Archive for HJ Sports

PREP CROSS COUNTRY: HLWW girls dominate Dassel-Cokato meet

COKATO – The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted girls cross country team is a force to be reckoned with. The Lakers dominated the Dassel-Cokato meet Tuesday afternoon, taking first place with a team score of 39 points. If that’s not enough, the Lakers had four runners in the top-10.

Gracie Mallak, Gwen Helgeson, Katelyn Routhier, and Erin Brabec all brought home top-10 finishes for the Lakers. Mallak took third place overall with a time of 21 minutes and 13 seconds, while Helgeson took fifth with a time of 22 minutes and 2 seconds. Right behind those two were Routhier and Brabec. Routhier took seventh place with a time of 22 minutes and 12 seconds, and Brabec finished in eighth place with a time of 22 minutes and 23 seconds. Brooke Baumann also had a strong race for the Lakers finishing in 15th place with a time of 22 minutes and 54 seconds.

The Lakers have proved worthy of their ranking in the latest Class A poll. The Lakers are currently ranked No. 5 in Class A only behind Perham (No.1), Winona Cotter (No. 2), Luverne (No. 3), and Stewartville (No. 4).

Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, September 28 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.


PREP VOLLEYBALL: Olson, Schroeder bolster impressive attack for Watertown-Mayer

WATERTOWN – Just when it looks the Watertown-Mayer volleyball team couldn’t get much better, they prove you wrong. Fresh off a long weekend in which they played five matches, the Royals looked stronger than ever as they topped the Norwood Young America Raiders  3-1 (25-13, 18-25, 25-15, 25-19) for the second time in three days Tuesday night at home.

“There’s so many things going on this week with homecoming,” W-M coach Andrea Raser said. “That focus during it is huge. When you beat a team once, it’s just once. Any team can beat someone once. You got to prove it by going out and playing solid by getting them another time.”

The Royals looked strong in the opening set, taking a 1-0 lead with a 25-13 victory. While it was normal names like Janessa Berrios and Paige Thibault leading the charge, Vanessa Schroeder and Kaylie Olson are critical pieces to the success for the Royals this season.

“As coaches, we know it,” Raser said. “As players we know it, too. We just got to get in that rhythm of using everybody on the team. They’re kind of our little secret right now, but the more we get them in the game, they’re not going to be a secret for much longer.”

Olson, a junior middle hitter who has filled in a big role for the Royals this season, has shown her improvement with each game she’s played. She’s not just a role player anymore. She’s quickly becoming a key cog in the machine for Watertown-Mayer.

“We have to stay tough,” Olson said about the team. “It’s been really fun to play with these girls. We really keep each other up and do that very well.”

Schroeder was a key piece for the Royals and their state tournament run a season ago, and this year in her senior year, has stepped up even more. While her kill numbers might not blow you away, her serves will. Schroeder is one of the top servers on the team, and always finds a way to spark a run for her team when needed.

“It’s a strong serve,” Raser said. “It’s hard, and it’s hard to pass. It comes at you so heavy and fast. I think people just have a hard time adjusting to it, and once you get in someone’s head, then she just gets on a roll. When she gets on a roll, there’s really no stopping her on her serves.”

Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, September 28 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.


PREP FOOTBALL: Bulldogs use balanced attack to pick up key win at home

LESTER PRAIRIE – It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity football team as they hosted the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs. In fact, it was downright frustrating.

Instead of opening the game with three touchdown drives, LP/HT turned the ball over three times (two turnovers on downs and one fumble) inside the 10-yard line. Even with sloppy start, the Bulldogs regrouped and picked up a key 29-0 victory at home against the visiting Bulldogs Friday night in Holy Trinity’s homecoming game.

“We talked about that a lot,” LP/HT coach Joe Scoblic said. “We we’re just finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. We came out of it with an 8-0 lead at half. I told that kids that we couldn’t have played any worse, and we still have an eight-point lead.”

LP/HT opened the game rolling on offense, but penalties and mental mistakes kept them from reaching the end zone in their first three drives of the game. On the first drive, a holding call stalled the drive deep inside J-W-P territory. On the second drive, a 12 men in the huddle penalty turned a fourth-and-goal inside the one, into a fourth-and-five that they couldn’t convert.

“We’ve got to clean those things up,” Scoblic said. “I just don’t understand how we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re better than that. That hurts us. We really should have had 21 points the first half.”

Despite the struggles in the red zone early, LP/HT didn’t let that dictate what happened after. They finally got in the end zone on a 17-yard pass from Michael Ziermann to Dylan Ruzicka to start the scoring with just under six minutes left in the second quarter.

“We knew that they really couldn’t stop us from the get-go,” Ziermann said. “We were moving the ball fine. We started at our 15-yard line and put together and 85-yard drive. We stayed comfortable within ourselves, and our abilities and what we are able to do.”

After missed opportunities kept LP/HT out of the end zone early, they took advantage of a muffed punt by J-W-P to get the scoring started in the second half.

Just four plays later, the Bulldogs turned the muffed punt into six points as Ziermann and Ruzicka hooked up for their second score of the night, this time a 24-yard pass that Ziermann laid in there perfectly.

“He had a lot of audibles tonight and had some really good plays,” Scoblic said about his quarterback. “He’s on the money. There’s no doubt about that. He got a new ball again tonight, and when he gets a new ball, he’s so sharp. Maybe I need to put a new ball in every week.”

With their early struggles behind them and a 14-0 lead, LP/HT began to flex their muscles.

“It was really big,” Scoblic said about turning the turnover into points quickly. “It was really a big play. The momentum really went our way though when we punched that in. We never really looked back after.”


Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, September 28 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.


Minnesota Sports Are Frustrating

There is so much happening in the world of  Minnesota sports right now that I couldn’t pick just one topic to focus on. There are 3 things that I want to share some thoughts on: the NFL tackling rules, the Vikings kicking situation, and Jimmy Butler.

First, we need to talk about the NFL tackling rules. This is exactly what I was worried about when I wrote a few months ago about the NFL losing it’s fan-base.

The Vikings and Packers played an incredibly exciting game that miraculously ended in a tie.

It should not have been a tie, as Kirk Cousins lofted an interception on the final drive the Vikings would have in regulation in an attempt to make up an 8 point lead. Clay Matthews made a textbook tackle – he kept his head up, put his shoulder into the QB’s midsection (avoiding the legs and head), and brought him to the ground.

He was flagged for roughing the passer and the Vikings were able to keep the ball and end up tying the game. The NFL has since stood firm with the call, and even went as far as to include it in their video for officials clarifying what a good roughing the passer call is.

If this is going to continue, a lot of fans (and players and coaches) will be increasingly frustrated with the league. Safety is important, but it is a physical game. This call was ludicrous.

Second, the Vikings were given this gift and were able to sneak into overtime. Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed a 49-yarder on the first drive. Thankfully, the Vikings defense held firm and Minnesota was able to drive down the field and milk the clock. With under a minute left, the Vikings started slowing up their play-calling to set up a field goal.

We all were thinking the same thing: Are we sure we don’t want to try to get the shortest field goal possible for our shaken rookie kicker? We settled on a 35-yarder and he of course missed it.

Carlson has since been replaced by the 2nd most accurate kicker in NFL history, Dan Bailey. The takeaway here is that with a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, it was incredibly stupid to trust the kicking game to unproven rookie.

We should be thankful that these missed kicks cost the Vikings a win in week 2 so that they could fix it before it cost them everything in the playoffs.

Lastly, I have to talk about my Minnesota Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler met with management this week to announce that he is demanding a trade a week before the season starts. He wants to be traded to the Knicks, Clippers, or Nets – places that he can sign the 5 year maximum extension.

Now, Jimmy arrived to Minnesota and preached that he was only concerned with winning. He endlessly got on his teammates about their effort, attitude, and clearly his brash personality created a schism in the locker room and organization.

In case you were wondering, the Knicks, Nets, and Clippers had a combined win percentage of 40% last season and are much further from winning than the Timberwolves are.

Butler has been full of drama ever since he arrived to Minnesota and it really is unfortunate that he doesn’t care about winning, his teammates, or his coach. Jimmy Butler cares about his money and playing in a big market. Anything else he says is a lie.

I looking forward to trading Butler for Tobias Harris, Lou Williams, and a protected 1st round pick and letting Thibs go. Let’s continue with Towns, Wiggins, and a fresh positive-minded coach and move on.


PREP VOLLEYBALL: Irish top Lakers in exciting matchup

MAPLE LAKE – The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted volleyball team didn’t leave with a win Thursday night, but they found out a lot about themselves. After struggling in the early going, the Lakers battled back and gave the Irish all they could handle in a 3-1 (25-21, 16-25, 25-21, 25-20) loss on the road too their rival.

It wasn’t a win for the Lakers, but they showed they can play with some of the best around. The Lakers gave the Irish more than they could handle, but a few runs allowed the Irish to pull away a bit, which was the difference in four close sets.

“It just shows that we need to be on our toes all the time,” HLWW coach Brooke Decker said. “We can’t take plays off, especially against these good teams. One point turns into four quick, and then we’re forced to fight back. Then the pressure is on us instead of them.”

The Lakers looked sluggish in the opening set, but found their flow late. Even though they dropped the first set, the Lakers kept that rhythm going into the second set. They opened set two on a 7-1 run, and evened things up with the Irish with a convincing 25-16 victory.

“I think it showed a lot about the girls,” Decker said. “They were here and they were in it. They wanted to win. We always walk into this gym, and we always get a little bit nervous and get butterflies. That kind of took over game one, and then we finally got comfortable and went from there.”

Maple Lake bounced back in set three, to take a 2-1 lead in another tight set. In set four, the Lakers had an early lead, but another big run by the Irish had the Lakers chasing late as they held on for the win in four sets.

The Lakers came into the matchup with three-straight sweeps in their last three matches. Just because the Lakers had that streak come to an end, doesn’t mean there’s any reason to panic. Decker and the Lakers know how important is to move on and learn from the loss.

“That’s what I told the girls,” Decker said. “Don’t let this make or break the season. We’re going to face teams later in the year where we’re going to have this pressure. We’ve got to make sure we’re learning and feeling what this feels like. We’l learn how to overcome that the rest of the season.”

Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, September 28 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.



SCHEDULE UPDATE: Weather moves football game to Lester Prairie

Due to wet field conditions from the recent weather, Holy Trinity’s homecoming football game will be played in Lester Prairie at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21.

LP/HT will host the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs. For a full preview of the matchup, check out Friday’s edition of the Herald Journal.