In January of 1997, amid the snow and cold, volunteers helped raise the new lights at the Paynesville Area High School baseball field. ìItís always been my dream, since I moved to Paynesville, to have lights on the field,î Coach Brad Skoglund said. Skoglund led the Paynesville American Legion baseball team to the state tournament in August in Hibbing. The baseball team finished third at the state competition.
The Regal Eagles advanced to the Class C State Tournament and brought home the second place trophy after being defeated by St. Michael 13-0 on Labor Day. Four members of the team received all-tournament honors: Ron Fuchs, Mike Tangen, Chad Hess and Mike Beier.
The count down was on for Virg Vagle, PHS wrestling coach, in January. Going into the Farmington tournament on Jan. 6, Vagle needed only two more wins to set a new state record and capture the honors as being the winningest wrestling coach in state history. The team won the touranment putting him four above the magic number to set a new record. He started the season with a 455-96-4 record. Under Vagleís guidance, the Bulldog wrestling team had won 142 championships (sections, sub-sections, tournaments) and three state titles over a 30-year period. At the start of the 1997-98 wrestling season Vagle held a 487-98-4 record.
The Bulldog wrestling team qualified for another trip to state in February by winning the section title. The team also advanced five individual wrestlers to state competition: Tim Roberg, Ryan Stoneburner, Zach Welle, Jesse Spates, and Lee Hiltner. The wrestling team won the consolation championship honors at the state tournament. Individually, Hiltner finished second; Roberg, third; Spates, fourth; and Welle, fifth.
For the second year in a row, Lee Hiltner, Belgrade, was named Minnesota USA Junior Wrestler of the Year. A 1997 PHS graduate, he is attending the University of Wyoming-Laramie on a wrestling scholarship.
Cold Spring (Rocori) was exploring the idea of a possible co-op. At the March Paynesville school board meeting, the board gave the go-ahead to join the co-op for the 1997-98 school year. The River Lakes girlís hockey team played their first hockey game on Nov. 15 while the boys team held their first game on Dec. 2 in Richmond at the River Lakes Ice Arena.
In June the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission awarded 39 ìMighty Duckî grants to build new ice arenas. The Paynesville/New London Hockey Association through Paynesville Township was among the communities awarded the new arena grant of $100,000. In December, they received a second grant totaling $150,000 to further their work on upgrading the arena. The grant funds helped add a 30-foot addition onto the east side of the building which will house new locker rooms, a concession area and warming area for spectators.
West Point Senior Cadet Brad Fenske, Paynesville, cleaned up at the Army Wrestling Awards banquet in April, winning or sharing seven of the nine honors handed out. He finished his career with a 126-49 record, making him the winningest grappler in the 75-year history of the Army program. Fenske also received a special ì100 winî award for becoming just the fifth Army wrestler ever to top the prestigious century mark.
Joel Fenske, Paynesville, had a remarkable cross country season at the University of South Dakota. Joel led the mens team to the NCAA Division II championship, placing seventh in the Nov. 22 meet at Kenosha, Wis.
The girls track team won the sub-section 20 championship in May, advancing as a team to the section competition. At the section competition, Amber Michaelis and Dan Johnson qualified individually for the state track meet. Michaelis finished second in the high jump and Johnson qualified in the 800-meter run. At the state competition, Michaelis finished 14th.
Mary Frandson was the only golfer from Paynesville to advance to the state competition.
The Koronis Hills Golf Club started out as a cow pasture in 1930 and today offers an 18-hole par-71 golf course to area residents and visitors. On Saturday, June 14, a grand opening was held for the new nine holes. In the mid-1980s plans were started for expansion of the nine-hole golf course. In 1994, an environmental assessment was required on the new project and took about a year to do. By the spring of 1995, construction was started on the new nine. The new fairways were seeded to grass in the spring of 1996 and the course was ready for play by the summer of 1997.
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