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Let’s Say Farewell To 2011 With A Look Back …
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/27/2011 10:31:06 PM

As we turn the calendar to a new year, this is a prime time to reflect on what has taken place in 2011. I spent some time clicking through the John’s Journal archives and selected some highlights, some touching moments and plenty of memories from the year that was.

JANUARY
--The year opens in fine style with a trip to Duluth for a hockey doubleheader.
--The state debate tournament proves to be a fast-talking, quick-thinking event.
--Four days after a Perham basketball player named Zach Gabbard collapses on the court at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, I wrote about a fund at United Community Bank in Perham to help his family defray medical costs.
--A visit to Ellsworth is made for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer event

FEBRUARY
--Headline: Support For Zach Gabbard Continues
--My debut at the one-act play state festival at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.
--It’s 57 degrees at Giants Ridge near Biwabik for the state alpine ski competition on Feb. 15.
--Tales from the girls state hockey tournament include Edina junior goaltender Maddie Dahl (right) being given a stick by Wild goalie Josh Harding.

MARCH
--Senior Elisa Reinsma of Fulda/Murray County Central repeats her own history by wrestling at the state tournament for the second year in a row.
--At Xcel Energy Center, hockey fans see Duluth East students chanting Rachel Sandell’s name and holding signs in support of Rachel, who is in Nevada undergoing cancer treatment.
--Headline: Great Debate: Indiana Basketball, Texas Football or Minnesota Hockey? (You’ll have to go back through the John’s Journal archives to find the answer.)
--The Anoka girls basketball team had won 17 games and lost 157 over seven seasons … until they qualified for the state tournament in 2011.
--Zach Gabbard surprises his Perham teammates by appearing in the locker room at Williams Arena before the Yellowjackets play in the state quarterfinals.
--Boys state basketball champions include Perham in Class 2A. Zach Gabbard is unable to attend the game at Target Center but watches the game on TV from a rehabilitation hospital in St. Paul.

APRIL
--In one of my favorite days of the year, I visit the Cambridge-Isanti adapted bowling team during a practice.
--Fairmont High School senior Sarah Bankson wins the Class A championship in the Informative Speaking category of the state speech tournament at Chanhassen High School. She is the first four-time state speech champion in Minnesota history.
--I write about former Twins catcher Terry Steinbach, working as an assistant baseball coach at Wayzata High School.

MAY
--I enjoy researching and writing a story about a program in Spring Lake Park that has high school athletes visiting elementary schools to work with young students on reading skills.
--Headline: State Adapted Bowling Tournament: Where Smiles Dominate
--I journey to Heron Lake to report on Ben Cunningham (left), a senior at Round Lake-Brewster who returned to the baseball (and basketball) team after a vehicle accident in which he suffered massive injuries and lost the vision in one eye.

JUNE
--You knew summer had arrived by reading this headline: Heat Alert: Boys Lacrosse Semifinals Delayed One Hour
--Thief River Falls senior Brendan “Beezer” Skime is the busiest athlete in Minnesota, competing in the state tennis tournament and state track meet in the same week.
-- Jerry Loegering, 78, ends his career as the girls golf coach at Barnesville in fine style. After beginning his career in 1975, Jerry brings his team to the state tourney … the first girls state golf trip in school history.

JULY
--During a month that is a shut-down period for high school activities in Minnesota, one evening is very special. At the Comet Theater in downtown Perham, a documentary film premiers: “For Three” is the story of Zach Gabbard and the Perham basketball team.

AUGUST
--I visit Brainerd for the first day of football practice at Brainerd High School. It’s also the 50th year as a head coach for Ron Stolski, who has won more football games than any other coach in the state.
--Another highlight of the year: spending time with the volunteer army that takes care of the football field at New London-Spicer High School. It might be the finest playing surface in the state.
--A great series of road trips takes me to Fulda and St. Peter for Zero Week football games and Bethlehem Academy in Faribault for the opening of the volleyball season. Great fun.

SEPTEMBER
--I write about one of my favorite athletes of the year: Orono soccer player Nick Manzoni. Nick missed the season while he was undergoing cancer treatments. I don’t think his middle name is Inspiration, but it should be.
--Headline: Future Gophers QB Helps Journalist Break The Rules. This concerns Mankato West’s Philip Nelson and it’s a neat tale.
--One of the most remarkable, special stories of this year or any other unfolds at Wabasha-Kellogg when three-sport athlete Cole Younker – who was killed in a vehicle accident a year earlier -- is remembered with the planting of a tree and the release of balloons before the football season opener vs. Southland.
--I profile Eastview High School’s Matt Percival for a story about the day in the life of an athletic director.
--A story about another inspiring athlete: Pierz junior Beth Broschofsky (right), who returns to the cross-country team after cancer surgery and treatment. A metal rod replaced the humerus in her right upper arm and she runs with a large brace to keep her arm strapped close to her body.
--A profile of soccer official Adalberto Villalobos, a native of Costa Rica who has lived in Minnesota for many years and became a U.S. citizen in 2011.

OCTOBER
--A great evening of history: St. Paul Academy and Blake mark the 100th anniversary of their first football meeting with a game at Blake.
--Trevor Schmidt has a lot of wonderful friends at Mound-Westonka High School. Many of his male buddies shave their heads in support of Trevor, whose own hair was thinned out while he is being treated for a condition called angioma.
--Rachel Sandell, the ailing Duluth East student who was remembered and honored by her schoolmates during the boys state hockey tournament, passes away.

NOVEMBER
--Headline: A Gatorade Bath, Sweet Caroline And Some Football History. When Prior Lake wins a big game to make its first appearance in the state football tournament, it’s quite a night.
--First-year Hill-Murray football coach Brooks Bollinger, a former NFL quarterback, takes his team to the state semifinals. After losing in that round, the rookie coach’s postgame words are special: “We were so lucky to get the experience we did and have some success. It hurts when you get that close and don’t get it done, but my message to them was we lost today, but we won, I won, to be able to be part of something like this.”

DECEMBER
--A family profile of Tom and Leah Dasovich, the husband and wife who coach the boys and girls basketball teams at Minnetonka High School.
--The remarkable story of Zach Gabbard continues when Zach is cleared by medical professionals to return to game action. When the senior sees his first playing time in January, it will be almost a year since he collapsed and nearly died.
--A story about the Duluth East boys hockey team, which will travel 3,356 miles this season for road games, spending 56 hours on buses. The Greyhounds travel almost as much as I do.

My total miles for 2011: (Drum roll please) … 11,698.

Here's wishing everyone a great 2012!



Minnesotan Authors A Coaching Handbook Unlike Any Other
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/21/2011 2:25:07 PM

When Carl Pierson saw one of his good friends and successful coaching colleagues get abruptly fired, the wheels started turning. Pierson, who has coached at several Minnesota high schools, awoke one day around 3 a.m. and began jotting down thoughts and ideas. And he began writing.

The result is a book about coaching that is much more than a book about coaching. Pierson’s self-published book is titled “The Politics Of Coaching: A Survival Guide To Keep Coaches From Getting Burned.” It’s a rare find; instead of dealing with X’s and O’s or other traditional coaching advice, it offers guidance on issues that have little to do with athletic strategies and everything to do with becoming and remaining a successful coach.

“The whole motivation was that I’ve seen too many good people get pushed out of the profession, and I was tired of it,” said Pierson, the head girls basketball coach at Waconia High School. “Some of it is brought on by themselves because they don’t know how to manage these various situations.”

Pierson, 35, has been a head girls basketball coach for 10 years, with stops in Red Wing, Chisago Lakes and Champlin Park (where his 2006-07 team reached the Class 4A state semifinals) before taking over at Waconia this year. The native of Mitchell, S.D., holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Northern State University. He is a married father with a young son and another child due in February.

His undergraduate degree is in political science/education, and he writes in the book that he had “been a student of politics for longer than I had even been an athlete or a coach … In nearly 20 years of coaching football, baseball, and basketball this understanding of politics and people has allowed me to navigate the often treacherous terrain that has become youth and high school coaching. I had always taken for granted this understanding was intrinsic in most coaches. That is, until my friend was fired.”

Pierson’s book includes chapters titled The Campaign, Public Relations, Special Interest Groups, Confronting A “Cancer” in Your Program, The Politics of Youth Sports, and Surviving Race and Gender Issues.

He relates stories about his own experiences and those of other coaches in dealing and working with parents, youth programs, administrators, etc. The anonymity of people is protected because he doesn’t refer to others by name.

“It was a labor of love,” he said. “It was rather therapeutic to go through some of that stuff again and re-live it.”

The book is aimed at coaches but the advice it offers can be used in almost any field. Since the book was published last summer, Pierson has heard positive feedback from coaches around the country as well as people in other professions.

“I got an email from a band or chorus director who said it even applies in their area,” he said. “I’ve had a couple from people in private business who said the same thing. That’s been nice to hear, but it certainly wasn’t the intention.”

Some of the topics in the book are touchy, such as dealing with problem parents or problem players, and even how to aid in the process of problem players transferring to another school. In addition, Pierson offers advice on getting hired as a coach, including sections titled “Never use negative campaigning publicly” and “Running a campaign against an incumbent.” Pierson doesn’t shy away from any topics.

He writes in the book, “Some coaches suggest they don’t want to play the political games and that they just want to coach. I would suggest that if they really want to coach, playing the political games, or at the very least acknowledging that politics play a role in their job, is the only way they will get to coach or survive in the profession for any length of time.”

Pierson said he expected to hear some negative feedback, but that has not happened.

“It’s been very positive, and surprisingly so. I expected there would be a little bit more controversy about some of the things that I’ve suggested. But without exception, the emails I’ve received have been very encouraging and very positive and appreciative. That’s been rewarding.

“I didn’t write it with the intention of burning any bridges or hurting anybody’s feelings, it was really to be instructive and to try and help coaches and use some of my own situations and others. I’m glad that it’s been positive to this point.”

He said he is aware of at least three colleges that are using his book in Theory of Coaching classes.

“In the college classes they teach you drills and plays or whatever, but they don’t talk about how to deal with parents or any of those other issues,” Pierson said. “And those are the things that consume coaches and lead you to leave the profession. Everybody can handle a practice schedule, but it’s those extraneous issues that become overwhelming.”

The book can be purchased at www.politicsofcoaching.com, where athletic directors can receive a discount when ordering 10 or more books. It also is available at www.amazon.com

The Customer Reviews section at Amazon includes comments like this: “As a new head coach, this is one of the greatest tools I could have ever found. It is very complete as it has great insight to every possible situation a coach will encounter. The way the book is set up and written is very reader friendly, almost like Mr. Pierson is having a conversation with you. I would encourage all coaches, parents of student-athletes, athletic directors, and even fans to read this book. I will definitely be passing this on to the other head coaches in my district.”

Pierson has promoted the book at coaching clinics in Minnesota and neighboring states. While his intention was to tell coaches about the book and hopefully sell a few, he was surprised by the number of people who told him they had already finished it.

“I thought I was going out there to spread the word, and they’d already read it,” he said. “So that was kind of neat.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 231
*Miles John has driven: 5,449

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Sportsmanship And Generosity: Albany Honors Braham’s Dahlman
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/20/2011 10:36:06 AM

I received the following email from Braham girls basketball coach Tim Malone on the heels of Bombers junior Rebekah Dahlman reaching the 3,000-career-point plateau last Friday at Albany.

When Rebekah scored her 3,000th point, the game was stopped to honor her, and Malone wanted to publicly thank Albany coach Josh Dorn, his players and the Albany athletic department for their thoughtfulness.

Here is the email…

John - I wanted to write this quick letter both to inform you and more importantly thank Albany High School, their athletic department and Mr. Josh Dorn. With a game on Tuesday night (Dec. 13) in Hinckley-Finlayson, Rebekah Dahlman finished seven points from 3,000. On Wednesday morning I got an email from Mr. Dorn. He offered the game ball, stoppage of the game and basically anything we wanted to recognize the occasion two days prior to our scheduled contest in Albany. I immediately knew I was dealing with a class act!

Several minutes into the second half Rebekah did in fact get her seventh point. The game was stopped, she was presented with the game ball and flowers from her sister. We were back in our huddle getting ready to resume the game when one of the Albany players approached our bench with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. This was obviously something that was planned ahead of time and the Bomber coaches, players and fans along with Becca were all taken back by the show of generosity and sportsmanship.

While she mostly gets accused of being too physical here is a school, a coach and a program that recognizes her for outstanding athletic accomplishments. Thank you Mr. Dorn and the Albany Huskies girls basketball team for being so thoughtful on Friday night.

Tim Malone
Braham Area High School
Activities Director
H/PE Dept.
Head Girls Basketball



Unfinished Business: Forest Lake’s Morgan Wants To End On High Note
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/19/2011 2:43:24 PM

Say the words “Ben Morgan” and wrestling fans will immediately think of two things. The first is a memorable sight and the second is a memorable fact.

The sight: It is March 1, 2008, and Morgan is an eighth-grader wrestling for Forest Lake High School. In the Class 3A state championship match at 112 pounds, Morgan defeats Apple Valley ninth-grader Matt Kelliher 3-1, setting off a celebration that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Fists clenched and arms raised, Morgan leans back and roars to the heavens. With blood dripping from his forehead, he sprints around the mat and leaps into the arms of his father (and Forest Lake assistant coach), Gordy Morgan. He receives a thunderous ovation from the fans at Xcel Energy Center, who expect to see the young wrestler win more state titles before his high school career ends.

The fact: Morgan has not won another state title. As a freshman (119 pounds), sophomore (130) and junior (130) he placed third at each state meet. (See his year-by-year record at the end of this story.)

Morgan is now a senior and is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the state. He recorded his 200th career victory on Saturday at the Minnesota Christmas tournament in Rochester and may rank among the state’s all-time top 10 in victories by the end of the season. He has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Nebraska.

The fact that he has not won another state title remains part of his story, which Morgan says “has been a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs.”

The latest “up” came Saturday in Rochester, where Morgan won the tournament championship at 132 pounds and was voted Outstanding Wrestler by coaches of the 34 participating teams. Morgan won his first three matches via pins, won in the semifinals on a technical fall and then, in the biggest title match of the tournament, defeated three-time state champion Dakota Trom of Apple Valley 5-3.

Morgan’s celebration was muted, although he did look into the crowd and point to the word “Rangers” on his chest in signifying his school pride. The victory was nonetheless huge for Morgan, considering Trom’s pedigree and the tone that was set for the rest of the season.

Trom, a senior who will wrestle at the University of Minnesota, won state championships in each of the last three seasons … while Morgan was placing third. The two have not wrestled at the same weight in a state tournament, but that could change this season.

“I’m pretty excited right now,” Morgan said after defeating Trom. “It was a tough match. Me and Dakota go way back, we’ve trained together our whole lives. We never really thought we’d wrestle each other in high school, but we finally did.

“It feels pretty good. I’m not completely satisfied with my career, and that’s how you have to be. You can never be completely satisfied, you always want to get better. This is a good steppingstone but I need to keep improving.”

Trom was No. 1 and Morgan No. 2 in the latest 3A 132 rankings released by The Guillotine, but those spots will surely be reversed when the next rankings are published Dec. 30.

“It was big for him,” Forest Lake coach Billy Morgan said. “Confidence-wise, it was big. He kind of got a monkey off his back. He hadn’t been able to beat a tough Apple Valley kid. Whether it was Mark Hall or Dakota Trom or Matt Kelliher, he’s had his battles with some great, nationally recognized wrestlers out of Apple Valley. He got a nice win.”

With 200 career victories on his resume, as well as the big victory over Trom, Morgan is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“It’s going to help me roll into the wrestling season now and keep on top,” he said. “I’ll wrestle him again at state and this time I want to make sure I win state again.”

A big crowd of wrestling fans will be watching.

BEN MORGAN’S CAREER RECORD
Year          W-L         3A State Finish (weight)
2006-07       32-4        did not qualify
2007-08       40-3        First (112)
2008-09       41-1        Third (119)
2009-10       44-3        Third (130)
2010-11       40-4        Third (130)


BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 229
*Miles John has driven: 5,341

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Road Warriors: Duluth East Boys Hockey Team Piles On The Miles
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/14/2011 3:16:37 PM

From puck drop to final horn, Tuesday night’s hockey game at Ames Arena in Lakeville lasted one hour and 50 minutes. For the Duluth East boys hockey team -- which is unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class 2A -- the 4-1 victory over Lakeville North was the easy part.

What followed was another in a long series of long bus rides. The Greyhounds are used to spending more time on a bus than on the ice, but even coach Mike Randolph was surprised when I told him that, according to my math, his team would travel 3,356 miles this season for road games, spending 56 hours on buses.

“Wow, I had no idea,” Randolph said.

That’s an average round trip of 280 miles for each game, and Tuesday’s journey to Lakeville was the season’s longest at 360 total miles. (See mileage and time chart at the end of this story.) It’s a safe bet that no other Minnesota high school team in any sport travels as much as the Greyhounds.

Duluth East is in an odd spot, geographically as well as competitively. None of the school’s athletic teams belong to a conference, so finding enough games to fill schedules is always a challenge. The boys hockey team also faces an issue of scarce 2A teams in the vicinity. Other than Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, whose arena is 25 miles from East, the rest of the road schedule entails loading up the bus. (The East girls hockey team will make three trips to the Twin Cities this season, while the boys basketball team will do so seven times and the girls basketball team three times.)

The boys hockey journey to Lakeville meant six hours on the road. The Greyhounds will make many other trips to the Twin Cities area this season, including games against Maple Grove, Eden Prairie, Edina, Burnsville, Forest Lake, Andover and Hastings.

“We’re the only 2A school in the area,” Randolph (pictured) said. “It’s like any program -- football, baseball – you want to play against the competition you’re going to play against (in the postseason). It’s nothing against 1A, but we want to play 2A schools. So to play 2A schools, and the best 2A schools, they’re down here.”

Making all those trips isn’t as simple as turning the key to start the bus, either. The Duluth school district provides school buses for traveling athletic teams, but teams must raise their own extra funds if they want to ride in charter buses. The East boys hockey team does so with the help of dedicated parents and boosters.

“Teams have sold wreaths, raffle tickets, all kinds of stuff,” East athletic director Shawn Roed said. “It’s a challenge, no doubt about it. But it’s just the reality of where we are.”

For nearby trips to places like Proctor, Hermantown and Superior, Wis., the district provides no transportation. That means parents drive their athletes or the kids drive themselves.

“We’ve had to make some cuts to make ends meet,” Roed said. “That puts a lot of pressure on teams and programs.”

Parents provide meals for the boys hockey team when it travels. Tuesday, for example, there was food on the bus when the players boarded at noon and more was available when they saddled up for the ride home.

A long Tuesday road trip can be especially daunting the next morning, when another school day begins. Randolph requires his players to be at school no matter what time they get home.

“That’s the first thing we say on the bus, but I don’t have to say it much because I’m the first one to find out (if players aren’t in school),” Randolph said. “And I tell them if I find out you’re not in class when you should be, forget practice and forget the next game.”

Players find different ways to spend time on the bus. Senior Jake Randolph (the coach’s son), who leads the Greyhounds in scoring with 10 goals and eight assists in six games, said remaining psychologically fresh is part of the formula.

“One thing we’re working on is being more mentally tough,” he said. “When you’ve got a long drive like this you’ve got to block it out. You can’t let your legs get tired on the bus, you’ve got to have a good warmup. I usually just kick back, put my legs up, listen to tunes and get mentally prepared for the game. We try to stay focused.”

The Greyhounds like to get on the ice as soon as they exit the bus. That often means skating while the junior varsity teams are preparing to play. “It gets a sweat going,” Jake Randolph said.

For the Randolphs, the trips to the Twin Cities mean some extra family time, too. Mike’s daughter Jessie lives and works in Edina, so she can watch her dad coach and brother play quite often.

“There is an upside to it,” Mike Randolph said after a postgame hug with his daughter Tuesday night.

All the miles and all the bus rides are in preparation for one thing: the postseason. Since hockey was split into Class 2A and 1A in 1994, Duluth East holds or shares Class 2A state tournament records for most appearances (12), most championships (two, 1995 and 1998), most third-place finishes (four) and most games won (22).

Last season the Greyhounds came within a whisker of another state title, losing the state championship game to Eden Prairie 3-2 in triple overtime.

If all goes well for the Greyhounds during the regular season, they will hold the top seed in the Section 7 tournament and play only home games as they attempt to reach the state tournament at Xcel Energy Center … which is 154 miles from their school.


THE WHEELS ON THE BUS …

Duluth East’s Regular-Season Round-Trip Travels
240 miles Cambridge (4 hours)
294 Andover (5)
296 St. Cloud (5:20)
360 Lakeville North (6)
50 Cloquet (1)
316 Ridder Arena vs. Burnsville in Schwan’s Cup (5)
326 Maple Grove (5)
162 Grand Rapids (3)
350 Eden Prairie (6)
352 Edina at Lake Minnetonka (6)
260 Forest Lake (4)
350 Hastings (5:30
TOTAL MILES: 3,356
TOTAL HOURS: 56

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 195
*Miles John has driven: 5,199

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



From Hopkins To Harvard: Studies And Hoops Pay Off For Chambers
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/12/2011 3:25:48 PM

Siyani Chambers, currently a senior point guard on the Hopkins boys basketball team, was an eighth-grader playing on the Royals junior varsity when a recruiter from Harvard came to the gym.

The Crimson were there to see one of the varsity stars, but the Harvard staffer saw young Chambers, spoke with him and planted a seed. The message was simple: We like your game … take care of business on the court and in the classroom and someday you might go to Harvard.

Someday will arrive in the autumn of 2012 when Chambers heads to Harvard. He has not decided on a course of study, but he knows he will be a member of the basketball team at the one of the nation’s elite institutions.

“I guess I just caught their eye,” Chambers told me as he thought back to that day as an eighth-grader. The seed that was planted that day took root so firmly that Chambers made only one official recruiting visit.

“Harvard was my first and last one,” he said. The Chambers family visited Harvard in late September, and the day after they returned home Siyani called coach Tommy Amaker and committed to the Crimson.

“When I went on my visit the players were all super nice,” Siyani said. “And I was comfortable there. It was the place where I felt the most comfortable, and there are all the relationships I’ve built with the coaches and players. That just put it over the top for me. And there’s no better school than Harvard.”

Chambers will join one fellow Minnesotan on the basketball team; DeLaSalle grad Jonah Travis is a freshman forward this season. There are currently 26 Minnesotans competing on 12 Harvard athletic teams, ranging from hockey to cross-country to swimming and sailing. The Crimson women’s hockey team has the most Minnesotans with eight. (See a complete list at the end of this story.)

Siyani’s parents, Elston and Elice, have always stressed the importance of education to Siyani and his brother Kamali, who is a sophomore guard on the Hopkins varsity basketball team.

“We were reading to him as soon as he was born, and ever since then he’s always known it was academics first and whatever else second,” Elston said. “He knows after practice that he needs to do his homework.”

Siayni, who took Advanced Placement classes during his sophomore and junior years, has a 3.7 grade-point average. His current classes are Calculus, Physics and Creative Writing, and he serves as a teaching assistant in the social studies classroom of Royals head coach Ken Novak Jr.

“He’s a great student,” Novak said. “He’s a hard-working, industrious kid, very disciplined. He does well, takes all the toughest classes and he deserves to be going where he’s going.”

Several other Hopkins boys basketball products have played in the Ivy League, including Justin White (Harvard in the mid-1990s), Zach Puchtel (started at Harvard in 2001) and David Gardner, who finished his college career at Dartmouth in 2005.

“It’s pretty cool,” Novak said. “The biggest problem is that financially it can be tough. Parents have to sacrifice and Siyani’s parents are making a sacrifice for him to go, because he could get a full ride at other places. But I think they understand the value of it.”

There’s no question about that.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Elice Chambers said. “I think it was just hard work. We’ve stressed working as hard in the classroom as you do on the basketball court, and it just kind of worked out for him. He’s a fairly conscientious student.

“We wanted him to be pushed, because making the jump from high school to college is pretty tough. You want to be challenged at home so you can fail at home, as opposed to failing when you’re on your own, when you don’t really know what to do and how to handle it.”

Siyani said his parents usually required him to do his schoolwork before going to the gym.

“They pushed me early on to get not just decent grades but good grades.”

The Hopkins Royals are three-time defending Class 4A state champions and currently ranked No. 1in the state. They will take a 5-0 record into their next game, Friday at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the top-ranked team in 3A.

The Chambers are enjoying Siyani’s last season of high school basketball and looking ahead to his college career. They probably won’t make many trips to the Boston area to see Harvard games, since Kamali is only a sophomore at Hopkins.

“We’re going to try to figure that out,” Elice said. “We may be able to make two (Harvard) games or something like that. Now our Thanksgiving plans will change; instead of having Thanksgiving in Minnesota we’ll be having Thanksgiving wherever Siyani is playing.”


MINNESOTA ATHLETES CURRENTLY AT HARVARD
--Men’s basketball: Jonah Travis, DeLaSalle
--Baseball: Joey Novak, Lakeville South
--Men’s cross-country: Paul Koullick, Blake; Stewart Richardson, Blake; Jacob Lindaas, Moorhead
--Men’s Hockey: Danny Fick, Forest Lake; Marshall Everson, Edina; Luke Greiner, Faribault
--Men’s Lacrosse: Lowell Fluke, Blake
--Men’s Sailing: Stephen Bates, Thief River Falls
--Men’s Swimming: Chris Satterthwaite, Edina
--Men’s Track: Andrew Hausmann, Rosemount; Paul Koullick, Blake; Jacob Lindaas, Moorhead; Stewart Richardson, Blake
--Women’s Hockey: Laura Bellamy, Duluth Denfeld; Hilary Hayssen, Blake; Kelsey Romatoski, Woodbury; Margaret Chute, Blake; Hillary Crowe, Blake; Gina McDonald, Irondale; Samantha Reber, Edina; Tiana Press, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
--Women’s Skiing: Alena Tofte, Duluth East; Adeline Byrne, Grand Rapids; Jen Rolfes, Edina
--Women’s Soccer: Lauren Urke, Wayzata
--Women’s Swimming: Taylor Foster, Breck; Jessica Stanchfield, Orono

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 193
*Miles John has driven: 5,189

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Perham's Zach Gabbard Is Returning To Basketball
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/11/2011 12:41:53 PM

Think back to a year ago, when Perham's Zach Gabbard collapsed on the basketball court at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School. Sudden cardiac arrest nearly took his young life, and Zach embarked on a long road of hospitalization, rehabilitation and recovery.

That road will soon be complete. Perham played in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Minnetonka on Saturday. My first question to coach Dave Cresap was, "Is Zach with you?" Dave smiled and said, "No, Zach's in California, where just this morning a doctor cleared him to play." (Zach and Dave Cresap are pictured.)

Zach will need a few more weeks of conditioning before playing in a game, but this is the best possible news. And then today (Sunday), the following wonderful message was posted by Zach's mother, Meridee, on Zach's CaringBridge website...

"A few days ago, Zach and I flew to Los Angeles to meet with a Cardiologist downtown LA, who did extensive testing on his heart. He found NOTHING wrong with Zach's heart and has cleared him to play MSHSL basketball. We are looking forward to his first game!

"Once again,Thank you to everyone who has followed Zach's journey! Your prayers and contributions are greatly appreciated. This past year has been very stressful and emotional in more ways than you could ever imagine!

"I encourage all parents of athletes to become knowledgable about sudden cardiac arrest. I certainly NEVER thought it would happen to Zach, who has always been strong and healthy.

"AGAIN, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

"Meridee Gabbard"

Welcome back Zach!



A Hockey Mantra: What Happens In December Stays In December
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/9/2011 10:52:46 AM

It was early in the 1998-99 boys hockey season and Ken Pauly was not in a great mood after a loss to Red Wing. The Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach was having a postgame dinner with hockey icon Herb Brooks and was admittedly “all bummed out.”

“Herb said, ‘Kenny, it’s the best thing because you still have their attention.’ And he was right about that. With high school kids, you have to keep their attention.”

Pauly relayed that story Thursday evening while standing outside the visitors locker room at the Burnsville Ice Center. Once again, he had his players’ attention after a 5-1 loss to the Burnsville Blaze. If you take stock in rankings this was an upset; Benilde-St. Margaret’s is No. 2 in Class 2A and Burnsville is No. 9, according to Let’s Play Hockey.

Burnsville has also defeated No. 6 Hill-Murray while losing to No. 3 Minnetonka. Benilde-St. Margaret’s beat Hill-Murray and unranked St. Cloud Tech prior to Thursday’s loss. But before jumping to conclusions about any of this, think about two things...

The first thing: State champions won’t be crowned until March. In other words, the season is young. Very young.

The second thing: Class 2A hockey is up for grabs.

“There’s a lot of good hockey teams out there. You can go across the state and name them,” Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme said when I asked him about parity. “That’s why there is a lot of movement on who are the top teams. You are right, anybody can beat anybody.”

The team atop the 2A rankings right now is Duluth East. The Greyhounds return a solid lineup from a team that lost the state championship game to Eden Prairie in three overtimes. East faces a big weekend, playing home games against White Bear Lake (2-0) on Friday and Minnetonka (4-0) on Saturday. The Greyhounds will play at Lakeville North on Tuesday, giving fans in the Twin Cities an opportunity to further gauge the 2A field.

The key to Thursday’s Burnsville-Benilde game was special teams. The Red Knights drew first blood when Dan Labosky scored a power-play goal at 11:30 of the opening period. But Burnsville responded with a three-goal second period and added two more in the third.

Four of those five Blaze goals came on power plays, with Mason Wyman scoring twice, Hunter Anderson getting a goal and three assists, and Cory Chapman finishing with one goal and two assists. Burnsville was 4-for-5 on the power play while killing three of four Red Knights’ power plays.

“We lost what you can’t lose,” said Pauly. “We lost the special teams battle.

“It’s an unforgiving game when you don’t put your chances away.The truth is it could have been three or four to nothing after one and this baby's over. But the fact is we didn't put them away, we let them hang around and we're going home bummed out.”

Continuing on the theme of “Hey, It’s Early In The Season,” Pauly talked about how the Red Knights can build off the defeat.

“We can take a ton of positives. First off, when you play quality programs like Burnsville, they’re not going to take a period off. They’re going to come back. When you punch someone, they’re going to counter-punch. And when they counter-punch you have to answer and we took too long to answer.”

Kivihalme was measured in his postgame comments, which fit the December theme quite nicely...

--“Special teams is a big part of the game and today we got lucky, we were able to get a couple in.”

--“It’s a long season and we’ve got to continue getting better. We saw a lot of things that we have improved since the Tonka game but we’ve got a lot of things still to get better at.”

--(Asked about goaltender Chris Mallon, who made 29 saves) “It’s still early in the season. We see things that he needs to keep getting better, along with the whole team. We’re obviously happy that he was able to play another good game, but it’s early in the season and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

In other words, what happens in December stays in December. What matters most will happen in February and March. And there’s plenty of hockey to be played between now and then.

“Oh, no doubt,” Pauly said. “Somebody was asking me who the No. 1 team was and I made the comment that I think it's going to be a merry-go-round all year. And I do. Minnetonka is a super high-end team, these guys (Burnsville) are good. … Duluth East, Eagan. I think it's just going to go around and around and around. And I'm getting dizzy.”

--To see a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 171
*Miles John has driven: 5,127

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Saluting Minnesota’s Athletic Administrators And Coaches
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/8/2011 11:20:54 AM

Let’s take a moment today to honor our administrators and coaches, two groups of tireless workers who do much more behind the scenes than any of us know. We’re going to single out two individuals today, and they represent their colleagues across the state who do so many good things in our schools:

--Hopkins athletic director Dan Johnson will receive a national honor next week.

-- LeSueur-Henderson football coach Terry Turek is stepping down after 26 years.

HERE’S AN EMAIL I received today from one of Johnson’s colleagues in the Lake Conference, Wayzata athletic director Jaime Sherwoood …

Dan Johnson, Athletic Director at Hopkins, will be receiving the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Distinguished Service Award at the 42nd National Athletic Directors Conference in Indianapolis at the Conference Banquet on Tuesday, December 13.

The NIAAA Board of Directors, at the recommendation of the NIAAA Awards Committee, annually selects a number of individuals to receive the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award. Recipients of the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award are selected from persons nominated by their respective state athletic director associations. Each state may nominate one DSA candidate each year. The awards are presented annually to individuals outside the field of athletic administration, as well as NIAAA members in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics at the local, state and national levels.

Previous award recipients from Minnesota:
Orv Bies, Anoka 1981
Dr. Robert Zemke, Fairmont 1983
Bob Collison, Richfield 1983
Lloyd Stussy, Wells 1987
Paul Krueger, St James 1988
Thomas Mahoney, Fairmont 1993
Jim Baker, CAA, Richfield 2004
Craig Perry, CMAA, Brooklyn Center 2008

In the 12 years I have worked with Dan he has set himself apart as a leader – whether he is working with his captains, mentoring his own coaches, or teaching MSHSL Coaches Ed classes or NIAAA LTP courses at the state or national level, Dan is about getting people to be the best they can be. This is a very well-deserved honor!

Jaime C. Sherwood CMAA
Director of Athletics & Activities
Wayzata High School


THIS NOTE ABOUT Terry Turek by LeSueur-Henderson superintendent Rich Hanson was posted on the school website…

The End of an Era

For the first time in 27 years, the Giant football program will have a new man at the helm when team takes the field next fall.

After an amazingly successful high school football coaching career, Terry Turek has submitted his letter of resignation to the school board.

I have only known coach Turek for a short time, but it is very obvious why he has been so successful. He understands the importance of a fundamentally strong foundation. That is how a person builds a long-term success in a program.

Mr. Turek may have learned some of the importance of longevity from his predecessor. Coaching football at LS-H has not been a short-term commitment. Even though coach Turek had a long and storied 26-year career, he is still trails his predecessor, Bruce Frank, in longevity. Coach Frank roamed the sideline as the Giant coach for 30 years. That is 56 years of coaching consistency!

Amazing.

People joke about the LS-H game plan consisting of two plays, run to the right and run to the left. Every team we played also knew what the game plan would be. But still, it was very seldom the other team could stop coach Turek’s crew.

Think about how well-prepared and fundamentally sound our teams needed to be to successfully carry out our game plan. Coach Turek’s dedication and attention to detail have been the keystones to the Giant football program. No stone was left unturned as he spent countless hours preparing his troops.

Next fall, the sideline will look very different without two coaches pacing the sidelines. (Last month after 26 seasons on the sideline, assistant coach Dave Swanberg submitted his resignation.).

Both of these gentlemen have dedicated a career of coaching to the Le Sueur-Henderson football program and the benefit of many, many student athletes. Neither would have endured such long and successful careers if they did not possess the most important ingredient for long-term success. Both have a strong passion for working with and helping young student-athletes become successful. They truly care about their kids.

I want to thank coach Turek for his commitment and dedication.


AND HERE’S AN EMAIL from someone with close ties to LeSuer-Henderson; St. Cloud Cathedral athletic director Emmett Keenan…

So - Bruce Frank became the head coach in LeSueur in 1955. So - by my count, that is 57 seasons with only two head coaches, Bruce Frank and Terry Turek.

I also think if you check, you will find that Ron Walters was the coach at Henderson from the early 60's until they merged with LeSueur in the '80s.

Lots of history and tradition.

A Bruce Frank story for you --

I grew up in LeSueur kitty-corner from Bruce. His sons were among my best friends. My four older brothers all played for Bruce. I was a ball boy for Bruce from the time I was 8 years old through 8th grade.

Bruce could be very gruff - but was really a very nice guy.

In early September of my 9th grade year, my dad took a job in the cities and we started to plan to move to St. Michael. I was not happy about moving at the time. My parents agreed to let me live with my brother and his wife until the end of the first quarter and football season.

The week of the last game of the year, Bruce came over to freshmen practice and yelled - loudly - "Keenan, get over here." I was petrified. I had no idea what I had screwed up - but I figured it was something.

When I got over there, he handed me a varsity jersey for Friday night and said "There is no way you are going to be the only Keenan boy who doesn't play for me - you are dressing Friday night."

He put me on kickoff and kick return so that I actually got to play for him. I can remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget his concern for me. He knew that I was upset about leaving LeSueur and wanted to make sure that I had that memory to take with me.

I am told that Terry Turek has that same love of teaching life through football and has that same type of relationships with kids. Two of my nephews played for him and I know they think the world of him.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 169
*Miles John has driven: 5,111

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



It’s All Relative For Apple Valley’s Young Basketball Star
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/7/2011 3:10:16 PM

The buzz was palpable, but Tyus Jones is accustomed to the buzz. The Apple Valley High School sophomore began his third season as a starter for the Eagles basketball team when they hosted Eden Prairie on Tuesday night, so a little buzz is nothing new for the 6-foot-2 guard.

The Tweets were flying before tipoff: “Tom Izzo is in the Apple Valley gym tonight watching Tyus Jones.” Yes, the Michigan State coach was there, as was Ohio State assistant coach Jeff Boals. University of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith would have been there, too, if not for a scheduling conflict: the Gophers were playing Appalachian State at Williams Arena at the same time.

Jones, the most well-known kid in Apple Valley’s Class of 2014, won’t be able to drive a car until his 16th birthday in May. But in Minnesota basketball circles, he is Justin Bieber, attracting big-name college coaches like so many screaming tween girls. And the basketball Bieber was superb in Tuesday night’s season opener, in which Eden Prairie rallied to win 89-85. (Jones is pictured between Eden Prairie's Grant Shaeffer and Jordan Peterson.) Jones scored 37 points and came one rebound short of a triple-double. He made 13 of 22 field-goal attempts and 10 of 11 free throws with nine rebounds, 11 assists, six turnovers and five steals.

“I’m certainly no expert but I have a feeling that any D1 coach would take him right now, not two years from now,” said Eden Prairie coach David Flom. “He’s unbelievable.”

Jones – who is a team captain alongside seniors Grant Christian and Mitch Hechsel -- has been called Minnesota’s best point guard since Khalid El-Amin led Minneapolis North to three state championships in the 1990s and went on to win an NCAA championship at Connecticut. ESPN.com named Jones the best point guard nationally in the Class of 2014. Over the summer he played for the USA Basketball National Developmental Team Under-17 squad that captured the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas Championship gold medal in Cancun, Mexico, and qualified for the 2012 FIBA World Championship tournament in Lithuania.

So yes, Jones will have his pick of colleges. But all this acclaim, all this notoriety, all this blatant buzz can make it difficult for a 15-year-old to remember that he is only 15 years old. That’s where another Jones comes in.

Jadee Jones, 25, is Tyus’ big brother, role model and mentor. Jadee played basketball for three years at DeLaSalle in Minneapolis and transferred to Hopkins as a senior. In college, he spent two years at Division I Furman University in South Carolina before transferring to Minnesota State Mankato.

While Jadee’s recruiting experiences did not equal what Tyus is going through, he knows plenty about the process and how to navigate it.

“My role is to answer questions when he has them and help him stay focused, and it’s easy because he does a good job, he gets it,” Jadee told me after Tuesday’s game. “It’s like he’s been 17 or 18 for three years now.”

Indeed. I first interviewed Tyus when he was in eighth grade, and his maturity was evident. He’s calm with the media, he’s calm on the court and the presence of powerhouse college coaches doesn’t affect him.

“Honestly, over everything else I think that’s his greatest strength, that mentally he’s unwavering,” Jadee said. “When the pressure amplifies in a game, it’s almost more likely that he’s going to make a good play just because so many other people begin to falter and change what it is that they do, and he just never does. He’s never nervous about anything, whether coaches are in the gym or it’s a tie game with two seconds left or whatever the situation is. Mentally, nothing shakes him. He’s just able to continue to go with what he knows is right and he sticks with it.”

Jadee – a staff member at Cedar Park Elementary in Apple Valley -- set up a 10-week training program to help Tyus prepare for the USA National Team tryouts in Colorado Springs. That sometimes meant 6 a.m. workouts in the gym or the weight room. Apple Valley coach Zach Goring, in fact, said Jadee deserves much of the credit for Tyus’ development.

Jadee (pictured in a postgame handshake with Izzo) said he and his brother “commited to never missing a workout, so sometimes we had to get it in at 6 a.m. Since I’m so close, it helps that I can wake him up when he doesn’t want to get up or whatever. I help motivate him, whether it’s the weight room or getting up shots. Sometimes I have to push him just a little bit, but again he gets it so he knows when I’m going to push him and he responds to it pretty quickly.”

Eden Prairie trailed Apple Valley by 12 points in the first half but chipped away in the second half. A three-point basket by Sander Mohn – who led his team with 27 points -- put Eden Prairie in front 77-76 with 2:04 to play and Eden Prairie made 10 of 13 free throws in the final minute. Jones scored six points in the last 16 seconds.

“He’s just so composed,” Flom said of Jones, “and from the time we played against him in eighth grade you could see that. He has an ability to just navigate through traffic and make easy plays.”

Apple Valley’s next game is against Tartan at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Minnetonka High School. On Jan. 7 Apple Valley will play at Target Center against Onalaska (ranked No.1 in Wisconsin’s Division 2) in the last of six games at the Timberwolves Shootout.

Buy a ticket, because Tyus Jones is worth the price of admission. And you never know who else might be in the gym.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 171
*Miles John has driven: 5,119

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Minnetonka’s First Family Of Basketball: Tom, Leah And Emma Dasovich
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/5/2011 2:40:33 PM

The varsity basketball teams from Minnetonka High School will play several girl/boy doubleheaders this season, doing so Dec. 20 at Benilde-St. Margaret’s and twice more in February against Eden Prairie. The Lake Conference, in fact, is considering having its five member schools – including Minnetonka – someday going to a girl/boy varsity format for all conference basketball games.

Nobody is more strongly in favor of that concept than the Minnetonka head coaches … who just happen to be married to each other. Tom and Leah Dasovich would enjoy nothing more than being on the same travel schedule and seeing each other’s teams play while having their five-year-old daughter Emma in the gym.

“It’ll be fun for us,” said boys coach Tom Dasovich. “We’ll get to be in one spot on the same night.”

They may be the only husband and wife in Minnesota who are head boys and girls basketball coaches at the same school.

Tom is in his second year as the Minnetonka boys coach after previous head-coaching stops at Columbia Heights and Henry Sibley. Leah, a former Minnetonka assistant, is in her first year as the girls head coach. It’s a match made in basketball heaven, or at least at St. Cloud State University.

Tom and Leah were athletes at St. Cloud State when they met, as Leah joked, “in the training room over a bucket of ice.” Tom played football and basketball at Hopkins High School and football at St. Cloud State. Before Leah (then Leah Thomsen) began her St. Cloud State career, she played center on a St. Cloud Apollo basketball team that lost to Rochester Mayo – led by future WNBA players Kelly and Coco Miller – in the 1995 Class 2A state championship game.

After graduating from college, Tom and Leah (both are 33 years old) were hired as teachers at Minnetonka. Leah has been there ever since, teaching language arts and working as an assistant to former girls basketball coach Bart Inniger until Emma came along. Tom, a social studies teacher, left Minnetonka after one year when he was named head coach at Columbia Heights, and later at Henry Sibley. His Henry Sibley teams went to the Class 4A state tournament in 2008, 2009 and 2010, losing to Minnetonka in the 2008 state championship game.

They were reunited at Minnetonka a year ago when Tom was named boys basketball coach, and Leah became the girls head coach when Inniger stepped down after last season. She had been offered the girls coaching position at Henry Sibley when her husband was there, but the timing wasn’t right with a new baby in the family.

“When this came up, already being a teacher at Minnetonka and Emma starting school this year, it was the right time,” Leah said. “We don’t have another baby right now and it all just seemed to click. It was time to make it work.

“I knew Bart really well and he made it really easy to transition in. Plus, I know all these girls and I’ve had almost all of them in class.”

The Dasoviches hired a nanny to help out with Emma, “so a lot of the coaching salary goes to the nanny,” Tom said with a smile.

It’s no surprise to learn that basketball is a major topic of conversation in the Dasovich household.

“We watch film, we watch games, we talk basketball all the time,” Leah said. “It was nice when Tom was coaching and had those really nice years and making those runs, he’d talk about what they needed to do in practice and we would bounce ideas off each other. It kept me into it a little bit and now he’s been helping me out quite a bit, too.”

Tom said, “She’s definitely a good sounding board. I used to make bad jokes that she was my unpaid assistant. But she really was. She helped me break down film and she helped me scout. It’s nice to have somebody who really understands basketball at a high level … better than me, at least.”

The two Minnetonka teams played back-to-back on the same court at Saturday’s Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Hopkins. The girls defeated Richfield 68-57 and the boys beat Rogers 93-83. The boys have a 2-0 record and will play at Bloomington Kennedy on Tuesday; the girls will take a 3-0 record into a Thursday home game against Orono.

Everyone at Minnetonka is looking forward to the upcoming girl/boy doubleheaders, especially the head coaches.

“I love that idea,” Leah Dasovich said. “It makes it easier for Emma to come and our parents to come, and it’s a good support system for the girls and boys to support each other. Why not give it a go?”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 169
*Miles John has driven: 5,111

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



Remembering Cole Younker of Wabasha-Kellogg
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/2/2011 10:08:15 AM

The following video aired during the 2011 Prep Bowl.

VTS_01_1_4




Lots Of Decisions Made By MSHSL Board Of Directors
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/1/2011 12:11:43 PM

There was plenty of action during Thursday’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting. Seeding was added for state tennis, Melrose was placed into a conference, new wheelchair events were approved for track and field, a new division was added to the state debate tournament and a new schedule for the state football semifinals was approved.

Here’s a summary of items/changes that were approved by the board…

--Melrose was placed in the West Central Conference.

--Dates for the 2012 state lacrosse tournament were moved to June 5-8. The original dates were June 12-15.

--Public Forum was added to the state debate tournament, beginning in 2013.

--The 100 meters, 3,200 meters and discus were added as wheelchair events for section and state track and field meets, beginning in 2012. The 800, 1,600 and shot put were added as wheelchair events in 2011.

--At state tennis tournaments, seeding will be used for the top four singles players in 2A and 1A, and teams will be seeded in 2A only.

--Blaine High School was approved as the site of the state speech tournaments in 2013 and 2014.

--A new state football semifinal format was approved for 2012, when Class 6A is added. Instead of six semifinals on Friday and six on Saturday, four games will be played on Thursday, five on Friday and five on Saturday, with no games starting before 9 a.m.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

This section of the agenda provided a possible preview of future changes. The board discussed many proposals at length…

--A proposal was made to seed teams No. 1 through No. 8 for the boys state basketball tournament in all four classes, and to do so for Class 3A and Class 4A for the girls state tournament. Currently, girls and boys teams in Class 3A and 4A are seeded No. 1 through No. 4, with their state quarterfinal opponents determined by blind draw; Class 1A and 2A do not use seeding for state tournaments.

--A restructuring of the 4A boys and girls basketball section tournaments was offered, The plan would use geography and competitive balance to assign and seed all 64 4A teams into eight sections, with a committee assigning eight teams to each section and seeding those teams. The hoped-for result would be the best eight teams advancing to the state tournament.

--Recommendations were made to expand girls and boys lacrosse from four sections to eight sections, and have eight teams advance to the state tournaments instead of the current four teams.

--A hockey recommendation was made to change scrimmage rules. Currently, teams are allowed three calendar dates to hold three days of scrimmages or two days of scrimmages and one jamboree day. The recommendation is to allow unlimited scrimmages during the first two weeks of practice and completed by the third Monday after practice begins; after the third Monday, scrimmages would be limited to two scrimmage dates.

--Recommendations for baseball and softball propose to have all section tournaments be single-elimination until eight teams remain, with the final eight teams playing a double-elimination tournament. Currently, section tournaments use double-elimination for the final four teams.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 2

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn



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