‘All-Area’ Memories

Another round of Daily Globe All-Area selections has caused me to think about Randall Comnick.

Why? His daughter, Dayna, was selected to our volleyball first-team in 2012, and she’s going to be there again in 2013. All three of our 2013 volleyball teams will be unveiled in the Saturday edition of the Daily Globe, with the All-Area football team to be introduced the Saturday after.

I am now of the age when athletes I once covered in high school are parents of athletes I cover today. The way I look at it, I’m not getting older — I’m gaining more memories.
Randall Comnick graced both the Daily Globe football and basketball All-Area teams when he starred at Westbrook High School. As a senior in 1981, he was named to the football squad as an end after catching 33 passes for 639 yards and seven touchdowns for a team that, under Bill White’s “sophisticated sandlot” system, competed in the state 9-man playoffs.

He also made basketball’s All-Area second team in 1982 after leading another outstanding Westbrook team — under the direction of Steve Kjorness — in rebounding with about eight per game. He also averaged a dozen points per contest.

When Randall was a high schooler, I was covering sports for the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom (I transferred to the Daily Globe in December 1983), and I will never forget all the outstanding male athletes who graced Westbrook in the early 1980s. Comnick, himself, was 6-3 and about 200-205 pounds — a tall, graceful athlete who could effortlessly glide downfield to catch a 30-yard football pass and could just as easily successfully maneuver around a scrum of knees and elbows on the basketball court to grab a rebound and attempt a put-back shot. He could bounce outside and drain a jump shot with the best of them, too.

Looking back, the coaching staff at WHS should have almost felt guilty having not only Comnick, but also other incredible athletes like Steve Elzenga, Tim Boeck, Mike Weiske and Curt Mischke to form the nucleus of the school’s outstanding football and boys basketball teams of the early ’80s. Little wonder why, in retrospect, the Wildcats finished with a 25-1 basketball record in 1981, losing only an overtime game to Chisholm in the state tournament. Or that the 1982 football team won the state championship that year, beating Hillcrest Lutheran Academy of Fergus Falls, 34-12, in the state finals.

I couldn’t help myself, so I telephoned Coach Kjorness this week just to reminisce. He’s retired now, but living a very active life (which is exactly what I’d expect) and he told me that Randall Comnick and his family reside today in Westbrook, and Randall is engaged in farming. Steve Elzenga also lives in town and works in Marshall for Coca-Cola. Tim Boeck is coaching in Arlington, S.D. Mike Weiske lives in Wisconsin. Curt Mischke lives and works in Worthington.

They are all good citizens, Coach Kjorness told me. Which is exactly what I expected. Mr. Kjorness was always one of my favorite coaches, himself. One of the nicest, most gracious people you’ll ever meet. I believe I can state confidently that his ’80s athletes turned out so well partially because of the lessons they learned just by watching and studying how Coach Kjorness carried himself.

By the way, Steve wanted to remind me that it was Randall Comnick who made the last-second shot to beat Pipestone in the sectional basketball finals in 1982.

Ah, yes, I remember it well.