Archive for ED Sports

Saints defeat Kernels 12-6 in explosive first round of ‘Bike Path Series’

DASSEL – In a tense, explosive game, the DC Saints defeated their crosstown rivals Cokato Kernels by a 12-6 score at Saints Field Friday.

The game had plenty of offensive fireworks to delight the fans. The Saints had 17 hits, Cokato 13.

Beyond the offensive highlights, tensions erupted between the two squads in the eighth, when DC’s Andy Haataja collided with Kernels first baseman Ethan Niemela, leading to an extensive heated exchange between the two sides.

To top it off, the police swooped in to arrest a fan midway through the game.

On the field, the Saints took control early, and maintained it thoughout.

DC took a 4-0 lead after two innings, with Cokato responding with two in the top of the third.

The Saints scored twice to go back up by four, 6-2, but again the Kernels responded with two in the bottom half to pull to within 6-4.

For the next four innings, however, it was all Saints.

DC scored one in the fifth, one in the sixth, and four in the bottom of the eighth to take a 12-4 lead. Cokato scored twice in the top of the ninth for the final score.

Look for a full recap in Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch.

And if you’re going to attend one town ball game this year, check out Friday’s rematch of the Saints-Kernels in the second game of the “Bike Path Series,” which will be held in Cokato at Veteran’s Memorial Field at Brooks Lake. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

From rivals to teammates; DC and Litchfield look to pair in wrestling; Co-op proposal would create new team displays for hockey, boys swimming, and wrestling


Sports Editor

COKATO – If you were to ask any DC wrestler, former wrestler, or fan the following question: who is the team’s fiercest rival?, the answer would likely be unanimous: Litchfield.

Ask any Litchfield fan or wrestler the same question, and they would likely respond in kind: DC.

Yet if all goes according to plan, next season that rivalry would be a thing of the past.

If all goes according to plan, starting this fall, the two teams will be combined into one new co-op team.

DC head wrestling coach Bryan Clemen and Activities Director Perry Thinesen, along with their Litchfield counterparts Dan Buker and Justin Brown, presented a proposal to combine the two programs to the DC school board at its Monday, June 10 meeting.

Clemen said he spent many hours agonizing over the decision to pair with a team the Chargers have battled year in and year out in conference and section matches for the last three decades.

“Your initial gut reaction is to say, ‘no way,’” he said.

Litchfield coach Dan Buker said much the same thing.

But for both coaches, and both ADs, the reason for the proposal came down to one overarching issue: the number of wrestlers in both programs.

“If we had the numbers, we would not be having this conversation,” said Clemen. “But that’s not the case.”

By the numbers

Simply put, both programs have seen a drastic decrease in the number of wrestlers throughout their youth, junior high, and JV/varsity programs.

DC currently has 17 wrestlers in grades 9-12, Litchfield 10 to 12 in the same grades.

In grades 5-8, the Chargers have just 15 wrestlers, with Litchfield sporting similar numbers.

“At our highest point, we had about 14 wrestlers per grade. Now, we’re down to five,” said Clemen. “Realistically, we need about 10 per grade, and we’re at about half that now.”

Combining the two programs would give the added benefit of being able to teach and train wrestlers at an appropriate pace. Both Clemen and Buker talked about having to either forfeit weights, or put in young wrestlers who were vastly overmatched by their older counterparts.

“This is the best way to develop kids at the 7-9 grade level,” said Buker. “We would be able to put them into their appropriate level of accomplishment.”

The Co-op process

Clemen and Buker said serious discussion about co-oping began after this winter’s state tournament, as both coaches took a close look at their upcoming numbers.

Putting their rivalries aside, both coaches said the programs make a natural pairing, as the two schools already co-op in two sports, hockey and boys swimming.

Eventually, Thinesen and Brown both joined formal discussions, along with superintendents Jeff Powers and Beckie Simenson.

Thinesen and Brown presented the proposal to the Wright County Conference, which gave their blessing on a 12-1 vote, with Watertown-Mayer the lone holdout.

The proposal is currently being reviewed by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Region 5A Committee, and will need to pass both school boards and another MSHSL review before it can be enacted.

What it would look like

The co-op agreement will have implications beyond just the wrestling team(s).

Under the agreement, all three co-op programs (hockey, boys swimming, wrestling) will have a brand new color scheme, logo, and name.

The color scheme will borrow from both schools, with a navy/kelly green/gray palette.

The logo and name will be decided at a future time.

For wrestling, Clemen and Buker would be co-head coaches. The two would assign the JV, 9th grade, and junior high coaching positions, with the plan to keep the current coaching staffs from both programs.

The tentative plan for practice will be to have DC host varsity and JV practices in 2019-20, with the junior high to be determined.

Beginning in 2020-21, both the varsity and JV will practice at each site for part of the year, with the junior high being the opposite of varsity/JV.

The transportation costs would be split between both schools.

Positives, and drawbacks

The co-op proposal has a number of positives, said Clemen and Thinesen.

First and foremost would be numbers, and depth in the varsity lineup. The team would not be putting kids in varsity spots that they may not be ready for, and would be able to develop young wrestlers at a more beneficial pace, with additional coaches that have their weight class expertise.

And while it might be hard to swallow for some wrestlers to suddenly be teammates with a formal rival, ultimately having them as a new training partner will be only make them better.

“The kids always worked hard when we knew we were going against Litch. Now, they will have to work hard in the practice room,” said Clemen.

On questioning from the board, Thinesen acknowledged there were potential drawbacks to the proposal, with transportation costs being a primiary one, along with the loss of former team identity and the possibility that some wrestlers would now need to compete for a spot they formerly held.

But for all four stakeholders involved, the proposal was the unequivocally right decision.

“For this to be successful, this needs to be bought into by both communities,” said Clemen. “But the benefits, in my mind, outweigh the costs.”

Next steps

The board indicated they will take up the measure for vote at the next board meeting, scheduled for June 24.

The Litchfield school board will be addressing the proposal at its June 24 meeting, where Buker said he was optimistic that the board will react positively.

DC board member Chuck Nelson, a former wrestler and longtime team supporter, said he was “all for it.”

Superintendent Jeff Powers noted that, like Clemen, he initially was reticent about joining a rival program. But upon listening to the discussion of the numbers and the proposed plan, he is in favor.

The  DC wrestling supporters that were in attendance at the meeting overwhelmingly supported the proposal, as well.

Paul Halonen, a longtime DC wrestling supporter and treasurer of the DC Wrestling Booster Club, told the board that he is a second-generation DC wrestler, and that his son Noah, a soon-to-be senior, is a third-generation DC wrestler.

“If this proposal doesn’t pass, there won’t be a fourth generation, because there won’t be a team,” Halonen said.









Bakeberg, Peterson cap golf seasons at AA State Tournament


Sports Editor

JORDAN – Jackson Bakeberg and Alex Peterson capped off tremendous boys golf seasons with a trip to the Class AA state tournament, held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan.

Bakeberg finished in 42nd place with a two-round score of 82-81–163, while Peterson was four strokes back, carding an 82-85–167 to place 55th.

Cecil Belisle of Red Wing was the meet chamion, carding a one-under 143, while Holy Family (DC’s opponent in Section 5) won the team tournament by 20 strokes over second place Detroit Lakes.

While both golfers were not particularly pleased with their day two rounds, coach Brian Johnson said overall it was a fun experience for the two close friends to participate in the big dance together. It was the first time in Johnson’s nearly 20-year career that two DC golfers made the state meet.

Check out Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch for a full recap.

Kernels down Stingers, 14-4

COKATO – Leading 1-0 after four innings, Cokato broke the game open with five runs in both the fifth and sixth innings in a 14-4, eight-inning game against Montrose-Waverly.

“It took a while, but the bats woke up,” said Corbin. “This was a good win to get.”

Corbin was able to empty his bench, as 18 players had at least one at-bat.

Jake Smith blasted a two-run homer in the eighth, and Aho added a big two-run double in the fifth to give Cokato a 3-0 lead.

I. Nelson added two hits, including a double, and two RBI.

Eric Pokornowski went all eight innings on the hill.

Check out Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch for a full recap.

Saints blow six-run lead, fall 13-9 to Maple Lake

MAPLE LAKE – The Lakers rallied from a 6-0 deficit to take a 13-9 victory over the Saints at home Wednesday.

The Saints jumped out to a 5-0 lead with five runs in the top of the first, and added another run in the second to go up 6-0.

But Maple Lake scored three runs in the bottom of the second, five in the fourth, and three in the sixth.

It was not a well-played defensive game. The two teams combined for 12 errors, with DC committing five miscues, and Maple Lake seven.

Check out Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch for a full recap.

Legion #209 defeats Annandale in season opener

DASSEL – The Cokato Legion team opened their 2019 summer season with a 5-3 victory over Annandale Monday at Saints Field in Dassel.

Cokato scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the victory.

Jackson Martin had three hits, while Sanders Asplin and Austin Kantola added who hits apiece to lead Cokato.

Jaeger Ohm picked up the win, going six innings and giving up three runs on six hits and zero walks,while striking out six.

Jackson Martin pitched the final (scoreless). He gave up one hit and zero walks, and struck out two.