GF Royals Coach: Nick Chine. 2017 record: 23-13. Key departures: Rakeem Wright, Ben Carolin, Zack Murphy, Jackson Kriewald, Landon Kraft. Top returning hitters: Brock Reller (.412, 8 HR, 39 RBI), Coby Tweten (.385, 11 RBI), Brenden Bethke (.254, 13 RBI), Issac Burger (.217), Noah Chine (.216). Top returning pitchers: Conner Richardson (4-2, 2.49 earned run average), Bethke (3-0, 2.21), Tweten (2-0, 5.17). Potential new impact players: Cade Barta, Peyton Lotysz, Parker Monette, Drew Montgomery, Parker Stroh, Zach Vodden.
Low participation numbers put the 2018 high school football season in jeopardy for Midway-Minto. However, the co-op program has found an alternative. Midway-Minto will play a limited 6-man football schedule this fall. A key step came Tuesday when the North Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors approved the program's request. "We knew we couldn't field a 9-man team,'' Midway superintendent Roger Abbe said. "If we could make 6-man work, we wanted to continue the co-op.
With a veteran lineup back, including three returning all-conference selections, Brenden Bethke had high expectations entering the season. He thought a state tournament berth was a possibility. "We had success last year,'' said Bethke, a junior at Sacred Heart High School. "We had everybody returning. We'd had a good offseason.'' That was in basketball. However, Sacred Heart was eliminated in the semifinal round of the West subsection playoffs.
To the best of Ryan Enerson's knowledge, a four-minute mile has never been run on a North Dakota outdoor track. His hope is that could happen Monday at Grand Forks' Cushman Field. Enerson, a former standout track athlete at Grand Forks Red River High School, is one of the organizers of the See Dick Run Elite Mile. "We're trying to get the fastest people in the region here,'' Enerson said. "We want to run the fastest outdoor mile ever in North Dakota. The goal is to have someone run a four-minute mile.''
After a season-long chase, Luke Vonesh finally hit the 50-foot mark in the shot put last week. But there's no time for Vonesh, a junior at East Grand Forks Senior High, to enjoy his achievement. After winning the Section 8A title with a toss of 50 feet, 3/4 of an inch, Vonesh will compete in the Minnesota Class A state track meet, to be held Friday and Saturday in St. Paul.
BEMIDJI—Two batters into the baseball game, Fosston already had runners on first and third with nobody out. But Sacred Heart pitcher Brenden Bethke wasn't yet worried about having an off game. "I just had to get the butterflies out of my system,'' the Eagles' junior right-hander said. "Once the game got going I wasn't nervous. I knew I had a good defense behind me.''
CROOKSTON—If practice makes perfect, lack of practice hasn't been a drawback for Lukas Meier. The Crookston High School junior practices the pole vault only once, occasionally twice, a week during the track season. Yet Meier won the Section 8A vault competition with a personal-record performance of 12 feet, 5 inches last Saturday. That has Meier in a four-way tie for the No. 7 seed heading into the Class A state meet, to be held Friday and Saturday in St. Paul.
With a lineup that looked more like a junior high than a high school team at the start of the softball season, Carly Mekash was a bit pessimistic about the chances of returning to the Minnesota state tournament. "I didn't think it was possible at the beginning of the season,'' said Mekash, a senior on the Badger-Greenbush-Middle River team. "But we kept winning and improving. We showed that we could get to state, that we couldn't be overlooked.''
Ben Kern is a two-time Section 8A boys tennis champion. But his girlfriend keeps Kern humble on the court. Kern, a junior at East Grand Forks Senior High, will make his second straight trip to the Minnesota Class A singles tournament, which starts Thursday in the Twin Cities. He's been dating Grand Forks Red River student Shaelyn Johnson the last few years. Johnson last week won the singles championship in the North Dakota girls high school tennis tournament. The two practice together frequently and, every few weeks, play a competitive match.
Grand Forks Red River has a lineup dominated by seniors. Grand Forks Central, on the other hand, has one of the state's youngest lineups. Regardless of the two teams' makeup, both are eyeing a title run at the North Dakota Class A boys state high school golf meet, which will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Dickinson. Fargo Davies figures to be the favorite. But both Central and Red River, the defending state champion, have beaten the Eagles once in the last few weeks.