My two cents on the wide world of Forest Lake sports
That’s it! I’ve had it – can’t write…another…word…
Okay, so maybe I don’t have a full-blown case of writer’s block, but I think after four-plus years at this post I’ll treat myself to a column consisting of one of journalism’s guilty pleasures: lists.
Those of you who are skimming this after reading the “regular” portion of the newspaper may have an inkling of where this is headed. For the rest of you who flipped to this page first, first of all, I’m flattered. Secondly, you should know that my time as sports editor at the Forest Lake Times has come to a close. To find out why, see page 2 – this space is devoted to sports, and I have a lot to recap from my stint.
Without further ado, let the listing begin.
By The Numbers
Time Spent As Sports Editor: Four years, 1 month and 15 days
Time Spent As News Editor: 11 days and counting
Difference In Days Between Last Number And That Of Previous News Editor Cliff Buchan: 11,315, give or take a few hundred
Ranger State Titles Covered: Nine, I believe
Times Trapped By Busses At The High School Around 2:30 p.m.: Too many to count
Times Asked If I Worked For The High School Newspaper: Ditto
Times I Had To Pay My Own Way In To A Sporting Event: Zero!
Oh, Those Coaches
Best Interview After A Win: Deno Johnson (nordic skiing, cross country)
Best Interview After A Loss: Hanz Lehrke (soccer)
Made My Job Easy: Tough one. It’s a tie between Nancy Ellias (former gymnastics), Greg Patchin (tennis) and Angie Ryan (softball)
Made My Job Difficult: Didn’t think I’d really go there, did you? Maybe if I was leaving town!
Effectively Animated: Brian Raabe (former baseball). Whether chatting encouragement to a batter or debating calls, his energy and positive spirit were infectious.
Effectively Calm: Eric Kaluza (cross country, track and field). How he keeps the attention of dozens of girls without raising his voice is beyond me.
Most Entertaining To Watch During A Competition: Cheryl Smoczyk (dance team)
Coach I’d Fear Most If I Was A Century Junior High Teacher Who Messed Up During The Staff-Student Basketball Game: Ryan
Best Player (Currently) At The Sport He Coaches: Joel Hall (former golf)
Tough Cookie: Kyle Oberg (alpine). Let me see: Trek 45 minutes to Wild Mountain. Stand in the cold. Trek 45 minutes back. Repeat. No thanks.
Best Bowler: John Buck (golf)
Coach I’d Like To Play For: Dan Cremisino (basketball)
From My Notebook’s Margins
Surprisingly Entertaining Sport To Watch In Person: Cross country
Hardest Sport To Photograph: Swimming, possibly due to dungeon-like lighting at Southwest Junior High.
Most Fun Sport To Photograph: Track and field. Each event poses unique challenges.
Most Serene Setting: Night baseball at Schumacher Field
Worst Scoreboard: Schumacher, unless all the bulbs happen to be working, which was the case this year, making the portable lacrosse one the worst.
How Come They Have Such Good Facilities?: Chisago Lakes
How Did I Avoid Ever Traveling To?: Hastings
Best Prank That May Or May Not Have Involved Police: “Borrowing” of bicycle during football game at Mounds View
Worst Prank That May Or May Not Have Involved Police: Spray painting of a certain mascot statue
Most Fascinating Practices: Wrestling. From the drills to the speeches, it never disappoints.
Favorite Practice Moment: Watching Paul Kendrick (football, track and field) play quarterback with the joy of a teenager
Best $1: Chuck-a-Duck contests. So fun, Ranger fans hurl them on water (swimming) and ice (hockey). Maybe that’s how we can fund a new football stadium…
Best $2: Root beer and admission (free) at baseball games (Including Forest Lake Brewers townball).
Best Deal, Period: Joining a high school golf team. The number of rounds, quality of courses and time off from school is sick (as the kids would say).
Strange Physics: How do softball pitchers throw the ball that hard underhanded?
If I Were King, I’d: Make soccer nets bigger.
Dumb: Wearing a sweater to the swimming pool.
Dumber: Wearing dress shoes, jeans, long sleeves and over-the-shoulder camera bag to first cross-country meet.
Dumbest: Wearing tennis shoes to a nordic skiing meet.
Super Sweet The First Year, Then Progressively Annoying: Softball team’s personalized cheers
So Sad It’s Funny: Pick any girls’ varsity basketball game and stand right behind the back row of the visiting crowd. The vile you’ll hear directed towards the refs (whom I’m sure have no stake in the matter) is unreal.
Best Peanut Gallery: Photographer Todd Proulx and athletic trainer Val Happala
Why Is He Here?: To me, local broadcaster Jim Erickson calls a better game and is more prepared than most college or pro radio guys I come across. Ranger fans are lucky to have him.
Favorite Athlete to Watch, No. 5: Tommy Tyson, Class of 2012. The football, hockey and track star proved that speed crosses over to any surface.
No. 4: Betsy Kelly, Class of 2010. The multi-year star golfer and standout volleyball setter carried herself with a maturity far beyond her age.
No. 3: Taylor Brett, Class of 2010. Whether spiking a volleyball, twisting through a dismount or clearing 10 feet in the pole vault, her pure athleticism always impressed.
No. 2: Lexi Alm, Class of 2010. Dominant volleyball hitter blossomed into a force on the softball diamond. Also stepped into leading role in basketball her senior season.
No. 1: Gotta pull a cop-out and go with a tie between Zach Riedeman (Class of 2010) and Dusty Boyer (Class of 2012). Riedeman threw a 79-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the first football game of my first season covering sports and never slowed down. The dual-threat quarterback’s talent shone through even more as a record-setting basketball scorer, and he wasn’t too bad at baseball, either. Riedeman is a junior at the University of St. Thomas, where he figures to play a large role on the basketball team this winter.
Boyer? What can you say. The tennis phenom rose to the challenge at every turn while becoming the first Minnesotan to win four state singles titles. And he did it all with a smile and the humility of a choirboy.
Top Game, No. 4: The 2008 Ranger girls’ tennis team knocked off eight-time-defending SEC champion Mounds View in a match that had it all. With the school’s first-ever conference title at stake and the other six matches complete, then-sophomore Audrey Hanmer (who would certainly be an honorable mention pick in my entertaining athletes list) delivered a three-set singles win to clinch the upset.
No. 3: It’s really a case of take-your-pick between two games. In both 2008 and 2009 the Ranger football season ended in heartbreak after pulse-pounding finishes. Though Forest Lake lost at home against Andover and then at Anoka, the contests provided a thrill a minute, went down to the wire and were absolute classics.
No. 2: Forest Lake stuck it to basketball powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall in a 2008-09 stunner. Riedeman scored a school-record 43 points (all but four after halftime) as the Rangers rallied from 21 down in the second half and went on to win in double overtime.
No. 1: Journalists are supposed to be impartial, but I had a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon as Boyer battled Rochester Century’s Eric Frueh in the 2010 state semifinals. An epic match eventually went Boyer’s way, but not before he fought off two match points. The importance grows in hindsight considering the history Boyer went on to make.
Bold Prediction, No. 3: Forest Lake’s next team state championship will either be in softball, boys’ nordic skiing or girls’ cross country.
Bold Prediction, No. 2: The Ranger girls’ basketball team will be cutting down the nets and advancing to the state tournament this winter.
Bold Prediction, No. 1: Sophomore Toby Boyer will pick up where his brother left off and keep the state tennis title in the family next spring.