Start of school year brought success to local high school athletesWORTHINGTON — When I was a kid growing up on a farm in Springfield Township of Cottonwood County — six miles north of Heron Lake, 10 miles west of Windom and 11 miles south of Storden — we watched a classic old baseball movie called “It Happens Every Spring.”
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — When I was a kid growing up on a farm in Springfield Township of Cottonwood County — six miles north of Heron Lake, 10 miles west of Windom and 11 miles south of Storden — we watched a classic old baseball movie called “It Happens Every Spring.”
The film was about a high school science teacher who developed a substance that repelled wood. You guessed it, the teacher (played by actor Ray Milland) utilized this substance on a baseball and became a pitching whiz, taking his team all the way through the pennant race and to the World Series.
The movie was made in 1949 and we watched it several times during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. I remember seeing it on television again once in the mid ‘70s, but I haven’t seen in over 30 years and would love to watch it again.
But where can I get a copy of this classic. Not even Netflix has it. Any suggestions?
Anyway, the point of this introduction is in the title: “It Happens Every Spring.” Unfortunately, spring is a long ways off, and as the conditions outside are indicating — it happens every December — fall turns to winter and it gets cold!
But, of course, that also means transition time for sports. Soccer, tennis, cross country, volleyball and football are over for the area high schools. Wrestling, hockey, gymnastics and basketball are now in full swing.
Dragons, Eagles, Cardinals have great falls
Before we leave the high school fall season and turn full attention to the winter activities, I would like to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of both Adrian cross country teams, along with Windom’s state volleyball championship and Luverne’s third consecutive trip to the Prep Bowl.
First of all, Adrian’s recent string of success has been remarkable.
The Dragon girls won an unprecedented fourth straight Class A championship, once again exhibiting tremendous team depth and balance. Adrian’s boys won a fourth consecutive Section 3A team title and have finished eighth, third, second and fifth at the state meet over the last four seasons.
AHS senior Leslie Stover, who ran on all four state title teams, told me about the “Kenyans” that the runners endured on pace-day workouts at the Adrian Campgrounds. These repeat 1,000 meter intervals were run progressively faster in a set of five and the competition among the squad members in these practice runs helped build race pace and speed for the late-season challenges.
Of course, much of the Adrian success was built during the summers as the Dragon runners — both boys and girls — bought into AHS head coach Doug Petersen’s formula of getting a mileage base before organized practices begin in August.
Petersen, a former cross country star at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, won the 1981 Turkey Day 10-K, and his valuable volunteer assistant coach, Darrin Pater, has had his share of area road race success too. The experiences and expertise of Petersen and Pater have “rubbed off” on so many young runners in the Adrian program — that has been labeled by many state coaches as a “dynasty.”
Windom’s volleyball team has been solid for decades, going back to the inaugural years of the sport when Hildegard Bunge guided Eagle teams to state tournament trips in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978. Fulda native Ron Wendorff has taken WHS to the state tournament in 1990, 2000, 2007 and 2008. The Eagles were state runner-ups three times — 1978, 2000 and 2007 — before winning this year’s Class A title.
An interesting item in Windom volleyball history is the family connection between the Abild sisters and the Ysker sisters.
Eagle senior Megan Ysker and her sophomore sister, Courtney, are the daughters of Beth Abild, who was a star hitter as a junior for the ‘78 state runner-ups, while Beth’s older sister, Brenda, was one of the top players on Windom’s first state tournament team in 1974.
Brenda was a sophomore that year, as was starting teammate Betty Nelson, who grew up in Heron Lake before moving to Windom in about third grade.
Betty’s daughter, Crystal Fredin, was the setter for the Eagles’ 2000 state runner-up team. Now, she is Crystal Fast and is the head volleyball coach for Southwest Star Concept (Heron Lake-Okabena), which gave Windom a good match in this year’s Section 3A South semifinals. Crystal teaches third grade at the SSC Elementary School in Heron Lake.
Luverne’s football team has become a state Class AA power in the last three seasons, and the Cardinals are well-known for their ability to make adjustments and usually play better in the second half than in the first. LHS head coach Todd Oye knows how to utilize his strong staff of assistants, and has been able to get his team to “peak” at the right time in each of the last three seasons.
Luverne has a rich tradition of success in most sports, and three consecutive section championships, along with a trio state runner-up finishes by the football program has helped keep that long-time trend current.
So, I would like to salute the Adrian cross country teams, the Windom volleyball team, the Luverne football team, and the Jackson County Central boys’ cross country squad (Section 2A champions), as each group of athletes capped great fall seasons with exciting sectional championship performances and state level success.
The Book is great!
I had the chance last Saturday to visit with many of the players from the legendary 1960 Edgerton state championship team. What a bunch of class guys — no wonder they went undefeated and overcame any and all obstacles that stood between them and their dream — or goal — of winning it all.
The book, “Edgerton, A Minnesota Basketball Legend,” tells the whole story of the program leading up to those three historic days in late March of 1960.
WHS gym is 50 years old
Last winter, I began to research the history of the tournament-fabled Worthington High School Gym, and I wrote about some of the great games played there. Well, the first game was played on November 28, 1958 between the Trojans and Fairmont.
Tuesday is the home opener for the WHS boys, as the Trojans host Luverne. My goal is to write a “Blast” about those first games played in the “new gym” 50 years ago. Anyone who can give me some help with this project, please call me at 793-2723 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greatest game airs Saturday night
Speaking of 1958, the NFL sudden-death overtime championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts is going to be aired on ESPN Saturday night. It was the first football game that I really watched on television, and the sports channel is promoting Saturday’s 8:00 p.m. (our time) showing as being digitally re-worked and the game will be in color. Yes, it was black and white on Dec. 28, 1958.