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Christina Smith continues to make tennis history. Last year, Smith became the first freshman in the history of the Park Rapids girls tennis program to qualify for the state Class A tournament in doubles. Following a runner-up finish at this year's Section 8A tournament, Smith became the first player in the history of the Park Rapids girls tennis program to qualify for state in both singles and doubles. "I thought my chances were pretty low (of qualifying for state)," said Smith.
Up to this point of the season, the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving team has proven to have the best depth in Section 8A. On Thursday night, the Panthers competed against teams with the best depth in the state. The Panthers finished 12th with 995.50 points at this year's state Class A True Team meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Hutchinson won the state title with 2,073.50 points while Visitation was second with 2,004.50 points. Park Rapids finished ninth with 1,178.50 points last year. Seven of the state's top Class A teams competed at this meet.
Park Rapids received the No. 6 seed and will open the Section 8AA North volleyball tournament at No. 3 Roseau Thursday night at 7. The Panthers ended the regular season with a 6-16 record while Roseau finished at 14-11-2. Thursday night's winner faces either No. 2 Pequot Lakes (17-9) or No. 7 Crookston (6-17) Friday night at the higher seed. The other Section 8AA North quarterfinals Thursday night pit No. 1 Thief River Falls (22-2-1) against No. 8 Bagley (8-16) and No. 4 East Grand Forks (11-16) against No. 5 Warroad (11-15).
Both Park Rapids cross-country teams tuned up for the Section 8A meet with solid performances at Monday's Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Country Club. Lydia Lutz won the girls race by covering the 4,000-meter course in 14 minutes, 48 seconds to lead the Panthers to the team title with 61 points. Perham, which had its top runner (senior Cassie Beseman) sit out with an injury, was second in this 19-team meet with 62 points. Those two teams are expected to battle it out for the section title next Friday at Bagley. Park Rapids is rated No. 11 while Perham is rated No.
Park Rapids, Nevis and United North Central will all open the section football playoffs on the road. The Panthers, who ended the regular season with a 2-6 record, received the No. 5 seed in Section 8AAA and will open the playoffs Tuesday night at No. 4 East Grand Forks, which finished at 3-5. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. East Grand Forks defeated the Panthers 32-8 in Week 7. Section 8AAA is using the QRF system to seed teams. East Grand Forks was rated No. 43 out of the 64 Class AAA teams with a 31.3 rating while the Panthers were the No.
Going into Wednesday night's regular-season finale, Aaron Morris' main concern was stopping Roseau's passing attack. Park Rapids' defense shut down Roseau quarterback Alex Ziegler in the first quarter by intercepting two passes, including one at the 3-yard line to stop a scoring drive. Ziegler settled down after those two early turnovers, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another in leading the Rams to a 24-7 Section 8AAA football victory at Vern Weekley Field. The Panthers had an ideal opportunity to open the scoring when Ian Johnson intercepted a Ziegler pass on the third p
Christina Smith will give the Park Rapids girls tennis team a representative at the state Class A tournament for the fourth year in a row. Smith finished second in singles at the Section 8A tournament at the Grand Forks Center Courts Saturday to earn her second straight trip to state. The Park Rapids sophomore, who teamed with Alyssa Carlson to win the section title in doubles last year, entered this year's section meet as the No. 3 seed in singles. Smith opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Roseau senior Ashley Larsen, the No.
Depth once again was the difference as the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving team repeated as Section 8A True Team champions Saturday at Detroit Lakes. The Panthers scored at least 200 points in the three relays and at least 83 points in the individual events in compiling 1,586 points to top the nine-team field.
Lydia Lutz repeated as the individual champion in leading the Park Rapids girls cross-country team to the team title at Thursday's Mid-State Conference meet at Staples. Isaac Overmyer became the first member of the Park Rapids boys cross-country team to win the Mid-State title since 1995 in leading the Panthers to third place. Lutz, who is rated as the No. 6 individual in this week's state Class A poll, won her third consecutive conference title and fifth straight all-conference honor by covering the 4,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 41 seconds.
Untimely turnovers again proved costly to the Park Rapids football team. East Grand Forks turned four Park Rapids turnovers into three touchdowns and a field goal in a 32-8 Heart O'Lakes Conference North Division and Section 8AAA win Friday night at East Grand Forks. Park Rapids had four turnovers in a 41-7 loss to Hawley, five turnovers in a 34-14 loss to Perham and five turnovers in a 33-14 loss to Thief River Falls prior to Friday night's game. "We had too turnovers and too many mental mistakes," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "They wanted it more than we did.