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Spring Sports

Undseth and McGuire Key 10-Run Pounce on Wolverines

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Undseth and McGuire Key 10-Run Pounce on Wolverines

The Hillcrest Comets defeated the C-G-B Wolverines 12-2 Friday evening as Reggie Undseth had a perfect night:  3 for 3 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 5 RBI on two doubles. He also stole two bases in two attempts and handled 5 chances flawlessly at shortstop to back up pitcher Sean McGuire, who also had an outstanding night:  3 for 4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI, and a complete game on the mound allowing just 3 hits while striking out 7 Wolverines. 

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Lady Comets Close Regular Season with Potent Offense

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Lady Comets Close Regular Season with Potent Offense

Friday marked the beginning of the final days at Hillcrest for many. The all-school picnic and clean-up day was followed by an afternoon at the ball field where the Lady Comets hosted a double-header against Clinton/Graceville/Beardsley (CGB). They left the 2017 regular season in the dust, scoring 17 runs over the two games, giving up only 3 to CGB, in a dramatic finish.

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Comet Baseball Scampers Home with Win over Chargers

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Comet Baseball Scampers Home with Win over Chargers

For all the walks Hillcrest picked up Monday, a quick scamper home was the deciding move that bumped the Comets to .500 in the conference Monday night. Hosting Brandon-Evansville, Hillcrest showed great patience, picking up three walks in the final frame before shaking hands and huddling in the dugout with the win.

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Comets Split Double-header with West Central in Dramatic Fashion

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Comets Split Double-header with West Central in Dramatic Fashion

On Friday, the Hillcrest Comets were hosted by the WCA Knights in Barrett for a double header. The teams split with the Knights shutting the Comets out 4-0 in game one. The second game finished in dramatic fashion with the Comets coming from behind to take the victory 13-12 on a walkoff two run triple by senior pitcher Nicole DeKok.

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DeKok Dazzles in Hurling No-Hitter, Hits 3rd Homer in 4 Games

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DeKok Dazzles in Hurling No-Hitter, Hits 3rd Homer in 4 Games

It's a good day when the only run support a pitcher needs comes from her own bat, backed up by her catcher. On Tuesday, Comet ace Nicole DeKok hurled a no hitter, and founder herself on the bench after the 5th inning because the Comet bats 10-run-ruled Lake-Park-Audubon, forcing an early dinner and more time for homework.
 

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Aasness Ties Steals Record as Comets Score 17 in Double-Header Win

Megan Aasness set the school record for steals last season with 27. Her work Friday would put the Comets in a place to run away with the conference, after area leader Brandon-Evansville fell to Ashby, who the Comets have beat twice this season. The Comets setup and shut down Wheaton Friday, a momentum builder for what could be the conference championship Monday versus the Chargers.

As the Lady Comets tromped down the hill to their home field at Hannah Park there was already a small crowd gathering in the grass. A warm wind swept across the infield, kicking up dirt that created a soft haze, clouding the silhouttes of the Lady Comets warming up in the outfield. Wind sprints followed hitting drills that the Comets would use to capitalize on opportunities provided by the Wheaton Warriors in Friday's double-header.

The Comets were coming off a big win over Ashby Thursday afternoon. Nicole Dekok started the game, but was pulled to save her arm for Friday's contest after the Comets posted 9 runs on the board. 

Dekok started the first game for the Comets, who jumped to an early 3-1 lead. However, the Warriors put together two scores in the top of the 7th inning in the first game, making it a 3-3 game. 

The Comets have been working on mental toughness for much of the season. When the Comets have lost it is mostly because the game grows out of control. With Friday's first 

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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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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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Lady Comets in Drivers Seat After Double-Header Wins

The Lady Comets are picking up speed as the season wares, revealing a team that is not only difficult to beat, but tough to get down.

In a double-header match Friday the Lady Comets were positioned to take control of the conference. Leading 3-1 going into the 7th inning, the Comets were very productive at the plate. There is a unique energy that follows Hillcrest from the field to the dugout. It may have something to do with their ace pitcher. 

Junior Nicole Dekok is known to throw heat. In her 8 innings of pitching in the first game, Dekok struck out 5 batters, making Wheaton walk to the dugout with 14 total runners left on base. When she wasn't frustrating batters, Dekok was nailing dingers to the outfield. When she tossed her glove on the bench following the Comets' win she had 2 doubles on the score sheet, going 3 for 4 from the plate. Dekok was able to let her glove rest and drink some water thanks to Megan Aasness who tore up the base path on her way to a State record in steals.

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