Football is Kolton Larson's No. 1 sport and the Minot High School junior is clear on that. But Larson is a competitor and baseball is a necessary outlet.
The all-state linebacker missed nearly all of the 2012 football season after suffering a Lisfranc injury - bone displacement - in his left foot during the second game of year. Larson had surgery soon after and estimates his recovery at 85 percent. The foot isn't where he would like it to be, but he is well enough to be the Magicians' designated hitter and occasional first baseman. Playing catcher is out of the picture.
"It's tough going from being in on every pitch and then having to sit in the dugout and watch it all happen and not have anything to do with it," Larson said.
Minot High School junior Kolton Larson takes a swing during a game against Williston on Tuesday.
"It's not a totally gruesome sport on planting and stuff like that, where I can come in and DH or play first but the main thing was just wanting to come out and compete again and do something."
He said running out of the batter's box to first base is painless, but rounding bases causes some discomfort.
"As soon as you start cutting and running the bases on the inside, it's got a little hitch and I don't know if that's in my head or not," Larson said.
Larson was unable to compete in basketball and may forego this summer's American Legion baseball season to focus on football preparation, which will include a camp at North Dakota State University and possibly another at the University of North Dakota.
"(Baseball is) what my summer's been since I was three playing T-ball and, I mean, (Minot Vistas) coach (Todd) Larson is one of my favorite coaches ever," Kolton Larson said. "It's tough, especially because you get to be with your friends every day and compete and play baseball. It's a great game, but I don't know. You kind of have to make sacrifices and I haven't really decided yet. But, I mean, football next year is the main thing."
Larson tries not to play the what-if game when it comes to college scouts not having a junior season to review. His confidence has not slipped, though, and the MHS baseball team (10-0 overall, 8-0 West Region) is grateful. He has played a key role in the team's best start since 2005, when the Magician finished 35-2 and won the state title.
In Tuesday's sweep of Williston, Larson reached base in seven of his nine at-bats. In the second game, he led the Magicians with four RBIs and finished 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs. Not bad for 85 percent.
Milbrath optimistic despite strained hamstring
Nine-time state champion Morgan Milbrath strained a hamstring while competing at a meet in Dickinson last week.
MHS coach Michelle Hoff said the senior star overstrided in the 100-meter dash and pulled up about 40 meters into the race.
"She definitely wants to compete and finish out her senior year strong, so we're just doing everything we can to get her healthy and back on the track," Hoff said Tuesday.
The goal is for Milbrath to compete at the West Region meet on May 18.
Milbrath said her upper leg fatigues easily, but that it feels considerably better a week later. Milbrath qualified for the state meet in the 100, 200 and 400, but would still like to qualify in the 300 hurdles. She won all four events in 2012 and entered the season as a favorite in each.
"That was the goal at the beginning of the season, but maybe now if I can only run one or two events, I would still be happy," Milbrath said. "Just to compete again would be awesome."
Milbrath will join the track and field team at NDSU when she enrolls this fall.
Stenberg solid in goal
Minot High School sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stenberg is off to a strong start in her first year in net despite the soccer team's 1-2 record.
Stenberg has recorded double-digit saves in each game for a total of 40 and has only allowed three goals.
"I really trust my defense," Stenberg said. "I have a lot of confidence in them. Our coach told us at the start of the year that our defense would be the strength."
The Majettes opened the season with a 1-0 win over Mandan and Stenberg made 11 stops. Last week, MHS dropped 2-0 and 1-0 games to Bismarck Century and Bismarck High, respectively. A sloppy two-minute span overshadowed her 15 saves against Century. MHS coach Matt Pfau described one of the goals - scored 79 seconds apart - as flukish.
"A girl was positioning to shoot it on the right side and it actually bounced off one of her players and went in the left side," Stenberg said. "I was in position, but it was one of those things you can't really stop."
The MHS offense still needs to come around and Stenberg feels one teammate is on the cusp.
"Taryn Love on the left side, she's really strong for us and I believe once she starts hitting them she won't stop," Stenberg said.
Junior Chenoa Erz has the Majettes' lone goal this season.
MHS plays at Jamestown at 2 p.m. Saturday.