September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Dairy kids excel in winter sports
Landon Byer, a junior at Frazee High School, recently wrestled in the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament March 2-4 in St. Paul, Minn. Wrestling in the 106-pound weight division, Byer took sixth as an individual. Together with his teammates, the Frazee High School wrestlers came out third overall. In addition, Byer received an academic award from the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association. Byer is the son of Tammy and Marvin Byer, who milk 70 cows on their farm near Frazee, Minn.
Brothers, Clay and Cael Carlson also competed at the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament, representing their school, Willmar High School. Clay, a junior, took second in the 132-pound weight division and ended the season with a record of 39-4. Throughout the year, Clay was ranked second in the state. Cael, a sophomore, also took second in his weight division of 126 pounds, ending the season with a 36-7 record. Cael had a No. 4 state ranking throughout the season. Both of the brothers lost 3-2 in the finals to wrestlers from Shakopee. As a team, Willmar qualified for state and took sixth. The Carlsons are the sons of Chad and Kindra Carlson, who milk 1,500 cows near Pennock, Minn.
The team from Goodhue High School took home the Class A trophy at this year's Minnesota State High School Girls Basketball Tournament, keeping the title of state champion for the second year in a row. Included on that team were five dairy farm girls: Emily Benrud, Kaitlin Buck, Kennedy Buck, Kjersten Veiseth and Mikayla Peterson.
Benrud, a starting junior guard for the Wildcats, averaged five points and four rebounds during the regular season. In the three games at the state tournament, Benrud averaged 12 points per game, helping the team knock off No. 1 ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl in the championship game with a final score of 73-51. Benrud and three of her teammates were named to the Class A All-Tournament team. Benrud is the daughter of Roger and Michelle Benrud, who milk 100 cows on their organic dairy near Goodhue, Minn.
Mikayla Peterson said she had an important role supporting and cheering from the bench during most of the state tournament. The senior post player scored two points against Cromwell-Wright High School in the state semifinal game. Peterson plans to attend Winona State University in the fall to major in early childhood and elementary education. She is the daughter of Scott and Kelli Peterson, who milk 55 cows near Goodhue, Minn.
Jill Klaphake, the daughter of Jim and Carol Klaphake, who milk 50 cows near Sauk Centre, Minn., was a starting guard on the Sauk Centre Girls Basketball team that placed second in Class AA state tournament March 15-18 in the Twin Cities. Sauk Centre defeated Minnehaha Academy and Watertown-Mayer before losing to Roseau in the championship. The Streeters finished their year with a 31-2 record. Klaphake finished seventh in school history in points with 1,103 and was also named to the West Central North All-Conference Team. She was also named to the Class AA All-Tournament team.
Samantha Gjerde, senior point guard for Kerkoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School, hit the milestone of 1,000 points scored in her high school basketball career, ending with 1,201 points. This year, the 18-year-old averaged 24 points per game, up from last year's average of 15 points per game. In her senior season, Gjerde scored 670 points. Gjerde is a three-sport athlete, who plays volleyball in the fall and will round out her year on the softball team as pitcher and shortstop. She plans to attend South Dakota State University in the fall to try to walk on to the university's Division I softball team. Gjerde is the daughter of Paul and Jennifer Gjerde, who milk 280 cows near Sunburg, Minn. She and her siblings, Weston, 16, Maret, 14, Josie, 12 and Elsa, 12, help on the farm when they are able.
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