SPORTS FEEVER – March 26, 2020

As I stated in an earlier Feever column, Leo Blavin will have his last day at KROX on Friday, March 27.  There was a part of me that was hoping Governor Tim Walz would lock down the borders so Leo couldn’t leave, but it didn’t happen.  I am excited for Leo as he is heading to Chicago and will be moving in next week.  I am extremely grateful for everything he did over the past three years and we couldn’t have asked for a better hire.  He was an extremely hard worker, always prepared, and did a helluva job for us.   It sucks that he is leaving, but we are excited for him at the same time.  We will miss him…that is for sure.   I asked Leo to type up something for the column….a goodbye letter if you will.  It is below –

Although I’ve known this day was coming for some time, it’s still surreal to say goodbye to Crookston. This community has been nothing but welcoming since I’ve arrived and has felt like home since I came three years ago. While I certainly wish I was leaving Crookston in a time of more certainty, perhaps it’s fitting that I leave town when sports are paused. It would take me longer than anyone is willing to read for me to thank all of the people that made my time in Crookston so special, but I tried to thank as many people as I could for having a positive impact on my team working for KROX.

I want to start by thanking all of the coaches I had the pleasure of working with during my time in Crookston. Whether it was opposing high school coaches or a coach I talked to before every game, I never had a negative interaction, and that is not something I take for granted. In particular, I would like to thank Mark Dufner, Steve Gust, Tim Moe, Sarah Rauen, Mike Roysland, and Dan Weisse. These were the coaches I interacted most frequently with, and the people that made my “job” so much easier.

Mark Dufner had the most challenging coaching job in America for a multitude of reasons I’ll save for my memoir in 40 years. I would’ve loved to broadcast more wins, but I can say without hesitating that broadcasting the win at Minot State was the highlight of my time with KROX. After every loss, Mark would always come up to the booth for an interview or talk with Chris on the sideline. I have the utmost respect for how Mark ran his program, and he never treated me with anything but the utmost respect.

I’m not sure there is any coach more passionate about their sport than Coach Steve Gust. He lives and breathes baseball, and I enjoyed seeing him at American Legion games over the summer as much as I did broadcasting UMC games. He has established a winning program, and I always looked forward to broadcasting his team’s games and being able to talk baseball with him. He has set the standard for all other UMC athletic programs to meet, and that’s invaluable.

Tim Moe was the high school coach I spent the most time covering in Crookston. Not only has he helped turnaround the Crookston girl’s hockey program, but he was always enjoyable to talk to off the ice. No coach was more accommodating for interviews or sending stats after games. I always looked forward to covering his team because I knew I would enjoy my time at the rink and our interactions.

Sarah Rauen started at UMC when I arrived at KROX and was nothing but welcoming as I tried to learn as much as I could about her program and frankly the sport of volleyball. She always answered my questions and was an easy interview each week for our coaches’ show. I also greatly admire how much she cares about her players as people off the court.

Mike Roysland was someone I always enjoyed spending time with and was still willing to give up his time win or lose. Mike was always candid with me during our interviews and was a great conversation each week of the coaches show. His passion for his program is infectious, and I look forward to watching his young program grow next season.

There is no coach I spent more time with while in Crookston than Dan Weisse. I traveled with the Men’s basketball program whenever they were on the road, and Dan always made sure I was taken care of, which is not something I take for granted. His transparency about his program made my job easier, and I will miss our conversation during road trips or following the weekly coaches show. He is building a special program at UMC, and I can’t wait to follow along with the success that is coming over the next few seasons.

I would be remiss if I failed to thank Shawn Smith and Hunter Plante for the work they did to enhance the coverage I provided of UMC athletics. They work tirelessly to keep KROX’s coverage as informed as possible, and that’s no small task for a staff of two. Shawn was one of the first people I met when I arrived and was always willing to share facts and information that made my job easier. Hunter was someone I enjoyed getting to know during the past two years, and I look forward to consuming their work despite no longer covering UMC.

I’m also very appreciative for the relationships I was able to build with Darrin Zimmerman, Wes Hanson, Travis Owen, Robbe Nessler, Cody Brekken, Josh Hardy, Ashley Stopa, Amy Boll, Wayne Folkers, Mitch Bakken, Lon Boike, Sarah Reese, Marley Melbye, Scott Butt, Steve Kofoed, Jeff Perreault, and all of the other coaches I had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

I also want to thank Greg Garmen, who always did his best to make sure KROX had all the information we needed to cover Crookston High School athletics as best we could. Greg has so many responsibilities at the Activities Director, but it always felt like he made KROX a priority, which meant a lot to me.

Before I thank my coworkers, I do want to thank my “competitors” in town. Nolan Beilstein and I arrived in Crookston the same week in August of 2017. That was nothing but a blessing. We spent countless hours together, both covering the same games and watching games when we weren’t working. He became a close friend during our time working in town, and it was comforting to have a friend in a new city where I knew nobody when I arrived. I also want to thank Jacob Shames, who I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know as well, but I enjoyed reading his coverage of UMC basketball and have been blown away by the quality of his writing.

KROX has been better than I could’ve hoped for as my first full-time place of work. It’s impossible to explain just how much work goes into what we were able to produce. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could about working in radio, and that wouldn’t be possible without the great staff I’ve had the privilege of calling colleagues.

Jeanette has been welcoming since my first day waiting in the office during Ox Cart Days to meet my boss for the first time in person. She greets me with a smile every morning when I arrive and was always supportive and helpful as I tried to learn on the job. Her generosity and kindness are second to none, and I looked forward to our interactions every day.

Katie has a crucial job to our on-air success and was always accommodating to my questions and errors. Her patience made my transition to my on-air shift so much easier.

Steve made introductory into radio sales much smoother than I anticipated and was so helpful as I began working at KROX. He’s someone I always enjoy talking to about the happenings in Crookston, and I admire not only his work ethic but his passion and commitment to serving the community in so many ways.

Mark has to deal with me every day when I go on the airwaves and always does it with a joke and a smile. He helped teach me what I needed to know to keep my job as an announcer and was very patient as I learned the ropes of something he knows very well. He was a great teacher, and his attitude never made it feel like work when I got on the air each day.

Frank was the person who trained me to replace him on the air every day. I enjoyed getting to shadow him before I took over and picking his brain about broadcasting and Crookston athletics. He was a willing teacher, and I always looked forward to him stopping by the station.

Rob joined KROX after my arrival, and I’m grateful that he did. I always looked forward to our conversations every day, usually about sports, but sometimes just about life in general. Rob works extremely hard to produce so much of the content on our website and airwaves and puts in so many hours, so I didn’t have to. He made my life so much easier, and I’ll miss our office conversations.

Lastly, but certainly, not least, I want to thank Chris. Chris has been a great boss in so many ways. What I admire most is how he leads by example. Nobody puts more work into KROX. The quality and amount of work that KROX produces reflects his pride in the station and this community. He has taught me so much about working in media and how to do things the right way. His dedication is admirable, and I can only hope to muster that level of passion for my work in the future. He puts so much pride in KROX, and I hope Crookston realizes how special this station is because I certainly do after seeing how much goes into it every day.

Crookston has been home in every sense of the word for the past three years, and I will always look back on my time here, fondly. To the people who make this community so special, thank you for welcoming me into your homes, cars, and offices. My goal has always been to leave KROX and Crookston a little bit better than I found it because I know I leave here a better person because of my interactions with all of you.


Thank you Leo!!!   We wish you the best of luck!!!

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The Minnesota State High School League continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and the most current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Office of the Governor. The MSHSL supports the efforts of all students, staff and communities in limiting the spread of COVID-19. The goal of the MSHSL is to be responsive to member schools and keep future participation options open for the spring activity season.

Minnesota State High School League Executive Director Erich Martens shared, “We recognize the responsibility that everyone and every organization has in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.  In alignment with state leadership and the Governor, we support the actions to limit gatherings and to stay home as directed. The Minnesota State High School League will continue to provide leadership and support to its member schools throughout this challenge. The continued suspension of fine arts and athletic activities within our member schools is an example of our responsibility to the health and safety of our students, schools and communities.”

Effective immediately and continuing until the Governor of Minnesota has lifted his school closure declaration:
⦁ All participation in MSHSL spring activities at all member schools is suspended.
⦁ Participation includes, but is not limited to, competitions, training, practices, scrimmages, and contests.

Pending a reopening of schools by the Governor, return to participation protocols will be determined and communicated by the MSHSL Board and MSHSL staff.
No decisions regarding the cancellation of spring activities have been made at this time.

The suspension of participation includes fine arts activities and athletics and the following events remain suspended indefinitely:
⦁ Speech Section and State Tournaments
⦁ Music Contests
⦁ Visual Arts Competitions and State Festival
⦁ MSHSL State Robotics Tournament
⦁ MSHSL Clay Target State Tournament

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available and as decisions are made.

— — —

Four new members of the Crookston High School Hall of Fame Class and two members of the “Legends Hall of Fame” were announced today.  The Class will be Inducted Saturday, August 22 at 2:00 PM during Ox Cart Days.

Lenny Meine is a 1990 graduate of Crookston High School.  He wrestled for the Pirates for six years and was a three-time place winner at the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament, including two State Champions his last two years.

Jessica Mullins was a two-time State Speech Champion in Storytelling in 2003 and 2004.  She continues to live her passions in her career as an actor, teacher, and student of the theatre.

Troy Kleven and Jake Olson were the State of Minnesota Class A Tennis Doubles Champions in 1996 and 1997.

Liz (Ames) Leake and Katie (Hunt) Fee were the State of Minnesota Class A Tennis Doubles champions in 1997.  They were State Runner-ups in 1996.

The two new members of the “Crookston High School Legends Hall of Fame” are Bill Erickson and Lyle Francis.

Bill Erickson was in track from 1939 to 1942 where he won 12 firsts and 8 seconds while serving as Captain his last year.  He also played basketball for 3 years.

Lyle Francis was in the Class of 1926.  He played football for 4 seasons, basketball for 3 seasons, baseball for 2 seasons and track for 2 seasons.

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The Minnesota High School Girls Basketball Association has announced the Academic All-State team and several area girls were named to the team.

Kasey Cwikla (Crookston)
Emmy Heisler (East Grand Forks)
Riley Regorrah (East Grand Forks)
Carlie Meis (Fergus Falls)
Sabrina Fronning (Fergus Falls)
Olivia Kaliher (Fergus Falls)
Katie Zepper (Perham)
Laura Krause (Wadena-Deer Creek)
Kennedy Gravelle (Wadena-Deer Creek)
Hailey Wiederich (Wadena-Deer Creek)
Mackenzie Carsten (Wadena-Deer Creek)
Annika Dalager (Thief River Falls)
Ava Yuska (Thief River Falls)
Camryn Schwab (Thief River Falls)
Carley Johnson (Thief River Falls)
Jerzie Finstad (Thief River Falls)
Jordan Naslund (Thief River Falls)
Brea Prickett (Thief River Falls)
Ally Freier
Rilee Michaelson (Park Rapids)
Paige Johnson (Park Rapids)
Kaitlyn Smith (Staples/Motley)
Alix Peterson (Staples/Motley)
Madi Guler (Pelican Rapids)

Class A –
Gerika Kingbird (Red Lake)
Calyssa Eskeli (Red Lake County Central)
Jada Landis (Blackduck)
Danae Stenzel (Clearbrook-Gonvick)
Marlee Turn (Kittson County Central)
Shelby Pankratz (Kittson County Central)
Josie Steen (Kittson County Central)
Serena Ratzlaff (Northern Freeze)
Elle Scherfenberg (Ada-Borup)
Kora Kritzberger (Ada-Borup)
Olivia Ellingson (Fertile-Beltrami)
Riley Gilge (Kelliher/Northome)
Kaleigha Donnell (Kelliher/Northome)
Mercedes Waldo (Kelliher/Northome)
Rylie Mortimer (Warren-Alvarado-Oslo)
Shelby Durand (Warren-Alvarado-Oslo)
Rylie Magsam (Climax-Fisher)
Ella Koebernick (Badger-Greenbush/Middle River)
Ivy Edwards (Sacred Heart)
Maddi Mitzel (Sacred Heart)
Macyn Bloom (Sacred Heart)

— — —

The University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Men’s Basketball team has received a verbal commitment from Leonard Dixon, a 6’7 Sophomore forward, from Mount Hood Community College and Sam Barlow High School in Damascus, Oregon.
Dixon will give the Golden Eagles a tall, athletic shooter that averaged 19.3 points per game while starting all 29 games and was named to the Southern Region First team. He averaged 6 rebounds and two assists per game. He averaged 32 minutes per game while shooting an outstanding 43.6 percent on three-pointers (46.7% in conference play to lead the conference). He shot 82 percent from the free-throw line.

The Golden Eagles will be losing Chase Johnson (6’8 Jr.), Destiny Chikwem-Stanley (6’6 Jr. forward), and Zac Olson. Ben Juhl (6’1 Jr.) left in the middle of the season.

Other NSIC Men’s Basketball players leaving their programs –
Minnesota–Duluth Men’s Basketball’s Hunter Plamann (6’1 Soph guard)
St. Cloud State’s Brandon Adelman (6’3 Fresh. guard), and Jailen Moore (6’2 Jr)
-Minnesota State Mankato’s Manning ‘Tre’ Baumgardner III (6’1 Soph. guard), and Paris Parham (6’5 Jr guard)
-Wayne State’s Isaiah Burd (6’3 Fresh. guard)
-Winona State’s Keiron Goodwin (6’4 Jr. guard)
-Northern State’s Jaden Graham (6’5 Fresh. forward) is transferring to Biola
-Sioux Falls’ William Lybaek (6’3 Jr)
-Minnesota State Moorhead’s Kaedrick Williams (6’5 Jr guard)

Programs adding transfers –
Cole Bergan (6’7 Soph) from Northern Colorado

— — —

Maddi Guler of Pelican Rapids has announced she will run track and play basketball at Concordia College in Moorhead next year.

East Grand Forks’ Julian Benson has signed to play football at Mayville State University next year.

— — —

Former Northern State and University of North Dakota football coach, Tom Dosch, has landed back at UND.  Dosch has been named the Director of Development for the UND Law School.  It’s good to see a great guy landing a good job back in Grand Forks.

— — —

University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) men’s basketball player Harrison Cleary (Sr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) was to the 2020 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II All-Central District Second Team selection for the second straight season
Cleary was also named All-NSIC First Team for the third-straight season, All-Central Region First Team, and a CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team selection.

Cleary ended his career at UMC holding the school records for points, assists, three-pointers made, three-pointer attempted, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted, free throw percentage, games played, and games started. Cleary is the NSIC’s All-Time Leading Scorer with 2,107 career points in conference play. He is 16th all-time in NCAA Division II scoring with 2,846 career points.

First Team
Kevin Buckingham, Southeastern Oklahoma
Jhonathan Dunn, Southern Nazarene
Ryan Hawkins, Northwest Missouri State
Trevor Hudgins, Northwest Missouri State
Cam Martin, Missouri Southern State
Brandon Myer, Minnesota Duluth

Second Team
Tyrell Carroll, Missouri Western
Harrison Cleary, Minnesota Crookston
Parker Fox, Northern State
Cameron Kirksey, Minnesota State
Micah Speight, Southern Nazarene

— — —

Hopkins Girls Basketball has been declared the 2019-20 National Champion by ESPN.  They were led by the best High School Girls Basketball player in the nation with Paige Bueckers, who is going to UCONN next year.

— — —


Two rednecks are out hunting, and as they are walking along they come upon a huge hole in the ground. They approach it and are amazed by the size of it.
The first hunter says ” Wow, that’s some hole, I can’t even see the bottom, I wonder how deep it is?”
The second hunter says” I don’t know, let’s throw something down and listen and see how long it takes to hit bottom.”
The first hunter says ” There’s this old transmission here, give me a hand and we’ll throw it in and see”.
So they pick it up and carry it over, and count one, and two and three, and throw it in the hole. They are standing there listening and looking over the edge and they hear a rustling in the brush behind them. As they turn around they see a goat come crashing through the brush, run up to the hole and with no hesitation and jumped in headfirst.
While they are standing there looking at each other, looking in the hole and trying to figure out what that was all about, an old farmer walks up. “Say there”, says the farmer, “you fellers didn’t happen to see my goat around here anywhere, did you?”
The first hunter says ” Funny you should ask, but we were just standing here a minute ago and a goat came running out of the bushes doin’ about a hundred miles an hour and jumped headfirst into this hole here!”
And the old farmer said ” Why that’s impossible, I had him chained to a transmission! ”

— — —

— —

How are former Crookston Pirates athletes doing in college or elsewhere?

Paul Bittner is playing for the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Bluejacket.

Brady Heppner, is playing hockey for the Roanoke Raildogs in the SPHL.

Aleece Durbin, is a Sophomore on the University of North Dakota Women’s Track and Field team.

Brita Fagerlund, is a Junior on the University of Jamestown Jimmy Women’s Track team.

Ben Trostad is a sophomore member of the University of Minnesota Crookston golf team.

Isaac Westlake, is a Senior on the Winona State Warrior Men’s Golf team.

Elise Tangquist, is a Junior golfer for the University of Northwestern in St. Paul.

Mason LaPlante, a freshman, is playing soccer at the University of Jamestown.

Rachel Hefta, a freshman, is playing volleyball at Hastings College in Nebraska.

Cade Salentine is a redshirt Freshman playing football at the University of North Dakota

Nick Garmen, is a freshman playing basketball and tennis at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Thea Oman, a freshman, is swimming at St. Ben’s.

Crookston School District Coaches –
Jeremy Lubinski
 is a Pirate 8th Grade Football coach.
Amy Boll 
is the head Pirate Girls Track head coach and assistant volleyball coach
Sarah Reese 
is the Pirate Head Girls Soccer coach
Cody Brekken
 is the Head Pirate Girls and Boys Tennis coach and Crookston Community Pool Supervisor
Marley Melbye is the Head Girls Swimming coach
Mitch Bakken is the head Pirate Baseball coach.
Brock Hanson
 is the Pirate Baseball volunteer assistant coach.
Jeff Perreault 
is the Pirate Girls Golf head coach
Wes Hanson is the Pirate Wrestling Head Coach and assistant boys golf coach
Kevin Weber is a Pirate Boys Basketball volunteer assistant coach
Connor Morgan is the Pirate Boys Hockey assistant coach
Sam Melbye is the Pirate Boys J.V. Hockey coach
Chris Dufault is a youth wrestling Coach
Blake Fee is an assistant wrestling coach
Colton Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach

Non-Crookston High School coaching –

Cody Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach at Proctor/Hermantown

Kaylee Desrosier is a softball coach for Fargo Davies Middle School.

Justin Johnson is an assistant softball coach at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Josh Edlund  is an assistant football coach and phy ed teacher at Flandreau, South Dakota.

Allison Lindsey Axness is Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach in Champlin Park

Jeff Olson is Head Wrestling coach and Head Baseball coach at Delano.

Jake Olson is an Assistant Football Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Delano.

Carmen (Kreibich) Johnson, is Head Volleyball coach at Little Falls High School.

Katy Westrom, is Head Girls Tennis Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Monticello High School.

Matt Harris, is a Director of Athletics at the British International School of Houston.

Marty Bratrud is the Superintendent and High School Principal at Westhope High School.

Gordie Haug is an assistant football coach at the University of Wyoming

Mike Hastings is the Minnesota State Mankato Men’s head Hockey coach

Mike Biermaier is the Athletic Director at Thief River Falls High School

Stephanie (Lindsay) Perreault works with the North Dakota State stats crew for Bison football and volleyball and basketball in the winter. Stephanie’s husband, Ryan, is the assistant director for the Bison media relations

Jason Bushie is the hockey athletic trainer at Colorado College

Chris Myrold is a Tennis Pro on Nevis Island in the West Indies

Kyle Buchmeier
 is a Tennis Pro at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis

Jarrett Butenhoff is serving our country with the U.S. Navy

Joshua Butenhoff is serving our country on a Submarine with the Pacific Fleet with the US Navy.

Peter Cournia is a 2002 Crookston High School Graduate and also a grad of West Point and is currently is serving in the U.S. Army.

Erik Ellingson is serving our country with the U.S. Air Force at Minot.

Philip Kujawa class of 2004 from Crookston High School.  He is an Army recruiter in Rochester.

Scott Riopelle is head of Crookston Parks and Recreation

Rob Sobolik is the General Manager of the Fargodome

That’s it for this week.  Thanks for the comments and if you have anything to add or share, please e-mail or call.  Thanks for reading and listening to KROX RADIO and