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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking Columns of 2003

Robert Dahl

Dominating and diminutive...
by Bill Pocernich  |  December 20, 2003

As 2003 draws to a close and 2004 begins, there are a lot of lists. Best of 2003 lists, worst of 2003 lists, lists on what to expect in 2004. In the area, there were a lot of ‘bests’, but perhaps none greater than the feat accomplished by two of Cromwell’s own football players.

Both Robert Dahl and Luke Swenson were named 9-man All-State for 2003, claiming this along with a slew of other awards.

The term most often used when describing Robert Dahl on the football field is ‘dominating’. Robert was named all state for his work at his defensive end spot and, according to defensive coach Jeff Gronner, it was well deserved. “Robert is the most dominating defensive end we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Gronner matter-of-factly. Head coach Keith Bergstedt was equally impressed: “We challenged him after an unspectacular junior year and he met that challenge. His stats would have been even better, but people stopped going his way.” Ah, yes, the stats. Robert finished his high school career with 202 career tackles and 10 career sacks. Seven of those sacks came in his senior season.

However, defense isn’t the only place Robert excelled. “We lived on his side on offense and he revived our kick-off teams; he was an intimidating presence as a wedge-breaker,” said Bergstedt. Along with his All-State selection, Robert was also named 1st team All-Tri state, All-Conference, and was a unanimous choice as MVP lineman for the Great Northern South Conference. According to Robert, “Time in the weight room, effort, and a positive attitude helped me accomplish these things. That, and a competition between me and my brother Darren. The only thing I have on him after all those awards is the All-Tri state team.”

Dominating would not describe the presence of Luke Swenson. Diminutive would be more accurate. The All-State, 2nd team All-Tri state, All-Conference, and Conference MVP running back stands a mere 5’ 6”, 135 lbs. Although he doesn’t have a dominating physical presence, his numbers would show otherwise. On 220 carries, Luke racked up 1,551 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. For his career, Luke averaged a gaudy 6.8 yards per carry. Luke impressed everyone with his ability to accomplish so much despite his lack of football size. “He’s the toughest 135 pound kid I’ve ever seen,” stated Gronner. Bergstedt was equally impressed: “I’m real happy for him. He was injured a lot as a sophomore and played a back-up role as a junior. He reaffirmed what I already knew – little men can play this sport. He’s a hard runner, a little engine that could. I didn’t think someone under 150 pounds could do what he did, but he proved it possible.”

Luke seemed a little less impressed than his coaches with his own accomplishments. He stated, “It just shows that all the time pays off, no matter what the size.”

Stand them side by side, and it is hard to find two young men who have a much different physical presence. Despite the disparity in size, they do have some important similarities: strength, solid work ethic, positive attitudes, and a heap of awards for their efforts. Congratulations, Robert and Luke, on a great 2003. Now, who will step up on the sports scene in 2004? A new year awaits, and new heroes are sure to step forward.

This article first appeared in the December 20, 2003 issue of the Voyageur Press.