by Dennis Dalman
Good batters, strong arms.
That’s how Sartell Sabre Christopher Belling sums up his baseball team’s success.
“We play well together,” he said. “We’re one of the top teams in the conference.”
The Sabres started the season March 20 with their first practice game at Champion Field. The opening of Sabre baseball season is one of the happiest days in the year for Belling, 18, a high-school senior and a team captain.
“I love being outside in the spring,” he said. “A beautiful time. There’s something different and special about being on a baseball field in spring. It feels like it’s the right place for me to be, like I belong there.”
Belling is the son of Karie and Todd Belling of Sartell.
This season, the Sabre team will compete in about 20 games against others in the Central Lakes Conference.
Belling plays third base, shortstop and also pitches. He’s been on the varsity team since his sophomore year.
“We have a good chance in going pretty far in the playoffs,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys who played on the team last year who will play again. I’m confident. We’re pretty experienced. We have a good veteran team.”
In his years with the Sabres, Belling and the team won 20 games. Although they never made it to state – yet – but they made the section semi-finals last year. One of Belling’s favorite times with the team was his junior season.
“There were a lot of senior guys on the team then, and they were always hilarious and made playing baseball such a fun time,” Belling recalled.
Another favorite memory is when he hit two over-the-fence home runs in a row during a double-header competition against St. Cloud Apollo High School.
“Maybe it was the wind that helped me hit those,” he said. “We won both those games.”
Belling’s love of baseball began when he was 4 with games of T-ball. Then he went on to games of coach-pitch baseball, to the Willie Mays League, to Gopher State traveling baseball and then to the varsity Sabres.
Belling believes there may be a genetic factor that helps explain his love of the sport. His maternal grandfather, Bob Sturm of Springfield, was inducted into the Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I never got the chance to watch him (grandfather) play ball, but I remember him and me playing catch in the backyard.”
Belling’s uncle, Ryan Sturm (Bob’s son), also of Springfield, played for the St. Cloud Huskies.
“I grew up watching my uncle play,” Belling said. “My dad’s side of the family didn’t play ball at all.”
Does Belling, like many baseball players, carry any lucky charms?
He thought awhile.
“Well, I do always wear my Tom Bearson ‘Hoopin’ in Heaven’ bracelet,” he said, referring to Sartell High School graduate and ace basketball player Tom Bearson, who was murdered in the Fargo-Moorhead area when he was attending college there.
Belling also enjoys playing basketball, as well as football. His favorite school subject is science. He intends to study either at St. Scholastica or at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
This summer, he’s thinking about playing for the Sartell Muskies.
“I don’t plan on playing college baseball, though,” he said. “I love playing baseball now, though, just having a good time with it and making memories.”
The Sartell-St. Stephen baseball roster, as shown on the Minnesota State High School League, contains the following names:
Adam Magarian, grade 10; Alex Kreiling, 12; Ben Gerten, 9; Ben Grant, 11; Brandon Kramer, 11; Brandon Wise, 9; Brendan Schwartz, 10; Brody O’Hara, 10; Cade Negaard-Neumann, 11; Calvin Rengel, 9; Carter Hemmesch, 9; Chris Belling, 12; Chrisian Knellwolf, 9; Cody Negaard-Neumann, 11; Colin Hommerding, 10; Colin O’Leary, 10; Cooper Peterson, 9; Dominic Hagy, 9; Don Leon Villacarlos, 10; Dylan DeZurik, 11, Dylan Gerdes, 9, Dylan Notsch, 10; Gage Vierzba, 10; Garrett Freeman, 11; Gavin Linn, 10; Hayden Roelofs, 9; Hunter Gronewold, 11; Isaac Schneider, 12; Jack Tragiai, 10; Jake Schelonka, 10; Jameson Weide, 10; Jared Freeman, 12; Jarron Walther, 9; Jordan Och, 11; Justin Hammerel, 12; Justin Houge, 10; Ken Avery, 9; Kendrik Sindt, 10; Masen Meyer, 9; Mason Neuenschwander, 10; Nathan Engelmeyer, 9; Nathan Shaw, 11; Nick Greer, 9; Riley Ahrndt, 10; Riley Hartwig, 11; Ryan Giguere, 10; Sam Fernholz, 9; Sam Vogt, 11; Brady Schmidt, 9; Tanner Ertl, 9; Tom Ellis, 9, Trent Meyer, 11, Wesley Nesland, 9; and Zach Ittel, 10.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.