Brute’s Bleat by Harold Brutlag

Maple Lake High School finished an outstanding year in sports with an unheard of four state championships for small schools, in this case Class 2AA. Their state championships were in girls volleyball, girls True Track and Field, girls softball, and last week boys baseball.

The boys won 8-4 over Duluth Marshall in a rain delayed title game at Target Field, Minneapolis on Saturday. Leading up to the championship Maple Lake defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9-0 in their first game at St. Cloud on Thursday. Coach Brooks Marquardt was able to pull pitcher Grant Mergen in the third inning making him eligible to start the final game. In game two with Jordan on Friday Nate Hogan got the call to start. He was relieved and Mitch Hoistad finished the game for a come from behind win, 4-3. Named to the All-Tournament Team in Class 2AA were Grant Mergen, Cole Traeger, and Ben Goelz.

My congratulations to the baseball team and to the other high school teams for bringing championships home to Maple Lake in four different sports. It’s something Maple Lake can be proud of and a fete that will be difficult to match for similar sized schools in the future.

Last week before the tournament started I called a high school friend of mine, Gary Stueve, who takes second place only to Sid Hartman in my opinion, when it comes to sports knowledge both in professional baseball and high school athletics. Local sports fans might give Dave Erickson thumbs up on either of them. Anyway, Gary has been an English teacher in the Rochester school system most of his life teaching in that system’s middle schools. His interest in sports prompted him to purchase two TV’s which he has sideby- side in his residence so he can watch two events simultaneously. He is so enamored in Maple Lake’s high school and town team baseball success he asked me: “how do they do it!” His question was, “is Maple Lake recruiting students from other school districts so they can maintain such successful records in girls and boys sports? and, are you guys paying athletes to play on the Laker teams?” I told him everything is on the up and up in school sports acknowledging one student did move from the D-C area to Maple Lake a year ago and plays softball. I explained, as best I could, the school has been fortunate to have such a dedicated group of coaches who work together when it comes to sports. Dedicated parents rank high on my list for successes, and the athletes themselves have the tools and take pride in competition to create that big ingredient, a winning spirit, for Maple Lake.

As for paying the Laker athletes, that doesn’t happen and their success has lots to do when Gary Porter was high school baseball coach and also Lakers player-manager. The Lakers roster was strong enough for them to field Class B teams for several years which provided fans some great baseball. In more recent years they play Class C baseball and are in the playoffs most every year, winning the state championship four years ago. We’re seeing the Laker ranks being filled with more graduated students from both Maple Lake and Annandale which has given them a team that can compete with any in the area. Incidentally, Maple Lake will be hosting the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in 2019 at Irish Stadium along with Delano and Howard Lake.

Gary Stueve and I agreed that it takes good athletes and good coaching to maintain winning seasons. Small school districts are prone to have ups and downs in sports, but once on top, they want to stay there. He wished the athletes many more years of success.

In this year’s high school games at St. Cloud last week I visited with a Paynesville fan who said he played in Porter’s Babe Ruth tournament in Maple Lake some 40 years ago and they lost to Dilworth. Another fellow was there to watch his nephew Brad Skoglund, Paynesville’s coach.

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Maple Lake’s Legion Post 131 is operating a $2,000 cash raffle with four prizes: $1,000; $500; and two $250 prizes. The proceeds from the raffle will be used to help fund necessary improvements to the Post’s kitchen as determined by the State Health Department. Tickets are $5.00 each and can be purchased from many of the Legionnaires as well as at the Legion Club. The prizes will be drawn at the Legion during the Gear Head Day in Maple Lake at 8 p.m. If you haven’t been approached for a ticket, see me and I’ll be glad to help you out with a chance at some great cash prizes.

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A few things I forgot to mention in last week’s column about Lake of the Woods fishing wasn’t about the fish, but a great breakfast prepared by my brother, Charles, on Monday. It featured Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce. That sounded pretty fancy to me until he explained he was using a recipe that allowed him to put the ingredients in a pan the night before and then heat it up the next morning. It was still fancy and believe me it was delicious and enjoyed by all of us. He also brought along some hamburger patties that included some dry Liptons Soup mix that gave them a special zesty flavor. He’s turning into quite a chef! . . I saw a Teal duck and four ducklings trying to cross County Road 8 last week. They couldn’t have been more than a day or two old. The swans off Highway 55 east of Maple Lake hatched out two or three little ones last week.

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I tried fly fishing on Maple Lake last Friday when I thought the wind was going down, but as I pulled on my waders it gusted up a few points. I tried a few spots, but couldn’t come up with a bite and gave up. Next, I headed for Irish Stadium where the Lakers were playing a team from Wilmar. It was a good game to watch even though it didn’t count as a region game. The Wilmar team included a number of Latinos who knew their baseball and who could hit and run. The game was tied at the end of nine innings and ended 4-4 in the tenth on pre-arranged decisions by both teams.

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