Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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Goodbye, River Falls Fitness Center; hello, River City Ironworx and Community Fitness. That's the new name Todd Jenkins and his son Tanner have given to the space where the River Falls Fitness Center had operated for years at 264 N. Troy St. in the industrial park. Todd and Tanner stepped in two weeks ago when Fitness Center owner Steve Wros announced he was going to close the facility. "I contacted Dave Wolf, who owns the building, and I said I'll sit out here Friday, Saturday and Sunday just to keep the place open," Todd said after hearing about the impending closure.
Wildcat senior Karl Andersen is one of 20 state players named to the Team Wisconsin squad that will compete in this weekend's CCM Minnesota Hockey High School National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in Plymouth, Minn. The tournament will feature teams comprised of the top high school players from Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan and Massachusetts. Team Wisconsin won the inaugural NIT championship last year after competing at the now-defunct Chicago Showcase the previous 25 years.
Ten members of the River Falls High School Powerlifting Club traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas, March 25-27, and found plenty of success at the 2011 High School National Powerlifting Championships. The junior varsity contingent teamed up for a fourth place finish, including three top three individual finishes, while the varsity had two individuals in the top three in their respective weight classes. Sophomore J.P. Eaton took first in his JV division after overcoming a 110-pound deficit heading into the deadlift competition and pulling 539 pounds on his final lift to claim the championship.
Five seniors on the Wildcat hockey team joined their coach Brooks Lockwood at the 29th annual Wisconsin Senior Class Tournament March 25-27, and made significant contributions to help the Section 1 team reach the title game. Garrett Jensen, Neal Edge, Cooper Maxwell, Karl Andersen and Ben Novak had a familiar face on the bench for the Section 1 team, which was coached by their own high school coach Brooks Lockwood. The Senior Class Tournament is broken up into eight teams featuring the top seniors in the state.
When looking at the strengths of a baseball team, pitching is a good place to start. And the 2011 Wildcat baseball team definitely scores high in that area. The Cats return virtually the entire pitching staff that took them to within one game of the state tournament a year ago.
The Wildcat gymnastics team proved it had plenty of talent in the gym this season. Now 10 Wildcats have been recognized for their achievements in the classroom as well. Seniors Mary Butler and Kayla Rohl, juniors Ruth Anderson-Benge, Britta Grebner, Amanda Guise and Rose Tashjian, and sophomores Riley Claude, Anita Fraser, Paige Skorseth and Lauren Slowiak have all earned spots on the Wisconsin High School Gymnastics Association Academic All-State Team. Only sophomores through seniors are eligible for the team.
Last year at this time the snow was gone, fields were dry and temperatures were above average. This year? Not so much. The lingering cold and snow has made it difficult for area sports teams to prepare for their upcoming seasons. And River Falls is no exception. "We're paying for last year," high school Activities Director Rollie Hall said. "Our first baseball scrimmage is Friday and I doubt that will happen." The Wildcat baseball, softball and girls' soccer teams have all been practicing indoors for over a week.
David Page embraces his mother Jo Page after speaking on her behalf as one of the honorary chairpersons at the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Relay for Life of Pierce County in the River Falls High School gym Friday evening. David gave a moving account of his father, former UW-River Falls Athletic Director Don Page's battle with prostate cancer and Jo's unwavering commitment to care for him until the day he died Sept. 14, 2010. David's sister Sue Brown is seated next to her mother.
Wildcat seniors Sarah Vitale and Emily Blasius have both been named to the 2010-11 All-Big Rivers Conference Girls' Basketball Team. Vitale earned a spot on the five-player second team while Blasius was one of 11 players to receive honorable mention. Vitale led the Wildcats in scoring with an average of 10.5 points per game. It's the second straight year she has received All-BRC honors.
Josh Eidem remembers the exact moment he fell in love with town baseball. "I came up from Rochester to play with some of my UW-River Falls teammates for the Spring Valley Hawks at the Ellsworth Cheese Curd Days Tournament in 2000," he recalled. "It was a Saturday night game and I was standing out in center field with all these people at the game cheering and having a good time and I was thinking, 'Why do I go home during the summer?' I came in to pitch at the end of the game and people were just screaming.