Late Tuesday night, Aug. 14, John Daiker was pumping gas into his vehicle at the SuperAmerica in Rogers.
Two nights later, Thursday, Aug. 16, the 1992 Milaca High School graduate was at the Rogers City Council meeting where the mayor presented him with a key to the city and the police chief presented him with a framed commendation.
It’s what happened right after Daiker fueled his vehicle that made him an instant statewide celebrity. Daiker, who played football and competed in wrestling at Milaca, thwarted what may have become a tragic incident at the SuperAmerica when he stopped a robbery in progress.
“It was just a regular stop for gas until I noticed this suspicious-looking young guy walking past me and into the SuperAmerica,” said Daiker. “I pretty much knew something was going on, so I pretended to wash my windows while watching what was going on inside the SuperAmerica.
“When I saw the guy put a gun to the back of the clerk I went into action.”
Daiker closed off one door with his vehicle and ran inside as the suspect ran out another door.
“I went after him and, after he tripped a little, I caught up to him and tackled him at full speed,” said Daiker, who also played football at Brainerd Community College and with the semi pro St. Cloud Thunderbirds. “It was one of my best tackles ever – it knocked him right out of his shoes and the gun out of his hand.
“Then, I put a front headlock on him.”
A headlock that was often used by Daiker’s best friend at Milaca High School, wrestling standout Bryce Eggen, who was killed in a vehicle collision in 2002.
“Bryce had a great standing-up headlock that he used to take down a lot of his opponents. I miss Bryce so much – I hope he was watching when I put the headlock on that guy.”
Daiker was a member of a strong 1991-1992 Milaca wrestling team. He came to Milaca as a sophomore and stayed with his uncle Marv Muller, his mother’s brother.
“My uncle invited me to move up to Milaca and stay with his family. I did and it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Daiker. “I was just a big fat kid when I got to Milaca and sports really trimmed the weight off and made me a pretty good athlete.
“I liked Milaca and I feel I picked up good values while going to school and living there. I didn’t hesitate much trying to stop that robbery because I felt it was the right thing to do. I’m surprised that so many people think it was something special.”
The suspect’s gun turned out to be a pellet or BB gun.
“It looked real,” said Daiker, who’s 6-foot-3, 270 pounds.
Daiker was a member of the 1991 MHS football team that snapped a 25-game Milaca losing streak.
In a 27-6 victory over North Branch that ended the streak, Daiker set up the Indians’ second touchdown by recovering a North Branch fumble after a jarring tackle by Steve Paulson. Mike Ash went in to score on a short run to put Milaca on top 14-0 at halftime.
That season was current athletic director Jerry Westphal’s first as head football coach.
Daiker wrestled for coach Randy Zimmer.
Daiker is a stay-at-home father and has two sons and a daughter.
Readers will find more details on last week’s incident in Aaron Brom’s front-page story in this week’s Times.
Milaca will host its annual Early-Bird cross country meet Monday, Aug. 27, at Stones Throw Golf Course. The meet will start at 4 p.m., a change from its usual morning start.
The field will include Albany, Becker, Big Lake, Braham, Chisago Lakes, Foley, Hinckley-Finlayson, Little Falls, Mora, North Branch, Onamia, Pine City, Rush City, St. Michael-Albertville and the host Wolves.
“It will be another good meet to start the season with,” said Milaca Cross Country Coach Joe Wildman.
The Wolves have a mix of a few veterans and a lot of young runners on this year’s boys and girls teams, and Wildman is anxious to see them in action.
When Milaca Football Coach Randy Johnson calls tonight’s (Thursday) football showcase at Claffy Field an “extravaganza,” he’s not exaggerating.
Over 90 players in grades 4-5-6 from the Milaca Youth Football Association will take the field and warm up at 4:45. Those teams will get things rolling with scrimmages at 5:10.
The night will continue with:
•A “razzle game” for players in seventh and eighth grade and a ninth grade scrimmage at 6:10.
•The first round of a raffle drawing for prizes at 6:45.
•A junior varsity scrimmage at 6:50.
•A varsity scrimmage at 7:15.
•The second round of raffle drawings at 7:30.
•A meeting for parents of players in grades 10-12 at 8:15 p.m. at the concession stand.
The concession stand will be open. The prizes for the raffle drawings were donated by area businesses.
“We are excited to get the 2012 season off to a great start,” said Johnson.