13 Years Ago – Second place finish sends Legion team to state
This year’s Legion team, bolstered by wins over much bigger schools, earned the first state tournament berth in 13 years for the Legion program. The last time a Monticello team advanced so far was in the summer of ’99 when Monticello relied on strong pitching to carry them to a second-place finish in districts and earn them a berth in the state tournament.
In the first round, Monticello got off to a fast start, beating Sandstone 8-1 to extend their end-of-season winning streak to 11 games.
Ben Kolles pitched the game for Monticello, holding Sandstone to four hits, while striking out 10 batters.
“He dominated the whole game,” said Coach Brad Sellner.
At the plate Monticello got big hits from around the lineup, jumpstarted by a first-inning home run from Ryan Bigalke.
In the second round, Monticello was faced with a tougher challenge. They were matched up against Eden Prairie, an all-sport powerhouse. One thing Monticello had going for them is that they had not thrown either of their two aces in the first game, so they had a rested Aaron Holthaus ready to attack Eden Prarie. He did just that. Despite giving up an early run, Holthaus settled in and allowed just two runs during the game. And in between their first and last run, Monticello scored five of their own, to earn a berth in the semifinal round of the district tournament.
VanCulin, Bigalke, Josh Nelson and Derrick Brown all had big hits to lead Monticello’s rally in the middle innings.
The semifinals brought the toughest test yet. Monticello squared off with a very good baseball team from Coon Rapids. And again, the local nine got off to a fast start. Joe VanCulin smashed a two-run home run to left-center to give Monticello an early lead. Monticello would not record another hit after the first inning.
Fortunately, Dusty Decker was up to the challenge on the mound. Decker allowed just one run, coming in the seventh and final inning, while striking out eight, as Monticello held on for a 2-1 win and locked up a state tournament berth.
In the championship game, used for determining seedings at state, Bloomington used 10 runs over the final two innings to beat Monticello 13-2. The loss ended a 13-game winning streak for Monti.
Monticello proceeded to go 1-2 at the state tournament.
22 Years Ago – Frie, Ashwill repeat as country club champions
In small towns, it’s tough to find a sports month much slower than August. Summer sports have wound down. Fall sports have yet to start back up. But one sport that is always still going strong is golf. And each year August tends to be home to the Monticello Country Club Championship tournament.
1990 was a new year, and a new tournament. But it likely didn’t feel that way to those participating. Mark Frie ran his championship streak to four, while Alice Ashwill earned her third club title.
As always, the tournament was played in hot and humid conditions. Still, 145 golfers braved the conditions to play in the annual tournament. None were better than Frie and Ashwill. Frie shot a one-under 141, which was six shots better than his closest competitor, Matt DeBoer. Mark Rask and Dan Carlson finished third and fourth respectively.
Ashwill won even more convincingly. Her 164 was a whopping 10 shots better than second-place Jenny Adkins.
In handicapped play, Barb Kotke earned top honors for the females. In men’s handicapped competition Gary Deboer took first in the first flight. He was followed by Pete Williams and Gar Holley.
29 Years Ago – Rask, Sonju victorious in club tourney
Mark Rask, of Rockford, unseated Gary Gault from his club championship slot, and Merilee Sonju retained hers as the Monticello Country Club conducted its annual championship in August 1983.
For Sonju, it marked the third consecutive title, although it wasn’t easy to come by. Sonju was tied with Beverly Woolley until the last hole, when she pulled ahead by one stroke to win 182-183.
Rask had a bit of an easier time on his way to the championship. He shot a tournament-best 139 over 36 holes, while Gault shot a 150.
The championship was played in oppressive heat, which Sonju said slowed the course down and often caused her to reach for a bigger club than she might otherwise grab. Despite that, and a summer where she hadn’t been playing as much in the past, she grinded out another win, and assured a return trip the following year.
“You have to defend the title,” said Sonju.
Using net score, other top finishers in the tournament included Earle Woolley, Floyd Johnson and Delores Jacobson.