado last June destroyed the community center in Wadena, leaving the Wadena Hockey Association without an indoor hockey rink. Instead of playing on outdoor ice all winter, some players on the 22-member Wadena Pee Wees team looked for an alternative. A call to Ed Moren, the president of the Park Rapids Amateur Hockey Association, solved that problem. "After the tornado last summer, some of our kids were lo
Chris Albee continues to see the Park Rapids-Menahga-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team close the gap on the elite teams in the area. After going 1-22-1 in 2006-07 and 1-20 in 2007-08, the Panthers have shown improvement by going 8-14 in 2008-09, 9-15-2 in 2009-10 and 10-15 this season. Of the Panthers' 15 losses this winter, 13 were to six of the best teams in the state. The 10 wins also marked only the fifth time the Panthers have reached double digits in victories. The Panthers opened the season by jumping out to a 4-1 lead only to see Morris/Benson rally for a 6-4 victory.
Entering the season, Jeremy Nordick knew Tom Gruchow and Kasey Tyge would be the leading scorers for the Menahga boys basketball team. Those two Menahga seniors have had no problem scoring this season as Gruchow is leading the Braves at 14.4 points a game while Tyge is second at 11.8 points a night. Those averages helped the senior duo reach scoring milestones this season when Gruchow went over 1,000 career points in a win over Park Rapids on Feb.
Christian Ridlon scored a career-high 29 points, but it wasn't enough as Frazee eliminated the Park Rapids boys basketball team from the South Section 8AA tournament with a foul-plagued 72-61 victory Tuesday night at Frazee. Frazee, the No. 8 seed, made 12 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win and avenge a 63-59 loss to the No. 9-seeded Panthers earlier in the season. This playoff game featured 53 fouls and 82 free throws. Park Rapids was whistled for 21 fouls in the second half alone, which led to 35 Frazee free throws.
Park Rapids' Danny Pike and Brandon Ritter, United North Central's Jake Malone and Nevis' Garrett Edelman found out how important it is to win the first match at the state wrestling tournament. All four area wrestlers were defeated in Friday's first-round matches at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. However, everyone except Ritter was given a second opportunity in the wrestlebacks. Unfortunately, only Pike ended up winning a match. Pike, the Section 8A runner-up at 171 pounds, entered his second state Class A tournament rated No. 10 in the state poll.
Entering the state Class A meet, Todd Fritze said the only way for the five members of the Park Rapids boys swimming team to advance to the finals was to improve on their seed times. Even though they lowered their times in two of the four events, the Panthers fell short of reaching their goal of scoring points at the state meet. Entering Friday's preliminaries at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, the Panthers had work to do in order to finish in the top 16 spots and advance to Saturday's finals. The 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Connor Smythe, junior Ryan McBrady, jun