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In Hockey And Tennis, Rochester’s Aney Leads The Way
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/25/2014 10:33:36 PM

ROCHESTER -- Jessie Aney has always been in a hurry. When she was in seventh grade, she played in the big-school tennis state championship match for Rochester Century. As an eighth-grader she won a state singles title, becoming the youngest player to do so. As a ninth-grader she teamed with her sister Katie (who is two years older) to capture a Class 2A doubles state championship.

And don’t forget about hockey. Aney has been one of the state’s top hockey players for years, and before her Rochester Century career ends after this season she will have etched her name in the state record book.

In 2010 – when Aney was in seventh grade -- she was named national Sports Kid of the Year by Sports Illustrated For Kids. She’s now 16 years old.

She plays tennis fast, she skates fact and she will finish high school just as rapidly. She is an online student whose classmates are in 11th grade, but she will graduate in the spring before embarking on a college tennis career at the University of North Carolina next fall. She gets things done and she doesn’t like to wait.

Aney stopped playing high school tennis after ninth grade, instead focusing on training for and playing in tournaments around the country. She is ranked No. 4 in the nation among girls 18 and under by the United States Tennis Association. During this winter, however, hockey will be her game for the final time.

“I couldn’t picture giving it up because I love it so much,” she said before a recent practice at Graham Arena. “It doesn’t hurt my tennis, either. Most of my tennis friends (from warmer states) are pretty shocked when I talk about hockey. They say, ‘Field hockey?’ ‘No, ice hockey. There is ice in the world.’ ”

If the early returns from the 2014-15 hockey season are any indication, Aney will finish with some big numbers. The Century Panthers are 4-1 so far and Aney has 30 points in those games. She already has a state-record 180 career assists; second on the list with 152 are Eagan’s Natalie Darwitz (1997-2000) and Holy Angels’ Lauren Smith (2002-08). Aney has 325 career points and she is certain to finish No. 2 on the all-time list behind Darwitz’s 468.

Aney has never met Darwitz, who is now the coach at Lakeville South.

“She was my childhood hockey idol. When I was stickhandling and stuff I was like, ‘I’m Natalie!’ My sister would be Krissy Wendell.”

Century assistant coach Luke Hughes has a unique perspective on any Aney-Darwitz comparisons. Growing up in Apple Valley, he faced Darwitz when she played on boys teams prior to high school hockey in Eagan.

“What makes Jess dominant is her work ethic,” Hughes said. “She outworks everybody day in and day out. But it’s not only her work ethic, it’s also her hockey IQ. There are very few kids, in boys or girls hockey, who understand the game the way she does. And that’s what makes her unbelievable.”

As a seventh-grader Aney stood 4-foot-11 and leaned heavily on tremendous quickness. (This photo is from the state tennis tournament when was in seventh grade.) She’s now 5-7, is still as quick but with a lot of added strength.

“I would love to see her wearing a U of M hockey jersey and trying to win a national championship with them,” Hughes said. “But at the same time, she’s going to get a fantastic education at North Carolina and pursue the game that she actually loves more than hockey.”

Aney said it seems a little odd that this will be her final hockey season.

“I will probably never play on a hockey team again,” she said. “I’ll miss it for sure but I’m ready to focus on tennis and see what I can do with that. … When I pictured myself dedicating myself to one sport, I saw myself playing tennis. I just enjoyed being out there all the time a little more than hockey.”

Aney’s work ethic has become a routine part of her life, whether on the ice or the tennis court. An early sign of her competitive fire came when was trying to make the cut for a 10-and-under hockey team at the age of 7 or 8.

“My dad said, ‘No way. What are you doing even trying out?’ But my sister was trying out,” she said. “Every day I would go downstairs to stickhandle snd shoot. I think that’s where I developed my good hands.”

And she made the team. When I asked Jess if playing professional tennis was her newest goal, she made one correction.

“That’s my dream,” she said. “I wouldn’t exactly call it a goal because you can’t control that. I’m just going to work as hard as I can every day.”

Don’t count her out.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 198
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,656



Inspiration Is Boundless During The Season For Rachel
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/22/2014 5:30:33 PM

Totino-Grace football coach Jeff Ferguson was a little tired and a little emotional when I called him Saturday morning from the press box at TCF Bank Stadium. Twelve hours earlier, Ferguson’s Eagles had been defeated by Eden Prairie 28-27 in Friday night’s Class 6A Prep Bowl.

It was a heartbreaking loss, but then again there are varying degrees of heartbreak.

Totino-Grace has won seven state championships in Ferguson’s 13 years as coach. This season, however, may be the most memorable of them all because it was the season for Rachel.

The accompanying photo shows how much the Eagles cared about Rachel Woell, who died in September, a victim of brain cancer. After they received their runner-up trophy, the Eagles draped a T-shirt in support of Rachel over the hardware. The T-shirts, and neon green (Rachel’s favorite color) were worn by nearly everyone at Totino-Grace.

Rachel was loved at her school, but especially by the football players. She was a team manager and continued in that role even after she lost her ability to speak and sat in a wheelchair during practices and games. She was Homecoming queen, too.

The school rallied around Rachel and her family until the end … and beyond. The Eagles’ only regular-season loss was at Maple Grove on Sept. 26; Rachel’s parents took her home at halftime because she had a high fever. She died shortly after. Ferguson learned of Rachel’s passing on the bus ride back to the school in Fridley and he told his players in the locker room.

“I’m so proud of our school,” Ferguson said Saturday . “It went beyond our football team. Our whole community, our kids, our players and our fans. People have rallied around a family and we need to learn that's what we need to do.

“The inspiration is sort of boundless,” said Ferguson, who is dean of students at Totino-Grace. “The game last night kind of mirrored Rachel’s life. She fought, in the end she lost, but it was more about how she fought.”

Rachel’s story was a lesson in what’s truly important: Loving each other, caring for each other, supporting each other. Togetherness. Ferguson said his players understand those lessons.

“I think they do. They get that message all the time,” he said. “The loss, that’s painful and it should be, but really what’s painful is that it’s the end.”

SATURDAY’S PREP BOWL GAMES

CLASS 1A: MINNEOTA 28, DAWSON-BOYD 14

The Vikings completed a perfect season with a victory over their Little Sioux Conference rival. Dawson-Boyd lost only two games this season, both to Minneota. Minneota also won state titles in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 2009.

Minneota ninth-grade quarterback Alex Pohlen threw a touchdown pass of 7 yards to Nicholas Esping, Garrett Hennen scored on a 6-yard run, while Cole Hennen scored on a 51-yard run and got some help from Esping on Minneota’s other touchdown; Hennen fumbled the ball into the end zone during the second quarter and Esping recovered for the score.

Dawson-Boyd’s points came on a 3-yard run by Dalton Palmer and a 10-yard pass from Jess Hansen to Hunter Olson.

CLASS 3A: ROCHESTER LOURDES 35, NEW LONDON-SPICER 14

Noah Hillman ran for a touchdown and passed for a score, Zach Hillman had two short touchdown runs and Carter Gerguson scored once on the ground and once through the air for the Eagles, who also won a state title in 2010.

Lourdes scored the first two touchdowns of the game before New London-Spicer rallied to make it a 21-14 game. But the Eagles did all the scoring after that to secure the victory.

The Wildcats’ points came on a 91-yard kickoff return by Shane Zylstra and a 2-yard run by Trey Austvold.

CLASS 5A: MANKATO WEST 42, SIMLEY 19

The Scarlets won their fourth state title since 1999, with Connor Watts scoring three touchdowns and Ryan Schlichte throwing for two scores and running for one. Watts had scoring runs of 2 and 9 yards and caught a 3-yard TD pass from Schlichte, who also threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jon Pytlak and ran for a 5-yard score.

Simley scored on runs of 10 and 35 yards by Michael Avwunuma and a 1-yard run by Michael Busch.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 198
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,656



A Play Call, A Little Luck And A State Championship
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/21/2014 7:58:44 PM

The margin between the silent sadness of a runner-up squad and the joyous shouts of a state championship team can be razor thin. Case in point: Friday’s Class 2A Prep Bowl football game at the University of Minnesota.

The winner was Holdingford and the loser was BOLD. The score was 20-18 in two overtimes. That’s how history will record the game, but the inside story of the winning touchdown deserves to be long remembered. That’s because it’s proof of the luck that can be involved in these endeavors.

The teams were scoreless until BOLD’s Brad Wolff scored on a 4-yard run with 3:04 left in regulation. Holdingford’s Austin Gerads sent the game into overtime with a 10-yard run as time expired, making it 6-6. Each team scored six points in the first overtime; BOLD on another short run by Wolf and the Huskers on a 10-yard run by Nathan Brinker … remember that name.

The magic moment for the Huskers came in the second overtime. They had the ball first, from the 10-yard line. On fourth down from the eight, Gerads (the quarterback) lined up outside and Brinker (running back) took a shotgun snap. Nathan (pictured) rolled right, saw nobody open, frantically rerouted himself to the left side and saw Gerads heading for the end zone. Pass, catch, touchdown, 20-12 lead.

BOLD scored on a short run by Ben Steffel and a two-point rushing attempt was stopped. Huskers win.

But here’s where a little serendipity comes in: Brinker was a lineman until a month ago … Holdingford had run that play only once before, and that pass was intercepted … the play isn’t even designed to go to Gerads.

Needless to say, when the play was called the thought bubble over Brinker’s head carried these words: “Oh my gosh.”

“It wasn’t called for me,” Gerads said. “Brinker is just a playmaker; he can do whatever we ask him. They called him to roll right and throw it up there. I don’t know what he saw, he must not have seen anything. It wasn’t even supposed to come to me. I saw him look back so I took off for the sideline, trying to get open. He threw it up and I pulled it in.”

Brinker – who wears No. 52 and was moved from the line to the backfield before the Huskers played Osakis in the Section 6 semifinals – admitted that Friday’s winning play didn’t go as planned.

“No,” he said with a smile. “Definitely not. It’s something that coach threw in and I never thought we would run it. I rolled out, didn’t see anything there and Gerards made a great read and went left when he wasn’t supposed to. Great catch.

“It was definitely the right call.”

If any confirmation of that fact was needed, it came from inside the Holdingford postgame locker room; the voices of 50 boys, yelling in unison.

“One! Two! Three! Huskers state champs!”

NINE-MAN: GRAND MEADOW 48, EDGERTON/ELLSWORTH 0

The Superlarks captured their second consecutive state title with a dominating victory. Landon Jacobson (pictured) rushed 34 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns for Grand Meadow, which had 433 total yards to 181 for the Flying Dutchmen.

Grand Meadow’s Michael Stejskal completed nine of 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, two to Cody Ojulu and one to Blake Olson. Wyatt Richardson kicked field goals of 23 and 34 yards. The Superlarks played in the Prep Bowl for the third year in a row. Edgerton/Ellsworth won the state title in 2009.

CLASS 4A: BECKER 24, DELASALLE 6

The Bulldogs dominated from the start, led 12-0 at halftime and 24-0 before DeLaSalle scored in the fourth quarter. Michael Veldman scored on a 4-yard run and threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Matt Conzemius. The Bulldogs also scored on a 13-yard run by C.J. Schwintek and a 3-yard run by Beau Pauly. The Islanders’ touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from Billy Hart to Marquise Bridges.

Becker had played in six previous Prep Bowls, winning the Class 3A championship in 2005. DeLaSalle won the 3A title in 1999 and had played in three other Prep Bowls.

CLASS 6A: EDEN PRAIRIE 28, TOTINO-GRACE 27

A back-and-forth game came down to a two-point conversion attempt with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. After Totino-Grace’s Lance Benick scored on a 10-yard run to make it Eden Prairie 28, Totino 27, the Eagles went for two and the win. A pass was incomplete in the end zone, Eden Prairie fell on an onside kick and ran out the clock.

Totino led 14-0 in the second quarter and 21-7 at haftime. But Eden Prairie scored the next three touchdowns to lead 28-21 with 2:46 to play. Benick’s touchdown followed.

Will Rains rushed 26 times for 230 yards and touchdowns of 1, 57 and 75 yards for Eden Prairie. Ben Mezzenga had two scoring runs for Totino-Grace. Kez Flomo led Totino with 31 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown.

SATURDAY’S PREP BOWL GAMES
Class 1A: Dawson-Boyd vs. Minneota, 10 a.m.
Class 3A: Rochester Lourdes vs. New London-Spicer, 1 p.m.
Class 5A: Simley vs. Mankato West, 4 p.m.

--Photos by mnprepphoto.com; to see photo galleries from each Prep Bowl game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 192
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,606



Farmington’s Mark Froehling Announces Retirement
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/19/2014 1:25:21 PM

Mark Froehling announced this week that he is retiring as the head football coach at Farmington High School. He told his team first, which is exactly what you would expect from a man who has always cared for his players above all else.

One of the highlights of my many years writing about high school sports came in the fall of 2006. I spent homecoming week with the Farmington Tigers, watching every football practice, sitting in on Froehling’s chemistry classes, enjoying homecoming festivities and writing about what took place.

That was a joyful week because I was able to write about one of the finest coaches I have ever known. As Farmington activities director Bill Tschida told me, “Mark is a treasure.”

Froehling, 52, has been a head football coach for 23 years; eight years at Caledonia and 15 years at Farmington. His career record is 122-101, but wins and losses is about the last thing for which he will be remembered. His players always knew that he cared about them as people and not just as football players.

He is known as a coach who interrupts practice to read to his team. The players rest on the field as their coach stands in their midst and reads aloud from books that are usually inspirational and always motivational.

After reading to the Tigers during a practice in 2006, he said quietly to me, “You’ve got to build a team somehow. If you just play football, then it’s only about football. This is all about team. I choose books about team, with the philosophy of being part of something bigger than yourself.”

He and his wife Lori made the retirement decision after the 2014 season ended. He will continue to teach chemistry.

“We’ve been talking about it the last couple years,” he said. “I wanted to make good decisions about where things stood. We’ve had multiple changes with the team, conference, classes, and I didn’t want to abandon the program during those transitions. They can be challenging and you want some stability.”

Indeed, Farmington has seen changes in recent years. The football team has moved from Class 4A to 5A to 6A, and when the Missota Conference dissolved this year Farmington joined the South Suburban Conference, which was a big step. The Tigers didn’t win a game this fall.

“We anticipated facing very good football teams every week,” Froehling said of the South Suburban. “And they didn’t disappoint. Every team was well-prepared, every team had great athletes and a good number of athletes, they knew how to play the game well.

“It was a little tough for us this particular season; we happened to be in a year where we just brought back about four starters from last year and we ended up doing this transition with a very young team. But to their credit, if you had come to practice you wouldn’t know what our record was. The kids came to play every week and practice was always positive. I told the seniors they were a great group to go out with. It has to be fun and they allowed that to happen.”

Froehling is only the second coach Farmington has had in 35 years. Earl Wetzel had the job for 20 years and Froehling was an assistant under him for two years; when Wetzel retired, Froehling was named head coach.

Trey Davis, a 2007 Farmington graduate who went on to compete in football and track at the University of Minnesota, said, “His impact goes beyond football to the example he sets as a man and just how much he cares about his athletes. It speaks to the way he did his retirement, waiting until after the banquet.”

Davis, now assistant activities director at Shakopee High School, added, “You never questioned that he cared about you. He would give you the shirt off his back if it meant you would be a more successful person.”

Tschida said Froehling set an example for all coaches at all schools.

“Some people are able to set their ego aside and really understand the true purpose of education-based athletics,” he said. “Mark is one of those people who has always looked at the greater good when it came to coaching. It was never about serving his ego and collecting accolades. It was always ‘How can I make a positive impact on the young men I’m coaching.’ That’s why he is so well-respected. He kind of sets the gold standard on how you can coach in this very machoistic sport yet do it in a manner that’s respectful of the individuals.”

Last season I was at Farmington for a game against Northfield. After warm-ups, the Tigers gather in the school weight room for last-minute words from Froehling. Here is what he told his team that day…

“We’ve got to be ready to play. I want to see effort and I want to see execution, right away. Let’s be moving out there, let’s get this thing going at our pace, not at their pace. Let’s dictate the pace, let’s run ‘em out of gas and take care of business, fellas. We’ve got to withstand any initial surge they might have.

“We know how to face adversity. This is football, gentlemen. There is always going to be adversity, nothing’s going to be perfect. There are going to be things we’ll have to overcome. Let’s not pretend that nothing bad’s never going to happen. We’ve just got to be prepared for it; how are we going to react to it? It’s a sign of the character of this team. And we know what kind of character we have, right? We know we can handle anything if we handle it together, can’t we?

“We’ve got to be able to play this one play at a time, right? Whatever happened on the last play, do we really care about that? No. Does it really matter what the next play is, the play after the one that’s being played right now? No. Will you please give me great focus on that play? Work your technique, do your job; you know your buddy’s counting on you to be focused right then, don’t you? He needs you. We all need each other, and let’s be sure we’re all taking care of our friends out there on the football field.

“Let’s show respect for our opponents tonight by the way we play the game. Every time we walk out on that field, we’re going to respect the game and make sure that we’re playing good, tough Tiger football. Gentlemen, let’s bring it in here and take a knee. What a beautiful night for the game of football, right fellas! This has gotta be fun, and let’s be thankful for being able to be here.”

Notice, Froehling didn’t say one word about winning the game. He talked about togetherness and focus and teamwork and being thankful.

After practice one day during that homecoming week in 2006, I talked with then-senior J.J. Akin, who went on to play football and graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College, where he now works as coordinator of marketing and technology and an admissions counselor.

Akin said to me, “Our coaches talk a lot about family, and they back it up. It brings unity. We’re not always going to be football players. We’re going to be husbands and fathers. Those are important things in life.”

And those lessons are taught by important people.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 184
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,556
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Football In The Cold Sure Beats Not Playing At All
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/17/2014 3:05:51 PM

When it comes to playing the state football tournament in the great outdoors instead of the cozy confines of an indoor stadium, the words of Edgerton/Ellsworth coach Andy Fleischman ring true for every coach and every player in Minnesota: “I think our boys would be ready to play in a snowstorm at three o’clock in the morning.”

Fleischman made that statement after the Flying Dutchmen defeated Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 20-13 in Friday’s nine-man semifinals at St. Cloud State. The conditions at Husky Stadium were wintry to say the least, with temperatures in the teens and piles of snow surrounding the field.

For the teams that are headed to the Prep Bowl Friday and Saturday – on the University of Minnesota’s outdoor field – the fact that their championship hopes remain alive makes up for all the layers of cold-weather gear and slippery footing on snowy fields.

The format will remain the same next year, and the state semifinals and Prep Bowl will move to the new Vikings stadium in 2016. With the Metrodome long gone and the new stadium still two years away, the 2014 season has provided new challenges for teams that normally would be playing indoor football for the final two games.

“We practiced outdoors all week and I don’t see why we wouldn’t stay outdoors,” Fleischman said. “In August you’ve got to give them a break for heat; now you tell them to go inside and thaw out.”

One advantage of playing in the Gophers stadium will be the heated turf field. State quarterfinal and semifinal games were all played on turf, but last weekend’s snow was a challenge on non-heated fields.

“The conditions kind of changed our footing, offensively and defensively,” New London-Spicer coach Dan Essler said after the Wildcats beat Glencoe-Silver Lake 13-12 Saturday at Eden Prairie. “Both teams couldn’t run the ball effectively in the first half, especially sideways. Once the kids got used to it they maybe had to take an extra step or two, chop chop chop, and they were able to run.”

Prep Bowl preparations can be vastly different depending on geography. Teams in the Twin Cities can practice indoors in fieldhouses or inflated bubbles, while many outstate teams don’t have such options.

BOLD, for example, has practiced outdoors throughout the season, no matter the weather.

“Out in the country, we don’t have the artificial turf so a guy volunteered his four-wheeler and went out and cleaned off our field,” said BOLD coach Steve Solem, whose team defeated Caledonia 21-0 Saturday in the Class 2A semifinals at Eden Prairie and will meet Holdingford in the Prep Bowl on Friday at 1 p.m. “We warm up inside, go through our game plan, then we suit up and get outside and practice.”

The team from Grand Meadow – which will face Edgerton/Ellsworth in the nine-man title game on Friday at 10 a.m. – took advantage of another sport in preparing for the semifinals (the Superlarks beat Kittson County Central 49-0 Friday in St. Cloud).

The day before that game, Grand Meadow practiced at an indoor facility called Soccer World in Rochester.

“They’ve got a field that’s about 60 yards long and 30 yards wide,” Grand Meadow coach Gary Sloan said.

The Superlarks were hopeful that Rochester Community and Technical College would have their football field covered by an inflatable bubble this week. The day before playing a state quarterfinal at Irondale High School, Grand Meadow practiced on the outdoor turf at Minnetonka High School. That field also is covered by a bubble during the winter, and Sloan was hoping the bubble would be available for a walk-through on Thursday.

The New London-Spicer Wildcats -- who will face Rochester Lourdes in the Class 3A Prep Bowl game Saturday at 1 p.m. – will follow the script from their state championship season in 2009.

“We’ll be in our gym, like when we won it in 2009,” Essler said. “We went out one day for about half an hour. We’re used to practicing in the gym.”

BOLD’s Solem said the only likely place for an indoor workout for the Warriors would be a fieldhouse in Redwood Falls, but he wasn't planning on it.

“We just figured, ‘Let’s stay home. If we’re going to play in it we just as well get used to it.’ ”

Edgerton/Ellsworth’s Fleischman said the nearest indoor facilities for the Flying Dutchmen are in Brookings or Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“We’re kind of isolated a little bit,” he said, adding that playing in cold conditions is certainly worth the trouble.

“Honestly, I just hoped it would be a problem,” Fleischman said. “It suits our style.”

The nine-man Prep Bowl will be a matchup of teams that run the ball. Grand Meadow senior Landon Jacobson ran for 214 yards in the first half Friday and finished with 30 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns. On the other side, Edgerton/Ellsworth senior Tyler Kurrasch scored all of his team’s points, rushing for three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

“In Grand Meadow we say, ‘If you’re going to win you’ve got to run and you’ve got to stop the run,’ ” Sloan said.

For all the teams that are still playing, Kurrasch’s words after Saturday’s game stand tall.

“It didn’t even feel like 10 degrees. It was game day. It was perfect.”

PREP BOWL XXXIII
Friday, Nov. 21
Nine-man: Grand Meadow vs. Edgerton/Ellsworth, 10 a.m.
Class 2A: BOLD vs. Holdingford, 1 p.m.
Class 4A: Becker vs. DeLaSalle, 4 p.m.
Class 6A: Eden Prairie vs. Totino Grace, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 22
Class 1A: Dawson-Boyd vs. Minneota, 10 a.m.
Class 3A: Rochester Lourdes vs. New London-Spicer, 1 p.m.
Class 5A: Simley vs. Mankato West, 4 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 183
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,406
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Matchups Are Set For Prep Bowl XXXIII
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/15/2014 9:35:40 PM

PREP BOWL XXXIII
At the University of Minnesota

Friday, Nov. 21
Nine-man: Grand Meadow vs. Edgerton/Ellsworth, 10 a.m.
Class 2A: BOLD vs. Holdingford, 1 p.m.
Class 4A: Becker vs. DeLaSalle, 4 p.m.
Class 6A: Eden Prairie vs. Totino Grace, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 22
Class 1A: Dawson-Boyd vs. Minneota, 10 a.m.
Class 3A: Rochester Lourdes vs. New London-Spicer, 1 p.m.
Class 5A: Simley vs. Mankato West, 4 p.m.



Football State Semifinals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/13/2014 4:55:55 PM

THURSDAY

6A/ Totino-Grace 37, Lakeville North 21

FRIDAY

Nine-Man/ Edgerton/Ellsworth 20, Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 13

Nine-Man/ Grand Meadow 49, Kittson County Central 0

6A/ Eden Prairie 13, Maple Grove, 7

SATURDAY

5A/ Simley 21, Spring Lake Park 14

5A/ Mankato West 26, St. Michael-Albertville 21

4A/ DeLaSalle 35, Hutchinson 21

4A/ Becker 39, Stewartville 20

3A/ Rochester Lourdes 25, Pierz 24 (OT)

3A/ New London-Spicer 13, Glencoe-Silver Lake 12

2A/ BOLD 21, Caledonia 0

2A/ Holdingford 35, Pipestone 18

1A/ Dawson-Boyd 28, Minneapolis North 12

1A/ Minneota 52, Braham 14



Multi-Sport Athletes, Top-Notch Competitors, Best Friends
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/11/2014 10:48:40 PM

NORTHFIELD – Sitting in a conference room with a visitor on Tuesday afternoon, Bailey DuPay and Alexis Kiefer pondered this question: Are you good friends or best friends?

It didn’t take very long at all to hear the answer. “We’re pretty much best friends,” Kiefer said as the two Northfield seniors smiled. Friends, classmates, teammates … the two will close one chapter on their multi-faceted athletic careers at this week’s girls swimming and diving state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

Both have qualified in Class 1A one-meter diving. DuPay will be making her fifth trip to state and she already owns three diving state championships. Kiefer will compete at the state meet for the first time, but she – and well as DuPay – have plenty of experience at other state championships. (Pictured are DuPay, left, and Kiefer, right.)

--Kiefer has competed in all-around at the Class 1A state gymnastics meet three times and finished second in the Class 2A pole vault last spring, her first appearance at the state track meet.

--DuPay is a two-time state gymnastics champion in all-around; she has been to state in gymnastics four times.

The preliminary round of diving will be held Wednesday, with the finals Saturday.

DuPay will continue her athletic career in college as a diver; she is close to making a final choice among three schools: Minnesota State Mankato, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Kiefer will attend the University of Minnesota and compete on the track team as a pole vaulter.

Kiefer has decided against competing in gymnastics this winter so she can focus on improving in her college sport. “I want to make the Olympic trials in the pole vault,” she said. “I’m going to need more time practicing the pole vault. I’m changing my goals.”

DuPay will say goodbye to gymnastics after the 2014-15 season before focusing on diving in college. For both athletes, the many injuries they suffered in gymnastics are among the reasons they will pursue other sports in college.

“Gymnastics is really hard on your body,” DuPay said. “I don’t know if my body would be able to take another four years of it.”

Kiefer said, “Since I have other goals, I don’t want to risk anything before college. You don’t make it through a gymnastics season without injuries.”

Bailey tried to remember each injury: A fractured right foot, two right knee surgeries, two herniated discs in her back, a stress fracture in her right fibula, a concussion, several sprained ankles and hip flexors.

Kiefer had compiled a list of her injuries, which she had conveniently put on her smart phone. “I made the list when I was deciding whether to stay with gymnastics,” she said as her looked at her phone.

“There have been a lot of minor injuries that you get and you forget about them,” she said as she began going down the list of serious injuries: “Fractured bone in right foot. Broken knuckle. I sprained both ankles many times on vault. Herniated discs in my back, as well; one when I was 12, so it’s highly probably that there’s more. Shin splints, torn labrum in a shoulder, pulled muscles and stuff, hip flexors.”

Despite the injuries, both athletes said they have no regrets about competing in gymnastics since they were little.

“Regrets? No, because there haven’t been any career-ending injuries, really,” Kiefer said. “You do get a lot of injuries. But I don’t think we regret anything because we love gymnastics so much.”

DuPay said, “I love the atmosphere, I love the competition, it definitely makes it worth it.”

If all goes well this week, DuPay will bring home another state diving championship (with the possibility of setting a state record) and Kiefer would be thrilled to finish high in her first time as a diver at state.

DuPay said there will be pressure on her, but most of it will come from within.

“My parents tell me a lot that there’s no pressure from them to win, that they’ll love me no matter what happens,” she said. “I think it’s more pressure from yourself.”

Kiefer said people at school are constantly asking Bailey, “Are you going to win again? Are you going to win again?”

DuPay’s career-best diving score is 511.6, which she set at the Big Nine Conference meet on Oct. 30 in Northfield. The all-time state-meet record is 507 and the Class 1A state-meet record is 500.85.

Come Saturday, the high school swimming and diving season will be over. That will close one chapter for the two friends.

“It’s a long season,” Alexis said. “We started in August.”

Bailey said, “It will be sad that it’ll be over but I’m ready for gymnastics.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 171
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 4,096
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Bundle Of Sticks And A Team That Stays Together
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/8/2014 6:37:53 PM

The volleyball team from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton didn’t win a state championship Saturday, but the Panthers stayed together and worked together to the very end. And that’s important.

The Panthers, making their school’s first trip to the state volleyball tourney in a decade, lost to Bethlehem Academy 25-15, 25-21, 25-20 in the Class 1A championship match at Xcel Energy Center. There was certainly no shame in being defeated by the Cardinals, who also beat Eagan (state runner-up in Class 3A), Marshall and Stewartville (who played for the 2A state title) and Belle Plaine (third place in 2A) this season.

All told, Bethlehem Academy had eight regular-season matches against teams that went to state, and the Cardinals won seven of them. Saturday’s title was the Cardinals’ seventh since 2003.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s postseason run of six victories before Saturday began with a box of sticks. The kind of sticks you’d find on a small tree; maybe a quarter of an inch thick and a foot or so long. Coach Katie Gervais brought a cardboard box filled with sticks to a team meeting and asked each player to take a stick.

“We each got one stick and she told us to break them in half,” said junior Sara Stoneberg. “We put one piece on the ground, and with the other stick we passed it on and kept passing them.”

Before long the Panthers had a big bundle of sticks. Each member of the coaching staff tied a small piece of rope around the bundle, and now they had something special.

“Coach said to the last person who was holding onto the sticks: 'Break those sticks with your hands.' She tried to break all 12 sticks with her hands and she couldn’t do it,” sophomore Gabbie Gervais said. “We said that’s how our team is going to be. If one person breaks, the other people are going to take care of her; a stick isn’t going to fall out of the bundle. Even if one breaks, they’re still going to stay together. They’re unbreakable.”

Players also carried laminated cards that carried a drawing of the bundle of sticks and the words “Unity is Strength.”

As Sara explained, “We said that unity is strength and nothing can break a team if we’re all together.”

Superb.

--Bethlehem Academy senior Payton Schultz has now played on four state championship teams and sophomore Payton Nutter has won three state titles.

--This was a hectic season for Belle Plaine. Coach Cassie Koch was absent for two weeks in October for the birth of her first child and sophomore outside hitter Mariena Hayden was sidelined with a back injury and missed all of August and September.

STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Saturday’s Results

Class 3A
Championship
Chaska beat Eagan 25-17, 25-19, 25-21.

Third place
Eden Prairie beat Roseville 25-15, 25-22, 25-18

Fifth Place
Champlin Park beat Rochester Mayo 25-17, 25-17, 25-21

Class 2A
Championship
Stewartville beat Marshall 25-23, 27-29, 23-25, 25-19, 15-5

Third Place
Belle Plaine beat Maple Lake 20-25, 25-15, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13

Fifth Place
Rocori beat Concordia Academy-Roseville 16-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18

Class 1A
Championship
Bethlehem Academy beat Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 25-15, 25-21, 25-20

Third Place
Martin County West beat Mayer Lutheran 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-13

Fifth Place
Ada-Borup beat Browerville 17-25, 26-24, 25-11, 25-17

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

CLASS 1A/ Miki Lee, Ada-Borup; Hailey Leiding, Molly Klima; Martin County West; Maria Kuntz, Mayer Lutheran; Anna Peterson, Sammie Gervais, Sydney Lanoue, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton; Payton Schultz, Payton Nutter, Lauren Mathews, Bethlehem Academy.

CLASS 2A/ Eleanor Holthaus, Rocori; Linsey Rachel, Maple Lake; Dakotah Poitra, Mariena Hayden, Belle Plaine; Marissa Behrens, Jenna Willenborg, Jackie Bleifus, Stewartville; Abby Louwagie, Callie Graff, Marah Mulso, Marshall.

CLASS 3A/ Sydney Hilley, Champlin Park; Monica Burich, Roseville; Abby Ihrke, Elizabeth Mohr, Eden Prairie; Erin Schindler, Sarah Kelly, Makayla Wenzel, Chaska; Brie Orr, Callie Schapekahm, Alyssa Doucette, Eagan.

--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 168
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,041
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Jessie Strong: Volleyball Community Comes Together To Help
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/7/2014 6:58:02 PM

One of the best stories of the volleyball season sits in a wheelchair and sometimes gets around on crutches. But always, there is a big smile.

Jessie Nelson is a junior volleyball player from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. She was involved in a major car accident last July, driving on a gravel road while returning home from her grandparents’ house. The car rolled several times and her left leg took the worst of it; a compound fracture, the tibia broke the skin and the fibula also was busted.

That’s the bad news. The great news is how her volleyball friends from southwest Minnesota – plus countless others who have never even met Jessie – rallied to support her.

“There’s been so much support,” Jessie told me at the state tournament, where the Panthers defeated Mayer Lutheran 3-1 in Friday’s Class 1A semifinals. “I seriously could not have done this without them.”

The road remains long. Jessie’s knee is stabilized with a device that surrounds the joint and has a dozen pins that help stabilize and align the bones. She has a port in her upper left arm; she receives antibiotics to fight dangerous infections that began when her knee wound was open to the elements in a farm field.

Jessie takes part in pregame introductions, standing on the court with her crutches. She watches the action from her wheelchair, but sometimes stands to cheer for the Panthers. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton is making its first trip to state since 2004, and “Jessie Strong” is a major theme. The Panthers all wear headbands with that slogan.

The headband idea came from one of Jessie’s friends and offseason volleyball teammates. Courtney Place, a senior at Heron Lake-Okabena, began a campaign to create and sell “Jessie Strong” headbands as a fundraiser for Jessie and her family. After T-M-B defeated Heron Lake-Okabena in the Section 3 semifinals, Courtney presented the Nelsons with a photo album/scrapbook that contained pictures of all the teams that contributed, as well as $1,000 in donations.

After the state tournament, Jessie will focus on healing. The device on her knee will remain in place until next summer; by that time, if all goes well, a rod will have been inserted into her leg, the healing process will continue and Jessie will be able to start rehabbing the knee.

Doctors have told her that her athletic career is probably over. But Jessie isn’t convinced. She wants to return to the volleyball team next season.

“Personally I would want to play, 100 percent. And I’m going to work as hard as I can to play, even though the doctors told me that it’s very unlikely I’ll be able to play sports again.

“But I don’t care what they say,” she said, laughing and smiling. “They told me that so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. But I don’t want to disappoint myself now; I would rather disappoint myself after I’ve done everything I possibly can.”

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

Two coach/daughter combinations will be on the court in state championship matches Saturday. In Class 3A, one of Eagan coach Kathy Gillen’s players is her ninth-grade daughter McKenna. In 1A, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton coach Katie Gervais’ daughter Sammie is a senior and Gabbie is a sophomore.

STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Friday’s Results

Class 3A Semifinals
Chaska beat Roseville 25-18, 25-16, 25-23
Eagan beat Eden Prairie 8-25, 25-20, 25-22, 24-26, 15-12

Class 3A Consolation
Champlin Park beat Bemidji 25-9, 27-25, 25-10
Rochester Mayo beat Cambridge-Isanti 25-23, 25-23, 25-20

Class 2A Semifinals
Stewartville beat Maple Lake 25-13, 25-12, 25-15.
Marshall beat Belle Plaine 25-22, 21-25, 25-19,21-25, 15-11

Class 2A Consolation
Concordia Academy-Roseville beat Mora 25-21, 25-14, 26-28, 25-18
Rocori beat Thief River Falls 20-25, 25-12, 25-21, 17-25, 15-8

Class 1A Semifinals
Bethlehem Academy vs. Martin County West 25-22, 25-15, 25-17
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton vs. Mayer Lutheran 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-14

Class 1A Consolation
Ada-Borup beat Kittson County Central 25-16, 20-25, 25-13, 25-21
Browerville beat Carlton 25-17, 25-18, 25-16

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 168
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,001
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Volleyball Coach, A Fisherman And a Trip To State
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/6/2014 6:02:23 PM

The paths people take can be quite interesting. Case in point: Cambridge-Isanti volleyall coach Vicki Courts and her husband/assistant coach Mark Courts.

Vicki, who grew up in Bay City, Michigan, was a standout volleyball player at Michigan State, serving as team captain in 2000, her senior year. After she graduated she met a professional fisherman named Mark Courts; he was fishing in a tournament on Saginaw Bay.

Mark is a native of Monticello, Minnesota. Vicki moved to Minnesota, went to graduate school at Bethel University and earned two teaching licenses and a masters degree. They got married and they live in Harris, which is in the Cambridge-Isanti school district.

Vicki (pictured), a special eduation teacher, became an assistant coach for the Bluejackets volleyball team 10 years ago. A year later she was named head coach. The fact that Cambridge-Isanti had never been to state until this year was not lost on anybody, including the coaching staff.

“We spent endless hours in the gym, which all coaches do, but really getting in to work with the youth (was crucial),” Vicki said after the unseeded Bluejackets lost to third-seeded Eagan 3-0 in Thursday’s Class 3A quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center.

“These seven seniors were 9-10-11 years old and I just started dragging them around with me; as managers, on buses, to meals, camps. We tried to just hang in there, and it wasn’t all that easy.”

Building a successful program never is easy. But when Cambridge-Isanti defeated North Branch in the Section 7 final last week at Chisago Lakes, it was, well, it was …

“It was pandemonium,” Vicki said. “Just breaking that cycle of never going to state. We were knocking on the door last year and lost to Grand Rapids by four points in the section final match, and the girls were just relentless about getting there. That’s what we talked about every day. It was the best feeling in the world. Those kids were thrilled. It was the best bus ride ever.”

Mark Courts, who has been a professional angler for 15 years, said joining Vicki on the volleyball court was an easy decision.

“This is about the only opportunity we get to spend time together,” he said. “I’m on the road 200 days a year, so if I’m not in the gym with her we don’t get time together.”

BACK TO GOOD HEALTH, BACK TO STATE

A year ago I wrote about Taryn Tumbleson (pictured), a volleyball player from Martin County West who sat out the 2013 state tournament because of injuries sustained in a car accident early in the season. The story was headlined “The Miracle Of Martin County West.”

She was driving on a gravel road when she lost control and the vehicle rolled several times. Her injuries included 11 broken ribs, a compression fracture in her back and a serious concussion. She wore a back brace at state last year and watched from the bench as the Mavericks finished sixth.

Last year at state Taryn told me she would back in 2014, in uniform and on the court. “Next year, definitely,” she said back then.

When we talked after the Mustangs defeated Browerville 3-0 in Thursday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, she smiled and said, “I was going to Tweet you and remind you that I said I was going to be back.”

No Tweet was necessary, because seeing her on the court and playing well was more than enough.

“It’s a lot more fun to be on the court,” she said with a big smile. “It was good motivation from last year. It’s great to be back. I think that it was kind of an eye-opener to not take life for granted. I appreciate the coaches and players and every moment I have on the court. It’s great to be here in my senior year.”

ANOTHER COMEBACK STORY

The most famous elbow in Faribault belongs to Bethlehem Academy senior Payton Schultz. She is as veteran as they come, starting for the Cardinals since seventh grade and being part of three state championship teams. A year ago she suffered a knee injury in the second match; this year she blew out her left elbow in the 14th match of the season and didn’t return until the Section 1 title match (in which she entered to serve the final two points).

She was in action Thursday as the Cardinals defeated Kittson County Central 3-0. Schultz had two digs in the match; “I’m not supposed to fall or anything, which is kind of difficult for me,” she said. “Doctor told me to be careful.”

There’s a scar on the elbow, and she wears a brace on it when playing. The injury occurred when she went down for a ball and landed wrong. Bones were broken in three places.

“If you watch the video it doesn’t seem like it should have caused damage, but it was just one of those freak things,” coach Franz Boelter said. “They were able to put it back together nicely. She was given permission to play yet to be cautious. … Today we just wanted to get her in there a little bit in every set and kind of see how things went. I told her, ‘If I put you out there it’s because I care about you, and if I don’t put you out there it’s because I care about you.’ ”

THURSDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
CLASS 3A
Chaska beats Bemidji 25-10, 25-11, 25-19
Roseville beats Champlin Park 26-24, 27-25, 22-25, 18-25, 15-13
Eden Prairie beats Rochester Mayo 25-12, 25-18, 22-25, 25-13
Eagan beats Cambridge-Isanti 25-12, 25-21, 25-22

CLASS 2A
Stewartville beat Mora 25-19, 25-17, 25-22
Maple Lake beat Concordia Academy 16-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-13
Marshall beat Thief River Falls 25-23, 25-12, 25-20
Belle Plaine beat Rocori 24-16, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22

CLASS 1A
Bethlehem Academy beat Kittson County Central 25-12, 25-15, 25-13
Martin County West beat Ada-Borup 14-25, 25-18, 25-14, 26-24
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton beat Browerville 25-11, 25-15, 25-13
Mayer Lutheran beat Carlton 25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 168
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 3,961
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



State Volleyball And Football Take Center Stage
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/5/2014 8:04:32 PM

We’re heading into a big three days of state tournament action, with volleyball and football taking center stage.

Volleyball, in all three classes, will play at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Quarterfinals will be played Thursday, with semifinals and consolation matches Friday, and championship, third-place and fifth-place matches Saturday.

Football quarterfinals will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday around the state, with three games Thursday, nine games Friday and 16 games Saturday.

I’ll be spending all three days at the volleyball tournament. I will be following the football scores from Xcel Energy Center, and I will post scores from both tournaments immediately on Twitter. You can follow me @MSHSLjohn

Here are the tournament lineups…

STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Thursday’s Quarterfinals

CLASS 3A
Chaska (27-3) vs. Bemidji (19-11), 9 a.m.
Roseville (25-4) vs. Champlin Park (24-7), 9 a.m.
Eden Prairie (27-3) vs. Rochester Mayo (26-3), 11 a.m.
Eagan (24-5) vs. Cambridge-Isanti (27-4), 11 a.m.

CLASS 2A
Stewartville (27-6) vs. Mora (26-5), 5 p.m.
Concordia Academy (26-7) vs. Maple Lake (27-5), 5 p.m.
Marshall (23-9) vs. Thief River Falls (23-9), 7 p.m.
Belle Plaine (22-10) vs. Rocori (25-5), 7 p.m.

CLASS A
Bethlehem Academy (26-4) vs. Kittson County Central (25-7), 1 p.m.
Martin County West (28-5) vs. Ada-Borup (26-5), 1 p.m.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (26-9) vs. Browerville (24-5), 3 p.m.
Mayer Lutheran (18-15) vs. Carlton (27-5), 3 p.m.



STATE FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
Thursday, Nov. 6
9-Man/ Kelliher/Northome vs. Norman County East/U-H, Bemidji State, 7:30 pm
6A/ Mounds View vs. Totino-Grace, Maple Grove, 7 pm
6A/ Rosemount vs. Lakeville North, Edina, 7:30 pm

Friday, Nov. 7
9-Man/ Kittson County Central vs. Cromwell, Bemidji State, 7 pm
1A/ Minneapolis North vs. Blooming Prairie, Richfield, 7 pm
2A/ Hawley vs. BOLD, Alexandria, 7 pm
2A/ Maple Lake vs. Caledonia, Rochester Community College, 7 pm
4A/ Cloquet vs. DeLaSalle, Chisago Lakes, 7 pm
4A/ Holy Angels vs. Hutchinson, Minneapolis Washburn, 7 pm
5A/ Bemidji vs. St. Michael-Albertville, St. Cloud State, 7 pm
6A/ Eden Prairie vs. East Ridge, Woodbury, 7 pm
6A/ Maple Grove vs. Prior Lake, Minnetonka, 7 pm

Saturday, Nov. 8
9-Man/ Edgerton/Ellsworth vs. Nicollet, SW MN State, noon
9-Man/ Underwood vs. Grand Meadow, Irondale, 1 p.m.
1A/ Braham vs. Upsala/Swanville, Brainerd, noon
1A/ Mahnomen vs. Dawson-Boyd, Alexandria, 1 p.m.
1A/ Minneota vs. New Ulm Cathedral, SW MN State, 3 p.m.
2A/ Pipestone vs. Norwood-Young America, Gustavus Adolphus, 1 pm
2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River vs. Holdingford, Brainerd, 3 pm
3A/ Esko vs. New London-Spicer, St. Cloud State, noon
3A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton vs. Pierz, Brainerd, 6 pm
3A/ St. Croix Lutheran vs. Rochester Lourdes, Farmington, 6 pm
3A/ Blue Earth vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake, Burnsville, 6 pm
4A/ Rocori vs. Becker, St. Cloud State, 3 pm
4A/ South St. Paul vs. Stewartville, Rochester Community College, 6 pm
5A/ Bloomington Jefferson vs. Mankato West, Lakeville North, 2 pm
5A/ Sartell vs. Simley, St. Cloud State, 6 pm
5A/ Spring Lake Park vs. Faribault, Lakeville North, 6 pm



Runners To Be Considered for Spirit of Sport Award
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/4/2014 11:08:09 PM

Two cross-country runners who assisted a fallen competitor during the Class 1A girls state meet Saturday will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award, which is awarded annually by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The Spirit of Sport Award seeks to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport and represent the core mission of education-based athletics. High school governing bodies in each state can offer nominations for the award.

Esko High School senior Kailee Kiminski and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton junior Tierney Winter stopped running when they saw Jackson County Central freshman Jessica Christoffer on the ground less than 100 yards from the finish line. Kailee and Tierney helped Jessica get on her feet and had their arms around her as they completed the race together. Ninety-six runners among the field of 174 had crossed the finish line before the trio did so.

Due to national rules that prohibit competitors from assisting other runners, the athletes were disqualified, but that does not diminish from their tremendous act of sportsmanship. A meet official, who was with Jessica in case medical assistance was needed, informed the other runners that offering aid would violate the rules, yet they didn’t hesitate to assist Jessica in finishing the race.

All cross-country coaches are aware that athletes cannot assist others physically during races, whether teammates or opponents. This rule is based on fairness and the belief that each competitor must complete the course on their own, with no physical assistance. The rule states:

It is an unfair act when a competitor receives any assistance. Assistance includes:
a. Interference with another competitor.
b. Pacing by a teammate not in the race or persons not participating in the
event.
c. Competitors joining or grasping hands with each other during a race.
d. Competitor using an aid during the race.

In addition, there could be serious health concerns for an injured runner if people who are not medically certified attempt to move the athlete.

Despite the consequences, Kailey and Tierney didn’t hesitate in coming to the aid of a fellow competitor. Because of their tremendous act of sportsmanship and selflessness, they will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award. Congratulations to Kailey and Tierney, their coaches, teammates, families and schools.



Alexandria’s Hasz Sisters: Identical Twins, Identical State Championships
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/1/2014 3:37:02 PM

NORTHFIELD – It would only be fitting if Bethany and Megan Hasz, who are juniors this year at Alexandria High School, cross the finish line at the 2015 Class 2A state cross-country meet in a dead heat and share the state championship.

Because at this point they each own one state title and one second-place finish. A year ago Bethany was first and Megan second, and Saturday at St. Olaf College it was Megan – who is 29 minutes older than her identical twin sister -- getting the win, followed closely by Bethany. (Pictured are Bethany, left, and Megan.)

“We will always race each other to win,” Megan said. “We are competitive with each other. We always want to win, but even if we don’t we’re happy for the other one.”

Megan’s winning time was an all-class state-meet-record 13 minutes, 40.9 seconds; Bethany finished in 13:44.4 and third-place runner Tess Misgen, a sophomore from Shakopee, was timed in 14:13.5. Misgen nosed out junior Emma Benner of Forest Lake, whose time was 14:13.6.

The previous state-meet record was 13:42.0, set by Maria Hauger of Shakopee in 2012.

The twins also are stars on the track. Bethany was third and Megan fourth at state in the 2A 3,200 meters last spring; in the 1,600 Megan was second behind Misgen and Bethany placed third.

On Saturday, Megan began pulling away near the two-mile mark in the 4,000-meter race. Bethany tried to stay with her sister but couldn’t maintain the pace.

“She started to pull away and I tried to go with her,” Bethany said. “I didn’t have quite the same kick as she does. I’m proud of her. She definitely deserves it.”

Megan stated it pretty plainly: “I guess I started kicking a little harder a little sooner.”

Asked if next year’s state meet will be the tiebreaker, the sisters laughed.

“I guess so,” Bethany said. “We’ll see what happens.”

--Wayzata won its third consecutive 2A girls team title with 65 points. Edina was next with 94 and Willmar placed third with 96.

CLASS 2A BOYS

After two top-five finishes in the last two years, Wayzata senior Connor Olson rose to the top level of the podium with a dominating victory. The second-ranked Olson held off third-ranked Joey Duerr of Chaska and top-ranked Joe Klecker of Hopkins, winning in 15:16.86.

Duerr was second in 15:22.96 and Klecker was third in 15:25.9

“That kid’s one tough racer and he stuck in there for a long time,” Olson said of Duerr. “I’m just happy I could pull it off at the end.”

--Olson – who placed fifth in 2012 and second last year -- led Wayzata to the team title. The Trojans finished with 47 points, and Hopkins and Stillwater shared second place with 87. It was the second consecutive state title for Wayzata.

CLASS 1A BOYS

Two years ago, Waseca’s Shane Streich finished third at state. Last year he was the runner-up. His route to a state championship was finally completed Saturday, but it came with an important boost from a race in late September.

Streich (pictured), a senior, was the top finisher in the Roy Griak Inviational when he placed sixth overall among a national field that included many of the top 2A runners in Minnesota.

“Just for the opportunity to come up here and race with the big dogs, being from a small town, I just wanted to hang with them,” he said after the Griak. “I think today was my day.”

Saturday was also his day. His time of 15:46.4was nearly 15 seconds better than runner-up Isaac Overmyer of Park Rapids. Placing third was Perham’s Billy Bessman.

“I’ve been shooting for this since I was a seventh-grader,” Streich said. “It’s nice, especially since last year I was second, the year before I was third. Ever since the end of track season this was my goal, and my main focus was going for the state championship. It’s definitely exciting to be able to fulfill that goal.”

--Mora won the 1A boys team title with a score of 104, followed by Martin County West (108) and Glencoe-Silver Lake (117).

CLASS 1A GIRLS

The Donnay sisters of Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball stole the show, with Emily – a senior and the top-ranked runner in 1A – claiming the state title and her sophomore sister Anna finishing third. The runner-up was Luverne sophomore Madison Schandelmeier.

“I figured she was right behind me at the finish,” said Emily, whose time of 14:27.5 was well ahead of Schandelmeier (14:49.0). “Tthat’s what I kept telling myself.”

Emily finished 10th at state last year; Anna had never before raced at state.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Anna. “I came and watched last year but that’s it.”

--Trinity School at River Ridge won the team title with a score of 55, followed by Annandale (87) and Fairmont (117).

--To see photo galleries from each race (provided by mnprepphoto.com), go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 144
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 3,921
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



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