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 Lady Eagles hung tight with a much more experienced Frazee volleyball squad in the season opener at New York Mills Tuesday night. Frazee swept the match 3-0 with victories of 25-10, 25-16 and 25-13. "Serve receive was what we struggled with the most," said Head Coach Amy Koskela. Aside from senior Megan Cole, the only returning letterman from last year, nearly all of the other Eagles were making their first starting appearances on the varsity floor. "I was surprised at how well my girls responded to being out on the court at varsity level for the first time.
Head Coach Matt Radniecki returns to the New York Mills sidelines in his third stint and 15th year coaching looking to turn around a program that has seen its share of losses the past few years. NY Mills looks to end a 26-game losing streak week one at home against Royalton, a team that finished second in the state in 2008 and stomped the Eagles 44-0 in last year's opener. "They're good and it's not going to be an easy opener," Radniecki said. "They had a good season last year with a really good running back in senior Zach Lanners.
For both Perham cross-country teams there is no place to go but up one spot to the state championship. Both the boys and girls squads have lists of accolades from last year and beyond. Winning is a tradition in this program and odds are that will continue this season. The girls are the six-time defending Heart O' Lakes Conference Champions.
It was nearing sunrise in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Expectations are high this season for the Perham volleyball team. Head Coach Dan Christenson returns five starters from last year's 8AA South Subsection runners-up. Strong leadership from seniors Kelli Meehl, Kaylan Huber, and Mary Guck, will compliment some talented juniors, Katrina Moenkedick, Becky Stoll, Brooke Mickelson, and Lexy Karvonen. Perham lost only Elisa Moenkedick to graduation last year. "It should make for a competitive season in both the Heart O' Lakes conference and the 8AA Section tournament," Christenson said. Christenson, in his ninth year, hopes to build on a young t
Amy Koskela's New York Mills varsity volleyball team will rely on youth and an upbeat attitude to contend in the Park Region Conference and Section 6A play this year. Koskela, 61-61-4, overall, and the team, come off a 10-12 overall record going 3-3 in the conference last year and finishing in a tough five game match in the first round of the playoffs to Norman County West. "This year's squad is very young but upbeat," said Koskela. "Megan Cole is our only senior and she's an outstanding leader for the younger girls in our program.
Perham Head Football Coach Mike Jordahl wants his players to be active on the field, but he also stresses the need to be great off the field, as well. "Unconditional, that is the word we used to describe our attitude as we prepared to be part of a wonderful community effort to feed our local families in need," he said. The Perham football players described the event as "awesome" and "fun." According to Jordahl, contributing to a much larger vision was a special time for the players and coaches as they helped families fill bags, boxes, and grocery carts and haul the food items to their veh
Head Coach Kathy Pesch, in her fourth year, has a young but hard-working tennis team. Ideal weather conditions have made for good practice time on the courts, quite unlike the end to last year's season. Early blizzards forced the team off the court in the midst of playoffs and the lay-off showed in a 7-0 defeat to number two-seeded Crookston in the first round of Section 8A playoffs.
The Prairie Conference returns with girls tennis this season, adding new teams West Central and Belgrade-Brooton-Elrosa (BBE) to long time members New York Mills, Osakis, and Parkers Prairie. There was no official conference tournament last year as the conference dwindled to four teams. The newcomers will bring back that competition. St. John's Prep will not field a varsity squad this season. New York Mills Head Coach Gary Bach, in his 10th year, has a seasoned squad to take the court. The Lady Eagles come off a 6-8 overall record last year, 5-2 in dual matches.
When it comes to life, love and sport, Kay Morris has a knack for running into relationships. Morris places those relationships above winning and was awarded the State cross-country Assistant Coach of the Year honors for both. "The relationships that I've built are my favorite part of coaching," she said. "That's what I like more than the winning." Morris was named Coach of the Year at the summer annual cross-country coaches clinic held in the Twin Cities.