Archive for ED Sports

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Big runs lead Dragons to sweep of Dassel-Cokato

COKATO – The Dassel-Cokato volleyball team came into their matchup looking for their first win of the season. Midway through the first half, it looked as if the Chargers had a chance to do just that. That all changed with big runs throughout the match by the Litchfield Dragons. In all three sets, Lithfield used big runs to lead them to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-20) sweep over D-C Thursday night.

Looking to strike first, D-C got off to a nice start in set one. Kills from Lauren Abfalter and Zoe Verhey gave the Chargers a 19-16 lead. That lead would disappear in a hurry as Litchfield would close the set on a 6-0 run to steal set one.

Litchfield would carry that momentum over into set two. A 10-2 run gave the Dragons a 15-7 lead and there was so sign of slowing Litchfield down. The Dragons would close the set on a 10-5 run, taking a commanding 2-0 lead over the Chargers.

For the complete story and more Dassel-Cokato sports coverage, check out the Friday, Nov. 6  edition of the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise-Dispatch. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for in-game updates, schedule changes, and more.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 

 

 

Working the game from a different angle

By Brad Salmen

The year was 2005. Natalie and I were living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I worked as a sportswriter for the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

One of my beats was the Michigan Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams, where along the way I became well acquainted with Mitch Lake, a veteran radio broadcaster who called the games on WKMJ. I was joking around with him at halftime one game, when he asked if I wanted to join him for the second half as the color commentator.

Sure, why not, I told him. And sure enough, he pulled out a spare headset, and minutes later was introducing me to the listening audience.

“Well fans, we have a special treat for us today,” he said. “Joining me for the second half is Mining Gazette sportswriter Brad Salmen. Brad, welcome aboard.”

<Insert deer-in-headlights.gif here>

The realization that I was live, on the air, and totally unprepared came washing over me like a crushing wave. I honestly don’t remember what I stammered out, but I’m sure it had listeners at home wondering if Mitch was doing some sort of bit.

The second half began, with a nice pass for an easy basket for Michigan Tech. I vaguely remember Mitch calling the action, and pausing to turn to me expectantly, waiting for my brilliant analysis.

My response, unfortunately, is not a vague haze. It is one of those embarrassing memories seared crystal clear into your brain, the kind that haunts you for the rest of your life. The kind that your brain likes to bring up and taunt you with at odd times for the next 15 years just for fun, like in the shower, where you mumble what you should have said, leading to your wife knocking on the bathroom door asking who you’re talking to in the shower.

Oh you don’t have those types of haunting memories? It’s just me? Oh.

Anyway, what my brain came up with, after an agonizing pause, was, “That was a nice play.”

That’s it. “That was a nice play.” Insightful, descriptive commentary, brain!

I’m sure, at that moment, Mitch was kicking himself for inviting me on the air. But as the half wore on, I started feeling more and more comfortable, and by the end of the game was starting to enjoy myself. After that initial synapse misfire, I did well enough that Mitch invited me back on the air for the next game, and we went on to work six seasons together calling Michigan Tech basketball.

I can truly say it was one of the more enjoyable endeavors of my career, as it included two trips to the women’s national tournament. Mitch and I got along well, and more importantly worked really well together, with solid on-air chemistry.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and my radio broadcasting career was put on hold when I moved to Minnesota in 2011. The fond memories always stuck with me, though, and when the time came for me to move on from the ED Sports Editor position, I put some feelers out to the local radio stations asking if they needed any help this fall and winter.

Joel Niemeyer, the sport director at KDUZ/KARP, took a chance on me. Quite literally, actually, as try as I might I couldn’t find any clips from my time at WKMJ, so he was taking my word for it that I had any experience.

He offered me the chance to do color commentary for the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity football game Oct. 10, with veteran broadcaster Steve Friendt.

Pretty much nobody outside my immediate family knew about it. I didn’t announce it on Facebook or even our family GroupMe, as I knew I would be nervous for my first time back in the booth, and didn’t want any additional pressure.

Sure enough, for the first 10 minutes or so, I was pretty shaky. But Steve’s a good guy, easygoing and laid back, and soon it was just like old times, and we fell into a rhythm.

I did well enough that Joel offered me additional football gigs this season, including some DC games. I was still riding that high, when I got an email from Brian Johnson at DCHS.

We have an opening to do the play-by-play for the Charger Game Day football broadcast against New London-Spicer, he said. Are you interested?

Gulp.

***

For those of you unaware, Charger Game Day is the video broadcast of DCHS sports. It is run by Justin Larson, the district’s Technology Integration Specialist.

As any parent or fan of girls swimming and volleyball will tell you, we are lucky to have him.

With no fans allowed (girls swimming) or few fans allowed (volleyball), Justin and his students have risen to the occasion to put on what can only be described as a top-notch operation. The girls swim meets have featured high-resolution video, student/athlete interviews, the whole nine yards. The volleyball games have featured the same high-quality video, with play-by-play announcers.

Thursday’s New London-Spicer game, the first home game of the season, would be Charger Game Day’s first foray into football. With only 250 fans allowed into the stadium, this meant that hundreds of fans who normally would be in attendance would be tuning in on Youtube to watch the game online.

DC’s first game at Holy Family was similarly broadcast on Youtube, with the host school providing the video and play-by-play. I’ll politely say it could have been better, and leave it at that.

I knew the video/audio quality of Thursday’s broadcast, with Justin at the helm, would be high caliber. But would the announcing be the same?

Truth be told, I had never done play-by-play before – I’ve only ever been the color commentator. I was nervous, so I called in the big gun for help: Jerome Lindquist.

Jerome and I have known each other for years, since we played for the Saints together some 20 years ago. More importantly, he’s done a number of radio broadcasts for DC football games, and I knew he would be a steadying presence in the booth.

As game time approached, I dove into preparation. I pulled up stats, printed out stat sheets, read game articles, everything I could think of to be as prepared as possible. I even printed out an initial script for right when we got on the air, so I wouldn’t stammer out something that would haunt me for the next 15 years. Not this time, brain!

Jerome and I arrived early, got set up, spread out our stats and notes, talked about our approach, riffed a little pregame intro, and waited for the signal. Ten minutes before game time, we were on the air, and away we went.

Two-plus hours later, we were done. The Chargers won, 34-18, and I think we did a decent job of describing it.

A couple days later, Justin gave me a copy of the video, and I sat down to watch and take notes. Here are some observations:

  • Calling the game on Charger Game Day is a bit different from radio. The biggest difference is there were no commercial breaks, which actually makes things harder than I expected. During radio broadcasts, you get a chance to take a break during the commercials, but on Game Day we had to fill in all the down time ourselves.
  • My opening was a little wooden, but not too bad. I’m still glad I wrote out an intro, as it gave me some confidence to get rolling.
  • I had every intention of keeping stats during the game. As color commentator at the LPHT game, I was able to keep rushing/passing/receiving stats that actually ended up being pretty close to the official totals. But as I started play-by-play, it was a quick “nope, not going to happen.” I did manage to keep scoring plays.
  • I say, “ah” a lot, I need to work on that. Also, instead of saying “taking the snap, and handing off”, I said “taking the hand off, and handing off” at least three times.
  • I also noticed I called the game as if it was a radio broadcast, instead of video. The viewers probably didn’t need to hear me say, “Eli Gillman under center,” when they can see it themselves. I also kept repeating the score and time left in the quarter, which is good for radio, but unnecessary when the scoreboard is in the corner of the screen.
  • I’m so very glad Jerome was alongside me. He was a pro. Calm, funny, and brought a personable presence with a local touch. He was reading texts and chats from the Youtube stream throughout the broadcast, and needling friends and community members, which was great. Some gems:
  • “Bonni Halverson checking in, we must be doing a good job as she gave us a thumbs up. As [husband] Marcus will tell you, she’s a hard woman to please.”
  • [After the cannon went off following a Chargers touchdown] “Sounds like we finally got a competent cannon guy, taking advantage of Nick Corbin being in Florida.”
  • “Back when Paul Halonen was playing that end, it was just a swinging screen door.”
  • [After I misread the score, looking at my scoresheet instead of the scoreboard] “A Macalester education, ladies and gentlemen. That’s what you get for 100 grand a year.” (The other guys in the booth, Darren Olson, Mark Herman, and Mike Lhotka, got a kick out of that one).
  • Jerome also did a halftime interview with Activities Director Perry Thinesen that I think was very informative, as they talked about all the changes in the school and MSHSL due to Covid.

With the help of Tristen Pieti, Mason Schroeder, and Sydney Nelson running the cameras, and Zach Morris running the board, the audio and video turned out great. And while I cringed every time I heard myself trip over a name or otherwise awkwardly call a play, all-in-all I think we did ok.

Holy Family could learn a thing or two.

PREP FOOTBALL: Big second half leads Dassel-Cokato past Wildcats

COKATO – Things were just a bit off for the Dassel-Cokato football team in the first half of their game against New London-Spicer. The second half was entirely different. After a sluggish first half, the Chargers got their offense rolling in the second half. D-C scored on all four of their possessions in the second half, leading them to a 35-18 win over the Wildcats Thursday night.

“New London is very good,” D-C coach Ryan Weindandt said. “They had a close game last week. They came out and I thought they had a really good game plan against us.”

The Chargers turned it over on downs on their first two possessions of the game. Despite going for it on 4th down and failing twice in the first quarter, NL-S took over with great field position with a chance to take an early lead.

“When we didn’t get those first couple of first downs on our first few drives, that really stalled us,” Weindant said. “We’re at our best when we can turn out first downs and finish drives. We got out of that. They took us out of that. They are very good up front. They did some nice things.”

Following the first turnover on downs by D-C, the defense stepped up. After the Wildcats drove into Chargers’ territory, Jacob Gnerer picked off a pass to switch the momentum back to D-C.

After turning it over on downs their first two possessions, the Chargers got a spark from Monte Gillman on offense. Gillman broke off an 18-yard run on 3rd and 1, setting D-C up with a chance to get on the board. It was Eli Gillman who got the Chargers on the board with an 8-yard touchdown run, putting D-C up 7-0.

NL-S would answer quickly right before the half. A 36-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Doty to Brycen Christensen brought the Wildcats within one after Devan Campbell blocked the extra point.
With D-C up 7-6 at the half, the message was clear from Weindant to his team at the break.

“The message was we can do this,” Weindant said. “We just had a little mistake here and a little mistake there. The guys made plays (the second half). Our entire backfield is at new positions. They are all at new spots. Some of the timing got better there and you should get better with every game played.”

D-C had no problem getting the offense going in the second half. After a three and out by the defense, the Chargers struck for another touchdown on a big play. Greg Clark had just one completion for the D-C in the game, but it was a big one. On 3rd and 22, Clark found Joel Selseth in stride for a 72-yard touchdown to put the Chargers up 14-6.

Just over a minute late, NL-S answered back. After a big run by Tim Thein, Jack Novak found the end zone from 9-yards out to bring the Wildcats within two. NL-S went for the 2-point conversion to tie the game, but the Chargers came up with a big stop to keep their two-point lead.

There was no slowing down the D-C offense after the NL-S score. Thanks to big runs by Eli Gillman, the Chargers scored on their next three possessions. Gillman scored twice, while Keyton Johnson added another score. Gillman sealed the win on a 63-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage after NL-S made it a 28-18 game with just over three minutes to go.

“Eventually we were able to get in a nice groove,” Weidnadnt said. “Our running game was a little better and our defense settled in. It just felt like we weren’t firing on all cylinders at one time, but we did enough to win.”

For the complete story and more Dassel-Cokato sports coverage, check out the Friday, Oct. 23  edition of the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise-Dispatch. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for in-game updates, schedule changes, and more.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 

PREP BOYS CROSS COUNTRY: Veith, Chargers make it five wins in a row at Watertown-Mayer

WATERTOWN – Glencoe-Silver Lake’s Connor Hallaway has been on Dassel-Cokato’s Haydn Veith’s radar all season long. With the new COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of teams per race this fall, Veith and Hallaway have had plenty of races against each other this season.

Hallaway had the edge early on this season, but it was a different story this time at Watertown-Mayer.

At just over the halfway mark, Veith made his move and picked up the win for the Dassel-Cokato boys cross country team with a first-place finish Oct. 1. Veith’s win helped the Chargers finish in first place as a team overall with a score of 28.

“I felt like I ran really well,” Veith said. “My competitor Connor, I’ve been gunning for him all season.”

“Last time we raced, Connor from G-SL won the individual meet,” Chargers coach Brian Bessingpas said. “He beat Haydn by 11 seconds. Connor had the early lead in this race as well. He traded some shots with Haydn, but Haydn was able to cover Connor’s moves this week. Haydn changed up his strategy a bit which allowed him to not only beat Connor, but do so by 16 seconds.”

Knowing your competition has been a strength for Veith all season long. With him and Hallaway in a lot of races together this season, the two have pushed each other all season long.

“It was great having someone to catch up with,” Veith said. “I followed my coach’s game plan. Then I got him there at the end. That’s what we wanted.”

Helping the Chargers hold off the Panthers were Soren Bortnem and Dylan Seaberg. Bortnedm took third place with a time of 17 minutes and 56 seconds, while Seaberg finished in fifth place with a time of 18 minutes and 19 seconds. Despite G-SL having the early edge, D-C’s runners finished strong to come out with another win.

“The boys have now won five consecutive meets,” Bessingpas said. “G-SL came out to avenge their loss to us a couple of weeks ago. (They were) beating us through the first two miles of the race, but the boys really responded over the last mile.”

For the complete story and more Delano sports coverage, check out the Friday, Oct. 9  edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter for in-game updates, schedule changes, and more.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports 

MSHSL reverses course, football and volleyball coming back this fall

The Minnesota State High School League has reversed course on their decision about high school sports this fall. At a special meeting Monday morning, the MSHSL passed a pair of motions to bring the volleyball and football seasons back this fall.

In early August, the MSHSL Board of Directors voted to move volleyball and football to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After holding a special workshop meeting Sept. 15, the MSHSL called for a special meeting to reconsider their decision.

At Monday’s meeting, the decision was made to bring football and volleyball back this fall under a new schedule and format. Below is a look at how a volleyball and football season will look like this fall.

FOOTBALL

Practice Begins: Monday, Sept. 28

First Games: Friday, Oct. 9 or Saturday, Oct. 10

Season Length: A six-game regular season, follow by a two-week postseason (Format for posteason TBD)

 

VOLLEYBALL

Practice Begins: Monday, Sept. 28

First Games: Thursday, Oct. 8

Season Length: 11 weeks, 14 games (No tournaments in regular season, Postseason TBD)

Stay connected with Herald Journal for an in-depth story on the return of high school football and volleyball this fall. 

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter to stay up to date on all high school sports news. Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

In which I bid adieu for good, mostly, for now, anyway

By Brad Salmen

(Former) ED Sports Editor

So one night early this summer, I came home late from the Enterprise Dispatch office.

I had worked hard that day. I had tapped extensively on two different keyboards, one at home, one at the ED office.

I had produced a large number of letters, words, and sentences. Some were even coherent. All in all, I felt satisfied. I’d thrown some solid ones and zeros into the cloud.

I was about to hop in the shower when I happened to catch my side profile in the mirror. Which, as any fellow dad bod will tell you, is enough to ruin any good mood.

That day, however, I was genuinely shocked. I pulled out the scale, and was shocked even further. Suffice to say, I’d put on a good Covid-19, or 20. Or 25, if I’m being honest.

I resolved at that moment to do whatever it took to get back in shape. So, I started biking more, eating a little healthier, and adhering to intermittent fasting.

It’s been a long grind, but slowly I’ve been chipping away. I’ve lost those 25 pounds, and my goal is 25 more.

One thing I noticed, however, is that working evenings and weekends as the Enterprise Dispatch Sports Editor often meant two steps forward, one step back as far as unhealthy habits.

Then, a month ago, I realized this September would be six years as Sports Editor, and it just … hit me. It was time.

Time for a change for my health. Time to spend more time with family. Time to try something different.

I don’t know what that will be, yet. But I’m excited to find out. Maybe it’ll be a different kind of writing. Maybe it’ll be radio – I called Michigan Tech basketball games for three years, and really enjoyed it. Or maybe it’ll be nothing, for a while. Goodness knows I’ve let all kinds of house and yard projects pile up with the convenient excuse of having to cover a game.

It’s a cliché, but it really is bittersweet, saying goodbye. Overall, being the Sports Editor was very enjoyable and satisfying. I’ve witnessed some amazing moments, some heartwarming moments, and even some heartbreaking moments. I’ve met some amazing people, and I feel blessed for having been a small part of their lives.

I’ve also been blessed to have a wife, Natalie, that has supported me throughout.

Now, it’s my turn to support her.

A big reason I feel ready to quit the Sports Editor position is that Nat’s energy healing business, Tranquil Energy, has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, to the point where she’s had to turn many people away because she had a household to run.

After six years of her supporting me while I gallivanted off to a hockey game, the time has come for me to take over some of those duties, so she can fully pursue her dreams and goals. I can’t wait to see how high she can fly.

And in the end, I’m not going away entirely. I’ve agreed to help take photos of local games and events, and I may continue writing the occasional column here and there. And who knows, maybe I’ll be back some day.

But for now, I bid adieu as Sports Editor of the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch. Thank you all for your support. What a fun ride it’s been.