Greg Irey, a Pelican native in Wisconsin promised his daughter a trip to Minneapolis if his alma mater lady Vikings made the state tourney.
At left, Viking fans Lisa Petznick and Julie Tunheim.
The McKahns, and daughter Amanda, at Williams Arena prior to the Lady Vikings-Waseca game March 11. The McKahans traveled from Wisconsin for the game.
A source of Pelican Rapids pride, wherever they appear, the Pelican Pep Band is a widely known for its energy and enthusiasm. Pictured here, Pelican trombone player Levi Johnson, in full Viking costume.

Wisconsin fans traveled to cheer the ‘other’ Vikings—the ladies from Pelican Rapids 

“Cheddarheads” aren’t all bad—especially those  Wisconsin types who might hate the Minnesota Vikings; but love the Pelican Rapids Vikings.  

There were several who had been following the success of Lady Viking  basketball team, which finished with a 30-1 record. 

The 2020 state tournaments will be remembered for generations to come, as the COVID-19 scare completely shut down remaining post-season high school play.

Attending the opening round of the state tourney was Wisconsin-ite Greg Irey—who remains a Pelican fan, as a native and graduate of Pelican High School in 1987. 

“I promised my daughter that, if Pelican went to statee, we would travel to watch a well-coached team,” said Greg, who traveled with family from Adams, Wisconsin. Greg is the son of Wayne and Sandy Irey.  

Also making the trip from Wisconsin to the U of M campus for the Lady Vikes first round were McKahns. Their granddaughter, Maddie Guler, is one of the athletes who played a big role in the Lady Vikings undefeated season—right through to the Section championship over Fergus Falls.  

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A total of six charter busses left main street Pelican Rapids for the Twin Cities March 11.  Included on the busses were more than 150 fans, and 80 Pelican Pep Band members.  

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Viking fan Irina Arntson travelled to the U of M for her son Connor, a second grader at Pelican Viking elementary, who loves the game.  “He loves to dribble the ball around the house,” laughed Arntson.  

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For Spencer Paulson his interest in the Lady Vikings had a multiplier–times three. Paulson’s three daughters were all in the program: senior Riley, junior Chloe and sophomore Sophia.  

“It’s great to have all three on the team together…They’ve played a lot of driveway games,” said Paulson, himself a 1997 Pelican grad, who played basketball himself as a student. “It’s an overwhelming feeling as a parent; and a great experience for the girls and the community.” 

Two other sets of sisters are in the Pelican program: Anna and Tori Stephenson, and Maddie and Rachael Guler. 

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Arranging an on-air interview with Lady Vikings Coach Brian Korf was Joseph Stetz.   

A 2018 graduate of Pelican Rapids High School, Joseph Stetz is on the air with WZFG AM (The FLAG) radio station in Fargo. He hosts FLAG sports Saturday, from 9 to 11 a.m. 

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 For Viking fan Steve Haiby, watching the 2020 Lady Vikings basketball team was a little less stressful for him, compared to the girls team’s last trip to state in 2013.  His daughter, Lincoln Haiby was on the 2013 squad. 

This time, he was cheering on his niece, Allie Haiby, a member of the 2020 squad. 

“Not quite as much pressure this time, watching my niece instead of my daughter,” laughed Steve.  “I’m not on edge as much as I was last time.” 

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For Staci (Tollerud) Allmaras, it was exciting to see the Lady Vikings playing at Williams Arena.  She is a 1998 graduate, and a basketball player herself for the Lady Vikings in 1994-98. 

“We always dreamed of playing down at Williams Arena,” said Allmaras.  “I’m proud we were able to be here, and it is exciting to bring our kids down here to experience this.” 

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Pelican School Board member Jon Karger said the state tourney trip is “fantastic…to see the community together like this,” said Karger. 

A 1991 Pelican grad himself, he’s a Viking fan who has experienced a number of exciting conference, section and state episodes in his day.  As a youngster, he remembers watching the state championship Pelican boys basketball team of 1984 win the title after several tense, close-scoring games. 

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It was a family trip to the state tourney for Scott Anderson, a 1977 graduate who said he “bleeds Viking orange.” All four of the Andersons attended the tourney opener. Anderson has closely followed Viking sports, especially basketball, for decades. Many longtime residents will remember the Andersons, as his father was local optometrist  Dr. D.L. Anderson.  Scott came to Pelican at three weeks old, and in just a few years, he was attending sports events with his father.