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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VERNDALE--A quick sprint by the Verndale Pirates led to an insurmountable 40-19 halftime lead, as the Pirates improved to 2-2 in Park Region Conference play. The Eagles fall to 0-5 in the conference and 1-10 overall. Verndale's Dallas Ehrmantraut led all scorers with 21 points. Aaron Denny added 17. Marco Gomez scored 15 points. The trio scored all but 11 Pirate points in the 64-47 final. The two-headed scoring monster of Adam Snelgrove and Charlie Peeters continued their team-leading efforts. Snelgrove scored 17; Peeters had 16.
A three-week hiatus from competition did not deter the #3-ranked and defending Class A state champion Yellowjacket gymnastics team as they returned to action with a big win over Park Rapids, 141-104.925. Perham took four of the top five all-around finishes. Satera Montella won her third consecutive all-around title with a score of 35.25. She was first on vault, 9.25, and balance beam, 9.35. She added a third place finish, 8.75, on floor exercise. Yellowjackets were tops in all four events. Alexis Peichel's 9.1 was the highest score on uneven bars.
Four forfeits in each of Perham's two matches versus Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah and Pelican Rapids helped spot the Yellowjackets to 24-0 leads in each match and neither match ended close. Perham dispatched Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah 49-12 and took a few more liberties with their cross-county foes Pelican Rapids 64-13. Brandon Lueders won by fall over Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah's Mark Erickson at 2:42 of the 126-pound match.
The New York Mills wrestling team is on a roll, winners of six straight duals, and just in time. Two tough tests are coming up on the schedule when the Eagles will face Perham and Border West. The sixth straight victim to the surging Eagles was Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale.
The Perham girls basketball team (4-7) has had their share of close games this season.
Perham finished in second place to New London-Spicer in the Barrel O' Fun Invitational, held Saturday, in Perham. Jesse Hein, Cody Nylander and Luke Sailer all won their respective weight titles. Sailer was also named Oustanding Wrestler of the tournament. Sailer, 12-2 on the season and ranked #10 in the state took the 138-pound title undefeated. After a first round bye, he won a 6-2 decision over Sauk Centre-Melrose's Tommy Latzka. He shut out Max Pajari, 3-0, in the semifinals and took the championship 10-3 over Parker Jackson, of Detroit Lakes.
Two teams in need of a win met in New York Mills Monday night and the Lake Park-Audubon Raiders (3-8) sneaked out of the Eagles gymnasium with a 56-52 victory. The Raiders led the majority of the game, up two at halftime and stretching the lead to nine points on the back of senior forward Adrian Bailey. Bailey scored 26 points in a dominating performance.
The Sebeka Trojans (10-2, -0) remained tied with Henning at the top of the Park Region Conference standings, after a 64-34 victory in New York Mills (1-10, 1-4) Friday night. The loss is the ninth consecutive for the Eagles, after their only win in game two of the season over Pillager (0-10, 0-4). Ellie Rutten led the Eagles with 12 points. Tori Kempenich added 10. Sebeka's Alicia Boe scored 14 points. Boe is a former Eagle.
The New York Mills Eagles wrestling team had their way with both Park Region Conference opponents, Royalton-Upsala and West Central Area/Ashby, at the West Central Area Triangular Thursday. After losing their first three duals, the Eagles have won five straight. The Eagles won the first six matches against West Central Area/Ashby to build a 33-0 lead en route to a 57-12 blowout victory. Jeremiah Harper, 106 pounds, Shane Novak 113 pounds, Tyler Ehnert, 126 pounds, Andrew Perala, 132 pounds, Taylor Ericksrud, 138 pounds, Ryan Lee, 160 pounds, Michael Meyer, 170 pounds, Cole Grabow, 182 pound
A balanced Bertha-Hewitt Bears (5-2) scoring attack was too much for the New York Mills boys basketball team (1-8) as they fell, in defeat, at Bertha 65-53 Thursday night in Park Region Conference action. Adam Snelgrove continued his hot scoring streak putting up 20 points to lead all scorers. Charlie Peeters added 16 for the Eagles. However, the Bears had four players in double figures and Bertha-Hewitt expanded an eight-point gap at halftime to a dozen points by the end of the second half. The victory keeps Bertha-Hewitt tied atop the conference with a perfect 3-0 record.