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Sports for the week of November 3, 2004

Late interception keys win

Panther defense forces 6 turnovers

The Tracy/Milroy/Balaton Panther football team advanced to the Section 6AA finals with a 7-0 win over West Central at Barrett Saturday night. The Panthers will now meet Yellow Medicine East in the Fargo Dome Friday night at 5:30 p.m. for the section championship.
The game with the West Central Knights was an intensive defensive game. The Panther defense held West Central to a total of 122 yards of offense. The Knights rushed 34 times for only 51 yards and were 7 of 25 passing for 71 yards with four interceptions. The Panthers, now 7-3 on the year, rushed 40 times for 113 yards and were 2 of 12 passing for 43 yards giving TMB 156 total yards of offense.
"Defense rules again," said Panther Coach Randy McIntire. "West Central Area has averaged 19 points per game this season and put up 340 yards against RCW. We have had 12 shut out quarters out of the last 14 so our defense has been playing very well."
The Panther defense forced six West Central turnovers, four interceptions and two fumbles recovered. An interception by Trevor Morin, with 11:00 remaining in the game, was returned 31 yards to the Knights 9-yard line and led to the game's only score. Other interceptions by Donald Strand, Sean Fox and Brett Jackson stopped West Central drives. Jackson's, with only 18.6 seconds, sealed the Panthers' victory.

Familiar foes line up for grid championship

Title looms at Fargo Dome

The Tracy/Milroy Panthers will play Yellow Medicine East for the Section 6AA Championship Friday night at the Fargo Dome in a 5:30 p.m. game. The two teams have identical 7-3 records but YME owns a 35-16 win over the Panthers during the season.
"We have got to stop the drive play and play better pass defense," said Panther Coach Randy McIntire. "They scored on us just before the end of the third quarter to take the lead and we had to go to our passing mode and it did not work out well for us."
YME 's leading rusher, Mike Arneson, was hurt in the Benson game but, according to a story in the Marshall Independent, will likely play Friday.
This season marks the first time TMB has reached the finals of the Section Championship since 2000 when TMB lost to Canby 20-19 at Canby in a game in which the Panthers led most of the way.

Sprint to the top

Jillian Tholen is region champ

The stopwatches would record a 28-second margin of victory for Jillian Tholen at the Section 3A cross country meet. But the Tracy junior's dash for the finish line provided no clues to her huge margin of victory. Her face contorted with effort, muscular legs churning like a sprinter's, Tholen approached the chute as if Olympian Carrie Tollefson was a step behind.
"She gave it everything she had when she finished," said Coach Marie Clauson. "I'm really proud of her effort."
Tholen is the first Tracy/Milroy/Balaton runner in five years to qualify for the state cross country meet. Saturday, she'll lace up her shoes at St. Olaf College for the state Class A meet to race with the state's best.
A Top Ten, or even a Top-Five finish, is well within reach for Tholen, according to her coach.
"She's excited, I'm sure she wants to finish in the top five."
The goal since Thursday's Section 3A meet, has been to taper Jillian's training so her legs feel fresh on Saturday, Clauson said.

o o o

At the section meet, Tholen led from the early moments of the race. At one mile she had a five to ten-second lead. At two miles, she had extended her lead to 15 seconds.
The second-place finisher—eighth grader Morgan Lynn of Adrian—beat Tholen in an earlier race.
Including the mid-season loss to Lynn, Tholen failed to finish first only four times all season. In the Tracy Invitational, Tholen was bettered by Nikki Swenson of Lac qui Parle. She lost to Brooke Wyffels at the Redwood Invitational, and was third at the Roy Griak Invitational.
Clauson felt that Tholen became a bit run down in the middle of the season, in part because she is such a hard worker. Clauson, in her first year as the Panther's cross country coach, said that her work with Tholen was mainly to prevent her from over-training.
"Obviously, Jillian has a lot of talent and she has an excellent work ethic. She's been able to accomplish what she has without a lot of coaching from me."
Tholen's 2004 championship medal is a 180-degree difference from 2003. A bout with mononucleosis forced Tholen to sit out last year's section meet.

TMB volleyball needs two more wins for state berth

Tracy/Milroy/Balaton advanced to the finals of the Section 3AA volleyball tournament with sweeps over Canby, Thursday and YME Monday.

The Panthers, 24-4 on the season, will face Renville County West for the North Section AA title on Thursday at Redwood Valley High School at 7 p.m. The Jaguars knocked the Panthers out of the section tournament last year and the teams have split in two encounters this seasonal

The winner of the Thursday match will meet the South Champion at Southwest Minnesota State University at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for the right to enter the state tournament.

"We played really sluggish versus Canby," said Panther coach Katie Gervais. "We struggled with serve receive and that really affected the flow and tempo of our offense. We did start playing with a little more consistency to finish the match but we are going to have to find that flow and consistency earlier in the match to compete against upcoming teams."