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Three wrestlers advance to State

posted Mar 21, 2020, 6:40 AM by Andrew Tichy

Photo: Brenda Luthi | Special to The Spud

By: Brooke Storbakken

JJ Fankhanel the father of Evan Fankhanel coached the Moorhead High wrestling team to the State Tournament in the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Evan Fankhanel, Ryan Luthi and Xander Risdal all made it to wrestle in State. During sections in Wilmar, Minnesota, Evan got first place and was able to move on to the State Tournament. While both Luthi and Risdal placed second in their separate weight classes and also made it to State. At sections everyone stood around waiting for Evan’s weight class to get called. When Evan won everyone went absolutely crazy. “I was elated and in shock. It was so exciting to see him accomplish one of his goals” said JJ. 

At state the guys did the best they could but none of the three placed. Making it to State in general is still a big deal for each wrestler and their team. But State is such an important part of someone’s high school athletic career. “In many ways I feel that I could have done better. Being on such a large platform of competition is very nerve-racking, and for sure affected how I wrestled.” said Evan. “But being a sophomore helps, knowing that I have two more chances.” Evan has worked hard to get to where he is and it shows. JJ reveals that being supportive, and keeping mat talk on the mat helped prepare Evan, along with being supportive on managing his weight. JJ himself wrestled twice in State but never placed, that shows the difficulty of State. 

Another wrestler who made it to State from the Moorhead High wrestling team had something to say about his performance. Luthi said, “I feel like I could’ve done better. I think I should’ve made it on the podium, but I feel one match short.” At Luthi’s final match he lost to the wrestler who finished in fifth place.

Moorhead brothers putting up a fight

posted Mar 21, 2020, 6:33 AM by Andrew Tichy

Austin Rocha with his trainer after winning his first boxing match. The brothers share the same trainer.
Photo: Rocha family | Special to The Spud

By: Kasyn Storbakken

Junior boxer Austin Rocha, and sophomore boxer Isaac Rocha have a passion for boxing. They are some of the best boxers for their age and weight class in the FM area. Their reflexes and ability to fight inside the ring is just insane. Austin Rocha has a very good record of seven and three, and for someone who is fairly new at the game of boxing he has a very bright future ahead of him in his boxing career. Boxing has been around for a very long time, but it is a fairly new sport in the FM area. Isaac is the younger boxer in the family, but according to the brothers Isaac has the most potential. Isaac is very new to boxing but is undefeated through his four matches.

“I have been boxing for a little over three years, it was introduced to me on tv, one morning I was w\scrolling through the channels and I came across boxing. I thought it sounded cool so I tuned in and was addicted to boxing that instant and since then I have pursued boxing as a hobby of mine. At the start of my career I was about thirteen years old and was not very good at all. Through all my hard work and dedication to boxing I have come a long way. Boxing has helped me through the last couple years of my life, it helps me with my emotions, my highs and lows and the ups and downs through my life. When I'm boxing that’s all I think about. I don't worry about anything else. I focus on that one thing and that is to win.

“I look up to Austin as a role model, and a future boxer. I just recently started boxing and I have a love for the sport of boxing. Boxing for me is really a stress reliever, it is a way to get my mind off of everything. I can really see boxing becoming a big part of my life and I really hope I keep succeeding”.

The Rocha brothers are just getting started with their boxing careers, and they are off to a very good start. They both have very good potential to box as a pro, or even transfer into the UFC to professionally fight. Them being young boxers, and already winning matches gives them a good chance for improvement in the future. God will have a plan for these two’s boxing career and I think we are all excited to see what they become in a couple years.

Ulness reflects on changing seasons

posted Mar 21, 2020, 6:19 AM by Andrew Tichy

MHS junior Liana Ulness pushes the ball forward during a soccer match earlier this season
Photo: Jim Strom | Special to The Spud

By: Delan Barwary

As the game clock hits zero, MHS soccer students jump with joy knowing they are going to section finals. MHS student Liana Ulness was only a sophomore when she made it to section finals. 

“My best soccer memory is probably from my sophomore season of soccer when we made it all the way to section finals. It was a HUGE deal for us because our previous season had been so bad. Being able to say that we made section finals was the coolest thing ever since it was a whole new experience for me as a sophomore in high school,” said Ulness. 

Ulness is now a junior in High School and has played four sports for the Moorhead spuds. She has been in track, nordic skiing, soccer and is planning on playing lacrosse this year. Since she plans on playing lacrosse this year, she will not be participating in track, “I want to play lacrosse because I figured that I only have a year left of high school, and I wanted to make the most of it.” said Ulness. 

Ulness is not going to be nordic skiing because she is committed to the MSUM soccer team. “I stopped because I needed to focus on schoolwork and soccer. Right before Nordic season started I verbally committed to MSUM to play soccer and I knew I’d need to devote more time and effort towards improving my soccer skills in the offseason. Along with that, I’d like to get academic scholarships and to do that I want to keep on top of my school work and do well in my classes. I do, however, ski-in my free time with friends and family,” said Ulness. 

Ulness has been playing soccer since she was only three years old therefore, it is her favorite sport out of the four that she plays, “Soccer is my favorite sport because it gives me the most joy and fulfillment. I also enjoy my teammates,” said Ulness. Ulness started playing soccer to follow her cousin, Allison Ulness’s footsteps. Soccer also came to Unless easy, “my love for the game has grown as I get older,” said Ulness. 

Ulness is a great competitor and loves to play sports, specifically soccer, but she doesn’t just want to focus on that in her future outside of college. “I mean yes, I love the game, but I want to have a career in the medical field, preferably either as a physical therapist or radiologist,” said Ulness. 

Ski team stays cool

posted Mar 21, 2020, 6:11 AM by Andrew Tichy

By: Delan Barwary

Most people might not like skiing because of the extremely cold temperatures, but MHS junior Evan Mickelson loves it. 

“The community, it is such a healthy environment even with the competitors we always congratulate each other on our victories and is something really special to see among other people with a common goal. Our coach does a good job of maintaining this positivity as well,” said Mickelson. 

An exchange student from Finland named Frida Lehtonen is also a part of the team. Lehtonen has some experience skiing in Finland and she has been skiing since she was a little girl. 

“I have never played on a team, I would just go out with my family for fun,” said Lehtonen. She might not like the chilled winds but she still loves to be outside and a part of the team. 

  Another exchange student from Germany, Antonia Am Odre, joined the team this year. This is her first year and she seems to be loving it so far. 

“I love playing because everyone is supportive and I love going outside and seeing the pretty weather, it also is a good thing to be doing something after school,” said Am Odre. 

For most players, the cold weather is the hardest thing about skiing. 

“The hardest thing about skiing is the temperatures and how they can get ugly sometimes, especially with the wind chill,” said Mikelson. 

Skiers are always trying to find ways to stay warm. 

“Wear lots of layering of clothing and don't stop moving,” said Mikelson. “Lots of layering of clothes and hand warmers,” said Lehtonen. “It's always a good thing to be moving so you wont get cool,” said Am odre. 

Seeing your breath in the cold weather doesn't bother the skiers. As long as they are outside doing something they love they don't mind. 

Wrestling coach wraps up second season

posted Mar 21, 2020, 6:01 AM by Andrew Tichy

By: Brooke Storbakken

Six years ago, Coach Gerad Fugleberg started coaching wrestling. He spent one year at Fargo North, three years at Fargo Davies, and this is his second year at Moorhead. 

I have been wrestling since second grade, my older brother was a state champion and he is ten years older than me, so when I was a second grader he was a senior in high school and I guess that's what always drove me was that I always wanted to be better,” said Fugleberg. “And it still is that was especially since he is a coach over at davies. It was always an inner competition and inner drive to always be better than my older brother.

  Fugleberg really does have a special passion for wrestling, along with the wrestlers. When it comes to the team, anyone who has seen Fugleberg will say how much of a positive impact he has made on the team. 

“The biggest way is to just form connections and build relationships, you and another person can't really get anything done at all without really building a relationship with them; if it's two people going to work together and can’t stand each other, you don't get anything done,” he said. “So for me it's always just been to send these kids off, out of high school with a lot of pride in what they did here. Even now with some of my ex-athletes, I'm constantly just following up with them, making sure they are alright, seeing how they are doing and checking in on their grades and just life in general. I really think that's the biggest thing.”

When it comes to the team, Fugleberg has a specific way he likes to keep things positive. The relationship between the coaches and the team is tight. “If you aren’t pushing yourself to the level you need to be, I don't think there would be any hesitation for one of us to step in and start chewing you out and say ‘hey you need to do this better, we need to work harder’ or whatever it might be; but at the same time if a kid has some personal issues I don't think we are afraid to put on that different cap and be more of that shoulder to lean on. To me that's part of the reason that I am able to build these bonds with these people. Because our relationship isn’t 100% about wrestling, including you two [TMs] we spend hours and hours and hours together, for it to be just focused on one thing all the time, I don't think it will make anything click very well.” said Fugleberg. He has made it very obvious that relationships are important when it comes to a team. 

Fugleberg’s plan for right now is to continue coaching the team for as long as he can. Fugleberg is very appreciated whether it’s for coaching the Moorhead Wrestling team or just being a great influence on other students. 

Weekend winners: Spud Football, Volleyball clinch section titles

posted Nov 3, 2019, 10:47 AM by Andrew Tichy

Above: The Spud Football Team celebrates a section title after defeating Bemidji on Friday night. Below: The Spud Volleyball Team poses on the court in Alexandria after securing their fifth straight section title.
Photos: Dean Haugo | Special to The Spud

By: The Spud Staff Reports

It had the makings of a special sports weekend for the Spuds. In the span of 24 hours, the football and volleyball teams both vied for section titles. Both entered as the lower seed. Both faced a tall task in taking down the number one seed. Both played at "neutral" sites stationed just minutes away from their opponent's home turf. 

And, by Saturday night, both were crowned section champs. 

On Friday night, the football team, looking to upend top seeded Bemidji on the road for the second time in 16 days, sprinted to a 14-0 halftime lead on the snow-dusted turf at Bemidji State University. The Lumberjacks, whose only loss came to Moorhead on the final day of the regular season, stormed back to tie the game in the 4th quarter. The score remained knotted at 14 until late in the fourth, when kicker Caden Triggs drilled a game-winning 28 yard field goal. A late interception and turnover on downs was enough for the Spuds to run out the clock and secure their first 8AAAAA section title in four years.

Less than 24 hours later, it was the volleyball team's turn to punch a ticket to state. 

They rallied late to win the first set in their section title tilt with top-seeded Sartell. After the Sabres tied the match with a win in the second set, the Spuds took control, taking two straight to win the match 3-1 en route to their fifth straight section 8AAA title. 

The football team will face Elk River in the state quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12pm at Monticello HS. The winner will advance to US Bank Stadium where the Spuds could find a rematch of the 2015 State semifinals with St. Thomas Academy. The Spuds lost that contest 17-14. 

The volleyball team will once again travel to the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday for a quarterfinal matchup with Minnetonka. The Spuds earned the 5 seed and will play at 9am. 

Fan buses for both events are available for students:

Football Fan Bus:
Cost: $20
Depart MHS: 8am on Saturday, Nov. 9
Deadline: 10am on Friday. 

Volleyball Fan Bus:
Cost: $20
Depart MHS: 5am on Thursday, Nov. 7
Deadline: 12pm on Wednesday

Top Taters: Ranking the best Spud athletes

posted Nov 3, 2019, 10:00 AM by Andrew Tichy   [ updated Nov 5, 2019, 1:11 PM ]

MHS senior Claire Howell is the only current Spud to crack the list. She holds the school record in the 400m dash in Track.
Photo: David Samson, The Forum | Special to The Spud

By: Jack Eisenzimmer

Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series that examines the best of the best in Moorhead athletics over the past five decades. With the potential of a brand new high school on the horizon, we look back on the truly elite Spuds that called the current building home. Parts two and three will be published in the coming weeks. 

Today we embark on a generations-old tradition. A classic lunch table discussion. A discussion had amongst friends for decades. The answer to the age old question, “Who are the greatest athletes in our school’s history?” A question asked by students at every high school across the world since the origination of high school sports. So our question today: Who are the 15 greatest Moorhead High School athletes in the school’s history?

The methodology used for this argument combines a multitude of factors, including statistical resumes, career success in high school and beyond, accounts from spectators and coaches, and team success. For the sake of the argument we’re only going to look only at athletes that competed in the current building. That gives us every Moorhead athlete since 1966. Instead of doing an ordered list,  the rankings will have three tiers with each containing five people. There will also be a section at the end for honorable mentions or people with the potential to crack the top 15 in a few years. So without further ado, let's dig into this.

Tier Three: The Buffalo Wild Wings Tier

Our First tier of five is the Buffalo Wild Wings tier: Athletes who were really good, but not quite elite. Buffalo Wild Wings is a fine establishment, popular among MHS students, but it’s a chain restaurant that focuses on ambience and table turnover more than food. Their wings, while good, aren’t the highest quality. This is true of the athletes in the Bdubs tier. They are all great, but when compared to the host of immense talent produced over the last five decades, they come up just short. They had great high school careers, but their overall resumes keep them just outside of the top ten. So here it is, The Buffalo Wild Wings Tier.


Lisa Dyer: 

Lisa Dyer is the first entry in the Buffalo Wild Wings tier. She was a distance runner who graduated from Moorhead in 2001. She has an impressive high school resume, with a school record of 4:54.35 in the 1600m, and another school record in the 3200m with a time of 10:22.8. She competed at the state track meet in 2000 and 2001. In 2000 she took seventh place in the 3200m, and in 2001 she earned second place finishes in both the 1600m and 3200m. After an illustrious high school career, she went on to run cross country and track at the University of Minnesota, and continued running after college, setting the women's record in the Fargo Marathon 10k. 


Otis Weah:

Otis Weah is a recent entry onto this list. A running back and track athlete who graduated in 2018 from Moorhead. His football career is a storied one in the halls at Moorhead. His senior year was an incredible display with more than 1,800 yards, and 20 touchdowns. His track year was also quite strong. He set the section record in the triple jump, but missed out on state due to the ACT. He went on to play football at UND, but has recently had some reported struggles academically, potential jeopardizing his football career. 

Claire Howell:

Claire Howell is the only athlete on this list that is still in high school. Her achievements though are already extensive. She competes in volleyball, hockey, and track. Her success on the Moorhead volleyball team is impressive, with multiple state berths in the last three years, but her track career is where she really dominates. With multiple state berths, and a school record in the 400m dash with a time of 55.34s, her athletic future will likely be in track. The main reason for Claire Howell’s inclusion on this list is her all-around ability. She has found tremendous success in volleyball and track, and while the hockey team has encountered some struggles on the ice over the past few years, she remains an important member of the program.

Ellingson (center) runs in the 2011 MSHSL state tournament. Photo:

Glen Ellingson:

Glen Ellingson ran cross country and track at Moorhead, graduating in 2012 with an impressive resume. He was a very good cross country runner with a career peak coming in a second place finish at the 2010 section tournament. Track though was were he shined. In 2011 he won an individual state championship in the 3200m run with a time of 9:16.84. That time set a new school record in the 3200m that still stands today. He also has a school record in the 1600m run with a time of 4:18.43. 

Associated Press Photo

Mark Cullen:

Mark Cullen remains an iconic Moorhead hockey player. He attended the school from 1994-1998, and in that time set the record for the most career assists, racking up 111, and is fourth in overall points with 168 total. He went on to play four years of college hockey at Colorado College, and then signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2002. He bounced around the NHL and foreign hockey leagues for a while before retiring from hockey in 2016.

Dance team 'kicks' off a new season

posted Nov 3, 2019, 9:35 AM by Andrew Tichy

By: Stacia LaVallie 
Sports Reporter

The Moorhead Varsity dance team has been working hard to kick off this season. In the off season, they lift weights and work hard in the weight room here at Moorhead High School, according to Kaela Wichmann and Taylor Foss. 

Up to the season, they as a team work on exercises made to keep them ready to go. Over the summer, you can catch the team at dance camps and doing workouts as a team. They have plenty of stamina and are very fit at all times, just so they can be as amazing as their dances. 

Backstage, they are just as close as they seem during performances. They are “very supportive of each other,” as Wichmann says. Among the dancers, you can often see them together in the halls. “The team is very close because we have all been dancing together for years,” Foss also pointed out. 

The team lost several dancers when they graduated last year, which can seem unfortunate, but they also welcomed some new high schoolers. Things “feel pretty different” as Wichmann said, but it sounds like they will bounce back to as great as they were last year. “There are no major differences from last year except for people joining and quitting,” Foss said.

“Moorhead’s dance team is definitely strong,” Kaela said about the strength of how well the team does at competitions. 

“I feel that our team is stronger than last year because we have people that have been on Varsity for multiple years on the same team,” said Foss. 

Which their first one is right after Thanksgiving, so they have just started to prepare for that. 

Each individual prepares for a competition differently, and they all have their own skills to work on to improve. Kaela makes sure she packs her suitcases but more importantly she prepares mentally, so that she can do her best for her team. While Taylor tries to learn and perfect the routines as well as she can, which contributes to how well the team does. 

At practices, they work on strength and conditioning like any team does. Weights, running, anything they can do to stay in good shape. They stretch to be more flexible. As well as working on the routines you see in the performances, they work hard to make them look as good as they do. They work on Jazz routines and kick routines, Foss said. They do the routines on repeat, so they can work on every move. 

The head coach is Denetre Stetz, and there are a few assistant coaches. According to Taylor, they are “fun to be coached by,” and are “relatable.” Kaela said, “They’re strict when they need to be but are really fun to be around.” 

The team is really excited for the season to start overall. “Everyone is really excited that the season has started and we all can’t wait to start competing.” Foss said. The team is “definitely” thrilled that the dance team has started practicing, according to Wichmann. The dance team is fired up and ready to go.

Four-Sport Spud Gunkel leads on the field

posted Nov 3, 2019, 9:19 AM by Andrew Tichy   [ updated Nov 3, 2019, 9:22 AM ]

In addition to playing defense, MHS senior Wyatt Gunkel also serves as the holder. 
Photo: Drew Sandberg | Special to The Spud

By: Max Soeth
Sports Reporter

Moorhead High senior Wyatt Gunkel is captain of the football team and the baseball team. He has also been skating for the hockey team in the winter and shooting trap in the spring along with baseball. Sports have helped him in life too. “It’s being taught to hold the door for someone, saying please and thank you, respecting supervisors and more,” said Gunkel. 

During the fall he spends his time after school going to football practice and spends his Friday nights on the turf. He starts on the defense at cornerback playing lockdown defense. This season, he was voted captain by his peers. 

“He's a great leader on and off the field if you have a question you can go ask him, he knows everything,” said Spud Quarterback Trey Feeney. “If a teammate can't trust you, why should they respect you?” said Gunkel. 

He's an extremely competitive player it doesn't matter practice, games, and even gym class, he's going to give it his all no matter the conditions.

During the winter he's skating on the Moorhead ice under head coach Jon Ammerman. He once again plays defense. He loves playing on the ice with his brothers that he's been playing alongside for more than twelve years “I love it, nothing compares to a great team game.”The atmosphere is something different playing for your hometown all across the state.” 

Winning a section championship last year is one of his favorite memories, sending them once again to state hockey, “State hockey is unreal,” he said. It doesn't matter if they won or not, he still loved playing on that ice.

During the Spring season, he plays baseball and also shoots trap one day a week after baseball practice. Baseball is his favorite out of all the sports that he plays. “I’m the most successful at it and I’ve been playing with this group of guys for a very long time,” said Gunkel. 

He has been playing varsity baseball since his freshman year, he grinded his way to become the starting catcher as a freshman, and he hasn’t let anyone take that spot from him. Growing up he won three state championships in Babe Ruth baseball. But that’s not the only sport he does in the spring. He also likes to shoot some trap for the trap shooting team. He won top shot (which is MVP) his sophomore year. “It’s a relaxing sport that helps with my hand eye coordination for baseball,” said Gunkel.

Gunkel has been involved in many activities and sports during his four years of high school. From playing football in the Fall to skating for the hockey team in the winter and finally catching balls from the pitcher and shooting trap in the Spring.

Spuds football looks to rebound in season finale

posted Oct 13, 2019, 2:16 PM by Andrew Tichy

By: Kasyn Storbakken
Sports Reporter

The Moorhead Varsity football team is on a good pace for a playoff spot. Junior starting wide receiver, Brady Walthall said they need to work on the defense but he believes they have a chance of winning their first section game. 

“We have a record of 4-2 on the season, we lost our best defensive player, Seth Anderson, but I believe we can continue to improve on our defensive game,” said Walthall. “Our offense has been a key factor to us winning these football games.” Walthall says this season has been far better than last season, and he is happy with the way he has been playing on the field. While Brady and the rest of the Moorhead Spuds are off to a good season, the last few games are very critical. 

“Bemidji is our toughest opponent that we play before the end of regular season, the Lumberjacks are undefeated and have a very talented offense, and they're ranked third in the state, it will be a very tough game” said Walthall.

Brady seems very pleased so far, he knows his football team can do big things. “We just need to come to work everyday on and off the field, we will work on the things we need to, we will continue scoring points offensively and works at the little things on defense,” Walthall said. 

Brady has high hopes for beating Bemidji and winning the first section game, it will all come down to who wants it more in the end. 

Max Soeth, starting varsity center for the Moorhead Spuds, agreed with Brady but he thinks there is a certain area the team could improve on. 

“Our team’s offense has come up big in most of the games and I feel like our defense just needs to rely on each other more,” said Soeth. “If our defense can improve and all of our teammates can start to rely on each other throughout the whole season I believe we will be a successful football team.”

Still, the biggest test of the year is awaiting the Spuds. 

“I hope we win this last regular season game against the undefeated Lumberjacks, it would be a huge impact on the organization and for the school,” said Soeth.  

A key defensive player for the football team is out right now with a serious leg injury and Soeth says it does not look like he will be back for the final games of his senior season. If the Spuds come out strong, the defense is ready, and all of the team relies on each other it should be a great run for the Moorhead Spuds.

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