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Heppner eyes strong finish to his illustrious career

Moses Heppner has been the best cross country runner ever at Warroad High School. Just not the luckiest. After winning the second Section 8A championship of his career last week, Heppner will seek his third all-state (top-25) finish at the Minnes...

Moses Heppner has been the best cross country runner ever at Warroad High School.

Just not the luckiest.

After winning the second Section 8A championship of his career last week, Heppner will seek his third all-state (top-25) finish at the Minnesota state meet on Saturday at Northfield. He has more all-state honors than any runner in the Warroad program's history, and his fourth-place finish as a sophomore is the best showing at state by a Warrior.

"We're hoping this is a good year for Moses at state," Warroad coach Rick McBride said. "We feel that if things go right for him, he could win it. But everything has to fall in place for him. He's very capable. But there are 10 very capable runners who could win it."

Falling in place hasn't always happened for Heppner. Consider:


n Last season, Heppner faded in the final mile and his bid for a third straight all-state designation faded with it, as he finished 27th. "He was up with the lead group, in fourth or fifth place, after two miles," McBride said. "Then, for some reason, he ran out of energy. That never had happened to him before."

n As a sophomore, he finished fourth at state, despite suffering a knee injury three weeks before the end of the season.

n As a freshman, Heppner finished 11th at state despite running the final two miles with one shoe, the other having fallen off during the race.

"It's hard to say if it's bad luck or what," McBride said. "We're hoping that nothing happens. At the state track meet last spring, he ran well (finishing third in the 800). We're hoping he can duplicate that performance.

"Moses has had a good year, and it's the healthiest he's ever been going into a state meet."

Heppner is ranked eighth in the final state poll. He's lost only two races, finishing second at Milaca, narrowly being beaten by Clayton Foster of Pequot Lakes -- the state's top-ranked runner -- and was fifth in a big race at Duluth.

Three other area runners qualified for the Class A state meet, Warroad's Joey Olson and Thief River Falls' Brendan Skime in the boys division and Lake of the Woods' Victoria Alexander in the girls division.

Grafton gets


boost at net

Grafton will get a boost at the net for volleyball's postseason with the addition of Jennifer Gallagher.

Gallagher was a starter for Drayton-St. Thomas last season. The day after Drayton-ST was eliminated from the district tournament, Gallagher transferred to Grafton. State rules required her to sit out 180 school days; that span has elapsed, and the 6-foot junior middle hitter was in Grafton's lineup Monday against Thompson.

"It could be a very good thing for us, having Jennifer," Grafton coach Keldra Rerick said. "She's a very good player.

"We have people who can place their hits, but we don't have anybody who really smacks the ball. Jennifer is a hard hitter. And her blocking will help."

Gallagher was able to play on the junior varsity all season. Rerick said Gallagher will have to adjust back to the faster pace of the varsity game. Also, her presence means some other regulars in the lineup will be in different positions and different roles.

"We've had to switch some things around," Rerick said. "We have to get everybody settled in and used to different things. But we have good players. I think they'll handle it."

No big upsets


this time around

The Minnesota Section 8A volleyball tournament has been different from a year ago in that there have been no major upsets heading into the final two rounds.

In 2007, neither of the No. 1 seeds still was alive entering the final four. Northern Freeze, seeded second in the west subsection, beat No. 8 Kittson County Central in the final, while No. 2 Lake of the Woods topped No. 5 Mahnomen in the east subsection final.

Tonight, it will be No. 1 vs. No. 3 in both subsection finals at University of Minnesota-Crookston. Top-seeded Lake of the Woods plays No. 3 Fosston at 6 p.m. in the east final, followed by No. 1 Northern Freeze against No. 3 Win-E-Mac in the west final. The section championship will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Minnesota-Crookston.

"For once, it seemed to go the way things were pretty much supposed to go,'' said Missy Thompson, coach of defending section champion Northern Freeze. "On the west side, I think the teams seeded one through eight were all tough. I actually think there was more balance this year.''

But, Win-E-Mac coach Lynette Kaster said, "I don't think anybody was shocked that the four teams playing in the subsection semifinals were there.''

Thompson records

her 1,000th dig


Senior Jordyn Thompson achieved a milestone Tuesday. In a Win-E-Mac volleyball program that has a rich tradition, she became the first Patriot to register 1,000 career digs.

Thompson had 28 digs in a win against Climax-Fisher, giving her 1,011 for her career. She has 392 digs this season.

"It's helped Jordyn's numbers in that she's a libero,'' Patriots coach Lynette Kaster said. "She's in the left back row, the primary spot for digs, just about the entire game. But she also has a lot of talent. Jordyn's very fast. And she has some major bruises from diving for the ball. She goes all out.''

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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