Thole: Larkins enters U of South Carolina HOF

UW-Stout Sports Information photo by Steve Stangel
Former Pony Kate Mikutowski (12) ended her collegiate career this week while collecting more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in four seasons at UW-Stout.

Former Ponies star volleyball player Heather Larkin was inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 13. Larkin was a four-time All-SEC competitor for the Gamecocks.

Larkin, an all-state performer for the Ponies of then-coach Don Gettinger, was also inducted into the St. Croix Valley Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 after a brilliant career for the Big Red.

While performing for the Gamecocks, she stands fourth in school history with 1,293 kills and ranks among the top 10 in kills per set, attacks, hitting percentage, solo blocks, block assists, total blocks and blocks per set.

Since the university created its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967, there has been 138 members selected to the elite group by the University of South Carolina Association of Lettermen. Heather and her fellow hall of famers were also honored at the Gamecocks vs. UAB football game.

Kate Mikutowski ’09, a senior outside hitter at UW-Stout, reached two milestones recently when she recorded the 1,000th kill and dig of her collegiate career. The sixth-seeded Blue Devils lost to UW-Eau Claire in the quarterfinals of the WIAC Tournament on Tuesday.

Mikutowski ended her career with 1,048 kills and 1,021 digs in four seasons for the Blue Devils (15-14). When she notched her 1,000th kill against UW-Superior on Oct. 17, it occurred across the net from former Ponies teammate Kitty Tynen ’10, who starts at outside hitter for the Yellowjackets.

Another former teammate and current Concordia-St. Paul player Emily McDonough ’11 locked horns with Mary Mikutowski ’11 in Game 3 of the Golden Bears’ win over UM-Crookston.


Ricci, Knox lead Ponies over Polars

After spotting North St. Paul (1-8) a six-point lead early, the Big Red scored the next 41 points to advance to tomorrow night’s clash with Rosemount (5-4) on the home turf.

Polars running back Marshall Dawson scored from 7 yards out to give his team a very short lead.

Quarterback Nate Ricci found Alex Burback all alone and hit him with a 50-yard paydirt strike and the rout began. Sophomore Zach Knox picked up where he left off against Roseville and Hastings and scored twice on a 22- and 16-yard run after a 34-yard field goal by Danny Laudet to give the locals a 24-6 lead at the break.

When the smoke cleared, Stillwater (8-1) had tucked away a 41-13 victory to set the stage for Friday’s clash with the Irish. Ricci completed 6 of 11 passes for a pair of TDs, including a 36-yarder to Joey Quinn in the third quarter. Knox rushed 20 times for 119 yards and had the hat trick (three TD’s).

Laudet had 11 points by kicking, which ties the school record Luke Dewall set during a 29-28 two-overtime victory over Roseville in 2008.

Rosemount defeated the Ponies 33-10 in a state quarterfinal game played at Stillwater in 2006. Turnabout is fair play, so look for the Big Red to prevail 24-14 over the Irish and even the series at 1-1.

The prep football Thole Poll: 1. Edina (8-1); 2. Totino-Grace (9-0); 3. Wayzata (7-1); 4. Eden Prairie (7-2); 5. Stillwater (8-1); 6. Mounds View (8-1); 7. Osseo (6-3); 8. Maple Grove (9-0); 9. Prior Lake (8-1); 10, tie, Lakeville North (8-1) and Moorhead (9-0). The Thole Poll runs through the Prep Bowl.

I had a good fan week as the Ponies froze the Polars 41-13, the Gophers fired the Boilermakers 44-28 and the Bison kenneled the Salukis of Southern Illinois 23-17, but the Buccaneers made the Vikings walk the plank 36-17.


Former Breeders Cup stallion resides here

The Breeders Cup takes place this weekend at Santa Anita Park in California and a blast from the past at this prestigious event is currently stationed in Stillwater at the Stillwater Equine Clinic. Kela, a thoroughbred stallion who placed second — going eight horses wide after getting blocked at the head of the stretch — in the 2004 six-furlong Million Dollar Breeders Cup Sprint behind Millionaire Eclipse champion Speightstown.

Eight years after that race, Kela is the leading stallion standing in Minnesota in 2012. Kela’s foals have earned more than $1.5 million this year, which is more than the top five living stallions in the state of Minnesota combined according to good pals Steve and Dorothy Erban, who manage the horse.

Kela’s foals have won at all the major tracks, including Santa Anita, Del Mar, Belmont, Saratoga, Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Arlington Park and Aqueduct.


In the huddle

The path to success is steep and difficult to conquer. While getting to the top can be a major battle, staying there is even tougher. A fine line separates success from failure. The winning formula demands continuous attention from all involved, coaching staff and players alike, to establish and maintain a winning tradition. A successful program can crash and burn in a single season if attention is not paid to the minute inner workings of the system. Complacency, apathy or resting on one’s laurels are certain to reduce a successful program to one of mediocrity. The old adage that the harder we work, the luckier we get, still rings true. Staying abreast and keeping up to date on any and all changes in the game, along with careful analysis of data from past seasons is critical in the maintenance of the program. Attention to detail during the season and in the offseason, combined with a strong work ethic and dedication by the entire staff, is required…. Ponies soccer goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm was selected to the All-Pioneer Press Team recently. Wilhelm made 90 saves for the Section 4AA champs during the regular season and his goals against average was 0.63 while giving up 11 goals and recording six shutouts for the Ponies (16-2-4). Midfielder Roma Devine and forward Patrick Roth received honorable mention. Midfielder Maddie Schaak was honorable mention for the Ponies girls’ soccer team…. The defending state champion Stillwater boys’ cross country team has been ranked No. 1 most of the year by the state coaches association. Wayde Hall is ranked second behind Richfield’s Obsa Ali and Eric Colvin is listed 10th…. Ponies sophomore running back Zach Knox was a Pioneer Press Playmaker of the Week on Oct. 23. He was recognized for his performance in Stillwater’s 21-14 conference title clinching victory at Hastings. Knox rushed 48 times for 280 yards in his second start after replacing all-conference Nick Anderson, who rushed for 601 yards (5.3 avg.) and eight touchdowns before a season-ending injury…. The Ponies girls’ swim team is currently ranked fourth in the state behind Tonka, Wayzata and Eden Prairie, but have six girls listed close to the top on the state honor roll. Claire Rutscher in the 100 free (52.29) and 100 backstroke (57.15), Kylie Burgess in the 200 (1:54.18) and 500 (5:04) free, Sophia Bisch in the 100 breastroke (1:04.96) and 200 individual medley (2:06.48) and Liz Click in diving (11 dives). Mary Knaak and Kristin Erf and a plethora of relays are also listed…. Psst, a little birdie tells me that legendary St. John’s football coach John Gagliardi will step down after the season and Eden Prairie coaching phenom Mike Grant is in line to take over. I’ve suspected this for years, so the little birdie gets an assist from moi…. Don’t tread on me, because I’m kind hearted…. finis


Today’s rumination #590

Never forget that the most powerful force on earth is love.

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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: [email protected]