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COLLEGE SOFTBALL / NORTHWESTERN 7, ST. SCHOLASTICA 3 Northwestern softball coach and Eagles alum Alicia du'Monceaux was asked how many times St. Scholastica had ended her season. "Too many," she said. At least du'Monceaux can laugh about it now after Northwestern downed St. Scholastica 7-3 to win its first UMAC softball tournament title since 1996 while earning the program's inaugural trip to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Duluth Lions Club member Daryl Harper thought having Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham at the Lions' annual Pancake Day would be a great idea, so he enlisted his next-door neighbor, Brad Havron, to help out. Havron, an assistant coach at Duluth Denfeld when Ham played for the Hunters, gave Ham's email to Harper. "I coached at Denfeld back in the '70s," Harper said, "and I put that in my email to him."
Chais Eliason was reached Good Friday and was busy, but not the busy he is used to. "I've been doing housework, trying to catch up being a normal person for a couple days," said Eliason, a Pike Lake native who is the lead shock engineer for NASCAR's Hendrick Motorsports. "Projects get pushed back when you're gone 38 weekends out of the year. "
Joe Stariha has any easy way to remember the last time the local auto racing season started on schedule. "It was the last time we lost by $5,000 in the stands," Stariha said, laughing. Nick Gima of ABC Raceway in Ashland agreed "I think we all opened on time last year, but we all took it in the shorts," he said. At least they can laugh about it now. Representatives of the Northland's five dirt tracks converged on Powerhouse Bar in Proctor on Wednesday for their annual media day and car show. An event-record 10 race cars were lined up outside along Highway 2.
The St. Scholastica baseball team started the season 5-0, was ranked No. 11 in NCAA Division III and feeling pretty good about themselves before stumbling going into conference play. After winning a pair of UMAC slugfests with Wisconsin-Superior, which coach Corey Kemp said lent a false sense of confidence, the Saints lost 11-4 to Northwestern last week and were in danger of dropping the second game of the doubleheader as well. "Was I nervous?" Kemp said. "Nervousness was out the window by that point."
PREP GIRLS TRACK & FIELD / SEASON PREVIEW Hermantown high jumper Ellie Gamradt never cleared more than 5 feet before last year, but she was clearing a school-record 5-foot-6 by the end of the year, good for sixth place at the Class AA state meet. Gamradt doesn't attribute the improvement to a sudden growth spurt or increased Wheaties intake, but to her analytical approach to the event. "I fixed my approach and my takeoff, so when I was in the air, I'd be in the right spot," Gamradt said. "Before, I think I had the right height, but I was just missing it."
Few athletes know the feeling of being so close, yet so far away like Duluth Marshall senior sprinter Jack Burt. As a sophomore, Burt finished second in the 100 meters at the Section 7A meet to Proctor's Terrance Wenzel, who went on to win the state title. As a junior, Burt finished second in the 200 at the Section 7A meet to Esko's Dawsen Cossalter, who went on to win the state title. After three state meets and eight medals, from places ninth to second, good is no longer good enough for Burt's final prep season.
With only six wide receivers suiting up for Minnesota Duluth's 44th annual Maroon-White Game on Friday, Johnny McCormick and the rest of the Bulldogs' receivers played for both teams. While that made it a little harder for fans to follow, it made it way easier for McCormick to know which team he was on. "The winning team," he said. McCormick caught four passes for 84 yards and a touchdown for the Maroon, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the White held on for a 13-10 victory on a sunny 55-degree day at Malosky Stadium.
Minnesota Duluth defensive back Mitchell Johnson-Martin was asked if this is the best team he has been on, but he wasn't ready to crown the Bulldogs just yet. "Every team is different," he said. "Going into my last year, I want to make sure this is the best team I've ever been on, but I can't say that it is now because we haven't gone through a full season, but I truly hope and aspire that it will be." A lot of things have to go right for that to happen, and the first steps start with UMD's 44th annual Maroon-White Game at 6 p.m. Friday at Malosky Stadium.
COLLEGE SOFTBALL Minnesota Duluth softball coach Jen Walter knew the Bulldogs' hitting would be good this year, but she didn't know it was going to be this good. This good is a .338 team batting average, 46 home runs, 64 doubles and 270 RBIs. With plenty of season left, the Bulldogs (29-8 overall, 11-3 NSIC) should finish near the top of the program record book in all those categories. "The key with good hitters — let them swing," Walter said.