Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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For more than half the race, Donny Schatz was running in second place. Kerry Madsen, a driver from Australia, was setting a blistering pace in the lead. But Schatz remained patient. It was only a matter of time before the dominating driver on the World of Outlaws circuit would make his move. And he did. And he won again.
For Mark Dobmeier, the past two months have been a whirlwind. He's still building his own sprint car team; he owns a business and he's trying to race as much of possible—balancing work, family and racing at the same time. So far, so good. But the career wins leader at River Cities Speedway still is chasing his ultimate goal. He wants to win a World of Outlaws feature at RCS, his home track. He'll get that chance Friday night when the Outlaws make their first of two appearances of this season at The Bullring.
One of UND's major athletic accomplishments came in March of 2017 when the Fighting Hawks won the Big Sky Conference men's basketball tournament, thereby qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. That's a big deal. It's probably one of the most significant athletic accomplishments in school history, given the scope and enormity of the Big Dance. And for a low mid-major program to play on that stage is even more impressive. But that success, it appears, came with a price.
When it comes to the big-money sprint car races, Donny Schatz usually is running up front. The same holds true when Schatz races with the World of Outlaws at River Cities Speedway—one of the top tracks on the circuit. Schatz pocketed $40,000 on Saturday night, winning the big-paying Jackson (Minn.) Nationals feature, besting a field of 42 sprint cars. The purse for three-day show in Jackson was just over $300,000.
CRARY, N.D.—Nick Omdahl isn't quite sure why he's been so successful at the Devils Lake Speedway. But it doesn't matter. Omdahl is dominating at the quarter-mile track. On Saturday night, Omdahl led from start to finish in taking the 25-lap feature, holding off a late charge from Wade Nygaard. Omdahl has won two of the three NOSA sprint features at Devils Lake this season and has three other wins at the track since 2016. He's won five of the past 11 sprint features at Devils Lake. He has no specific reason why he's winning at Devils Lake.
At River Cities Speedway on Friday night, Mark Dobmeier won another 25-lap sprint feature—winning in the usual manner. He started in the third row, then used some patience and grabbed the lead on a Lap 7 restart. From there, he cruised to another win. But that wasn't the biggest news in Dobmeier home this week. On Wednesday, Dobmeier's son, Jaxon, age 5, won a Forks Karting Association feature in his first time on the track. The go-kart feature win was a bigger deal for the driver of the No. 13 sprint.
Admittedly, it's getting tougher and tougher for Mike Baclaen to meet the demands of a late model race season. Now in his 35th season of racing, Balcaen, however, is meeting those demands—evidenced by his win last week in the NLRA season-opener at the Devils Lake Speedway. "Some days it's fun, some days it's not," said Balcaen, who has been one of the top drivers in the Upper Midwest for decades. "But last week was a lot of fun." The Winnipeg driver is looking for more fun Friday night at River Cities Speedway, where a regular night of racing is on tap.
The baseball honors keep piling up for Minnesota-Crookston's Reed Hjelle, who now has become the most-decorated player in program history. On Wednesday, Hjelle was named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Division II Central Region Position Player of the Year after putting up big numbers for the Golden Eagles this season. Hjelle now is in line to become a first- or second-team Division II All-American, which would be another first for the program. "Reed has gotten better every year," said UMC coach Steve Gust. "His work ethic is what really stands out."
CRARY, N.D.—Mike Balcaen is getting older but it appears he isn't slowing down. The Winnipeg driver is off to another fast start this season as he captured Saturday night's NLRA feature at the Devils Lake Speedway. It was the NLRA season-opener and Balcaen led the majority of the race as he held off a late charge from Dustin Strand. Balcaen has been racing late models for more than 30 seasons. He's won more than 200 features and various championships—including six NLRA series titles.
CRARY, N.D.—Approximately 15 miles east of Devils Lake a quarter-mile race track exists along the south side of U.S. Highway 2. The Devils Lake Speedway, for the past few seasons, has been home to weekly races for mainly modifieds, streets and pure stocks. This season, Devils Lake Speedway owner Nolan Olmstead has moved the track into the fast lane—promoting a number of higher-paying late model and sprint shows to complement the usual classes that run on a weekly basis.