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Listen Live:High School Football- Wayzata at Minnetonka

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

bannerTune in tonight for the battle for the Bay Bell, as Minnetonka plays host to Wayzata in a Lake Conference match-up. Our live broadcast online begins at 7pm at the link below. We will be on the radio on Sports Radio 105, The Ticket beginning at 8pm.

Q&A with 10-Time US Open Racquetball Champ Kane Waselenchuk

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

When the US Open Racquetball Championships ended today at Lifetime Fitness in Target Center two familiar faces were re-crowned champion. In the women’s bracket, Mexico’s Paola Longoria swept Maria Jose Vargas of Argentina 11-5, 11-3, 11-8. It is Longoria’s 4th consecutive US Open title and record 5th overall. The world No. 1 is riding a 150-match winning streak.

On the men’s side, native Canadian and current Texas resident Kane Waselenchuk downed Mexico’s Alvaro Beltran 11-1, 11-6, 11-6 for his 10th US Open crown, including the last 7 in a row. No other player has won more than 4.

An athlete even a casual sports fan would appreciate, Waselenchuk’s combination of fast-twitch muscle reflexes, unflappable focus and insatiable self drive leaves opponents intimated and baffled; more awestruck than frustrated. Fresh in the glow of his latest conquest, Waselenchuk took a few minutes to chat with me about life as the world’s greatest racquetballer.

DZ: Obviously this is your 10 US Open (title). Right after you won you seemed overwhelmed, what was going through your mind?

WASELENCHUK: I wasn’t overwhelmed, it was just excitement. The last couple of years, I’ve been through a lot. To come out on top…having all of my friends and family here - everybody that really means something to me and also have a part in what I do - is special to me.

DZ: When you think back to the first one after all of these years, what stands out?

WASELENCHUK: I am older (laughs).

DZ: What about memories?

WASELENCHUK: Honestly it’s one of those things that - I don’t really remember much about the match. I believe I hit it down the line and it got past him on the right side. I don’t remember what serve I hit, I don’t remember anything. I guess that’s a good thing. I’d have to say just the consistency and the level I played at all week.

I know what I am capable of and at this tournament there are a lot of things - with doubles happening - there are a lot of things that can happen. To be standing on top again is awesome.

DZ: You seem like a guy who comes out with a lot of energy and Alvaro likes to slow it down a lit bit - especially in that 3rd game. How do you deal with that?

WASELENCHUK: I’ve just got to stay focused…I can play any type of game. You want to play fast, I can play fast. You want to play slow, I can play slow as well too. For a little while there he started fighting back, I think he had me up 6-3 in the 3rd game and just keep fighting and that’s what I did. I made a few crucial shots. There was one long rally, had a ceiling ball and it went off the back wall and I flat rolled a pinch and I think that it just kind of changed the momentum really of the 3rd game. I put a little run together and finished it off.

DZ: Do you feel the competition closing in on you; are you hearing footsteps at all?

WASELENCHUK: Any of these guys can beat me on any given day. They are also the greatest players in our game right now. If I don’t come with a 100% and stay focused these guys will come up and they will beat me. I’ve got a lot of self motivation and I am just not content right now. I am enjoying what I am doing and obviously it’s easy to enjoy what you are doing when you are winning. I genuinely love what I do and a person once told me that you’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do. It couldn’t be more true.

DZ: Looking at your Twitter page, it seems like sometimes you get a little frustrated about the lack of coverage and attention the sport gets. What are your thoughts on that?

WASELENCHUK: I am not frustrated because I am self loathing and I want it for myself. I think it’s important - you can put my accolades up with any greatest athlete ever that’s out there and I match up with it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to represent the game…in a professional manner. We train just as hard as all of those other professional sports do. I just think that if companies and people would just give us a shot, we wouldn’t let them down. I speak for all of us, it’s just not me. We are a family - racquetball is a family - and we really, really need something to happen and I would really like it in the time that I am here. I know that I am getting older and once a upon a time, time was on my side, but it’s not on my side, I am just delaying the inevitable now. I just feel that we all deserve it collectively as a group.

DZ: What is the biggest change…as you get older?

WASELENCHUK: I am really starting to appreciate things a lot more and not take things for granted. It’s all about life experience - not that I didn’t appreciate it before - but I am really starting to appreciate it because I am 32 and who knows what can happen.

DZ: One last thing…it seems like that when you appreciate things, you can kind of let your guard down a little bit; how do you keep that balance?

WASELENCHUK: I don’t make that mistake. I appreciate and I know how blessed I am to be in this position and do what I am doing. There is no one in racquetball anyways that can say they’ve done what I have done. I don’t take advantage of that; I’ve worked hard for it, I feel like I deserve it and it’s nice to have a great group of people with me that support me that can enjoy it along the way like I do.

See more of David Zingler’s player interviews:

October 11: Alvaro Beltran
September 25: Justin Morneau, Part II
September 23: Justin Morneau, Part I
September 21: Michael Cuddyer
August 31: Glen Perkins
July 22: Matt Guerrier
July 16: Maya Moore
July 9: Sam Fuld
July 4: Phil Hughes
June 11: Janel McCarville
May 2: Kurt Suzuki
April 26: Kyle Gibson
April 22: Jason Kubel

Q&A with US Open Racquetball Finalist Alvaro Beltran

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

The US Open Racquetball Championships rolled on today at Lifetime Fitness in Target Center. 21-year-old Maria Jose Vargas of Argentina opened “Super Saturday’s” semifinal action with 4-game win over 4-time champion Rhonda Rajsich. Vargas, the No. 3 seed, will face Mexico’s Paola Longoria in the women’s final tomorrow at 11:00 am. The No. 1 ranked Longoria will be gunning for her 5th US Open crown and 150th straight match win.

On the men’s side No. 3 Alvaro Beltran reached his second career US Open final with a 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 2-11, 11-4 victory over No. 2 Rocky Carson. Beltran, also from Mexico, will likely face the nearly unbeatable world No. 1 Kane Waselenchuk in tomorrow’s final. The 35-year-old Beltran can take solace in the fact that he is one of the few humans who has defeated Waselenchuk in match, even if it was over 5 years ago.

Beltran and I and chatted about his semifinal victory, a possible final against Kane and more, moments after today’s match.

DZ: First off, congrats on the big win today…you had a 2-1 lead and the 4th game (Carson) kind of took it to you a little bit. How did you get the momentum back?

BELTRAN: Man, it was all heart. It’s the US Open semifinal, a chance to be in the biggest event of the year in racquetball. I was tired, I was tired and I just found energy, I don’t know from where, but it was all heart. Rocky - that’s his game, his style - he tries to break you physically because he’s in top shape. I made some great shots that even I couldn’t believe for some moments. I guess part lucky, part being in the moment.

DZ: You and Rocky have a pretty good rivalry - I think I read you’ve each won 19 times against each other - and you’re also doubles partners. How do you balance that friendship and the rivalry and all that?

BELTRAN: I guess it’s like boxing when two guys get in the ring. It’s a different mindset. It’s not hard anymore because we’ve done it for 20 years now. We are both live in California, so we’ve been playing since we were like 16 against each other. We are 35. It sucks because we know each other’s shots pretty well. We (usually) have 2 to 3 hour matches, so this wasn’t the exception.

DZ: You mentioned the long match today and you have a big match tomorrow. Let’s take a leap of faith and say you are playing Kane (Waselenchuk) tomorrow…

BELTRAN: You never know, but he’s been dominating the sport for a while, so there’s a good chance that would happen (smiles). But the other kid (Alejandro Landa) has a good mentality. He is young and he doesn’t respect anybody on the court, so I think it’s going to be a good match.

DZ: You did beat Kane back in 2009. Is there anything you can take away from that going into tomorrow if you were to play him?

BELTRAN: I don’t think it helps, it was a long time ago. Two weeks ago I lost to Rocky, so it doesn’t really matter what happened before. I know he’s won the last two tournaments, but that’s the good thing about it, tomorrow is a different day. Nothing is written.

DZ: You mentioned your age earlier; I think you have a birthday next week - 36. As an athlete, what gets harder for you as you get older and what’s easier?

BELTRAN: The experience helps a lot. Obviously we need a little bit more rest time these days and therapy to be physically good to go. I think overall the experience helps a lot. We don’t have to move as much, know what shots to hit, we become smarter players. Overall, it’s not a bad thing as long as our bodies are 100%.

DZ: Did you grow up in California?

BELTRAN: No, I am from Mexico, I’ve actually learned English in the last 10 years that I’ve been playing on the tour. I am from Mexico and live in Tijuana.

DZ: Racquetball is really popular right now (in Mexico), what do you think the reason is…?

BELTRAN: I don’t know. People get really passionate about the sport. We get a lot of press, promotion, TV time. I think that helps a lot…We have the No. 1 player in the world in the women’s division (Paola Longoria), that’s been helping a lot for the sport to grow?

DZ: It seems like you have a really good time out there, you like to use humor. Is that how you kind of keep it light when it gets really intense?

BELTRAN: Exactly, that’s part of me staying really - not feeling the pressure, enjoying the moment and having fun. There is no reason not to have fun even though there is a lot at stake. That’s one thing that is always in my mind to have fun and play hard.

See more of David Zingler’s player interviews:

September 25: Justin Morneau, Part II
September 23: Justin Morneau, Part I
September 21: Michael Cuddyer
August 31: Glen Perkins
July 22: Matt Guerrier
July 16: Maya Moore
July 9: Sam Fuld
July 4: Phil Hughes
June 11: Janel McCarville
May 2: Kurt Suzuki
April 26: Kyle Gibson
April 22: Jason Kubel

US Open Racquetball is Back in the Twin Cities

Friday, October 10th, 2014

The 19th Annual United States Open Racquetball Championships are underway at Lifetime Fitness in Target Center. It is the 5th consecutive year the event has been held in Minneapolis.

On the men’s side 32-year-old Kane Waselenchuk is seeking his 7th consecutive title and 10th overall. Few people in the world do anything as well as Waselenchuk plays racquetball. If you are a sports fan of any kind, he’s worth checking out.

Rocky Carson, 35, meanwhile has had the misfortune of playing in the Kane Era. A truly great player in his own right, the 2007 champion has lost 5 US Open finals, including 4 to Waselenchuk.

Paola Longoria of Mexico has been nearly as dominant in the woman’s game. At age 25, she’s aleady won 4 US Open titles, including the last 3. As of October 10, Longoria has won 147 consecutive matches.

Men’s and Women’s semifinal action kicks off at 10 am Saturday.

Wild sign Matt Cooke to free agent deal

Friday, July 5th, 2013

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed free-agent forward Matt Cooke to a three-year contract.

Cooke, 34 (9/7/78), tallied 21 points (8-13=21) and 36 penalty minutes (PIM) in 48 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. He led team forwards with 41 blocked shots, ranked second among team forwards in shorthanded minutes per game at 2:11, ranked fifth on Pittsburgh with 97 hits and won the team’s Edward J. DeBartolo “Community Service” Award for his time and effort working on community and charity projects. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound native of Belleville, Ont., added four assists, 35 PIM and led the Penguins with 63 hits in 15 playoff contests.

In 2011-12, Cooke recorded 38 points (19-19=38) and 44 PIM in 82 contests and was named the Penguin’s nominee for the 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He set career highs in goals and shots (147), tied his career high with four game-winning goals and posted the second-best point total of his career.

He has notched 360 points (153-207=360), 1,068 PIM and a plus-53 rating in 935 career NHL games during 14 seasons with Vancouver, Washington and Pittsburgh. He won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and has reached double digits in goals 10 times in his career. Since 2005-06, Cooke ranks ninth in the NHL with 1,430 hits. He has recorded 33 points (13-20=33) and 129 PIM in 97 career playoff games. Cooke represented Canada at the 2004 World Championship and the 1998 World Junior Championship. He was originally selected by Vancouver in the sixth-round (144th overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Matt and his wife, Michelle, established The Cooke Family Foundation of Hope as a non-profit foundation in 2006. The Foundation provides opportunities and assistance to registered charity organizations within Canada. The Foundation’s efforts focus on those organizations that provide assistance to individuals faced with health, financial and emotional life challenges.