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Les Knutson: Jordon Bents continues shot put success

Les Knutson

Daily Globe sports columnist 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Worthington’s Jordon Bents was recently named the Northern Sun Conference Male Field Athlete of the Week for his extraordinary performance in the shot put at the University of Sioux Falls’ first outdoor track and field meet of the season at Wayne State University in northeastern Nebraska.

Bents, a junior at USF, heaved the 16-pound iron ball a distance of 52 feet 10 inches to place third in a huge field of 41 competitors from all over the upper Midwest in the popular annual meet held on March 29.

Earlier this year, Bents notched an all-time personal best of 57-8 which placed second at the NSIC Indoor Meet at Bemidji (March 1), qualifying him to compete at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Meet in Salem, N.C. on March 14-15.

Bents entered the national event with the seventh-best qualifying throw. While he was not able to duplicate his 57-foot plus performance in North Carolina, he still performed well and placed 14th in competition with shot putters from all across the nation.

“Jordon has made monstrous gains from his high school days at Worthington,” praised Erin Elder, his throwing coach at USF. “His PR (personal record) in high school with the 12-pound shot was 53 feet. Now he is throwing a four-pound heavier weight nearly five feet farther. Jordon’s progress is purely due to his passion for the sport and his willingness to put in the extra time and effort it takes to compete at the national level.”

Elder, who was Windom’s head football coach and guided numerous highly-successful Eagle (girls and boys) discus throwers and shot putters for more than a decade, has hopes of Bents earning more opportunities to compete in national competition.

“He has three more chances,” exclaimed Elder. “This year’s outdoor season and then both the indoor and outdoor meets next year, as a senior. Making it to this year’s indoor meet was a definite learning experience. The level of competition and the intensity of the top performers at the meet is awesome.”

Bents, who placed third in the Class A state meet shot put as a junior at WHS in 2011, set a pair of indoor school records for the Cougars this past winter. In addition to his new shot put mark, Bents also set a new USF standard in the weight throw — a 35-pound ball on the end of a hammer throw swivel. “Think of it as an indoor hammer throw,” summed up Elder. Bents’s best distance in the weight throw has been 59-3.

In the outdoor season, he unleashed a discus throw of 136-3 (with a heavier platter than the high school discus) at the recent meet in Nebraska.

“What Jordon has accomplished has been remarkable,” Elder concluded. “He really enjoyed a breakout season this past winter.”

Bleess sisters contribute to

basketball success at K-W

Ray Bleess of Okabena, a two-time state wrestling champion (back in the one-class days) for Blue Earth, had a genuine interest in this year’s state girls’ basketball tournament.

Ray was Minnesota’s best wrestler at 120 pounds in both 1959 and 1960 during his junior and senior seasons at Blue Earth and now has a couple of granddaughters who were key contributors to the success of Kenyon-Wanamingo.

The daughters of Ray’s oldest son, Brian — a former football player for the Heron Lake-Okabena Scarlet Knights — Gwen and Savannah Bleess were both top reserves for the K-W Knights, who finished a fantastic 30-2 season with a loss to undefeated New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in the Class AA championship game.

“Gwen and Savannah are both scrappy and are good on defense,” says Ray, modestly about the sisters. “I’ve seen them play a few times and it was fun watching them on TV during the tournament.”

According to K-W head coach Brent Lurken, both were important to this year’s success and are being counted on to contribute even more next year.

“Both girls are two-time letter winners,” Lurken said. “Gwen is a 5-8 junior forward who is a hard worker and one of the strongest players on the team. She has really worked hard at developing her post game and we are looking to get nice contributions from her next season as a senior.

“Savannah is a 5-7 freshman guard who was one of the first players off the bench for us. She played well in the state tournament and contributed with her solid defense, good rebounding and smart passing.”

The only two games that the Knights lost all season were to NR-H-E-G which had the amazing Carlie Wagner as its all-around leader.

I wouldn’t be surprised with Ray makes several trips east next winter to watch Gwen and Savannah compete for a repeat Hiawatha Conference title and contend for a return trip to Williams Arena.

Trojans, not Bruins

Mike Schafer, a 1973 Okabena High School graduate and a sports enthusiast second to none, noticed a mistake in my recent column about Wally Pribyl (published in the April 2 edition).

While playing defensive back and punting for the Minnesota Gophers, Pribyl played against the legendary O.J. Simpson who was an All-American running back for the University of Southern California. I referred to USC as the Bruins.

Nobody else let me know about my error. But Mike, of course, is right. It’s the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins.

By the way, if any one had trouble getting on to the website to read Matt Zimmer’s blog about Pribyl, there is a new site. Try ---

Enjoy the spring — it may be here to stay!