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Area prep notebook: Without Thomas, Aggies will rely on their depth

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The post-Adrienne Thomas era brings a new look to the Park River Area girls track team. But the Aggies' success, at least early in the season, continues.

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Park River Area opened its outdoor season Tuesday by winning the 11-team Grafton Invitational, scoring 166½ points to runner-up Langdon's 147½. The Aggies won without scoring a point in the sprints, middle or long distance running events.

Running was the strength of Thomas, a 2008 graduate who won five state sprint titles during the past two seasons and now is competing on the University of Minnesota team.

"Adrienne was our only senior last year," Aggies coach Donna Galloway said. "She was a lot of points to lose, but we scored a lot of points in most meets last year. Even without Adrienne, we would have been right up near the top in a lot of those meets.

"We might not get a lot of firsts. But it's not always about getting firsts. It's the depth; if you have enough quality girls, you can get a lot of points without getting a lot of firsts.''

Park River Area won only five events at Grafton, by Tiffany McMillan in the triple jump, Cass Heigaard in the discus, the 4x200 relay team and Sydney Larson, who swept the two hurdles races.

In events where the Aggies scored, they scored big -- five top-eight placers in the javelin, four placers in the shot put and discus, three in the long jump, triple jump and 100 hurdles, and two in the 300 hurdles and high jump.

"We have a lot of good kids in the hurdles and a lot of depth in the field events,'' Galloway said. "We might not get a lot of firsts in those events, but we should get a lot of placers.

"The field events and the hurdles are going to have to carry us.''

Kruchowski signs with NDSU

Red Lake County Central standout distance runner Faith Kruchowski has signed a letter of intent to compete in track and cross country at North Dakota State University.

"I liked the school and the location,'' the senior said. "I just felt good about the choice.''

Kruchowski said she had been recruited by a number of other schools, including UND and the University of Minnesota. Since Kruchowski was a seventh-grader, she's been a nine-time placer in the open distance events at the Minnesota Class A state track meet. She's placed as high as third twice, including in the 800 last spring.

While Kruchowski is a track veteran, she's never competed in cross country. Her falls have been spent playing volleyball.

"Hopefully, it will be fun,'' she said. "I'll have to see how I am at it. But (the coaches) told me that they like to throw distance people from track into cross country even if they've never done it before. They told me that you'll usually find that you like it.''

Housker hits record early

Elizabeth Housker didn't waste any time breaking the single-season record for home runs in the Roseau fastpitch softball program.

Housker hit two home runs Tuesday in a 6-2 loss to International Falls. That gives the sophomore three homers this season and the Rams' single-season record. Two had been the previous mark.

"And she could have had a couple of more home runs,'' Roseau coach Robb Johnson said. "She's put a few to the fence that have been caught. She just missed on those.''

The right-handed hitter is a second-year regular. Housker didn't hit any home runs as a freshman. But she was seen as having power potential.

"She's a tall, strong girl with a nice level cut,'' Johnson said. "It doesn't surprise us that she's hitting home runs. But three in seven games -- that's a pleasant surprise.''

R-R makes an early statement

Munich-Starkweather-North Star was ranked first in the North Dakota Class B coaches preseason baseball poll. But M-S-NS started the season with a loss against Rolette-Rolla.

Rolette-Rolla scored a 2-1 win in the teams' season opener last Friday. Junior right-hander Dillon Dionne pitcher a one-hitter, striking out nine. Rolette-Rolla managed only three hits, but Evan Counts singled in a run in the sixth and eventually scored on Blake Nelson's fielder's choice for the win.

"It's a big confidence boost for us," R-R coach Jesse Vote said. "The kids were a little nervous about starting off playing a quality team like that. Munich hadn't been outside yet; I'd say that helped us some. But Dillon controlled them pretty well. He got some strikeouts, didn't walk anybody and forced a lot of grounders."

Rolette-Rolla has only two seniors on its team and graduated a strong baseball class last spring. But, Vote said, there is a strong junior class.

"I think we'll be pretty competitive," Vote said. "Pitching is a concern because of our inexperience, but I've seen most of these kids throw during the Legion season. I know they have ability. We don't have anybody who will overpower batters -- they throw strikes and hope their defense does its job.

"I'd say (Munich-Starkweather-North Star) is still the favorite in our region. But people have to be looking at us now, too."

Lake of the Woods drops swimming

Lake of the Woods is dropping its girls swimming program.

Lake of the Woods athletic director Brian Novak said the move is being made due to low participation numbers. Novak said the program has averaged only about six athletes on the team in recent seasons. "There's no interest," Novak said.

A co-op with Warroad had been discussed last fall, but Novak said neither the Bears athletes nor their parents indicated any interest in that.

Dropping swimming will save approximately $8,000 for the athletic budget. "We had to cut between $14,000 and $16,000 from our athletic budget," Novak said. "When the money is tough, you have to look at different things. You can't nickel and dime all the sports and make it. You have to look at cuts."

Briefly

Central Valley senior Laura Bakke has signed a letter of intent to play golf at Minot State. . . . Jake Rantanen has been named head coach of the Northern Freeze boys basketball team, which will be a first-year co-op between Marshall County Central and Tri-County next winter. . . . Kelly Hollands has resigned as coach of the Climax-Fisher volleyball team. . . . Seniors Laura Taylor of Maddock and Abby Berven of Frazee have signed letters of intent to play women's basketball at Mayville State University. . . . Chad Satrom has been named girls head basketball coach at Finley-Sharon/Hope-Page. Satrom had been an assistant to Randy Thompson, who recently resigned from the head coaching position. . . . Carrington will host the Region 2 boys golf meet May 14. Originally, the boys meet had been scheduled for Hillsboro, but poor course conditions resulted in the move. . . . Jeff Larson has been named athletic director at Finley-Sharon High School.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com.

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