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Hawley's defense forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown as the Nuggets made their Heart O'Lakes Conference football debut with a 41-7 win over Park Rapids Friday night. The Nuggets used a 27-yard punt return and an interception to set up a pair of touchdowns in building a 21-0 lead at the half before sealing the win with a 41-yard fumble return late in the fourth quarter. "I don't think Hawley is any better than us," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "The score didn't show how we played.
Nicole Brandt predicted the Park Rapids girls tennis team would be in close matches all season. So far, that has been the case as the Panthers opened their dual-meet schedule with three 4-3 matches. Fergus Falls won three singles matches to spark a 4-3 win on Aug. 23 while Sauk Centre swept three doubles matches to spark a 5-2 victory on Aug. 24. Park Rapids picked up its first win of the season with a 5-2 victory over Yellow Medicine East in the other match at Sauk Centre on Aug. 24. The Panthers followed by finishing third at the Crookston Tournament last Saturday with 21 points.
Nevis head coach Stephanie Hanson and Park Rapids head coach Molly Aukes saw plenty of positive signs from Tuesday night's season-opening volleyball match at the Tiger Arena. Nevis (which fell from No. 1 to No. 4 behind Wabasha-Kellogg, Bethlehem Academy and Mayer Lutheran in this week's Associated Press state Class A poll) made a successful season debut with a 25-21, 25-7, 25-18 victory. Despite the loss, Aukes felt her Panthers played very well in the first and third sets against one of the top teams in the state. "Even the girls would say they didn't play up to their expectations.
Lydia Lutz's fourth-place finish led the Park Rapids girls cross-country team to a fifth-place finish at Monday's season-opening Shocky Strand Invitational at Moorhead. Lutz covered the 4,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 21 seconds as the Panthers tallied 127 points in this nine-team meet. Following Lutz for the Panthers were Shelby Pierce (19th in 17:13), Summer Ellefson (29th in 17:43), Lora Remus (35th in 17:52) and Megan Olson (40th in 18:09). Park Rapids, which is rated No. 12 in the first Class A poll, edged Perham for fifth place. Perham entered the season rated No.
Allycia Zinke and Katherine Erickson combined to score 114 points in leading the Park Rapids girls swimming team to the title in the season-opening Detroit Lakes Pentathlon Monday. Erickson finished second in the 50-yard backstroke in 30.59, Mandy Schirmers was runner-up in the 50 breaststroke in 33.86 and Lauren Rossman was second in the 50 butterfly in 29.29 as the Panthers compiled 234 points in this eight-team meet.
Kerry Johnson is expecting another successful season from the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country teams. Last year, the girls finished second at the Section 8A meet to earn a return trip to the state Class A meet. The Panthers ended the season by placing 15th at the state meet. The boys enjoyed their best season in more than a decade by placing fourth at the section meet.
Having 11 players compete on varsity for the first time resulted in an 8-23 record for the Park Rapids volleyball team last season. Having five of those players returning with plenty of varsity experience should lead to more victories this season. Seniors Olivia Vaadeland and Katie Just, junior Grace Bateman, and sophomores Justine Rittgers and Mady Vaudrin return after playing in at least 27 matches last season.
Todd Fritze feels the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving team has the potential to produce a perfect season this fall. The Panthers almost had a perfect season last fall by going 7-1 in dual meets, winning the Section 8A True Team title with 1,167 points (Bemidji was a close second with 1,161 points), claiming the Mid-State Conference title with 465 points (Perham was a distant second with 364 points) and dominating the Section 8A meet by compiling 422.50 points (Bemidji was a distant second with 307.50 points). At the state Class A True Team meet, the Panthers finished ninth out of 12
Despite some major changes, Nicole Brandt thinks the Park Rapids girls tennis team has the potential to duplicate the success from a year ago. Brandt does have to replace three key players from last year's Mid-State Conference and Section 8A runner-up team. In addition, the Panthers have a tougher section field with the addition of two conference rivals. This year, Section 8A will be comprised of nine teams with Staples-Motley and Pequot Lakes moving in and Thief River Falls moving out.
After going 0-9 last season, Aaron Morris expects opponents will overlook the Park Rapids football team this fall. That could be a mistake. The Panthers lost three close games last season by giving up late touchdowns to Wadena-Deer Creek (in a 19-13 loss), Perham (in a 12-6 overtime loss) and Roseau (in a 32-25 loss). "We were a few plays away from winning three games last year," said Morris, who begins his third season as the Panthers' head coach.