Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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Matt Johnson, the NDSU women's golf coach, is a man of his word. Rachel Roller of Fargo and Cydney Hasselberg of Staples are members of his team and prior to the Birchmont he told both women that if they battled each other for the Women's Division title he would come to Bemidji to watch. They did and he did. "This is fun," Johnson said as Hasselberg readied to hit her tee shot on No. 15. "I can actually watch both of them putt and not be nervous." Friday morning Roller got the better of Hasselberg as she successfully defended her Birchmont Women's crown with a 3-2 victory.
Today's Birchmont Senior Championship semifinals will match Eric Niskanen of Bemidji against John Hagge of Fergus Falls and Paul Welle of Bemidji against Scott Anderson of Dawson. The semifinalists will lock horns at 12:15 p.m. During Thursday's quarterfinals Niskanen, who was the division's medalist, ousted Scott Curb of Bemidji 4-3 and Hagge tipped Don Dale of Bemidji 1-up. In the lower bracket, Welle was a 1-up winner over Jeff Tweeton of Perham and Anderson tripped Bob Kobilka of Bemidji 4-2. Niskanen was 4-under-par when he closed out Curb. "Scott played well but I had a steady round
Every serious golfer dreams of watching the tee shot majestically ascend into the heavens, gently drop to the green and find its way to the hole for an ace. Thursday in the second round of the Men's Championship Division match-play tournament Kevin Krigbaum of Brooklyn Park had his dream come true. Almost. Standing at the No. 11 tee, Krigbaum let fly with his 5-iron. "I hit a good shot," Krigbaum said. "I saw the ball go into the air, bounce and roll toward the hole.
Rachel Roller of Fargo took the first step toward defending her Birchmont Women's Championship title Wednesday as she outgunned Tracy Gustafson of Wadena 3-1 in the quarterfinal round of match-play. The victory advanced Roller to today's semifinals and an 8:42 a.m. battle against Missy Taberry of Wadena who tipped Michelle Running of Minnetonka 2-1. Today's lower-bracket match sees Cydney Hasselberg of Staples squaring off against Shelby Sauer of Bemidji.
Paul Daman plans to incorporate a slight change in his routine when he prepares for today's second-round match in the Birchmont Men's Championship Division. "I'm going to get my kids to day care sooner so I have more time to warm-up for my match," Daman said. "That's the only change that I'm planning." Daman, a Bemidji native, is the senior citizen of the Men's Championship field and today the 43-year-old Birchmont veteran will face the youngest surviving golfer, Sam Matthew of Roseville. Daman advanced to today's round by stopping Tyler Syvertson of Bemidji 2-1.
Capturing the state championship is becoming the standard for Bemidji's 12-year-old Cal Ripken team. The squad accomplished the feat in 2006 and again in 2008. Last week Bemidji continued its even-year run by blitzing its state tournament foes at the Mark Evenson Complex in Bemidji. The reward is a berth in the regional tournament which begins Thursday in Kalona, Iowa. All who watched Bemidji knife through the state competition saw a team that was fundamentally sound and one which continually challenged its opponents to make the correct decisions.
For Rick Passolt of Edina and Curt Howard of Salpulpa, Okla., the Birchmont is more than a golf tournament. "I spent all of my summers here and when I was 12 years old my grandfather, Tams Bixby, started me in the Birchmont," Howard said. "This is where I call home. My dearest friends aren't in Texas and they aren't in Oklahoma.
Tim Skarperud held off his brother, Matt, to win men's championship medalist honors Tuesday in a rain-delayed Birchmont golf tournament at Bemidji Town & Country Club. Tim, a two-time runnerup in this event, shot an even-par 72 to post a 5-under 137 in two days of qualifying. Matt Skarperud finished second at 141 after firing a 4-under 68. Another Skarperud brother, Chad, also advanced to match play with a 36-hole total of 148.
The Senior Championship Division of the Birchmont features a Bemidji flavor as nine of the 16 match-play qualifiers consider the Bemidji Town & Country Club their home course. Headlining the group are co-medalists Rob Noren and Eric Niskanen. The other Bemidji qualifiers are Joe Mayer, Scott Curb, Rick Curb, Don Dale, Paul Welle, Bob Kobilka and Rob Jacobson. Niskanen had the low round in Tuesday's play as the Bemidji High School boys golf coach carded a 2-under-par 70.
Mark Fodness, who coached the Bemidji High School boys and girls tennis teams from 1986 to 1993, officially returned to those posts Tuesday when he was hired by BHS activities director Troy Hendricks. Fodness replaces Scott Engelstad who assumed the tennis coaching duties after Fodness retired and maintained the positions for 17 years until announcing his retirement this spring. "When I stepped down we had a young family and I knew that I couldn't be away from them that much," Fodness said.