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Spring Grove did something no other 9-man football team had managed to do in more than nine years.
Lexi Hinkley-Smith's two goals in the second period sparked the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team to a key Section 8A victory over Crookston Friday at Thief River Falls. Smith gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead and assisted on an insurance goal in the third period as the Panthers rallied for a 4-2 win over Crookston in the first game of the Ralph Engelstad Holiday Classic.
Head coach Brad Neyens is expecting an improved season from the Nevis girls basketball team. Last season, the Tigers finished 3-11 in the Northwoods Conference standings for seventh place while going 4-21 overall. Nevis was the No. 8 seed in the North half for the Section 5A playoffs and opened with a 66-56 loss to No. 9 Bertha-Hewitt.
Jeff Overmyer just missed reaching his goal in his first season as head coach of the Park Rapids girls basketball team. Overmyer is confident the Panthers will reach that goal this season. A year ago, the Panthers went 1-7 in Mid-State Conference games and 11-13 overall to earn the No. 10 seed for the Section 8AA tournament. Park Rapids opened the playoffs with an 86-69 win over No. 7 Pelican Rapids before falling to No. 2 Staples-Motley 66-44 in the second round. That gave the Panthers a 12-14 overall record, just missing Overmyer's goal of a .500 season.
Cody Pulju has plenty of reasons to have high expectations for the Menahga girls basketball team this season. In Pulju's first season as head coach, the Braves won the Park Region Conference title for the first time in 11 years with a 12-2 mark and tied the school record for wins by going 23-6. Menahga received the No. 2 seed in the North for the Section 5A playoffs and reached the North championship game before seeing the season end with a 78-40 loss to No. 1 Cromwell, which went on to win the section title and place third at the state Class A tournament.
Winning the Northland Conference title for the 11th year in a row and finishing the season with a 19-11 overall record led to another successful season for the Nevis volleyball team. The Tigers went undefeated in conference matches with wins over Pine River-Backus (20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 28-26, 15-6), Blackduck (25-15, 25-5, 25-6), Laporte (20-25, 25-9, 25-13, 25-13), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (25-23, 24-26, 25-13, 27-25), Northome-Kelliher (25-8, 25-8, 25-12), Cass Lake (25-15, 25-11, 25-13) and Clearbrook-Gonvick (25-7, 25-16, 25-11).
Head coach Isaiah Hahn was pleased with the progress the Menahga volleyball team made this season. The Braves finished with a 3-4 record in Park Region Conference play and a 12-13 overall record after going 2-5 in the conference and 11-15 overall a year ago. Leading Menahga this season were the nine letterwinners: seniors Leah Schwartz and Hailey Heegard; juniors Cierra Ahlf, Aimee Lake, Madi Marjama and Olivia Yliniemi; and sophomores Tara Hendrickson, Annie Lake and Jessica Pietila.
Spring Grove did something no other 9-man football team in the state could do to Nevis this season. Nevis' offense was shut out for the first time this year as Spring Grove kicked off the Prep Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis with a 32-0 win Friday. Spring Grove, the top-rated 9-man team in the state, capped off an undefeated season with its first state football championship. Nevis, which was also seeking its first state team title, entered the state playoffs rated No. 6 in the state.
Derek Ricke fondly remembers his playing days as a member of the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis boys hockey team. Now Ricke is looking to create more winning memories as head coach of the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team.
Jordan Eischens has always loved hunting and fishing. Thanks to generous donations from the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Minnesota, Smokey Hills Outdoor Store of Park Rapids and Ice Castle Fish House in Montevideo, Eischens will be able to enjoy the outdoors even more. Eischens was presented the keys to a new, 21-foot, 2018 Itasca XL Ice Castle Fish House at Smokey Hills Outdoor Store on Thursday.