Clay Target League taking off in Minnesota

Clay Target League Did you know that one of the fastest-growing high school sports in Minnesota is shooting clay targets? More than 12,000 students will take part in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League during the spring season that got underway on April second. League officials say that’s the highest number of students to ever take part in the competition.

Lanesboro high school will field one of the hundreds of teams to take part in competition across the state. Dustin Flattum is one of the volunteer coaches at Lanesboro and said things are going well as they’ve been preparing for the last two weeks. The team has already shot their state-required reserve score last Saturday, which they’ll submit if weather conditions prevent them from shooting on a particular week. Now, the team is ready to start their regular season this week.

“League officials formatted the season as an eight-week season,” Flattum said. “We’ve had two weeks of practice and last week was our third week. That’s when you shoot the reserve score in case we get rained out and can’t shoot. We now have five weeks of competition with scores that count in your conference standings and averages that help you get to state.”

Clay Target League

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League is home to roughly 12,000 students across the state who participate in one of the fastest growing sports the state has seen in a long time. (Photo from mnclaytarget.com)

The team holds all its conference shooting matches in Lanesboro and doesn’t travel anywhere else. They don’t have the head-to-head competition like other sports do. Dustin said the idea is to keep things in the clay target league simple and not have to worry about transportation to different towns with kids and firearms. It also makes it easier for parents to head to the shooting range in Lanesboro on Saturday and watch.

“This is our second year of clay target league trap shooting in Lanesboro,” he said. “We did make it to state last year. I took around a dozen students to the state meet in Alexandria. We weren’t able to get anyone through to the state championship. We had a bunch of new shooters last season that didn’t have a lot of experience.”

They’re back again for their second season and Flattum said they’re already showing a lot of experience. Here’s the complete conversation:

Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed near Lanesboro

DNR initiates disease response plan; offers hunters information on field dressing

Test results show two deer harvested by hunters in southeastern Minnesota were infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

One deer has been confirmed as CWD-positive. Confirmation of the second is expected later this week. The deer, both male, were killed near Lanesboro in Fillmore County during the first firearms deer season.

Chronic Wasting disease deer hunting Minnesota

Minnesota DNR testing has found two deer with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) near Lanesboro. It’s the first time CWD has been found in southeast Minnesota since 2010. (photo from peekerhealth.com)

The two deer were harvested approximately 1 mile apart. These are the only deer to test positive from 2,493 samples collected Nov. 5-13. Results are still pending from 373 additional test samples collected during the opening three days of the second firearms season, Nov. 19-21.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. While it is found in deer in states bordering southeastern Minnesota, it was only found in a single other wild deer in Minnesota in 2010.

The DNR discovered the disease when sampling hunter-killed deer this fall in southeastern Minnesota as part of its CWD surveillance program. Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said hunter and landowner cooperation on disease surveillance is the key to keeping the state’s deer herd healthy.

“We were proactively looking for the disease, a proven strategy that allows us to manage CWD by finding it early, reacting quickly and aggressively to control it and hopefully eliminating its spread,” he said.

It is unknown how the two CWD-positive deer, which were harvested 4 miles west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348, contracted the disease, Cornicelli said. 

“We want to thank hunters who have brought their deer to our check stations for sampling,” he said. “While finding CWD-positive deer is disappointing, we plan to work with hunters, landowners and other organizations to protect the state’s deer herd and provide hunters the opportunity to pass on their deer hunting traditions.”

Chronic wasting disease Minnesota deer hunting

Two deer have been found with Chronic Wasting Disease near Lanesboro. The disease doesn’t present a threat to humans but it is recommended that you don’t eat meat from deer that test positive. (Photo from KIMT.com

These are the first wild deer found to have Chronic Wasting Disease since a deer harvested in fall 2010 near Pine Island tested positive. It was found during a successful disease control effort prompted by the detection in 2009 of CWD on a domestic elk farm. The DNR, landowners and hunters worked together to sample more than 4,000 deer in the Pine Island area from 2011 to 2013, and no additional infected deer were found.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD.

With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes. 
  • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

The DNR already has begun implementing the state’s CWD response plan. Three additional CWD testing stations were opened in Fillmore County last weekend and electronic registration was turned off in two additional deer permit areas.

“We’ll wait until the late 3B firearms season concludes this weekend and analyze test results from all the samples we collect from hunters,” Cornicelli said. “That will provide a better indication of the potential prevalence and distribution of CWD so we can determine boundaries for a disease management zone and the actions we’ll take to manage the disease and limit its spread.”

The DNR began CWD testing in southeastern Minnesota again this fall in response to expanded CWD infections in Wisconsin, Illinois, and northeast Iowa, as well as new and growing infections in Arkansas and Missouri. The increasing prevalence and geographic spread of the disease also prompted an expanded carcass import restriction that does not allow whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose and caribou to be brought into Minnesota.

The discovery of CWD in wild deer reinforces the need for the vigilance that disease surveillance and carcass import restrictions provide. Although inconvenient, hunter cooperation with these measures help protect Minnesota’s deer herd.

“Working with landowners and hunters to better protect deer from disease is vital to Minnesota’s hunting tradition and economy and most important, the deer population in general,” Cornicelli said. “In states where CWD has become well-established in wild deer, efforts at elimination have been unsuccessful. Research has shown that if established, the disease will reduce deer populations in the long term. Nobody wants this to happen in Minnesota.” 

Because much of southeastern Minnesota’s land is privately owned, the DNR will work with landowners when collecting additional samples to assess disease distribution and reduce the potential for CWD to spread. Sample collection could take the form of a late winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission.

“Those decisions will be made after surveillance is done this hunting season,” Cornicelli said.

The DNR has been on the lookout for CWD since 2002, when the disease first was detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota; the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

Since 2002, the DNR has tested approximately 50,000 deer, elk, and moose for Chronic Wasting Disease.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.
 
For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions, hunter information and venison processing, visit the DNR’s Chronic Wasting Disease homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Landowners, hunters and citizens can stay engaged and informed by visiting the CWD page and signing up to receive an email automatically when new information on CWD management becomes available.

More questions about CWD?

RCTC football becomes impromptu family reunion

As long as there’ve been athletic competitions like football, fathers have been taking their sons to games to enjoy a little bonding time.  Most sports fans I know have at least one favorite story of going to games with their dad and hanging out.  Good times with their dads will often lead kids to continue the tradition when they become parents themselves.

RCTC football equals a family reunion

The Rochester Community and Technical College football team beat Minnesota West in its home opener on Saturday, September 3, by a 26-8 score to even the overall season record at 1-1. (photo by Chad Smith

I got to take my two oldest boys with me to the Rochester Community and Technical College football game today.  If you know anything about what my family went through over the last four years, you’d know what a monumental thing that is.  It seems like such a small thing to go to a football game, doesn’t it?   When you haven’t been able to do that thing for a long time due to circumstances beyond your control, that little thing becomes big.

The day was a knockout for a college football game with temps in the 70’s.  There was just enough cloud cover to keep the heat from becoming oppressive, as it’s been known to do in late August/early September.  But no, this was a perfect day to watch football.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve seen in some time.  There weren’t a lot of big plays for either offense but the Yellowjackets came away with a 26-8 win to even their record at 2-0.  I didn’t recognize a lot of their players from last year’s squad. That team finished runner-up in the national championship game last year.  Last year’s coaching staff is gone too, so it’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Jackets.

I’d love to see those college athletic teams get more support from the Rochester community.  Those kids play hard and the cost to see them play is actually pretty affordable.  The facilities are some of the nicest I’ve seen in all my years of covering sports, so it’s worth the time and a little investment to take in the college atmosphere.

I’ve got a son and wife who are students out to RCTC, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the place a lot better in the months ahead.  Sure, it would be nice to see more Rochester folks out there.  If you’re a sports fan, you’re definitely missing out on some fun.

The offensive struggles made highlights a little harder to come by, but the Yellowjackets offense did find some rhythm in the second half.

Med City Freeze win their opener on a blustery night

The Med City Freeze football opener was both a challenge and success as well. First off, the goal of any sport is to win the game and the Freeze did just that, 20-0 over the North Iowa Hawks.  The victory made the return of the Southern Plains Football League to Rochester official.

The weather was indeed the biggest challenge.  Cold, blustery, rain, sprinkles, and a wet bum as fans sat on bleachers made for a rough night for the folks in attendance.  I have no doubt that the attendance would have been much better with nicer weather, but Mother Nature evidently missed the memo that there was a game tonight.

Med City Freeze opener

Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)

Hats off the a whole lot of people who put in a lot of work to get the program going in Rochester, but a big tip of the cap to Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple for bringing nine-man football action back to town. These three are all from Rochester and spearheaded the work that brought spring football back to the area.

As I sat and watched the action for about an hour (hey, it was cold, all right?) I saw some good things.  I saw balance on offense and a Med City Freeze defense that forced one turnover and nearly had another.  I saw some great hits from both defenses. I saw some mistakes, but honestly, some of that had to do with the wet weather and a slick football.  The weather looked a lot more tolerable because the game was taking place at the Rochester Community and Technical College football field.  I’ve never seen a more well-put together field at the Junior College level, and they take very good care of it.

I put together a few plays so you could get a taste of the action on Saturday night.  Again, the Med City Freeze won 20-0, and are back on their home field next week against the Southeast Minnesota Warhawks, who curiously play their home games in Carlisle, Iowa.  Love the name, though.

 

 

 

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue helping racers find homes

Greyhound rescue at work

Greyhounds are a little unusual if you’ve never seen them up close, but they are very friendly and intelligent. Greyhounds are available for adoption at www.minnesotagreyhoundrescue.org)

Greyhound racing is big business in 15 states across the country, with millions of dollars won and lost. The greyhounds themselves live their lives either running on a racetrack or in a kennel for long distance transportation.

A concerned group of Minnesotans worries about what happens to greyhounds that can no longer race effectively and make money on the track. After 4 or 5 effective years at most, that’s it. Minnesota Greyhound Rescue simply wants to make sure these dogs get to live out the balance of their post-race lives in loving homes.

“I got my first greyhound nine years ago,” said Kelly Johnson of Rochester, who’s been involved with Minnesota Greyhound Rescue ever since. Lloyd and Jen Komatsu of Inver Grove Heights are also involved in the group. “Brad Kittleson and I typically set up most of the adoptions we do each year.”

Her first interaction with greyhounds came about by accident. It involved an unfortunate accident with a smaller family pet.

“I went to a pet store to get a fish,” Johnson said. “A fish accidentaly went down the sink and my children were not happy. The greyhounds were in the store and I’d never seen one before, never been to a track, and didn’t know what they were. There was my first greyhound, Catch, and I fell in love with him.”

She added, “My family thought I was nuts, but here were are years laterbecause that started the whole thing.”

Greyhound Rescue at work

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue wants you to know that greyhounds make great family pets. They want and need to interact with humans, whether adults or kids. (photo by Chad Smith)

Greyhounds may be a little unusual to look at if you’ve never seen one. On first impression, Kelly thought greyhounds actually looked a little “funny,” but it was Catch’s personality that won her over.

“I liked how he acted when I first saw him,” Johnson said. “Then I went to see him again and there were nine other greyhounds with him, and they all were sleeping. So I just sat down in the middle of them and thought ‘yep, this is what I’m supposed to do.’”

You may hear the word greyhound and think these dogs would need to run constantly after years of being on the racetrack. Johnson said they’re personalities are actually very different from that. Lazy, calm, and quiet are just a few of the words she would use to describe a typical greyhound.

Greyhound Rescue at work

Greyhounds come in a variety of sizes and colors, and Minnesota Greyhound Rescue has a good selection of males and females to choose from. Fill out an application today at www.minnesotagreyhound.org)

“When we do big events like the Pet Expo and the State Fair, Johnson said, “we’ve had anywhere up to 12 dogs there at one time, and they’re all sound asleep. People ask us all the time what we put in their food to make them sleep like that. There’s nothing in their food, it’s just who they are.

“They’re trained to sleep at the racetrack, and that’s who they become,” she added.

She said the rescue part of Minnesota Greyhound Rescue stems from the fact that the animals may not be as well cared for as she would hope. Johnson said she has no problem with greyhound racing, but simply wants to give the dogs a good place to live when their racing career is over.

She said the dogs are typically done racing at the end of their fifth year. However, the end can come much quicker than that. If a dog doesn’t finish first, second, or third in six straight races, they’re done racing for good. Johnson said why not give the animals that have worked so hard a place to rest after their labors are over?

For those who might be looking to adopt a greyhound, she wants them to stop by their website first for more information at www.minnesotagreyhoundrescue.org. Johnson said families should know that greyhounds make great family dogs because they’re good with children.

“I have 3 kids of my own that have grown up with greyhounds,” said Johnson. “They love kids and are great with them. The only thing they don’t like is when kids jump on them while sleeping. The animals aren’t used to being touchedwhen they sleep because they spend so much time in kennels when they’re younger so it scares them.”

Greyhound Rescue

Minnesota Greyhound Rescue has several new dogs in need of loving homes. They make great family pets, and if you happen to be in the market, fill out an application at www.minnesotagreyhoundrescue.org (Photo by Chad Smith)

You also want to not intrude too much when they’re in a kennel. They’re used to being left alone in their kennel, because that’s where they spent most of their time. As with most animals, and even humans, it simply takes a little time to adjust to a new home.

“They typically get along good with other breeds of dogs,” Johnson said. “They would rather be with other greyhounds. I call them ‘breed snobs,’ but we place them in homes with other breeds of dogs all the time. Greyhounds will do much better in a home with any breed of dog than they will by themselves.”

Interested people should head to the website and fill out an application. The process usually goes fairly quickly, as the longer the greyhounds’ stay with Kelly, the harder the transition will be on them.

If you have some extra blankets you need to get rid of, she’d be happy to take them. Greyhounds are big fans of blankets, so they can go through them fairly quickly. Call the number on the website for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Med City Freeze football begins April 30

Freeze football opens in April

The Med City Freeze open Southern Plains Football League play on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC Regional Stadium in Rochester, Kickoff is at 7. (photo from hometeamsonline.com)

The Southern Plains Football League officially has a new member from Rochester. Say hello to the Med City Freeze football, a new amateur team featuring players from around southern Minnesota, Iowa, and as far away as Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia.

Three men from Rochester are the leaders in getting amateur football back in the area. Rochester John Marshall graduates Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple all love football, and simply wanted to bring amateur competition back home to Rochester.

“Jeff and I played for another team in the league, the South Central Hawgs (in Truman, MN),” said Soto, “and we had been commuting back and forth for three years. After the most recent season, we sat down and built a plan to do this in Rochester. We asked Tim to join us and founded the Med City Freeze.”

Tim Nela is a Rochester native and listed as a running back on the current Freeze roster. They’re excited to bring a brand new team into an already established league.Haw

“It is 9-man, amateur tackle football,” Nela said, “and it’s an adult league, so players are 18-plus. We’ve brought a team to a league that’s already established in its twentieth year. It’s not a situation where we created a team and then created a league.”

Rochester Freeze football founders

Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)

That doesn’t necessarily mean the new roster has no experience in Southern Plains league play.

“Storm is going into his fifth season,” Nela said, “and Jeff is going into his fourth. This will be my first season in the league.”

Other veterans on the roster include Nathan Polansky, a running back from Rochester in his third season, as well as Duane Quam, a fullback/linebacker from Byron, who is going into his third season.

How does a brand new team go about finding players to fill out the roster? In a word: tryouts.

“We had a series of two open tryouts,” said Soto. “We evaluated players based on skill level and picked the strongest 40. We can have a roster of up to 50, but only 40 can dress, so we stuck with that number.”

Soto added, “We all have a lot of confidence in the roster we’ve assembled.”

The roster includes a lot of recognizable players from Rochester and some familiar names from around southern Minnesota as well.

“They’re kind of from all over,” said Soto. “Rochester, primarily, but we have people from Jackson, Minnesota who are traveling down I-90 to play, as well as players from Plainview, Pine Island, and Stewartville.”

It’s already time to start practicing for the April 30th opener against the North Iowa Bucks at the Rochester Community and Technical College Regional Stadium. The first practice is actually this Sunday, February 21.

“A lot of guys have been training on their own,” Nela said. “It’s crazy. For example, we were already up at working out at 5:00 this morning. We believe so much in what we’ve assembled that when the first game hits, we’re ready to put on a show.”

Between now and the first game, the biggest challenge will be to get a roster of players who’ve never been on the field together to gel into a unit.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” said Soto. “There’s a lot of new personalities that we’re taking on, but the key will be to have everyone buy into what we’re doing. If they do that, I’m confident we can go all the way to an SPFL championship.”

The team locations range from eastern South Dakota, through Minnesota, and all the way into Iowa. The Freeze will be members of the Eastern Division, so they won’t have to travel quite that far.

It is amateur level competition, but the three-team founders said don’t let that fool you. You may be surprised at how skilled some of the players are.

The skill-set has a good range,” Soto said. “In this league, you have high school players all the way up to former NCAA Division One players. Last year we played against four or five guys that were Division One, including players from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Minnesota.”

He added, “It’s a very physical and demanding league.”

The Freeze has coaches ready to start practice on Sunday.

 

 

There are costs associated with getting a brand new team off the ground. The Freeze began a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of those costs, and they’d appreciate any help the public can give:

 

 

The Freeze kick off the season on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC regional stadium with a 7:00 kickoff against the North Iowa Bucks.

 

 

JM Rockets fall in double OT to Owatonna

Rochester John Marshall

The Rochester John Marshall Rockets face the defending State Class 5A champion Mankato West Scarlets in their next action Friday night in Mankato. (photo from Facebook.com)

The third quarter was the difference as the Rochester John Marshall Rockets fell in double overtime to Owatonna 27-21 last Friday.

The Rockets controlled the first half, but the Huskies threw some different looks on offense against J-M coming out of the halftime locker room. Rockets Head Coach Kevin Kirkeby said his team rallied in the fourth quarter and it turned into quite a ballgame.

“Owatonna has two different styles of offense,” said Kirkeby. “They’ll go into a pistol offense and do more of a spread formation, but they also go under center. Against Mankato West (in their season opener) they only did their pistol offense, so we weren’t sure what they would do against us and prepared for both styles.”

The Rockets defense played well against the pistol during the first half.

Rochester John Marshall High School

The Rochester John Marshall 2015 football team. (Photo from johnmarshallrockets.org)

“Offensively, we didn’t really need to throw the ball much in the first half,” said Kirkeby. “We were having really good success on the ground. (Senior Running Back) Cazz Martin scored two touchdowns (on 18 carries for 102 yards) and things were going well.”

Owatonna came out of the halftime locker room and took control of the game early in the second half.

“The Huskies defense had a whole bunch of different players than what they ran out their in loss against West,” said Kirkeby, “So it probably took them a half to get used to each other. They came out fired up and we just didn’t have a whole lot of offensive continuity.”

He added, “The third quarter was all theirs. They scored twice on their first two possessions of the second half.”

Kirkeby was proud of his team for not letting up and bouncing back in the fourth quarter with some good football.

 

 

The Rockets are 1-1 on the season, and they’ve shown some flashes of good football:

 

JM is a football team with a lot of new faces in the lineup.

“We only have a couple of returning starters on offense,” he said. “On defense, we have about 7 returning starters but some of them are playing different positions.”

They do have a lot of upperclassmen on the field, but not a lot of game day experience to go with it.

“We have a nice mixture of juniors and seniors on offense and defense,” said Kirkeby. “However, it’s not like other teams that have a lot of seniors that have been playing together since tenth grade. We don’t have that.”

Kirkeby is in his third year as Head Coach, and he wants his offense to start with a solid ground game.

“My philosophy in Minnesota is we have all kinds of challenging weather,” said Kirkeby, “so you better be able to run the football. However, you can’t just run the ball or the opponent will stack the box with 9 or 10 guys and make it very difficult. I think a nice 40-60 or 30-70 blend of running and passing plays would be a good place to be at.”

JM has a tough road assignment this week. They travel to Mankato West High School for a matchup with the State Class 5A champs. Kirkeby said, in some ways, the Scarlets might be a better team than they were last year.

 

What aspects of the game do the Rockets need to improve on?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rochester Mayo football starts fast

Rochester Mayo High School

The Rochester Mayo Spartans take a 1-0 record to Rochester Century to face the Panthers in their next action on Friday night. (Photo from ww2.rochester.k12.mn.us)

 

The Rochester Mayo Spartans opened the 2015 football season with a 50-21 road victory over the Faribault Cardinals.

The game was a rematch of the Section 1AAAAA championship game from last year, which went to the Cardinals. While it didn’t take the sting away from last season’s 20-14 Overtime loss, the Spartans played well to open the new season schedule.

 

 

Spartans Coach Donny Holcomb said it’s always great to start the season with a win, but Mayo had to withstand a Cardinal comeback in the second half:

 

He said the Spartans showed some resilience in the fourth quarter.

“Definitely, I’m glad to see the way the kids finished the game,” said Holcomb. “They really came together and finished strong, without pointing fingers at each other.”

Several things stood out for the Spartans in the win:

 

Greg Henry led the rushing attack with 24 carries for 124 yards and four touchdowns.  He added 2 catches for 73 yards and another TD.

New quarterback Trajan Grimsrud was 9 of 16 passing for 141 yards and 2 TD’s through the air.

This year’s Spartans team has a whole lot of new faces in key roles.

“We actually lost 15 starters on both sides of the ball,” said Holcomb. “It’s a fairly new team with a lot of guys that learned from past players and hungry to get their chance to step in like on any high school team, so they’re ready to take over and give their best.”

Despite a lot of new faces, the Spartans did bring back a few familiar names from last year:

 

Holcomb’s offensive philosophy is balance:

 

He wants the Spartans to play aggressive defense.

“We’re going to be a base defense that’s very aggressive,” said Holcomb. “We do want to come out and blitz the other team and find an offense’s weaknesses. We like to do simple things right and blitz when we need to.”

The Spartans will be at Rochester Century in their next action Friday night. Holcomb said it’s always a challenge to play a cross-town rival:

 

What kind of challenges will the Panthers present?

“They’re a team that’s not as big,” said Holcomb, “but that means they’re going to be quick, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. They’re going to play faster than your typical O and D lines, so we’re expecting more speed. We saw some of their skill players in 7-on-7 over the summer, so we know we need to play disciplined.”

 

 

 

 

Minnesota is a boating paradise

Minnesota is well known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Actually, it’s more than that. The state contains 11,842 lakes that are 10 acres in size or larger.

If you add in the over 6,500 rivers and streams around the state, there’s a lot of room for boaters on Minnesota waters. With that much to choose from, there is no shortage of destinations for boaters to hit the water. The advantages for boaters are numerous.

Opportunities abound

“I think it’s just the convenience of having a lake or river about 30 minutes from most residents of the state,” said Stan Linnel, the Boating and Water Safety Manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “People have a lot of water to choose from for a lot of different reasons.”

Not only does Minnesota have an abundance of lakes and rivers to choose from, but it’s easy to get on the water too.

“Boating is a long standing Minnesota favorite pastime,” said Alyssa Ebel, the Public Relations director for Explore Minnesota. Public boat accesses are abundant on the state’s nearly 12,000 lakes and numerous rivers.”

The opportunities include more than just motor boating.

“Paddlers will enjoy the canoe and kayak routes on rivers, streams, and lakes,” said Ebel. “Houseboating opportunities abound in the northern part of the state. Even folks who don’t own boats can find a lot of rental shops too.”

Don’t forget waterskiing. “Minnesota is the birthplace of waterskiing, which was invented in 1922,” said Ebel.

Most popular destinations

Lake Okabena

Lake Okabena in Minnesota is a popular destination for wind surfing. (Photo from www.dglobe.com)“

 “The southern region of Minnesota includes destinations like Lake Okabena, which is popular for windsurfing,” said Ebel. “It also includes Lake Pepin, which is known as the ‘birthplace of waterskiing.’”

Al Heitman lives on Lake Zumbro, just north of Rochester, which is a popular boating destination. Plans are in the works to make Zumbro even more popular for boaters.

“The lake has filled in some, so what we’re trying to do is hollow out some of the mud and silt that’s built up,” said Heitman. “There are some places that used to be navigable, but you can’t boat in anymore. They’re trying to get things back near 6 feet in most places again.”

Heitman said his family bought a cabin cruiser a year ago and are trying other lakes in the area.

“We like to boat on Wabasha,” said Heitman. “There’s a nice sand dune they built from dredging in the lake, so it’s a fun area to boat in.”

Sail boating is a popular pastime with Phil and Jan Olson of Lake City.

“We’re out of the marina here (in Lake City),” said Phil. “We’ll just said around wherever the wind takes us on Lake Pepin. We’ve been sailing since around 1997, and we enjoy the peace and quiet, just being able to ride the winds.”

Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin, the birthplace of waterskiing, is one of the more popular lakes in Minnesota. (Photo from Chad Smith)

Lake Pepin is one of the more popular boating stops in southeast Minnesota.

“We live in town here, so we’re pretty lucky,” said Phil. “It does stay pretty busy here, but there’s a lot of room on Pepin.”

The northeast part of the state features a large number of places to choose from.

“You’ll find the nation’s largest freshwater lake, which is Lake Superior,” said Ebel. “Lake Vermillion, which is 44,000 acres. Don’t forget Voyageurs National Park, which includes lakes like Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, and Crane Lake. Voyageurs is the largest freshwater-based park in the nation, at more than 218,000 acres.”

The northwest includes popular destinations like Lake of the Woods, Leech Lake, and Lake Winnibigoshish. The central region features Brainerd Lakes Area, Lake Mille Lacs, and Big Sandy Lake.

The DNR’s Linnel said it’s important for outstate boaters to remember there are a lot of opportunities even in the metro area.

“There’s tremendous opportunities,” he said. “Lake Minnetonka is probably the most heavily used recreation lake in the state. It has 14,000 acres and 140 miles of shoreline right in the metro.”

Different lakes, different opportunities

Figuring out the most popular destinations depends on what folks are heading to the lake for.

Lake Calhoun

Paddle Boating is a popular sports on Lake Calhoun in Minnesota. (Photo from pinterest.com)

“Even small lakes like Calhoun and Harriet get a lot of use from paddlers,” said Linnel. “If you’re looking at fishing, you’ll try some of the big lakes like Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods, and Rainy Lake. Some of these lakes are actually so large they won’t seem crowded. You can go a long way without seeing another boat.”

Minnesotans do love their boats.

“Usually, we’re the highest per capita for registered boats in the nation,” said Linnel. “I think we’re roughly third in the nation in terms of the number of registered boats in the nation.”

 

 

 

 

Wolves Caravan visits Rochester

Minnesota_Timberwolves

The Timberwolves Caravan made a stop in Rochester, Minnesota at the local YMCA and spent time with over 320 area kids.

The Minnesota Timberwolves Summer Caravan and Skills Clinic made an appearance in Rochester at the local YMCA.  The third floor gym was packed with 322 kids in attendance at the Caravan to work with Timberwolves Assistant Coaches Ryan Saunders and Sam Mitchell, himself a 13 year NBA veteran and former NBA Coach of the Year award winner with Toronto.

The highlight of the Caravan was an appearance by Tyus Jones, considered by some to be one of the top Minnesota players of all time.  An NCAA tournament champion in his only year at Duke University, as well as a former Mr. Basketball, Jones was a first round pick in the most recent NBA draft.

YMCA-logo

The Rochester YMCA hosted the Timberwolves Summer Caravan and Skills Clinic in their third floor gym, which was packed with over 320 young kids.

The kids in attendance worked on defensive drills as well as flexibility drills, and finished up the morning by hearing from Coach Mitchell and Jones.  There was even a question and answer session with Tyus as well.

It’s worth mentioning that Jones signed autographs for all of the kids in attendance.  That’s 322 signatures!

The Wolves open their preseason against the Chicago Bulls on October 10.

Here’s an iMovie of the event too: