Tom Jones: Albert Lea graduate played in NCAA tourney 10 years ago

Published 8:15 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Sports Memories by Tom Jones

Tom Jones


50 years ago: 1969

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• Second-year Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant was scheduled to speak and show a Vikings highlight film at the L Club meeting at the Lea College fieldhouse.

• Albert Lea graduate Gary Neist closed out his four-year wrestling career at Luther College and was named the Most Valuable Player for the team. He finished his senior season with a 21-2 record and was 71-15 for his career.

• Jay Gustafson set a new single season scoring record for the Albert Lea boys’ basketball team with 407 points in 20 games. His career total of 720 points was second all-time for the Tigers, trailing Leo Schultz, who scored 728 points from 1948-52.


25 years ago: 1994

• United South Central wrestler Dan Koehler was named the Albert Lea Tribune wrestler of the year after he finished second at the Class A state meet at 135 pounds. He finished the year with a 22-2 record and was 110-27 in his career.

• After pitching two seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays and leading the Minnesota Twins to the 1991 World Series championship, 38-year-old Jack Morris signed a one-year, $350,000 guaranteed contract to pitch for the Cleveland Indians.

• Coach Howard Melom was preparing his Albert Lea boys’ track and field team for the season-opening meet against Byron at St. Olaf College. The team was led by seniors Bruce Molskness, James Anderson and Scott Conn.


10 years ago: 2009

• Albert Lea graduate Ben Woodside poured in 37 points, but it was not enough as the North Dakota State Bisons fell to Kansas 84-74 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in a game played at the Metrodome.

• Mindy Sparby was named the Albert Lea Tribune’s 2008-09 girls’ basketball coach of the year after she guided the NRHEG Panthers to a 16-11 record.

• After 11 years of coaching the U12 B girls’ hockey team, Mike Gordon retired from coaching. At the helm since the team’s inception, Gordon led the team to six district championships, three regional championships and one trip to state.


This year

• Lee Kuiters, a 1993 graduate of Albert Lea High School, has been the head groundskeeper for the Atlanta Falcons’ practice facility for the past five years. Before that, he spent 14 years in the same capacity for the Washington Redskins. He has been on the grounds crew for numerous Super Bowls since 2002 and was part of the crew for two NFL games in London. While in high school, Kuiters participated in football, basketball and baseball for the Tigers. He resides with his wife, Kerri, and their three children in the Atlanta area.