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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.
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.
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.
Hawley used runs of 18-3 and 16-2 in the first half and an 18-2 run to open the second half to spark an 82-43 victory over the Park Rapids boys basketball team Friday night at the Area High School gym. Christian Ridlon scored Park Rapids' first 9 points and Taylor Kimball followed a layup with a 3-pointer as the Panthers tied the game at 14-14 with 10:01 to play in the first half. Two inside baskets apiece by Riley Burns and Kevin Olson and a 3-pointer and layup by Luke VanHavermaet sparked an 18-3 run as the Nuggets claimed a 32-17 advantage. Back-to-back layups by Ridlon and Chris Gopl
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
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.
During the regular season, Frazee relied on outside shooting by hitting 10 of 27 3-pointers to spark a 53-44 win over the Park Rapids girls basketball team. In the rematch Monday night, the Hornets relied on defensive pressure to produce easy baskets in building a 35-11 lead at the break en route to a 53-28 South Section 8AA playoff victory at Frazee. Alexis Tappe's layup off the opening tip and 3-pointer set the tone as Frazee jumped out to a 12-2 lead with 13:46 to play in the first half.
Qualifying for the state Class A boys swimming meet in four events was a bit surprising for Park Rapids' Sam Goebel, Kevin Merfeld, Ryan McBrady, Zach Eystad and Connor Smythe. Entering the finals of the Section 3A meet at Morris last Saturday, Goebel thought he had a shot of advancing to state in the 100-meter freestyle.
Park Rapids' Danny Pike and Brandon Ritter entered the wrestling season with different expectations. Pike wanted to cap off his senior season by earning another trip to the state Class A tournament while Ritter entered his junior season not thinking about earning a state berth. Both Park Rapids wrestlers ended the season the same way by qualifying for state with runner-up finishes at last Saturday's Section 8A tournament at Glyndon. Pike qualified for his second state meet by placing second at 171 pounds while Ritter earned his first state berth by winning a true-second match at heavywei
Park Rapids and Nevis will travel while Menahga will play at home as the section boys basketball playoffs begin Monday night. Park Rapids received the No. 9 seed and will play at No. 8 Frazee Tuesday night at 7 in the first round of the South Section 8AA tournament. The Panthers, who carried a 1-22 record into Friday night's regular-season finale against Hawley, defeated Frazee 63-59 earlier in the year for their only win of the season.