There's plenty to cheer for in and around the Minot area.
Unfortunately, I have had to play the part of the objective sports reporter but not anymore.
After a five-month stint at The Minot Daily News, I'm leaving as I've taken a job in another field. I know that one day I'll return to writing, and you may just see my name from time to time covering different events for the Daily News as a correspondent.
But now, I can root for different teams and individuals without feeling guilty. Anyone working in my current profession knows how unprofessional it is to cheer and how vital objectivity is to the job.
But, as I stated, there's plenty to cheer from in the area. Try this list on for size:
Mandy Greenberg vs. Sara Jane Webster. If you know anything about Dakota Athletic Conference softball, don't try to tell me you haven't thought about it. The two ace pitchers have been on top of their game for most of the season. Greenberg, from Minot State University, is 18-8 with an earned run average of 1.71 while Dickinson State University's Webster is sporting a 17-3 record with a 1.74 ERA.
I used to live in Dickinson, so I know what Webster can do. But I also got to see Greenberg strike out 14 batters in five innings. If I had to give an edge, I'd give it to Webster based solely on the fact that she's a junior in college while Greenberg is only a freshman, though with a ton of promise. If you get a chance to see these two face off, don't miss out.
Janessa Penner and Jordan Gilmour. Penner, a senior, is a two-time All-American for the Minot State softball team while Gilmour is a freshman on the baseball team. What do these two have in common? They both bat leadoff for their respective teams and have proven to be tough outs. Penner needs no introduction, but I'll give it to you anyways. The lefty is a career .476 hitter and has a drag bunt/swing that's virtually unstoppable.
Gilmour leads the DAC in stolen bases with 30 and also has taken a team-leading 24 walks. He's hitting .362 for the Beavers, who are at their best when their freshman speedster is getting on base.
Peter Stewart and his new job. A lot of hoopla has surrounded the new Minot State men's basketball coach and his resume, particularly his overall record. As it turns out, it wasn't completely accurate in the information released by Minot State.
But was it so far off that people should be filling up message boards and comment sections asking for Stewart's firing? I have actually heard people compare the situation to George O'Leary when Notre Dame hired and fired him because he lied on his resume. O'Leary lied about having a master's degree and about earning three varsity football letters at the University of New Hampshire.
The two are not even comparable. Be happy with Stewart. He's won everywhere he's been and he's got a very positive attitude. That's one thing I've grown to love about Minot State University coaches. I saw Minot State football coach Paul Rudolph at a baseball game the other day. Stewart says he intends to take his family to football games. I see softball coach Bill Triplett running around at sporting events all the time. The coaches support each other and don't hide in the shadows when it comes to something outside of their duties. It's good to see.
Bishop Ryan High School baseball. I know that Class B high school baseball isn't exactly drawing thousands to the ballpark. It never has and it may never draw huge crowds. But don't forget about Bishop Ryan's 24-game winning streak. The Lions won the past three state championships and are going for their fourth. Winning a state title is never easy, but to have a legitimate chance at winning a fourth one is quite a feat. I'm not asking that you be there for every game, but it's certainly worth appreciating. It doesn't seem like it's talked about very much, but streaks like this don't come around too often.
Dean Winczewski vs. Scott Medalen. If you had to pick a coach who is more fun to watch and more animated, who would you take? Winczewski, Minot High's boys basketball coach, can be seen with his trademark towel, pacing the sidelines and voicing his concerns. Medalen, head boys mentor at Bishop Ryan, has been more animated and has paced the sidelines for a longer time, so that makes him the veteran. Both have proven methods and do a great job getting the most out of their talent.
I think the better question here is which coach would win the best-dressed contest? Both look tip-top when it comes to game time. When Dean was in Dickinson, I covered his teams. He used to wear a tan suit that was virtually unbeatable. He must have had a .950 winning percentage in that attire. Two good coaches building two good programs.
Baseball. It's my favorite sport to watch and probably to cover, though those early fall nights covering high school football games can be a lot of fun. Since baseball is my favorite sport, I question what the American Legion is doing by creating a separate tournament for big-city teams that used to play Class B like the Minot Metros and Mandan A's. I understand the gripe some teams have in that it's not Class B baseball if they come from a Class A town.
Under that thinking, I guess we should let all of the small, private schools play basketball in their own tournament. Oh wait, Class B fans have been asking for that for years. Let's not forget that though in-town teams like Bishop Ryan pull from a big pool, they still only have an enrollment of fewer than 160, which is now middle-sized for Class B. Think about the large areas that some of these farming communities pull from. Sure, not every kid goes to the school and some have come and gone, but it still counts as people in the community just like in Minot.
The Metros will now play a Juniors Tournament in West Fargo for their state while Class B plays in Grafton. It's fair to say they will get less media coverage because of this as two baseball tournaments are hard enough for the state's newspapers to cover. By the way, when is the American Legion going to smarten up and stop treating small-town people like bumpkins? They continue to put the Class B state tournament in a Class B town. Small-town residents love going to the big towns like Bismarck and Fargo and eating out, seeing a movie, watching some baseball and staying in hotels. When the tournament's in small towns, it's a race for hotel rooms and there's not a whole lot to do. I suppose they're trying to trap people at the ballpark to keep a big crowd on hand.
I apologize for my longwindedness and digressions. I had a lot on my mind and now I'm free to go.
(This is the final column by Chris Aarhus as a sports reporter for The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at caarhus@minotdai