Mervin Makundi slid to kick the ball out of the box as the Comets were in a 2-2 tie with Pelican Rapids in the final minute of Tuesdays game. Pelican kept pressure on Makundi all day, and after some strong saves the Hillcrest keeper wasn’t going to let his squad down in the final seconds. Nearly the entire Pelican team was inside the box, keeping pressure on Makundi and looking for a window to kick the final goal and beat a friendly rival. Makundi’s sliding kick left the net open after the ball ping-ponged around before finding a Pelican offender. The game looked to be over.
The Lady Comets spread the ball around in their mid-season check-up against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (WHA). When the final whistle blew the Comets met near their bench to pray with their opponents, a staple in girls’ athletics at Hillcrest. The smiles on both team’s faces revealed a complete Comet victory over a WHA team they scored 4 goals on three games prior.
A round of applause follows Ryan Garvin’s introduction of Daryl Synstelien. Bashfully smiling he lays out what he brought for the class, who hold pencils in ready position as they prepare to take notes. “Know and understand what you’re going to do, that’s the first thing I want to bring to you today."
The first page of the packet read, “We want to give you a chance to take responsibility for your development both spiritually and emotionally. Please do this exercise with a heart of growing, knowing that your teachers, staff, and RAs are all praying for you as you look to grow during your time here.” Students moved to the first question in the packet that had them imagine what a person following them for a day would say the student loves. Students were asked to write down the things they want to love, the thoughts they want to have in their intimate and quiet times of thought and processing life. They were then asked what their action plan was to generate new loves during their time at Hillcrest. The packet was a four-week checkup on their Hillcrest experience. It called them to remember why they came to the Castle in the first place.
The Comets were perfect from the service line in their first match against Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal (NCE-UH). With more practice and more games the Comets may put the conference on notice, having won a set against ninth ranked Underwood last week and carrying their first sweep of the season against NCE-UH Tuesday night. The sweep was the first since 2010 for Hillcrest, and the Comets are looking to set their sights higher in the coming weeks.
In the pandemonium Clark called a time out. Apologizing to his coaching staff, he turned to his players. The shuffle of injuries hit his heart. Now he worked to right the team with his mind. He started calling off numbers. "You, go four. You're a three." The Comet huddle was filled with players ready to step up, understanding where their friends had been on the field and where their coach needed them to step in now.
Luke Bowman, HLA class of 2017, was recently admitted into the U.S. Naval Academy’s Men’s Glee Club in Annapolis Maryland. As the academy’s most prestigious musical organization, members have the high honor of performing for presidents and royalty around the world. This Saturday, The Men’s Glee Club will be singing at the funeral of Senator John McCain which will be broadcast by all major television networks and live-streamed on Senator McCain’s website.
It took ten minutes for Hillcrest to strike. After a Marcus Fluge pass up the middle of the field, Eirik Primavera juked defenders to place a strike in the right corner of the net. Eighteen minutes later Primavera attacked the right goal line, dropping a perfect pass to Iver Honningdal who touched the ball past the Johnnie defender to put the Comets up 2-0. Honnindgal put more force behind his second goal, scored at the 32nd minute. A rocket from the top of the box sailed into the net off a pass from Primavera. The Comets went into halftime with their 3-0 lead, having kept the Johnnies on their heels for the first part of the afternoon.
It took 25 minutes for the Lady Comets to fill the net after MacKenzie Foss drilled an unassisted shot past the Crookston defender Friday. Foss would round out a hat trick over the next twenty minutes of play, leading the Lady Comets in scoring. Their six goal shutout is a strong step for the Comets this year as they embark on a new season with new faces filling the field.
Practice Makes Purpose is plastered on a ten foot banner in Hillcrest's chapel. With music instruments in the foreground, students peer over a drum ses to see the theme logo on the wall that is also on hallway display signs and student orientation packets. Each class at Hillcrest goes through an orientation schedule that has them meeting in the chapel to unpack the school theme and receive a series of messages that bring unity to the school.
The Hillcrest golf team set the bar high as the school reopened their golf program this year. After a nearly two decade hiatus from the sport, Hillcrest dusted off the clubs and practiced on the links, working their way into a strong place as they sent two golfers to State and hope to send two teams next year.
The red polos and white capped team from Hillcrest definitely improved this year. Some students sliced over thirty strokes from their score sheet from the first meet to the section finale. John and Mikey Vall vied for the top place in nearly every meet, walking home with more gold than bronze as they led the Comets to the state competition.
At the State banquet the entire Comet team sat around the tables. Other teams had one or two players present, but Hillcrest received a full team award that reveals more skill than their practice time on the putting green. The Comets were the top academic team in their division in the State. Their academic scores and grade point average revealed that golf is a fun priority, but the Comet golfers are shooting for success beyond the 18th green.
Brent Ferenczy is the lone senior on the Comet team. He was the Co-Salutatorian for his class. His counter part in academic success, Eric Konynenbelt, was nearly a State competitor in track, missing the cut by one-tenth of a second. Ferenczy's academic success led the Comet team consisting of junior John Vall, sophomore Mikey Vall, and freshman Joel Quam.
John and Mikey made the cut to play in the state competition. John finished in the top 20 and earned honors in being selected to the All-state golf team. Mikey wrapped up his sophomore season finishing in the top 50 in the state. The brothers are looking forward to adding a new fourth competitor to their team, as Brent graduates, eyeing another trip to state and hoping to do it as a full team next year while repeating their title as academic all-state champions.
Ihrke then called students to consider the reality of the redemption and restoration offered to students through the finished work of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection. In closing out the final moments of the chapel program, Ihrke called students to consider their life and the reality they've engaged in at Hillcrest. His message was a call to all to find themselves living in line with the reality of what they've engaged at Hillcrest Academy.
When John Vall approached his shot on hole one after swinging through holes 16, 17, and 18, there were voices echoing in the trees. His drive landed him 15 feet ahead of his golfing party, and his second stroke was smooth and confident as his party tried to engage him in conversation while he lined up his shot. His second shot landed his ball 20 feet from the pin, and as he walked up the slight incline for his third stroke on the par four, John conservatively played for an eight foot put that tapped in the cup while his party marked down another par for the meets top scorer.
Mikey played a tough front 9 on Tuesday at Tipsinah Moungs in Elbow Lake, MN. His golf partner, Noah Chase, was leading the pace through the first four holes. After a tough par four, where Chase shot two over and Mikey stroke for par, Mikey settled in and finished the front nine with steady pace, shooting par or one over to finish the front nine four over par, tied with perennial state golfer Noah Chase.
Over 200 runners registered to take park in the Bread & Jam Run. The goal was to reach a $10,000 threshold to create a named endowment scholarship in memory of Diane Ihrke. Before the runners arrived on Saturday the goal had been reached, with over $15,000 set to go directly to student scholarships.
The snow has thawed from Hillcrest's campus and two Comet runners are lacing up their spikes in the hunt for a bid in the state track meet this spring. After blasting out of the blocks in a series of events, Senior Eric Konynenbelt and Junior Michael Corbitt have their eyes set on a finish line that is almost one month away.
The Hillcrest Invitational Tournament (HIT) started over fifty years ago. While the Minnesota State High School League offered a tournament style offering for public schools, private schools were not eligible to participate in the high school league until 1974. Hillcrest turned to churches, asking church teams to venture to Fergus Falls to compete against the Hillcrest basketball teams.
The event raised $3200 by free-will donation. The donations will be evenly distributed to the families who experienced tragedy in the Hancock and West Central Area communities. The all-star game was organized by the conference athletic directors, with special arrangements made with Hillcrest and Craig Nersten, Hillcrest's Athletic Director.
Hillcrest has an incredible tradition developing in their Knowledge Bowl program. The academic competition takes classroom learning into a trivia contest setting that unveils students and schools who are accomplishing great things in the classroom. Over the past five years Hillcrest has placed in the top teams in the area, making their way to State competition.
In 2013 Hillcrest Knowledge Bowl continually worked their way into the top rounds. Eyes of underclassmen Reggie Undseth, Thomas Martinson and Daniel Preston were on Hillcrest's upperclassmen. When it was their turn, the 2013 underclassmen rose to the occasion, taking top honors in the high school division in their final years as Hillcrest students, passing the baton of a strong program to Sam Ihrke, Zak Zwiers, Jordan Konynenbelt, Danny Isaac, and Shantanu Mallick. The five are competing now for a state berth, hoping to follow in the path paved by the Hillcrest teams who have passed the baton.
As Hillcrest's top team is reaching for a state berth, there is another group waiting in the wings, led by Jack Nordick and Juliana Undseth who have made it a goal to beat their senior counterparts in one meet this year. They were close this week when they competed in the Sub-Region meet.
Hillcrest's two teams stepped into a field crowded with nearly 20 other schools vying for the opportunity to continue their season. After the written round, Hillcrest took their place in the top ten teams. They never left the grouping, ending the competition with both teams in the top six, the places necessary to hold in moving on to the Regional competition where the top three teams will move to the finale of the State competition.
Hillcrest's senior team is completing six years together as a knowledge bowl team. Their bond formed in Hillcrest's classrooms is now translating to a state run in their final year of knowledge bowl competition that will hold a torch of scholastic achievement high this year, set to pass to another group of budding scholars who stand primed to represent Hillcrest in academic competition for years to come.
"I'm gonna miss seeing the team every day," Paige Schultz revealed to a room full of grade school students at Morning Son Christian School earlier this week. Paige is co-captain of the 2017-18 Lady Comets Basketball team. She stood on stage Monday morning at the First Church of the Nazarene to share the impact playing basketball at Hillcrest has made on her and her teammates this year.
Every year the Hillcrest Comets bring a message to Morning Son's weekly chapel service. Traditionally the Boys and Girls basketball teams have done the services separately, sharing specific growth points related to their teams. Through the course of the past few years the two Comet squads have united to do more things together, including buddy groups where the teams will encourage each other and prayer partners, where the boys will spend specific time each week praying the Lady Comets.
Schultz and fellow co-captain Anna Murray spoke to the special bond the Lady Comets developed over their year playing basketball. They specifically mentioned how they encouraged each other in their relationship with Jesus Christ through times in prayer and simple words of encouragement that they shared on the court and in the locker room. The two noted that the love formed within the team went deeper than basketball, where friendships can be strained by mistakes on the court. They said that the Lady Comets held together because of their bond in Jesus Christ and their desire to represent Him on the court despite on court miscues.
The Lady Comets' presentation was sandwiched between the Boys' Basketball team's co-captains' presentations. Eric Konynenbelt introduced the Lady Comets, after players from both the boys and girls basketball teams told the room of wide-eyed grade schoolers their names, where they were from, and who their favorite superhero is. Eric gave a quick overview of the Basketball teams before passing the mic to the Lady Comets, who then passed the microphone to Sam Ihrke to close the service.
Sam revealed some of the things the Boys basketball team studied in their devotion times during the season. While many teams will reflect on their record and successes, the Comets took their time to unpack the ways God used the sport of basketball to unveil the character of God and to form virtues in the Comet players.
Sam closed by highlighting specific lessons the team learned together in their time on the court and in the locker room as they not only worked on their basketball game but also spent time in the Bible. Sam mentioned how the group was challenged to consider the correlation the Corinthian church had to their modern day life as a student in the team's Bible study in First Corinthians. Sam said they were challenged to live and develop characteristics that align with the Bible versus reflecting the world.
After the Comets finished their presentation they gathered in the hallway leading down to the grade school classrooms. The room of students filed out to high five the more than twenty Hillcrest athletes who shared on the growth, encouragement, and lessons they learned in their time as a Comet basketball player this year.