Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
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Sophomore Shane Novak, of New York Mills, 112 pounds, was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Park Region Conference tournament and also won the pinning award with three pins in four minutes 53 seconds.
Hockey awareness continues to progress both on the ice and in the community, according to Perham Area Youth Hockey Association (PAYHA) organizers and the small patch of ice that makes up Perham's only rink is getting its share of use this winter. "The ice is never not busy," PAYHA President Trent Swanson said. "After practice today, there'll probably be 10 people out there skating." Three of those skaters are Ryan Nelson, Joe Gjerde and Alan Lepp, three coaches who have assisted Swanson this season with PAYHA's Mites and Learn to Skate programs.
Little rest was allotted the Yellowjacket boys basketball team as they hit the road for three games in five days coming up with victories in each contest. Perham upped their overall record to 16-1 after defeating Staples-Motley, 81-36, Breckenridge, 53-45 and Detroit Lakes, 60-50, all on the road. "They've been through a lot, physically and mentally," Head Coach Dave Cresap said.
Heavyweight and #2 ranked Jesse Hein continued to rack up the forfeits donating six points in a 42-25 victory over section rival Detroit Lakes. "The section is up in the air," Head Coach Robb Moser said. "It's anyone's title to win." The Lakers got off to a hot start.
Over 700 people attended last night's Park Region Conference match-up between the New York Mills Eagles and the Bertha-Hewitt Bears' boys basketball teams. It was a great local rivalry, but last night's game held a more important focus as the teams battled on the court. "It is something to be part of a group, team or organization, but to be part of an amazing area such as central Minnesota is something that I am most proud of," Dean of Students/Activities Director Travis Hensch said. "Thank you to all participants and donators from the game.
The Yellowjackets girls basketball team got off to an advantageous start against Wadena-Deer Creek, but dropped just their second game of the season, 66-55. Perham took advantage of transition baskets to get an early lead, but the Wolverines came back strong and once they took the lead in the first half they took control of the game. "We definitely did not shoot the ball very well, and when you combine that with mental mistakes and turnovers it becomes really difficult to beat a good team like Wadena-Deer Creek," Head Coach John Gullingsrud said. Perham had five less turnovers and stole 11
The New York Mills boys basketball team continued on a tear defeating Pillager 80-77 at home and on the road at Henning 67-55. The victories are the seventh and eighth consecutive wins after the Eagles got off to a tough 2-4 start to the season. NY Mills holds a record of 10-4. "We played some tough teams early," Eagle forward Isaiah Bauck said. Two of those early losses came to #3 ranked Sebeka, Battle Lake, who remains undefeated at 13-0 and 9-3 Bertha-Hewitt. On the contrary, Pillager came into the NY Mills gymnasium winless at 0-11.
The combined nature of heavy and hopeful Perham hearts was bolstered by sincere empathy from the West Central Area team and fans during and after the game Tuesday evening. Little sympathy was shown to the hosts on the floor, as the Yellowjackets improved to 12-0 after a 64-13 victory. Even missing Zach Gabbard, the Perham defense picked up right where it left off, holding the third team this season to single digits at the half.
The Concordia Cobbers had an historical evening at the Minnesota Duals Friday night in Perham. The Cobbers won three duals - including two against NCAA Division III top 10 teams - and also had two wrestlers break the school record for career victories. Seniors Justin Berns (157) and Phil Moenkedick (184) both won three matches to run their career win totals to 125, a new school record. "It was fun," Cobbers head coach Clay Nagel said.
Great teams have great leaders and the Yellowjacket gymnastics team routinely gets great performances from their leader, Kelsi Vomacka. Vomacka led Perham to their seventh consecutive State True Team title winning the all-around title with a score of 38.875, a new school record. Vomacka, the 2010 state runner-up in the all-around and on the balance beam, powered Perham to the title, with gold medal performances on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. The only event she did not win was on uneven parallel bars, where Detroit Lakes' Amy Crawford took gold with a 9.725.