Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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ST. PAUL—The final buzzer had just sounded on the Class A state championship game on Saturday afternoon, March 10, and Alexandria players dropped to their knees as Orono celebrated its first-ever title with a 2-1 victory. Cardinals' junior forward Jack Westlund saw senior goaltender Jackson Boline kneeling in the crease with his head straight to the ground. Boline stopped 25 shots in a heartbreaking loss. He was about to be named the Herb Brooks Award winner in Class A and was phenomenal throughout the tournament, stopping 77 shots with a .962 save percentage in three games.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. —- Jim Dresch was ice fishing with his good friend, Roger Van Surksum, a couple years ago when Van Surksum latched into a nice crappie. He worked the fish up to the hole before his chair went flying. Crappies are known for their paper-thin mouths, and this one did not quite make it out of the hole. Van Surksum, 70, shot to his knees in an attempt to grab it in the water before it could get away. No luck. "I looked at Roger and said, 'That one sounded like it hurt,' " Dresch said.
The outlook ahead of the 2017 South Dakota pheasant hunting season was a bleak one. Bird numbers were down 45 percent from 2016, according to the annual survey from the Game, Fish and Parks Department. Habitat loss and drought conditions during the nesting season, when chicks rely on insects and lush cover to survive, were blamed.
Antique fishing lure collectors are an inquisitive bunch. They like to add old-time lures and tackle to their collections. The rarer and harder an item is to find, the more collectors treasure it. But there's more to avid collecting than perceived value. These folks can tell you the story behind almost every lure in their collections, including where, how and when it was made, how many were produced and where it was tested. Most even know the background on the company or individual who designed it.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Longtime Alexandria football coach Mike Empting pauses for a bit to gather his thoughts when presented with the question. Is it harder to get kids out for football today than it was a decade ago? "I think looking at our numbers, they've fallen off from 10-15 years ago, so I'd have to say yes," Empting said. "I think some of that had to do with when we started tackling. We used to do flag football through sixth grade and then they didn't start tackling here until they hit the middle school program in seventh grade."
GLENWOOD, Minn.—When announcing the discovery of starry stonewort in Lake Minnewaska last week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the invasive algae has never been eradicated from any U.S. lake where it has been found. Minnewaska Lake Association President Mike Stai believes the case on Minnewaska might be able to change that.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - In the hallways at Alexandria Area High School are large prints of current Cardinal athletes. A boy or girl from each team is represented during an action shot of them competing. Most are seniors who play a significant role for that specific program, whether it be for their ability on the field or their attitude off it. Senior Josh Molden has led in both those ways, which made him an easy choice to represent the Alexandria boys track and field team on that wall this year.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Alexandria conservation officer Mitch Lawler will drop his boat into the water for the Minnesota fishing opener Saturday morning, May and head out for one of the busiest weekends of his year. Lawler didn't know exactly which lakes he would hit Saturday, May 13, but he'll visit as many of the area's most popular fisheries as possible. Even so, he figures that will be anywhere between four and seven lakes — and that's if his phone doesn't take him elsewhere.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—The governing body for competitive cycling in the United States has opened an independent investigation into claims made earlier this year by Alexandria native and six-time American cycling national champion Missy Erickson that she was sexualy abused. That's according to an article posted on Feb. 17 at bicycling.com written by Caitlin Giddings. Giddings wrote that USA Cycling wouldn't discuss details of the case while it was ongoing.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Alexandria native and Jefferson High School graduate Missy Erickson is one of the top sprint cyclists in the United States. She has six national championships, 35 international wins and made a strong run at making the summer Olympics in 2016. Cycling has taken her all over the world, but on Jan. 4, Erickson went public with a story alleging sexual, verbal and emotional abuse she says started at the age of 17.