If your team was either the Pierz Pioneers or Pequot Lakes Patriots girls' basketball teams you witnessed some of the best talent and best basketball on the way to the state tournament.
It's every team's dream of making it to the elite eight in high school basketball. Both Pierz and Pequot deserved their spot in the elite eight. It's an honor to be considered one of the eight best teams, but it was the fans of these two teams who received the greatest honor.
No one can deny that either team belonged in the tournament as they played some of the best teams and players Minnesota has to offer on their way to state.
For Pierz, which finished the season with a 23-4 record, they saw Annandale's Jessica Barrett, who was selected to the VarsityOnline all-state second team.
On the first team was Tera Bjorklund of Sibley East. The 6-foot-4 center, who will play for the University of Colorado next year, was the roadblock for both Pierz and Pequot. Bjorklund's teammate, Hali McClelland, received honorable mention.
Both made the all-tournament team along with Pequot's Brianna Biebighauser and Heather Neznik, Roseau's Kristi Glassman, Blake's Kristin Ambrose and Kate Bauman and Rochester Lourdes' Monica Hake, Leah Kodet and Michelle Melquist.
If you followed Pequot's storied season you saw VarsityOnline first-teamer Sarah Laposky three times. The junior from Pine River-Backus had the highest scoring average of any Class AA girl player with 22.7 points per game.
In the first round at state Pequot ran into Glassman who received honorable mention on the all-state team. She scored 17 points against the Patriots and averaged 16.5.
In the last game there was Blake's Bauman and Ambrose. Bauman's going to Iowa State and Ambrose is heading to Virginia to play Division I basketball next year.
Pequot fans got to see Biebighauser, who made the VarsityOnline first team, and Heather Neznik live up to their preseason top 100 billing.
Some sports enthusiasts have said Pequot was overrated and didn't deserve the top ranking in the Class AA coaches poll. I think their effort at state, although not what the girls or coach Bill Larson would have liked, proved they deserved any recognition they received.
It's unfortunate that Biebighauser, Neznik, Jeanna Baratto, Liz Meschke and Lori McDonald had to lose their last game in a Pequot Lakes uniform. They same holds true for Pierz seniors Katie Bell, Amanda Meyer, Cyndi Kimman, Amber Sitzman and Beth Stegora, who also lost the last game of their high school careers.
Eight teams make it to the state tournament. Of those eight, six of them lost their last game. Some might say only the top two teams won their last game -- Rochester Lourdes came away with the title and Blake took third.
Give credit to the players. Give credit to the coaches, but fans take a bow. On Saturday, Pequot's fan following outnumbered Blake's almost four to one.
The red storm, as I have grown to call Patriots fans for their red game attire, were loud and good sports. Bill Larson produced a good product and the fans came out in droves.
Pierz coach Rick Sczublewski also helped mold a great team. Despite adversity and injuries the Pioneers were as complete a team as any.
BYLINE:By CLINT WOOD
It's going to be a super season at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway this summer.
The raceway will host two super weeks of entertainment.
The first will be Bike Week 2000 from July 31 until Aug. 6 (Pre-Sturgis week) following the American Motorcyclist Association Hitching Post Classic.
The second will be Super Week 2000 from Aug. 14-21 for the 19th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals. Actress Ann-Margret is the grand marshal for the event.
For the second event, the gates will open at noon on Monday, Aug. 14, allowing campers to camp all week during the nationals. The week ends the following Monday at noon.
CBIR manager Scott Quick said this super week will allow drag racing fans to be at the track when the sportsman and some of the professional racers arrive.
"(Fans) will be able to see some of that activity going on and exactly how we set up for a major national event," Quick said.
He added that CBIR is unique because of its large camping facilities.
"People know there is plenty of room out here to camp and have a good time," Quick said.
Quick said that during that week fans will be treated to local entertainment, including bands and the use of the go-kart track.
During the Pre-Sturgis week, Quick said the track plans to host "old-fashioned" motorcycle races and might even "bring in a carnival."
What about the stereotype of bikers staying in the area for a week? Quick said this clientele "police themselves."
"These are good people," he said. "I would welcome them in here anytime."
The list of actors attending the national event also could increase. The track's owner, Don Williamson, knows many actors, including Burt Reynolds, who has starred in commercials for Williamson's wife's car dealerships in Michigan.
The track also will feature more improvements this season. The other side of the pro pits will be paved with asphalt, and more sponsorship signage will be placed.
But, with all the improvements, ticket prices have also risen.
For example, a four-day advance sales general admission ticket for the nationals, including a pit pass, has increased from $80 to $100. The same ticket at the gate also has increased from $100 to $120.
For the super week, advance ticket sales will be $150 and $200 at the gate.
Quick thinks these prices are acceptable in regard to the quality of entertainment the track offers.
He added that the track's improvements have shown its commitment to the racers and spectators.
"Change is sometimes meant with resistance," Quick said. "(The ticket price increase) is just a cost of doing business too. They are very nominal to what we provide out here as far as entertainment."
Quick said ticket prices at CBIR are comparable to other national event sites and sometimes are lower.
Regarding lower prices, prices for additional camping entry fees -- motor home, camper trailer, golf carts and ATVs -- has actually decreased. For example, at the gate, a motor home entry fee has decreased from $100 to $40.
The first spectator event will be the Colonel's Truck Accessories Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series Division 5 event June 9-11. This is a later date than last year. It was conducted in May last year.
Quick said he requested these dates to increase the event's attendance.
"I'm just confident with that date in there it's going to be a lot better for us," he said.
-- CBIR also has begun offering gold and silver Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway NHRA Nationals commemorative coins.
-- The track already has issued the first of its five racing brochures with the next one due out within the next few weeks.
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