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One Athlete, Five Sports: Meet Hendricks High’s Greta Johnson
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/25/2017 5:33:05 PM

Greta Johnson deserves some time off. The junior from the little town of Hendricks, Minnesota, has been busy. Hendricks nearly straddles the South Dakota state line, so it takes three hours or more on the road to get to the Twin Cities.

That’s where Greta was Saturday, competing in the Class 1A state gymnastics championships for the fourth time. She first came to state at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion as an eighth-grader, which now makes her one of the event’s veterans. This year, however, something was different. She brought along a bum right knee.

She wasn’t injured while vaulting or working on the balance beam, uneven bars or floor exercise. She got hurt playing basketball with her Hendricks Grizzlies teammates on Thursday night in a loss to Renville County West in the Class 1A Section 3 playoffs.

“I was just kind of going for the ball on a rebound and I felt my knee shift,” she said. “I thought I was OK so I got up and I played again for about five minutes and fell down again. My coach said, ‘You’ve got to stop.’ The tibia is rotated and my knee is swollen so it won’t go back into place.”

Yes, Greta Johnson is a two-sport athlete in the winter. And the same is true in the fall when she is a member of the Grizzlies volleyball and cross-country teams. In the spring she pole vaults, runs hurdles and does jumping events for the track team; she went to state in the pole vault last year.

Greta is a member of the Hendricks/Russell-Tyler-Ruthton cooperative gymnastics team. She qualified for state in all four events but her aching knee limited her to the beam and bars Saturday. Skin-colored tape was wrapped around her knee. She didn’t finish among the medalists (top six) in either event but she wore a big smile afterwards.

“I love the state gymnastics meet. It’s the greatest,” she said. “I love the Gophers, too, so it’s fun to have it here.”

Her best finish in the all-around competition was 19th in 2015. She placed 18th on the vault that year and was in the top 25 in bars and floor exercise. Her sister Sophie, a ninth-grader, is also a member of the gymnastics and basketball teams, as are ninth-grader Cora Hofer and eighth-grader Kaylee Johnson.

Taking part in two sports simultaneously is not rare at small schools, where there often aren’t enough athletes otherwise (the ninth-through-12th-grade enrollment at Hendricks is only 16 students and the school does not field football, baseball or boys basketball teams). But it does mean managing time well. Greta and Sophie have a small edge in that area, because the gymnastics team’s training facility is very close to home.

The Johnsons live on a farm. The gymnastics center is located inside a shed on their property, which they lovingly call “the Barn.” Sherri Johnson – mother of Greta, Sophie and younger sister Sadie – coaches the gymnastics team, and she and her husband Gary built the shed to serve two purposes: farm storage and gymnastics.

Until the Barn went up when Greta was in seventh grade, the girls had to be driven 40 minutes to Brookings, South Dakota, in order to work out. Now it’s a very short walk.

“We have all the basic gymnastics equipment and we practice out there,” Greta said.

From the Barn to the Pavilion, Greta has become a fixture at the state meet, this year teaming with qualifiers from Worthington, Jackson County Central, Martin County Area and Redwood Valley to represent Section 3.

Greta knows how to manage her time. Most school days are followed by basketball practice until 5 p.m. or so, followed by gymnastics workouts until about 7:30.

“Then I just have to work hard during school so I get all my homework done,” she said.

With the basketball and gymnastics seasons now complete, she can kick back for a bit until track practice begins on March 13.

She might have been a six-sport athlete if not for one thing: “I’m not a very good golfer.”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 475
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,557
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

On The Ice And Off, Blaine’s Emily Brown Is A Leader
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2017 6:19:49 PM

In this age of single-sport specialization, Emily Brown is a throwback. The Blaine senior is a member of her school’s soccer, hockey and track squads and is a team captain for all three. In fact, this is her third season as a captain on the Bengals hockey team.

The Bengals are flying high on the ice after defeating Roseau 7-1 in Thursday’s Class 2A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. They will face Hill-Murray in Friday’s semifinals. Emily, who plays defense, had one goal and one assist in Thursday’s game, giving her 15 goals, 28 assists and 43 points this season.

Her accolades are far-ranging: She won a gold medal with last year’s U18 national team and is one of five finalists for the Ms. Hockey Award. She will play collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota. She has been named the winner of Blaine’s Athena Award, which is bestowed on the school’s top female athlete. She has a 4.0 grade-point average and ranks No. 1 in her class.

But there’s more. A lot more. Blaine girls hockey coach Steve Guider calls Emily “perhaps the most self-disciplined person I have ever met. You have to witness Emily amongst her teammates and peers to really see how truly special she is. She changes the lives of people around her.”

The Bengals have a team motto this season that has nothing to do with hockey and everything to do with serving others. The motto is “Make A Difference” and the goal is to make a difference in at least one person’s life every day.

“Emily has embraced this, she has led our team effort by leading our weekly team Make a Difference projects where they visit senior centers or bring treats to the police department and similar things,” Guider said.

Those outreach efforts can include simple things like holding a door for someone, picking up trash at school or buying coffee for the person behind them in line at Caribou.

“This group of players is the most incredible group of kids I’ve ever coached,” Guider said. “They’re great hockey players but they’re far better students and people than hockey players.

“You watch them interact with little kids, how they stand for the national anthem, little things like that. We’ve talked about making a difference in the lives of people.”

Emily said, “It’s pretty incredible to see the effect that such a little action we perform can have on a person. We go to senior living centers and spend time with them, and just to see how much their day is made by talking about what they had for lunch or what they’re having for dinner, the games they’re playing. It’s pretty sweet to see.”

Playing three sports, getting straight A’s and contributing to the community means very little down time. Emily said she has learned to manage her time, even if it means doing homework in the car while her mom drives her to practice.

“There’s lots of homework and it can mean staying up a little bit later than usual,” she said. “It’s tough but it’s a good skill to learn.”

On the ice Brown is a tremendous competitor. She is not a highly vocal team leader but what her coach calls “a calming presence.”

“It doesn’t matter how much pressure she is under, she never gets rattled,” Guider said. “During games if we have a bad period Emily will come into the locker room and say, ‘Stay calm, settle down, get focused, we got this.’ If we are playing well she will make statements like, ‘Keep it up, we’re doing great, keep the energy going.’ If it’s a big game and competitive she will make statements like, ‘This is fun, this is why we play this game’ She has a great read on her teammates and all of her statements have a positive spin to them to keep her teammates relaxed and positive.”

Blaine girls soccer coach Scott Zachmann has similar praise for Emily.

“In 20 years of coaching at many levels -- college, high school and youth -- I can honestly say I have never met a more dedicated student-athlete than Emily,” he said. “She embodies what it means to be a student-athlete as she is disciplined in success in both academics and athletics. Great leaders make everyone around them aspire to be better. Emily does that. She inspires her coaches, her teammates, her teachers to become better versions of themselves every day.

“As her soccer coach the past four years I saw daily her impact. She led by example, hard work and commitment. A true leader cares not only about others and about how hard she needs to work for success, but cares about sportsmanship. It has always been important to Emily to show true character. She's the first to hand the ball to the other team, pick up a puck for an official or stay after practice to help put equipment away. She’s not looking for a pat on the back, she's just that kind of person. There is not a better representative of the word leadership.”

If Emily has one fear, it’s a fear of heights. Or as she told me with a smile, “I’m more like afraid of falling.”

During a hockey team-building trip to Camp Ripley, the players went through a confidence course that included vertical challenges such as a 30-foot cargo net that the players had to climb, go over and come down the other side. Guider said, “Emily is deathly afraid of heights. She was standing in line and you could just see the fear in her eyes. Just before it was her turn, she said, “I really don’t want to do this, but I don’t want to be that 80-year-old woman sitting in a wheelchair saying I never went up that rope.”

So up she went, fears and all.

“I ended up doing that and the feeling at the end was pretty incredible,” she said. “So now I won’t be that 80-year-old woman, so mission accomplished.”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 459
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,457
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2017 3:42:18 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minneapolis North 24-1
2. Nevis 22-1
3. Heritage Christian 20-3
4. Central Minnesota Christian 20-3
5. Goodhue 23-2
6. Springfield 22-2
7. Red Lake 18-4
8. Spring Grove 22-3
9. Ada-Borup 20-2
10. Red Rock Central 21-2
11. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl 18-3
12. North Woods 21-1
13. Browerville-Eagle Valley 20-3
14. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 21-2
15. Prairie Seeds Academy 16-4
16. Win-E-Mac 20-5
17. Westbrook-Walnut Grove 19-4
18. Lake Park-Audubon 17-6
19. Battle Lake 17-5
20. Stephen-Argyle 20-3

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2017 3:41:52 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy 19-5
2. Caledonia 21-4
3. Melrose 23-0
4. Crosby-Ironton 19-1
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 21-2
6. Esko 21-2
7. Perham 21-2
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 19-3
9. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 23-2
10. Watertown-Mayer 20-3
11. Eden Valley-Watkins 17-4
12. Annandale 19-4
13. Jordan 21-3
14. Jackson County Central 20-4
15. Holdingford 18-4
16. Breckenridge 19-2
17. Lake City 17-6
18. Pine Island 20-4
19. Brooklyn Center 17-7
20. Detroit Lakes 13-8

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2017 3:41:22 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 20-2
2. Austin 22-1
3. Mahtomedi 20-2
4. Orono 18-5
5. Marshall 23-2
6. Minneapolis Henry 17-7
7. Delano 18-5
8. Columbia Heights 18-6
9. St. Thomas Academy 18-5
10. Totino-Grace 12-11
11. Fergus Falls 21-3
12. Waseca 21-3
13. Alexandria 16-5
14. St. Paul Highland Park 19-4
15. Grand Rapids 19-5
16. Zimmerman 15-8
17. Waconia 12-10
18. Big Lake 15-8
19. Bemidji 15-7
20. Rocori 13-10

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