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The delayed arrival of spring has forced the first of what could be many Park Rapids high school sporting events to be postponed. The annual Park Rapids Invitational Wood Bat Tournament scheduled for this Friday and Saturday (April 6-7) has been postponed and rescheduled for April 13-14. The tournament will begin at 2:30 p.m. on April 13 and at 9 a.m. on April 14, weather permitting. Joining Park Rapids in this eight-team tournament are Bagley, Cass Lake-Bena, Frazee, Hawley, Menahga, Nevis and Wheaton.
Winning a tough battle in the first postseason game made up for a tough regular season for the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team. The Panthers went through a 14-game losing streak to end the regular season with a 3-21 record. That gave Park Rapids the No. 5 seed for the Section 8A playoffs and a rematch with No. 4 Detroit Lakes, which won both meetings during the regular season.
Seth Breitweser opened the indoor season by winning the 800-meter run as the Park Rapids track and field teams made their season debuts at Tuesday's Bemidji Lions Invitational at Bemidji State University's Gillett Wellness Center. Breitweser clocked a 2:11.86 to lead the pack in the 800 run and account for 10 of the Panthers' 36 points in the boys meet. Grand Forks Red River topped the 16-team field with 150 points. In the girls meet, Park Rapids used three runner-up finishes to place fourth with 52.50 points. Red River also captured the girls title with 146.50 points.
Park Rapids' Jim Weinzierl was one of eight individuals who received distinguished service awards by the Minnesota State High School League for their decades of service and commitment to officiating. The group was honored during halftime of the state Class A boys championship game between Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and North Woods at Target Center on March 24.
Matt Clark knew the Park Rapids wrestling team faced a tough challenge entering this season. The Panthers had a tough act to follow after advancing to the Section 8A championship match and sending six wrestlers to the state Class A tournament last season. Of those six state wrestlers, three brought home medals. Having to replace four of those state qualifiers and four other key wrestlers due to graduation and having to move up a class and competing in Section 8AA proved to be a tough task.
Despite finishing with an 8-17-2 overall record, Derek Ricke liked how well the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley boys hockey team competed in his first year as head coach. At the beginning of the season, Ricke stressed playing solid defense to give the Panthers a chance to win every time out. Led by strong defensive play and strong goaltending, the Panthers put a competitive team on the ice. Struggling to produce on the offensive end against the top teams in Section 8A prevented the Panthers from producing more wins.
James Sanchez wasn't sure what to expect from the Park Rapids-Nevis gymnastics team in his first season as head coach. Not only was Sanchez working with a group of unfamiliar gymnasts, but he was coaching at the varsity level for the first time after serving as a youth club coach for several years. Despite being in unfamiliar territory, Sanchez couldn't have been more pleased with the season the Panthers produced.
Park Rapids native Aaron Pike posted three top-10 finishes as a member of Team USA at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, which concluded Sunday at PyeongChang, South Korea. The 31-year-old Pike competed in four events, including three biathlon races (which combine cross-country skiing with target shooting). Pike opened his second Paralympic Winter Games for Team USA by placing 12th in the 20-member field in the 7.5km biathlon with a time of 26:15.3 on March 10. Daniel Cnossen of the USA won the gold medal with a time of 23:49.7.
Heritage Christian Academy used a 27-9 run starting late in the first half to advance to the state Class A consolation title game and end the historic season of the Menahga girls basketball team Friday morning at Concordia-St. Paul. For the second game in a row, the Braves faced an early deficit. Menahga wasn't able to recover in a 74-69 loss to Minneota in Thursday's quarterfinals, but managed to take the lead in the first half against HCA.
Park Rapids' Megan Olson competed in four indoor meets for the University of North Dakota women's track and field team this winter. Olson finished sixth in the 800-meter run in 2:25.02 and ran on UND's 12th-place 4 x 400 relay team that clocked a 4:16.51 at the Thundering Herd Classic at North Dakota State University on Jan. 13. The UND sophomore clocked a 2:22.23 to place fourth in the 800 at the University of North Dakota Open on Jan. 27 and clocked a 2:30.41 to place 58th at the South Dakota State University Indoor Classic on Feb. 10.