Calls From Home: Rebels alum Coil a Big 10 champion

The grad student from Sturgeon Lake won the weight throw event at the league's indoor track and field championships.

DSC_2124 Weight Throw by Carol Chen.jpg
Wisconsin's Sam Coil, a Moose Lake/Willow River alum, competes in the weight throw at the Big 10 indoor track and field championships in Geneva, Ohio. He won the event.
Photo courtesy of UW Athletics

A Moose Lake/Willow River alum earned a Big 10 track and field championship in February for Wisconsin.

Sam Coil, a grad student from Sturgeon Lake, won the weight throw event at the Feb. 24-25 Big 10 indoor championships, held in Geneva, Ohio.

Coil’s winning effort was marked at 22.43 meters (73 feet, 7 ¼ inches), a foot better than second place.

Coil’s personal best, a week earlier, was six centimeters (2 ¼ inches) farther than that.

The weight throw is an indoor-friendly alternative to the hammer throw in which a 35-pound ball attached to a handle is released after a circular spinning motion.


Coil was scheduled to compete at the NCAA championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday.

  • Kendra Kelley (Cloquet) finished second for North Dakota State in the 200-meter dash and third in the 60-meter dash at the Summit League indoor meet at the Dakota Dome in Vermilion, South Dakota on Feb. 25-26.

Kelley, a junior, was just edged out, 23.96 to 23.98, in the 200 final by Erin Kinney of South Dakota. Kelley ran a 7.55 in the 60 final, which was also won by Kinney.

Kelley’s season best was a 23.88 in the 200 at the University of North Dakota Tune-Up in Grand Forks on Feb. 18, and she ran a 7.48 in the 60 at the Music City Challenge at Vanderbilt in Nashville.

  • Journey Amundson (Northwestern) of Macalester was part of three top-three finishes at the MIAC indoor meet on Feb. 23-24 at St. Paul.

Amundson finished second in the triple jump with a mark of 11.63 meters (38 feet, 2 inches) and third in the long jump at 5.25 meters (17 feet, 2 ¾”). She was also part of a second-place distance medley relay team.

Women’s basketball

Gianna Kneepkens of Utah carries the ball up the floor during a Nov. 7, 2022 home game vs. Idaho in Salt Lake City, Utah. Kneepkens, named to the all-Pac-12 team, is also in a fan vote for the Cheryl Miller Award for national small forward of the year.
Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics

Gianna Kneepkens (Duluth Marshall) was named to the all-Pac-12 team for the second time in awards released on Feb. 28.

The sophomore finished second in the league in 3-point shooting (41.6%) and averages 15.3 points and five rebounds per game. The Utes earned a share of the Pac-12 conference title, tying with Stanford at 15-3 in league play and clinching the championship with a dramatic 84-78 home win over co-champions Stanford on Feb. 25 in which Kneepkens went off for 28 points.

The Utes were upset by Washington State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament on March 2 despite Kneepkens’ 18 points.

Still, experts believe Utah will be seeded high enough (most likely as a No. 2) to host its first two NCAA tournament games in Salt Lake City. The NCAA women’s field will be selected on Sunday.


Kneepkens has been announced as a top-five candidate for the national Cheryl Miller Award. Fan voting is underway at for this and four other awards for the nation’s best players at each position.

  • Heaven Hamling’s North Dakota State team fell victim to an upset bid in the Summit League tournament as last-place Kansas City stunned the Bison 71-64 on Saturday, March 4 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

NDSU was second in the Summit League regular season, albeit six games behind undefeated champions South Dakota State, but never led against the Kangaroos, who had only seven available players. Hamling (Grand Rapids) made four baskets as NDSU cut the cap from 17 points to two by the end of the third quarter, but never got all the way back.

Calls From Home

Calls From Home is an occasional feature that will highlight alumni from local high school athletic programs who are now competing in junior hockey or intercollegiate athletics outside the Northland. If you're aware of a local athlete who should be added to our list, please email with the subject "Calls From Home." A hockey-specific edition of Calls From Home is scheduled for next week.

Hamling finished with 16 points and five assists for NDSU (18-11). The Bison are expected to participate in the women’s NIT, whose field will be announced late Sunday.

This season, Hamling leads the Bison in points per game (16.5), assists (109), steals (61) and 3-point shooting (.348 with 73 makes).

  • Grace Kirk (Duluth Marshall) had 20 points and nine assists across 11 appearances for Brown in her sophomore season. This week, it was reported that Kirk joined a federal class-action lawsuit against the Ivy League and its prohibition of athletic scholarships, arguing that the restriction constitutes an antitrust violation and illegal restraint of trade.
Kirk plays for Brown University's women's basketball team and is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that takes aim at league's no athletic scholarship policy,

  • Sam Pogatchnik (Proctor) finished the season as Bemidji State’s leading rebounder.

Pogatchnik pulled down 6.6 boards per game for the Beavers, who finished 8-18. She also had 9.4 points per game and was second on the team in both assists (64) and steals (25).
She had 15 points and five boards in BSU’s regular-season finale, a loss to Minnesota Duluth at Romano Gym.

  • Natalie Mikrot (Moose Lake/Willow River) played in 26 of 29 games for Minnesota Crookston. She averaged 3.1 points a game and made 20 3-pointers, shooting at a .308 clip from the outside.

Mikrot posted eight points (one short of her season high) in 18 minutes in the Golden Eagles’ penultimate game of the regular season, a home loss to Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 16. UMC went 10-19 but did make the first round of the NSIC women’s basketball tournament.

  • Lexiss Trygg (Virginia) averaged 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and a team-best 13 blocks for Bethany Lutheran in her sophomore season.
  • Maddie Young (Cloquet) averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds, including 15-for-19 free-throw shooting, in her first season on the women’s basketball team at St. Catherine.

Men’s basketball

John Sutherland (Grand Rapids) was named to the All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference first team after a season in which he led Bemidji State in points (530), rebounds (233) and blocks (14) and was the conference leader in field-goal percentage (.592).


He is the first NSIC first-teamer for BSU men’s basketball since 2013-14. The Beavers were knocked out of the NSIC tournament in the semifinals on a Minnesota State Moorhead buzzer-beater and were just outside the cut line for NCAA tournament play.

  • Xavier Patterson finished his junior season at Bethany Lutheran averaging 11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He had nine points, eight boards and four assists as the Vikings lost to Hope College (Mich.) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament on March 3 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Teammate and fellow Superior alum Mason Ackley had four points and five rebounds in that game. For the season, Ackley had 11.1 points and 7.3 boards per game.

  • Will Van Scoy (Duluth East) finished his first season at Wisconsin-River Falls with averages of 4.0 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

Men’s swimming

Joe Rudd (Duluth Denfeld) was named to the All-Summit League team for St. Thomas to conclude his 2022-23 sophomore season.

Rudd took second in the 200-yard breaststroke in 1:56.26 at the conference meet in Minneapolis on Feb. 22-25, breaking his own program record in the event. He also finished sixth in the 100 breast final (54.51) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (1:50.58). His times in those events were also program records.


Dana Jones (Cloquet) recorded her first collegiate hit for Winona State on Tuesday, a pinch-hit single through the right side in a 6-1 win over Cedarville in the Warriors’ Florida trip in Clermont.

In her young WSU career, Jones currently has more runs scored (four) than at-bats (two), as she has been deployed several times as a pinch runner.

  • Ruby Moore (Northwestern) is 6-for-14 at the plate in the beginning of her college career for West Texas A&M. She’s started three games, with the highlight probably being Feb. 12 at New Mexico Highlands in which she was 2-for-3 with a triple, an RBI and scored twice.
  • Gabriella Blomdahl (Hermantown) broke out of an early season slump with her first two hits of the season for Minnesota Crookston on Sunday and Monday. Blomdahl was 0-for-9 on the year until a two-run double in the sixth inning of an 11-6 win over Evangel in Springfield, Missouri on Sunday. She followed that up with a 1-for-4 day on Monday in a win over Northeastern State that included an RBI single and an RBI fielder’s choice, the latter giving the Golden Eagles the lead for good.
  • Chesie McLaughlin (Superior) was 1-for-3 with an RBI for Minot State in her first game of the season, Feb. 26 at Southwest Baptist.
  • Kaylee Baker (Superior) is hitting .222 in 11 games at Mount Mary College in Wisconsin. Her best game of the season came Monday in a 5-3 win over Rivier in Winter Haven, Florida in which she led off and went 2-for-4 with an RBI, scored twice and stole two bases.
  • Teammate and fellow Spartans alum Elise DeGraef is .227 on the year, recording a hit and RBI on Monday in the Blue Angels’ other game, a loss to Bluffton.


Peter Hansen (Duluth Marshall) is hitting .280 through six games at Division I Bradley in Illinois. The redshirt sophomore went 2-for-7 with an RBI in a 19-9 slugfest vs. Little Rock on Feb. 26. Then in a pair of games at Jacksonville State on March 4-5, he was 2-for-3 with an RBI in the first game, and had a two-run homer and an RBI groundout in the second.

  • Jake Brill (Northwestern) has six hits on the season in nine games for Central Michigan. The junior outfielder opened the season with a 2-for-6 game at Baylor on Feb. 18, then went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base in CMU’s game at Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Feb. 21. For the season, Brill is .222 in 27 at-bats.
  • George Hansen (Superior) has pitched in three games for Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College, taking the loss in all three. He has allowed 10 earned runs over six innings pitched, with six strikeouts and seven walks.
  • Kole Paulsen (Northwestern) is off to a 3-for-8 start in four games for Minnesota North Community College-Itasca, which began a season-opening Florida trip on Tuesday.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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