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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The number three seeded Thief River Falls/Goodridge Prowlers ended any chance the Perham Yellowjacket wrestling team had of making an unexpected trip to the state tournament in the section semifinals at Thief River Falls, 38-16. Entering the Section 8AA-wrestling tournament as the number two and three seeds, meant both teams had byes in the opening rounds. Both teams had no trouble advancing out of the quarterfinals. Perham defeated Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena/Indus, 66-6.
The New York Mills boys basketball team improved to 7-2 in Section 6A North play and 14-5 overall after a convincing victory at Lake Park-Audubon. The Eagles got up early and cruised to a 66-46 win. When Adam Snelgrove is hot shooting the Eagles can be very difficult to match up against. Snelgrove can light a team up from beyond the arc and he demoralized the Raiders early with three quick bombs and 15 first half points. He would sit most of the second half, along with most of the other starters.
The Perham girls basketball team bounced back from last week's home conference loss to Hawley with two victories. Perham defeated Frazee 58-35 and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 51-43. Before the Hawley game, control of the conference was in Jacket hands but the subsequent loss to the Nuggets has hopes for a conference title in the hands of the Heart O' Lakes cellar dwellers. Hawley has games at Frazee and home versus Breckenridge. The Hornets and Cowgirls have a combined conference record of 3-21. A loss to either team seems unlikely. Hawley is 11-1 in Heart O' Lakes play.
The New York Mills Eagles wrestlers were less than gracious hosts taking their final home triangular, 59-15, over Browerville-Eagle Valley and, 45-11, over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley-Nevis. Tommy Selander and Shane Novak, fresh off his 100th career victory, amazingly, as a sophomore, got the Eagles up early against United North Central. Selander pinned Tommy Tellers at 3:04.
The Perham wrestling team was awarded the second seed in section 8-2A after recent victories over section foes Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls. "DL was one of our better performances of the year," Head Coach Robb Moser said. "Anytime you can go get wins against section teams without all your top wrestlers that's a real plus." Perham defeated DL 42-25, Saturday, Feb.
The New York Mills girls basketball team picked up its third victory of the season, first on the road, in overtime over Park Christian, 71-68. "This was a very hard fought game throughout," Head Coach J.J. Weller said. "Both teams made runs in the game where it looked like they were going to take control and win the game, and both teams came back from those same deficits to tie it up and make it a nail-biter." The Eagles came out hot getting good looks against a 2-3 zone converting on shot attempts while slowing the Falcons down defensively with a similar defensive zone.
Conference games late in the season are never easy regardless of the opponent and the Perham girls team found out the hard way against Barnesville and Hawley. The two losses comprise the first two-game losing streak for the Jackets this season. Their record dropped to 16-4. Barnesville was victorious at home, 70-65, in overtime. It was a tale of two halves versus Hawley Monday night.
Kelsi Vomacka continued to prove invincible setting two school records leading the Yellowjackets to their ninth straight Mid-State Conference title. The meet was the final home appearance of Vomacka and Mikaela Eickschen and Carly Petersen, the two other seniors on the squad. Eickschen continues to compete with an injured hip, which was wrapped during her performance. "Mikaela, we need her back to continue on into the state meet," Head Coach Charlie Fleck said in an interview on Lakes 99.5's Coaches Show. Vomacka broke school records setting a new all-around score near perfection of 38.925
With a shortage of seniors, this year's boys swimming and diving team has been a youth movement, of sorts. "I'm really pleased with how our swimmers have dropped time," Head Coach Sheri Ressler said.
Winning state championships in gymnastics seven consecutive years seems improbable but it is a stark reality for three seniors chasing the eighth. Kelsi Vomacka, Mikaela Eickschen and Carly Petersen spearhead a young team and lead by example. This year, they are in charge. "We have a lot more responsibility and control over the team. We have to be leaders 100 percent of the time," Vomacka said. Vomacka has been part of three state championships.