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Area prep notebook: Warroad's Heppner wins against state's best

Moses Heppner went to St. Paul on Friday looking for some more challenging competition. Instead, he became the challenge to opponents.

The Warroad runner won the 1,600 at the Hamline Elite invitational track meet. His time of 4 minutes, 17.74 seconds not only broke his own school record of 4:23.15 but is the fastest this spring in both Minnesota Class A and AA ranks.

The Elite is an invitation-only meet. Coaches submitted performances for athletes and meet officials selected the top performers from across the state.

Heppner's best previous time in the 1,600 was 4:25, giving him the meet's fifth seed. "We went there to get some better competition,'' Warroad coach Rick McBride said. "In the meets he's been running up here, Moses has been winning by 30-40 seconds.

"I didn't think he could get a time like that at this point in the season. That's a big jump he made. I think it shows that Moses is an exceptional athlete. Right now, he's showing he's the best in the state. Hopefully, he can be there at the end of the year.''

Heppner also finished third in the 800 on Friday.

Heppner, who has signed to compete in track and cross country at North Dakota State University, is no stranger to statewide success. He was runner-up in the 800 at the Class A state track meet last spring and won the Class A state cross country title last November.

"I think winning the state cross country meet has helped Moses' confidence,'' McBride said. "He's gotten over the mental block of being able to win the big meet.

"He's way ahead of his times from last year. He worked hard in the weight room over the winter. He's stronger and able to go at a faster pace the entire race.''

That showed Friday, as he ran a faster time on each ensuing lap. He was in third place entering the final lap but finished strong to win the 1,600. His time was slightly off the Class A state meet record of 4:15.20 set by Donny Wasinger of Winona Cotter last spring.

"I was hoping Moses could run this fast a time at the end of the season,'' McBride said. " I didn't know if he could this early. Now we have to readjust goals. I think one of his goals now should be getting that state record. But he has to stay healthy and keep improving.''

Spoilers set pitching rotation

Grafton was outscored 30-18 in losing three of its first four baseball games. Since then, the Spoilers have won seven straight, scoring 68 to their opponents' 14.

The difference has been pitching.

"We gave some different kids a chance to pitch early in the year, when the games didn't matter as far as region standings,'' Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. "Now we're using primarily six kids. They all have good high school fastballs and good offspeed pitches. They're throwing strikes and we're playing really good defense.''

Todd Paulson, Sam Tweten, Colby Aasand, Alex Martinez and Cory Blanchard have been starters, with freshman Joey Demers pitching in relief. Their efficiency has Kliniske seeing the team in a different way.

"I thought we could score more runs than last year,'' Kliniske said. "As it's turning out, we're scoring at about the same pace. But our earned run average is better than I expected. Our pitchers have been great.''

Visness, Bye to join MSHSL hall

Longtime Hallock and Kittson County Central coach Carol Visness and former Thief River Falls athlete Bill Bye are among 10 individuals who will be inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame.

Visness coached girls basketball, volleyball and track. She's third on the Minnesota girls basketball career wins list with 555. She coached the sport for 29 seasons, winning three section titles and the Class A state championship in 2002. Visness was volleyball coach for 20 seasons, posting a 418-180 record. Her 2005 team finished fourth at state. She also coached track and field for 11 seasons.

Bye was one of the most prolific prep athletes in Minnesota history. He played four seasons of varsity sports at Thief River Falls before moving to Anoka after his sophomore season. He competed in hockey, golf, football, basketball, baseball and track and field in a career that concluded more than 60 years ago. He went on to play football at the University of Minnesota and the Canadian Football League before returning to Minnesota to coach and teach.

Inductions will be at 1 p.m. May 17 in Minneapolis. Other inductees are James Christy, Minneapolis; William Demaray, Apple Valley; Sharon Euerle, Mankato; Evelyn Erdman, Elysian; Grant Johnson, Two Harbors; Kay Konerza-Bachert, Lester Prairie; Carl Lipke, North St. Paul; and Ron Sellnow, Hopkins.

West Marshall faces challenge

West Marshall is defending champion in the Minnesota Section 8A girls true team track meet. A repeat won't be easy at the 8A meet Tuesday at International Falls.

Graduation took the top three scorers -- Erin Aakre, Mallory Sauter and Kayla Safranski -- from last season's team.

"We still have a good nucleus,'' West Marshall coach Rick Schmiedeberg said. "But when you lose an athlete like Aakre, who could score 30 to 40 points in a meet, it hurts.

"I think it's an upward battle for us. Roseau will be awfully strong, in both the girls and the boys. We narrowly beat them last year, and they're very strong and experienced.''

The top individuals for West Marshall have been Jennifer Crummy (sprints, pole vault) and Kendra Aakre (hurdler, jumping events). "We like the true team because it gives all the kids a chance to contribute points,'' Schmiedeberg said. "A lot of times, it isn't the top athletes who make the difference in true team; it's the other kids and what points they can pick up that make a big difference.''

Roseau is defending 8A true team boys champion and has been a power in area meets this spring.

Smart named top player in Class A

Nicole Smart, who led Ada-Borup to the Class A girls high school basketball championship, has been named the Minnesota Class A player of the year by Minnesota Basketball News.

Smart has signed to play at UND. Ada-Borup's Katy Ness is a second-team Class A all-state picks by MBN, with Ada-Borup's Laura Kolness and Faith Kruchowski of Red Lake County Central getting honorable mention.

Other area athletes on the magazine's all-state teams include:

- Class AA girls: East Grand Forks Senior High's Ashley Tingelstad is a first-team selection. Teammate Chelsey Frydenlund is honorable mention.

- Class A boys: Martin Wind of 8A champion Cass Lake-Bena and Tyler Bennefeld of Norman County East are second-team picks. Zach Creviston of Badger-Greenbush-Middle River is honorable mention.

- Class AA boys: Brandon Brekke of East Grand Forks Senior High is honorable mention. Tydan Storrusten of 8AA and state champion Pelican Rapids is a first-team pick. Teammate Eric Shulstad is on the second team.


When Dawn Comstock struck out 12 in a 5-0 win Friday against Thief River Falls, it marked the third time in Roseau's first eight softball games that the pitcher reached double figures in strikeouts. . . . Beth Segerholm of Northwood has signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Jamestown College. . . . Tyson Ackerman of Lakota, Dustin Paulson of Leeds and Casey Larson of Warren-Alvarado-Oslo have signed letters of intent to play men's basketball at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. . . . Tydan Storrusten of Pelican Rapids has committed to play basketball at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

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