Saturday, November 30, 2019

Football state championship weekend

How about a big shout out to the Rocori Spartans football team! 

Stearns County's entry into the Prep Bowl produced a state football championship yesterday when the Spartans defeated a private school conglomerate from the Twin Cities by a 22-21 score in overtime!

Rocori defeated the "SMB Wolfpack" - a mix of players from three premier private schools: St. Paul Academy, Minnehaha Academy and Blake.

The Spartans had a 6-2 regular season before rattling off five postseason wins to claim the state title. They won it on a gutsy two-point conversion play in overtime. The quarterback and receiver on that play were on the same youth baseball team, according to former St. Cloud Tech boys' basketball head coach Mike Trewick.

Rocori's head coach, James Herberg, took over the Spartans football program in 2018. His first Rocori team finished 2-8 after a 1-7 regular season, and this year's squad went 11-2.

Rocori advanced to state in 2017 and lost 20-8 in the state quarterfinals to Holy Angels. In 2016, Rocori lost in the state semifinals by a 34-30 score to Winona in a 9-4 season. They also played in the state semifinals in 2015, when they lost 19-14 to South St. Paul, also finishing 9-4. The 2014 season? They also played at state that year and lost in the state quarterfinals. The 2013 season had a 3-7 final record with a 1-1 record in the Section 8AAAA playoffs.

Rocori went 6-4 and was a section semifinalist in 2012. They won the Class 4A state title in 2011 with a 12-1 final record. They lost the season opener in 2011 to Class 5A and Section 8AAAAA finalist Brainerd by a 28-20 score and then reeled off 12 straight wins.

Rocori preceded the 2011 state title season with a 2-7 season in 2010.

Back to this season, the SMB Wolfpack entered playoffs 8-0, won the Section 5AAAA title with two wins and then won twice more in the state playoffs to land a spot in the Prep Bowl for the second year in a row. In the regular season, the Wolfpack won the Twin City-Maroon District championship.

Last year, SMB defeated Willmar 44-18 in the Prep Bowl to finish the season 13-0.

One of the SMB football captains was a no-show to receive the state runner-up trophy. Very sad!! Kids need to learn that: being a student-athlete does not make you privileged, but it is a privilege to be able to play sports.

Fun fact: in 1982, the Belgrade Redmen football team defeated St. Paul Academy in the Class C state semifinals in the Tundra bowl played at Belgrade's field.

In other Prep Bowl's nine-man state title game is underway. Hancock and Mountain Lake Area are sitting in a 14-14 tie at halftime. **Final score: Mountain Lake Area 22, Hancock 14.

Also, in Class 3A, Pierz won 28-27 over Dassel-Cokato to win a state title.

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Friday, November 29, 2019

(VIDEO) B-B-E vs. Melrose

Here's action from the second half on Tuesday night...the Jaguars erased a five-point halftime deficit but then fell behind again as the second half wore on:

The Jaguars host Eden Valley-Watkins (0-1) on Tuesday, December 3 in the Central Minnesota Conference opener. Also, don't forget that on Monday, December 2, the B-B-E high school choir hosts their Christmas concert at the auditoriuum at 7 p.m.

Below in the wrestling Early Invite post, a second video clip has been added that features Blaine Fischer in action in his championship match.

*Update...just in case anyone out there was curious, the current Minnesota Department of Revenue tax and penalties bill for the Brooten Commercial Club, stemming from rampant, sustained mismanagement and malfeasance by its former gambling manager, stands at $62,879.89.

Just 10 calendar days ago, on November 19, the bill stood at $62,771.54. So in just over a week, over $100 of penalties have been added. Penalties have been applied to this delinquent bill since last spring.

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Jaguars win Early Invite

The B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team emerged as champions of their nine-team Early Invite last night at the high school. They earned 223.5 points to out-pace runner-up Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville's 205.5 points.

Four Jaguars earned individual titles: Tyler Jensen (132 pounds), Blaine Fischer (138), Canon Swanson (145) and Michael Doubek (195).

Below, video featuring Michael Doubek winning the 195-pound championship; he earned a 7-3 decision in this match.

More updates to come this morning. Happy Thanksgiving!

**Below, here's Blaine Fischer battling and ultimately winning in the 138-pound finals (clip added early Friday morning):

Next for the wrestlers: a home triangular on Thursday, December 5 that includes Kimball Area and Paynesville Area. Action begins at 5 p.m.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wrestling tournament updates

I'll get updates posted here as often as possible. From what I've read, this is an 11-team tournament!


**Update: multiple members of the B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team have won semifinal matches to put the Jaguars in great position at this nine-team Early Invite. The finals will begin at 6:15 p.m. The Jaguars are in first place with 182.5 points. In second going into finals us LPGE/Browerville, who has 162 points. MAHACA is in third with 132 points.

**Update: the Jaguars won the Early Invite! Champs!!! They had 223.5 points. Additional updates to follow in a new blog post.

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Home wrestling invitational

The tournament is a go!

Coop's Corner just got their pizza order to help service the concession stand today as the B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team kicks off their 2019-2020 season.

Action begins at 2:30 p.m. today at the high school.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Struggles down the stretch

***As stated in the previous blog post, B-B-E schools will have a two-hour late start for tomorrow, Wednesday, November 27. As of now, the home varsity wrestling tournament is still on.

The B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team struggled down the stretch against Melrose Area tonight and suffered a 54-44 loss to open the season. This was Melrose Area's first win over B-B-E since February 3, 2015. That game, played at Melrose, had a final score of 61-51; the Jaguars led 31-30 at halftime. Tonight's game was played at the elementary school due to the high school hosting a JV wrestling tournament.

With 10 minutes to go, Melrose held a 27-25 lead after forging ahead 27-20. Both teams went through a scoreless drought for the first six minutes of the second half.

With 3:12 to go, the Dutchmen built their lead to 45-36 after the game was tied 27-27. The visitors' lead grew to 54-43 in the final minute.

Next: the Jaguars (0-1) host defending champion Eden Valley-Watkins next Tuesday, December 3 for the Central Minnesota Conference opener. To open their season, the EV-W Eagles lost 57-41 to Rochester Lourdes last Saturday in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Hopkins high school. The Eagles (0-1) had a game with Minnewaska Area tonight, but that game was called off due to the inclement weather we are experiencing.

EV-W has won the last five CMC titles. Their last three titles have been outright. In the 2014-2015 season, EV-W went 13-1 to edge B-B-E for the CMC title. They went 12-2 to earn a co-championship with Kimball Area in the 2015-2016 season.

Area girls' basketball scores on November 26:
Benson 51, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 44
Royalton 52, Milaca 47
Maple Lake 54, Dassel-Cokato 52 (Irish trailed by as many as 16 points!)
New London-Spicer 61, West Central Area 32

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Late start for school

B-B-E schools will have a two hour late start on Wednesday, November 27th.

Just got word at 21:00 tonight. It's snowing and blowing outside...has been since about halftime of the basketball game. Winds are from the north and northeast at about 20 miles per hour.

The wind will get worse as the night progresses. The forecast calls for four to seven inches of snow for the Bonanza Valley area across the next 24 to 36 hours - stretching into Thanksgiving day.

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At halftime in Brooten: Melrose has a 25-20 halftime lead over the B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team.

The Jaguars trailed 19-13 before closing it to 19-18 with 4:30 left. The Dutchmen then scored six of the final eight points of the half.

The game is being played at the elementary school due to a JV wrestling tournament played at the high school today.

Updates to follow in a new blog post.

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Thanksgiving day dinner

Please spread the word! Let's make sure no one eats alone or goes hungry on Thanksiving!

All the details are on page four of last week's Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper and also can be found by clicking here:

Some folks may want to change their travel plans because of the impending bad weather that's coming. This dinner in Brooten is a great Plan B!

**Don't forget...tonight is the home and season opener for the B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Photo galleries

Over 650 pictures have been uploaded from the fall musical...take a look at the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's online gallery (short link)

Those galleries are about 98 percent complete.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Volleyball team banquet

While I can't personally attend every postseason athletic team banquet throughout the school year, since taking over the Bonanza Valley Voice I have made the tradition of attending team banquets if the team or multiple individuals competed at a state tournament.

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of attending the postseason awards banquet for the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team at the Padua Pub.

Awards were given out to members of the C-squad, JV squad and varsity teams.

An iMovie is processing that will end up being about a four-minute video including Coach Waddell's comments on the varsity team's banner season that culminated with a state tournament berth and an incredible amount of special memories.

**And here's that iMovie!

Click on the following short link to get directly routed through to the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's online photo gallery...this link sends you to the Fall 2019 gallery. The latest galleries are from the volleyball team's playoff run. (short link)

Thank you to Bonanza Valley State Bank for your support as the premier, corporate sponsor of our newspaper's playoff volleyball coverage!


Friday, November 22, 2019

Upcoming events

In case you were wondering what I'll be up to tonight and also
in the coming days! Click:

I stopped by wrestling, dance team and girls' basketball practices tonight. More to report on from that in next week's Voice.

The wrestling team has a turnout of 29! (or 30, I may have counted wrong) That is the highest ever in school history.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

(VIDEO) Church Choir at East Norway Lake Lutheran

Video from Sunday's worship at East Norway Lake Lutheran church of rural New London...had to shoot low-def from my cell phone. My regular videocamera died during Pastor Wayne's children's sermon...!

And it's a good thing I discovered that I failed to charge the video camera the prior night after the musical. It had enough battery (fully charged) to get through the entire two-hour musical show. But then on Sunday morning it had enough battery to get just a couple minutes of Pastor Wayne Kopitzke's children's sermon. I was able to make sure I had charger, etc. for the third musical performance that afternoon...and I didn't arrive with a dead battery! Batteries are my nemesis, when dealing with multiple cameras, laptops and a cell phone in my Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper operation.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Local job openings

Click over to the Bonanza Valley Voice website to read through local job openings! Thank you to these businesses for supporting our locally-owned, hometown newspaper! Belgrade Nursing Home, Bayer Built Woodworks, Belgrade V.F.W. and the Brother's Bar...

These help wanted ads can be found on pages 8 and 9 in this week's Voice!

And another quick announcement...Brooten-area churches are organizing and hosting a FREE Thanksgiving Day dinner at Trinity Lutheran church in Brooten. They will be serving from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and everyone is welcome! Additional details will be in this week and next week's issues of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Online community calendar

If you haven't already, don't forget to bookmark and regularly check the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's community calendar that is posted at our website. It is updated as frequently as we can manage, and as you can see, it shows events going well into December at the current time.

Here's a short link to find that:

My two cents: it's the responsibility of the citizens of this free country we call America to take the time necessary to stay informed about events going on in his or her local community!

This was worth sharing, from the well-known motivational speaker Jon Gordon:
Life is not a marathon or a sprint. It's a series of sprints combined with a boxing match. You're not just running toward a goal but you're also getting hit along the way. I don't know where you are on your journey, but I know there will be times you want to give up on a goal or dream. I know the importance of the right words at the right time. Whether now is one of those times or perhaps you'll save this for a time you need to read it, I want to encourage you to keep going. Don't quit!
1. Keep your vision alive
2. Fuel up with purpose
3. Believe the best is yet to come
4. Focus on the process, not the outcome
5. Trust in a bigger plan



Sunday, November 17, 2019

Photo galleries

Behind the scenes we're slowly getting photo galleries at the Bonanza Valley Voice website uploaded from the state volleyball experiences we had earlier this month.

Here's a short link to view one of them, the album with photos from the elementary and high school send-off pep fests...very special memories!

If you look at the full collection of fall sports albums, you'll see sets for all seven postseason volleyball matches plus the pep fests on Wednesday, November 6. By my count, there's 1,998 pictures in those eight albums!

One more to add, a smaller album, with welcome-home ceremony pictures from November 9.

Also, a quick look through two camera memory cards show that the Voice has over 670 pictures from the three performances of the fall musical.

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Final show is today!

The FINAL show of the fall musical at B-B-E is this afternoon! The curtain drops at 2:30 p.m. sharp!

Here's a glimpse of the very beginning of Act I last night:

Come out and show your support for the hard-working and very talented Fine Arts students in Jaguar Country!

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

(iMovie) B-B-E Fall Musical: come see it!

Enjoy! The latest from the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's digital production viewed in 1080pHD format on your web browser.

The second show starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the high school! The final show is at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

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(VIDEO) Fall musical scene from Act I

Here's B-B-E Class of 2004 graduate Becky Mueller featured in last night's performance of the fall musical "The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"

The second show is tonight! Starts at 7 p.m. Read more coverage here:

**An iMovie production from last night's musical show, assembled by the Bonanza Valley Voice, will be posted shortly after 3 p.m. today.


Local foods promoter passes away

A genuinely down-to-earth, kind-hearted man who has been a dear friend and ally to the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper family passed away on November 9. You can read more at the Voice website (short link):

Bruce, Brooten Class of 1968, was as sincere and friendly as God could have made a man.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Opening night!!!

Click to watch a short video clip from tonight's the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper website:

It was awesome!!!! The crowd was GREAT! Huge amount of interaction, tons of energy, endless laughter...a superb performance by all!!!

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First performance coming soon

The first show of "The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will open just over an hour from now at the B-B-E high school theater stage.

**Here's a quick glimpse of the musical kids getting ready for tonight...they are buzzing with energy!

Remember to read more about the fall musical at the Bonanza Valley Voice website and this week's print edition.

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(VIDEO) Veterans Day at B-B-E elementary

Coverage of Veterans Day at B-B-E was published in yesterday's issue of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.

Readers, and everyone else out there, are invited to take in video from the elementary school's program on Monday, which was held in conjunction with the highly-revered members of the Brooten American Legion and the Brooten American Legion Auxiliary.

Click here to watch that video (short link):

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fall musical opens tomorrow night

The first performance of B-B-E's fall musical is at 7 p.m. tomorrow night.

I'm working on a web article with video to help preview the musical. It will be posted at the Voice website later tonight.

*Here's the short link to see that web article/video!

As the newspaper said on page one, come see the musical! It will be fun!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019


In this week's Bonanza Valley Voice, readers can learn a little about the three seniors who are on the cast list of the upcoming fall musical at B-B-E high school.

Here's the short link for reading more on the musical:

For Thursday, I am terribly side tracked due to a new set of information passed on by the Internal Revenue Service to the Brooten Commercial Club. While I won't let it overwhelm my ability to promote and cover the upcoming musical, it is not something I can ignore or set aside for another week.

I will get another web article with video posted for musical promotion later today.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Fall musical, don't miss it!

Remember the fall musical is this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday! The Bonanza Valley Voice is working on additional online and print coverage for the kids involved in the upcoming production of "The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". Here's the Voice website's web article on the musical (short link):

Speaking of the Fine Arts...the Voice finally has video posted for viewing from the October 28 Halloween Carnival Concert Spooktacular at the high school (short link) We've been going WOOSH ever since that's been a wild, wild ride. It is insane that only two weeks have passed since then!!!! Crazy!!!!!!

And for sports fans out there, the Bonanza Valley Voice online photo gallery has about "98 percent" of the photos from the volleyball team's Section 5A championship run uploaded to the gallery. We won't get to uploading state tournament photos until next week.

Here's the fall sports photo has photo albums with football, girls' tennis and volleyball pictures:

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

As it has been the past couple of months, the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper office is closed today, Monday. Today we are also closed in honor of Veterans Day. The bank in town is closed as well as city hall.

The elementary school and Brooten American Legion hosted a wonderful Veterans Day program this morning. Coverage to follow in this week's Voice.

Today at 1:30 p.m., the high school and Belgrade V.F.W. Post. No. 1825 will host a Veterans Day program. Due to a thousand-and-one conflicts, the Voice regrets that the newspaper will be unable to attend that program.

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Setting eyes on the musical

Let's all set our eyes on the upcoming fall musical at B-B-E!

Show dates are Friday, Saturday and Sunday next weekend at 7 p.m. for the first two shows and then a matinee affair on the 17th at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for students.

Click here to read more on the musical at the Bonanza Valley Voice website (short link): Last week's (November 7) issue of the Voice included a large cast photo on page one and a press release further inside the newspaper. Also, additional coverage will be published in this week's November 14 issue of the Voice.

Spread the word!

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State football, state volleyball updates

**Here's footage from the return of our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team from the state tournament.

Also!!! Don't forget that the Brooten American Legion pancake breakfast runs until 1 p.m. today!! Their advertisement has been on page two in the last two Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper issues.

**Here's action from the second set of the Henning vs. B-B-E consolation semifinal battle on Friday afternoon. It begins with the Hornets holding a 10-9 lead.

Congratulations to Section 4A champion Browerville, who beat Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 33-6 in the Class 1A state football quarterfinals. The game was played yesterday at St. Cloud State University. Browerville (10-1) was B-B-E's Homecoming opponent this fall. They shared the Sub-District III title with Upsala/Swanville Area in the Midstate District this fall.

At the state volleyball tournament, Medford swept unseeded Fosston 25-16, 25-16, 25-17 to take third place on Saturday. Medford graduates five seniors off of their roster of 12 student-athletes: Kiley Nihart, Morgan Langeslag, Emma Kniefel, Alyvia Johnson and Izzy Reuvers.

I just read that Stewartville's state title in Class 2A yesterday was their fifth overall in school history. It's their first state title since 2014. They've now played in 24 state tournaments after going 30-4 this year. I'll never forget the 2005 state tournament, when our state rookie B-B-E Jaguars squared off with Stewartville in the quarterfinals. The Jaguars had a 2-1 lead in sets before losing the last two sets in a 3-2 heartbreaker.

Just like Stewartville's match against B-B-E did in 2005, their state finals match yesterday with North Branch lasted two hours.

Minneota became cream of the crop in Class 1A volleyball when they swept an incredibly talented and well-rounded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers team in the state finals yesterday. Game scores were 25-19, 25-19, 25-20. W-E-M finishes 34-3 overall, and the Vikings finish 33-3.

Just how good is Minneota? So good that they swept a stacked, experienced powerhouse W-E-M team that had knocked off the previously No. 1-ranked team in the state, Mayer Lutheran, in the Section 2A finals. Minneota tallied an incredible 90 digs in the state finals compared to 59 for W-E-M.

Mayer Lutheran had ended the Buccaneers' season in the previous three section finals (ouch!). This year W-E-M punched its ticket through even though they had lost to Mayer Lutheran earlier in the season (2-1 in the championship of the Burnsville tournament with game scores in that match were 19-25, 25-18, 15-11). Game scores in what was one of those incredible five-set thrillers were 20-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13. W-E-M came back from trailing two sets to one to advance to state.

W-E-M last played at the state tournament in 2015, when they took first place with a wild 3-2 win over Bethlehem Academy. Game five had a 15-13 score. Wow. B.A. lost by wide margins in the first two games, 25-17 and 25-18, before they ground out two 25-23 wins to deadlock it at two sets apiece.

The 2015 playoffs marked the first of a still-running five-year stretch where W-E-M and Mayer Lutheran have squared off in the section finals for a trip to the state tournament. In 2017, W-E-M blazed into the section finals despite having no seniors on their roster. It's noteworthy that the 2017 team was made up of many younger sisters to players who were on the 2015 state champion team.

This year, W-E-M graduates just two seniors off of its roster: outside hitter Trista Hering and middle hitter Delaney Donahue.

Fun fact: one of W-E-M's big hitters is junior outside and full-rotation player Toryn Richards, 5'11" daughter of former B-B-E science teacher and head football coach Mike Richards. She broke the mold at W-E-M when she became a member of the W-E-M Junior Olympics volleyball 15s as a sixth grader. Generally speaking, a 15s JO team has mostly eighth and ninth graders.

Toryn is also a guard on the W-E-M basketball team and is on the Southern MN Fury AAU club team. In the spring, she's a star track and field team member for the Buccaneers. Last June she competed at the Class 1A state meet after advancing in the high jump (best jump of 5'2") as well as the pole vault and 4x100 relay. She earned a personal record at the state pole vault with a best effort of 11 feet, an All-State effort good for a fourth-place tie. She was also All-State in the high jump with a three-way tie for third place. Her 4x100 relay squad experienced adversity that can come at a high-pressure situation in sports, with her hand off exchange resulting in a disqualification at state.

Earlier this season, Toryn Richards surpassed 1,000 career kills. Also, in the 41st annual W-E-M home tournament in September, she earned her 1,000th career dig.

In the Section 2A finals, Mayer Lutheran held a 13-10 lead in the fifth set. Richards went to the service line after teammate Trista Hering's ace block earned a side out. Richards proceeded to serve out the match, with her Buccaneers going on a 5-0 run to end the match and advance to state. She finished with 17 kills on 36 percent hitting along with 14 digs. W-E-M's Hering earned four ace blocks in that final set, including two stuffs during the final 5-0 run. Hering, a senior, finished the night with five solo and seven assisted blocks.

Mike Richards is a staff member and the current head football coach at W-E-M. His Buccaneers, who took third in their regular season sub-district and have been a Class 2A team in recent years, lost in the Section 2A semifinals in a 46-44 shoot out to Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop. G-F-W went on to pound previously undefeated United South Central 48-26 in the section finals before their drubbing by Browerville last night.

Last year, in Richards' first season as head coach at W-E-M, the Buccaneers went 9-2 with a season-ending loss in the Section 2AA finals. Just as he was at B-B-E, he is also an assistant varsity wrestling coach at W-E-M as well as the head track and field coach.

The Richards family moved from Belgrade to W-E-M in the summer of 2010. His wife, Carrie, is also a teacher at W-E-M as a member of the special education staff. They also have two sons (little brothers to Toryn): Tatum and Trey.

Another side note, something I found interesting, is that W-E-M's head volleyball coach (Crystal Lamont) is also their head fastpitch softball coach. That is not unheard of in small schools.

In the Class 3A state quarterfinals, Pierz drubbed Perham 58-16 in a game played at Alexandria yesterday.

More to come.

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Saturday, November 09, 2019

Welcome home, Jaguars!!

We had a terrific welcome home ceremony tonight and heard a heart-felt speech from Coach Waddell as the Jaguars basked in the excitement of a second consecutive state tournament trip. This is just the second time in school history that the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team has had back-to-back state tournament trips. The first time was in 2007 and 2008 in Coach Weller's first two seasons as head coach.

**In the hustle and bustle of the last couple of days, I forgot to post this!!!! I don't even remembe when I put it together. Here's an exciting highlight reel from the section celebrating! "Get your medals and trophy!"

Time to re-acquaint myself with home! Even though I was here for a brief spell last night, most of the hours of my days recently has been chase-chase-chase-chase!

It is good to be home.

Congrats to Stewartville for winning the Class 2A state championship today! They went the full distance in a five-set marathon against defending state champion North Branch. The Tigers won game five 15-12!

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Welcome home

The welcome home ceremony is at 5 p.m. today (Saturday) at the high school. Spread the word! 

**Here's some exciting footage from game four yesterday against Henning:

We are still at Xcel Energy Center cheering for Watertown-Mayer in the Class 2A consolation championship match. The Royals are taking on the Marshall Area Tigers. We're still not totally sure why, but Watertown-Mayer's team cheered for our Jaguars in the last two state matches (Henning and Greenway) we are paying the favor back! In a way, both teams are "paying it forward" and showing the joy in making new friends. What's better than that?

The opening set was very exciting, tied at 15-15, but the Tigers went on a late rally to win 25-20.

In game two, the Tigers have an early 6-0 lead. *Final score: Marshall 25, Watertown-Mayer 21.

*Update: Marshall Area won a 3-0 match against the Royals. Watertown-Mayer went down swinging in the last set, a 25-15 loss.

Here's an excited bunch of our Jaguars volleyball players cheering on the Royals late in game three, and then match point is earned by the Tigers.

In Class 1A, Medford just beat Fosston 3-0 to take the third place trophy.

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It's time! It's GO time!

The pre-match clock has six minutes on it, and it's now 08:44. Greenway and our B-B-E Jaguars are preparing for battle!!!

**Here's video of the starter introductions today:

**Here's the Jaguars getting pumped up as they take the court!

Updates to come.

Game one final: Greenway 25, B-B-E 17. It was a rough set. The Jaguars trailed 19-17 late but then gave up a 6-0 run.

Game two update...the Raiders have an early 2-1 lead. The Jaguars then pushed ahead to built a 12-8 lead.

*Update in game two: the Jaguars need to rally here! They trail 20 to 17 and are in their first timeout of the set.

Final score in game two: Greenway 25, B-B-E 21. The game ended at 09:46.

Game three: the score is Greenway 18, B-B-E 5. Things got out of hand right away, with the Raiders scoring the first three points and then turning that into a 10-1 lead.

Final: Greenway 25, B-B-E 18. The Jaguars trailed as much as 24-10 before going on another incredible run that ran out too soon. They gave a lot of heart and showed a ton of pride on the court today.

We are SO PROUD of our Jaguars!!!!!!!!!! They finish an unforgettable season 24-10 overall. Conference, sub-section and section champs!!!! All three repeat feats!!!

Thank you to Bonanza Valley State Bank for your extended postseason sponsorship of the Bonanza Valley Voice volleyball state tournament coverage!


Another memorable comeback!

In case you missed it, or you just want to experience the fun again! This is the last few points scored in game five yesterday between our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team and Henning.

This morning the Jaguars play at 9 a.m.!! The match is not on the radio, but updates will be posted here as often as possible. Those updates will be in a new blog post.


Friday, November 08, 2019

'Always a smile'

So much to write about!

Where to begin??

Just shy of 10 p.m. tonight and the Bonanza Valley Voice sports department rolled back into central home, not the office. Finally saw my wife after a two-day stint away from home life. Took our dog for a brief walk around the block. The first thing I thought of as I turned off of Highway 55 is, "Good grief! In just eight hours, the Buick takes flight again on our way back to St. Paul!"

Before getting into the nitty gritty of how the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team has earned a ticket to the final day of the state tournament, I'd like to take a step away from the court and talk about just how wonderful it is to get to know the players on this team. They are a very special group of kids who love one another, love their team, love their families, love their school and LOVE the sports of volleyball!!! This is a theme you will hear from me again.

One of the greatest qualities of any athlete is the ability to come back from a set back. In sports, an athlete is dealt set backs on a constant basis to varying degrees. The question is: do you get back up and "return fire" and do what is needed to recover and to ultimately succeed?

For our Jaguars, the answer has been, over and over in these past few weeks - a resounding YES. They have lost just one match since October 5! In terms of "best of five" matches, they have lost just once since falling 3-0 to Maple Lake on October 3.

For "best of five" matches, the Jaguars have lost just three times this fall - once in the state tournament.

Coming out of yesterday's loss to Medford, a loss that could easily be labeled a "punch in the mouth"...the players managed to put smiles on their faces even though the loss was a very difficult pill to swallow. Coming out of the press conference after the Medford loss, Brittany Berge and Grace Illies were certainly dejected but still put their "game face" on and answered questions from the media and - most importantly - both put a smile on their face as they stepped off the press platform and walked back to the arena tunnel at the X. That was quite a moment. I was really struggling with the loss myself and wanted to just "let it go" and let them be. Let them get back to their team and re-group. And Oh, My, did they re-group!!!!!!

Today, Berge, Illies and the rest of the Jaguars rose back up and countered a whole mountain of adversity to succeed when they had to...when the chips were DOWN. It started in game one, which rose to a crazy crescendo as the Jaguars rallied from a 21-17 deficit. They trailed 24-23 with game point staring square at them. Berge's kill tied it, and then a double hit by Henning's libero on a pass attempt (which ended a 30-second back-and-forth volley) plus a Henning hit out of bounds lifted the Jaguars to a thrilling 26-24 victory.

Later, fast forward to the final stage of the match, and the Jaguars out-scored Henning by a 15-7 margin after spotting the Hornets five points to start game five! The Jaguars trailed 11-7 at one point in that final set.

It's easy to smile when you're winning. It's easy to smile when things are going your way. There's nothing all too special about that. But to smile when things are working against you - to smile in defeat, to smile when you fall while competing and giving all you've got to succeed...THAT is special and takes a special level of character to pull off. That is something to write about. That is something to talk about. That is something to remember.

Always a smile. Always gracious in victory and always gracious in defeat. The importance of that quality cannot be understated. Seeing the Jaguars offer their smiles to fans, friends, family - seeing them interact with my oldest daughter who's now cheered for them in all six playoff matches...these will be some of the most special sports memories my family has to date!!!

**Speaking of's freshmen outside Ava Mueller with plenty of smile to share following the Henning win. She talked to the Bonanza Valley Voice sports department on the upper deck food court and provided some thoughts on the win, and a preview of the team's agenda for the night.

There's no doubt about how important Mueller's contributions to the team have been this season and playoffs. After the win, Coach Waddell and Coach Weller (retired) were talking about the frustrations that Mueller caused Henning's defense. The varsity rookie was hitting her spots like a seasoned pro!!! That's what it takes at the state level!!!

MORE great news! Just saw this! Just shy of 11 p.m. and I learned some of the best news I've read this entire fall! The B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team earned the Minnesota Coaches Association Academic Gold Award for having a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or greater. As I've said before, are they great kids or what???

It's quite noteworthy to see that B-B-E's last four opponents are on this list! K-M-S, W-H-A, Medford and Henning. See the full list here:

While I'm filling out what I'm trying to post here, check out this video from game one of today's win at state! The clip begins with Ava Mueller earning a kill to tie the game at 13-13.

Soon after Mueller's kill, Grace Illies earned a kill to tie the game at 14-14. Later, Kylie Winter earns an ace serve to put the Jaguars ahead 16-15. The Jaguars went on to win a nail biter by a 26-24 margin.

I hope to get game five video posted tonight before I try to get a few hours of sleep and take flight back to the X!

Was that fun or what??? YEAH that was fun! Let's do it again tomorrow!

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Up next for our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team! The Jaguars face Section 7A champion Greenway for the consolation title of Class 1A. The match begins bright and early at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) morning in St. Paul.

One can call it unfinished business! The Jaguars are bound and determined to end the season with a win!!! YES THEY CAN!

**ADDED quick during a pit stop at Richmond's's video from after tonight's win

The Greenway Raiders are 27-5 overall. They beat Mounds Park Academy in a 1 p.m. match today 25-20, 20-25, 25-10, 25-22 to advance in the tournament. In the regular season, Greenway won the Iron Range Conference with a perfect 7-0 record.

In 2018, Greenway was in Class 2A and lost 3-1 in the Section 7AA finals to North Branch. North Branch went on to win three 3-2 matches at the Class 2A state tournament to earn a state title.

In the Duluth News Tribune newspaper, their story on Greenway's state-opening 3-0 loss to top-seeded Minneota included quotes from their big hitter, junior Claire Vekich. Remember that name!! She is their big gun. She is an incredible athlete.

The article begins by mentioning Minneota junior outside hitter Abby Hennen, who led the Vikings with 18 kills.

Hennen was key to the Vikings frustrating Greenway’s blocking attempts as she mixed up her attacks between going down the line or, even more effectively, hitting cross-court shots.

“They would down the line and then go cross court, so it was hard to cover and our block wasn’t there at all,” said Greenway junior Claire Vekich, who had a match-high 26 kills. “We don’t see teams that can hit around the block. We had holes everywhere and our block wasn’t even up half the time. It was hard for our defense to read.”

Hennen and Natalee Solbiecki, who had 17 kills, kept the Raiders’ defense off-balance.

“The big thing to read when you are an outside hitter is to see where the block is,” Hennen said. “If they are going to block you all the way out to the pin, then you have to try to go cross or hit (blockers) high in the hands. I thought our setters did a good job of pushing us to the pin so we could either go line or cross.”

Greenway jumped to an early three-point lead in the second set, but it didn’t take the Vikings long to establish control as they won 14 of the final 18 points.

Greenway contributed to the setback by struggling in serve receive and making too many setting errors.

“Our serve receive never did get better and we had a lot of blocking errors,” Raiders coach Rhaya Tomberlin-Anderson said. “They run such a fast offense, and we don’t see that very often.”

Getting Vekich involved was Greenway’s primary strategy, however with the serve receive off and freshman setter Lexi Hammer struggling to adapt to the stricter setting rules at state tournaments, she didn’t end up seeing the ball enough.

“We didn’t pass the ball and didn’t use our offense (effectively),” Vekich said. “As the game went on, it got worse, not better.”

Tomberlin-Anderson, who guided the Raiders to three state tournaments as a setter in the mid-1980s and one in her first season as coach in 2001, knew double sets would be called more often.

“That’s frustrating,” she said. “I knew that coming in and Lexi and I talked about getting set, getting your hands high before the ball gets there. With the high ceiling, it’s tough to get used to. I think she’ll be fine, we just have to calm her down and get her ready for tomorrow.”

Greenway certainly got the "house in order" and came out with a win today to advance to the consolation championship and a date with our B-B-E Jaguars!!

Here's a great state tournament preview article on Greenway. Their last state tournament was in 2001. (short link)

  • The Marshall Independent had a great article that re-capped the Minneota-vs.-Greenway match. It included this quote from Minnesota head coach Hayley Fruin (link to the story:
“We knew coming in here that she was going to be one tough player to defend. The tough part is we haven’t really gotten a chance to watch them play too much, we just have a few clips on them, so we didn’t really know what to expect right away,” Fruin said. “I think the nerves kind of got the best of us that first set and we had a few errors on our side that we didn’t really need to have, especially when she was in the back row. After the first set, we changed up a few things; Abby Hennen started playing in the middle a little bit more and then she played in the left back spot and we also changed some things defensively.”

Spread the word! 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 9 for the consolation championship. This match will not be on Smooth Magic 107 FM due to other conflicts. We still certainly greatly appreciate their coverage of our first two state tournament matches!! Thank you, Brady!!

Here's the full scoreboard from state:

**More updates, video, etc. will come in a new blog post after 22:00 tonight .

THANK YOU to Integrity Home Investments of Brooten, who has also stepped up with extra sponsorship of the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team!



Game one is underway!

In game one, the Hornets have a 21-17 lead over our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team. *The Jaguars rallied to close the gap to 24-23...then Brittany Berge's kill tied it at 24-24!

And the Jaguars won 26-24! That's right!! Set two to begin at 15:32.

In game two, Henning has a 9-7 lead. **Final score: Henning 26, B-B-E 24. Game three starts at 15:59.

**In game three, Henning has a 12-9 lead. And the lead is now 17-11 for the Hornets.

*Update: the Hornets built a 23-13 lead, then the Jaguars rallied for a string of points to pull the gap down to 24-18. The Jaguars then bumped the ball out of bounds on an error to make the final score Henning 25, B-B-E 18.

Now we go to a fourth set!!! AND then a FIFTH!!!!!!!!!!!! LET'S GO JAGUARS!!


Game four updates:
Early on, the game is tied at 4-4. It is a nerve-wracking game!  **The Jaguars won 25-15.

Game five is underway at 16:44!

**Update in game five: the Jaguars trail 5-0 right out of the gates to Henning. Ouch.

B-B-E WON 15 TO 12 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Jaguars (25-9) play again tomorrow morning for the consolation championship! They face Greenway, champions of Section 7A, with first serve at Xcel Energy Center at 9 a.m. (Yes, the match starts that early!)

Greenway defeated No. 4-seeded Mounds Park Academy (Section 4A champions) in the other consolation semifinal.

Further updates to follow in a new blog post.

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Multiple links to 2010!

Re-live the excitement of the 2010 state volleyball tournament. That year, the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team won the same match that they're playing in today.

That year they beat Cheery 3-0 in the consolation semifinals. Click here for photos from that match, plus a pep band video:

And here's video from the end of that match back in November 2010.

THANK YOU to Bonanza Valley State Bank for their extended sponsorship of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's coverage of our volleyball team's state tournament run.




In the Class 1A state quarterfinals, Coach Waddell gives instructions during a game three timeout on November 7 at Xcel Energy Center.

Good morning, Jaguar Country! It will be closer to 9 a.m. before Henning information gets posted.

First, here's the very, very tail end of the press conference with Coach Waddell, Brittany Berge and Grace Illies after yesterday's state quarterfinal match with Medford.

**Added Friday's part of the high school pep fest on Wednesday afternoon. It features part of the player introductions. What a fun week we're having! I can't say enough how blessed we are in Jaguar Country to have such a terrific volleyball team representing us at state!

Now for some scouting information!
The Henning Hornets volleyball team is competing in their first-ever state tournament. Their head coach, Kristy Finck, is a Henning graduate herself and has led the program since 2010. Henning sports a 24-8 record after yesterday's quarterfinal loss. They take on our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team today at 3 p.m. in the Class 1A state consolation semifinals. It is an elimination match.

Henning was runners-up in the Park Region Conference with a 6-1 mark. Back on September 19 in Wadena, Henning and Wadena-Deer Creek battled through a five-set match that was won by the Wolverines. It was a typical rivalry barn-burner, meat-grinder matches, with all five sets being decided by three or fewer points...and the final set by just two points, a 15-13 win for W-DC. Wowza! Game scores were 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13.

The tables turned in the Section 6A finals, which pitted W-DC (North sub-section champion) against the South sub-section champion Henning. At the brand new Perham high school gymnasium on Saturday night, Henning won a 3-1 match with game scores of 25-11, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20.

The Hornets were led by Abi Eckhoff's 14 kills against W-DC. Sydney Eckhoff recorded five solo blocks and three ace serves.

Henning's roster includes six seniors, three of whom are hitters, one a setter and two defensive specialists. They have four juniors on the team and just one sophomore. For the past few years, Coach Finck has been bringing her squad to the state tournament as spectators. This year, with a historic win over volleyball power Wadena-Deer Creek in the Section 6A finals, the Hornets are at the state tournament as participants.

To be sure, one can think back to B-B-E's first boys' basketball state tournament in 2011 and remember the sheer joy and excitement of the season culminating on the biggest stage for high school sports. Henning is also coming off a boys' basketball state title last spring. I can somewhat imagine and also feel a lot of joy for their community.

Still, this is athletics, and while we can be happy for an opponent, we still will gear up for battle and go out and cheer on our Jaguars to a victory today!

Back to this year's state tournament...
No. 2-seeded and No. 2-ranked Waterville-Elysian-Morristown swept the Hornets 25-11, 25-21, 25-18 in yesterday's quarterfinal round. Henning had just one lead through the whole match after they scored the first point of the very first set. The Buccaneers held a 12-9 lead in game one before dropping the hammer and close it out with a 13-2 run.

The tale of hitting percentages told the story for the opening set, with the Buccaneers hitting at a robust 44.4 percent clip and the Hornets at a 16.7 percent clip. In the opening set, W-E-M had just one hitting error.

Henning had a much better fight in the second set and had 11 hitting errors compared to nine by W-E-M.. One of W-E-M's sports reporters mentioned that the Buccaneers may have lost focus a bit after throttling the Hornets in the first set.

In the end, Coach Finck felt that W-E-M displayed "superior serving" while using a distinct height advantage to make it an easy 3-0 sweep.

The Detroit Lakes newspaper quoted her as saying, "“We are used to being in control on offense from start to finish and wow, man, they’re good,” Finck said. “They have weapons in all areas, they were in control of offense pretty much from start to finish.”

Henning stuck with W-E-M for most of the second set but could not get the deficit under three points after falling behind initially by a wide margin. The closest they got was 15-12 before ultimately losing by four points.

The Buccaneers opened up the third set with a 9-1 run and maintainted control the rest of the way.

Coach Finck stated in the Detroit Lakes newspaper that the main goal for today's consolation semifinal match with B-B-E is for her team to display better passing and run their offense at a higher level than they could against W-E-M.

Finck added in the Detroit Lakes newspaper, "My girls started to get touches on blocks, and when we started hitting at them, they got rattled a bit and had a couple little comebacks."

Junior middle Megan Rinicker was the lead Henning hitter with nine kills. Kylee Mesker had 15 digs.

The Wadena Pioneer Journal's article about the Section 6A finals included the following comments from Coach Finck.

“If we can pass we can do almost anything because we have weapons at every position."
“We had one plan; we needed to be offensively in control of the game."
“Our second plan was to block (W-DC's) Kennedy as much as we could,” said Finck. “We had to be in control of the game.”
"We have six seniors on our court and they’ve all played at least three or four years for me," Finck said. "I think they have the drive and the ownership and our underclassmen are phenomenal athletes too. They blend so well as a team; the unity of my group is amazing.”

That article also mentioned Henning's state basketball title earned last March.

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