Student athletes at Central Lakes College compete on a high level with the best in the nation. CLC has won championships in women’s basketball (1996), volleyball (2000, 2001, 2007) and men’s golf (2005) and come close in fast-pitch softball (runner-up, 2007).
The 2009 Raider football team captured the first state championship in school history and in 2010 went unbeaten through 10 regular-season games to earn a trip to Arizona for the Valley of the Sun Bowl.
The men’s basketball team in 2010-11 set a record for wins (26) and was ranked in the top 10 of Division III in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
CLC student athletes earn not only post-season tributes for their performances with Raiders teams. Dozens earn Academic All-Star honors each season, recognized for their above-average academic standing among competitors in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.
The 2010 Southern Division champion Raiders went 9-0 during the regular season and defeated Northland, 19-13, in a state semi-final playoff game. Last year, CLC enjoyed its first unbeaten regular season since 1984.
The Raiders lost for the first time after 10 straight wins in a hard-fought MCAC championship rematch with Rochester, 34-31, in overtime. The 2010 season continued into December as the team accepted an invitation to the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Phoenix. Representing the best non-scholarship athleticism anywhere, CLC lost another battle, 23-13, to host Glendale Community College, to finish with a 10-2 record.
MCAC All-Academic Team honorees in 2010 were Kaleb Anderson, Robert Howell, Cory Jackson, Samuel Johnson, Roger Strack, Collin Swanson, Ryan Tri, and Dustin Yorek. To qualify they maintained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better.
In 2009, the Raiders won the first state championship for CLC, 20-14 in overtime, to unhinge the title grip of perennial power Rochester. After a UNI-Dome bowl loss to Ellsworth, Iowa, CLC finished with a 10-1 record, the best in school history.
Head Coach Greg Medeck was named Division Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010 and five players in 2009 were named first-team All-Conference: Karl Hunt, Tyler Erickson, Dennis Taute, Kyle Crozon, and Lawson Starr.
At least 14 Raiders have earned All-American status through the years and gone on to play for Division 1 and Division 2 teams. In the last four years, CLC has produced five All-Americans: Mike Beehler in 2007 and ’08, Nate Schoenecker is 2007, Dennis Taute in 2009, and Dominique Corder and Stoney Burns in 2010.
At CLC the yearly goal is a national championship. The Raiders have played in nine national tournaments during Coach Jane Peterson’s tenure at Central Lakes College. They have won three NJCAA Division 3 championships (2000, 2001, and 2007).
In their last national tournament appearance in 2009, the Raiders finished fourth after claiming a share of the Northern Division crown against Minnesota College Athletic Conference foes and taking the Regional trophy.
CLC has won the state tournament six times and claimed at least a share of the Northern Division crown 10 times. The Raiders own 9 Region 13B championships.
Fifteen Raiders have earned All-American honors since 1996. Three of those were two-time All-Americans: Katie Bell, Lane tenCate, and Lisa Kurtz. Other All-Americans were Sandy McKenzie, Sheila Gross, Krista Savor, Sara Houle, Becky Poster, Dana Dickinson, Shannon McCarthy, Courtney Stach, Amy Fleishhacker, Jen Kempenich, Krista Meyer, and Erica Feldewerd.
Dozens have received All-Division, All-State, and All-Region honors, and several have attained All-National Tournament, going back as far as 1996. In 2010, Melissa Widman was named to the MCAC second All-State team and All-Division first team, where she was joined by Jenna Terhaar. Melissa was also named to the MCAC Tournament team. Widman and Kaitlyn Roerick were Conference All-Academic honorees in 2010, maintaining 3.0 or better grade-point averages.
CLC’s golf teams compete each fall for the right to advance to spring national tournaments dominated by scholarship teams. Despite the disadvantage, the non-scholarship Raiders are not taken lightly when they step onto the golf course.
Surely not since June of 2005. That’s when Central Lakes College brought back to Brainerd its first national golf championship from the men’s NJCAA Division III finals in Chautauqua, N.Y.
On June 10, 2005 the Raiders rallied from four strokes down on the final day to upset Monroe of Rochester, N.Y., the top-ranked team.
CLC’s 1210-stroke total for the meet matched the tournament record for best team score. Theo Frentzos (All-American), Brock Gasow, Kyle Peterson, Jeff Grote, and Travis Wilson made history. Theo’s 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole nailed the one-point win.
In 2001 CLC’s Joe Sauer put himself into the record books as he captured a Division III individual title at the NJCAA tournament, when the Raiders finished third. Sauer is one of 12 All-Americans from the CLC men’s golf program. Melanie Wilson is the lone CLC women’s golfer to have earned All-American status, finishing 20th in the 2002 national meet.
Over the last decade, the CLC men’s golf team has qualified for seven straight national tournaments. In their last team showing at the nationals in New York (2008), the men’s team finished fifth following state and regional championships in the fall of 2007. Other team finishes: 2002 – fifth; 2003 – 9th; 2006 – 7th.
In the fall of 2008 and 2009, the CLC women won state and regional titles to advance to the national championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Samantha Burr was the 2008 team leader. The 2009 women’s team included Tracy Gustafson, Caitie Kavanaugh, Melissa Welshons, and Morgan Morris.
Golfers from 2010 who earned conference Academic Awards were Paul Albrecht, Cody Cederberg, Brittany Gravelle, and Timothy Thorson.
The men’s basketball team at CLC made its only appearance in the NJCAA Division III tournament in 2008, the same year the Raider women advanced to the nationals. Both teams played in New York during the same stretch of time.
The men made it by claiming the regional title four years after getting into the Regional for the first time in 37 years. CLC has made it to the Region 13 championship game three times in the past six seasons.
CLC has had better luck with the state tournament, advancing to that venue 13 times. The first state championship came in 2008. Head Coach Jim Russell has never coached a losing season in 14 years, and his 266 wins make him the winningest men’s basketball coach in school history. Coach Russell has groomed two All-Americans during his CLC career – Kody Braddix and CJ Peeters.
In the 2010-11 season, the Raiders ranked near the top of the NJCAA Division III poll and built a 23-game win streak along the way.
The CLC women’s basketball program peaked in 1996 with the school’s only national championship in that sport. But 12 years later, the 2008 team that started 1-6 and had two head coaches, surprised everyone by making it back to the Elite Eight. Nobody could have predicted the Raiders would win the Region 13B championship. They were 10-20.
“We did what we needed to do when we needed to do it,” said Head Coach Dennis Eastman, who says it’s amazing how much interest comes from four-year coaches interested in Raider athletes after watching them play in venues such as the national tournament.
Smarts count, too. Four Raiders, Carlee Davich, Brittany Gravelle, Caitlyn Kavanaugh, and Trisha Wippler, earned 2010 Women’s Basketball Academic Awards from the Minnesota College Athletic Conference
The Central Lakes College softball program rose to national prominence in 2000 when the Raiders placed seventh in the national tournament. They repeated that finish the following year. In 2006, CLC returned to the NJCAA Elite Eight, finishing sixth in the first of four straight appearances.
The Raiders reached their highest point so far in 2007, taking second place. They were fifth in 2008 and seventh in 2009.
Tika Klauck of CLC is in the NJCAA record books for having collected six hits in a single game at the 2009 national tournament.
Stephanie Neugebauer drew All-American honors in 2011. Brittany Thorson was first-team All-American and Olivia Graham second team in 2008. Lindsay Jourdan in 2007 earned first team All-American. In 2006, Jean Koester was second team All-American. In 2001 Erin Thiesse earned second team All-American.
In 2010, Trisha Wippler was named to the second All-Division team for CLC, which went 21-15 in its first season under Head Coach Greg Medeck. The Raiders were one run short of a return to the national tournament, losing 4-3 in a showdown with powerful Itasca.