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Stuck In An Elevator, Then Winning A State Championship
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/28/2013 10:20:46 PM

The wrestlers from Kasson-Mantorville have quite a story to tell, and their first state championship is only part of the story.

The KoMets defeated five-time defending champ Simley 30-27 in the Class 2A team title match Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center, but what happened before that -- a few blocks away -- is what they will laugh about for the rest of their lives.

Fourteen KoMets spent an hour and 15 minutes stuck in an elevator in the vicinity of the sixth floor of the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown St. Paul. They were rescued by junior 285-pound teammate Sam Stoll, who – the story goes -- pried the doors apart with his bare hands (“and his belly,” stated a smaller teammate who did not wish to be identified publicly).

“For the first five minutes, it was fun,” said wrestler Noah Ryan, “and then we got worried.”

Their title match against Simley was scheduled for 7 p.m. and they were sprung at around 6:35. Things were getting a little warm inside the elevator, too.

They would have phoned for help right away, had their coaches not taken away their cell phones the day before … to avoid distractions.

--In Class 1A, top-seeded and three-time defending champion Jackson County Central made it four titles in a row with a 38-22 victory over second-seeded Frazee.

Frazee had won four state titles, most recently in 2011 when it shared the title with Jackson County Central.

--And in 3A, top seed St. Michael-Albertville and No. 2 seed Apple Valley finished in a dead heat, a 28-28 tie. By rule, state championship wrestling matches are not decided by tiebreakers or criteria.

Apple Valley has won every 3A state title since 2006 and all but one since 1999 (Owatonna was the 2005 champ). St. Michael-Albertville owns six previous championships, most recently in Class 2A in 2007.

CONSOLATION BRACKET

Class 3A: Third-place match: Prior Lake beat Owatonna 34-21. Fifth-place match: Moorhead beat Willmar 36-22.

Class 2A: Third-place match: Foley beat New Prague 33-24. Fifth-place match: Chisago Lakes beat Perham 33-30.

Class 1A: Third-place match: Chatfield beat Sibley East 35-33. Fifth-place match: ACGC beat KMS 28-21.

INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT

With the team portion of the tournament finished, Friday and Saturday will be devoted to the individual competition.

--Thursday’s total attendance was 17,216.

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 3 for the tournament, 15 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 488
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,189
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



Team Title Matches Are Set At State Wrestling Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/28/2013 11:07:29 AM

After some great competition in the quarterfinals and semifinals, the state championship matches are set on the team side of the state wrestling tournament. All title matches are set for 7 o’clock tonight at Xcel Energy Center, and the top two seeds in each class will meet to decide who takes home gold medals.

In Class 1A, top-seeded and three-time defending champion Jackson County Central will meet Frazee in the finals. Jackson beat Barnesville 43-19 in the quarterfinals and Chatfield 39-25 in the semifinals; Frazee defeated Pierz 47-12 and Sibley East 40-16.

In Class 2A, No. 1 seed Kasson-Mantorville will face second-seeded Simley in the title match. Kasson-Mantorville advanced by beating Perham 56-15 and New Prague 37-18, while Simley (which owns the last five 2A crowns) beat Chisago Lakes 45-23 and Foley 35-23.

And in 3A, top seed St. Michael-Albertville will face No. 2 seed Apple Valley, which has won every 3A state title since 2006 and all but one since 1999 (Owatonna was the 2005 champ). St. Michael-Albertville advanced by defeating Willmar 53-9 and Owatonna 36-21. Apple Valley beat Moorhead 55-9 and Prior Lake 36-19

I’m posting frequent updates on the MSHSL Facebook page as well as on Twitter. Follow @MSHSLjohn.

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 2 for the tournament, 14 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 488
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,189
(*During the 2012-13 school year)



Setting The Fields For The Boys State Hockey Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/27/2013 10:57:42 AM

The fields for the boys state hockey tournament is being finalized this week in anticipation of the tournament next week at Xcel Energy Center. Here are the teams, sites and game times for each section …

WEDNESDAY

Class 1A Section 1: Rochester Lourdes 6, Mankato West 1

Class 1A Section 3: Marshall 3, Hutchinson 2 (OT)

Class 1A Section 7: Duluth Marshall 3, Duluth Denfeld 2

Class 2A Section 2: Edina 3, Burnsville 2

Class 2A Section 6: Wayzata 5, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 2

Class 2A Section 8: Moorhead 2, Brainerd 0

THURSDAY

Class 1A Section 2: Delano vs. Breck at Parade Ice Garden, 7:30 p.m.

Class 1A Section 6: St. Cloud Apollo vs. Little Falls at St. Cloud MAC, 7 p.m.

Class 1A Section 8: Warroad vs. East Grand Forks at East Grand Forks, 7 p.m.

Class 2A Section 1: Lakeville North vs. Lakeville South at Rochester Rec Center, 7 p.m.

Class 2A Section 3: Eastview vs. Eagan at State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 7 p.m.

Class 2A Section 7: Grand Rapids vs. Duluth East at AMSOIL Arena, 7:30 p.m.

FRIDAY

Class 1A Section 4: Totino-Grace vs. St. Thomas Academy at Aldrich Arena, 7:30 p.m.

Class 1A Section 5: St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Hermantown at Champlin Park, 7 p.m.

Class 2A Section 5: Maple Grove or Centennial vs. Champlin Park or Blaine (semifinals Wednesday) at State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 6 p.m.

Class 2A Section 4: White Bear Lake vs. Hill-Murray at State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 8:30 p.m.




Austin’s Fadness, Northfield's DuPay Win All-Around Titles
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2013 6:45:17 PM

One year after finishing third in the Class 1A gymnastics all-around competition, Sela Fadness of Austin took home the gold Saturday. And in 2A, Northfield's Bailey DuPay won the all-around after a 9.9 performance in floor exercise. Read Luke Sleeper's story by clicking here.



A Girls Hockey Tournament For The Survivors
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2013 6:34:23 PM

The big question early Saturday morning, after Minnetonka had held off Lakeville North in the longest game in girls or boys state hockey tournament history, was this: How in the heck will those two teams be able to play another game later the same day?

The answer? Very handily. North defeated Eden Prairie 3-2 in the Class 2A third-place game, which began at 4 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. And at 7 p.m., here came the Minnetonka Skippers, ready to face Hill-Murray and try to win their third consecutive 2A state championship.

The final score was Minnetonka 3, Hill-Murray 1 … and there were no more questions.

The fact that the Skippers and Panthers were on the ice past 1 a.m. Saturday was an issue, no doubt. But both teams returned with determination; after all, who wants to play a six-overtime game and then come out and skate like zombies the next time out?

After North’s victory in the third-place game, the Panthers were absolutely giddy. They performed a clearly well-practiced routine in their locker room. They stood in a circle, arm in arm, and danced while singing a take-off of the Brady Bunch theme song. It ended with, “That’s the waaaaay we became the Panther Bunch!”

There was no shortage of smiles for Minnetonka, either. Some of the players sat in ice baths before going to bed, they all did some walking Saturday morning and afternoon to keep their legs alive, and then they strapped on the pads and got to work.

“They’re an amazing team, an amazing program,” said Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser, who brought a young team to the tournament, a team that will be reckoned with in the future.

In the Skippers’ postgame news briefing, senior forward Amy Petersen – who scored the winning goal in the sixth overtime of the semifinal -- put an amazing spin on the marathon semifinal game, saying, “I was happy to get six more periods to play with this team.”

Minnetonka coach Eric Johnson offered a similar sentiment when he said, “The most sad part for me as a coach is I don’t get to go to practice with them on Monday.”

In the 1A title game, Blake became the team that survived, defeating Warroad 7-2. The Bears’ quest goes back to late December, when they lost to Warroad 12-3 at the Kaposia Classic in South St. Paul. Anyone expecting a repeat Saturday was very mistaken … for two reasons: 1) Blake career scoring leader Dani Cameranesi was away in December, playing with the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team; 2) That was a long time ago.

Warroad coach David Marvin, whose team won state titles in 2010 and 2011, was pretty frank in his postgame assessment. Here are some outtakes from his comments…

--“They took us out behind the woodshed.”

--“We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t score. That’s a bad combination.”

--“They played great and we played not good.”

--“It was like an avalanche.”

--“We’ve done that to teams but it hasn’t happened to us a lot.”

Marvin joined the Blake contingent in wondering why Bears goaltender Tori Johnson was not part of the Wells Fargo all-tournament team. When Tori was asked about that, all she talked about was the team and not her own accolades.

First-year Bears coach Shawn Reid smiled as he listened to his goalie, then said, “That is example No. 472 of why I love coaching this team. They are selfless.”

HERB BROOKS AWARD WINNERS

--Katie Dye of Hibbing/Chisholm (featured in John’s Journal on Thursday) was named the Class 1A winner of the award after the championship game.

--The award winner in Class 2A was Eden Prairie’s McKenzie Johnson.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

--Class 1A: Leah Coughlin, Hibbing/Chisholm; Emma Polusny, Mound Westonka; Ashley Corcoran, Emily Stegora, Nicolle Schammel, Red Wing; Lauren Wilcox, South St. Paul; Lisa Marvin, Lynn Astrup, Warroad; Karlie Lund, Carly Bullock, Dani Cameranesi, Ali Ahn, Blake.

--Class 2A: Megan Wolfe, Eagan; Charly Dahlquist, Eden Prairie; Cassie Alexander, Alexis Joyce, Christi Vetter, Lakeville North; Sarah Bobrowski, Samantha Boyer, Hill-Murray; Sidney Morin, Sydney Baldwin, Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman, Sydney Rossman, Minnetonka.

CLASS 1A CONSOLATION GAMES

--Red Wing 3, South St. Paul 2: The Haley sisters, Paige and Regan, scored the first two goals of the game for the Wingers and Emily Stegora got the third goal before Lauren Wilcox and Riley Viner scored for the Packers.

--Hibbing/Chisholm 2, Mound Westonka 1: Leah Coughlin and Mallorie Iozzo scored for the Bluejackets, with Grace Holmen getting Mound Westonka’s goal.

CLASS 2A CONSOLATION GAMES

--Lakeville North 3, Eden Prairie 2: Megan Skelly scored two goals for the victorious Panthers. Goaltender Cassie Alexander, who set a state tournament record with 59 stops in the semifinals, had 26 saves against Eden Prairie.

--Eagan 5, North Wright County 2: Megan Wolfe had a hat trick in the first period for the Wildcats and scored her fourth goal of the game in the third period as Eagan finished fifth.

--Total attendance at the girls state hockey tournament was 19,540.

--To see photos from Saturday's girls hockey and gymnastics state championships, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 12 for the tournament, 12 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 464
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,139
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



Six-Overtime Game Ends At 1:02 A.M.; Twitter Was On Fire
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/23/2013 9:37:03 AM

In case you actually went to bed at a decent hour Friday night, you missed a wild time at Xcel Energy Center. The Class 2A girls state hockey semifinal between Minnetonka and Lakeville North was nearly an all-nighter, with Minnetonka winning in the sixth overtime. Yes, the SIXTH overtime.

The score was 3-3 at the end of the second period and remained that way until Minnetonka senior forward Amy Petersen scored the game-winning goal in the sixth overtime.

Multiple state tournaments records were broken during this game…
--Longest game in girls hockey state tournament history (113:29).
--Most shots by one team in an overtime game (Minnetonka, 63).
--Most stops one game (Lakeville North, Cassie Alexander, 59).

During the marathon game, Twitter was a hotbed of late-night conversation. By the time the game finally ended, we had experienced quite an entertaining online evening/morning.

In chronological order, here is a summary of some of what I tweeted and re-tweeted…

--5:00 left in regulation, Minnetonka and Lakeville North tied 3-3 in 2A girls state hockey semifinals.

--OT at the X! Minnetonka and Lakeville North are tied 3-3 at the end of regulation in 2A girls state hockey semifinals.

--DOUBLE OT. Minnetonka and Lakeville North still 3-3 after 8 minutes of OT. We'll take a break, scrape the ice and go at it again.

--If one of these bands busts out Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" I may take a dive right out of the press box. #2ndOTunderway

-- RT@rstanzel: @MSHSLjohn hopefully they haven't last called for Diet Coke yet! … No more DC's tonight. Snack table has been cleared. #travesty

-- RT @rstanzel: How late can they go? … In the words of L. Richie ... all night long.

--FYI: This girls state semifinal hockey game began today at 8:48 ... p.m. I believe.

-- RT @njrowan @MSHSLjohn I'm more concerned about whether or not they have enough diet coke to last any more OT's … Per earlier tweet: #travesty

--Shots are Minnetonka 40, Lakeville North 27 as we begin what the scoreboard has designated as "Period 6."

--FOUR OVERTIMES! 3-3 deadlock between Minnetonka and Lakeville North after 3 OT. We'll mop the ice, put 17:00 up and keep rolling.

--1996 boys state: Apple Valley beat Duluth East boys 4-3 in 2A semifinals, 5 overtimes, ended at 1:39 a.m.

--I know it's late when I start seeing Tweets from Hawaii with state basketball tournament scores. And that's happening now.

--Good morning from Xcel Energy Center!... where Lakeville North and Minnetonka have been playing hockey for 84 minutes. 4th OT awaits!

--Both of these teams will play another full state tourney hockey game ... later today.

-- RT@amyeolson1: @mshsljohn What's the soda tally? I sense a record in the making … It's a bad scene. Supply has run out. #imhurtingman

-- RT @MSHSLjohn@amyeolson1 @mshsljohn I would imagine concessions have been closed for a long time … They'll open for the a.m. session soon

--If this thing goes too much longer I might be late on my paper route.#calmdowngrandpa

--33 years later, it'll be another miracle on ice if I make it home before sunrise.

--1 2 3 4 I declare a thumb war. #thatmightsettlethis

-- @rgrammond: @mshsljohn I boldly predict that the last shot of this epic contest will be the game winner.#outonalimbguy … Next goal is big RT

--The Wild's next home game is scheduled for Tuesday.#crossyourfingers

--Since the last goal was scored, I have shaved. Twice.

-- RT @BethMillea: @MSHSLjohn Miss you, hope you're home by breakfast. #kiddingbutnotreally … Hi. I remember you.

--Two things are official. 1) This is longest game in girls state tourney history. 2) I am unsure if I will ever see sunlight again.

--Minnetonka band now playing "California Girls" by Katy Perry. Or maybe Perry Como. #gettingpunchy

--It's now 1 a.m. in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, and we're still playin' hockey. What's cooler than that?

-- RT @savoypizza: We wish we were still open to get @mshsljohn a pizza and some caffeine. … You and me both. #bestpizza

--WE HAVE A WINNER. Minnetonka beats Lakeville North 4-3 in 5 overtimes. Game ends at 1:03 a.m.

(These next two Tweets are from Saturday morning…)

--@nelses1:@MSHSLjohn how did the diet coke count end up last night? ...They cut me off after regulation #hulksmash

--@Chanstormcenter: @MSHSLjohnLaying in bed laughing at tweets from girls' hockey last night. You up yet? ... I'm up! Did that really happen?



New Prague, Roseville Capture Team Gymnastics Titles
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/22/2013 5:38:24 PM

On an emotional day, the New Prague gymnastics team put on a strong performance and captured the Class 1A team title. In Class 2A, Roseville rallied to earn the championshop. Read Luke Sleeper's story by clicking here.



Winning Big While Honoring Those Who Are Gone
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/22/2013 5:22:20 PM

At two very different venues in the Twin Cities, Friday was a day to remember and honor two coaches who are no longer with us. Their friendship, their guidance and their ethics have left lasting impressions on their teams, who wore great big smiles on Friday while also shedding a few quiet tears.

At Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, the girls hockey team from Blake wore the initials BRS on their helmets and a patch that read “Brano” on their jerseys. It was their way of honoring Branislav Robert Stankovsky, 56, who was the Bears coach for 14 years before passing away last April from complications related to several strokes.

And at the Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus, a common sight was a t-shirt worn by folks from New Prague. On the back of the shirts were the words “New Prague Gymnastics/In memory of Matt Shetka.”

Shetka, 54, coached the Trojans to five state titles and taught in the school district for 33 years. He passed away in December of an apparent heart attack while shoveling snow. He also was the Trojans’ longtime girls golf coach, and his teams won two state championships in that sport.

The loss of Stankovsky and Shetka hit their schools hard. Blake senior forward Dani Cameranesi said she thinks about Brano every day.

“Every time I pick up my jersey and see that patch, I think about him,” she said after the Bears defeated Red Wing 6-3 in the Class 1A semifinals.

“His entire family has been here for us through the entire tournament and the entire season, in fact. It’s also a lot of credit to the coaching staff this year. They have big shoes to fill and they’re doing a great job. We as teammates want to do it for each other, also. “

Stankovsky had a record of 290-74-19 in his 14 years at Blake and his teams won state titles in 2003, 2007 and 2009. He was not a teacher; he owned a company called Creative Health Care Management. But hockey was certainly in his DNA; he was drafted by the Pittsburg Penguins in 1975.

The New Prague gymnastics team captured the Class 1A team title Friday with a narrow margin over second-place defending champion Melrose. Athletes, coaches and fans all shed tears during the competition, the team’s first without Shetka in more than three decades.

For Blake and New Prague, the loss of their coaches helped bring teammates even closer together and unite them in their athletic efforts.

A banner taped to the wall outside the South St. Paul hockey locker room at Xcel Energy Center expressed sentiments that seemed appropriate Friday. The sign read:
“Believe in your coaches. Believe in your team. Believe in your line mates. Believe in yourself.”

Believe in your coaches. Even when they’re no longer with you.

CLASS 2A HOCKEY SEMIFINALS

--Hill-Murray 2, Eden Prairie 1: The Eagles led after the opening period on a goal by Charly Dahlquist before Hill-Murray’s Kenzie Prater scored on a power play in the second period and Sarah Bobrowski scored the game-winner in the third period.

--Minnetonka 4, Lakeville North 3 (6 OT): The longest game in the history of the state tournament finally ended after 1 a.m. when Amy Petersen scored the game-winner. The teams combined for 115 shots on goal.

CLASS 1A HOCKEY SEMIFINALS

--Blake 6, Red Wing 3: Karlie Lund had a hat trick and Cameranesi had two goals and two assists as the Bears, who scored on two of three power plays, moved into the state championship game.

--Warroad 4, South St. Paul 1:Kayla Gardner had two goals and an assist, and Lisa Marvin had a goal and two assists to lead the Warriors. They will meet Blake in the championship game at noon Saturday.

CLASS 2A HOCKEY CONSOLATION

--Eagan 3, Forest Lake 2: The winning Wildcats put 52 shots on net and Megan Wolfe scored two goals. Rachel Wall added a goal and assist for Eagan.

--North Wright County 3, Irondale 0: Dani Sibley had a goal and assist for North Wright County, which will meet Eagan in the fifth-place game at noon Saturday at Ridder Arena.

SATURDAY’S HOCKEY SCHEDULE

9 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center: Red Wing vs. South St. Paul in 1A third-place game.

10 a.m. at Ridder Arena: Mound Westonka vs. Hibbing/Chisholm in 1A fifth-place game

Noon at Xcel Energy Center: Blake vs. Warroad in 1A championship game

Noon at Ridder Arena: Eagan vs. North Wright County in 2A fifth-place game

4 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center: Eden Prairie vs. Lakeville North in 2A third-place game

7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center: Hill-Murray vs. Minnetonka in 2A championship game

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 9 for the tournament, 9 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 464
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,089
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



The Toughest Bluejacket: ‘I’d Do Anything To Play’
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/21/2013 6:17:28 PM

Katie Dye isn’t the biggest hockey player in Minnesota. She’s not the strongest or the fastest, either. But she just may be the toughest.

The senior captain is in her third year as the first-line center for the Hibbing/Chisholm Bluejackets, and she is the team’s second-leading scorer. The Bluejackets lost to South St. Paul 3-0 in Wednesday evening’s Class 1A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center, then beat New Ulm 2-1 in Thursday’s consolation bracket at Ridder Arena.

The big game for Katie, however, the one that people will be talking about for a long time, came last week in the Section 7 championship. The Bluejackets defeated Proctor/Hermantown 4-2 in Cloquet, and the fact that Katie was even in the arena – and not the hospital -- is astounding.

At 6 o'clock that morning, she knew it was going to be a bad day.

“I was just puking and puking,” she told me. “I went to school for a little bit, and my mom took me to the hospital around noon. I was just drained really bad and nauseous like crazy.”

She couldn’t keep anything down – not even water – so she began receiving intravenous fluids. After three IV bags had been emptied, she knew what she needed to do.

“I wanted to play, I’d do anything to play,” she said. “I perked up a little but I was still not 100 percent by any means. I went to the rink and just tried to get my adrenaline going and take over. … We had been looking forward to this game since last season when we lost in the (Section 7) semifinals. We’ve been working hard for this.”

In order to avoid sharing the flu with her teammates, Katie stayed in a room that adjoined the team locker room before the game and between periods. A door was cracked so she could hear the coaches’ instructions while she wrapped herself in blankets and fought off the chills. A bucket was kept on the bench in case Katie had to, well, you know.

Here’s the most amazing thing of all: she never missed a shift.

“It was just mind over matter,” said Bluejackets coach Pete Hyduke. “She’s a tough, tough kid. She had played sick, but not this sick. She’s played through injuries over the years. She was raised by parents who said, ‘This is your job, you’re part of this team.’ ”

That’s the key factor in this equation: The Team.

“I would have done anything to play in that game,” Katie said.” I just wanted to be there for my team.”

THURSDAY’S CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS

--Eden Prairie 6, Forest Lake 0: The second-seeded Eagles scored twice in each period in advancing to the semifinals. Angie Heppelmann and Josie Olson each had two goals for Eden Prairie.

--Hill-Murray 6, Eagan 2: Pioneers freshman Laura Anderson had a goal and two assists, and eight other players had points. Hill-Murray and Eden Prairie will meet in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Xcel Energy Center.

--Minnetonka 4, Irondale 0: The top-seeded Skippers got out to a strong start in their quest for a third consecutive state title. They led 3-0 after the first period and maintained control the rest of the way.

--Lakeville North 5, North Wright County 4 (overtime): Christi Vetter scored the winning goal on a power play in overtime. Lakeville North will face Minnetonka in Friday night’s second semifinal game.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Both of these come from the Irondale Knights after their loss to Minnetonka…

--Coach Tom Rodefeld, asked about preparing to play the talented Skippers: “We knew we couldn’t make even the slightest mistake.”

--Sophomore goaltender Anna Pate, asked if playing in the big arena matched her dreams: “It was better. It was amazing.”

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Eagan sophomore Rachel Wall had to make a quick change before the Wildcats faced Hill-Murray. After warming up, the Wildcats left their helmets in the bench area; Rachel set hers on the boards but the helmet fell to the ice just as the Zamboni passed by. The machinery crushed her headgear and, after a little shuffling with her teammates and the student managers (who are required to wear helmets on the bench), as well as some help from the Bauer equipment representatives who are at the tournament, Rachel had a replacement. It must have been a good one, too, because she scored Eagan’s first goal.

--1A consolation bracket: Mound Westonka defeated Alexandria 3-2 in overtime on a power-play goal by Jessica Nkhata. Hibbing/Chisholm beat New Ulm. Mound Westonka and Hibbing/Chisholm will play in the fifth-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 6 for the tournament, 6 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 464
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,039
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



A Winter To Remember: From Mount Kilimanjaro to Xcel Energy Center
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/21/2013 1:56:41 PM

One of the officials working at the girls state hockey tournament took a break from the hockey season to take the trip of a lifetime, mixing charity work, mountain climbing and a safari. Read about it by clicking here.



Hat Trick And More: Wingers' Schammel Comes Out Scoring
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/20/2013 5:14:53 PM

No one should have been surprised when Red Wing’s Nicole Schammel set off the first fireworks show of the girls state hockey tournament. Even if, as she said afterwards, “I didn’t really feel that comfortable throughout the game.”

The junior with the hands of a magician scored four goals in the Wingers’ 6-2 victory over Alexandria in Wednesday’s Class 1A quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. Which takes us back to earlier this week, when a story about Schammel by John’s Journal correspondent Brian Jerzak included these words from Wingers coach Scott Haley: “She is one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the state. She has a real drive and hunger to score goals. She has a unique skill set. She is a very accurate shooter, is very puck savvy and is very good with her body positioning.”

We agree. Schammel (pictured) scored three times in the first period alone, which had me digging into the state tournament record book. Here’s what I found: 1) The record for goals in a period is 4 (Natalie Darwitz, Eagan, 2000); 2) The record for goals in a game is 6 (Krissy Wendell, Park Center, 1999). In other words, Schammel was closing in on some pretty good company.

Asked about Schammel’s ability to avoid defenders and make the puck avoid goaltenders, Haley said, “I see it all the time. We just giggle.”

Schammel, who has committed to Division I Minnesota State Mankato, has scored a state-leading 73 goals in 28 games this season. We saw her talents a year ago, when her fourth goal of the game (in overtime) lifted Red Wing past Hutchinson 6-5 in the state quarterfinals. She scored three goals in the final seven-plus minutes of regulation in that game as the Wingers came back from a 5-3 deficit.

Red Wing also played at state in 2009, 2011 and 2012, finishing third, fifth and fourth. They are not flying under anyone’s radar this season, however.

“We’ve told the girls we’re still underdogs,” Haley said after the quarterfinals. “I guess we just ruined it.”

Red Wing has outscored its opponents 69-10 in the first period this season. That kind of fast start will be important when the second-seeded Wingers meet third-seeded Blake in Friday’s semifinals. The Bears defeated Mound Westonka 5-2 in the second quarterfinal, with Alex Lovaas scoring two goals.

Blake and Red Wing met early this season, with the Bears winning 4-2 on Dec. 15.

“They are very offensively high-powered and pretty scary,” said Blake coach Shawn Reid. "It’s going to be back and forth, it’s probably going to be a fast game; we’re going to have to keep in check their high-flying offensive players.”

WARROAD 9, NEW ULM 0
Lisa Marvin had four goals and one assist as the Warriors advanced to the semifinals. Nine players were credited with points for Warroad, which led 2-0 late in the second period before scoring four times in the last four minutes to lead 6-0 going into the third period.

SOUTH ST. PAUL 3, HIBBING CHISHOLM 0
A scoreless tie was broken when the Packers’ Brigette Miller scored early in the third period. Riley Viner and Abby Palmquist also scored for the Packers, who will meet Warroad in Friday’s semifinals/

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--The losers of the quarterfinals play consolation-bracket games at Ridder Arena, home of the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team. Alexandria and Mound Westonka will face off there at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“The one thing about losing the first day is you go over and play in the second-best arena you’ve ever played in,” said Alexandria coach Andy Shriver. “Under the circumstances, it’s always a little disappointing and it’s in the morning and it’s a little quieter over there. We’ve already addressed that. … as we stepped off the ice they were already talking about tomorrow and talking about character.”

--The first experience of playing at Xcel Energy Center is always special, and it also can be intimidating.

Mound Westonka coach Chris Erickson said, “It was overwhelming for us to be on the bench so I can’t imagine what it was like to be an eighth-grader or a sophomore. It was overwhelming. I think once you get that first shift out of the way everybody sort of gets back to normal."

White Hawks sophomore Abby Brustad, who scored the first state tournament goal in school history Wednesday, said, “It’s really intimidating the first time, when you look and you see the stands and everything. But once you get playing it’s just like a normal rink, a normal game.”

--To see a photo gallery (and video) from the tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 3 for the tournament, 3 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 456
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,989
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



Red Wing's Schammel: "One Of The Most Dynamic Scorers In The State"
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/18/2013 11:16:51 AM

One of the players to watch at this week's girls state hockey tournament is Red Wing junior Nicole Schammel. Read Brian Jerzak's story about the talented multi-sport athlete by clicking here.



Cool, Calm and Collected: Eastview Girls Basketball Wins Big
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/16/2013 6:49:22 PM

In one of the biggest games of the girls basketball regular season, third-ranked Eastview defeated No. 1 Bloomington Kennedy on Friday night. Read Brian Jerzak's story by clicking here.



Great Atmosphere At State Dance Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/15/2013 10:36:13 PM

Target Center in downtown Minneapolis is the home of Minnesota high school dance at this time of year. And over the weekend, the crowds were large and exuberant.

On Friday the Jazz division was contested, with Yellow Medicine East (Class 1A), Chaska (2A) and Maple Grove (3A) being crowned state champions.

The High Kick competition was held Saturday, with Cannon Falls (1A), Chaska (2A) and Eastview (3A) taking home state championships.

Congratulations to to all the teams!



Orono Skier Woody Hust: An Athlete Who Competes With Real Heart
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/13/2013 9:31:04 PM

BIWABIK -- Woody Hust came within a whisker of taking home a medal Wednesday at the boys state Alpine ski championships at Giants Ridge ski resort. He finished 11th in the individual competition, less than two-tenths of a second behind the 10th-place skier … and medals go to the top 10.

“I got 11th and my goal coming into the race was to get top 15, which I did,” said the senior from Orono High School, who placed 39th at state last year and 26th the previous two years. “I’m pretty happy.”

Happy indeed. The fact that Woody is a high-level athlete is reason enough for happiness. For a young man who was born with a congenital heart defect, every day is a great day.

Woody underwent his first open-heart surgery four hours after being born. He had another surgery when he was in kindergarten, another in the summer of 2010 and a fourth surgery in the summer of 2011. His mother, Heidi Hust, said Woody will probably have another surgery four years from now.

But there he was Wednesday, racing down Giants Ridge’s Innsbruck and Helsinki runs, darting back and forth around the gates and ending his high school skiing career by sending up a shower of snow as he came to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

“I felt good,” he said after his second and final run.

That hasn’t always been the case. Two years ago, Woody qualified for state despite skiing with pneumonia at the section championships; the pneumonia was a precursor to a microbacterial infection. He’s being treated for endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart) and he’s on long-term medications.

As his mom said, “He’s still pretty sick.” But being able to compete and be part of a team, alongside your buddies …well, that’s a pretty healthy feeling.

“There are three boys on the team that have been skiing together since ninth grade,” Heidi said. “They’ve been to state as a team three times. They are so close, they ski a lot together, train together and hang out and have a lot of fun.”

Woody and his Orono teammates didn’t go home empty-handed. The Spartans finished third in the team competition behind champion Blake and runner-up Stillwater. Behind Hust’s 11th-place finish, the Spartans’ Bradford Morrison was 13th, Keller Hickok was 22nd, Jeremy Mitchell was 63rd, Sam Jones was 70th and Mac Bendickson did not finish in the field of 88 boys skiers.

On the girls side, Woody’s little sister Rosie, an eighth-grader, placed third overall.

“Skiing for the team is really important,” Woody said. “Skiing is normally an individual sport, and what we do in high school is really cool because we have the ability to make it a team sport. Normally you’re competing against everybody else, but here you have to come together as a team and make sure everybody does their job.”

His heart condition doesn’t stop him from skiing – or playing varsity tennis at Orono – but Woody admits that it does affect his stamina.

“(Stamina) is not my thing,” he said with a smile. “Luckily here in Minnesota (the hills) are short enough. I can do the 40-second sprint.”

His mother said, “If he falls on a ski hill and has to hike, he’ll come down and pass out at the finish line because his heart starts beating so fast. He’s in great shape, he’s quick on his feet, he’s a real athlete. But he cannot run. If you ask him to run a half-mile, he shouldn’t do it because he’ll feel terrible. So he trains differently than other people but he’s very strong.”

Woody hopes he provides some measure of inspiration, especially for kids who are dealing with health issues.

“I feel like I do show people that you have to live every day and have fun,” he said. “I always have fun no matter what’s happening. I go to a camp for kids with congenital heart disease and it’s really an eye-opener because you’ve got these kids who are almost emaciated, and I’m skiing. It just makes me feel so lucky. It’s awesome.”

It sure is.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 447
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,767
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



One Year Later, Lessons Learned From A Tragedy And A State Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/11/2013 2:50:48 PM

A crew from the NBC Sports Network was at a Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys hockey game last week, and everything was business as usual. A camera operator, sound technician and producer followed one former Red Knights player everywhere he went, preparing a segment that will air on the national network. Nobody batted an eye, because that sort of attention has become commonplace for the Red Knights.

The ex-player, of course, is Jack Jablonski. Everyone knows about Jack’s spinal injury last season, which is the reason he now gets around in a motorized wheelchair. Jack is a junior at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the school in St. Louis Park that produced last season’s state championship boys hockey team.

We know about Jack’s injury. We also remember the star-studded performance of the Red Knights’ Grant Besse in the Class 2A championship game at Xcel Energy Center, when he did all the scoring in a 5-1 victory over Hill-Murray. We remember those things. But what has changed? What kind of impact have Jack’s injury and the state title had on the current team and others at the school?

“It’s tough, because we had so many ups and downs last season,” said Besse, now a senior. “When you think of one it kind of brings up the other.”

Indeed, Jablonski’s spinal injury, Besse’s big game and the Red Knights’ championship will forever be intertwined in history. But there are also lessons in these things.

“People are very appreciative of what they have,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s athletic director Jerry Pettinger said, reflecting on the last year. “People are very thankful for all the good opportunities and things they have. It’s well appreciated. I think people appreciate their classmates, their friends, teachers, coaches and a caring faculty.”

Jablonski’s title this season is Student Assistant Coach. Red Knights head coach Ken Pauly asked Jack to concentrate on the team’s power play, and that’s what the young coach does during every game. He watches the power play and makes notes that will be used during practices and meetings.

“I work a lot with the power play and certain roles with the forwards, on things we can do to improve,” Jablonski said. “I go to practice one or two days a week and all the games, and I work on the power play strategies; what they do, what we do.

“I’d rather be playing but it’s the next best thing. It’s all I can ask for. I’m definitely happy that I’m working with the team as much as possible.”

Pauly admits that he is still processing the experiences of last season, but he knows that what happened to Jack is something that will have far-reaching implications.

“You tell guys, ‘This is fun, this is great, we love the competition, but there is life beyond all of this,’ ” Pauly said. “Clearly Jack’s thing is tragic. One thing that we’re watching now is him basically demonstrating ‘You know what? There’s life beyond this, too.’ As I process it, I’m hoping it gives everyone perspective. There are things you do with yourself and with your life that don’t involve skating around on a rink. And we all know that, but do we really know it?

“I think Jack’s a living embodiment of it, and of course he’s a dramatic example of courage and keeping an incredible attitude. And his story hasn’t been completely told; he’s a young man.”

Jack still has a locker in the team room at the St. Louis Park Rec Center, although the Red Knights no longer have stickers with his number 13 on their helmets or similar patches on their uniforms, as they did after his injury last season. It’s all part of the process of moving on with life as well as hockey.

Before the season began, Pauly talked with the team about the challenges that this season would present.

“Last year we felt that there were two tracks; there was the hockey track and there was the Jabby track. And we still have that,” Pauly said. “That’s something we talked to the captains about right away: ‘We’re defending state champs and you guys think you’re prepared for that but you’re not. You never are, you cannot be.’ That’s just the way it is. The second challenge was how do we continue to embrace Jack as the teammate that he is and treat it as something that’s authentic.

“The role that he has on the team this year, as a student assistant coach, is an authentic thing. That’s not a made-up role. He’s not a mascot, he’s doing real things. He breaks down tape, he’s looking for specific things, and he’s got a coach’s eye. He has a great mind for the game and he’ll continue to get better at that. … He gets out his iPad and sits down with some of the guys on the power play and they go to work.”

Besse said of Jablonski, “He sees all the little nuances of the game that we don’t see on the ice. He’s got an eye for the game and it’s really starting to show.”

Ask Pauly or Besse about last year’s state championship game and they are likely to smile and shake their head in disbelief all these months later. It was an unbelievable way to end a season that was memorable for reasons that go far beyond hockey.

“No matter what happens it will probably always be the top moment in my hockey career,” said Besse, who will play college hockey at Wisconsin. “You hear these NHL stars saying that winning a high school state championship was the best thing that ever happened to them. And with everything we went though with Jack, that just creates a memory you’ll never forget. And you wouldn’t want to forget. Coming together as a team, getting closer to Jack through all of it, it was a good experience but it’s still hard to think about because of everything that happened.”

Pauly agreed that it will be very hard for Besse to match what he did against Hill-Murray 11 months ago. And that’s just fine.

“What stands out to me,” Pauly said, “is that coaches dream and players make coaches’ dreams come true. The fact is that championships and great moments belong to great kids. That’s a great example of a player who has incredible abilities basically keeping that date with destiny, keeping that appointment. When those things come together it’s magical.

“Clearly there have a been a lot of great players who have come through that tournament, and that was Grant’s moment. He’ll have other moments coming down the pike, but I don’t know if he’ll ever have one like that. As I reflect on that, it was the perfect combination of ‘Here’s the moment, and the player who has that ability.’ Given everything that was swirling around that, the emotion, at the end of the day you need to have some guy step up and say, ‘I’m taking charge.’ And that’s what he did. You can’t coach that.”

The Red Knights are nearing the end of the regular season; with two games remaining they are 18-5 and ranked No.2 behind Hill-Murray in Class 2A. The memories of last season remain, and the lessons continue to be learned.

“It’s still here but in a different way,” Pauly said. “Last year there was an incredible tragedy, and now you’re in a reactive, moving-on mode. Now we’re trying to make it part of our lives. Jack’s still a student at BSM, he’s part of our program, he’ll be with us for the next two years. He’s part of this forever.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 431
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,282
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



Coming Soon: Student Media Days With The Timberwolves, Wild
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/7/2013 2:49:04 PM

It’s an exciting time for the MSHSL Student Media program, with upcoming outings to a Minnesota Timberwolves game and a Minnesota Wild game.

Thanks to the wonderful people behind the professional franchises, high school students who are members of the Student Media program will attend the games as accredited media members, watch the games from media seats and get a true behind-the-scenes look at these events.

Selected students will be at Target Center on Sunday, Feb. 24, when the Timberwolves host the Golden State Warriors at 2 p.m. One week later, on Sunday, March 3, selected students will be at Xcel Energy Center for a 7 p.m. game between the Wild and the Edmonton Oilers.

For students to be considered for these games, they need to do two things…

1) Be actively posting stories about the activities at their school on their school's page on mshsl.org

2) Send an email to MSHSL media specialist John Millea to let him know you want to be considered. The email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

For more information on the Student Media program, scroll down to the right side of the MSHSL website and click on the Student Media link.



Osseo Wins Round Two vs. Park Center, Thoughts Turn To The Rematch
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/5/2013 11:27:22 PM

If the clean-up routine after Osseo and Park Center met in a big boys basketball game Tuesday night was anything like what took place on the court, every player took time to clean out the dirt from under his fingernails. It was that kind of game: scratch, claw, dive after loose balls, fight for possessions and do everything humanly possible to win.

This round went to the defending state champion Osseo Orioles, who recorded a 66-56 victory inside their own spacious gym. The Orioles are ranked No. 4 in Class 4A and Park Center came in carrying the No. 1 ranking. The pollsters will sort everything out again this week, but as soon as the final horn blew Tuesday, attention turned to what everyone assumes will be a rematch in the Section 5 championship game.

The Pirates (17-2, 13-1) had won round one with a 73-62 victory over Osseo at Park Center on Dec. 18. The two teams are now tied for first place in the Northwest Suburban Conference, but the Orioles (17-2, 13-1) won this lastest battle between schools that are both in District 279.

“Park Center is a district rival, they’re the No. 1 team in the state,” said Osseo coach Tim Theisen after moving his career victory total to 250. “It means a lot.”

The key for Osseo was defense. Park Center came in averaging nearly 80 points a game, which is tops in the state. The Pirates were handicapped by the absence of Devin Buckley, their second-leading scorer who sat out with a back injury. Buckley’s loss put a little extra pressure on Park Center’s Quinton Hooker, who averages 25 points.

The defensive assignment on Hooker went to Osseo’s Bridgeport Tussler, a rough-and-tumble guard who roughed and tumbled his way to being named Minnesota’s Mr. Football last fall. Hooker was held to 14 points, with Treyton Daniels getting 19 for the Pirates. Tussler led Osseo with 22 and 6-foot-9 center Ian Theisen (no relation to the coach) had 21.

“Bridge Tussler had a championship performance once again,” Tim Theisen said. “He’s one of the toughest kids in the state, both football and basketball. He is hands down one of the better defensive players around. It was no easy task; Quinton Hooker is one of the best players in the state and Bridge Tussler did a fantastic job guarding him tonight.”

There were almost as many fouls and free throws as spectators (or so it seemed), and Osseo got the job done at the line. The Orioles made 23 of 31 free throws and Park Center hit 14 of 27.

Osseo never trailed, but the Orioles had to work darn hard to keep the Pirates from taking control of the game. Osseo led 33-24 at halftime, and by then the Orioles’ defensive effort in choking off three-point attemps and clogging the lane had set a definite tone. The margin swayed some early in the second half and Park Center carved Osseo’s lead down to two points when Daniels soared to the boards, grabbed a missed shot and put it in the hoop before returning to earth.

That made the score Osseo 46, Park Center 44 with 8:15 remaining. Tussler made two foul shots, the Pirated missed on their end and Ian Theisen powered through traffic to shoot from underneath the hoop. As the shot went in and the officials called a foul, the big junior let out a roar that was drowned out by the roar of the home fans. He hit the freebie to make it 51-44 and all but secure the win.

“It was a gutty win, and that’s what we had to pride ourselves on this whole past week in preparing for this game,” coach Theisen said. “We knew Park Center was a team that loved to drive to the basket, they love to shoot threes. I thought we did a good job of taking away the three-point shot tonight; we fouled a lot at times, as well, but we took away the three. And that’s one of their main strengths.”

The rematch, if both teams should reach the Section 5 title game, will be held March 15 at Rogers High School.

“We will see them again and we look forward to it,” Tim Theisen said. “We want to play the best teams and we want to make sure that we’re ready for them again. And I think we are.”

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 425
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,198
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



The First Family of Simley High School Wrestling
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/4/2013 11:09:28 PM

As coaches and wrestlers, members of the Short family at Simley High School form one of the most influential wrestling families in Minnesota. Read Brian Jerzak's story by clicking here.



700 And Counting For Wabasso/Red Rock Central’s Hindt
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/1/2013 12:57:19 PM

WABASSO – Except for one big banner, the walls inside the wrestling room at Wabasso High School are pretty bare. But that banner speaks volumes about a program and the only coach the team has ever had.

The banner commemorates the 2003-04 Wabasso team, which was the state runner-up in Class 1A. In advancing to that state championship match, the Rabbits recorded the 500th victory in school history. It also was the 500th career victory for coach Gary Hindt, but his name is nowhere to be seen on the banner. And that’s exactly how he wants it.

“I just guide them,” Hindt said. “I didn’t do that. I helped, I had a hand in it.”

Since that 2004 state tournament, he’s had a hand in a couple hundred more victories. The 67-year-old Hindt, who was hired in Wabasso right out of college in 1968 and started the wrestling program, now has 702 career wins, which ranks third all-time in Minnesota and No. 1 among active coaches.

In 45 years of coaching he has had only two losing seasons. Victory No. 700 came Jan. 19 when the Wabasso/Red Rock Central Bobcats (the schools have had a cooperative wrestling team for four years) defeated Luverne. The only Minnesota wrestling coaches with more victories than Hindt are former Owatonna coach Scot Davis with 984 and former Goodhue coach Bill Sutter with 760.

No. 702 for Hindt and Wabasso came Thursday night when the Bobcats defeated visiting Minneota 40-21. Wabasso/Red Rock Central is ranked No. 4 in Class 1A by The Guillotine and Minneota is No. 8.

Before the varsity match began, Hindt was honored with a plaque commemorating his 700th victory and a framed team photo that was autographed by this year’s wrestlers. He made no speech, and school officials knew better than to ask him to make a speech. That’s because it’s never been about him.

He said to me, “You want to know the truth? The last wrestling match that I won by myself was in 1963.”

That was when Hindt was a high school senior in Fulda, another southwest Minnesota town. He played basketball through his sophomore year, but joined Fulda’s new wrestling team as a junior.

“I thought it sure beats getting slivers on my butt, being about the 10th guy on the basketball team,” he said. “I knew nothing about wrestling. I wasn’t sold on it because I didn’t know anything except grab on and hang on.”

He wasn’t sure he would wrestle as a senior, but then he was voted a team captain. “I thought I better stay with it,” he said. “I’m not a quitter.”

It’s safe to say, however, that he didn’t plan to be the Wabasso wrestling coach for nearly half a century. When he was hired to teach, he agreed to take over the school’s new wrestling program with the expectation that he would hand the reins to someone else after a few years. All these years later, he has no plans to retire.

He underwent a knee replacement after the 2005-06 season, but the spark is still there when he enters the wrestling room.

“I can get down, but it’s hard to get back up,” he said. “That’s why we’ve got younger assistant coaches. I still enjoy it. I don’t want to see the program go to pot. I have seen some programs that were very successful get into wrong situations and have no consistency.”

Hindt also coached football at Wabasso for many years but gave that up when his daughter Heather was playing college volleyball at Southwest State in Marshall and his daughter Erika was in high school. (“I got to watch my girls grow up,” he said.) Hindt and his wife Jenni have been married for 43 years.

His co-head coach is Brett Bartholomaus, who teaches at Red Rock Central. The wrestling team splits its practices and meets between Wabasso and Red Rock Central, which is 12 miles away in Lamberton.

“He’s the papa bear,” said Bartholomaus. “If they need a wake-up call he’ll give it to them, and then he’ll explain why.”

Hindt is a coach who will bark at a wrestler, then smile and put his arm around the kid’s shoulder.

“If he gets mad, he’ll say what he has to say and then he’ll sit back down in his chair and he’ll pop a smile right back on,” said senior captain Tanner Rohlik. “He’s an all-around great guy.”

Another senior captain, Blake Altermatt, said, “If you do something wrong, he’ll make you do it again to make sure you do it right and don’t get into any bad habits.”

Before the Bobcats took the mat against Minneota, Hindt talked to the team about always being on the attack. He offered these words of wisdom: “Your feet are made to move forward. If God wanted you to move backwards he would have put toes where your heels are.”

Hindt, who was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994 and is retired from teaching physical education, health and social studies, has coached three teams to state tournaments (the most recent in 2011). Five Wabasso individuals have won state titles: Dan Zimmer in 1976, Johnny Frank in 2004, Cory Schunk in 2004 and A.J. Jenniges and Brandan Schunk in 2005.

“I’ve been pretty blessed to have some kids who have bought in,” Hindt said.

Before and after Thursday’s match, Hindt was approached by many former wrestlers and other friends who offered congratulations on his milestone. After the night’s wrestling had been completed, he joined 42 alumni wrestlers who were on hand and posed for a photo. Some of them are now old-timers and some of them are still fresh-faced. Some of them are fathers and sons who both wrestled for Hindt.

The coach, the link between them all, sat in their midst and wore a big smile.

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 423
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,118
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn



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