SPORTS FEEVER – February 25, 2021

I hope you are healthy and well and stay that way.  As we are now approaching anywhere from two to three weeks away from playoffs starting, we have an important time for student-athletes to shrink their circle, stay away from groups, and the families to do the same.

We have had a lot of interesting things happen over the past week.  We have seen an increase in teams having to cancel/postpone games because of COVID, so stay safe.

Welcome to another Sports Feever column.   Hey Minnesota Twins fans, KROX Radio will be carrying the Twins games again this year, like we have every year since 1961.  You can hear the first spring training game on Sunday at Noon!  Spring is around the corner, and we are a month away from high school spring sports starting.

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If you wanted to buy a radio station, you could have got a deal on Tuesday night from yours truly!!  Tuesday was a hectic night.  I get a call from Rob Silvers at the arena saying they were going to change rinks during the J.V. boys hockey game.  So I had the streaming set up for the J.V. boys basketball game vs. Fertile-Beltrami so I flew over there.  We, with the help of a handful of others (with a big help from Chris Trostad) got internet into the Blue arena and moved all the equipment from one rink to the other.  We got it all done around 7:00 p.m. with plenty of time to get the full varsity game on the stream.  At the same time, I was getting a phone call from the tech wizard Frank Fee.  He was doing the girl’s hockey game in Bemidji.  He was having problems with the ethernet connection and our hotspot (we use both to broadcast). We got everything rolling, and we were good to go.  I get back to the gym to do the boy’s basketball game without any time to prep.  We start the game, and about 20 minutes later, I get a call that the girls hockey game isn’t on the air.  So I call my mom, who was with Frank, and we finally get a hold of them, and they reconnect.  When we use an ethernet connection, it works 99.9 percent of the time, but arenas are the WORST place to try to broadcast.  EGF, TRF, Park Rapids, Crookston, Detroit Lakes, and Red Lake Falls work for us, but everywhere else is a crapshoot.
We actually won’t do the girls hockey game on Friday in Breezy Point because it sounds like we won’t have much luck there.
So if you wanted to buy a radio station, I was beyond stressed out and would have sold you a radio station for cheap.  We got all the streaming on, and most of the girls hockey game was on.  Technology is great when it works but maddening when it doesn’t.
I think I lost about five years off my life expectancy on Tuesday night.

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The Crookston School Board long-range planning committee has officially said no thank you to the University of Minnesota Crookston 20-year lease offer for the football field/track.  It was predictable and what was expected.  I hadn’t talked to anybody in town that thought it was a good idea, and most thought it was crazy.  The school district’s decision to look into building their own facility is the right thing to do and long overdue.  UMC doesn’t have a football team or a track team, so why would you want to share with them and put a lot of money into somebody else’s property.

UMC offered the lease for a reasonable amount each year, but the deal-breaker was the fact they required the Crookston School District to build a new track on UMC property.  Since the track is in disrepair and would have to be all new, and would cost anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000 and possibly more.   That doesn’t include the cost of fixing the football field, signage (that would have to be approved by Minneapolis), and everything else.
And another reoccurring concern was dealing with the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities).

Crookston Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the committee the district’s lawyers did conclude the district could put money into upgrading the facilities on university property but added that whether that was advisable was another issue. The facility would need major work to be used by the school district, beginning with the contract requiring the district to replace the track within four years, which Olson estimated at $400,000. However, Building and Grounds Director Rick Niemala thought that estimate was probably short of the eventual cost to replace the existing infrastructure completely. The track is currently in disrepair and has forced Crookston High School to host track meets in East Grand Forks in recent years.

The need for work on the playing surface for football was also brought up. Additionally, the committee identified sticking points with the contract, including needing the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities – U of M) to approve all signage and any repair of more than $5,000. School Board member Tim Dufault said he didn’t think it was a good fit as UMC no longer has football, nor do they have a track team and added, “It’s not like we can communicate with the people in the office in Crookston and get answers because what they say gets switched 30-days later at the U of M.”

School Board member Frank Fee said that fully replacing the track would likely cost as much or more to do on UMC’s campus as it would for the district to construct its own track. He said there was no way as a taxpayer he’d vote for a facility referendum for a facility the district would never own. School Board member Mike Theis said while he doesn’t necessarily want to have a referendum, having one for a district-owned facility made more sense than for a facility the district wouldn’t own.

Instead, the school district plans to form a committee to explore building a field with a meeting tentatively scheduled on March 10 at 5:00 p.m. in the high school media center.  If you would like to be on the committee, let Superintendent Jeremy Olson know.

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The Crookston School District School Board approved moving forward with a Boys Hockey coop with Fertile-Beltrami and Sacred Heart schools at their meeting on Monday.
There is an estimate that possibly four or five boys could play next year, and we will wait to see what happens.  I think it has to be approved by both schools, and once it is, they will send it to the Minnesota State High School League for approval.

Why just a boys coop?  Easy, the Pirate girls program has a lot of numbers right now, and if everybody comes out, that can/could next year they might have to cut players or have a 15U team.  So adding a coop right now wouldn’t help Crookston girls hockey.  I have seen people say it isn’t fair to the Fisher girls.  Two things – 1. You are comparing apples and cars.  It isn’t even close to the same situation.  2. Kids from Fisher can still play hockey, they just have to open enroll to Crookston, and at least two have.

I am not saying it is right or wrong, but I have one question?  As a parent, why would you allow your kid to participate in a sport the school your kid is going to (or will go to) doesn’t have.  It makes zero sense to me.  (The Fisher girls had a coop when they did, so I get that, but other towns that don’t/didn’t have a coop)
Example – My son Blake wanted to try lacrosse.  I told him tough crap.  Why would I put time, money, and effort into bringing you to the practices, games, etc., if the high school doesn’t even offer it and probably never offer it?

Co-ops like Climax and Fisher coming together, Stephen and Argyle, Red Lake Falls and Red Lake County Central, etc., give kids an opportunity to play a sport and give you enough numbers to have a full J.V. and Varsity team. That makes sense.

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I received some fan mail on Saturday afternoon after I broadcast the Crookston Pirate Girls Basketball game vs. Barnesville.  The latest Chris Fee fan club member is 1970 Barnesville High School graduate Randy Mcevers, who I am guessing has a granddaughter on the team.  He sent this one sentence email –

Your basketball announcer for the game this afternoon was TERRIBLE, can I say it any louder?

Randy, thank you for your email.  While I admit it wasn’t one of my best games I have broadcast, it certainly wasn’t terrible….that might be a little strong.   I have been told I am an idiot (that is fair sometimes), I have been told I am great (fair maybe once a year), I have been told I am a homer (correct), I have been told I do a good job (fair), I have been told I suck (fair – not every game can be a perfect game), I was told I am unprofessional once by a Mountain Iron-Buhl school board member because I shortened Mountain to Mount most of the times I said it during a game vs. Stephen-Argyle, but never terrible.  So thank you for being my first.  It is a special bond we will share forever.  Everybody remembers their first;)

Here are a few things you need to know.  I am cheering for the Pirates.  We cover Crookston High School sports (not Barnesville), and we are admittedly homers, but I also point out when the other team is doing well too.

So, Randy, I will follow what I teach my kids…Don’t care what people that don’t matter think. I won’t be changing anything.  I have been doing this for 25 years and am stuck in my ways.
I hope the email made you feel better, and I hope your granddaughter has a great rest of the season. And I hope Barnesville wins all their games unless they play Crookston.   I like and respect Coach Bomstad.  He is one of the many great coaches in 8AA. I love how the Barnesville girls play.  They play hard, they play tough defense, and they play the game the right way.  I like and respect all the coaches at Barnesville and Activity Director Todd Henrickson.  There are a lot of good people there.  But a small portion of fans ruined one of the more exciting, wildest rollercoaster type of games I have ever broadcast. Hopefully, those few fans will realize winning/or losing the game really doesn’t change anything, and the fact the kids are playing this year is something we should enjoy and not ruin it by acting like fools after almost every call.

Take care and remember… is just a game, and if Barnesville comes to Crookston in the Section 8AA tournament, you might not want to tune it because I PROMISE you, I will be doing the game.

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While we are looking at the Chris Fee fan mail inbox, I received this from somebody shortly after the above email.  I am sharing it because it mentions the job the KROX staff is doing and also my family.  The KROX staff has been awesome over the last year.  From Katie Lariviere, Jeanette Fee, Rob Silvers, Beau Melbye, and Frank Fee.  Also, our part-time staff of David Stewart, who works weekend mornings, along with Mitch Bakken, and Caroline Colborn (who help in the studios during games), camera operators Carter Fee, Blake Fee, Josslyn Leach, and a few others who have filled in when needed.
Most people don’t realize how what KROX does affects the staff and what they do to make it all go.  And the effect on my family, who also helps out whenever needed.  So it was nice to get this message.

Hey Chris (and family)! Just wanted to say that we appreciate you and think you do a STELLAR, AMAZING, EXCEPTIONAL (you get the point 😉) job! You are always professional and one of the hardest working people we know.  Thank you for keeping our community and surrounding area connected and informed- its value goes beyond measure- especially during this past year.  You have expanded your services even though it means more work for you and your team.  Thank you for your commitment, dedication, and sacrifice that you make day in and day out – it doesn’t go unnoticed.  And I included your family because we know they are part of your team both behind the scenes and in more visible ways – thank you Fee family – you are an awesome team that we root for and applaud.
(Sorry I creepily took this picture -below- after the Stephen Argyle game – as I walked out of the gym – I couldn’t help but notice how it symbolizes ALL that you balance to provide this service for our community)
Have a wonderful week

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Northwest Minnesota High School Tournament winter tournament schedule –

March 8 – Section 8A Wrestling 1st round
March 11 – Section 8A Wrestling 2nd round

March 13

– Section 8A Wrestling state prelim
– Section 8A Girl’s Hockey #5 at #4  (First Round)

March 15
– Section 8A Boys pigtail games
– Section 8AA boys and girls play-in game

March 16
– Section 8A Wrestling individuals at Crookston
– Section 8A Girls hockey semi-finals
– Section 8A Girls pigtail games

March 17 – Section 8AA Girls Bball first round

March 18
– Section 8A Girls Hockey championship
– Section 8A Boys Hockey play-in game
– Section 8A boys Bball play-in
– Section 8AA Boys Bball first round

March 19
– Section 8A girls Bball play-in
– Section 8AA Girls quarterfinals

March 20
– Section 8A Wrestling individuals state prelims
– Section 8A Boys Hockey quarter-finals
– Section 8A boys and girls quarter-finals
– Section 8AA Boys Bball quarterfinals

March 23
– Section 8A boys and girls semi-finals
– Section 8AA Girls Bball semi-finals
– Section 8A Boys Hockey semi-finals

March 24– Section 8AA Boys Bball semi-finals

March 25
– 8A Boys Bball championship
– Section 8AA Girls Basketball championship
– Section 8A Boys Hockey championship

March 26
– Section 8A Girls Bball championship
– Section 8AA Boys Bball championship

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The University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Basketball programs wrapped up disappointing seasons last weekend.  One thing I noticed in the NSIC and even in high school basketball – the teams that have the most veterans back are the teams that are doing the best (or at least a high percentage).

Neither UMC team had a big senior or junior presence as far as returning veterans that played a lot of time last year. So that didn’t help.

The UMC Women were a fun team to watch, and it seemed they had a three to five-minute stretch in every game that hurt them.  The team is still young, with freshman and sophomores playing important roles on the team, mixed in with some juniors.
It didn’t help that they lost Mattea Vetsch (Soph. Devils Lake, ND) before the season started because of a knee injury, and she is probably the best shooter on the team.  They also played most of the season without Abby Guidinger (Sr. Waukesha, Wis).
I saw a lot of things I liked.  Emma Carpenter (Soph. Eagan) came into her own and can shoot the rock.  Jes Mertens (Fresh. Devils Lake, ND) had a tremendous freshman campaign and was named to the NSIC All-Freshman and All-Defensive team.  Two pretty awesome accomplishments!!  She is going to be a good one. Kylie Post (Jr. Corcoran) is an outstanding floor general and handles the ball well, sets up teammates, and she can also use her speed to blow by opponents.  I am looking for a GREAT senior season for Kylie, and she will need to step up the scoring a little bit next year.  Mary Burke (Soph. Virginia) had to sit out most of last season because of a back injury and came back and got stronger as the season went along.  She can shoot with the best of them and should have a great year next year.
And in the post, Bren Fox (Jr. Norwood Young America) came on strong in the second half of the season.  She will need to get a little tougher, but she could have a great year next year as a senior.  Haylee Wheeler (Fresh. Lakeville) had a solid freshman year and is going to be a good one for UMC.  Julia Peplinski (Jr. Hustisford, Wis) showed signs of how good she is at the end of the year, including against Bemidji State.

The UMC Men showed signs they could be good as far as talent, but it seemed they were missing physical and mental toughness, and they were missing a big post player.
The Golden Eagles were a little Jekyll and Hyde with a great half and a bad half or a bad half followed by a good half.  It was never two good halves.
One highlight was Josh Dilling (Fresh. Oshkosh, Wis).  He is going to be a VERY GOOD player for the Golden Eagles over the next three years.  He can shoot the ball, pass the ball, rebound, and play some defense.  He averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists on the season, and shot 43 percent from the field and 91 percent from the free-throw line.  He has the makings of being a special player in Division II.
Brian Sitzman (Jr. Savage) had a solid season, but maybe not as consistent as the coaching staff would like.  He was also injured late in the season.  Injuries hampered UMC this year, with Tyrese Shines missing most of the season with an injury.  They lost Ethan Channel (Jr. Beaverton, Org) halfway through the season with a leg injury, and he showed he could play. Those are just the main injuries they had, so that obviously didn’t help things.
It will be interesting to see what they do with recruiting and who comes back next year, but pandemic recruiting didn’t go well for the Golden Eagles.  They have some solid players to build around, and finding the right fit will be important.

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The second edition of the NCAA Division II men’s basketball regional rankings were released, and the NSIC continues to have five of the eight teams in the central region.  MSU Moorhead, Northern State, Upper Iowa, and Wayne State all appeared for the second week in a row, while Minnesota State replaced Augustana in the second of three rankings.

The NSIC and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) make up the NCAA Central Region this year.  The top six teams in the region advance to the NCAA Regional Tournament on March 13-14, 16 in Aberdeen, South Dakota.   Automatic bids are granted to the winners of the NSIC and MIAA postseason tournaments, with the remaining four spots being awarded on an at-large basis.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Show is set to air on at 9:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, March 7. The NCAA Elite Eight will take place on March 24-27 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.

Due to the disparity of games played this season and the limited data available, the schools below are listed as “under consideration” for championship selection in alphabetical order for this regional ranking.

  1. MSU-Moorhead   9-3
  2. Minnesota State-Mankato 10-6
  3. Missouri Southern State (MIAA) 12-8
  4. Northern State 15-1
  5. Northwest Missouri State (MIAA) 19-1
  6. Upper Iowa  10-6
  7. Washburn (MIAA) 14-5
  8. Wayne State 10-6

Dropped out – Augustana

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The second edition of the NCAA Division II women’s basketball regional rankings were released, and the NSIC has three of the eight teams in the central region. Augustana, Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota Duluth all appeared in the second of three rankings.

The NSIC and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) make up the NCAA Central Region this year.  The top six teams in the region advance to the NCAA Regional Tournament on March 12-13, 15.  Automatic bids are granted to the winners of the NSIC and MIAA postseason tournaments, with the remaining four spots being awarded on an at-large basis.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Show is set to air on at 9 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, March 7. The NCAA Elite Eight will take place on March 23-26 at the Great Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Due to the disparity of games played this season and the limited data available, the schools below are listed as “under consideration” for championship selection in alphabetical order for this regional ranking.

  1. Augustana  11-4
  2. Central Missouri (MIAA)  17-3
  3. Central Oklahoma (MIAA) 13-6
  4. Concordia-St. Paul  11-5
  5. Emporia State (MIAA) 16-4
  6. Fort Hayes State (MIAA) 18-2
  7. Minnesota Duluth   10-1
  8. Nebraska-Kearney (MIAA)  17-3

Dropped out: Sioux Falls (NSIC)

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I don’t know if this is a continued sign of the times in sports or fans aren’t willing to go to games in person yet, but NDSU’s football game on Sunday only had an attendance of 6,578.   That is about 3,000 less than the maximum they were allowed!!  

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I am beginning to think there aren’t many club hockey teams playing this winter after the latest Club Hockey polls came out. Granted, they have played some solid teams.

UMC is in the Top 20 of the ACHA Division II rankings released last week with a 2-7 record!

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Hired a handyman and gave him a list. When I got home, only items #1, 3, & 5 were done. It turns out, he only does odd jobs.

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A man sits down at a bar and orders a double martini. After he finishes, he peeks inside his shirt pocket, then orders another. After he finishes that, he again peeks inside his shirt pocket and orders another double martini. The barman says: “I’ll bring you martinis all night, but why do you look inside your shirt pocket before you order a refill.” The customer replies: “I’m peeking at a photo of my wife. When she starts to look good, I know it’s time to go home.”

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My wife asked me today if I had seen the dog bowl…
I said I didn’t know he could!

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

Paul Bittner is playing professional hockey in Sweden for Vasby IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league.  Paul has played nine games while scoring four goals and three assists. He also has 10 penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.

Aleece Durbin, is a Junior on the University of North Dakota Women’s Track and Field team.  Aleece finished second place in the 60-meter hurdle prelims with a time of 9.14 seconds. She also finished second place in the 60-meter hurdle finals with a time of 9.15 seconds at the UND Tune-Up meet on February 20.
UND will compete in the Summit League Indoor championships this weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Ben Trostad is playing Club Hockey and Men’s Golf at UMC.

Ty Hamre is playing Club Hockey at UMC.

Brandon Boetcher is playing Club Hockey at UMC.

Brady Butt is a freshman playing football at the University of Jamestown.

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

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

Nick Garmen is a sophomore playing tennis at the University of Minnesota Morris.

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

Crookston School District Coaches –
Emily Meyer is a girls hockey and softball assistant coach.
Carrie Clauson 
is a Junior High girls tennis coach.
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
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