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AREA NOTEBOOK: West Marshall gets outdoor meet after weather related cancellations

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Five cancelled and one postponed meet into the track season, West Marshall finally got to compete in its first outdoor meet Tuesday. All the Fusion did in that initial opportunity was gain a state tournament berth.

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West Marshall scored 700 points to win the title at the Minnesota Section 8A True Team meet in Warren. The Fusion advance to Stillwater and the May 17 True Team state meet, which is sponsored by the state track coaches’ association.

“We went to Bemidji for one indoor meet and we didn’t have a full team for that one,’’ said Garry Kotts, the team’s co-head coach along with Kevin Johnson. “The kids were getting sick of running in the hallways.

“We expected to do well. But we really didn’t know. We know our kids are competitive. We have athletes — good football athletes, good basketball athletes. We knew how they performed last year. But how that carried over to this year, you don’t know until you get out and compete.’’

West Marshall won with its depth.

The Fusion won only two events, Nick Yutrzenka in the high jump and the 4x100 relay team of Cameron DuBore, Jesse Pineda, George Vela and Noelio Garcia. Runner-up Park Rapids won seven of the 18 events; Northome-Kelliher-Blackduck and Red Lake County matched the Fusion’s two event winners.

But West Marshall scored big points with its depth. The Fusion had top-three finishes in all four relays. In eight of the 14 open events, both Fusion participants had top-10 places.

“That’s a good example of the true team,’’ Kotts said. “We were pretty consistent in every event. We have a lot of good kids, a lot of top-5 and top-6 finishers. So we were happy with that.

“We had no idea of what events we might win. We had nothing to base it on. We don’t have a standout, that kid who you know will win consistently. But we had pretty decent depth. That will be a big part of what we will do in every meet.’’

Strong B-G-MR start

The football (3-6) and boys basketball (7-20) seasons were a struggle for Badger-Greebush-Middle River teams this school year. But many of those same athletes have helped the Gators get off to a 6-2 start this spring in baseball.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at those other seasons and try to figure out how we’d do,’’ B-G-MR baseball coach Todd Wensloff said. “But we won a couple of games early. That gave us some confidence.

“These kids are excited about baseball. They’ve played a lot of American Legion games over the summer. And we are a fairly athletic group.’’

The strength of the team has been a pitching staff led by Aaron Dostal, Brayden Larson and Matt Howell.

“They’ve done a good job,’’ Wensloff said. “Aaron and Brayden can throw it by hitters. Matt is a lefty who keeps hitters off balance. They’ve thrown strikes and, for the most part, we’ve played good defense behind them.’’

Wensloff said the team will get a better read on how good it is in the next few weeks, when it faces some of the tougher teams on it schedule. But, up until now, “we’re pleasantly surprised by how we’ve started,’’ Wensloff said.

Big-school challenge met

Hillsboro-Central Valley held its own when the Class B school took on the challenge of Class A girls track opponents Monday.

The Burros were one of only two Class B entrants in the 12-team Fargo Rotary field. While H-CV was only ninth in team points, the Burros won three events — Annika Rotvold in the 800, Rachel Dryburgh in the 300 hurdles and the 4x800 relay team consisting of Shayla Fossum, Tatiana Berge, Gracie Wright and Rotvold.

“I think it was a little bit of a surprise to the girls,’’ H-CV coach Heidi Eckart said. “There’s an intimidation factor. But they showed they can run with the big schools. It was a nice confidence boost for them.

“If anything, it might have been less stressful because they weren’t expected to do that much against the big schools.’’

Rotvold and Dryburgh both ran personal records in winning events, while the 4x800 relay set a school record with its winning time, cutting 19 seconds off the former mark.

“We were behind West Fargo and Mandan most of the race,’’ Eckart said. “Mandan was way out in front. But Gracie got us within striking distance on the third leg, then Annika took over on the final leg.

“The big schools have so many kids as far as pools of athletes. We wanted to run against that good competition and cut times. I don’t know if we went there thinking about winning anything.’’

Briefly

Meredith Hollcraft has been named head volleyball coach at Crookston. She replaces Lon Boike, who resigned after last season. . . . Three area wrestlers — Blake Bergeron of Crookston, Jeff Gailfus of Rolla and Alexi Bode of Fosston — have committed to wrestle at Concordia College in Moorhead. . . . Freshman Jackson Hankey is off to a big start for the Park River/Fordville-Lankin baseball team. Hankey is batting .542 with a team-high 19 RBI in just seven games. He has a .917 slugging percentage.

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