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Long Days, Hard Work, Another State Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/25/2017 10:03:30 PM

After Minneapolis North won its second consecutive Class 1A boys basketball state championship on Saturday, coach Larry McKenzie talked about the condition of the school several years ago as well as the basketball program when he was hired four years ago.

Back in 2010, district administrators proposed closing North due to declining enrollment and other factors. Community members fought to keep the school alive and the efforts were successful.

Before McKenzie took over as coach, the Polars were struggling much as their school had struggled. The team was 3-22 in the 2011-12 season and 6-15 in 2012-13. McKenzie’s first season in 2013-14 resulted in a 19-11 record and the Polars were on track.

The changes extended beyond the basketball court. There were 6 a.m. practices and mandatory study halls on a regular basis.

“Some days these guys would be at school from 6 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock at night,” McKenzie said after the Polars defeated North Woods 96-49 at Target Center.

The Polars finished this season with a record of 32-2, losing to Class 4A teams Apple Valley and Hopkins. North defeated Minnehaha Academy, which beat Crosby-Ironton in Saturday’s Class 2A title game. Apple Valley won the 4A state title later Saturday.

North, whose enrollment has risen from 139 in 2011-12 to 199 this year, will move up to Class 2A beginning next season.

“This team will forever ever be so special for me,” McKenzie said. “I’ve had lots more talented individuals but I don’t think I’ve had a better team. … these are the guys who believed in me four years ago when I took the job.”

The North Woods Grizzlies had a dream season, going 31-2 and playing at Williams Arena and Target Center at state. The word “amazing” was repeated after Saturday’s game.

“It’s been amazing,” said sophomore Cade Goggleye. “We weren’t even supposed to be here.”

Coach Will Kleppe said, “It’s been amazing for our community, our school and of course for our program.”

George Bibeau, a 6-foot-4 center, was the only senior on the North Woods team so we may see more of the Grizzlies in the future.

Media Service Awards

Two members of the media who have been longtime supporters of high school activities were honored at halftime of the 3A championship game with the MSHSL Media Service Award. Congratulations to longtime Fergus Falls radio personality Craig Olson and Brainerd Dispatch sports editor Mike Bialka (pictured).

The young and the experienced

Minnehaha Academy won the Class 2A state title with a 47-36 win over Crosby-Ironton. It was a contrast in ages, with Minnehaha led in scoring by two ninth-graders and the Rangers led by two seniors.

Jalen Suggs scored 19 points and Terry Lockett had 12 for the Redhawks. Noah Gindorff (19) and Jack Silgen (10) led Crosby-Ironton.

Rangers coach Dave Galovich was asked about facing Suggs, who at 6-foot-3 is a highly recruited quarterback as well as basketball player.

“He’s very talented,” Galovich said. “When you play them the first time you don’t realize how quick he is and the length he has. The adjustment to his game just doesn’t happen in a couple possessions. He can do some things that no one else we have played this year can do. Very good player, outstanding.”

Galovich said he and his team had no regrets after finishing second.

“From the beginning I said, ‘Put forth the effort, we’ll take the results.’ And they did not disappoint. I thought their effort tonight was outstanding. We came up a little bit short. When that happens, sometimes you’ve got to look at your opponent and tip your hat to them.”

Another milestone for DeLaSalle

DeLaSalle won its sixth consecutive Class 3A state title with a 72-44 victory over Austin. Last year the Islanders became the first team to win five championships in a row, and Saturday’s win made them the first to win six straight.

Apple Valley wins 4A title

In a rematch from the 2015 championship game, Apple Valley held off Champlin Park 60-54 to win the big-school title. Two years ago, Apple Valley defeated the Rebels 64-61 in the title game. That was Champlin Park’s only defeat of that season, as was Saturday’s loss.

Apple Valley junior guard Tre Jones finished the season in style, with 24 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. Apple Valley had a 45-25 edge in rebounds.

The total attendance for Saturday’s Class 3A/4A session was 13,893.

Wells-Fargo All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A/
Ethan Brouwer, Central Minnesota Christian; Rob McClain Jr., Red Lake; Isaac Fink, Springfield; Jacob McNamara, Goodhue; Cade Goggleye, Tate Olson, North Woods; Tayler Johnson, Isaac Johnson, JaQuan Sanders-Smith, ODell Wilson IV, Minneapolis North.

Class 2A/ Marc Kjos, Lake City; Oakley Baker, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva; Michael Schaefer, St. Cloud Cathedral; Jarod Wilken, Annandale; Trey Jacobs, Noah Gindorff, Jack Silgen, Crosby-Ironton; Jalen Suggs, JaVonni Bickham, Terry Lockett, Minnehaha Academy.

Class 3A/ Sam Vascellaro, St. Thomas Academy; Matthew Monke, Fergus Falls; Wendell Matthews, Columbia Heights; Mitchell Sueker, Marshall; Both Gach, Oman Oman, Duoth Gach, Austin; Tyrell Terry, Gabe Kalscheur, Goanar Mar, DeLaSalle.

Class 4A/ Nathan Reuvers, Lakeville North; Dan Oturu, Cretin-Derham Hall; Brad Davison, Maple Grove; Gavin Baumgartner, Wayzata; Tre Jones, Mohamed Kone, Luke Martens, Apple Valley; McKinley Wright IV, Theo John, Marcus Hill, Champlin Park.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 559
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,407
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



It’s No Miracle: North Woods Wins Again
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/24/2017 8:27:39 PM

Don’t call the boys basketball team from North Woods a Cinderalla outfit. Don’t call them the miracle five. Call them the Grizzlies because they know how to play some grizzly-style basketball down to the wire.

If you own a television and happened to watch ESPN this week, you saw what happened at the end of the Grizzlies’ 54-51 quarterfinal victory Thursday over Central Minnesota Christian at Williams Arena. North Woods sophomore Cade Goggleye heaved a half-court shot at the buzzer to win the game.

The drama wasn’t quite as intense during Friday’s quarterfinals at Target Center. Goggleye again scored the winning points, this time on two free throws with four seconds left as the unseeded Grizzlies (31-1) beat second-seeded Goodhue 51-49.

Gabe, a man of few words, said after the game, “I was thinking either we go to the state championship or we go to the third-place game.”

The Grizzlies, first-timers at the state tournament, found themselves in a whirlwind of attention following Thursday’s game. That made it even more improbable that they would knock off once-beaten Goodhue, which was the state runner-up last year and seeded second this year. But momentum matters.

“I think any time you have a team that’s going to their first state tournament and only has one loss on the year, it’s no slouch,” said Goodhue coach Matt Halverson. “You get a buzzer beater and your team’s feeling pretty good about themselves. This whole basketball deal is a lot about momentum and they had momentum coming into the game, they had momentum during the game.”

North Woods coach Will Kleppe said, “There were certainly a lot of emotions that went with yesterday’s game and a lot of attention afterwards. Not too often do you turn on basically any TV station and see that play replayed again and again. The boys handled it really well.

“We went back to the hotel and got something to eat and there was talk of everything but basketball. Then we started getting phone messages about being on ESPN. It was pretty exciting. We went to shoot around this morning to prepare for today’s game and there was very little talk about it. They were very focused.”

A big cheer for Alex

Memories are made at state tournaments, and Springfield fans will long smile about something that happened late in the Tigers’ 100-56 loss to Minneapolis North in the Class 1A semifinals.

The game was out of hand, it was being played under running time and the benches had been emptied. The score was 98-53 with less than two minutes to go when Springfield senior Alex Quesenberry found himself behind the three-point line with the ball in his hands. Alex had seen action in 14 of the Tigers’ 29 games prior to the state tournament. He had scored 19 points on the year, averaging 1.36 points per game. And he fired away.

The ball went through the hoop and the crowd went wild. The Springfield fans whooped and hollered and the players and coaches on the bench stood, applauded and smiled.

Championship experience

Minneapolis North, attempting to repeat as 1A state champ, will meet North Woods on Saturday. North coach Larry McKenzie is no stranger to championship games. He coached Minneapolis Patrick Henry to Class 3A titles four consecutive years from 2000 to 2003.

Best message of the tournament

Crosby-Ironton met St. Cloud Cathedral in the Class 2A semifinals Friday evening. Several hours before tipoff, this message was sent via the C-I Ranger Activities Twitter account:

“A reminder that we are representing our school and community tonight with the eyes of Minnesota watching. Emotions tend to run high but that is no excuse for profanity, taunting, or badgering of officials. Be loud, cheer with pride, and be supportive of our team in a positive manner. Let’s show everyone how much we love our boys, our school, and our community! Go C-I Go!”

A note of gratitude

I was invited to a meeting in St. Paul on Friday morning, and it was a group I highly respect: the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association. Its membership includes coaches from all MSHSL sports and it does a terrific job of representing athletes, coaches and our schools.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a surprise afoot: I was made an honorary lifetime member of the MSHSCA (with the laminated membership card to prove it). My heroes have always been teachers and coaches, and to receive this honor is one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Thank you MSHSCA.

Friday’s Games at Target Center

Class 1A semifinals

Minneapolis North 100, Springfield 56
North Woods 51, Goodhue 49

Class 2A semifinals
Minnehaha Academy 76, Annandale 44
Crosby-Ironton 53, St. Cloud Cathedral 42

Saturday’s state championship games

Class 1A

11 a.m./ Minneapolis North (31-2) vs. North Woods (31-1)

Class 2A

1 p.m./ Minnehaha Academy (25-5) vs. Crosby-Ironton (30-2)

Class 3A

5 p.m./ DeLaSalle (26-3) vs. Austin (29-1)

Class 4A

8 p.m./ Champlin Park (31-0) vs. Apple Valley (29-1)

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 559
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,357
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Coaches, Longtime Friends Will Meet For A State Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/23/2017 8:52:38 PM

When the boys basketball teams from DeLaSalle and Austin meet at Target Center for the Class 3A state championship Saturday night, it will mark the latest chapter in a coaching relationship that goes back decades.

The coaches – Austin’s Kris Fadness and DeLaSalle’s Dave Thorson – have faced off against each other four times, with each winning twice. So Saturday’s game will give one of them a 3-2 edge in their coaching rivalry. But both of them would argue against using the term “rivals.” They are close friends.

“Dave and I go way back,” Fadness said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Dave.”

“Kris is as good a high school coach as there is in the state,” Thorson said. “He’s a great teacher of the game. There’s a huge level of respect and I think the world of him.”

Their two most recent matchups came in the 2013 and 2014 3A state championship games, both won by DeLaSalle. Fadness’ first victory against Thorson’s Islanders came in 1997, when Fadness coached Caledonia to the Class 2A state championship with a victory over DeLaSalle in the title game. After Fadness left Caledonia for Austin, his Packers team defeated DeLaSalle in a regular-season game in Austin.

“We played in the old gym and there were 10 million people there,” Thorson said.

They met when Fadness, a native of Houston, Minnesota, was a student at Luther College in Iowa. He gave up on his playing career after his sophomore year to concentrate on becoming a coach. He and Thorson worked together at summer basketball camps at Luther and elsewhere and hit it off.

“We established a relationship, a friendship,” said Fadness, who spent a year coaching in Iceland after graduating from Luther.

Thorson, a native of Fargo, N.D., helped Fadness get hired as an assistant coach at Hamline University (Thorson is a 1989 Hamline grad) under head coach Tim Mieure. When Mieure resigned, Fadness was looking for work once more and Thorson – then working as an assistant under Clem Haskins at Minnesota – helped him get the job in Caledonia.

“When times were tough and I needed a job, Dave was there to help,” Fadness said. “And we’ve been friends forever.”

DeLaSalle is the five-time defending state champion and is trying to become the first team in Minnesota history to win six consecutive championships.

“The toughest games are against the guys you respect the most,” Fadness said, adding “But it’s about the kids.”

Saturday’s championship game could be a fun one, with two athletic teams that sprint up and down the court. DeLaSalle advanced with an 86-60 win over Columbia Heights on Thursday and Austin beat Marshall 73-53.

“To be honest, we’ve been thinking about them all year,” Fadness said of the Islanders. “We feel good. We know it’s going to be a tough battle. If we play like we did today, with this type of energy, we have a shot. The big thing is you have to believe you can beat them. You’re playing against an aura, a tradition, and we think we have some of that in Austin.”

Thorson, who has watched Austin play four times this season, jokes about putting on a baseball cap and Spam T-shirt when he’s scouting at games in Austin.

“We both know we’re going to do what we do and I’m stubborn, and he’s going to do what he does and he’s stubborn,” Thorson said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing you have no chance. The way they play is hard to simulate.

“It will be a chess match between friends.”

Multi-tasking teenagers

All but two of the 15 members of Marshall’s basketball team are multi-sport athletes, and many of them are also involved in activities outside sports.

While the Tigers are playing in the Class 3A state basketball tournament this weekend, sophomore Bryce Paulsen and junior Jake Hess are involved in the Business Professionals of America Spring Leadership Conference this weekend in Minneapolis.

Hess was Marshall’s nominee for the MSHSL ExCEL Award (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) and senior Mitchell Sueker was a member of the Marshall Math Team that competed at the state math team tournament last week in South St. Paul.

Motivational trophy

When Champlin Park meets Apple Valley on Saturday night for the Class 4A state championship, the Rebels may look to a piece of hardware as motivation. It’s their second-place trophy from state two years ago.

They lost that title game to Apple Valley 64-61, their only loss of the season. They have brought the runner-up trophy to practice on occasion as a way to remind themselves where they do not want to finish this season.

Blast from the past

Jack Thurnblad, 96, who coached the last Wayzata team at state in 1959, was at Target Center for Thursday night’s Class 4A semifinals. He chatted with current Trojans coach Bryan Schnettler before the Trojans’ game with Champlin Park. The Rebels came out on top 70-62.

Thursday’s games

Class 1A quarterfinals at Williams Arena

Minneapolis North 94, Red Lake 46
Springfield 73, Nevis 65
Goodhue 57, Lake Park-Audubon 37
North Woods 54, Central Minnesota Christian 51

Class 3A semifinals at Target Center
DeLaSalle 86, Columbia Heights 60
Austin 73, Marshall 53

Class 4A semifinals at Target Center
Champlin Park 70, Wayzata 62
Apple Valley 77, Maple Grove 54

Friday’s Games at Target Center

Class 1A semifinals

Noon/ Minneapolis North vs. Springfield
2 p.m./ Goodhue vs. North Woods

Class 2A semifinals
6 p.m./ Minnehaha Academy vs. Annandale
8 p.m./ St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Crosby-Ironton

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 555
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,307
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Champlin Park’s Dubois Joins The Hoffarber Miracle Club
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/22/2017 5:36:37 PM

Sometimes all it takes to win a basketball game is the right guy taking the right shot at the right time. And maybe get just a little bit lucky. Sam Dubois, welcome to the club.

The 5-foot-10 Champlin Park senior will long be remembered in state tournament lore for his game-winning heave in Wednesday’s opening game of the Class 4A tourney at Target Center.

“I wasn't really thinking,” he said. “I had to throw it up, and it went in. I was surprised.”

Wait. Those were not the words of Dubois. They were spoken late on the evening of March 19, 2005, when a Hopkins sophomore named Blake Hoffarber made a miracle shot from the seat of his pants to tie the 4A championship game with Eastview after one overtime. The Royals went on to win the title.

I was sitting in very nearly the same spot at Target Center for both of those shots, a dozen years apart. Both came on the same end of the court. Both were miraculous.

Sam’s shot Wednesday was just as big as Hoffarber’s in 2005. If he misses, the top-seeded Rebels go to overtime with unseeded Chaska and the rock-solid Hawks’ dream of pulling the mammoth upset has fresh oxygen. Sam’s shot was a slapdash thing, coming after the planned play for Rebels star McKinley Wright came up short.

Champlin Park killed most of the final 90 seconds of the game thusly: dribble, pass, repeat. The mission was clear: wait for the final seconds and let Wright (who finished with 30 points … duh) win the game. His final attempt missed, however, and the ball was tipped out beyond the three-point line.

That’s where Sam grabbed it and heaved it.

His teammates rushed him as he ran down the court, ending in a falling flash mob in front of the Chaska bench. It was wild.

“I’m speechless,” Sam said. “The ball just came to me and I didn’t know how much time was on the clock. I tried to get it off as fast as I could and it went in. I thought it was short. I honestly thought, ‘I missed it and we’re going to overtime.’ But it rolled in. I can’t tell you what happened after that because it was all a blur.”

Give the Hawks a high five for taking the unbeaten, top-ranked, top-seeded Rebels – the prohibitive favorite to win this tournament – to the ends of the earth. Champlin Park hardly ever held the lead. The Rebels were up once in the first half at 18-17 and trailed until Theo John scored with 4:25 to play, giving Champlin Park a 49-48 edge.

A free throw by Wright made it 50-48 before Chaska’s Ryan Rodriguez made a layup for a 50-50 score with 3:08 on the clock. Chaska didn’t get a shot off after that, while the Rebels missed three times. After the final miss, Dubois did his thing.

“I told a couple of their kids that I was proud of how they played,” Rebels coach Mark Tuchscherer said. “They played with a chip on their shoulder. We had to take a lot of good blows from them and we survived, we got it done.”

Making up for lost time
Lakeville North, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, is making its sixth consecutive appearance at state. The Panthers’ opponent Wednesday was Wayzata, which was at state for the fourth time.

The story with the Trojans, however, did not consist of recent history. That’s because Wayzata’s previous appearances came in 1925, 1926 and most recently … 1959.

Final score: Wayzata 69, Lakeville North 66. The Trojans will meet Champlin Park in Thursday evening’s semifinals.

Play of the day

The Lake Park-Audubon boys basketball team will meet Goodhue in the Class 1A quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Williams Arena. Before the Raiders left town Wednesday, they made a stop at Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park. One of the players, 6-foot-10 senior Jesse Bergh, had a nice chat with his grandma.

Wednesday’s games

Class 4A quarterfinals

Champlin Park 53, Chaska 50
Wayzata 69, Lakeville North 66
Maple Grove 73, Andover 50
Apple Valley 76, Cretin-Derham Hall 67

Class 3A quarterfinals
DeLaSalle 55, Big Lake 47
Columbia Heights 77, Fergus Falls 74
Austin 55, St. Thomas Academy 49
Marshall 83, Grand Rapids 63

Class 2A quarterfinals
Minnehaha Academy 77, Lake City 63
Annandale 66, Jackson County Central 61
St. Cloud Cathedral 70, New Richland Hartland-Ellendale Geneva 59 (OT)
Crosby-Ironton 67, Breckenridge 46

Thursday’s games
Class 1A quarterfinals at Williams Arena

11 a.m/ Minneapolis North vs. Red Lake
1 p.m./ Nevis vs. Springfield
3 p.m./ Goodhue vs. Lake Park-Audubon
5 p.m./ Central Minnesota Christian vs. Northwoods

Class 3A semifinals at Target Center
Noon/ DeLaSalle vs. Columbia Heights
2 p.m./ Austin vs. Marshall

Class 4A semifinals at Target Center
6 p.m./ Champlin Park vs. Wayzata
8 p.m./ Maple Grove vs. Apple Valley

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 547
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,257
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Final Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/20/2017 1:59:58 PM

Here are the final rankings of the boys basketball season (including regular-season records). Teams in ALL CAPS will play in this week's state tournament.

CLASS 4A
1. CHAMPLIN PARK 26-0
2. MAPLE GROVE 24-2
3. APPLE VALLEY 24-2
4. LAKEVILLE NORTH 24-2
5. WAYZATA 23-3
6. Hopkins 21-5
7. East Ridge 21-5
8. Tartan 23-3
9. Robbinsdale Armstrong 18-8
10. Woodbury 19-7
11. Osseo 19-7
12. Park Center 20-6
13, New Prague 22-4
14. CRETIN-DERHAM HALL 18-8
15. Eden Prairie 14-12
16. Edina 17-9
17. CHASKA 21-5
18. Bloomington Jefferson 21-4
19. Rogers 22-4
20. Rochester John Marshall 23-3

CLASS 3A
1. DELASALLE 21-3
2. AUSTIN 24-2
3. Mahtomedi 22-3
4. Orono 21-5
5. Minneapolis Henry 19-6
6. MARSHALL 23-3
7. Waconia 15-11
8. ST. THOMAS ACADEMY 20-6
9. COLUMBIA HEIGHTS 18-8
10. Totino-Grace 14-12
11. Delano 19-7
12. FERGUS FALLS 20-5
13. Waseca 23-3
14. St. Paul Highland Park 22-4
15. Rocori 15-10
16. GRAND RAPIDS 21-5
17. Alexandria 18-8
18. Zimmerman 18-8
19. Bemidji 18-7
20. BIG LAKE 17-9

CLASS 2A
1. MINNEHAHA ACADEMY 20-5
2. Caledonia 22-4
3. Melrose 26-0
4. CROSBY-IRONTON 24-2
5. ST. CLOUD CATHEDRAL 22-4
6. Esko 23-3
7. Perham 24-2
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 23-3
9. NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA 24-2
10. Watertown-Mayer 22-4
11. Holdingford 22-4
12. Eden Valley-Watkins 19-5
13. ANNANDALE 22-4
14. Jordan 22-3
15. JACKSON COUNTY CENTRAL 23-4
16. BRECKENRIDGE 22-2
17. Brooklyn Center 18-7
18. LAKE CITY 20-6
19. Pine Island 22-4
20. Minneapolis Roosevelt 17-8

CLASS 1A
1. MINNEAPOLIS NORTH 24-2
2. NEVIS 24-1
3. CENTRAL MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN 22-3
4. GOODHUE 25-3
5. SPRINGFIELD 23-2
6. RED LAKE 22-4
7. Spring Grove 23-3
8. Ada-Borup 22-3
9. Red Rock Central 22-2
10. Heritage Christian 21-5
11. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl 22-3
12. NORTH WOODS 25-1
13. Browerville-Eagle Valley 22-4
14. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 24-2
15. Prairie Seeds Academy 21-4
16. Win-E-Mac 21-5
17. Wesbrook-Walnut Grove 21-4
18. LAKE PARK-AUDUBON 18-6
19. Battle Lake 18-5
20. Stephen-Argyle 21-3



What A Difference From December To March
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/18/2017 10:15:50 PM

One hundred and five days apart, a 66-point swing. That was one of the subplots to Saturday’s Class 1A girls basketball state championship game at Williams Arena. Goodhue defeated Mountain Iron-Buhl 73-52 as the Wildcats claimed their second consecutive title, but let’s go back to very early in the season.

In the Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins High School on December 3, Mountain Iron-Buhl absolutely creamed Goodhue. The Rangers’ 78-34 victory gave them the No. 1 ranking for the rest of the season and the No. 1 seed at state, with Goodhue No. 2.

After both teams advanced with semifinal wins Friday, Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said, “I don’t think they’ll beat us by 44 again.”

That wasn’t the boldest of predictions, but the turnaround from their first meeting was quite momentous.

“We played more aggressively than they did in December, and they took it to us today,” said Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta “We couldn’t get that extra push that we needed. Goodhue had it and we didn’t.”

Goodhue’s three wins at state were by 13, 22 and 22 points. The Wildcats brought back lots of experience from the 2016 championship team and they showed what they can do when the pressure was the highest.

“I think it’s the best we’ve played, certainly for three consecutive games,” said Wieme. “They certainly rise to it. They can sense the moment, they’re not afraid of it.”

As for the game in December, Wieme said, “We certainly questioned ourselves a lot. It was also what happened, you couldn’t deny it, we didn’t make excuses. They just severely outplayed us that day. We say this a lot, but we just try to focus on the day to day, getting a little bit better.”

--Saturday’s game marked the end of stellar high school careers for Mountain Iron-Buhl seniors Mya Buffetta and Chelsea Mason. They both were on the varsity squad for six years, went to state every year, finished as state runner-up twice and played in 190 games.

2A: Roseau wins first basketball title

After falling in the state semifinals the last two years, Roseau captured its first girls basketball state title with a 75-64 victory over Sauk Centre. The Borowicz sisters combined for 48 points for the Rams, with senior Kiley getting 20, sophomore Kacie scoring 19 and eighth-grader Katie scoring nine.

“They have an awful lot of weapons and you kind of pick your poison,” said Sauk Centre coach Scott Bergman.

Roseau’s last state title came in boys hockey in 2007.

Orono tops Winona for 3A championship

The top-seeded Spartans won their first state title using only five players in the championship game. Tori Andrew scored 22 points and Mattea Rice had 19 for Orono. Winona, which lost in the championship game for the second year in a row, was led by Abby Winter with 14 points, Eden Nibbelink with 12 and Maria Appicelli with 11.

Elk River knocks off Hopkins in 4A

Elk River joins Roseau and Orono in winning the first girls basketball state championship in school history. The Elks finished the season with a 32-0 record, becoming only the fourth team to win 32 games. Hopkins, which finished 31-1, won state championships in 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. The Royals also were state runners-up one year ago, falling to Minnetonka.

Wells-Fargo All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A/ Brooklyn DeKam, Southwest Minnesota Christian; Chelsea Swatek, Bailey Gronner, Cromwell-Wright; Sami Payne, Maranatha Christian; Chelsea Mason, Mya Buffeta, Mountain Iron-Buhl; Sydney Lodermeier, Maddy Miller, Mckenzie Ryan, Emily Benrud, Goodhue.

Class 2A/ Marnie Wagner, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva; Shea Oman, New London-Spicer; Claire Killian, Kirstin Klitzke, Watertown-Mayer; Tori Peschel, Maesyn Thiesen, Jill Klaphake, Sauk Centre; Kiley Borowicz, Kacie Borowicz, Victoria Johnson, Roseau.

Class 3A/ Kendall Kohler, Alexandria; Ayanna Gardner, DeLaSalle; Destinee Oberg, Holy Angels; Heaven Hamling, Grand Rapids; Danneka Voegeli, Eden Nibbelink, Winona; Tori Andrew, Natalie Smaron, Mattea Rice, Madeline Loder, Orono.

Class 4A/ Mikayla Hayes, Park Center; Temi Carda, Lakeville North; Megan Walstad, Rachel Ranke, Eastview; Gabi Haack, Kelsie Cox, Sidney Wentland, Elk River; Paige Bueckers, Raena Suggs, Angie Hammond, Hopkins.

Boys state basketball pairings

The boys tournament takes center stage beginning Wednesday and ending with the state championship games Saturday at Target Center. Pairings are set in three classes, with the 2A field awaiting one section final Saturday night; the 2A pairings will be announced Sunday.

Class 4A
Wednesday at Target Center

10 am/ #1 Champlin Park (29-0) vs. Chaska (24-5)
Noon/ #4 Lakeville North (27-2) vs. #5 Wayzata (26-3)
2 pm/ #2 Maple Grove (27-2) vs. Andover (11-18)
4 pm/ #3 Apple Valley (27-2) vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (21-8)

Class 3A
Wednesday at Williams Arena

10 am #1 DeLaSalle (24-3) vs. Big Lake (20-9)
Noon #4 Fergus Falls (25-4) vs. #5 Columbia Heights (21-8)
2 pm #2 Austin (27-2) vs. St. Thomas Academy (23-6)
4 pm#3 Marshall (26-3) vs. Grand Rapids (24-5)

Class 1A
Thursday at Williams Arena

11 am/ #1 Minneapolis North (29-2) vs. Red Lake (25-4)
1 pm/ #4 Nevis (28-1) vs. #5 Springfield (28-2)
3 pm/ #2 Goodhue (28-3) vs. Lake Park-Audubon (22-6)
5 pm/ #3 Central Minnesota Christian (26-3) vs. Northwoods (29-1)

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 535
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,207
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Memories And Friendships That Will Last A Lifetime
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/17/2017 9:55:53 PM

With one day remaining in the girls basketball season and one week left in the winter sports season, this seems like an opportune time to share something that was emailed to me recently. It came from Kent Hamre, the girls basketball coach at St. Michael-Albertville. He passed along a pregame speech that was given to the team by a player whose season had ended due to injuries.

The message is important. It deals with knowing how precious each moment is and realizing how lucky we are to have the opportunities we enjoy. And it’s a good message for any team in any sport.

Here’s the note from the coach …

“I just wanted to share a quick story about one of the best kids that has ever played for me. Lizzy Heil is a three-sport athlete who competes in cross-country, basketball and track. She has been on varsity in all three since eighth grade, and up until last spring went to the state tournament in all three of them every year. Last spring Lizzy came down with a couple of stress fractures and it kept her from going to state. Well, she started playing hoops again at Christmas time only to make it a through a couple weeks before getting a stress fracture. She has been to many doctors to find out what’s going on and still doesn't have a firm answer. Lizzy is going to run track at NDSU. Once we knew for sure that Lizzy wasn't coming back to basketball this year, I asked her to give a pregame speech to the team. I have attached it below, thought someone like you might enjoy it.”

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice that gift. This says it all. If you aren't giving your absolute best in what you are doing, then why do it? You are simply wasting what is given to you. Each and every one of us is blessed with incredible basketball talent and many gifts that are meant to be used to our fullest potential. All of us have an incredible team and coaching staff that is a gift that we share. If we as individuals aren't doing our best then you are not only sacrificing the talent given to you, but also the gift of this team. This team and the coaches should be your motivation to give your very best each practice, game and extra work outside when no one is watching. The teammates you are sitting next to right now should be the reason to tie up your shoes tonight and leave it all out on the court, I know it was for me.

Don’t take for granted the opportunities given to you right now. We all have the opportunity to play something we love with the people we love. There is no reason to leave anything out there. Things can get taken away from you easier than they seem. You might think that if this year doesn't go your way then next year will. But believe me, it doesn't always work that way. I speak from the heart right now so please, be thankful for each time you get the opportunity to put that practice jersey on and especially that jersey you’ve got on right now.

There is no better way to spend your winter nights then what we are doing right now. Nothing will ever match up to playing basketball with your best friends by your side. Know and understand that we are and have always been a special team. We have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. We have the best coaching staff that will always prepare us for each game. We have fought through adversity in multiple ways already this year, and there is no way we are going to let up now. Through tough times and adversity, this team's true colors are being shown. We as a team could have made excuses and given up a while ago when we got drilled by Hopkins, but that has never been who we are, or who we will become. Instead we will be united and come together stronger than ever before.

When the day comes that you have to hang the jersey up one last time, there will be three main thoughts that will never escape your mind. The first is how hard you worked. You will look back and only wish you gave a little more. Don't make that mistake; instead never take a play off. Not even once. The second is how you treated your teammates and coaches. Give your teammates an extra high five after a good play, and never forget to look at the coaches when then they are talking to you. Finally, don't miss out on your opportunity to leave a mark for the program both on and off the court. Even though I will no longer be on the court with you all, I will still be cheering and giving every last ounce of juice I have left for this team. One last thing... “the habit of excellence can become enjoyably addictive”... So from here on out, give your very best, and become addicted to excellence as a team. It will be enjoyable.


Rare matchup of unbeaten teams for Class 4A title

The final two teams standing in the Class 4A girls state basketball tournament, Hopkins and Elk River, have a combined record of 62-0. Both teams are 31-0, meaning Saturday night’s championship game will be the first one (in any class) between unbeaten teams since 1993. That year, Rochester Lourdes completed a 30-0 season by beating New London-Spicer (29-1) for the Class A title in a two-class tournament.

--Saturday’s Class 3A championship game will be between Orono (26-4) and Winona (26-4). Winona, which lost to Holy Angels in the title game a year ago, defeated the Stars in Thursday’s semifinals.

--In Class 2A, Roseau (31-0) advanced past the semifinals for the first time in three years and will face Sauk Centre (31-1) in Saturday’s title game.

--The Class 1A title game will feature defending state champion Goodhue (27-4) against Mountain-Iron Buhl (31-1). They met on Dec. 3, with Mountain Iron-Buhl winning 78-34.

Saturday’s championship game schedule

--Noon/ Goodhue vs. Mountain Iron-Buhl in Class 1A

--2 p.m./ Roseau vs. Sauk Centre in Class 2A

--6 p.m./ Orono vs. Winona in Class 3A

--8 p.m./ Hopkins vs. Elk River in Class 4A

What a run for Grand Rapids

These are heady times for teams from Grand Rapids High School. Let’s count off the reasons …

--The Thunderhawks boys hockey team won the Class 2A state title last week.

--The girls basketball team played at state this week and finished sixth in Class 3A.

--The Thunderhawks boys basketball team has qualified for the 3A state tournament next week.

Fans of the day

As I Tweeted after Roseau defeated New London-Spicer 79-57: “New London-Spicer fans were fantastic during this game. Not one gripe about the officials or anything else. Simply cheered for their team.”

Quote of the day

Maranatha Christian senior Sami Payne, who averages 12 points a game, scored a career-high 31 Saturday in a 79-65 loss to Mountain Iron-Buhl. She said afterwards: “I knew if I didn’t compete now, if I didn’t do what these five years did for me, it wasn’t respecting my teammates, it wasn’t respecting my coaches, it wasn’t respecting this program.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 535
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,157
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Hyphens, Slashes And A Coach Who Has Seen It All
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/16/2017 7:33:43 PM

When Rick Uttech brings his girls basketball team together for a practice, it’s more complicated than it sounds. Uttech coaches the Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther Jaguars, and all those hyphens and slashes do a pretty good job of spelling out the difficulties.

The team is made up of players from three schools that are spread far and wide in southern Minnesota. Granada and Huntley are northeast of Fairmont, East Chain is southeast of Fairmont (near the Iowa border), Truman is north of Fairmont and Martin Luther is in Northrop, which is between Truman and Fairmont.

That means the Jaguars used three different gyms for home games this season. And organizing practice? Oh golly…

“It’s difficult. It’s some long distances,” Uttech (pictured) said after his team fell to Goodhue 68-55 Thursday in the Class 1A state quarterfinals at Mariucci Arena.

“It’s tough for the kids. When we practice in Granada it’s a long ways for the kids who live north of Truman. When we practice in Truman it’s a long ways for the kids who live south of East Chain.”

When I asked Rick what kind of miles he was talking about, he used two players’ families as far-reaching examples: “From the Johansons to the Geistfelds it’s about 50 miles.”

Uttech has been coaching there since 1978. He took a team to state for the first time in 1980, which was 37 years ago. That team was from East Chain, which also went to state in 1982 and finished as the Class 1A runner-up.

Granada-Huntley merged with East Chain in 1987, Truman became part of the cooperative team four years ago and Martin Luther joined this season. The nickname has changed from the East Chain Chainers to the GHEC Mustangs and now the Jaguars.

GHEC was the state runner-up in 2006. This year’s tournament is Uttech’s fifth time at state, and it never gets old.

“We have great kids. And I love the game,” he said. “It’s really hard to explain. Our girls are just absolutely thrilled. They know they’ve accomplished something that few schools get to do. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Uttech, who was inducted into the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001, has 551 career victories. That puts him among the top 10 among active coaches and the top 15 among all-time coaches in Minnesota.

Thursday’s task was a tall one for the Jaguars. Goodhue is the defending state champ and is the No. 2 seed in the Class 1A field. But there were no regrets coming from Uttech.

“We thought we prepared as well as we could and I wouldn’t change anything that we did,” he said. “We just didn’t execute like we can.”

Day of records and milestones

Chelsea Mason, a senior guard for Mountain Iron-Buhl, had a game to remember Thursday when the top-seeded Rangers defeated Southwest Minnesota Christian 65-49 in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

Chelsea (pictured), who leads her team with a 22-point scoring average, had 29 points in the game and reached the 3,000-point career mark during the second half. She also had six steals, giving her the career state record in that category with 914. She came into the tournament with 908 steals, which tied the record set by Rebekah Dahlman of Braham, who graduated in 2013.

Mason and classmate Mya Buffetta are playing at state for the sixth time and are seeking their first state championship.

As a senior, “It’s a lot different,” said Chelsea, who is among 10 finalists for the 2017 Ms. Basketball award. “I know I have to step up and try to get people going.”

Mountain Iron-Buhl coach Jeff Buffetta (Mya’s uncle) also reached a milestone Thursday with his 400th career victory.

“These individual milestones are awesome but they happen because we have a very good team,” he said. “We have several girls who have accomplished milestones this year, and if we didn’t have a good team those things would be hard to come by. And I know Chelsea understands that as well as anybody. We’re proud of her accomplishments, but more than that we’re proud of playing tomorrow. That’s the biggest part.”

The Rangers have a record of 30-1, with their only loss coming at Roseau, which is unbeaten and the top-seeded team in Class 2A. Mountain Iron-Buhl will meet Maranatha Christian in Friday’s semifinals at Williams Arena.

The band and the bandleader

The band from Ada-Borup has become a mainstay at state tournaments, playing music that includes the use of electric guitars and keyboards. The man behind the band is director Richard Tuttle, and the girls state basketball tournament marks his 25th time bringing a band to state.

It began with the state volleyball tournament in 1994. Tuttle has brought bands to nine volleyball state tournaments, five football state tournaments, one boys basketball state tournament and this is his 10th time at the girls state basketball tournament.

Thursday’s scores

Class 1A quarterfinals


Mountain Iron-Buhl 65, Southwest Minnesota Christian 49
Maranatha Christian 67, Ada-Borup 65 (overtime)
Goodhue 68, Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther 55
Cromwell-Wright 71, Red Lake 41

Class 3A semifinals

Orono 50, Alexandria 34
Winona 58, Holy Angels 43

Class 4A semifinals

Hopkins 64, Eastview 59
Elk River 57, Lakeville North 56

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 535
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,107
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Carlie Wagner: Superstar Player And Excited Fan
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/15/2017 6:06:33 PM

Carlie Wagner is only 22 years old but she has seen a lot and accomplished a lot. She was sitting in the second row at Mariucci Arena on Wednesday watching her alma mater, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, face Roseau in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A girls state basketball tournament.

Among the NRHEG starters are Carlie’s sisters, senior twins Maddie and Marnie. Things didn’t go terrifically for the Panthers, who lost to top-seeded Roseau 82-64. But there was Carlie, now a star for the Minnesota Gophers, cheering along with her family and high school teammate Paige Overgaard.

“It makes me jealous,” Carlie (pictured) said of being in the stands. “I love watching them. It’s so much fun. It’s crazy that they’re seniors already but I really enjoy watching them and it brings back a lot of memories from when we played together. I’m their biggest fan.”

Carlie’s name is all over the state tournament record book, including a 53-point game at Mariucci Arena in 2014. That was her senior year, when the Panthers won their second consecutive state title. The team also came to state when she was a sophomore, finishing third.

“I remember it was cold,” she said of her first time playing at Mariucci, which is home to the Gophers men’s hockey team. “It was different at first just to walk in, it’s so big and open. But it was a really fun place to play.”

Watching basketball is also fun, but Carlie would rather be playing.

“I’ve realized I’m way too competitive for this,” she said, smiling. “I can’t be a coach because I literally just get so into it. It’s hard sometimes but at the same time it’s so much fun to be there for them. I’ll always be the biggest fan of the Panthers and always come back to support them no matter what.”

With one more season of college basketball remaining, Carlie is fully realizing how fast time flies. She has some good advice for her sisters and all other high school athletes

“I tell them to have fun,” she said. “It goes by fast, so have fun. That’s what it’s all about in the end, the memories you’ve made.”

Experience matters at tourney time

A year ago, Holy Angels defeated Winona 51-43 in the Class 3A state championship game. Those teams will meet again Thursday in the 3A semifinals at Williams Arena. The Stars beat Waseca 64-47 Wednesday and Winona defeated DeLaSalle 64-59.

Winona, which has nine seniors on this year’s team, hopes that experience will make a difference in the rematch.

“I think last year helped us a lot,” said senior Eden Nibbelink, who led the Winhawks with 16 points Wednesday. “We had a lot of nerves last year. Everything was completely new to us. This year we’re a lot more calmed down.”

Winona coach Tim Gleason quoted a professional wrestler when talking about Thursday’s game.

“Ric Flair said if you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,” he said. “And they are really, really good.”

Player of the day

Roseau senior Kiley Borowicz had a game to remember as the Rams defeated New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva. She finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals in 28 minutes on the court.

Wednesday’s scores

Class 3A quarterfinals


Holy Angels 64, Waseca 47
Winona 64, DeLaSalle 59

Class 2A quarterfinals

Roseau 82, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 64
New London-Spicer 48, Esko 43
Sauk Centre 74, Minnehaha Academy 55
Rochester Lourdes vs. Watertown-Mayer

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 535
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,057
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



From Behind The Line, She Kept Firing
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/14/2017 4:24:08 PM

When the Timberwolves defeated the Washington Wizards on Monday night at Target Center, the Wolves’ Brandon Rush was the top long-range shooter, making four three-point shots.

That was topped Tuesday afternoon by a high school senior from Park Center who stands all of 5-foot-7. Ann Simonet, who averaged 10 points per game this season, scored 19 in an overtime loss to Eastview in the Class 4A state quarterfinals. She made five of nine three-pointers, most of them from behind the NBA three-point line. She hit four of six three-point shots in the first half alone.

Her biggest shot of the game was an off-balance three-point try that went in with 56 seconds left in regulation, tied the score 58-58 and sent the game to overtime.

Ann was asked if she knew she was firing from behind the NBA three-point line instead of the high school line.

“It’s the lines on the court,” she said of the NBA stripe. “I wasn’t really planning on those threes. I just kind of caught the ball and shot it and it went in. So I just kept shooting them.”

Eastview clamped down on Simonet in overtime. She missed a three-pointer to open the extra period and her only scoring after that was two free throws.

Ann is a four-year starter who also played soccer at Park Center. She will play college basketball at Minnesota Duluth.

An offensive clinic

The result of the 4A quarterfinal between Hopkins and Minnetonka may have been predictable, but that doesn’t mean the Skippers didn’t give everything they had. Hopkins, the top-ranked team in 4A, stretched its perfect record to 30-0 with a 76-57 win over Minnetonka. During the Lake Conference season, Hopkins defeated the Skippers 77-49 and 80-54.

Hopkins shot 60.7 percent in the first half and led 44-25 at halftime. The second-half score was 32-32.

“They are a handful,” said Minnetonka coach Leah Dasovich. “When you shoot that well … boy were they on fire. I don’t even know that we necessarily did anything that badly defensively, they were just putting on an offensive clinic.”

Megan Walker, who led the Skippers with 16 points, said “I thought it was a pretty good game by us. They just hit everything.”

The only team to take unbeaten Hopkins to overtime this year was Eastview; the Lightning lost to Hopkins 65-60 on Dec. 29. Eastview’s overtime victory over Park Center on Tuesday may give the Lightning a dose of confidence for Thursday’s 6 p.m. semifinal vs. Hopkins at Williams Arena.

Postgame treat

It can be nice to have connections. That’s how the Minnetonka basketball team took a special behind-the-scenes tour after they lost to Hopkins.

Skippers sophomore Blake Greer is the daughter of Timberwolves assistant coach Andy Greer. Dad helped make it possible for his daughter’s team to walk through the Timberwolves locker room and other backstage areas (pictured here) at Target Center. The girls seemed especially mesmerized by the height of the shower heads and wall-mounted hair dryers.

Tournament tidbits

--If Hopkins wins the 4A state title the Royals will finish the season with a record of 32-0. Only three girls basketball teams have been 32-0: St. Paul Central (4A 2007), Lakeville North (4A 2010) and Ada-Borup (1A 2015).

--Tuesday’s games were the only ones in the tournament played at Target Center. Mariccui Arena will be the site of six quarterfinal games Wednesday and four more on Thursday. Semifinals and championship games in all four classes will be played at Williams Arena.

Tuesday’s scores

Class 4A quarterfinals


Hopkins 76, Minnetonka 57
Eastview 75, Park Center 65 (overtime)
Elk River 52, White Bear Lake 44
Lakeville North 49, Andover 32

Class 3A quarterfinals

Orono 59, Willmar 45
Alexandria 46, Grand Rapids 44

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 527
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 9,007
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Puck Luck In A Wild State Championship Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/11/2017 11:01:50 PM

Welcome to the Department of Picking Up Where We Left Off. Because if you thought Friday’s state semifinals in boys hockey were wild and woolly … hoo boy let’s talk about The Big Show in downtown St. Paul on Saturday afternoon, where Hermantown repeated as Class 1A champions in the craziest of ways.

The final score was Hermantown 4, Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake 3 in two overtimes. But let’s rewind the tape a bit and remind ourselves where we came from a day earlier.

When the MAML Moose beat Northfield 3-2 in the semifinals, winning-goal-scorer Nick Zwack called his shot “A hope and a prayer, I guess.” And after Hermantown defeated St. Cloud Cathedral 6-5 in overtime, Ryan Sandelin said of his winning goal: “I shot it and it happened to go in.”

OK. Now we have a theme. And here is the most fitting statement about top-seeded Hermantown’s victory Saturday: “The puck’s gotta go, like his shot. You throw it up there … it finds a hole. Puck luck really helps sometimes.”

That was head Hawk Bruce Plante after his 767th career game as a head coach. He was sitting at a table in front of a roomful of reporters; among the players at his sides was Dylan Samberg. As Plante said “like his shot” he motioned to Samberg, because it was Dylan’s shot in the second overtime that won the game.

“I think that’s part of it,” Plante said when asked about the role of luck in hockey.

Samberg’s shot went in at the right post, and he was asked if that’s where he intended for it to go. Give the kid credit for being honest, because he said, “Absolutely not. … I looked up and there were a lot of bodies in front of me and not a lot of time left. I just kind of threw it on net and I didn’t see anything else. I heard the thud at the back of the net and everyone started celebrating.”

Now here’s the twist on that celebration: it was the Hawks’ second victory celebration of the game. The first came earlier with this sequence: Goal is scored … Hawks throw off their gloves and sticks and helmets and go nuts … the arena announcer says “The goal is under review” … and oh no what’s going on?

The video was watched by the replay officials in the press box, goaltender interference was the ruling and the Hawks jammed their hands back in their gloves, picked their sticks up off the ice, put their buckets back on their heads and got back to work.

If you’re the unseeded Moose, this is where you think, “Hey, they’ve got to somehow gear back up. Let’s score right now and take the cheese.”

“That was my hope,” said MAML coach Eric Nelson. “It’s hard to have your heart explode and then ripped out of your chest a little bit.”

The Hawks, however, got the job done in historic fashion.

“That’s never happened,” Plante said of his team scoring two “game-winning” goals. “We’ve never had that, where we’re all excited and happy and then they tell us it’s under review so we’re all a little stunned. We just had to get back at it.”

Grand Rapids Takes Class 2A Title

The Thunderhawks defeated Moorhead 6-3 behind a three-goal effort by Gavin Hain. The state title is the fourth for Grand Rapids, which also won in 1975, 1976 and 1980.

Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt became the first Mr. Hockey winner to coach a state championship team. He was Mr. Hockey in 1989 at Osseo High School.

Hain’s third goal gave Grand Rapids a 4-0 lead with 5:02 remaining in the second period. The Spuds responded by scoring twice in less than a minute for a 4-2 score but the Thunderhawks stayed in front the rest of the way. The final goal was into an empty net by Blake McLaughlin, his second of the game.

Herb Brooks Award winners

Class 1A/
Charlie Voller, Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake.

Class 2A/ Micah Miller, Grand Rapids.

All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A/
Andrew Kruse, Ben Meyers, Delano; Casey Kallock, East Grand Forks; Jake Levinski, Jake Van Halbeck, St. Cloud Cathedral; Dylan Samberg, Jesse Jacques, Ryan Sandelin, Hermantown; Ben Ward, Charlie Voller, Nick Zwack, Tyler Klatt, Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake.

Class 2A/ Casey Mittelstadt, Nolan Sullivan, Eden Prairie; Isaiah DiLaura, Joshua Ess, Lakeville South; Robbie Stucker, St. Thomas Academy; Carson Kosobud, Carter Randklev, Ethan Frisch, Moorhead; Blake McLaughlin, Gavin Hain, Micah Miller, Zach Stejskal, Grand Rapids.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 515
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,957
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Hopes, Prayers And It Happened To Go In
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/10/2017 7:14:55 PM

Hockey is a game of skates and sticks and pucks and goals, but more than that hockey is a game that will always surprise you. The latest installment of this truth took place during Friday’s Class 1A state semifinals at Xcel Energy Center.

Both contests went down to the wire and beyond. In the first game, Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake rallied from a 2-0 deficit and defeated Northfield 3-2 on a goal that was scored with three seconds left in regulation. In the second semifinal, Hermantown came back from a 5-2 deficit and beat St. Cloud Cathedral 6-5 in overtime.

The winning goals were, uh, shall we say, wacky. Truthfully, we don’t even have to say that because the kids who scored them said it for us.

Nick Zwack of the MAML Moose knocked in the game-winner against Northfield. Asked to describe the shot afterwards, he grinned and said, “A hope and a prayer, I guess.”

Hermantown’s Ryan Sandelin (shown here in the pink bike helmet that the Hawks award to the player of the game) had himself a fairly nice day, scoring four goals against Cathedral. He knocked in the winner in overtime, and went into great detail in recounting it to the media: “I shot it and it happened to go in.”

A hope and a prayer. A shot that happened to go in. C’mon man, what’s better than that?

Advice from the coach

Sandelin scored in each of the first three periods before his game-buster in overtime. His third goal came 55 seconds into the third period to make the score Cathedral 5, Hawks 4. Elliott Peterson made it 5-5 at 5:42 of the third.

After Sandelin’s third goal, Hermantown coach Bruce Plante offered him some instructions on the bench.

“He’s a guy with energy,” Plante said. “I just hugged him and whispered in his ear, ‘You’ve got to do it tonight because some of the guys are playing with flat tires. It’s gotta be you, it’s gotta be you.’ ”

And it was.

Number of the day

66: That’s how many shots on goal Hermantown had Friday (credit Cathedral goaltender Jake Levinski for stopping 60 of them). The state tournament record for shots on goal in an overtime game is 69 by Duluth East vs. Apple Valley in 1996.

Gutsiest kid in the tournament

Northfield senior Ryan Bielenberg had a phenomenal game Friday, making 37 saves in the Class 1A state semifinals. He felt terrible, however, about giving up the game-winning goal to MAML in the final seconds. But give the young man credit for agreeing to meet the media afterwards. He answered questions, he spoke clearly, and when asked if the puck was deflected or took a strange flight, he made no excuses.

In the midst of that disappointment, Ryan said this about his experience in the tournament: “It was amazing. It was awesome. There’s nothing I would trade it for.”

“Ryan played great all game and played great all year,” said Raiders coach Mike Luckraft.

Update on the kitty cat shirt

As noted here earlier, Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake coach Eric Nelson’s good-luck charm is a kitty cat shirt that he wears under his jacket during games. After the Moose’s dramatic win Friday, he was asked if he’s still wearing it.

He laughed and said, “You had to bring it up, didn’t you? I’ve got people walking up to me on the street, trying to pull my shirt out.”

Social media around the world (continued)

This Twitter message came from someone in Spain: “I'm guessing my son and I just might be the only two people of the 6.5 million people in Madrid watching Hermantown-SCC in OT right now.”

Sportsmanship alert

After Wayzata and Minneapolis South met in a Class 4A Section 6 boys basketball tournament game Wednesday night, this email was sent to administrators at Wayzata:

Just a note to let you know about the game last night… It was a highly contested game with a lot of fouls that were called by the officials….. you and I know that each call an official makes, half of the crowd agrees with them and the other half disagrees with them…. anyway, your coach not only coached a GREAT game, he also took it upon himself to quiet some of the Wayzata fans who were very vocal and very demonstrative in disagreeing with the officials. He turned to the group of Wayzata fans behind their bench and motioned to calm down both with their physical gestures and their vocal disagreements.

It is very refreshing to see coaches react this way.

Please commend him not only for his coaching abilities but how he handled the situation above. Please share this email with him.

Dennis Stockmo
Roosevelt High School
Athletic Director


BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 515
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,907
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Good Advice From A State Tournament Veteran
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/9/2017 7:31:23 PM

Lakeville South senior forward Cory Checco had a good day Thursday. He scored a goal and had one assist in the unseeded Cougars’ 5-2 victory over second-seeded St. Thomas Academy in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

Look at that kid’s name: Checco. Ring any bells?

How about this name: Nick Checco. Nick and Cory are cousins, and Nick is one of the marquee names in MSHSL hockey history. Nick starred at Bloomington Jefferson and was named Mr. Hockey after his senior season in 1993. The Jaguars were 28-0 that season and were big-school state champs, as they were in 1992 and 1994.

And yes, as you might guess, Nick had some advice for his young cousin before this year’s state tournament.

“Nick and I chatted and he said, ‘This is one of the things you’ll never forget,’ ” Cory said. “He said this was one of his favorite memories, winning a state championship with all his friends on the team.”

Ask any player who ever took part in the state hockey tournament and they will say the same thing, whether they never played hockey again or went on to win the Stanley Cup.

One recent example is Matt Cullen of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In a story posted this week by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cullen – a 40-year-old Moorhead native who has won two Stanley Cups and played in more 1,300 NHL regular-season games – told reporter Dave Molinari about his memories of playing in the state tournament three times at the St. Paul Civic Center.

“Obviously, the Cups are at the top,” Cullen told Molinari. “But (playing in the state tournament) is not far behind that. It really isn’t.

“I get so excited to talk about it. I can’t really put into words. In all my travels, where I’ve lived, I’ve never seen anything that compares to it.”

Growing up in Moorhead, Cullen remembers being a little kid and watching the high school players.

“Those guys are your heroes,” said Cullen, a 1995 Moorhead graduate. “When you’re in youth hockey, you’re looking up to those guys.

“It’s the only thing I ever dreamed of,” he said of the state tournament. “I never really dreamed of playing college or playing professionally. I always wanted to play in the state high school tournament.”

Social media around the world

The state hockey tournament is well-known around the country and beyond, as is once again being displayed this week. People all over are watching the games online and many of them are using Twitter to show their appreciation. Here are a few examples from Thursday:

--A fellow watched the games on his laptop as he sat on his roof in San Francisco with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. He wrote: “It's not Xcel but the view is decent.”

--The Minnesota Twins had the hockey games on TVs for fans to enjoy at their spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

--The St. Louis Blues Tweeted this message to Hill-Murray senior Kyler Yeo, son of Blues coach (and former Wild coach) Mike Yeo: “We're cheering for you all the way out here in St. Louis. Good luck, Kyler!”

--A soldier far from home posted a photo of the tournament on his laptop and wrote, “Tuned in to the state tournament from the Middle East. Makes being away from home a little easier today!”

Best moment of the day

Lakeville South coach A.J. Bucchino wiped away a tear as the Cougars wrapped up their victory over Hill-Murray.

“It means a lot,” he said afterwards. “I’m an emotional guy.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 515
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,857
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Boys State Hockey: A Moose And A Bunch Of Cats
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/8/2017 3:05:15 PM

So a moose walked into a hockey arena wearing a kitty cat shirt under his jacket … or something like that.

Let’s attempt to sum up the postgame scene after the first contest of the 2017 boys state hockey tournament. The result was clearly an upset, with the unseeded Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake (MAML for short) Moose defeating the second-seeded Delano Tigers 3-2 Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center.

Afterwards, MAML coach Eric Nelson, along with senior two-goal scorer Nick Zwack and 33-save junior goaltender Tyler Klatt, met with the media.

As the questions were winding down, Nelson smiled and partially unzipped his jacket – which said “Moose Hockey” on the front – to display a shirt that can only be described with one word. CATS. Oh my word. CATS.

There was a white cat and an orange tabby cat and a Maine coon cat and several other cats trying to stick their heads out from under Nelson’s Moose jacket.

This was an inside joke that the Moose have enjoyed for a while now. The questioning didn’t exactly reach congressional inquiry depths but it’s safe to say, in the words of Zwack, “It’s little difficult to explain.”

Nelson said, “It’s been fun. It’s been a good year. Call me ridiculous.”

To which Zwack replied, “It suits him pretty well. It works.”

The kitty cat shirt was just one reason for MAML smiles. Coming into this tournament as one of three unseeded teams, and facing the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals, can be a daunting obstacle. The Moose were 21-6-1 on the season and Delano was 24-3-1.

But there was one big equalizer: Neither team had the advantage of playing at state before. This was a new proposition for both squads, and moving from high school rinks to the Big NHL House can cause a Moose-in-the-headlights look. Or in Delano’s case, Tiger-in-the-headlights.

“There was lot of excitement leading up to this. I think our guys were pretty focused coming into this,” said Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen. “That said, it seemed like we were fighting the puck a little bit.

“I think the stage and the situation did affect our play a little bit. Oftentimes we were a little hesitant, a little slow to move the puck.”

What’s it like for high school kids to play at Xcel Energy Center? Well, the word “breathtaking” was mentioned a couple times in the postgame session.

“It’s pretty breathtaking,” Klatt said. “As soon as we got here we went to the bench (to take in the view). We wanted to win and we wanted to keep playing here.”

Zwack said, “I can speak for the whole team in saying this was breathtaking.”

Breathtaking. Just like that kitty cat shirt.

Quote of the day

Zwack: “You dream about this as a kid; playing, and scoring, in the state tournament.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 507
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,807
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Clear Boards, Ikola’s Hat, OT Thrillers: State Hockey Memories
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/6/2017 11:26:27 AM

A fun exercise has been taking place on social media. If you follow me on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn) you may have seen this post on Sunday…

Your favorite memory of the #mshsl boys state hockey tournament...

Go.


I posted a similar message on the MSHSL Facebook page. And boy oh boy, how the memories began to flow. Tweets and Facebook replies came in a rush of so many great moments from the tournament’s 72-year history. One Twitter response summed up what was taking place: “I'm not sure but I think you have struck a chord with some high school hockey fans with your latest query!”

Indeed. The responses speak for themselves. Here’s a sample…

--Sitting with my friend Melissa in elementary school, logging the scoring of all the games. Walking to get ice cream or nachos between periods over by the main entrance (ramp) at the Civic Center. The bands! The days when the Pack made regular appearances. Roseau, Moorhead, Grand Rapids, Warroad and other all the northern teams! When John Marshall and Jefferson (I think) couldn't finish their game until the next morning. Apple Valley's five-OT win over East (even though replays show the Greyhounds scored) in the second Friday night semifinal. Sitting with my dad year after year as I got older. Okay, so that's more than one memory. I mean, really, ONE?

--1996. I was a member of the first ever hockey team from Litchfield Dassel-Cokato to go to state. We finished with fourth place. Amazing memories from that year!

--1964 when International Falls defeated Duluth East 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

--Spehar. 3 games, 3 hat tricks.

--Clear boards at Civic Center.

--Watching my son play in it.

--My Champlin Park classmates filling an entire section during the first tournament at the X in 2001! Elk River was too good.

--96' Apple Valley-Duluth East 5OT. Had a friend over for a sleepover in eighth grade, parents said go to bed after the game.

--Watching Mike Crowley and those Jefferson teams. They were men amongst boys.

--Hosting the trophy in the last game ever played at the Civic Center with childhood friends! We went back on ice after it emptied!!

--Sitting in a dorm room with a handful of buddies at Augsburg watching AV beat Duluth East in '96 in a 5-OT thriller.

--1970 Doug Long's many great saves in 5-OT win over Greenway at the old Met

--Watching Neal & Aaron Broten play against Rochester John Marshall in 1978. That entire tournament was awesome.

--Playing in the '88 tourney

--1987, I'm 13 playing hockey for Kennedy. Watching Kennedy beat Greenway in semis. I could've named every player on the team

--Ryan Kraft vs Cloquet in 1993 in the first round when I believe he scored 4 goals in a 6-5 win for the Spuds, spectacular!

--1990 championship game, Roseau vs GR. Two northern teams making a championship run made this northern MN kid a state tourney fan for life.

--The time my dad took the neighborhood kids to the Saturday afternoon session at the old Met.

--The year Joe Micheletti scored 7 goals in the tourney (early '70s) and became an overnight Minnesota celebrity.

--Watching the place erupt when we tied Edina in the '88 semifinal. I didn't even want to play my trumpet. Just take it in.

--Henry Boucha getting mobbed by Edina in the late 60's and of course the great Duluth East-Apple Valley game with Spehar

--Watching the boards come down for the last time at the Civic Center after we lost to east in 98 final. Also Roseau band any year!!

--Staying at the Radisson unsupervised at 16/17 years old. What were our parents thinking, that place was crazy fun!

--First game I went to as a kid - Roseau's Butsy Erickson (best name ever) and the Brotens beat Burnsville 9-8 for Consolation

--Rau's diving OT championship winner, Woodbury going to the X back to back in 07 & 08. Got to skip school two years in a row!

--Fav memory was Olimb playing almost the entire 2-OT game for Warroad vs. Edina semi 1988 they lost 2-1.

--Brad Shelstad shutout for Southwest in 1970. Also International Falls title in 72.

--"All right, you can go to bed after this game ends." -My mom at the start of the Apple Valley/Duluth East game in 1996.

--Columbia Heights beating Edina in 1983

--Bruce Plante talking about his "ulcer juices"

--Roseau over Edina in OT in 98 QF. Last year of the Civic Center and my first year attending. Entire arena erupted for Roseau!

--Sitting right behind Tom Hanks at the '82 semi between Edina and Jefferson. He was in awe of the spectacle

--Skipping science class because the teacher brought in a TV and put on the tourney.

--Watching the 2012 BSM team winning for #jabs

--Darby Hendrickson putting Richfield on the map in 1991.

--Experiencing it with the friends I grew up with in SSP in '94. Watching Al Stalock from the bench in '04 a close second!

--Being allowed to call in sick (my mom was a saint) and watch, with my notebook, jotting down all the scoring plays and penalties.

--Willard Ikola's hat.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 499
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,757
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Unsung Heroes Of High School Wrestling: Team Managers
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/4/2017 9:12:09 PM

They fill water bottles. They take powdered Gatorade, add water and stir it in a big container. They keep stats, shoot video, clean wrestling mats and oh yeah they also sweat. A lot.

The job of student manager for a high school wrestling team is not for the faint-hearted. Wrestlers bleed and they spit and they sweat. Sometimes they sweat on purpose as they try to make weight. So imagine this: a school bus on a relatively warm and sunny day, traveling to a match with the heat turned all the way up so the wrestlers can get a good sweat going.

“On the bus rides, when they’re overweight the heat is just cranked,” said Halle Girtz, a ninth-grader at Pierz and a team manager. “They’ll be under blankets and coats, trying to sweat it out. And we have to sweat through it, too. It’s a lot to handle.”

Virtually every team competing in this weekend’s state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center has student managers, the majority of them female. It can be a selfless job, but a quick survey of some of the managers at the tournament found them to be enthusiastic and happy to be part of the team. (Pictured here are the managers from Pipestone.)

“We take stats, we make sure the guys know where they need to be and know the bus times. Basically we’re their big sisters,” said Hannah Kranz, a junior from Sibley East.

Another Sibley East manager, ninth-grader Isabel Figueroa, said “Being able to be with the team, we’re basically like a family.”

The job can be time-consuming, especially for managers who attend every after-school practice, every dual match and every weekend tournament. That means they sometimes miss out on other school and community events.

“There is a lot of waiting around and long bus rides and waiting, waiting, waiting, and then you get to the match and then you wait again,” said Abby Lucken, a Pierz sophomore. “But I think in the end it’s all worth it just getting that experience.”

And it is quite an experience. Wrestlers who are trying to make weight can be difficult to be around. (Pictured are the Pierz managers.)

“I feel like we can’t be overly sensitive with them,” said Sibley East senior manager Kimberly Velazquez. “And you learn to grow a backbone, which helps in the real world. You’ve got to know how to stand up for yourself.”

The female managers tend to treat the wrestlers like they were their brothers. And that works both ways.

“The boys pick on the littlest things,” said Pipestone junior Chloe Lear. “Don’t listen to them. They all mean it in fun and they really do appreciate you more than they show.”

Girtz said, “The wrestlers treat you like you’re their sisters. Jordyn (Jansen) has a brother and I’m related to about half the team. It’s a really good experience.”

To which Jordyn, a Pierz junior, said, “It’s like your second family. The coaches treat you like you were their daughters.”

“It’s fun to be with the guys. They can be really weird but they’re just like our brothers,” said Sibley East senior Bernice Mendoza.

Through all the sweating and running and weight-cutting by the wrestlers, the managers sometimes step in with treats.

“I made brownies so after weigh-ins they can enjoy themselves,” Lucken said. “Two big pans.”

State Wrestling Recap

--Two individuals won their fourth state championships Saturday night:
2A 160: Brady Berge, Kasson-Mantorville.
3A 132: Brent Jones, Shakopee.

--Winning a third state title:
3A 285: Gable Steveson, Apple Valley. The top-ranked heavyweight in the nation pinned all four opponents at state, including a 10-second pin in the title match.

--In Class 3A, Shakopee had five wrestlers in the finals and all five were state champs: Aaron Cashman at 113, Carson Manville at 126, Jones at 132, Alex Lloyd at 145 and Alex Crowe at 152. St. Michael-Albertville had two winners: Patrick McKee at 120 and Jake Allar at 170.

--In Class 2A, Simley had three champions: Jake Gliva at 126, Anthony Jackson at 152 and Daniel Kerkvliet at 195. Kasson-Mantorville crowned three winners: Keaton Schorr at 138, Berge at 160 and Patrick Kennedy at 170. Waconia had two champs: Garrett Vos at 120 and Tyler Wagener at 145.

--In Class 1A, Kenyon-Wanamingo had champions in Jeron Matson at 113 and Tyler Ryan at 152. Pipestone also had dual winners in Hunter Burnett at 120 and Michael Suda at 126.

--Total attendance for the tournament was 56,541, an increase of 2,647 over last year's tournament.

State Wrestling Champions

106 1A/ Blake Legred/United South Central
106 2A/ Matthew Petersen/Byron
106 3A/ Reid Ballantyne/Stillwater

113 1A/ Jeron Matson/Kenyon-Wanamingo
113 2A/ Charlie Pickell/Mankato West
113 3A/ Aaron Cashman/Shakopee

120 1A/ Hunter Burnett/Pipestone
120 2A/ Garrett Vos/Waconia
120 3A/ Patrick McKee/St. Michael-Albertville

126 1A/ Michael Suda/Pipestone
126 2A/ Jake Gliva/Simley
126 3A/ Carson Manville/Shakopee

132 1A/ Tanner Pasvogel/Sibley East
132 2A/ Tucker Sjomeling/Delano
132 3A/ Brent Jones/Shakopee

138 1A/ Lane Heim/St. Charles
138 2A/ Keaton Schorr/Kasson-Mantorville
138 3A/ Tyler Eischens/Anoka

145 1A/ Jake Mandt/Chatfield
145 2A/ Tyler Wagener/Waconia
145 3A/ Alex Lloyd/Shakopee

152 1A/ Tyler Ryan/Kenyon-Wanamingo
152 2A/ Anthony Jackson/Simley
152 3A/ Alex Crowe/Shakopee

160 1A/ Bailee O’Reilly/Goodhue
160 2A/ Brady Berge/Kasson-Mantorville
160 3A/ Kenny O’Neil/Prior Lake

170 1A/ Alex Erpelding/Staples-Motley
170 2A/ Patrick Kennedy/Kasson-Mantorville
170 3A/ Jake Allar/St. Michael-Albertville

182 1A/ Caden Steffen/Zumbrota-Mazeppa
182 2A/ Jared Florell/Totino-Grace
182 3A/ Brandon Moen/Owatonna

195 1A/ Christopher Bain/GMLOS
195 2A/ Daniel Kerkvliet/Simley
195 3A/ Samuel Grove/Moorhead

220 1A/ Reid Seelhammer/Dover-Eyota
220 2A/ Noah Ryan/Kasson-Mantorville
220 3A/ Cole Fibranz/Sartell-St. Stephen

285 1A/ Trent Esping/Minneota
285 2A/ Mitch Trigg/Foley
285 3A/ Gable Steveson/Apple Valley

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 499
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,757
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Wrestling State Championship Matchups Are Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/4/2017 12:44:16 PM

It's Championship Saturday at the state wresting tournament, and the gold-medal matchups are set at Xcel Energy Center.

The final session of the tournament will begin at 4 p.m. with third-place and fifth-place matches, followed by championship matches at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Here are the matchups...

Class 1A
106/ Ashton Clark/Park Rapids vs. Blake Legred/United South Central
113/ Jeron Matson/Kenyon-Wanamingo vs. Dayne Morton/Sibley East
120/ Hunter Burnett/Pipestone vs. Tanner Schermerhorn/Frazee
126/ Michael Suda/Pipestone vs. Jake Nohre/West Central
132/ Tanner Reetz/Frazee vs. Tanner Pasvogel/Sibley East
138/ Lane Heim/St. Charles vs. Brenn Olson/GMLOS
145/ Jake Mandt/Chatfield vs. Maverick Jackson/Zumbrota-Mazeppa
152/ Tyler Ryan/Kenyon-Wanamingo vs. Keaton Long/West Central
160/ Bailee O’Reilly/Goodhue vs. Dalton Wagner/Jackson County Central
170/ Alex Erpelding/Staples-Motley vs. Jeremiah Colon/Lake Crystal
182/ Caden Steffen/Zumbrota-Mazeppa vs. Brett Kapsner/Pierz
195/ Christopher Bain/GMLOS vs. Jacob Bennett/Zumbrota-Mazeppa
220/ Jarret Haglund/Zumbrota-Mazeppa vs. Reid Seelhammer/Dover-Eyota
285/ Trent Esping/Minneota vs. Bradey Berg/Barnesville

Class 2A
106/ Matthew Petersen/Byron vs. Jaxson Rohman/Fairmont
113/ Charlie Pickell/Mankato West vs. Jake Svihel/Totino-Grace
120/ Garrett Vos/Waconia vs. Justin Sampson/Waseca
126/ Jake Gliva/Simley vs. Jackson Stauffacher/Scott West
132/ Tucker Sjomeling/Delano vs. Payton Anderson/Fairmont
138/ Morgan Fuenffinger/Hibbing vs. Keaton Schorr/Kasson-Mantorville
145/ Tyler Wagener/Waconia vs. Peter Nelson/St. Cloud Apollo
152/ Anthony Jackson/Simley vs. Zach Glazier/Albert Lea
160/ Brady Berge/Kasson-Mantorville vs. Collin Steuber/Fairmont
170/ Solomon Neilsen/Luverne vs. Patrick Kennedy/Kasson-Mantorville
182/ Jared Florell/Totino-Grace vs. Bobby Striggow/Orono
195/ Daniel Kerkvliet/Simley vs. Saylor Schmit/Foley
220/ Noah Ryan/Kasson-Mantorville vs. Zachary Jakes, Mankato West
285/ Devin Reynolds/Cloquet-Esko-Carlton vs. Mitch Trigg/Foley

Class 3A
106/ Regan Schrempp/Apple Valley vs. Reid Ballantyne/Stillwater
113/ Aaron Cashman/Shakopee vs. Trayton Anderson/Farmington
120/ Patrick McKee/St. Michael-Albertville vs. Israel Navarro/Willmar
126/ Carson Manville/Shakopee vs. Cael Carlson/Willmar
132/ Brent Jones/Shakopee vs. Clay Carlson/Willmar
138/ Tyler Eischens/Anoka vs. Jakob Bergeland/Centennial
145/ Peyton Robb/Owatonna vs. Alex Lloyd/Shakopee
152/ Alex Crowe/Shakopee vs. Cade King/Owatonna
160/ Kenny O’Neil/Prior Lake vs. Wade Sullivan/Lakeville North
170/ Jake Allar/St. Michael-Albertville vs. Jalen Thul/Apple Valley
182/ Brandon Moen/Owatonna vs. Trey Rogers/Hastings
195/ Samuel Grove/Moorhead vs. Tyler Hugg/St. Cloud Tech
220/ Austin Rendler/Faribault vs. Cole Fibranz/Sartell-St. Stephen
285/ Gable Steveson/Apple Valley vs. Brandon Frankfurth/Anoka



Linked In Wrestling History: Females At State
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/3/2017 8:05:33 PM

Elissa Reinsma and Emily Shilson do not have a lot in common. Elissa is a small-town girl who attended a tiny high school in rural Minnesota. Emily lives in the Twin Cities and her school is a great big one.

But as of Friday afternoon, they became forever linked in the world of Minnesota high school wrestling. Elissa wrestled for Fulda/Murray County Central at the state tournament in 2009 and 2011, while Emily did the same for Centennial High School on Friday.

There are specific similarities. Reinsma first went to state as a sophomore, which is Shilson’s current grade. Elissa wrestled at 103 pounds and Emily competes at 106 pounds. Elissa did not win a match in her two trips to state in Class 2A, and Emily’s first appearance Friday ended with a 7-4 loss to Sartell-St. Stephen junior Patrick Hesse in the first round in Class 3A. Later in the day, Hesse lost to Regan Schrempp of Apple Valley in the quarterfinals, ending any hope for Emily (pictured here on the right) to compete in the consolation bracket.

“I was extremely nervous and it was so exciting,” Reinsma told me during a phone conversation Friday. “I just wanted to live in that moment forever. It was the best feeling.”

Ellisa, 24, played softball in college, for one year at Augustana in South Dakota before transferring to Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. She graduated last year with a degree in sports management and would like to work as a high school athletic director; she was an intern in the activities office at Marshall High School. She’s living in Fulda (her hometown) and working as a substitute teacher.

It’s not rare for someone to recognize Elissa for her wrestling history.

“It’s been six years and I kind of think maybe people have forgotten,” she said. “But I’ll go somewhere and people will say, ‘Hey, you’re the girl wrestler.’ ”

Emily did not want to be interviewed after losing in the first round Friday, which is something Elissa can relate to.

“I didn’t like it, either,” Reinsma said. “I guess I didn’t like the spotlight on me.”

Emily’s father, Chad, who is an assistant wrestling coach at Centennial, said, “In wrestling, we tell our kids that when it comes down to the individual side of the sport, you have to be very selfish. You have to be able to control your own little environment.”

Once on the mat, Shilson and Hesse had to wait briefly while the two-man officiating crew took a quick bathroom break. Emily got some final instructions from her father while she bounced back and forth like a boxer. After the loss, father hugged daughter in a corridor off the arena floor. He kissed her on the head.

“Leading up to this I told her, ‘This is another match. You go on the mat and you wrestle like you wrestle every other day.’ I’ve been coaching at the state tournament for a long time; it was coaching my daughter at the state tournament. I wasn’t coaching the second girl or the first girl in Triple-A. I tried to de-emphasize that as much as possible. Let everyone else emphasize it, we’re going to de-emphasize it, try to keep everything away from her so she can focus on her.”

Reinsma grew up with three brothers who wrestled, so the sport was a natural fit. The story is similar in the Shilson household. Emily’s brother Tyler is a senior who will wrestle next season at the University of Wisconsin. He advanced through two rounds Friday with victories in the Class 3A 145-pound division.

Emily has wrestled in national and international events for female wrestlers and her goal is to compete in the Olympics.

“2020, 2024, 2028, that’s what she’s focusing on,” Chad said. “And that’s a long time, but there’s a lot of training that has to be done and four years will go very quick.”

Friday’s defeat was a setback, but there is a lot of wrestling in Emily’s future.

“She doesn’t like to lose, whether it’s this match or any other match,” her dad said. “It could be a match in the wrestling room at practice. She doesn’t want to lose. She just goes after it. She attacks everything. Schoolwork, athletics, everything.

“She’ll come back tougher, though. I can guarantee it. She has never had a setback where she doesn’t all of a sudden come back exponentially stronger, tougher, faster, quicker, better. It’s never happened and I don’t expect it to happen this time.”

State Tournament Update

There are 28 past state champions in the field. All of them advanced with two victories Friday and will wrestle in the semifinals on Saturday morning. The winners of those matches will compete for state titles Saturday evening.

Among the returning champions are three wrestlers going for their fourth championships: Garrett Aldrich of Albert Lea at 145 in 2A, Brady Berge of Kasson-Mantorville at 160 in 2A and Brent Jones of Shakopee at 132 in 3A.

Wrestlers shooting for their third titles are Peyton Robb of Owatonna at 145 in 3A and Gable Steveson of Apple Valley at 285 in 3A.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 499
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,707
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Pierz Coach Ready To Step Aside For A Second Time
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/2/2017 10:58:11 PM

Thursday wasn’t the end for Mark Jensen. But it might have been the beginning of the end or maybe the middle of the end for a wrestling coach who has improved the lives of countless numbers of young people.

Jensen is the head coach at Pierz, which finished as the Class 1A team state runner-up Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. The Pioneers defeated Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 44-19 in the quarterfinals and West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 35-21 in the semifinals before falling to Zumbrota-Mazeppa 35-16 in the championship round.

As always, Jensen is one of the best-dressed coaches at the state tourney. Thursday he wore black slacks, gray sport coat, white shirt and maroon tie. The day was his final one coaching the Pierz team, but nine Pioneers will compete Friday and Saturday in the individual portion of the tournament. So the end of the end will come Saturday.

“I thought the kids wrestled well throughout the tournament and I’m proud of them,” he said.

Thursday’s matches gave Jensen a career record of 379-112-2 over 20 years at Pierz. He coached the Pioneers from 1990 to 2006 before stepping down and returned as head coach in 2013.

“This is it for me but I’ve said that before, so who knows?,” he said, joking (I think).

Jensen’s teams won small-school team state championships in 2004 and 2005 and he took nine other teams to state. One of the program’s top wrestlers was Clint Poster, a six-time letterwinner and two-time state champion who went on to wrestle at St. Cloud State. Poster, now a Pierz assistant coach, said the following about Jensen:

“He’s a great role model. I had him in seventh grade and the things he taught me then have really stuck with me, things you can use in your everyday life; how to be a good person, a respectful person, a hard worker. He’s still doing that today. He’s well-respected and he knows his wrestling, too.”

Having stepped away from the job once before, Jensen knows what will change as well as what he will miss.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie of coaching kids, guiding them,” he said. “Wrestling is one of the toughest sports there is because of the sacrifice you give. I’ll miss the peer support that I’ve had from the community and the school. It’s just been phenomenal.

“It’s time for me to hand it over to somebody new. It’s a young man’s game and that’s where I’m at in my life.”

Class 1A

Zumbrota-Mazeppa advanced to the final against Pierz by beating Kenyon-Wanamingo 31-23 and Frazee 32-25.

Class 2A

Kasson-Mantorville rolled to rolled to its second consecutive state title with a 45-18 victory over Simley in the championship match. The Komets earlier defeated Worthington 64-3 and Foley 54-7.

Class 3A

Apple Valley captured its 12th consecutive state title, defeating Anoka 30-25 in the final. The Eagles beat Minnetonka 73-3 in the first round and Hastings 52-12 in the semifinals.

Coming Up

The individual portion of the tournament begins Friday morning in all three classes. Championship quarterfinals will be contested Friday afternoon, with consolation rounds, semifinals and championship matches held on Saturday.

Class 3A
Quarterfinals

Anoka 48, Stillwater 13
St. Michael-Albertville 34, Willmar 27
Hastings 36, Owatonna 29
Apple Valley 73, Minnetonka 3
Semifinals
Anoka 38, St. Michael-Albertville 26
Apple Valley 52, Hastings 12
Fifth Place
Owatonna 30, Willmar 29
Third Place
St. Michael-Albertville 36, Hastings 33
Championship
Apple Valley 30, Anoka 24

Class 2A
Quarterfinals

Simley 47, Grand Rapids 16
Scott West 50, Totino-Grace 11
Foley 32, Perham 23
Kasson-Mantorville 64, Worthington 3
Semifinals
Simley 43, Scott West 22
Kasson-Mantorville 54, Foley 7
Fifth Place
Perham 60, Grand Rapids 3
Third Place
Scott West 33, Foley 24
Championship
Kasson-Mantorville 45, Simley 18

Class 1A
Quarterfinals

Pierz 44, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19
West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 30, Pipestone 29
Frazee 33, Sibley East 25
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 31, Kenyon-Wanamingo 23
Semifinals
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 32, Frazee 25
Pierz 35, West Central 21
Fifth Place
Kenyon-Wanamingo 37, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19
Third Place
Frazee 40, West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 18
Championship
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 35, Pierz 16

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 499
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,657
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



State Wrestling Update
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/2/2017 3:13:06 PM

Class 3A
Quarterfinals

Anoka 48, Stillwater 13
St. Michael-albertville 34, Willmar 27
Hastings 36, Owatonna 29
Apple Valley 73, Minnetonka 3
Semifinals
Anoka 38, St. Michael-Albertville 26
Apple Valley 52, Hastings 12

Class 2A
Quarterfinals

Simley 47, Grand Rapids 16
Scott West 50, Totino-Grace 11
Foley 32, Perham 23
Kasson-Mantorville 64, Worthington 3
Semifinals
Simley 43, Scott West 22
Kasson-Mantorville 54, Foley 7

Class 1A
Quarterfinals

Pierz 44, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19
West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 30, Pipestone 29
Frazee 33, Sibley East 25
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 31, Kenyon-Wanamingo 23
Semifinals
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 32, Frazee 25
Pierz 35, West Central 21



State Wrestling Update
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/2/2017 1:15:17 PM

The state wrestling tournament is underway at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul with team competition.

Class 3A Quarterfinals
Anoka 48, Stillwater 13
St. Michael-albertville 34, Willmar 27
Hastings 36, Owatonna 29
Apple Valley 73, Minnetonka 3

Class 2A Quarterfinals
Simley 47, Grand Rapids 16
Scott West 50, Totino-Grace 11
Foley 32, Perham 23
Kasson-Mantorville 64, Worthington 3

Class 1A Quarterfinals
Pierz 44, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19
West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 30, Pipestone 29
Frazee 33, Sibley East 25
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 31, Kenyon-Wanamingo 23



Final Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:36:13 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 1A
1. Mountain Iron-Buhl 25-1
2. Goodhue 21-4
3. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 26-0
4. Mankato Loyola 23-2
5. Ada-Borup 24-1
6. Maranatha Christian 19-7
7. Cromwell-Wright 21-4
8. Red Lake 20-2
9. Southwest MN Christian 22-3
10. Granada-Huntley-East Chain-Truman-Martin Luther 22-4
11. Lyle-Pacelli 21-6
12. Red Rock Central 24-3
13. Bigfork 24-2
14. Canby 20-4
15. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 19-5
16. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 18-8
17. Stephen-Argyle 20-5
18. Heritage Christian 16-10
19. Mayer Lutheran 17-9
20. Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity 19-7



Final Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:35:43 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 2A
1. Roseau 25-0
2. Sauk Centre 25-1
3. Watertown-Mayer 23-3
4. Norwood-Young America 25-1
5. New London-Spicer 22-3
6. Eden Valley-Watkins 23-3
7. Minnehaha Academy 21-4
8. Rush City 22-0
9. Hayfield 21-5
10. Esko 20-6
11. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 24-2
12. St. Croix Lutheran 19-6
13. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 21-5
14. Annandale 15-11
15. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 23-3
16. Staples-Motley 20-4
17. Rochester Lourdes 17-9
18. St. Peter 22-4
19. Albany 18-8
20. Pequot Lakes 19-7



Final Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:35:03 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 3A
1. Hutchinson 20-5
2. Orono 21-4
3. Holy Angels 22-3
4. Winona 21-4
5. Mahtomedi 22-3
6. Alexandria 22-4
7. Northfield 20-6
8. Grand Rapids 21-5
9. Kasson-Mantorville 21-6
10. Hermantown 22-3
11. Zimmerman 23-3
12. Waseca 20-6
13. New Ulm 21-5
14. St. Paul Como Park 19-7
15. DeLaSalle 15-10
16. Bloomington Kennedy 15-11
17. Red Wing 17-8
18. Willmar 17-9
19. St. Anthony 18-6
20. Sartell-St. Stephen 16-10



Final Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:34:27 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 4A
1. Hopkins 26-0
2. Elk River 26-0
3. Lakeville North 24-2
4. St. Michael-Albertville 21-4
5. Eastview 20-6
6. Wayzata 20-6
7. Park Center 21-5
8. Centennial 19-6
9. Apple Valley 20-6
10. East Ridge 19-7
11. Champlin Park 20-6
12. White Bear Lake 17-9
13. Roseville Area 20-6
14. Minnetonka 13-12
15. Edina 17-9
16. Andover 17-9
17. Rochester Mayo 20-6
18. Cooper 23-3
19. Shakopee 16-10
20. Moorhead 20-6



Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:32:47 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

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



Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:32:07 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 2A
1. Minnehaha Academy 20-5
2. Caledonia 22-4
3. Melrose 25-0
4. Crosby-Ironton 23-2
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 21-4
6. Esko 22-3
7. Perham 23-2
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 22-3
9. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 24-2
10. Watertown-Mayer 21-4
11. Holdingford 21-4
12. Eden Valley-Watkins 18-5
13. Annandale 21-4
14. Jordan 22-3
15. Jackson County Central 22-4
16. Breckenridge 21-2
17. Lake City 19-6
18. Pine Island 21-4
19. Brooklyn Center 18-7
20. Minneapolis Roosevelt 17-8



Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:31:38 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 3A
1. DeLaSalle 20-3
2. Austin 24-1
3. Mahtomedi 21-3
4. Orono 20-5
5. Marshall 23-2
6. Minneapolis Henry 19-7
7. Waconia 14-11
8. Delano 18-5
9. St. Thomas Academy 19-6
10. Columbia Heights 18-8
11. Totino-Grace 13-12
12. Fergus Falls 21-4
13. Waseca 22-3
14. St. Paul Highland Park 19-4
15. Alexandria 18-6
16. Grand Rapids 21-5
17. Rocori 15-10
18. Zimmerman 17-8
19. Bemidji 17-7
20. Big Lake 16-9



Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 3/1/2017 9:31:06 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

CLASS 4A
1. Champlin Park 25-0
2. Maple Grove 22-2
3. Apple Valley 23-2
4. Lakeville North 21-2
5. Wayzata 22-3
6. Hopkins 20-5
7. East Ridge 20-5
8. Tartan 23-3
9. New Prague 22-3
10. Robbinsdale Armstrong 18-7
11. Woodbury 18-7
12. Osseo 18-7
13. Park Center 19-6
14. Cretin-Derham Hall 17-8
15. Eden Prairie 14-11
16. Edina 17-8
17. Chaska 20-5
18. Bloomington Jefferson 20-4
19. Rogers 21-4
20. Rochester John Marshall 22-3



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