Rick Philion knows the intense emotions involved in the annual Coal Bowl against Beulah. The Hazen coach has been on both sides of the outcome at the helm during the four-year drought of 2002-2005 when the Miners were celebrating in the end zone after the game.
Seven miles, four quarters and 100 yards separate Hazen and Beulah this Friday for the right to claim another year of bragging rights and house the traveling Coal Bowl trophy once again. But in its 30th year, this Coal Bowl is unlike any of its predecessors.
Even though area schools are starting and temperatures are getting lower, fishermen don’t have to pack up the boat quite yet as the Last Chance Fishing Tournament is only weeks away. Mark the calender as Sept. 12 is the date for the event’s second go round. If area anglers need an excuse to keep fishing until then, just tell the wife she’s in store for a sparkly gift once you win the $2,000 top prize.
Hazen’s volleyball program is heading into a year of unprecedented change as first-year head coach Linette Irwin takes the reins. The former longtime assistant coach also sees a few vacant positions on the court as for the first time in six seasons a player from the Beecher household will not be slated as the setter. Brittany Beecher was the Bison setter her junior and senior seasons before her younger sister Briana took over the job for the length of her high school career. Renowned as one of the best set of hands in the state, Briana Beecher graduated last spring and hung up her volleyball aspirations for a college education. Another notable loss includes libero Macall Wimer who will be wearing a Williston State College uniform this season.
After a recent proposal made to the Hazen School Board for Hazen to break from Beulah and form their own cross country team, it’s been decided the cross country co-op between the two schools will remain intact.
Although the Hazen American Legion baseball team had a full roster this go round, their end results were much like 2008’s Section 8 Tournament. The Astros fell in the first round, then rebounded with a dominant second game but failed to get past a third contest.
It’s a bad habit that keeps reccurring for the Hazen American Legion team, one no one can seem to put a finger on. But one thing is for sure, no matter the amount of the lead, any game is within reach of a loss. The Astros proved the theory once more this past week as they allowed a 6-4 lead to slip between their fingers as Washburn claimed the 7-6 walk off win in the seventh inning.
American Legion baseball established the rule that a game is concluded if a team has a 10-run lead after five innings of play. It was designed to be merciful to teams that are considered unable to return from such a deficit. It almost appears for the Hazen Astros team, however, to be more of a goal than a merciful concession.
Justin Heldstab is in his final year of eligibility for American Legion baseball. The former Mandan player has led the Hazen team as their number two pitcher in the rotation this season. But his younger brother Jeremy is looking to keep the Heldstab tradition strong in the Astros bullpen.
Over the course of a season, coaches try to ingrain habits into their players so their body is ready to just instinctively react when a situation calls for it. Unfortunately for the Hazen American Legion baseball team, bad habits are learned the same way – and often are much more difficult to break.