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It had to feel a bit surreal as Mike Daniels teed it up on No. 6 at Poplar Golf Course, reared back and let it fly. Here it was, mid-March and 80 degrees in northwestern Wisconsin, and golfers were along the course wearing shorts and T-shirts as Daniels' 7-iron shot bounced once and rolled into the cup on the 150-yard hole. It is believed to be the earliest opening in Poplar history, and safe to say, the earliest hole-in-one ever recorded there. After all, it was March 18. About 70 golfers showed up that first day. "This year's been unbelievable," said Poplar club pro Paul Stein.
The early spring has provided a financial boost to area courses that have already been trying to find ways to cope with a tough economy. Case in point: Poplar, Norwood and Botten's Green Acres golf courses. Called the trifecta, if you buy a season pass at any one of those courses, it's honored at all three. "It's a sign of the times," said Poplar club pro Paul Stein. "We can't be competitors.
HAYWARD, Wis. -- Tad Elliott, of Durango, Colo., won the 39th American Birkebeiner today, leading an American sweep of the top three men's spots in the 50-kilometer race from Cable to Hayward. Holly Brooks, of Anchorage, Alaska, edged defending champion Caitlin Gregg to win the women's race. Elliott's winning time was 2 hours, 4 minutes, 48.5 seconds. He was followed by Matthew Liebsch, of Orono, Minn., at 2:05:02.3; and Brian Gregg, of Minneapolis, at 2:05:03.4. Brooks' winning time was 2:18:53.2 was a half-second ahead of Caitlin Gregg, Brian's wife, who finished at 2:18:53.7.
Taylor Guzzo made the hour drive from Silver Bay to Duluth three times a week this past summer to work out. Sometimes her legs hurt and her muscles ached, but for three to four hours each day she dedicated herself to getting better, lifting weights early in the day and later training on a special treadmill designed to simulate skating. Then she'd return home and skate and shoot pucks at the rink. Guzzo's dedication is paying off this winter as the Silver Bay Area senior center leads the Northland in scoring with 54 points on 24 goals and 30 assists.
The Minnesota Twins 52nd annual Winter Caravan stopped at Grandma's Sports Garden in Duluth on Monday, and based on the turnout, one would think the Twins won 99 games last summer, not lost that many. Fans packed Grandma's Sports Garden to see up-and-coming outfielders Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni, former Twins great Tony Oliva, sportscaster Dick Bremer and mascot T.C. Bear, who "high-foured" youngsters. "Our fans are the same no matter what. They always come out to support us," Revere said. "They're disappointed with last season, just like we are, but they understand the situation.
Wayne State (Mich.) cornerback Aaron Cornett admitted he made a mistake late in the Warriors' NCAA Division II quarterfinal against Minnesota Duluth by not forcing Bulldogs' receiver D.J.
Nick Goeser's travels as a Minnesota Duluth assistant coach took him across Wisconsin but never to a swimming pool until he met defensive line prospect Chris Vandervest. Vandervest was an excellent swimmer for Ashwaubenon High School near Green Bay, but he was perhaps an even better football player. "Chris must have looked pretty big coming down that pool," UMD coach Bob Nielson said, laughing. Now three years later, the 6-foot-1, 265-pound Vandervest anchors a UMD defensive line that is young but promising.
Cody Eich wanted to play wide receiver coming out of high school in Farmington, Minn., in 2007, but everywhere he went, coaches envisioned him as a college safety. Except one: Minnesota Duluth. Eich's time on offense at UMD was brief, however, and he and Cameron Harper have since developed into one of the best safety tandems in NCAA Division II, carrying on a Bulldogs' tradition at the position. "We've been fortunate to have guys who have played a lot of football at that position," UMD coach Bob Nielson said.
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp watched football video highlights on Saturday at Lakeview National Golf Course in Two Harbors, and Kapp still remembered the play, even if he didn't actually remember the play. Kapp was knocked unconscious by a one-arm clothesline from 49ers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Wilcox after scoring on a bootleg. It was the type of cheap hit that would draw a long suspension today, but it only got Wilcox a tongue-lashing back then. That was just football. "I don't think he got a penalty, but I don't know because I got knocked out," Kapp said.
Mary Akor looked like a bobblehead doll as she approached the finish line at the 33rd annual Grandma's Marathon on Saturday. Dizzy and delirious, the heat had gotten to Akor, but the 32-year-old from Hawthorne, Calif., had come too far to give up. After all, this race was for her dad. Akor delivered a gutsy performance on Father's Day weekend, winning her record-tying third straight women's title and dedicating the race to her father, who died at home in Nigeria on May 19, just days after being diagnosed with diabetes.