Star News The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:20:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Greenly / Loidolt Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:34:21 +0000 Greenly / Loidolt

Marv and Shannon Loidolt of Elk River announce the upcoming wedding of their son, Jared, to Bethany, daughter of Jill Greenly and Bruce Greenly and Valerie Brown-Greenly, all of Coon Rapids.
Jared is a 2006 graduate of Elk River High School and a 2012 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He is employed as an international logistics coordinator in Eden Prairie.
Bethany is a 2008 graduate of Coon Rapids High School and a 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She is employed as a staffing specialist in Brooklyn Park.
An October 2015 wedding is planned in Coon Rapids. The couple will reside in Otsego. ]]> 0 Dessel LaRue Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:33:48 +0000 Dessel   LaRue

Dessel LaRue passed away at Golden Pond Home in Maple Grove on Aug. 25, 2015, at the age of 74, after a long battle with Parkinsons.
Born Dessel Margaret Hetrick on Feb. 9, 1941, and graduated from Elk River High School. She married Jerrold LaRue in 1961, they had two sons. Dessel was a longtime member of the Zimmerman United Methodist Church and was active in the community.
She is survived by sons Layne (Marty) of Princeton and Lance (Julie) of Albertville; brother, Hetrick Allan (Mary Lee); sisters, Nancy (Bob) Palmer and Jill (Herb) Matson, all of Zimmerman; also, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Memorial service Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, 10 a.m., Dares Funeral Home, 805 Main St. NW, Elk River, MN. Visitation one hour prior to service. Interment Bellwood Cemetery. Arr. by Dares Funeral Home, 763-441-1212,

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Rogers Royals fall sports preview Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:35:35 +0000 by Jarrod Peterson

Contributing Sports Writer


Last year — 8-2 overall (4-1 in conference — second in Mississippi Blue Division); lost in section semifinals

Blayne Kasper, of the Rogers Royals, was hauled down by a pack of Elks on this play.  Kasper will be one of the running backs tasked with replacing Gunnar Bloom. Another is Cole Hyde. Both players are seniors.
Blayne Kasper, of the Rogers Royals, was hauled down by a pack of Elks on this play.
Kasper will be one of the running backs tasked with replacing Gunnar Bloom. Another is Cole Hyde. Both players are seniors.

Coaches — Marc Franz (head), Ryan LaPointe, Ken Worel, B.J. Brent, Justin Oie, Josh, Rogahn, Matt Webb, Jeff Peterson, Jeremy Hood, Burt Sepulveda, Durand Onell

Captains —Blayne Kasper, Drew Sagehorn, Dominic Skawiniak and  Sam and Suedbeck

Returning starters — Offense (four); defense (four)

Watch out for — Blayne Kasper (sr, RB), Cole Hyde (sr, RB)

Keep an eye on — The quarterback position is a top priority, with juniors Mitch Spilles and Tanner Palm competing for the starting role.

Coach says — “We will be inexperienced to begin the season with four starters returning on offense and defense,” said Franz. “However, our lower level teams did very well last year so we expect to be very competitive by the end of the season. The shortened preseason and elimination of preseason scrimmage will be a challenge because of our young team and overall lack of experience.”

Season outlook — The Royals will be hurt by the losses of star running back Gunnar Bloom (1,283 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns) and quarterback Andy Borchardt (1,086 passing yards and 12 touchdowns), but they do return two offensive linemen (Dominic Skawiniak and Reed Seifert) along with running back Blayne Kasper (415 rushing yards — 9.7 yards per attempt — and six touchdowns) on offense. On defense, the Royals return defensive linemen Jake Abrahamson and Andrew Piehl, and linebacker Travis Limoseth and safety Drew Sagehorn from a defense that allowed only 100 points last season. “We expect to be very competitive at all levels (district, section and state),” Franz said.

Boys soccer

Last year — 10-7-0 overall (6-3-0 in conference); finished fifth in section

Coaches — Chris Miller (head), Dan Wespetal, Bruce Schulzetenberg

Captains — Jake Post and Griffin Johnson

Returning players — Rogers will return all of its starters but one and all but two of its varsity players from the 2014 campaign.

Watch out for — “We had a huge influx of boys come out for the team this season,” Miller said. “We expect the big numbers to help improve our team greatly.”

Coach says — “We should have a strong team overall,” Miller said. “With the majority of our players returning and some good talent coming up from the lower ranks, it should make for a fun and exciting season.”

Outlook — The Royals have good reason to be optimistic about this season. They return top goal-getter Trevor Klink (17 goals), as well as assist leader Logan Olkon (10) and a host of other veteran players. Rogers outscored their opponents last season by 27 goals and figure to put up plenty of goals this season despite a difficult schedule. “We are going to see a lot of good teams,” Miller said. “But there is no reason we can have a good showing in the conference and section this season. I feel that we are a quality and skilled team that has a lot of confidence.”


Last year 8-14 overall (2-7 in conference); lost in section quarterfinals

Coaches — T.J. Canham, Bo Schmidt, Amanda Pederson, Brock Peniata

Captains — TBD

Returning players — Addy Sachs (sr, outside hitter), Hannah Sjervan (sr, middle blocker), Maleia Ysteboe (jr, outside hitter), Ellie Hoyt (jr, setter)

Coach’s comments — “A lot of girls have come out for the team this year, so that’s very encouraging,” Canham said.

Season outlook — The Royals are in a transition period, in terms of coaching. Canham is in his first season at Rogers High School. Canham will bring his wealth of knowledge of the sport to a senior-laden team. “We had a lot of girls come out for the team this season and we hope to use our healthy stable of seniors to our advantage.”

Girls soccer

Last year — 13-3 overall (8-1 in conference — Co-conference champions); lost in section finals

Coaches — Aaron Lindquist, Todd Dusosky, Marissa Erdman, Kristi Anderson, Craig Davis

Cailey Henderson and Jenna Bresseman of Rogers tussled with a Princeton player in action last season. Bresseman, who made first team all conference last year figures  big into the Royals plans.
Cailey Henderson and Jenna Bresseman of Rogers tussled with a Princeton player in action last season. Bresseman, who made first team all conference last year figures big into the Royals plans.

Captains — Courtney Henderson, Abbie Gearou

Returning players — 17 players return from last year’s roster; Gearou (defender, First Team All-State, one goal and two assists), Henderson (center-mid, Second Team All State, nine goals and 10 assists), Jenna Breseman (forward, First Team All-Conference, 14 goals and 14 assists), Kate Heimer (center-mid, four goals and three assists), Janelle Rouillard (forward, four goals and four assists)

Position battles — Goalkeeper, defenders, central midfielders are wide open.

Keep an eye on — Claire Swan: As a freshman, she played in every single game last season. Rouillard: Returning from an ACL injury last year. Lindquist is expecting “some big goals out of her.”

Coach says — “We are coming off our best season finish as a AA program in 2014,” Lindquist said. “We set records for most goals scored, few goals allowed, best record, most shutouts and furthest section finish. Our toughest games will be on the road this season. Our team motto is, ‘Fit, Fierce, Fireproof,’ which is some of the things we felt we lacked last season.”

Outlook — The Royals expect to compete for the conference title for the third year in a row. Schools like St. Michael, Princeton, and St. Francis will push Rogers to the limit. In addition to St. Michael, Elk River will also test Rogers in section play. “Our goal is to ‘take the next step,’” said Lindquist.

Girls tennis

Last year — Second in conference (one loss to Princeton); lost in section semifinals

Coaches — Debbie Conley (head), Mike Sporer, Sam Oakland and Britteny Nieber

Captain — Amanda Penick (sr)

Kianna Koeppe smashed the ball in this doubles match against Maple Grove. Coach Debbie Conley said she has been impressed with her players off-season training, and believes the team is ready to take its game up a notch.
Kianna Koeppe smashed the ball in this doubles match against Maple Grove. Coach Debbie Conley said she has been impressed with her players off-season training, and believes the team is ready to take its game up a notch.

Returning Starters — Penick (sr), Kaylie Conlin (jr), Samantha Fitzpatrick (jr), Alannah Sperr (jr), Hannah Stolba (jr), Emily Rubbelke (fr), Samantha Stickler (fr)

Coach says — “The players did a lot of work this offseason,” Conley said. “I’m very impressed with how they look through the first few days of practice. This is the kind of work that takes a team to the next level.”

Outlook — The Royals figure to have a strong singles lineup that features Penick, but Conley said that also having strong doubles teams will make the team more formidable. “We lost varsity doubles players due to graduation,” said Conley. “With that happening, it’s important to develop our doubles team in order to remain competitive in a tough conference. The preseason tournaments will show us what and where we need to improve. It should be a fun year.”


Last year — Girls: Sixth in conference, 13th in section . . . Boys: Fifth in conference, fourth in section

Coaches — Chad Kreuser (head), Janelle Packard

Captains — Girls: Katelyn Kemmetmueller, Jenna Karls . . . Boys: Evan Huber, McKone Corkery

Returning runners — Girls: 12 . . . Boys: 10

Watch out for – Girls: Kemmetmueller, Karls, Kaitlyn Benz, Sarah Janckila, Ellie Cargill, Madison Hansen, Marissa LeClaire, Nicole VanEss, Whitney Meyer, Sara Parent, Breanna Schumacher, Kate Stein . . . Boys: Ryan Davidson, Huber, Dylan Brunetti, Nathan Cassady, Corkery, Braydon Wald, Seamus Corkery, Thomas Glad, Adam Paris, Hyrum Teasdale.

Coach says — “By far, this is the largest group of runners to sign up for the cross-country team,” Kreuser said. “We are excited to be working hard to create great memories and traditions with this group of runners. It should be a very fun season.”

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Spectrum Sting fall sports preview Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:30:25 +0000 by Sean Davich

Contributing Sports Writer


Last year — 1-8, lost in first round of section playoffs

Coaches — Seth Mills (head), Ken Hanson, Scott Gangl, Cassidy Cook, J.T. Cross, Jon Benge (assistants)

Spencer Maas will lead the Spectrum Sting in football this year. The Sting is a really young, but very talented team, according to coach Seth Mills.
Spencer Maas will lead the Spectrum Sting in football this year. The Sting is a really young, but very talented team, according to coach Seth Mills.

Captains — None decided yet

Returning regulars — Spencer Maas, Dillon Swenson, Fisher Marberg, Ben Kopt

Fun facts — Maas, the starting quarterback, returns as the leading passer for the Sting, having thrown for 200 yards last year. … The top two rushers are gone, according to coach Mills, but Mass thrives in the Sting’s run-heavy offense. … The football team is heading into its fourth season as a program.

Coach says — “We have an extremely young team, but very talented and a great group of kids. We hope to make a better run during the regular season and make a better showing in the playoffs. We want to improve.”

Outlook — With only one win last season, there’s nowhere to go but up for this young football program. Not many players remain from last season, but the ones that are still around will make an impact.


Last year — Last year: Girls third in conference meet, boys in fifth. In section meet, girls placed fifth and boys placed 12th. Nobody went to state; Zack Anderson narrowly missed it.

Maria Novotny, Marissa Kuik, and Noelle Diekman will be among the leaders this year on the cross country team for the Sting. Kulik and Diekman are captains for the girls team.
Maria Novotny, Marissa Kuik, and Noelle Diekman will be among the leaders this year on the cross country team for the Sting. Kulik and Diekman are captains for the girls team.

Coaches — Rick Peterson (head), Amy Cornelius, Kal Diekman

Captains — Girls: Noelle Diekman, Marissa Kuik … Boys: Nate Hackbarth, Joel Zimmerman

Returning regulars — Girls: Diekman, Kuik, Maria Novotny, Julia Fahrner … Boys: Anderson, Ben Harvey, Camden Sharp, Zimmerman, Nevin Sagstetter

Fun facts — Anderson is two-time defending all-conference. Every boy on the team this year is either freshman or sophomore level, according to coach Peterson. … Over the summer, some runners had the privilege of attending an advanced running camp in Oregon in July

Zackary Anderson led the pack during this training session. He narrowly missed state this past year, and will want to make it this year.
Zackary Anderson led the pack during this training session. He narrowly missed state this past year, and will want to make it this year.

Coach says — “There are about 40 runners on the team this year. … Our goal this year is, competitively, to try to improve on our section meet finishes and also to improve upon our conference meet finishes. Those are our competitive team goals.”

Outlook — There’s potential for both the boys and girls at being top in the conference this fall. With all the boys being freshmen or sophomores, count on them to make some noise. It should be a fun season.

Boys soccer

Last year — Spectrum did not have a varsity team last year. It did, however, have a solidly performing junior varsity team that finished the year 9-1.

Coaches — Brad Smith (head) and Jake MacArthur

Captains — Hunter Bechtel and Ryan Swanson

Activities director says — Spectrum used to have a varsity program under a co-op with Big Lake that it hosted. That dissolved two seasons ago when the two schools decided to make a go of it on their own.

The Sting competed at a lower level the past two years, and now with 25 players it will play a full varsity schedule.

Outlook — “We were ready to move up to the next level,” Activities Director Rick Peterson said. The team has also been accepted into a Minnesota Christian Athletic Association conference even though it is not a private Christian-based school.


Last year — Last year: 18-7, lost in first round of section playoffs

Coaches — Tex Cuabo (head), Rob Rogers (JV), Deb Hoyt (fr)

Captains — Maddie Hays, Ellie Rogers

Returning regulars — Hays, Rogers, Kira Lorensen, Jasmine Nelson

In the mix — McKayla Hoffarth

Fun facts — The team is coming off its most successful season; its first with a winning record. This will be the final nonconference season for the Sting before moving to the Minnesota Christian Athletic Conference next season.

Coach says — “We gotta play tough from the get-go and try to maintain a .500 record. You can’t win everything, but it’s good to win more than half your games, right?”

Outlook: — The team has a chance to make good on coach Cuabo’s word, following its most successful season yet. The program is still young, but with a tough schedule this season, the experience will be quite valuable.

Girls soccer

Last year — 6-8-2, lost in first round of section playoffs

Coaches — Nicki Luehrs (head), Jessica Kemnitz, Courtney Wirz (assistants)

Captains — Maddie Bursch, Megan McCarty, Lorna Bechtel

Returning regulars — McCarty, Bursch, Bechtel, Anna McGlone, Aly Kraus, Makayla Morrell, Emily O’Connell, Brynne Walk

Fun facts — Despite a sub-.500 record last fall, the team was unbeaten at home with a 4-0-1 mark. … The entire defensive squad returns from last year, giving them chemistry on defense in front of Kraus, who already is a strong presence between the pipes.

Coach says — “I expect us to bring even stronger competition this year than we have in the past. Up top we’re looking to put some new speed to try and break through any offsides traps. … Last year we came up short in several close contests, and this season we hope to improve enough to secure a win in those evenly played matches.”

Outlook — The defense should hold strong, and if Kraus keeps it up in net, this team could be going places this year.

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Elk River Elks fall preview Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:24:42 +0000 by Jarrod Peterson

Contributing Sports Writer


Last year — 7-3 overall (6-2 in conference — conference champions); lost in section finals.

Coaches — Steve Hamilton (head), Mike Breyen, Mike Cross, Marv Johnson, Brad Olson, Eric Klaers, Dan Kohler, Luke Nowinsky, Mark Leadens

Captains — Not known yet

Returning starters — Offense (seven); defense (five); seven All-Conference selections

Watch out For  — Offense — Trent Pink (sr, QB, 300 passing yards, four touchdowns; 615 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns); defense — Kyle Ziemer (sr, DB, 39 tackles), Connor Detloff (sr, DL, one sack, seven tackles)

Keep an eye on — Jalon Nielson (jr, OL/DL), Sam Gibas (jr, RB/LB), Ziemer (sr, DB/RB), Nick Rice (jr, RB/DB). “Everyone is battling for a position,” Hamilton said. “We have tremendous depth at running back.”

Coach says — “We have a good core that is returning from last year’s team,” Hamilton said. “I except us to be super competitive every week. Our new schedule will be an adjustment, but I think the team will be ready for it. We expect to get better every single week.”

Outlook — The Elks lose Zach Ernst, the state’s sixth leading rusher (1,343 yards, 16 touchdowns) in 2014, but Hamilton isn’t worried because of the depth at that position. According to the roster, the Elks have 16 players listed at running back. While all 16 won’t see playing time, Hamilton will have plenty to choose from in case players don’t perform to the level he wants them to or in the event of injuries.

Boys soccer

Last year — 4-12-1 overall (2-10-1 in conference); lost in section quarterfinals

Coaches — Ryan Sorensen (head), Bill Stefano, Jim Wood, Derrick Dorholt, Marc Jacob

Captains — Joe Marsh, Tyler Eirich, Gil Valdez, Joe Christiansen

Coach says — “I expect this team to have a great amount of leadership and compete in every single game this season,” Sorensen said.

Outlook — “After a tough season in 2014, the Elks look to put it behind them and prepare for the 2015 campaign. “I think the team will have a bounce-back year,” said Sorensen. “We have a great group of seniors, … and our junior class will push us past most teams on the field, in terms of experience. If we put in the effort and focus on what we can control, there is no saying what this team could achieve this season.”


Last year — 10-16 overall; lost in section semifinals

Sydney Wentland had a 25-kill game against Park Center last year when this shot was taken. She is expected to produce big numbers again this year.
Sydney Wentland had a 25-kill game against Park Center last year when this shot was taken. She is expected to produce big numbers again this year.

Coaches — Theresa Brummer (head), Amy Kahl, Erika Kelly, Rick Michalak, Bethany Benting, Jenny Madsen

Captains — Abi Scheid and Annika Johnson

Returning players — Scheid (sr, middle blocker), Sidney Wentland (jr, outside hitter), Gabi Haack (jr, outside hitter)

Watch out for — Johnson (sr, setter), Nissa Johnson (jr, middle blocker), Hailey Ullrich (so, outside hitter), Morgan Turner (sr, libero), Becky Caswell (jr, setter/defensive specialist), Erin Davis (so, defensive specialist/libero), Britley Plautz (sr, reserve)

Coach says — “I expect big things from this team this season,” Brummer said. “We have a lot of talent and tenacity on the floor, and the kids have been great and they have worked very hard. With our hard work, we are looking at a top-four finish in the conference. We know it won’t be an easy road, but this group of girls is committed to taking things to the next level.”

Outlook — The Elks do have a reason to be optimistic. Wentland is the Elks returning kills leader with 192 and Johnson is the returning assist leader with 107. Defensively, the Elks return a group of players who compiled a total of 452 digs in 2014. “This team is ready to go,” said Brummer. “We play in one of the toughest conferences in the state and we can’t wait to get started.”

Girls soccer

Last year — 7-11 overall (6-7 in conference); lost in section semifinals

Lizzy Holien battled for the ball against a Totino Grace player. As a captain this year she will be one of the leaders on the Elks team.
Lizzy Holien battled for the ball against a Totino Grace player. As a captain this year she will be one of the leaders on the Elks team.

Coaches — Brian Steuter (head), Julie Steuter, Tony Cloud, Jess Brown, Nathan Cairns

Captains — Lizzy Hohlien, Brianna Anderson, Toni Bailey

Returning players — Eight starters: Alyse Grunewald (sr, goalkeeper), Hohlien (sr, defense), Kalen Weidenbach (sr, defense), Anderson (sr, midfield), Rachel Ness (sr, midfield), Bailey (sr, midfield), Monet Cairns (sr, forward), Ali Libor (sr, forward)

Watch out for — The Elks have position battles at outside defense and outside midfielder.

Coach says — “We have a lot of experience,” Steuter said. “We lost a lot of scoring from last year’s team, so finding scoring this season will be a big thing for us. If we can find consistent scoring this season, we will be tough to beat.”

Outlook — Hohlien is the top goal-scoring leader (six), returning for a team that scored 27 goals last season. The Elks will face explosive offenses such as Maple Grove, Centennial, Park Center and Blaine, so scoring goals is something that will be necessary. “We play in a solid conference and each game will be a challenge,” Steuter said.

Girls tennis

Last year — Conference champions; lost in section semifinals

Coaches — LeRoyce Boldt (head), Terry Gryzbowksi, Tasha Goudy, Leah Koehler

Meagan Brown
Meagan Brown

Captains — Brooke Burns and Jennifer Koehler

Returning players — Meagan Brown, Koehler, Rebekah Morrison, Burns, Danielle Dokken, Carmen Kaelke, Elizabeth Brayden

Watch out for — It will be interesting to see who plays our third and fourth singles positions,” Boldt said. “Not only those two positions, but our doubles spots are pretty wide open, too. We have many girls working hard to earn those positions. Brown, a sophomore, should have another successful year as No. 1 singles” as she made it to state last year as an individual and played for the consolation title.

Coach’s comments — “We will be a hardworking team with a lot of potential,” Boldt said. “Our goal is to win the conference and compete to win our section.”

Season outlook — The Elks return Brown and Koehler, their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players from 2014, so this season looks promising. Both players went undefeated in the conference last, and Brown will use the experience she gained last season, as she made it to the state tournament, to propel her and her team to bigger things in 2015.

Boys cross-country

Last year — Boys: Fourth in conference (section champions) . . . Girls: 11th in conference (fourth in sections); state qualifiers: Lucas Trapp, Annica Carr

Coaches — Michael Niziolek (head), Brian Gilbertson, Jill Varty

Returning runners — Boys: Trapp (sr, All-Conference), Christian Leonard (jr), Cory Warner (sr), Tyler Hudson (sr), Bradley Beaver (sr), Peyton Holmes (sr), Lucas Gustafson (fr) . . . Girls: Carr (fr), Maria Brown (jr), Jessica Holmquist (so), Grace Scheid (sr), Ellie Kunze (eighth grade), Lydia Haack (eighth grade), Lydia Carr (sr)

Watch out for — Boys: Ben Jacobs (sr), Aaron Ley (sr), Jeremy Radke (sr), Jacob Thompson (sr), Jacob Heyne (jr), Collin Lindgren (jr) . . . Girls: Anne Christensen (sr), Katie Crocker (sr), Medeline Jung (sr), Ashley Lind (sr), Enya Mably (sr), Sadie Elsenpeter (sr)

Coach says — Boys: “I’m very excited about this season,” Niziolek said. “I feel that the boys team should be one of the better teams in the state. They have done an excellent job in preparing for the season.” Girls: “I think this year’s girls team should be much improved than last year’s team,” Niziolek said. “The team has a lot of potential and I think they are ready to get going.”

Outlook — “I have no doubt that on the boys side, this could be one of the best teams Elk River has ever had,” said Niziolek. “In order for that to happen, every runner will have to do his part. For the girls, I’m excited to see what they can do. We have a lot of seniors that have been strong and steady throughout the first few days of practice and over the course of the summer.” Elk River will host the 2015 Northwest Suburban Conference Championship on Oct. 14 at Elk River Golf Club.

Girls swimming

Last year  7-2 overall, second in conference; fourth in section

Coaches — Luke Johnson (head), Liz Johnson, Jenn Bartlett (diving), Betsy Ludvigson

Captains — Krista Kovar (sr), Anya Larson (sr), Sophia Schutt (sr), Alaina Sylvester (sr)

Key returning swimmers — Kovar, Larson, Schutt, Sylvester (All-Conference), Beth Kelzer (sr, All-Conference Honorable Mention), Kaylee Benson (sr, All-Conference Honorable Mention)

Watch out for — Claire Grundman (so) and Andie Timpe (8th grade)

Coach says — “We had a really good season in 2014,” Johnson said. “It all culminated with our tie-breaking win over Maple Grove, and I think that really excited the girls. We are looking to take that next step to challenge St. Michael and Centennial for the conference title.”

Outlook — Since Johnson took over three years ago, Elk River has progressed to the point where Johnson hopes the Elk River can compete for a conference title this season. “Everything we’ve been doing has been preparing the girls to compete against St. Michael and Centennial,” said Johnson. “Those are the two teams we’re gunning for this season, and I believe we can compete with both of those teams.” ]]> 0 Zimmerman Thunder fall preview Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:19:06 +0000 by Jarrod Peterson

Contributing Sports Writer


Last year — 7-3 overall (5-2 in conference); lost in section semifinals

Cameron Norenberg (No. 99) helped take down a Mound-Westonka player in Zimmerman Thunder action last year. Coaches say to keep an eye on this defensive lineman and offensive lineman.
Cameron Norenberg (No. 99) helped take down a Mound-Westonka player in Zimmerman Thunder action last year. Coaches say to keep an eye on this defensive lineman and offensive lineman.

Coaches — Tom Kish (head, defense), Bob Freeh (offense), Dave Hamlin, Chris Riley, Mark Hayes, Tommy Boyd

Captains — Trent Milless, Taylor Snow, Mitchell Mossman and Nathen Christensen

Returning starters — Offense: nine, one Granite Ridge All-Conference selection; defense: eight, two Granite Ridge All-Conference selections

Offense – Mossman (sr, OL), Ben Schnellman (jr, RB) Haydon Miller (jr, RB), Christensen (sr, OL) Cameron Norenberg (sr, OL/DL), Calvin Waterhouse (jr, OL), Cameron Bruce (sr, OL0, Taylor McEachern (sr, WR), Tristan Pettitt (sr, WR)

Defense – Chase Rosby (sr, LB), Kolby Peacock (jr, DL), Damie Vangstad (sr, DB), Snow (sr, LB), Milless (sr, DB), Alex Riley (jr, DB), Miller (jr, LB/RB), Norenberg (sr, DL/OL)

Keep an eye on — Kadin Hakola (sr, DL) and Norenberg (sr, OL/DL) will transition to more offensive line duties this season. The defensive line is a work-in-progress.

Coach says — “We return a lot of starters and look pretty good on paper, but our team must practice and prepare with a great sense of urgency if we want to be successful. Our schedule is very difficult and what happened last season no longer matters.”

Outlook — Zimmerman will have no favors done for it. It is in the toughest section in the state in Class 4A with powerhouse schools like Becker and Orono. “If we are going to get farther in playoff than we did last season, our team must improve in all three phases of the game,” said Kish.


Last year — 6-23; lost in section quarterfinals

Coaches — Cassandra Olson (head), Emily Zahn, Angie Elphick, Nikki O’Keefe

Captains — TBD

Returning starters — Kayla Christopherson (sr, setter), Carlie Lage (sr, libero), Ashley Pool (sr, outside hitter), Anissa Rosario (sr, outside hitter), Amira Smaha (sr, middle hitter), Danielle Williams (jr, middle hitter)

Watch out for — “We graduated our setter from our 2014 team, so that is a position that we need to fill,” Olson said. “We have some younger girls, who are competitive and athletic, who could fill that position.”

Coach says — “We should be very strong defensively,” Olson said. “With that being said, we need to improve our offense to score consistently. We will rely on our group of seniors to drive our offense this season.”

Season outlook — The cupboard is bare for the Thunder in 2015. The Thunder returns offensive assist-leader Christopherson (249 assists and 52 aces), as well as a trio of players — Pool (127 kills), Rosario (100 kills), and Samaha (124 kills) — who recorded 100 or more kills in 2014. Defensively, the trio of Lage, Pool and Rosario combined for 769 digs. Williams recorded 80 kills and 19 blocks as a sophomore and should see an even bigger role this season. Those numbers are something that Olson is very excited about. “We return the majority of our starting lineup, which in turn means more experienced players,” said Olson. “While we play in a tough conference, our goal is to finish in the top half of the conference.” The Thunder hasn’t finished in the top end of the conference since 2012.

Girls soccer

Last year — 12-4-2 (5-1-2 in conference, Conference Champions); lost in section semifinals

Coaches — Jeff Downing (head), Lynk Downing, Rich Bond, Cassie Heyer

Captains — Molly Kieliszewski, Sarah Neubauer, Morgan Ziebarth

Returning players — Nine players. “We have several players back this season who gained significant playing Varsity-level experience,” said Downing.

Position battles — “We currently have five girls vying for the goalkeeper position,” said Downing. “We have a lot of young players who are challenging some of our veteran players for playing time. The competition is great for the girls because it raises their level of play.”

Coach says — “I expect this team to be extremely competitive the entire season,” said Downing. “We have some explosive athletes, in terms of speed. If we (coaches) can bring each piece together with the right tactical approach, we should be in for another special season.”

Season outlook — While the Thunder loses their top goal-scorer, Brooke Salo (21), they still return three players (Kieliszewski, Neubauer and Ziebarth) who made Honorable Mention All-Conference. Coach Downing is happy with what he has coming back. “Success breeds success, and we had a lot of success last season,” Downing said. “While it doesn’t always equate to winning, but staying focused on the game plan and building on the little successes within the game will allow us to compete with whoever we are playing.”


Last year — Girls: sixth in conference, eighth in section; boys eighth in conference, 15th in section

Coach — Michael Back

Zimmerman’s Nicole Jurik (left) and Chelsea Bouley finished one-two at Princeton in this race. Bouley is back for another year with the Thunder cross country team.
Zimmerman’s Nicole Jurik (left) and Chelsea Bouley finished one-two at Princeton in this race. Bouley is back for another year with the Thunder cross country team.

Captains — Summer Peoples and Connor Gagne

Returning runners — 11 runners total; Connor Gagne, Jacob Gagne, Aaron Coons, Aaron Koch all ran varsity last year for the boys team and return this season. Peoples, Cheresa Bouley, Kelsie Tufto (conference champion), and Grace Kerzman ran varsity on the girls team and return this season.

Watch out for — Boys: Alex Karnes and Wyatt Pramann; girls: Emily Olinger and Aylssa Koch

Coach says — “We have a good group out this fall,” Back said. “We also have five middle school runners out for the first time, so I’m pretty excited with what I have seen in the first few days.”

Outlook — Zimmerman hopes to improve on its finishes in both the conference and section from last season. “We have a pretty solid foursome on both teams,” Back said. “But the opportunity for a fifth runner to step up will certainly be there, so I am hoping someone will take advantage of it. We return one state runner from 2014 (Bouley) and we hope to get a few more into the state meet this season. This is our fifth season as a program and we hope to take another step in the right direction this season.” ]]> 0 Elk River Pioneers remain alive in section playoffs Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:48:46 +0000 by Jake Schroer

Contributing Writer

The Elk River Pioneers lost 16-6 to the Monticello Polecats and beat the Ramsey Renegades 3-1 over the weekend in the Section 8 playoffs.

The Pioneers’ win over the Renegades on Aug. 16 kept them alive in the double-elimination tournament. The Pioneers played on Friday (after press time) against Hamel to try to extend the season.

Missing pitcher doomed Pioneers

A seven-run seventh inning allowed Monticello to pull away from the Pioneers in their loss on Aug. 14. Elk River scored first, plating a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. The Polecats responded by getting a run back in the bottom of the inning.

After Elk River scored a run in the fourth to make it 3-1, Ben Schaben belted a solo home run and the Polecats scored twice more to take a 4-3 lead. The Pioneers took the lead back in the fifth as Eric Nyquist scored the go-ahead run.

The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Polecats scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 6-6. Monticello would score the rest of the game’s runs and pull away for the 10-run victory.

Manager Ken Ott said that he had to pitch players who didn’t normally pitch because one of his pitchers did not show up for the game.

“We’re a good team if we have everybody here every game, but that’s not what’s happening,” Ott said.

Extra inning win put end to losing streak

Elk River ended a long losing streak with a dramatic 13-inning victory over the Rogers Red Devils at the St. Michael Rec Center.

The Pioneers fell behind 3-0 early in the game, but Joe Maciej drove in a run in the third inning to cut the lead to two runs. The Pioneers scattered several hits and finally broke through in the eighth inning against Rogers pitcher Rob Fodness.

Devin Quigley drove in Elk River’s second run in the eighth inning, which chased Fodness from the game. Mack Riley tied the game with a single soon after Quigley’s hit.

Eric Nyquist had a huge game, pitching 10 innings and collecting five hits. At one point, he had retired 19 consecutive Red Devils.

Nyquist’s fifth hit would be his biggest; a walk-off single to left field with two outs to bring home a 4-3 win for the Pioneers, propelling them into the double-elimination section playoffs.

“They played us tough, but it was fun to be in the game. What a big victory for us,” manager Ken Ott said. The win was very important, Ott said, because the team had lost so many close games throughout the season. ]]> 0 Hole-in-one latest thrill for former Gopher Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:28:19 +0000 by Sean Davich

Contributing Sports Writer

Larry Peterson had his share of thrills as an athlete back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

After winning two state championships in three years for Robbinsdale, he went on to play quarterback for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team that had come off its seventh national championship in the football program’s history.

Now at 72, the Elk River man continues to stoke his competitive spirit, but on the golf course rather than the gridiron. He gets out about twice a week, and on July 6 at the Elk River Golf Course, he had the thrill of hitting his second hole-in-one in 35 years of swinging clubs on area links.

The ace came on the fourth hole of the course, which measures 163 yards from the tee to the hole. He used a hybrid to nail the long shot, and he’s been talking about it ever since.

“I got one before at Bunker Hills, many years ago,” he said, referring to a magical stroke on the 18-hole course off Main Street in Coon Rapids.

It was a thrill then, and it’s a thrill now. Same thing with throwing a touchdown or running one in himself.

The 1961 graduate of Robbinsdale High School suffered only one loss in three years as the school’s starting quarterback.

His teams were state champions in both 1958 and 1960, the latter of which saw him score five touchdowns in one game while leading the team in scoring.

Peterson was also a team captain in basketball, as well as letter-winner in both baseball and track and field. Peterson eventually ended up as the starting quarterback as both a junior and senior for the University of Minnesota.

For his success at Robbinsdale, he was inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame.

He picked up golf in his 30s. Peterson has an appreciation for the game of golf, and for those who excel at it. Someone who impresses him a lot nowadays is Jordan Spieth.

“He’s something else. I would just like to swing like him just once in my life,” Peterson said.

Peterson has also gotten to know Steve Stricker, a 12-time PGA tournament winner who once ranked No. 2 in the world and has been playing for 25 years. Stricker just tied for 30th place in Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last weekend.

“I’ve played golf with him,” Peterson said. “It is really a thrill to play with somebody that good.” ]]> 0 Filipiak has busy, productive summer of golf Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:24:13 +0000 by Sean Davich

Contributing Sports Writer

Alexa Filipiak entered six junior PGA golf tournaments this summer and won five of them to qualify for the Minnesota Junior PGA Cup held Aug. 13 at the Chaska Town Golf Course.

Submitted photo Alexa Filipiak, of Elk River, has had an exciting summer of golf.
Submitted photo
Alexa Filipiak, of Elk River, has had an exciting summer of golf.

She also won the cup in the 16- to 18-year-old age division with a score of 84.

“It was a lot of fun playing in these different tournaments over the summer,” Filipiak said. “It’s fun playing against different schools that you normally don’t get to play against during seasons.”

Filipiak has been golfing since she was 8 years old. At that age, she was learning from her father, Al, who is an avid golfer himself.

“I took her out with me on a couple family vacations,” he said. “She’d ride in the cart and go play a few holes, hit a few shots. Now she’s playing more golf than I am.”

Like in any other sport, experience is extremely valuable. Competitiveness can be key, too.

“I knew that I kind of needed to be a little more competitive than in other tournaments if I wanted to do well,” Filipack said. “Playing with other girls, not knowing how they normally play – it’s just knowing I had to do my best to do well.”

Filipiak is a three-time letter winner for the Elk River girls golf team and she will be the 2016 co-captain. She helped lead the team to the Northwest Suburban Conference Championship during the 2015 season and earned herself an 11th-place finish for all-conference honors. She even qualified for state in her sophomore year.

She looks up to golfers like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, the new top-ranked golfer in the world after his runner-up finish last weekend at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Filipiak was there to see it, and said she had the time of her life.

“I followed him on Friday because he played with Rory,” she said excitedly. “We followed their group, and it was just amazing to watch them play in person. Actually being there to see them is a totally different experience.”

Needless to say, her parents are very proud of what their daughter has accomplished so far, both on and off the course.

“She has come a long way,” Paula Filipiak, Alexa’s mother said. “She’s come a long way in her whole game, her mental thinking. She’s just improved a ton.”

“Her hard work and dedication (really paid off),” Al added. “She’s basically done it herself. The instruction that she’s had, she’s basically on her own. And she’s an all-around good kid; she has good grades and does volunteer work.” ]]> 0 Bunker to represent U.S. in jujitsu Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:11:31 +0000 by Rachel Finkbeiner

Contributing Writer

About 20 athletes will represent the United States at the World Sport Jujitsu Championship on Sept. 10 in Geneva, Switzerland, including Elk River native Jacob Bunker, who will be the only Minnesotan in that elite group.

Submitted photo Jacob Bunker will compete at the World Sport Jujitsu Championships in Geneva, Switzerland.
Submitted photo
Jacob Bunker will compete at the World Sport Jujitsu Championships in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It’s very rare anyone makes it this far,” said Bunker’s coach, Joel Coles, of Coles Martial Arts. “Most people get their black belt and quit.”

Bunker qualified for the world championship with a first-place finish in the Jujitsu Kumite Tournament. Bunker also took first in the judo competition as well.

He started martial arts at the age of 12 with wrestling. He moved on to taekwondo and finally dove into jujitsu at the age of 17. Bunker has kept all of his training local, practicing at Cole’s studio in Otsego for 10 years.

Jujitsu is a Japanese art form designed to defeat opponents in armor. According to Bunker, jujitsu techniques could break opponents’ elbows or fingers, choke out a person and even kill them. The draw to jujitsu for Bunker was it’s combative nature.

“Jujitsu can do some damage, but I love the competition. You get to gauge yourself against another person,” Bunker said.

In a jujitsu competition, opponents go one-on-one and matches are scored on three components of point striking, grappling and time on the ground. A match consists of three, three-minute rounds and one must win two out of the three.

The art has been modified over the years, so death is no longer a consequence of a bad battle, but Bunker has had his fingers bent back too far and a few tendons in his elbow ripped.

When Bunker popped his toe out in a match, instead of tapping out, he tried to pop it back in using the mat for leverage.

“I’m stubborn,” Bunker said.

Jujitsu is a family event, with Bunker being the oldest of three; his brothers Tony and Sam also participate and even his dad, Nathan, trains. His mom, Brenda, is one of his biggest fans.

“My mom gets upset when I get hurt, but otherwise she’s cheering and gets really into it,” Bunker said.

Although Jujitsu presents itself as a form of aggressive fighting, for Bunker the art of control is what makes it special.

“Controlling a situation is the beauty of jujitsu. You are aware of what’s going on in a match; you don’t get lucky in jujitsu.”

On top of being a top fighter, when it comes to the history of jujitsu, Bunker could fill you in from its initial start in Japan in 1553 all the way through its current modifications. An interest in jujitsu’s history convinced Bunker to major in both history and philosophy at the University of Minnesota.

“The history and philosophy is what makes it more than a sport, it makes it a way of life,” said Bunker.

To prepare for Switzerland, Bunker has been training four to seven days a week, practicing technique alongside intense cardio and weight training. Bunker credits his trainer Cole for getting Bunker into the sport and getting him ready for the championship.

“He’s very polite and respectful, and he’s studied intensely,” Cole said. “I think he’ll do pretty good in Worlds, and I have confidence in him.”

Bunker thinks what will set him apart at Worlds is that he trains in all different forms of martial arts, from karate to judo and even mixed martial arts.

Cole recalled a mixed martial arts competition that Bunker won. “In less than two minutes he won; I told him to finish it in two minutes and he did.”

Bunker plans to finish things in Switzerland.

“I’m planning to win – this is my year,” Bunker said.

The trip to Switzerland is coming out of Bunker’s own pocket. Bunker has been working two jobs to help him pay expenses. He is also accepting donations to help pay for his flight and hotel online at  The USA team is also raising money for equipment for Worlds through ]]> 0