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Sportsline: Bemidji neighborhood rivalry moves up a generation

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

For many years in the 60's, 70's and 80's one of the most fertile areas for producing Bemidji High School athletes was the four square block northern neighborhood bonded by 25th and 29th streets and Bemidji and Irvine avenues.

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Such names as Wackwitz, Yetter, Christenson, Reise, Blackburn and Anderson came our of the small northern area.

Two of the best were John Noga and Lance Chambers who grew up next door to one another on Beltrami avenue.

They competed in all sports from their preschool days more like classic siblings. They were not only close friends and teammates but also fiercely competitive with one another which only served to make them better athletes.

The pair went on to stardom at BHS in football, basketball and baseball. After graduation they moved four blocks east to BSU where Noga played football, quarterbacking the Beavers for several years, and Chambers was a star on the baseball field.

Both went on to coach with Noga still active as the girls basketball coach at Parkers Prairie.

Chambers shifted to administration and is now junior high principal in Jordan.

But the bloodlines continue.

The recent updated release of the state 2.,000 Point Club shows two of the still active players as Brittany Chambers of Jordan and Sari Noga of Parkers Prairie.

Chambers entered this year with 2,119 points and Noga, the state's top scorer this year, with 2,056. Both have added a large number of points to those totals.

Noga has already committed to join the Minnesota Gophers cage team in 2011. Chambers will enroll at Kansas University next fall to play basketball.

Ironically, though the two schools are not that far apart. the pair have never faced one another. In fact, they have never met.

But the Bemidji bloodlines keep local cage fans interested in their careers. Noga will be joined in 2,012 by Kayla Hirt of Bemidji who signed to become a future Gopher.

2,000 Point Club

When Willmar' sportswriter Lefty Ranweiler created the 1,000 Point Club in the mid 1950's it was considered the ultimate goal of high school cagers.

That lasted for more than a generation.

But the expansion of high school schedules from 18 to 26 games and the addition of the three point field goal made that figure far too easy to reach for players starting their varsity careers early.

In recent years, the 2,000 Point Club has supplanted the original.

To date, it now shows 73 members with Duluth East's Marisa Yernatich joining the ranks this week.

Seven of the 73 have topped 3,000 led by Katie Ohm of Elgin-Millville who reached 3,694.

Megan Taylor of Roseau, daughter of BSU's legendary baseball star Terry Taylor, third at 3,300. Kierah Kimbrough of BGMR is seventh, UND teammate Kayla Bagaason of Fosston eighth, Kelly Roysland of Fosston, the former Minnesota cage star, ninth and Krissi Super of BGMR 10.

Others in the top 25 include Rhonda Birch of Wadena 16, Angie Chernugal of Bigfork 20 and Brenda Slyt of Fisher-Climax 25.

Other northern stars include Kamile Wahlin of Crookston, Janice Woods of Fosston, Amanda Gehrke of Cass Lake., Judy McDonald of Chisholm, Janessa Wolff of Park Rapids (now at Penn State), Shannon Francis of Mahnomen and Greta Hjelseth of Nevis.

Linda Dietel of Jordan, teammate of Chambers, is also on the list.

For reach 1,000

For more have reached the 1.000 plateau., They include Brett Bakken of Goodridge, Jordan Solie of Fertile, Laura Kolsness of Ada and Laporte's Kim Hyatt. Bakken went over the mark in a 26-point game. Solie hit 37 and Kolsness 14.

The latest is Brandon Brekke of East Grand Forks who went over the mark in a win over DGF. The 6-7 senior has committed to UND next season.

The Lone Ranger

Grand Rapids' Don Kuusinen is the last of a dying breed as he officiates wrestling matches at the age of 63. Now in his 41st year, the former Grand Rapids High and UND grappler is still enjoying himself though regretting that more young wrestlers are not taking up officiating.

Among his cohorts through the years were Henry Saffaroni. John Nalan, Joe Silko, John Fremling and Bob Barnacle.

He has long been a familiar figure at Bemidji High School matches dating back to the Ken Schmoker days.

He retired in 2001 after 33 years of teaching math at Grand Rapids and at one time coached the Hawks for two years.

He has expressed an interest to work with young officials and get them started in the sport.

He sees few changes between today's wrestlers and those of the 50's and 60's feeling that while today's might be a shade more skilled in technique, the oldies were just as talented in their skills , strength and quickness.

Try, try again

The North Dakota Athletic Association will once again take up a proposal to expand to three classes in basketball and volley ball next year.

The proposal, which has failed to pass several times in the past ,would have schools with 400 or more students in 2A, the next 32 in A and the remainder in B. The change would take effect for the 2011 season.

Shrinking enrollments is the major reason for brining the proposal back to light once more with more and more schools having less that 100 students in the top four grades.

Cage camp

The date for the girls basketball youth clinic at Bemidji High has been reset for Feb. 14 from 5:30-7:30 with registration at the high school gym at 5:15.

It is open to girls in Grades 1-5 with a cost of $25. That includes a T-shirt, pizza and beverage.

All proceeds go to the High School. Boosters Club.

Girls should bring their own ,shirts, pants and gym shoes.

Girls basketball coach Rick Kehoe and his staff will conduct the clinic. Players from the varsity, JV and freshman teams will aid.

Short retirement

Bill Ibach, who was "retired" as Fargo American Legion baseball coach after an eight year run, has had a brief retirement. He has been hired as the new high school coach at DGF replacing Sean Swanson who took a leave of absence after three years at the helm.

It will be the first high school coaching experience for Ibach who said he looks forward to the opportunity.

He also has been hired as assistant coach and director of youth baseball development for the West Fargo Legion program.

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