Aug. 5—PADUA — Blaine Fischer absolutely loves the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa area, being close to family and being a part of the school system.
"I really want to stay in this area," the BBE 2022 graduate said. "I want to stay close."
Who could blame him after a 2021-22 sports year the might be BBE's best for boys in school history.
Fischer was a big part of it. The three-sport star has been named the male recipient of the 62nd Annual Hengstler-Ranweiler Award. it is given out annually the top three-sport athlete in the West Central Tribune area. it's named after former Tribune sports editors Herb Hengstler and Lefty Ranweiler.
"It's pretty cool," Fischer said of learning of his selection. "There's not a lot of people (who) got nominated for that award.
Fischer played key roles in BBE's state tournament teams in football and wrestling and was an all-conference performer in baseball, the sport he plans to continue playing in college. Throw in Jaguars state team appearances in basketball and golf and it was a memorable year for boys' sports at BBE.
In football, the Jaguars won their first section in title since the merger of the Belgrade and Brooten school districts in 1989. BBE captured the Section 4A championship by beating Upsala/Swanville Area 52-44 and finished 8-4 after losing to Rushford-Peterson in the state quarterfinals.
Fischer helped lead the way, accumulating 87 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns from his linebacker spot, where he was a two-year starter. On offense, he lined up either at running back or wide receiver, rushing for 392 yards and five TDs on 56 carries and making 31 catches for 397 yards and 4 TDs.
"All around, he was our best player," BBE football coach Chris Moscho said. "(He was a) calm leader on and off the field (and) made big plays when we needed them all year on offense and defense."
He also didn't go out for football until 10th grade. He wasn't sold on being big and strong enough to play varsity as a ninth-grader.
"I was too small and skinny," he said.
He changed his mind as he saw the football culture changing as he grew up.
"Football's the one sport you really can't put the pads on for your whole life," he said. "In 10th grade, me and two buddies (Easton Hagen and Gavin Kampsen) decided it would be worth it. We decided to tough it out and see what would happen."
His winter sport — wrestling — was another matter. He was a serious participant from elementary school on, being in the varsity lineup since seventh grade, going from a 106-pounder to a 152-pounder his senior year. He became one of the most decorated wrestlers in school history, helping BBE earn its first two team state tournament berths and being a five-time state entrant.
"He wrestled many weights over the years individually, but was always willing to do what was best for the team," BBE head coach Jack Mueller said. "He approached each match with incredible focus. Most importantly, Blaine was humble in both victory and defeat. ...
"He was a leader by example and exemplifies the meaning of a student-athlete."
He became the only wrestler in school history to earn five state medals, finishing his career with a 210-60 record. The 210 wins are second-most in school history. Over that time, the two-time captain won five Central Minnesota Conference championships. At state, he placed fifth as a senior, first as a junior, fourth as a sophomore, third as a freshman and sixth as an eighth-grader.
He said he turned down college offers to wrestle, preferring to focus on baseball.
"Football and baseball are a little more laid-back to me," he said, noting that in those sports you don't have to cut weight like you do in wrestling.
In baseball, he was a two-time all-conference selection who earned BBE's Gold Glover of the Year Award given to the team's outstanding defensive player. He's a catcher and a three-year starter who also pitched and played second base and the outfield, batting .300 for his career with a .340 on-base percentage, 40 runs and 36 RBIs. He was never caught stealing. Defensively, he threw out 28 runners in his career.
"Blaine was a staple behind the plate as a three-year starter who manned the pitching staff and calls all pitches," BBE baseball coach Pat Illies said. "He was a vocal leader in the dugout, on the field and in the classroom.
"Blaine's peers went to him for help and he always demonstrated sportsmanship on and off the field. Blaine is a team-first guy who is always willing to do whatever it takes to better the team."
Fischer is currently the catcher for the Elrosa Saints amateur baseball team that earned a top seed in the Region 15C playoffs this weekend in Meire Grove. He loves baseball and plans to continue playing it at St. Cloud Technical & Community College with BBE teammate Will Van Beck in the fall.
He's studying to be an electrician. He says he enjoys working outdoors on the family farm two miles south of Padua with dad Boyd, mom Annette and sister Brooklyn.
"I'm planning on staying home (when he's done with college)," he said. "I just kind of like the people and the area a lot."