Students Hear The Why of History in New Way at Hillcrest

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Students Hear The Why of History in New Way at Hillcrest

It is impossible to understand world events without the foundation of the Word of God
— Gregg Preston

Uncertainty.

With the push of a button or the click of a mouse, our eyes are filled with images of terrorism, starving refugees, and natural disasters. On Day 1 of Gregg Preston’s Global Studies class, he asked each student to tell him what threat they considered most concerning in the world today. Among those mentioned were:

-Russian intentions in the Ukraine
-Border safety and illegal immigration
-Environmental changes
-Iran using nuclear weapons
-The upcoming US election
-The assimilation of Syrian refugees in Europe

One of the most unique aspects of Hillcrest Academy is its diverse student body. Not many high schools can report having students representing over 6 countries and the richness such diversity provides. Mr. Preston’s Global Studies class alone could be a social study all by itself with students from Korea, Seattle, New Jersey, Norway, California, Washington, and Nicaragua.

The bright-eyed 16 and 17 year-olds are the ones who answered his question about world-wide concerns. They, along with all of us from every nation, sit together on this powder keg of a planet we call Home. All eyes are on our world leaders to see what will happen next as this global drama daily unfolds. We are all looking for help in interpreting the events around us as we wade through conflicting and often confusing media summaries.

Herein lies the “Why” of Christian education: Mr. Preston holds two things in his hands and raises them high so everyone in the room can see. In one hand, he holds a newspaper--a copy of the New York Times. In the other, he holds a Bible.

“It is impossible to understand world events without the foundation of the Word of God,” he says with certainty. Each young face in the room is fixed on Mr. Preston’s face with expectancy. They want answers. They want hope. They want the world they are growing up in to make sense. They need to know how to view nations that rise up against God without fear in their hearts. They need to know that Jesus foretold of perilous times filled with “wars and rumors of wars.” They need to know how to take their places in history--His Story--as it unfolds. They need to know that they were born “for such a time as this.”

The students’ 6th hour social studies class will provide a safe place to hear and analyze the world stage from an eternal perspective. In these uncertain days, one thing is certain: God is on His throne and nothing escapes His notice or disrupts His plan.

Global Studies may well prove to be the most important hour these students will spend all year.

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Comet Basketball Preps for Strong Season with Spiritual Focus

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Comet Basketball Preps for Strong Season with Spiritual Focus

The boys basketball team got after it this weekend against some tough competition at the Minnesota Pacesetter tournament in St. Cloud. Their hard work on the court was steadied by times of discipline in the locker room.

Each year Hillcrest athletes begin a long road of preparation. Routine open gym times have some students flipping tires on the football field while others are jumping rope or honing their jump shot for a sports season that is months away. When the balls slowly trickle away from the basket as the lights turn out Comet players are seen connecting in a unique way.

After the Pacesetter tournament this past weekend Hillcrest players huddled under a stairway to discuss their successes. As the conversation shifted to fundamentals that need more honing during the open gym times there was unique focus in the eyes of the players. A clarity came over the conversation because of a simple practice the team conducts after each summer gathering. They prayed.

During their prayer time the Comets actively submitted to the Lord. In prayer, players take a purposed step to acknowledging that they are not perfect. Prayer puts people in a posture of submission. And for the Comet ball team this submissive practice allows them to critique their play and understand their roles as they continue to workout their faith through disciplined steps in their daily life.

The tournament was a great opportunity for the players to gather in unity under the banner of Christ. The coaches drew the team to consider how Hillcrest basketball can be a microcosm of the body of believers and a witness to others. These small moments will create significant building blocks in the lives of these young men. It's one of the many practices that makes time at Hillcrest worth so much more than a diploma.

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Preston's Dream Class Has Alumni Considering Re-enrollment

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Preston's Dream Class Has Alumni Considering Re-enrollment

Students have poured into Mr. Preston's classrooms for over twenty years. Each student has common appreciative word for Hillcrest's history teacher and Varsity Basketball coach. The word reflects appreciation in how Mr. Preston teaches students to care about their world. Mr. Preston's new Global Studies class is likely to make many who have sat in Mr. Preston's room look to re-enroll. The class prepares students to engage the world by deciphering current events. 

The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), gay marriage, and El Chapo are issues that frequent the topic list on Mr. Preston's whiteboard. Students lean over their classroom tables, reading beyond headlines in some of today's top sources for news. The class trains students to surf through the media and news to find what is happening in the world around them. Newspapers and TV broadcasts are the class' text. Their training is in searching for truth in the muck of today's biased journalism. Mr. Preston hopes students will leave his class feeling ready to think through the problems facing the world.

Christians can be actively involved in having an understanding of what is happening around them

"(Global Studies is a) fun combination of major political and economic events, but also social and cultural issues around the world," notes Mr. Preston. Students dive deep into causes and responses to hot global issues plaguing the world. Understanding ISIS terror in the Middle East and Russian Imperialism in the Ukraine become complex lessons in history. Mr. Preston involves the class in deep sociological discussions and encourages reading current news reports.

The Wall Street Journal is placed in the hand of each student, replacing the traditional textbook. Conservative and progressive journalists for FOX and CNN news outlets are referenced and analyzed daily as students deconstruct sources for meaningful information.

The classroom setting encourages classroom discussion. Everything is communicated through active lectures and dialogues. Mr. Preston presses the class with the big questions, looking to show how sin causes brokenness as man works to solve the world's problems without acknowledging God. He challenges students to go beyond accepting tragedies happening in the world, pushing students to see God's design and their role in defending God's order as image bearers. Mr. Preston hopes that, "Christians can be actively involved in having an understanding of what is happening around them." 

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Nhi Testifies of Love Found in Jesus Alone

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Nhi Testifies of Love Found in Jesus Alone

Nhi's life changed at Hillcrest. Walking these ancient halls Nhi built life-long friendships, uncovered her self-worth, and accepted Jesus as her Savior. 

He wants us to know Him and become part of His family. Hillcrest has shown me that. Before Hillcrest, I did not feel confident. I always felt so stupid. But now I know that God thinks I’m not stupid.

In the summer of 2012 Nhi surfed the internet for a boarding school. When the Hillcrest banner popped up Nhi knew she wanted to attend. She carefully filled out the application and nervously interviewed with Wayne. She received a letter in the mail. She anxiously opened it. As she read it, her heart dropped. The letter explained that she could not attend Hillcrest because her knowledge of English was insufficient. 

Nhi found another school in America. She set learning English as her number one goal. Her desk quickly piled high with reading and writing textbooks. She spoke English as often as possible. She applied to Hillcrest again, hoping to become a Comet. She received another letter. Her hard work paid off and Hillcrest welcomed Nhi into the student body. 

Nhi Nguyen and Ashley Jarvi pose at Hillcrest's Christmas banquet photobooth

Nhi Nguyen and Ashley Jarvi pose at Hillcrest's Christmas banquet photobooth

Nhi's first  year in the Castle started quietly. She stayed in the shadows, keeping her comments to herself. Her fear of speaking English stopped her from reaching out. But the people at Hillcrest took Nhi under their wing, making her feel at home. "The people care about me, love me," Nhi explains. Through the kindness of students and staff at Hillcrest Nhi says she began feeling confident in herself and loved by everyone around her.

In her Junior year Nhi began an inner argument that would reshape her world eternally. The constant discussion of God and Jesus made her question her Buddhist faith, the main religion in Vietnam. She heard the Gospel message at Hillcrest. For the first time she saw God's love and acceptance for all people. Her heart tugged as God called to her. 

Nhi says she felt Matthew 7:7 giving her directions to search for God. Her ears started listening intently during chapel and class devotion times. Her eyes sped over Scripture. 

God wanted me to come to Hillcrest

Nhi developed a close bond with an American student and Mr. Peterson. The friendshipopened doorways for a Bible study that transformed Nhiís life. Meeting after school, Nhi asked questions of her close friends, probing for answers and intensely searching for God. 

God revealed Himself to Nhi in her pursuit for Christ. Nhi boldly proclaims the Good News in Jesus Christ. She thrives in Hillcrestís Bible classes and looks forward to her personal devotion times. Her friends say she possesses a caring nature that models Christian love for girls in the dorms.

"God wanted me to come to Hillcrest," Nhi testifies. "He wants us to know Him and become part of His family. Hillcrest has shown me that. Before Hillcrest, I did not feel confident. I always felt so stupid. But now I know that God thinks I'm not stupid. I am a good person. I am confident...I don't care if people talk about me. Hillcrest is my small family."

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Marching Next to Death

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Marching Next to Death

Never before have I seen the Church of Satan flamboyantly preached. In the United States, Satan knows he must be cunning and secretive. Proof of evil is proof of good. But in the vudu-plagued Dominican Republic, those who worship the Devil are not secretive. 

On Good Friday we drove through the barrio of Santa Fe with the Dominican Mission team. While driving, we saw a parade of people dressed in weird, brightly colored costumes, waving purple flags, yelling and shouting as they marched through the streets. Assuming this gang of people simply paraded around in celebration of something, my teammates asked our Dominican translators what caused this public parade. The translators looked at us solemnly. "They are devil worshippers, celebrating and mocking the death of Christ." Unprepared for that answer, our bus was silenced. 

Continuing into the barrio, we began leading a children's church program at one of the local churches. After some time we set the kids loose and split into three groups with translators. We walked around Santa Fe, stopping at seemingly random homes, sharing the Gospel with anyone that would listen. We met many people. Some loved the Lord. Some ran away from Him. But one man differed from all the rest. He sat outside his store with a stone cold expression on his face, eyeing our team.  A teammate named Lucas began sharing Jesus with him. Suddenly, I looked to my right and saw the Satanic parade marching a block down the street. As I watched the parade of devil-praisers, I became aware of the struggle that Lucas was fighting. Attempting to get words out of his mouth, he stuttered and stumbled over each syllable. Lucas stared blankly at the translator not knowing how to react to his obvious speech impediment. "I physically couldn't get words out- they wouldn't pass my lips. I felt like I failed at giving the Gospel" Lucas remembers. Unsure how to end this problem, the group began praying over the man. 

I soon realized the parade could only be seen by one translator, Elizabeth, and myself.  I saw the parade members waving a big purple flag with morose markings on it. I leaned over to Elizabeth and asked her what the flag represented. She gave me a one worded answer. Death. Immediately, I turned toward the adjacent street, reached out my hand towards the death march, and began praying for them. I prayed for the evil in their souls to be cast out in the name of Jesus, and that someone from our missions team would be able to speak to one of them about Jesus. 

My small group finished praying for the man at the store. We left that place, turning onto a different street and continuing our evangelism campaign. I never saw the Death March again. However, at our team debrief that night I realized the story did not end there. Our team leader shared his experience with the Satanic church. Not mentioning detail of their encounter, Mr. Preston revealed that he and some other members of his small group confronted a person in the march. They shared with him the hopelessness Satan offered, and the love and redemption that was found only in Jesus Christ. 

I am taken aback by this experience. After realizing the story that was developing around him, Lucas says, "There was definitely something stopping my words that day." We witnessed true spiritual warfare. Demon fighting angel for the soul of a child of God. But in the midst of that, we witnessed God's unrelenting promise to answer prayer, using us as soldiers in this war over souls. 

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A Student's Open Letter To Parents

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A Student's Open Letter To Parents

This is a letter to teenagers, parents of teenagers, and all those in between. For us teens we're being taught that religions and worldviews aren’t walls that need to be argued and dismantled because there’s a hole in each one with a string pulled through to make everyone connected. Everyone's ideas are equal in spite their view of their foundation and consequences. If it seems too good to be true it’s because it is, for teenagers at least.

Our culture is raising us to think that when we’re faced with challenges we’re to ignore them, maybe make the obstacle legal and socially acceptable. For some teens this is a nightmare casted as a dream. We’re faced with wondering how far this thinking is going to go, we don't know how long it’s going to last. Culture is distracting us from all those wise men of past eras who seemed to have a keen take on life?

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Those sharp-witted words came from a British academic, C. S. Lewis, with the quote still mentionable to this day. Although there are up-to-date genius movements rising around us, we have overlooked history’s greatest influences as we stand on their shoulders.

While our culture is reinventing solutions to past problems teens yearn to look to past influencers to lead us in an uprising direction. This culture move would build confidence to know that the problems we face today were overcome generations earlier. The success of men like C.S. Lewis to lead a generation to crave courage and bravery in a new world is inspiring. Lewis captured the power of a youthful imagination. We need more of that.

With his Narnia book series, Lewis provided a way for kids to understand an in depth message of Christ through fiction stories. But Narnia does more than point to Christ. Lewis' diligent pursuit in to find virtuous truths, mixed with his storytelling prowess, cultivated a love of the good and beautiful in a war-torn generation. Lives have been shifted and drastically changed in the world. At Hillcrest, with Mr. Undseth’s use of Lewis’ Screwtape Letters in the school’s British Literature class, students have been taken down this road of looking back to forge ahead.

Adventures between wars and wizardry, a pursuit to destroy one ring that rules all has had a number of people quoting grey-haired wizards and pudgy-footed Hobbits. J.R.R. Tolkien, in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, embarked on a similar path in a similar time as Lewis, having almost the same impact.

Outside the shire and beyond Cair Paravel a prolifically gifted writer and honored war hero, Winston Churchill, emerged in the same violent epoch of history as Lewis and Tolkien. Churchill is remembered through his writings and courageous acts he performed throughout his life both in and out of the spotlight. Well known for saving Britain during World War II, Churchill was also notorious for his speeches and wasn't afraid to rain God’s name and good graces.

Lewis, Tolkien, and Churchill all share a heart that urged their generation in an uncommon direction in the face of conflict. Each man stood for what he believed in. There comes a point in time where lines need to be recognized and drawn. But teen culture paints over lines, erases boundaries, and forces paint on white canvases.

Rather than creating new normals and constructing new virtues, teens would do well to realize that others have suffered before us to lead generations to come. God specifically placed Lewis, Tolkien, and Churchill with gifts of words to lead a generation to rise and be the voice of a fortified past era. Rather than dismantling our foundation, namely stripping Christianity out of anything and everything to create new normals, teens feel more supported when we can look back and see the strength of our system. 

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McGuire and Aasness Earn MVP as Comets Closing Books with Accolades

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McGuire and Aasness Earn MVP as Comets Closing Books with Accolades

Sean McGuire and Megan Aasness earned top honors in the Pheasant Conference as the season closed. Both students were recognized as MVPs for the conference, showing a unique dominance on the diamond that led their teams to successful seasons. They were joined by a host of underclassmen who look forward to future success in the Comet's spring sports.

Megan Aasness hung her cleats up this weekend after playing in the State Softball All-star game. Megan was recognized as the Pheasant Conference MVP after setting career steals records for both individual season and career. Noted as the most valuable player in the conference, Aasness saw a similar accolade fall to teammate Nicole Dekok who was recognized as Co-Pitcher of the Year, sharing the title with Sara Jacobson from Brandon-Evansville.

The Comets put 4 players onto the 11 player roster for the all conference team. Senior Annie Murphy, and junior Sophie Iverson received recognition for their work on the field and behind the plate. The Comets will look to replace the two-time all conference player in Murphy at first base. Her graduation creates a hole, while Aasness' work holding down short stop will also cause pause for the Comets looking forward to next year. However, Iverson displays a versatility that Comet Coach Craig Nersten could utilize. Iverson earned her accolade for her work at third base and second base, showing an ability to field well and throw across the diamond. 

Emma Royce and Ruthanne Erickson were recognized as honorable mention for the all conference accolade. Emma's bat opened scoring opportunities for the Comets. First year catcher Ruthanne Erickson displayed a unique ability to take tough pitches from the region's top pitcher and rise above the conference's other catchers. Ruthanne will join teammates in another run at playoffs, where they were considered one of the region and state's best teams.

Joining McGuire on the stand of All-conference for baseball was fellow hurler Chris Tungseth. The Comets created a great one-two punch with McGuire and Tungseth, causing every team to realize they would face tough pitching against the Comets no matter who threw last. The two pitchers were known to go the distance for the Comets, pulling off big games at the Comets took their season three games deep into playoffs.

Sam Ihrke hopes his success behind the plate can translate to winning more games next year as he also earned recognition as the one of the conference's best catcher. Ihrke's all conference award will propel him to continue honing his skills behind the plate as he teams up with McGuire next season to go deeper into the playoffs next year. Senior Jordan Foss was recognized with an honorable mention for all conference.

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Noah Chase Lands 53 out of 90 in State Golf Meet

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Noah Chase Lands 53 out of 90 in State Golf Meet

While the rest of Hillcrest preps for fall athletics 8th grader Noah Chase finally ended his golf season this weekend at the state meet. The only member of Hillcrest's golf team, Chase continually outshot competitors throughout the season, joking that he is always Hillcrest's top scorer. With golf bag in tow Chase ventured to Pebble Creek golf course in Becker, Minnesota to close his season.

Chase is a student of golf. After falling in love with the sport hitting a hole in one shot with his grandfather when he was 8 years old, Chase has since worked on his game continually at Balmoral golf course near his home. He knows the course like the back of his hand, but has relentlessly worked on difficult shots to prepare himself for the challenges he faced against a high school competitors as a pre-teen junior high student.

Noah earned the bid to the State golf meet after practicing with Ottertail Central's golf team. He worked to secure rides to golf meets with the team and out shined most of his carpool friends. In the first day of the Section 6A meet to earn a trip to State, Noah shot an 83, five strokes out of first place. He was holding down fourth place, knowing the next day of the Section meet would require more focus and more attention to earn a ride to Minneapolis to compete with the state's best. He retained his pace the second day, shooting an 84, marching to grab his fifth place medal and a ticket that was punched for a trip to Becker, Minnesota to represent Hillcrest at the state golf meet.

Noah was a young representative at the State meet that held 80 competitors. Noah packed up his 8th grade text books and plopped himself behind his computer when the final bell rang in Hillcrest's hallways marking the start of summer vacation. Noah's computer screen was locked on the Pebble Creek course as he looked at a schematic and map for the State meet. He studied the hazards, looked at the fairways, and noted the boundaries. His mental preparation is prodigious for such a young student. Study skills started to fall into place as he shot a number of rounds of golf before practicing at the Pebble Creek course.

In Noah's first round of competition his nerves seemed to get the best of him. A 47 is not Noah's best score, and he knew it. His determination settled his hands for the back nine of his first round, looking to close the day on a high note. His shots dropped with more precision after his first 9 holes, and his club selection changed. He closed the final 9 holes with 43 strokes, shooting an even 90 on the challenging course. 

When the sun rose on the second day of the tournament Noah walked with more confidence. Remembering the schematic of Pebble Creek he studied for weeks on his computer, Noah took care of his shots with greater precision. He shot a 45 on the front 9, knocking off 2 strokes from his performance 24 hours earlier. Between the front and back it seemed like Noah was purely focused on golf as his family cheered. According to family members he was wondering where the family would eat dinner. Noah's sense of humor allows him to rise above other golfers on the course. He has a unique focus that keeps him rolling even after having a poor performance at a hole.

In both of his second rounds in both days of competition Noah shot better. Noah's second day earned him a 2 stroke better performance than the previous day, and his back nine the second day had him knock off one stroke, finishing the second day shooting 45 in the opening 9 and 42 on the back. His 89, coupled with his 90 in the first day of the tournament, earned him a spot in the top 53 golfers at the State Class A meet. 

The state meet carried a host of junior high students competing with other high school students. While many shot well, Noah's performance is wholly unique as he is the only member of his golf team. His work on the links is likely to build momentum for a Hillcrest golf program that has had a nearly 20 year drought in state competition. With the support Noah received from his family this season it is easy to see Noah making more trips to Minneapolis for golf competition. 

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Aasness Represents Comets in All-Star Softball Game

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Aasness Represents Comets in All-Star Softball Game

Megan Aasness wasn't finished with softball when her team packed up the bags and threw the bats into storage last month. Aasness was selected to Minnesota's All-Star softball team. They played a game last week and Aasness showed why she was selected as she continued to tear up the base path and score runs in representing Hillcrest.

In Megan's first at bat she practiced skills she developed in red and white. Wearing a blazing yellow jersey for her all-star team, Megan sat low in the batters box and watched pitches miss her small strike zone before she smiled in taking first base. After earning her walk she leaned back on first base and stretched her leg. She was hoping to practice a skill that earned her top honors in the state.

Timing her steps carefully, Aasness took off to second base and earned a steal, showing her prowess on the base path that earned her the steals title for both career and single season marks. She moved to third base as her fellow all-stars worked at the plate, scoring on a sac-fly. Her trip across home plate is something Comet fans remember well, scoring first in many games thanks to Megan's work in eating up extra bases.

Megan's quick feet earned her a trip to first base as a pinch runner. Even though she was doing work in the field, the all-star game grants special rules for pinch running because each team has 10 all-stars from around the state. Megan easily rounded the bases to score her second run of the game, where her team only scored 3 runs in the first game 3-3 tie.

In the second game of the all-star game double-header Megan displayed her work with the stick, sacrifice bunting 3 times to advance runners to scoring position. When she wasn't playing small ball behind the plate, Megan was in the field eating up grounders to create a host of put outs. 

Megan's Hillcrest coaches made the trip to watch her play one final time in representing Hillcrest on the diamond. The coaches weren't surprised with how she led the team, she's been doing that each season they've had her lace up cleats and jog to short stop to hold down the infield. 

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Comets Close Seasons with Impressive Showings

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Comets Close Seasons with Impressive Showings

8th grader Noah Chase is the last one standing in Hillcrest's 2015-16 sports season. After shooting an eye-popping 167, Noah earned himself a trip to the Class A State Golf Tournament. When Noah turned-in his card he noted he was only 8 strokes off the pace, falling in the middle of a pack of high school students who are looking at Noah's grade and taking a second glance. 

Waving to Noah as he passes Hillcrest and continues to state is Hillcrest's successful 4X800m team. In the Section meet last week the Comets blew opponents away from the start. Hans Holzner started the race and earned Hillcrest a nearly 50m lead before handing the baton to fellow junior Luke Bowman. Bowman stayed with Holzner the night before the race, and the two mentally prepared for the section meet. Luke set his stop watch, closed his eyes, and hit the timer while he was laying down in bed. His mental preparation had him running his fastest time in his head, beating his personal record before he stopped his watch and opened his eyes. The dream leg would become a reality after Holzner passed him the baton at the meet. Luke beat his mental time by 1 second, running a 2:04 800m and setting a new personal record by over 5 seconds.

When Bowman passed the baton to Toby Simonsen Hillcrest was holding tight to their 50m lead. Simonsen retained the lead. As the baton passed to Tommy Thompson there was a rush around the stadium. Thompson quickly circled the first 50m and could hear the pounding footsteps of his competition. They hustled to catch Tommy. 

As the race neared the final 100m Tommy was drafting his opponents. Tommy kicked in his final push, knowing this could be the last time he ran the straightaway this year. Next to Tommy ran two other teams, each beating their body and crossing thresholds of exhaustion in the final 30m. When Thompson crossed the finish line there was a one-two-three punch on the track. The final footsteps across the line had all three runners nearly collapsing. It was a race for the annuls of history. Hillcrest hadn't been beaten all season. Their final time was 8 seconds faster than their school record sub-section time. Each runner in Hillcrest's platoon ran their best time of the season. Hans Holzner ran 2:01, and the all junior team congratulated him as they looked at their 8:21:93 time. It was the best race of their year, and they blew past the school record.

After the track team closed their season there was a caravan that followed the Baseball team as they worked to keep their season alive in playoffs. The caravan barely got settled in their seats before the Comets scored their first run. After Jordan Foss singled, Reggie Undseth stepped into the box and took a pitch off his mid-section. Trey Bosek stepped past the white painting marking the batters box a few times before he connected on a low pitch that dribbled from home plate into the infield. Foss was sick of standing on the base path and leapt decisively off Bosek's hit. Watching the ball, Foss rounded third as the throw went to first base, scoring easily. 

The Comets made it 2-0 in the 3rd off more hustling on the base path. Sean McGuire reached on a fielder's choice before Undseth took another pitch off his body. With McGuire watching the pitcher's feet, he darted for third on an errant pick-off move and rounded 3rd as Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (BBE) dug the ball out of the fence behind first base. 

The Comets went on to commit 7 errors in the following innings, playing what Coach Steve Undseth called their worst game in the field all season. Their errors gift wrapped 4 runs for BBE, closing the season with the playoff loss as they ended their season 4-2. The Comets closed their season with a record of 11-9. 

As the Comets closed the game with the ceremonial handshake they looked in the stands to see the Lady Comets, who closed their season a few weeks earlier. The Lady Comets nearly created a moniker as heart attack Hillcrest in their final handful of games. Fans knew that no matter what deficit Hillcrest faced in the second or third inning, the Lady Comets would pull together a multi-run inning in the final few frames. So when Hillcrest fell behind in the first inning on the back of three errors, there was hope.

In the bottom of the first Hillcrest put a run on the board after giving up 4 runs in the first. Senior Annie Murphy reached first base on a single, stole second during Sophie Iverson's at bat, and scored after Iverson tripled.

The Comets looked to continue their bounce back in the second after Senior Emma Royce walked to first base. Tara Fercrenzy hit Royce around to start what looked to be a rally inning. After Karina Larson walked and a few Comets made the pitcher work, Jordan Matranga walked to load the bases. With one out Hillcrest looked to bounce back with a full deck of base runners. 

With Megan Aasness stepping in with a tight strike zone and quick feet on the base path, Hillcrest's base coaches were leaning in to see what would happen. But after Aasness popped out to the pitcher and Annie Murphy followed suit with a ground out the Comets grabbed their gloves to curb more damage on the field having left the bases loaded.

Nicole DeKok did good work from the mound considering only two of her pitches were working. Primarily using her fastball and changeup, DeKok earned 5 strike outs and retired 12 batters in a row after a four run 1st inning where 3 of the runs were unearned. 

The Comets saw great production from the bottom of the lineup, who went 2 for 8 with 6 walks and all 3 Comet runs. As the Comets look forward to next season they have building blocks in place to make another run at the playoffs, despite losing state steals record holder Megan Aasness. The Lady Comets close their books with an 11-7 record.

The Comets are now in the off-season, meeting 3 times per week as they look forward to the 2016-17 school year.

 

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Staff Gather to Pray Over School Theme

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Staff Gather to Pray Over School Theme

In 1843, a twenty-one-year old Massachusetts scholar was doing research on the American Revolution and what led up to it. Among those he interviewed was Captain Levi Preston, a Yankee who was seventy years his senior and had fought at both Lexington and Concord.
“Captain Preston,” the young man began, “what made you go to the Concord Fight on April 19, 1775?”
“What did I go for?” The old soldier, every bit his ninety-one years, was very bowed, so he raised himself to his full height, taken aback that anyone should ask a question about anything so obvious.
The young man tried again. “Yes, my histories tell me that you men of the Revolution took up arms against ‘intolerable oppressions.’ What were they?”
“Oppressions? I didn’t feel them.”
“What, you were not oppressed by the Stamp Act?”
“I never saw one of those stamps,” Captain Preston replied. “I certainly never paid a penny for them.”
“Well, what about the tea tax?”
“Tea tax? I never drank a drop of the stuff,” the old veteran replied. “The boys threw it all overboard.”
“Then I suppose you had been reading Harrington, or Sidney and Locke about the eternal principles of liberty?”
“Never heard of ’em,” Captain Preston said. “We read only the Bible, the Catechism, Watt’s Psalms and the Almanac.”
“Well then, what was the matter? And what did you mean in going to fight?”
“Young man,” Captain Preston stated firmly, “what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: We always had been free, and we meant to be free always. They didn’t mean we should.”
~A Free People's Suicide | Os Guinness

The above quote was read aloud for faculty and staff gathering in prayer Wednesday. With birds chirping in trees casting shade over Dawn Synstelien's chicken coop staff sat huddling around a simple story that is part of many real world examples finding their way into Hillcrest's 2016-17 school theme.

The theme narrative started last week as staff gathered in the Union conference room to deliberate issues that are facing students and staff. Pulling out examples from the classroom a common theme emerging was freedom. However, many staff repeated a phrase that freedom in Christ is really a freedom that is not earned. The staff continually ended comments with the word done. 

Living in the light of the cross, Hillcrest staff are excited to communicate a reality to students. This reality is that their freedom is only given them by Christ. It is a reality that Captain Preston knew. His words, "we had always been free," refers to a self-evident truth. The Declaration of Independence hinged on this reality. That the simple truths of freedom are self-evident, and mankind is endowed with freedom by the creator that leaves all men created equal to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

The devotional before the prayer referenced the freedom given Adam and Eve in the garden. Their freedom was not earned. It was not fought for, stained with the blood of soldiers. Freedom comes from God. 

However, a bondage set in. The bondage came from Satan in the form of shackles that man could know things apart from God. This work to know good and evil without referencing God's definition placed Adam and Eve into bondage. Their freedom was stripped.

The devotional shifted to reference the book Leviticus, highlighting the 10 Commandments in Exodus, where laws are emphasized to show God's order. Unfettered freedom is slavery to live a life void of God, and the consequences destroy man, relationships, and God's intended purpose for man to have relationship with his Creator. 

Ultimately, the devotional rested in Jesus. Jesus is the defender of freedom. His work on the cross, spilling blood for all of mankind in defense of freedom, granted the world a true path to relationship with God and wholeness in a freedom that liberates man to an intimate relationship with God. 

The devotional closed with Galatians 5:1. As the words were read aloud there was a simple peace that came into Dawn's sunporch. Staff nodded in agreement when it was declared that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. There was a soft sigh, some uttering a gentle grunt, when the command to avoid the yoke of slavery was given. The devotional sparked a 30 minute focused prayer time for the faculty and staff, some 11 adults and spouses, gathered to declare Jesus Christ the Lord of the school year. Their bowed heads stood as a reference to their vocal commitment.

A creative team is continuing to develop the theme. Progress will post to Hillcrest blogs throughout the summer as faculty and staff commit to joining together every two weeks for prayer. 

 

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Lady Comets Close Season Carried by Bottom of the Lineup

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Lady Comets Close Season Carried by Bottom of the Lineup

The Lady Comets nearly created a moniker as heart attack Hillcrest in their final handful of games. Fans knew that no matter what deficit Hillcrest faced in the second or third inning, the Lady Comets would pull together a multi-run inning in the final few frames. So when Hillcrest fell behind in the first inning on the back of three errors, there was hope.

In the bottom of the first Hillcrest put a run on the board after giving up 4 runs in the first. Senior Annie Murphy reached first base on a single, stole second during Sophie Iverson's at bat, and scored after Iverson tripled.

The Comets looked to continue their bounce back in the second after Senior Emma Royce walked to first base. Tara Fercrenzy hit Royce around to start what looked to be a rally inning. After Karina Larson walked and a few Comets made the pitcher work, Jordan Matranga walked to load the bases. With one out Hillcrest looked to bounce back with a full deck of base runners. 

With Megan Aasness stepping in with a tight strike zone and quick feet on the base path, Hillcrest's base coaches were leaning in to see what would happen. But after Aasness popped out to the pitcher and Annie Murphy followed suit with a ground out the Comets grabbed their gloves to curb more damage on the field having left the bases loaded.

Nicole DeKok did good work from the mound considering only two of her pitches were working. Primarily using her fastball and changeup, DeKok earned 5 strike outs and retired 12 batters in a row after a four run 1st inning where 3 of the runs were unearned. 

The Comets saw great production from the bottom of the lineup, who went 2 for 8 with 6 walks and all 3 Comet runs. As the Comets look forward to next season they have building blocks in place to make another run at the playoffs, despite losing state steals record holder Megan Aasness. The Lady Comets close their books with an 11-7 record.

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Undseth's Round 1 Gamble Reaps 3-0 Shutout

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Undseth's Round 1 Gamble Reaps 3-0 Shutout

Who stands on the mound for playoffs is one of the hardest decisions a baseball coach makes. Weighing the pros and cons through finals week drove Comet head coach Steve Undseth to throw Chris Tungseth rather than ace Sean McGuire, and Tungseth dazzled in a stunning 4-hit shutout that has Hillcrest poised for a playoff run.

Comet baseball walked a little slower to warm up in their first game after saying goodbye to many friends following Hillcrest's Memorial Day closing of the 2015-16 school year. There weren't as many fans spitting sunflower seeds and shouting during walkups to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. With parents giving support, Hillcrest managed a bases loaded threat in the first inning, working to jump out early and put their emotional graduation weekend behind them. The resolve of the Comets was inspiring.

The Comets were pinching themselves, with no outs and runners stacked around the bases. An errant pitch gave Sean McGuire an opportunity to score, and when the ball hit the backstop and rolled away from the catcher McGuire darted home and helped Hillcrest move to a 1-0 lead. The first inning score was all Hillcrest needed with Tungseth on the mound.

In what some feared might be his final game pitching in a Comet uniform, Tungseth took control of the evening. A 1-0 lead gave him confidence to stretch his legs and hurl fastballs down the pipe. His command was in rare form for a high school pitcher, hitting spots on the corner despite the plate uncharacteristically growing smaller by the men in blue as the game wore on.

With Tungseth calmly peering down to Sam Ihrke he continued to eat through Hancock's lineup. In the 3rd inning Tungseth received an insurance run after Jordan Foss reached first base on an error. After Reggie Undseth reached base with a bruise from a beaning, Foss moved to second. Tungseth moved Foss to third on a fielder's choice grounder, and with two outs Hillcrest sat with an insurance run 90 feet from home with runners at the corners. 

Coach Undseth tipped his hat and clapped his hands, sending signs to home plate that Tungseth picked-up on. When the pitch left mound Tungseth leapt beyond his 3 step slide from first base. As the pitch hit the catchers mitt there was a quick glance towards first base, where the only remnant from Tungseth was his size 12 foot prints as he kicked-up dirt in an attempted double-steal. Hancock didn't bite, and Hillcrest continued the at bat with runners at second and third with two outs. 

During the next series of pitches Hancock looked rattled. A miscue between Hancock's delivery men forced a pitch to the backstop. Foss darted home and forced a play at the plate between the delivery men. With the catcher quickly fielding and tossing the ball the pitcher there wasn't attention to precision in delivering the play. Foss slid in under the pitcher who's eyes followed the ball past his glove. The ball dribbled to the mound where it rolled to a stop as Tungseth rounded third base like a freight train. Tungseth crossed home plate and earned himself a 3-0 lead that he would carry through Hancock's lineup.

Tungseth frustrated Hancock consistently. He allowed 3 free passes to first base in his seven innings, striking out 8 in his dominant performance. "Chris was the difference today," noted Coach Undseth. "We were fortunate he was so sharp...Give credit to Sean, Jordan, and Chris for hustling home on those two wild pitches."

Hillcrest moves to the double-elimination portion of the Section 6A tournament. They play #1 seeded Ortonville at 2:30pm Thursday in Morris. The game promises a tough showdown with Sean McGuire expected to pitch. McGuire carries a no-hit experience versus Ortonville from last year into Thursdays game. The second game is played at 5pm wether the Comets win or lose. 

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Comets Set School Record in 4X800m Thriller

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Comets Set School Record in 4X800m Thriller

Hans Frank-Holzner doesn't like being second. Fortunately for him, he has a team that shares that distaste and as the Comets took to the track they ran an inspired race that many wish they could relive.

Runners kick their legs before a race. It seems awkward to see them standing like a flamingo and shaking their legs as if they'd fallen asleep. But when you're a spectator, you don't ask questions for those running. Mostly out of fear that they might ask you to show them how it's done. So as a hoard of young men huddled near a goal post at Perham High School for the sub-section meet few were watching them kick their legs. The meet would prove to be Hillcrest's top leg kickers toughest test of the season. Two strong teams pulled in runners from other fields to challenge the Comet's undefeated relay team.

When the huddle broke and the runners transitioned their ritualistic leg kicking to the track, Hans Frank-Holzner set himself at the starting line. Hans is Hillcrest's fastest runner. His splits in the 800m are consistently 2-3 seconds faster than his teammates'. It seems natural to place Hans as the anchor for the relay team. But who know why runners do what they do. Sometimes the mystery is a dissonance that draws greater attention, and the Comets have consistently resolved their meets with gold medals on their necks.

When the gun sounded, starting the race, Hans darted to the lead and answered a few questions on why he runs the lead. He hates being second. Hans pushed the pack through the first lap, taunting the other teams as they chased down Hillcrest's strongest runner. 

As Holzner rounded the final bend a black jersey slipped to the outside and was neck and neck with Hans. The black jersey belonged to Perham, who pulled together a team that hasn't run together all season. They boast the top times in Perham's 400m and 800m individual competitors. Perham wanted the top prize in the sub-section home meet, and the 800m was one rung they sought to grab in their climb in earning the title. With Perham's coach barking seemingly obvious orders for the new baton carrier to run fast, Luke Bowman picked up his pace.

Bowman's clip was impressive. After Holzner gave his all on the track, clearly one of the top competitors at Thursdays meet, Perham was inching ahead. Bowman set a quickened pace, looking ahead at a black jersey that was almost pulling him along as he rounded the first corner a second time. Bowman impressed fans as he cut Perham's lead on the third turn, pushing an impressive final 200m where Perham's coach was muted by the cross-field wind. Bowman didn't need barking. He has an effortless stride and hardly looked winded as he kicked his final 100m before passing the baton to Toby Simonsen. 

As Simonsen took the baton Hillcrest held a shrinking 10m lead. Simonsen loves distance. He's a grind it out kind of runner. Around the first turn Perham caught Toby and was working to pass. But Toby doesn't get pushed around. Holding his ground, Toby kept the pace and stayed ahead of Perham's yellow headband wearing team. 

As Simonsen reached his final 100m he had built on Bowman's lead, reaching teammate Tommy Thompson for the final leg of the race with a substantial 30m lead. Perham's coach wasn't happy. He was ready to run the race next to his team like a neighborhood dog if he had to. When Perham's anchor grabbed the baton their coach stopped. The anchor got the message and he flew for 300m before reaching Tommy Thompson. The lead Hillcrest built was gone and Thompson was rounding the third corner peering over the infield to see a finish line that might be the first Hillcrest would cross in second place all season.

After the first lap Tommy was a few feet behind Perham, but Tommy wasn't winded. The 800m is a race of strategy, and the Comets came to play.

Where most teams will place their fastest runners at the end of the race, Hillcrest places theirs first. Hans Holzner's time from the race was 2:04. Holzner likes to build a substantial lead, and he doesn't like being second. He's a leader. Behind Holzner, Luke Bowman, Toby Simonsen, and Tommy Thompson are grinders. Some make running look effortless, like Bowman who seems to glide on the track. Simonsen knows how to work, and his grind-it-out approach to the 800m is consistent and hard to beat with natural talent. Bowman's time was 2:09 and Simonsen turned in a 2:08 performance. The handoffs were flawless, like a band of brothers who sense each other's presence. 

As Tommy crossed the starting line and looked across the infield he saw a Perham runner hitting a wall. With Holzner's pace, Perham felt like they were playing catch-up the entire race. Thanks to Bowman and Simonsen, Perham couldn't out maneuver Hillcrest on the track. Perham worked in the first 400m to close the gap created by Holzner, and built upon by Bowman and Simonsen. Even though Thompson was passed 300m into his leg, he kept close enough to Perham to watch the runner hit his wall.

Thompson started his kick with 200m, easily gliding by Perham. On the final straight away Thompson had push left in his tank. The final 50m were purely pleasure for Hillcrest. There was no competition now. Now it was running for the love of it. When Thompson crossed the line coach Seth Kinrade sprinted from the infield to huddle his team. According to the stop watch Hillcrest set a new school record, but the official photo finish results wouldn't be in for a few minutes. 

With smiles and high fives the team hugged parents and talked strategy with teachers who ventured to the meet. When the time was read it revealed a new school record holder. The undefeated 2016 4X800m relay team held the record by mere 100ths of seconds. But a new record is a new record and the team was excited to extend their season to Thursdays Section meet in Moorhead Thursday.

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Comets Steal Way to Win in First Round of Playoffs

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Comets Steal Way to Win in First Round of Playoffs

When the dust settled at Hannah Park Tuesday night the Comets were huddling underneath a sky that was shouting in colors to a Comet come from behind victory. The win moved Hillcrest to the second round of playoffs despite entering the final frames in an 8-8 tie. 

The Comets leapt to an early lead thanks to Senior Megan Aasness' dominant work on the base path. Aasness led the Comets in the first with a good eye, earning a free trip to first base where she bounced in anticipation of the next pitch. Aasness took off and rounded second and moved to third on subsequent pitches. Annie Murphy stepped in the batters box, looking forward to cleaning the bases. She is doing that a lot this season.

A base hit by Murphy allowed Aasness to score, putting the Comets up 1-0 with the grounder. It was a simple lead that propelled Nicole DeKok through four innings. DeKok setup and knocked down 11 Trojans with her fastball that moved Ortonville to the back of the box. DeKok's shutout through four innings was kept intact largely because of her off-speed work that painted the corners. With the Trojans stepping closer to the catcher to gain a few extra feet to see DeKok's fastball come in, they swung a head of a number of DeKok's change-ups and curveballs.

With DeKok holding a solid reign on the mound, Hillcrest went to work in the bottom of the 4th. Faces pressed against the chainlink fence, the Comet ladies cheered teammates around the bases. Dust greyed the dugout where Hillcrest was busy clapping hands and high-fiving each other to a 2-0 lead. In grabbing their gloves to jog back to the field there was a sneer from the Trojan bench. They weren't ending their season in a shutout.

The Trojans set to work in the 5th propelled by a 3 run home run. When the Comets huddled in front of their dugout to lick their wounds they were down 6-2 with three more trips to the plate promised them. 

Cheers again rose from the Comet bench. Their cries and chants earned the group a loaded bases at bat for clutch hitter Annie Murphy. Murphy gripped the bat a little tighter than she did in the first inning. The at bats are winding down for her in a Comet uniform. Her picky pitch selection led her to turn on wafting pitch that soared to the right center gap. Murphy was pulled around by the rest of her Comet teammates who she followed all the way to third base. Murphy fist bumped Head Coach Craig Nersten as his smile grew bigger realizing Murphy cleared the bases for the second time that evening. Hillcrest would take the field in the 6th with an 8-6 lead.

The Trojans answered in the six, capitalizing off some timing they did on Comet pitcher Nicole DeKok. When the Comet grabbed their bats in the 6th they were knotted up at 8 with the Trojans. Hillcrest was determined to extend their season by at least one more game as Jordan Matranga took her practice swings before the Trojans did their throw down to start the bottom of the 6th.

Matranga saw something in Ortonville's pitcher. Maybe it was a tired release or a sloping shoulder that caused Jordan to watch four balls miss the strike zone. Her good eye gave her free passage to first base. Matranga took off during the next at bat, making it easily to second base. A passed ball moved her to third base where coach Nersten was plotting his game winning move. During the next at bat Megan Aasness followed Matranga's lead and watched a series of pitches miss the zone. 

As Aasness started to first base she saw her dad, first base coach Pete Aasness, give her a sign. She picked up her pace and darted around first base to second. The Trojan pitcher, thinking through her lead-off walks, was kicking dirt before she realized Aasness was making a break for second. Instinctively, the pitcher went for Aasness, forgetting about Matranga at third base, who was eyeing the commitment of the pitcher to Aasness. When the ball left the pitcher's hand Matranga darted for home, completing the double-steal that moved Hillcrest to a 9-8 lead and propelled the Comets to the second round of playoffs. 

Annie Murphy contributed 4 RBIs to Hillcrest's 9 run total. The Comets received a bolster of supportive hitting from Tara Ferenczy, Sophie Iverson, and Emma Royce who all had 2 hits on the night. Aasness continued her thievery on the base path, tagging 2 more steals to her record breaking season where he has tallied 50 total stolen bases. Aasness' career total is 107. 

Hillcrest plays Minnewaska on Thursday as they enter the second round of playoffs.

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Comets Overcome 4-run 1st Inning Deficit in Come From Behind Gem

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Comets Overcome 4-run 1st Inning Deficit in Come From Behind Gem

If the Comets could erase an inning from their season, yesterdays 1st inning may have been a good one. After falling behind 4-0 in the 1st, Reggie Undseth showed his mettle in taking the mound and going the distance after spotting nearly a handful of runs to West Central Area. The Knights fell prey to yet another display of Comet baseball's resiliency.

After two scoreless innings, the Comet bats came alive and capitalized on a few mistakes by the Knights. In the top of the 3rd, Trey Bosek reached first base on an error. When Collin Erickson showed why he is one of Coach Undseth's top hitters reached first base on grounder, Bosek trucked from first to third and landed 90 feet from scoring. Erickson took off for second during the next at bat, creating a diversion with the double-steal play that brough Bosek home.

I am so proud of the way our guys fought back after going down 4-0 in the first inning. Reggie settled himself and pitched a terrific game the rest of the way, giving us the opportunity to chip away at the deficit. We finally got some clutch hits when we needed them from Collin, Sean, Nick, and Jordan. After the two extra-inning games earlier in the week when we scored a total of 4 runs in 19 innings, it was very satisfying to go home with a win tonight.
— Head Coach Steve Undseth

Sean McGuire stepped into the box and tipped his hat, seeing Erickson at second with a run on the board for the Comets. McGuire ripped a single that caught a lot of green, allowing Bosek to round third easily and put the Comets down 2 runs, 4-2.

The Knights fought back in the following innings, giving Hillcrest a 5-2 deficit before Hillcrest caught some momentum in the 5th around Bosek for a second time. After walking, Bosek eyed second base. Another single by Erickson gave Bosek free pass to third base. 90 feet from home for the second time in the day, Bosek sprinted home on an RBI sacrifice by Nick Foss. 

When McGuire stepped in it was like things hadn't changed since his previous at bat. Erickson was at second and Bosek was high fiving in the dugout. Another RBI single let Erickson sit for a few minutes, scoring easily before grabbing his glove and standing at the fence of the dugout. The Comets were down 5-4 with McGuire on first.

McGuire moved to second after Undseth was hit by a pitch. With Foss stepping to the plate McGuire took a large lead at second. The infield was playing straight up, and Foss noticed a simple hole over first base. A tip over the first baseman's head sent McGuire from his large lead to score the tying run.

The stage was set for another round of late game heroics for the Comets. After a few at bats Hillcrest stood with a tying score and the bases loaded. Jake Steinle cooly walked to the plate. He'd been in a game winning situation earlier in the year. But what came through during Steinle's at bat wasn't the prowess of a hitter but the patience of a ball player. Steinle played the game, taking a series of pitches that might have led to a cheering stomp from the dugout. But he was disciplined. He didn't reach for a pitch with his aluminum bat. Instead, he sat and watched and walked to first base as the winning run crossed home plate.

The Comets play their final home game Monday vs. Barnesville. Hillcrest is 8-6 on the season.

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Comets Eye State in Undefeated Relay Team

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Comets Eye State in Undefeated Relay Team

4 Comets win every time they step on the track. Hans Frank-Holzner, Luke Bowman, Toby Simonsen, and Tommy Thompson set the pace for the 4X800m relay every time they're entered. Their time of 8:46 was good enough to earn them first place as they set their sights on the final stretch of the season in hopes of qualifying for state.

The 4X800m team isn't the only time Hillcrest jersey's step on the podium. In Thursdays meet, Hans Frank-Holzner took a second trip to the first place stand to receive a medal for the 1 mile run with a time of 4:50. Tommy Thompson filled Holzner's place on the podium for the 800m run with a time of 2:11.

One step down from Holzner stand a host of Comets who took off their cleats to represent their school. Abby Christenson won second place honors for the 400m and 800m runs with times of 1:07 and 2:42 respectively. Luke Bowman placed second in the 800m with a time of 2:14, 3 seconds behind teammate and pace setter Tommy Thompson. 

Tommy and Luke joined together, along with 4X800m teammate Toby Simonsen, and Junior High student Thomas Zwiers, to place second in the 4X400m relay with a time of 3:57.

The Comets' trip to the podium were interspersed with cheering from their team's camp. The cheering was a celebration of personal records (PR) other Comets attained due to their hard work during the season. Matilde Strand set a PR for the discus after she threw a 50'1" mark. Zak Zwiers followed Strand in setting a PR, throwing 96'1" in besting his previous throws throughout the year. Zak's brother, Thomas, set a PR with a 29.34 sprint of the 200m. Melanie Antuna closed the meet with her PR, a 2 mile run that had her smile dazzling with a time of 13:53.

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Comets Keep it Close with State Ranked Sebeka

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Comets Keep it Close with State Ranked Sebeka

Likely the most challenging game of the year pushed Hillcrest into new territory Thursday night. After Junior Sophie Iverson put one over the fence a new sense of confidence filled the Comet dugout as they played #9 ranked Sebeka, losing a slugfest in 7 innings with a final score of 13-10.

When Iverson stepped in for her first at bat there she carried a new approach to the plate. Sebeka's pitcher throws hard, and is known to paint the corners of the plate to keep hitters off balance. But when Iverson turned on a ball that lingered above the belt-buckle she proved that intimidation isn't something the Comets fall prey to. Iverson blasted a home run over the left-center fence, the longest part of Hannah Park. Her high fives and smiles plastered a 2-0 lead that gave the Comets a sense of confidence as they took the field in the second inning.

Sebeka gained a 3-2 advantage in the 2nd off a home run. The Comets countered with some good hitting and quick work on the base path. In the bottom of the fourth they jumped back on the board after Annie Murphy placed a hard hit ball up the middle. Murphy moved to second easily with a stolen base, and crossed home plate after Iverson cranked another hard hit ball. Iverson moved to third off a stolen base. Head Coach Craig Nersten eyed home plate from the third base coaches box. His tying run was 90 feet from home. 

Sebeka failed to get a decent pitch into Dekok, who was eager to plate Iverson by hitting the ball into the green outfield. But Dekok proved patient, watching 4 pitches sail by earning a free trip to first base. Nersten stuck his finger in the air as Dekok trotted down the line, catching Assistant Coach Pete Aasness' eye who sent Dekok to second base. With one out, the Comets were pulling a double steal off a walk. Nersten wanted that run.

Dekok got caught in a hot-box play, and as Sebeka paused the run down they watched Hillcrest even the score in the 3rd with both teams scoring 4 runs. Dekok nearly landed at second, but a close call by the umpire sent Dekok to the dugout. 

Sebeka bounced back from Hillcrest's small ball play, scoring 2 runs in the 4th and one in the 5th. Hillcrest came back in the 5th with back-to-back doubles by Dekok and Emma Royce. But Sebeka proved why they are #9 in the state with a sailing home run in the 6th that extended their lead to 13-6. Hillcrest ran out of steam, scoring 3 more runs in the 7th, but failed to close the remaining 2 run gap.

Hillcrest is looking forward to playoffs, with seedings cast today and games played Monday. Senior Megan Aasness is hoping she can continue playing softball well into June. her 48 stolen bases is a single season record, bolstering her total by 4 Thursday afternoon. She'll looking to break 50 today, when Hillcrest plays Barnesville to close the regular season.

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Holzner Sets Pace for Comets Eyeing State

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Holzner Sets Pace for Comets Eyeing State

Hans Holzner is making quick work of his track season. After finishing 32nd in the state for cross-country, Hans is taking to the track with aggression and is leading his team in a charge to state.

Holzner set a personal record Monday, running his mile in 4:45. For Hans, it was an easy day in Battle Lake. Normally he pairs with his undefeated 4X800m team to set a team tone at meets. However, with one member of the team missing, Holzner focused to her personal events and brought home gold. His mile time was good enough to make a statement for him on the first place podium. His 800m time of 2:04:24 also gave him gold as he cheered on teammates.

Holzner's remaining 4X800m team kept pace with him throughout the meet. Luke Bowman was drafting Hans for much of the day, finishing the 800m 13 seconds behind his state bound teammate. Bowman's mile time was 5:07, earning him 4th place as he clapped for his teammate wearing the gold medal.

Joining Holzner on the podium for mile was Toby Simonsen. Simonsen's 4:56 mile time was hard fought, beating Bowman to the podium, but falling prey to friendly competition in the 800m. Simonsen finished 6th to Bowman's 5th place, crossing the line one second behind Bowman and catching him after the finish to slap his hand in congratulations.

For the Lady Comets Melanie Antuna took to the podium, earning second place in the 2 mile with a 14:24 time. Antuna placed 8th in the less grueling 1 mile, crossing the line with a 6:43 time. 

The Battle Lake meet sets the stage for the Comets who are now looking forward to their sub-section and section meets, working to earn a spot in the State track meet in June.

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Comets Fight Back in Big Win and Cause Conference Showdown

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Comets Fight Back in Big Win and Cause Conference Showdown

Comet Baseball has moved steadily up the standings over the past few weeks. As the weather turned brutally cold Hillcrest started heating up, with good pitching and timely hitting earning the team a 2 game win streak. They came back from a 2-0 deficit vs. Brandon-Evansville for a decisive win Friday that has the Comets rolling towards their conference showdown vs. Ortonville on Monday.

The Comets fell down early in the top of the first inning Friday. A pair of run scoring hits had Brandon-Evansville on top of the Comets with Trey Bosek on the mound. When Bosek entered the dugout his team rallied, scoring a pair of runs that quickly reset the game for the second inning.

Jordan Foss was the first Comet on base in the first inning. His keen eye for good pitches earned him a walk, where he stole second, and scored on the first of Reggie Undseth's 3 hits of the game. Undseth advanced to second after the Chargers muffed a pick-off attempt, and scored from second base after getting a great jump on a ground ball by Chris Tungseth. 

Bosek struggled in the top of the third as the weather turned from bad to worse. The biting wind made it hard to grip the ball with any confidence from the mound. However, good defensive play kept Brandon-Evansville from posting a handful of runs, and as they took the field following the third out Hillcrest was only down one run. 

The dugout grew more lively during the third. Undseth earned a trip to first base again, sneaking to the bag on a nice single. He owned the base path for the second time, stealing second and third base with ease. 

With Undseth drawing attention from home plate, the Chargers struggled to throw strikes. Undseth represented the neutralizing run and he was 90 feet from resetting the game for the second time. Sean McGuire capitalized off the distraction, watching four balls sail outside the strike zone, granting him passage to first base.

With Undseth capped at first, McGuire took off for second, hoping to start a double steal. But the Chargers granted McGuire the free base, looking to retain their lead. For the second time on the day Chris Tungseth stepped in and tapped a dinger, looking to earn an RBI but Undseth was called out at home on a tag. Sam Ihrke stepped in, knocking a sacrifice hit to first base that scored McGuire and pulled Tungseth to third, who scored on the next at bat. The Comets ended the inning up 5-3.

The Chargers rallied for 3 runs in the sixth, after Hillcrest went up 6-3 in fifth. The 6-6 tie didn't sit well with the Comets, who struggled after a few costly mistakes in the field. After picking up two outs, Hillcrest sent Tungseth to the plate in the bottom of the 7th. A tapper in the infield grass promised to end the inning, but Tungseth turned his motor on and beat the throw, extending the inning. 

Bosek tapped another grounder, that should've sent the Comets back into the field, but a throwing error gave new life to the Comet bench that now had runners on second and third with 2 outs. Sam Ihrke unbuckled his catching gear and quickly picked up his bat before stepping into the box. The Comets have made him do that a lot this year as they continually extend innings and win games off two out hits. With Ihrke peering under his batting helmet visor he watched a pitch sail away from the Charger pitcher into a sweet spot in the strike zone. Ihrke connected for a base hit to left-center that scored Tungseth and set-off another walk-off win for the Comets at home.

Bosek pitched well considering the conditions. He went the distance for the Comets, giving up a meager 5 hits and walking none. It was Bosek's pitching, and a sturdy defense behind him, that proved the difference as the Comets capitalized on Charger mistakes and proved to be tough outs again for opponents. 

Hillcrest is 7-3 in the Pheasant Conference, taking on Ortonville who is 8-2 and is coming off a shutout loss to Brandon-Evansville last Thursday. The winner has a chance to run the table of the conference, and Hillcrest is looking forward to playing at home where they've lost 2 games all year.

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