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The Laker 2011 Class generates three state championships

Back in 2006, one of the best crops of senior athletes came out of Detroit Lakes.

That Laker class produced four high-quality athletes who went on to collegiate success, with three of them on the D-I level and all left the halls of DLHS as one of the best in their sports of all time.

Christine Herzog was a two-time state individual runner-up for the girls' golf team, while being the top golfer on the 2006 Class 2A state champion Laker squad.

She left as the best DL girl golfer in Laker history, while playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Brent Eidenschink left the Laker wrestling program as the all-time leader in wins and was one bad call from a potential Class 2A state title. But he also left as one of the best DL grapplers to put on a singlet, while also earning a scholarship to wrestle for the prestigious U of M Gopher men's team.

If that wasn't enough, Hanna Grinaker was also a two-time state Class 1A runner-up in cross-country, as she graduated as DL's best-ever girls' runner to don the Laker colors.

She moved on to run for the University of Wisconsin women's cross country team.

But that 2006 class wasn't done.

Jordanne Even eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier in her junior season and by the time her senior year came around, she was DL's all-time leading scorer and graduated as one of the best girls' basketball player, as well.

She played for the University of Minnesota -- Duluth women's basketball team during her collegiate years.

It was going to be hard to top that great DL Class of 2006, but this 2011 crop is darn near close.

Already, the DLHS 2011 class has won three state championships and all three were Laker first-timers.

It started in the fall, when Melissa Paakh became the first Laker girls' swimmer to win a state championship when she clinched the 100-yard butterfly, an event she finished state runner-up four times.

Paakh's desire to win a state championship led to endless hours in the pool and a dedication any high school athlete would have a hard time matching.

Her state championship capped a spectacular career, in which it's easy to name her as the best girls' swimmer in the history of the DL program.

The winter season produced two Laker athletes who won Minnesota gold.

Senior Amy Crawford was already down the golden-paved road last year, when she became the first Laker gymnast to win a state championship, when she claimed the beam title.

This time around, she doubled her accomplishment, by repeating as the beam champion, then adding her much-coveted bars title to her gold-place finishes.

Crawford narrowly missed winning the all-around state title, but still finished second -- which is easily the highest any DL gymnast has finished.

Her career is the apex of a resoundingly successful Laker gymnastics program, one which has had to delve in the shadow of the eight-time state champion Perham.

But Crawford's career is unmatched by any DL gymnast and there have been numerous of talented Laker gymnasts which have gone through the ranks.

The latest first-time Laker champion came after the dominating season had by senior Jon Melgaard.

For six years, Melgaard's work ethic has been second to none on the diving board. He has progressed each season and peaked when he was suppose to -- his senior season.

When it was all said and done, Melgaard held 10 pool/meet diving records -- including the Mid-State Conference and Section 3-1A -- while going undefeated this past season.

The crescendo came March 5, inside the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, when Melgaard handily won the Class 1A state diving championship.

Much like the theme for the above mentioned, Melgaard's championship was the first time for a Laker diver.

Again, it is no doubt Melgaard's diving career surpasses that of any DL diver ever.

Add in Josh Stalberger to this impressive senior class, as well. The Laker wide receiver and forward has posted some big numbers in football and basketball.

He became just the fifth DL boys' basketball player to shoot past the 1,000 career point total, while committing to play wide receiver at St. Cloud State University.

Looking back at the class of 2006, the bar was set pretty high for future Laker athletes.

But it's remarkable to say, that this 2011 class of DL athletes, have at the very least, reached that bar with three first-time Laker state championships.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.