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Ellie Ulvin accounted for 35 points as the Park Rapids girls swimming team opened the season at Monday's Laker Pentathlon at Detroit Lakes. Ulvin finished seventh in the 50-yard butterfly in 30.27, 13th in 50 backstroke in 33.24, 15th in the 50 freestyle in 28.49 and 16th in the 100 individual medley in 1:13.91 as the Panthers finished sixth in the team standings with 49 points. Detroit Lakes topped the seven-team field with 540.50 points.
It was only the first match of the season, but the Park Rapids volleyball team made a statement Tuesday night as Roseau had to rally for an 11-25, 25-19, 25-20, 20-25, 15-11 victory in this marathon battle of Section 8AA teams. Roseau was rated No. 9 in the first state Class AA poll. The Panthers finished with 54 kills as Jaiden McCollum (18) and Kamree Carlson (15) combined for 33 kills. Kamree Carlson served 16 points, Kennedy Carlson served 15 points and had 41 set assists, and Kaisa Coborn served 10 points.
A pair of touchdowns in the second half gave the Park Rapids football team a hard-fought 13-6 win over United North Central in the season opener Thursday night at Menahga. Kirby Hrdlicka's 1-yard touchdown plunge gave UNC a 6-0 lead with 5:30 to play in the first quarter. The Warriors had another drive stall at the Park Rapids 14 in the second quarter as UNC carried a 6-0 lead into the break.
Both the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country teams can look back at last year's Section 8A meet to provide motivation entering the season. Head coach Kerry Johnson saw the girls team miss out on a state bid by only one place while the boys formed a solid foundation for the future with seven underclassmen returning who competed on varsity.
One common denominator to the success of the Park Rapids girls swimming and diving program over the years has been depth. With only 13 swimmers and divers returning from last year's team, the Panthers will need to rely on quality instead of quantity to produce another successful season.
Outscoring the opposition by a 40.2 to 10.6 average allowed head coach Shawn Klimek to give 28 players varsity time a year ago. Even though the Tigers have to replace seven key players, the return of 16 letterwinners has Klimek anticipating another successful season.
Consistent play will be the key for the Menahga volleyball team this season. A year ago, the Braves finished 1-6 in Park Region Conference matches and 4-19 overall. Menahga was the No. 9 seed in the North for the Section 6A tournament and opened with a loss to No. 8 Park Christian. Sebeka edged Underwood to capture the section title. With six letterwinners returning, head coach Isaiah Hahn is looking for the Braves to have a more successful season.
Head coach Jeremy Nordick is already seeing a positive impact from the United North Central football team's historic season. The Warriors qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in school history last season and ended with a 9-3 record. UNC earned the No. 1 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs and defeated Frazee 24-8 and Barnesville 24-16 to win the school's first section football title. The Warriors defeated Moose Lake-Willow River 21-20 in the state quarterfinals before falling to Pipestone Area 49-9 in the semifinals.
With five regulars returning, head coach Heidi Wormley likes the chances of the Nevis volleyball team to repeat as Northland Conference champions and return to the Section 5A championship match. A year ago, the Tigers repeated as conference champs by going 6-0 and earned the No. 1 seed in the East B bracket for the section tournament. Wins over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Onamia and Braham sent Nevis to the section title match where Verndale prevented the Tigers from advancing to the state Class A tournament.
Nicole Oyster inherits a solid United North Central cross-country program. The Warriors made history last season when the girls qualified for the state Class A meet for the first time. UNC will be looking to repeat that feat this fall as all seven runners return from last year's Section 8A runner-up squad. The boys also have a promising future as six runners return from last year's section team. Oyster, who replaces Steve Schreiber as head coach, likes the chances of the Warriors to have another successful season.