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Combining 35 hits with 22 walks produced 28 runs as the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team won three games to capture the title at Saturday’s Park Rapids Invitational at Olson Fields. The Panthers used 10 hits and 15 walks to defeat Mahnomen/Waubun 12-5 in the first game before an 11-hit attack sparked a 10-2 win over Pine River-Backus in the semifinals. In the championship game, the Panthers’ 12-hit attack led to a 6-2 victory over Norman County.
Park Rapids and United North Central opened the Northern Pines Conference season with impressive performances Tuesday at Blueberry Pines. Mariena Dearstyne claimed medalist honors with a 49 on the par-36 course in leading Park Rapids to first place in the girls meet with a three-golfer score of 150. Dana McDonald was third overall with a 50 while 51s by Alyza Edevold and Olivia Wallace rounded out the team score.
Mike O’Rourke is counting on another successful season from the Nevis fastpitch softball team. A year ago, the Tigers finished second in the Upper Mississippi Conference standings with a 7-2 record and finished with a 12-8 overall mark. Being counted on to lead the Tigers to another winning season are seniors Allison Booker, Megan Edelman, Lexi King, Becca Nelson, Autumn Pendegayosh and Alexis Poncelet; juniors Montana Baker, Emma Bliss, Emily Omberg and Brea Pohl; and sophomore Tori Carrier.
Joe Davidson and Spencer Richards hit home runs in powering Pine River-Backus’ 15-hit attack in a 17-9 season-opening victory over the Nevis baseball team Tuesday at Nevis. PR-B jumped out to a 16-4 lead by following a five-run third inning with an eight-run fourth inning. Davidson earned the win as PR-B’s pitchers struck out 14 Nevis batters.
United North Central’s Ethan Hendrickson brought home a title from the Northland Youth Wrestling Association state tournament, which was held March 31-April 3 at Rochester. Hendrickson qualified for state by winning the Region 5 title at Bemidji on March 19 in the grade 5-6 75-pound division.
Jeff Anderson is counting on his experience as a PGA professional to help the Park Rapids boys golf team put a competitive group on the course this season. Anderson, who takes over as the Panthers’ head coach, has been a golf pro since 1989. His main goals this season are to see his players improve and enjoy the game. “We have some good golfers and some kids with potential,” said Anderson. “The biggest part of high school golf is for the kids to have fun, learn the game and enjoy it as a lifetime sport.”
The return of 12 varsity golfers has Walt Harrison expecting another successful season from the Park Rapids girls golf team. Last season, the Panthers averaged a 404.1 in eight 18-hole meets, carding rounds under 400 four times. Park Rapids also dominated play in the Northern Pines Conference and qualified for the Section 8AA tournament. Mariena Dearstyne capped off the season by qualifying for the state Class AA tournament. Harrison is expecting even a better season this spring.
Senior Gavin Mickelson and juniors Luke Wurdock and Hailey Usher will be looking to lead the United North Central boys and girls golf teams this spring. All three golfers qualified for last year’s Section 8AA tournament and are determined to repeat that feat this spring.
Olaf Netteberg is counting on the Nevis boys golf team to improve in the Northern Pines Conference standings and the Nevis girls golf team to see improved scores throughout the season. “With both the boys and girls, we are bringing back golfers with years of experience at some level and both groups have very good chemistry,” said Netteberg. “Practice has been a joy with each and every golfer excited to get on with the season.”
While lacking numbers, the United North Central boys and girls track and field teams return plenty of talented athletes. “We lost a few varsity athletes on both the boys and girls side and it’s always hard to fill that spot when they leave,” said UNC head coach Tom Smith. “We picked up a few younger athletes that show some promise. I am excited to see what they can do in the years to come.”