SAUK RAPIDS — When his mother moved to southeast St. Cloud last summer, Camden Jackson faced a tough decision.
Should he stay in Sauk Rapids where he established himself as a key player as a freshman, or transfer to St. Cloud Tech?
It wasn’t an easy call for the sophomore guard.
His best friend is Tech’s Brevyn Spann-Ford, a fellow standout basketball player. And basketball is very important to Jackson.
Jackson chose to stay in Sauk Rapids. He has helped the improved Storm get off to a 3-2 start going into Tuesday night’s game with Sartell. Sauk Rapids is host to Princeton on Friday.
“It was kind of a basketball and people kind of decision,” Jackson said. “I love b-ball in both places and stuff.
“It was kind of the people that really got me to stay.”
It still wasn’t easy. He spends a lot of time with the Spann-Ford family.
“Me and Brev, we’re brothers, on and off the court,” Jackson said. “We hang out all the time.
“They really adopted me into their family. It was a big decision to stay here at Sauk instead of going back to Tech. It was pretty hard.”
His mother moved near Talahi Community School. Jackson went to Tech’s summer practices and played with their summer team.
“He came all summer and he decided Sauk Rapids was a better fit,” Tech head coach Mike Trewick said.
Trewick, who has had a number of players transfer in and out of Tech since taking over in the 2009-10 season, is fine with Jackson’s decision. He supports him.
“I want Camden to graduate,” Trewick said. “I don’t care where he goes to school.
“Go to school. Do a great job. If it’s Tech, if it’s Sauk Rapids, where ever it is. We just want the best for him. He’s a great kid. If this is the perfect fit for him, great, where ever he’s happy.”
Jackson is happy with the Storm, who are building off an 11-16 season that was a turnaround season for the program, which has struggled in recent years.
Jackson and Cody Landwehr, a 6-foot-6 sophomore post, have played together since seventh grade. Both were key players on the varsity last year.
And Jackson has spent the past two years working extensively with the rest of the starting lineup. He and his teammates think Sauk Rapids has a good chance to make some noise in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A.
“We’ve definitely struggled in the past,” junior post Tyler Kranz said. “We put in a lot of work this past off-season and throughout the years with Cody (Landwehr), Kobe (Boraas) and Cam and Kuerkot (Tongyik).
“We’ve all worked together for a long time now and it feels really good to actually put it together this year.”
New gym coach
New St. Cloud Apollo head coach Kelly Warzecha is far from new in the gymnastics community, having coached for 23 seasons, including four years as Long Prairie-Grey Eagle’s head coach.
She has been in the St. Cloud area since 1997 and runs Tiny Tumblers, a pre-school gymnastics program. She said she would like to see the Apollo half of the St. Cloud school district have a youth program similar to the Junior Tiger program on the south side. She wants to call it Shooting Star Gymnastics.
“I’m very ready to get to start a program, or rebuild a program from scratch,” Warzecha said.
This season’s team has no seniors and one junior, co-captain Ashley Theisen. The Eagles also return ninth-grader Sarah Voigt, who competed in last season’s state meet.
Warzecha said there are 16 seventh- and eighth-graders in the program.
New gym coach, Part II
Emma Kramer is Sauk Rapids’ new head gymnastics coach. She’s a New London-Spicer High School graduate who has worked on the club scene.
“I’m excited to be here,” she said.
The Storm are extremely young, with senior Kelsey Christensen and sophomores Anna Magnen and Bergen Henkemeyer the oldest competitors in the program.
Granite Ridge Challenge
The Granite Ridge Challenge returns Saturday, with a lineup of every boys basketball team in the conference playing.
At St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall, the boys play, starting with Milaca vs. St. Cloud Cathedral at 1 p.m., followed by Albany vs. Mora at 2:30 p.m., Little Falls vs. Foley at 4:30 p.m. and Zimmerman vs. Becker at 6 p.m.
Sartell’s Rylee Molitor earned his 100th career wrestling victory over the weekend at the Foley Duals. A junior, he’s a defending state champion and ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A at 120 pounds.
Kimball’s Brady Mehr earned his 100th career wrestling victory last Thursday. The senior 170-pounder reached the milestone in a triangular at Paynesville. The Cubs beat Paynesville, 45-33 and lost to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, 43-27.
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.