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Randall McDaniel Becomes A Hall Of Famer … Again
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/30/2011 6:28:52 PM

Randall McDaniel had a sterling 14-year career with the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing in 12 consecutive Pro Bowls. The offensive lineman, who spent his first 12 seasons with the Vikings, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He is joining another Hall of Fame this week with his induction into the National High School Hall of Fame.

He is one of 12 individuals who will be inducted in the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National High School Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 2 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia. The 29th Hall of Fame induction ceremony is the closing event of the 92nd annual NFHS Summer Meeting.

McDaniel was a three-year varsity starter and two-time all-state selection in football and basketball at Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona. He also played baseball and participated in track and field, setting the school record in the 100-meter dash as a senior. He was an All-American at Arizona State University before his NFL career.He also is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS to honor high school athletes, coaches, contest officials, administrators, fine arts coaches/directors and others for their extraordinary achievements and accomplishments in high school sports and activity programs. This year’s class increases the number in the Hall of Fame to 386.

The 12 individuals were chosen after a two-level selection process involving a screening committee composed of active high school state association administrators, coaches and officials, and a final selection committee composed of coaches, former athletes, state association officials, media representatives and educational leaders. Nominations were made through NFHS member associations.



A Fantastic June Evening For All-Star Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/26/2011 1:33:32 AM

The 38th annual Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game was held Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and it was a great show on a beautiful evening in a beautiful setting.

The game showcases outstanding senior players from the 2010 high school football season, with players and coaches representing 79 schools and 33 conferences, all selected by members of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.

The game had been played at St. Cloud State since 2005. Another change this year was that instead of having Metro and Outstate teams (as has been done since 1980), the players were split into North and South squads.

The North won Saturday’s game 17-7, scoring touchdowns on a 3-yard run by Brainerd’s Jordan Hayes and a 34-yard interception return by Eric Riley of Morris. The South’s touchdown came on a short pass from Hopkins’ Billy Gregg to Ryan Woodard of Winona.

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 821
*Miles John has driven: 11,029



Recapping A Great Day At Target Field
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/22/2011 3:18:03 PM

Here is a by-the-clock accounting of Wednesday's state championship baseball tripleheader at Target Field, which began with an early-morning decision and ended more than 12 hours later with a stunning, improbable rally in the final inning of the season's final game...

7:53 a.m.: My first Tweet of the day, sent from home, says “Play Ball! We are a go for today's baseball state championship games at Target Field. Repeat: baseball will be played today at Target Field.”

9:45: Arrive in the press box and watch the grounds crew removing the tarp from the infield. Notice injured Twins Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel working out on the field.

10:10: Walking the field-level corridor, I run into Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial student manager Brandon Wiederhoeft, who asks. “Do you know where the batting cages are?” Yes, they are behind the visitors dugout. A few minutes later on the field, LCWM infielder Brandon Gilman asks me, “Do you know when we can start playing catch?” Nope, I can’t answer that one.

11:45: Had a quick reunion with former Twins general manager Terry Ryan, whom I knew well back when I helped cover the Twins for the Minneapolis paper.

Noon: Rosters for Class 1A teams Eden Valley-Watkins (right) and Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial are introduced.

12:05: MSHSL intern Steve Hurt, knowing Target Field is a Pepsi building, sneaks a Diet Coke into the press box and makes my day.

12:48 p.m.: Receive Tweet from a Lake Crystal fan in the ballpark, correcting P.A. guy Dick Jonckowski’s pronounciation of right fielder Spencer Yackel’s name. It’s either YAKE-el or YACK-el … we’re still not sure.

1:18: Two nice ladies (left) sitting behind home plate respond to the John’s Journal Twitter giveaway contest and take home MSHSL caps.

1:45: Steve Hurt hands me a second Diet Coke, informs me that he brought four of ‘em. So far, he is the day's MVP.

2:09: Eden Valley-Watkins finishes off 8-4 win over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial for the Class 1A championship. I ask winning pitcher Matt Geislinger, who threw 126 pitches, how he feels. Answer: “Tired.”

3:45: I go on the air with Emmett Keenan on St. Cloud’s WJON radio during the St. Cloud Cathedral-La Crescent game. Afterwards I walk into the next booth and chat with Terry Ryan and fellow Twins executive Jim Rantz. I do Emmett a favor and asked Terry if he would chat with Emmett for an inning. Somebody owes me one …

4:20: Knowing that dinner will be served to tournament workers, the question is posed: “Does anybody know what they’re serving for dinner?” It’s another in a long line of unanswered questions.

4:44: Cathedral first baseman Sean Giambruno makes the defensive play of the day, making a diving stab and flipping to pitcher Andrew Thome for the out at first.

4:55: After Cathedral defeats La Crescent 6-1 in 2A to win its seventh state baseball championship, I ask Cathedral coach Bob Karn (who is in his 41st season) his age. His smiling reply: “How old am I? I’m a lot younger on a day like today when we won. Had we not won, I’d be another 10 years older.” (Bob, pictured here with his team, is 69.)

5:25: Dinner? Chicken and rice.

6:16: Another candidate for play of the day…Burnsville center fielder Dan Motl races in and makes a diving catch in the top of the first inning in the 3A game.

6:21: Maple Grove third baseman Karl Sorenson retreats into foul territory and makes a sweet over-the-shoulder grab. Play of the day? Plenty of candidates.

7:05: For the first time all day, light rain begins to fall. It’s just enough to move a few fans to seats underneath overhangs in the lower deck.

7:08: Maple Grove’s Logan Hershey hits a two-out, two-run, fifth-inning triple to break a scoreless tie. The Crimson lead 5-0 before the third out is made.

8:05: The Burnsville Blaze begin a wild celebration after scoring six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and defeating Maple Grove 6-5 to win the 3A championship. The inning had just about everything: five hits … no errors … an intentional walk followed by a hit batsman to score a run … and with two out and the season hanging in the balance, Bo Hellquist lacing a single down the first base line, driving in two runs and setting off the party.

It was a fine way to end the 2010-11 school year and an outstanding end to the day’s baseball games. What will stick with me the longest from Wednesday, however, is something St. Cloud Cathedral's Karn said.

It's the quote of the day: “Each day is such a great opportunity to just play, but to play in a championship at Target Field is great, particularly with this group of players. They really genuinely get along, they care about each other, it’s a healthy place to be and to play. I’m really glad I’m able to be with them.”

--Diet Coke Count: four.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 821

*Miles John has driven: 10,981

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



Radio And Internet Coverage Of Today’s Baseball Games
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/22/2011 9:58:20 AM

All of today’s three state championship games at Target Field will be available on the internet as well as on many local radio stations around Minnesota. Here’s where to find the action…

On the Internet/ GrandStadium’s webcast can be found at prep45.kstc45.com. Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network will carry internet audio at mnsportsnetwork.com

And here’s the radio lineup…

Class 1A/ KBEX in Mora, KDUZ/KARP in Hutchinson, KLFD in Litchfield, KYSM in Mankato and KNUJ in New Ulm.

Class 2A/ KXSS in St. Cloud, WBHR in Sauk Centre, KNSI in St. Cloud.

Class 3A/ No radio.



Today's The Day: Play Ball!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/22/2011 8:46:52 AM

After a one-day weather delay, the state championship baseball games will be played today at Target Field. Here’s the schedule:

Class 1A at noon: Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (25-3) vs. Eden Valley-Watkins (22-2).

Class 2A at 3 p.m.: St. Cloud Cathedral (23-3) vs. LaCrescent (25-3).

Class 3A at 6 p.m.: Burnsville (23-3) vs. Maple Grove (26-1).

Tickets are a bargain. They cost only $10 for adults and $7 for students. Fans will be allowed to leave the ballpark and re-enter.

See you at the game!




Baseball Tripleheader Has Been Moved Back
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/20/2011 1:56:41 PM

Attention baseball fans ...

The state championship baseball tripleheader scheduled for Tuesday at Target Field has been postponed until Wednesday. Because of weather concerns, the MSHSL wanted to avoid having teams travel to Target Field with no guarantee of games being played.

If weather also becomes an issue on Wednesday, the games could be played on Thursday. A big Thank You goes to the Twins for making Target Field available for three days.

The best way to stay on top of this type of breaking news is via Twitter and Facebook.



A Great Day For Baseball … Next Stop: Target Field
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2011 7:40:54 PM

I’ve felt like a statewide courier this week, driving to Coon Rapids, Becker, Jordan and St. Cloud on consecutive days for state tournaments. The first three stops were for golf and Friday’s journey took me to St. Cloud for the state semifinals in the Class 2A baseball tournament.

Friday was a major day for Minnesota high school baseball, with the six contestants being determined for Tuesday’s state championship games at Target Field. Here is the lineup for the big day:

Class 1A at noon: Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (25-3) vs. Eden Valley-Watkins (22-2).

Class 2A at 3 p.m.: St. Cloud Cathedral (23-3) vs. LaCrescent (25-3, pictured at right).

Class 3A at 6p.m.: Burnsville (23-3) vs. Maple Grove (26-1).

Target Field made its debut as the site of the title games a year ago, and Eden Valley-Watkins is the only defending champion to return. Burnsville also played there last year, losing to Eden Prairie in the title game.

For all the teams, Tuesday will be a thrilling day all around.

Cathedral coach Bob Karn has been on the job for 41 years and has a career record of 631-267. Tuesday’s championship game will be his first time coaching at Target Field, and he is thrilled with everything that has taken place this season.

“What a joy as you get older to be able to live with 17- and 18-year-olds doing something that's just passionately fun,” he said. “It helps me to be young.”

As for the impact of championship games at Target Field? “I can't even begin to measure how excited the kids are to think of that as a possibility,” he said. “It's an incredible opportunity for them and it just changes the dimension of everything. It's just a thrill.”

It will indeed be a great day for baseball on Tuesday. If you watch the Twins on TV and envy those people sitting in the big, comfortable, expensive seats right behind home plate, here’s your chance to do the same for just a few dollars. Tickets on Tuesday are only $10 for adults and $7 for students.

TRIVIA QUESTION

This quiz centers on a father-son coaching combination, Dean and Troy Urdahl (pictured). Here are some facts to consider:

--Under Troy Urdahl, St. Anthony Village won Class 2A baseball state titles in 2006 and 2008. This year, the Huskies fell to St. Cloud Cathedral in Thursday's state quarterfinals, then lost to Proctor in the consolation bracket Friday. Troy has coached the Huskies for nine years.

--Dean Urdahl coached cross-country at New London-Spicer for 29 years before retiring from coaching, taking 18 teams to state. His girls teams won Class A championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Here’s the question: Is there another father-son coaching combination that has won five state titles ... in two different sports ... coaching both boys and girls? Send your answer to me via email (address is at the top of John’s Journal).

SOFT DRINK UPDATE

After wandering aimlessly through the proverbial desert from golf course to golf course to golf course this week and finding not one available Diet Coke, my reward awaited me in St. Cloud on Friday. My close personal friend Emmett Keenan, the St. Cloud Cathedral athletic director and a site manager for the 2A baseball tournament, took exceptionally good care of me.

A cooler in the tournament headquarters was stocked with several types of refreshments, including enough Diet Coke to swim in. It was a grand way to end a busy, fun week.

See you at Target Field!

--Diet Coke Count: Four

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 815
*Miles John has driven: 10,936

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



A Change At The Top and A Great Day For An Ace
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2011 8:58:41 PM

Hey! No rain! What a concept! Thursday was one of those days we all dream about when the winter winds are whipping across our state. I spent the day at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, completing my three-day tour of the state golf tournaments.

Ridges was the site of the Class 2A tournament, and there were two major headlines from the event: Red Wing ended a three-year run as girls state runner-up with a convincing victory and a young man from Staples-Motley got a hole-in-one. (Oh, there was also a stupidity-induced technology issue.) Let’s begin with the Red Wing girls …

A NEW DAY DAWNS

Minnewaska has been the queen of girls golf in Minnesota, winning a state-record five consecutive championships through last season. A year ago, Minnewaska edged Red Wing by one stroke for the team title. When nine-hole scores started coming in Thursday (the second day of the two-day tournament), it became clear that the Wingers were finally going to take home gold medals.

They finished 17 shots ahead of second-place Detroit Lakes, and Minnewaska was another 12 strokes behind the Lakers in third place. After receiving their medals and team trophy and posing for photos, the Wingers did what has become a Ridges tradition: they jumped into a small pond that borders the clubhouse.

Red Wing’s success throughout the season against the best 2A and 3A teams in the state is reason for discussing whether the Wingers are the best girls team in the state regardless of class. They beat Wayzata in two of three meetings and defeated Stillwater both times they met; Wayzata and Stillwater tied for the 3A state title on Wednesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids. Red Wing also outscored Minnewaska in two out of three regular-season tournaments and outshot Detroit Lakes in two tournaments.

The Wingers will move to Class 3A next season, setting up what should be an interesting and competitive season.

“I’m not saying we would have beaten Wayzata up there, but they wouldn’t have beat us today,” said Red Wing coach Mark Herzog. “We played really good today.”

The Wingers had a 330 team total on the first day and trailed Detroit Lakes by one shot. But their 311 team score Thursday blew away the competition. Junior Marisa Toivonen finished fourth among the individuals with a 158 total, and junior Katie Kesti, Drake-bound senior Danielle Brooks and senior Nikki Pasch also were in the top 10.

“I knew last year when we left here that we could be one of the top teams in both classes,” Herzog said. “I thought we were good enough to beat anybody this year, and we beat all the teams this year. You want to play good when it counts, and we played good today, really good.”

THE ACE FROM STAPLES-MOTLEY

Michael Strain's second career hole-in-one will be etched a little bit deeper into his memory than the first. The junior from Staples-Motley had already recorded an ace on his home course,The Vintage at Staples, but getting one in the state tournament is going to be awfully hard to top.

"I'll remember this forever," Strain (left) said of his ace on the 154-yard 17th hole Thursday in Jordan. "The second-to-last hole in the state tournament on the last day? It's go big or go home, and I went big."

Strain had chipped in on the 16th hole, and his back-nine score of 33 gave him a 72 for the day and a 147 total. That gave him a share of seventh place with Shattuck-St. Mary's sophomore Anthony Brodeur, son of NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Michael is a left-handed golfer, which worked to his advantage on No. 17. "I hit a 9-iron and I was about 150 yards out," he said. "It was setting up really good for me because it was a back-right pin and the tee was on the left and I play a big hook as a lefty. It just kind of went in the hole. It bounced once."

TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

Let me start this segment of today's essay with an admission: I have bad hands. On Wednesday, I dropped my camera on my laptop and the computer did not like it one bit. The screen went all kablooey on me, rendering the laptop useless. My wife, as it happens, had brought home a new iPad 2 earlier this week, so her hubby convinced her to let him take it for a test run in Jordan. She was smart enough to buy a keyboard for her iPad, and our 20-year-old daughter showed her butter-fingered fathered how to find and use a program on which John's Journal could be constructed.

It worked like a dream, too. It was massively easy to spin around on the internet to Twitter and Facebook and the MSHSL website, etc., and stay updated on all the state quarterfinal baseball games that were played Thursday. And if you are reading this, my wife might not get her iPad back for a while...

--Diet Coke Count: Zero for the third day in a row. Again, Thursday's golf venue offered an alternate soft drink. I will be in St. Cloud for the Class 2A state baseball semifinals Friday, and here's hoping my Diet Coke habit will resume at Dick Putz Field.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 811
*Miles John has driven: 10,810

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



One Rookie Player, One Veteran Coach, Two Wonderful Stories
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/15/2011 9:43:53 PM

Wednesday began with rain on the three golf courses that are being used for state tournaments this week. In the afternoon the sky cleared and it looked like nothing but sunshine for the rest of the day. And then storm clouds gathered for muster on the western horizon and attacked in force.

The Class 3A tournament, which began Tuesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids, was played to completion for the boys and the girls field. Rogers and Wayzata shared the 3A boys team title and Forest Lake’s Max Kelly was the individual champion. On the girls side, the team from Wayzata took home gold and the individual title was shared by Cretin-Derham Hall's Celia Kuenster and Stillwater's Cassie Diggs.

Meanwhile, the Class 2A tourney in Jordan and the 1A event in Becker began their scheduled two-day run Wednesday. I spent the day in Becker in my usual manner: working on stories that go beyond the normal everyday “game” stories. And boy did I land on two great stories. Some of my many tipsters around the state had pointed me in the right direction; in fact, more than one tipster had told me about each of these stories.

THE ROOKIE

Let’s start with Windom senior Jessy Grove. For most of his senior year he was known as the kid with the concussions. He suffered the first one in the fourth game of the football season, returned for basketball and had concussion number two. Doctors said no more contact sports, so Jessy had to give up on playing baseball – his favorite sport – this spring.

He plays a lot of golf each summer, so that’s the team he went to. “I knew I didn’t want to end my high school career by sitting on the bench,” he told me. But he wasn’t even given clearance to play golf until well after the season had started.

Suffering from severe headaches, he missed 43 days of school after the second concussion. After seeing a series of doctors, he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Jessy became a spokesperson for concussion awareness and safety, testifying before the House Education Reform Committee at the State Capitol in St. Paul.

So to see him on the course at Pebble Creek in Becker, representing his school this week … well, it’s darn near miraculous.

“This is his first year … first half a year, I should say,” said Windom coach Dave Eyberg (pictured above with Jessy). “He didn’t get cleared for anything except golf, and that wasn’t until about a month and a half ago. So it’s quite a story.”

Indeed it is, especially the end of the story. That’s the 1A state tournament, which was not on Jessy’s radar at all.

Jessy shot a 42 on the first nine holes Wednesday and a 46 on the back side for an 88, putting him in the middle of the pack for Thursday’s final 18 holes.

“I went out for golf and state wasn’t really even an option,” he said. “For the team, that was about it, but not as an individual. This whole year has been crazy. To make it to the state tournament in a sport I’ve played for half a season is pretty crazy.”

THE VETERAN

Jerry Loegering isn’t the kind of guy to boast. But the Barnesville High School girls golf coach has plenty of reason to bust a couple of buttons this week.

Loegering, 78, began his career as a science teacher in 1951, moved to Barnesville from his native North Dakota in 1957 and created the girls golf program there in 1975. He almost retired from coaching after last season. Almost.

“I was thinking about it last year, but then they bugged me,” he said with a smile Wednesday, pointing toward his players on the practice range in Becker. So he hung around for one more year, which is ending with history. The 2011 Trojans are the first team from Barnesville to go to state in girls golf.

There were no seniors on last year’s team, which finished three shots out of first place (and a berth at state) in the Section 6 tournament. Current seniors Elizabeth Anderson, Chelsey Halverson and Nikki Hammer were part of the reason the coach stuck around.

“He told us he wanted to finish it out with us three seniors,” Hammer said. “I think he knew we could make it this year. He said we have a chance of making it, so we’ve got to keep that in the back of of our minds at all times and push ourselves.”

When scores at this year’s section tourney were being posted, it was quite nerve-wracking for the Trojans and their coach. “Mr. Loegering wouldn’t even go look at the scores,” Hammer said. “And he’s usually the one who keeps us calm.”

Jerry, who retired from teaching in 1993, has been around for so long that his former students include a few grandparents of current students. One of them is Ione Hammer, grandmother of Nikki Hammer and her sister Sami, a junior on the golf team.

“He’s special,” Sami said of the coach. “He’s meant a lot to all of us over the years.”

Jerry has coached individual players at state tournaments before, but this week’s experience is pretty darn special.

“Oh, it’s great. It’s great,” he said. “We were hoping, because we had everybody back. We had the three seniors this year. The team will have three pretty good golfers back next year, plus there are a few more at home.”

--Diet Coke Count: Zero (they sell some other brand of soft drink at the course in Becker.)

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 795
*Miles John has driven: 10,760

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



St. Cloud Apollo’s “Solid Six” Make Golf History
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2011 9:25:42 PM

While Dani Torgerson, a junior from St. Cloud Apollo, was playing in the first round of the Class 3A state golf tournament Tuesday, she had a brief conversation with one of her playing partners about the size of their schools’ team rosters.

Stillwater junior Alex Zeuli told Torgerson that the Ponies had 61 girls out for golf this spring. After the round, Dani enjoyed recounting that conversation with the other members of the Apollo squad … all five of them.

The Eagles call themselves “the Solid Six.” And they have been making some solid history this season: the first Central Lakes Conference championship for an Apollo girls or boys golf team, the first section title for an Apollo girls or boys golf team, as well as the first team appearance at state golf in school history.

The Solid Six are seniors Jenna Traut and Katie Kruchten, juniors Dani Torgerson and Hannah Erickson, sophomore Madison Mack and eighth-grader Nikki Torgerson. They are not just the only girls golfers at their school, they also grew up together. All but Traut are neighbors on Polaris Court, a cul-de-sac in north St. Cloud, and Traut said she lives about five minutes away.

“She’s like our adopted sister,” Erickson said of Traut after the Eagles completed the first 18 holes of the two-day tournament at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids.

The Eagles probably surprised some people with their first-round performance. They had a fifth-place team score of 358 after 18 holes, with Kruchten shooting an 86, Mack a 90 and Dani Torgerson and Traut both at 91. The top four scores for each team are counted; Nikki Torgerson and Erickson shot 95s Tuesday.

The Eagles are 27 strokes behind first-place Wayzata in the eight-team field, so the odds of a miraculous second-day effort and state championship are long. But the journey to state is just as important as the outcome, and the Apollo girls’ journey began so long ago that the players have a hard time remembering when they didn’t play golf together.

They share memories away from golf, too, of course. Rollerblading, biking, telling ghost stories around a neighborhood fire pit and on and on. “Katie had some old pictures the other day,” Dani Torgerson said. “We were like 7 years old and we were all wearing golf clothes.”

The biggest name in Apollo girls golf history is Samantha Sommers, who won 3A individual state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Erickson and Traut were in seventh grade when Sommers was a senior.

“We looked up to her and we were kind of in awe of her because she was so good,” Erickson said. Traut said she was “kind of intimidated by (Sommers), and we had high expectations to live up to.”

One of the biggest hurdles this season for Apollo was getting past Alexandria, which had won the previous nine Central Lakes titles and has made 17 trips to state.

“At the beginning of the season we were a few strokes behind in every meet we played with Alexandria,” Traut said. “Then we were neck and neck, and we started playing better golf near the end of the season.”

Kruchten played on the golf team at St. Cloud Cathedral when she was in seventh and eighth grade, and she went to state with Cathedral as an eighth-grader. Using that small slice of state experience, this week she told her Apollo teammates to “stay relaxed, because it’s hard to play when you’re tense and stressed with every shot.”

Traut was a relative latecomer to golf, beginning to play when she was a freshman. “We were all good friends with Jen, and we begged her to go out for the team so there’d be a solid six,” Kruchten said. “She’s been us since my freshman year. It’s been fun.”

The word “fun” popped up frequently as the Eagles chatted Tuesday. The most fun of the whole thing was playing at state as a team; six girls who continue growing up together.

“It’s so much fun to be here with the team and not be out there alone,” Kruchten said. In fact, as the players crossed paths with each other on the course Tuesday, Dani Torgerson spotted Kruchten.

“I ran up to Katie and gave her a huge hug,” she said.

With Kruchten and Traut graduating, the Eagles will need to find some new players next season. That should not be a problem.

“Hopefully this will get some people motivated about golf,” Dani Torgerson said.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 779
*Miles John has driven: 10,680

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



Kicking Off Another Busy Week Of State Tournaments
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2011 2:39:02 PM

We’re all rested and ready for more fun and games, with the state golf and baseball tournaments keeping everybody hopping this week. I’m writing this from Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, site of the Class 3A boys and girls golf tourney.

The 3A competition began today and will end Tuesday. The Class 2A tourney at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan and 1A at Pebble Creek in Becker will begin Tuesday and be completed Wednesday. The format is the same for all three tournaments: boys and girls individuals and teams play 18 holes each day. Weather can be a factor, but let’s hope that is not the case this week.

Baseball action begins Thursday with state quarterfinals and continues Friday with semifinals, leading up to the state championship games in all three classes next Tuesday, June 21, at Target Field.

I’ll have more later today…



Some Of The State Track Stories That Will Stay With Me…
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2011 10:38:55 PM

Every year, it seems as if I leave the state track meet with a similar thought: There is an unending supply of great stories that come out of this event. As I sit at home on this Saturday night, trying to do justice to what took place this year, I have decided to focus on three stories.

One concerns a familiar name to track fans, one is about a newcomer who burst on the scene Saturday and then shared a very special moment with her father, and one is about a team that said goodbye to its coach as he shipped off for an overseas military deployment just days before the state meet. Here are a few memories that were made Saturday at Hamline University’s Klas Field …

THE SUPERSTAR FROM BAGLEY/FOSSTON

In 2008, a ninth-grader from Bagley/Fosston raised some eyebrows by winning the Class 1A girls triple jump. She also placed second in the 200 meters and fifth in the high jump that year. Her name was Analisa Huschle, and on Saturday she completed one of the most remarkable careers in Minnesota high school track history.

Analisa won the long jump on Friday, and on Saturday she captured gold medals in the triple jump, 100 and 200. That gave her an astounding career total of 10 state championships, including four in the triple jump. She helped Bagley/Fosston win the 1A team championship in 2009, and they shared this year’s title with St. Peter.

After she had that 10th gold medal placed around her neck, I asked Analisa about her day, her weekend and her high school track experiences.

“I feel amazing,” she said, which was also a fine way to describe what she has accomplished. She said four state titles this weekend “was my goal, but anything could have happened.”

Analisa is soft-spoken – especially with the media – and rarely shows any emotion. But her emotions surfaced at least twice Saturday. The first moment came when her time of 24.68 seconds in the 200 (her final event) was announced. Upon hearing her time, she stopped in her tracks, put her hands on top of her head and had a look of amazement on her face (right).

“I was really surprised when I got that time, because I felt really tired,” she said. “But I guess it didn’t matter."

As she talked about the final day of her high school career, Analisa became a little teary-eyed. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” she said. “It was perfect. My career has been amazing.”

Nobody will argue with that.

THE NEWCOMER … AND HER DAD

As the Class 2A girls 1,600-meter race unfolded Saturday, most fans expected to see Jamie Piepenberg of Alexandria and Maria Hauger of Shakopee battle to the finish. They are well-known names in cross-country as well as track, and they finished first (Piepenberg) and second (Hauger) in Friday’s 3,200.

I was standing near the finish line Saturday. As the runners came down the home stretch, a man standing behind me shouted over and over, “Christina! Christina! Christina!” And sure enough, the winner of the race was Christina Monson, a sophomore from Albert Lea. The man was her father, Maurie Monson.

Christina had finished third in Friday’s 3,200, a good distance behind Piepenberg and Hauger (a year ago she also placed third in the 3,200, with Hauger and Piepenberg finishing 1-2). But she outkicked them and everyone else in Saturday’s 1,600. And when she jogged over to the fence and hugged her dad as they both cried … well, that was easily the most memorable single moment of the weekend for me.

“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Maurie said to me. “I can’t believe it.”

He told me that the Albert Lea coaches had convinced Christina to change her strategy for the 1,600. Her normal plan has been to go out hard from the start, take the lead and hope to hold off the field. But her coaches said she couldn’t do that with Piepenberg and Hauger. They were just too strong, and she needed to run a tactical race.

“It was so hard for me to do,” a smiling Christina told me. “Usually I just go out and get the lead, because I feel confident there. I just go and that’s just how I run. They told me today, ‘You can’t let it all go right away because you have to have that energy at the end.’ I really had to hold back, which is a strategy I’ve never, ever had to do before.”

While Maurie was stationed at the finish line, Christina’s mom (Debbie) was on the backstretch as part of the family strategy. “He’s always at the finish line, making sure I’m picking up the pace,” Christina said. “And my mom is on the backstretch, telling me to relax.”

I asked her if she always hugs her father after races. She said, “If it’s a big one, I definitely do.”

And this was the biggest one of all.

RUNNING FOR THEIR ABSENT COACH

The Pillager Huskies boys ran at state without their head coach. Jim Bentson, who teaches high school social studies, also is a member of the military. He reported to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin a little more than a week ago, and later that same day the Huskies ran in the Class 1A Section 6 meet.

Wesley DeLong qualified for state in the 400 meters, and Sean Nokken, Devin Strack, Matt Neurerur and DeLong qualified in the 4x400 relay. Their coach is making his third overseas deployment with his National Guard unit; he will head for Kuwait, followed by time in Iraq and Afghanistan, assisting troops who are headed back to the U.S. Bentson is part of the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, a Minnesota Army National Guard Battalion headquartered in New Ulm.

DeLong finished fourth in the 400 Saturday and the relay team placed fifth. According to Nokken, “He called me yesterday and he said, ‘I know I can’t be there, but I just want you guys to run like I’m there.’Because every time we come around that last corner, he’s yelling at us. Our inspiration for the whole rest of the year is him, to make sure he stays safe.”

Since their coach left, the Huskies’constant companion has been a maroon flag that says “Pillager 1-125 FA,” signifying Bentson’s unit.

“Before he left, he just told us to be what we can be,” DeLong said. “The banner is in honor of our coach.”

DIET COKE UPDATE

--Special Commendation: As I wrote during the state softball tournament, I am absolutely not attempting to bribe anyone to supply me with Diet Coke. But nonetheless … when I arrived in the press box at Hamline on Saturday, Hamline sports information director and all-around wonderful person Stephanie Harris had six plastic bottles of Diet Coke sitting in a cooler of ice for me. I put down four bottles during the 12-hour day, and the remaining two were snatched up in a red-hot hurry when I offered them up inside the media work room.

--To see a photo of the Pillager relay team with their flag, along with lots of other photos from the state track meet, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: Four

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 763
*Miles John has driven: 10,652



Lightning, Rain, Games Are Halted And Online Debate Begins
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/10/2011 4:25:49 PM

NORTH MANKATO -- I wrote Thursday that if you don’t know anything about Twitter or Facebook, I won’t try to explain them to you. But here’s something you should know about Twitter and Facebook: they are wonderful “town square” venues for discussions.

That was the case after bad weather cut short the first day of the state softball tournament here at Caswell Park. Lightning, followed by rain, caused play to stop during the evening, and no fans and teams were more upset than the folks from Pipestone. The Arrows were trailing Park Center 3-1 through five innings in the Class 2A semifinals when the game was halted. On another field, Cherry/Cotton was leading Blooming Prairie 3-0 in the third inning of a 1A semifinal when the fields were cleared.

The 2A game was called a final because it had completed five innings. The 1A was finished Friday morning because not enough innings had been completed to make it official before the rain. The rulebook was followed to the letter, and that’s when Facebook and Twitter came to life. Here are some of the postgame postings from Thursday evening…

“Thank you! For ending seniors chances to finish a game that deffinently needed to be finish! And I think a lot of people agree! so thanks”

“There are a lot of rules printed. How they are administered is what really matters. In this situation, it would have been better for both teams to play it out. This is state, win without questions left on the table.”

“All their hardwork goes down the drain. c'mon think about it.”

“How can a 2 run game in the state tournament be called early? I don't get it.”

“Prefer MSHSL be proactive w/ looking at rules/policies. These games are worth mire than a May game.”

A few people posted comments that agreed with the decision to play by the rules…

“Regardless of frustration about how it ended...the reality is that you always know when you play a game that can be impacted by weather that it might be ended before you ‘get a chance to win.’ Emotion of a game doesn't dictact ‘Getting to finish.’ It's easier to say ‘We could have won if we finished’ than to admit ‘We didn’t take advantage of earlier opportunities and win in the innings that were played.’

“So, you guys really feel that the MSHSL should have came in and said, ‘aww, we feel bad, lets ignore the rules and let you finish your game’? It is the same rules they have been playing by all year long. Its just more front and center when the umpires have to make the call at the State tourney.”

(Feel free to go to the MSHSL Facebook page, scroll down a bit and take a gander at all the comments.)

It was quite a rollicking online evening, which continued into the early morning. It was well past midnight and I was sitting at my computer in my hotel room, monitoring the comments on Twitter and Facebook, answering some questions and basically giving everyone a chance to vent. On Facebook, I posted the section of the rulebook concerning regulation games and suspended games. Here’s what the rule says…

“It is a regulation game if: (a) five full innings have been played; or the home team at bat has scored an equal or greater number of runs in four or four-and-a-fraction turns at bat than the visiting team has scored in five turns at bat; or (b) play has gone beyond five full innings and is called when the teams have not had an equal number of completed turns at bat … Games called are over if they are regulation, even if less than 7 innings have been completed.”

“A suspended game is any game that is ended before it becomes a regulation game or a regulation game that has a tie score when ended. A suspended game shall be continued from the point of suspension at a later time. The line-up and batting order of each team shall be exactly the same as the line-up and batting order at the moment of suspension subject to the rules governing the game. NOTE: The Suspended Game Rule is in effect for all regular season and post-season games (sub-section, section and state).”

Softball tournament officials, including some who have been involved with state softball for most of the tournament’s 35-year history, could not recall any previous games that were not played to a full seven innings. In some years, bad weather has caused consolation-round games to not be played at all, but Thursday’s events were very, very rare.

CHAMPIONS: Hastings, Park Center, New Life Academy

Friday’s weather was fine, if a bit chilly. All the games were played, and our new state champions are Hastings in Class 3A, Park Center in 2A and New Life Academy in 1A. Two of the champions are not really “new” however. New Life Academy became the first team to win four consecutive state softball titles, and Park Center is a back-to-back state champ. Congratulations to all the teams that played at state.

--For the second day in a row, I held an online John’s Journal giveaway contest. Thursday’s challenge was: “The first person at Caswell Park to tell me ‘John's Journal is epic and awesome’ wins a prize.” It took a little while, but Bloomington Jefferson athletic director Brian Fell was the winner. Friday’s contest: “The first person from Pipestone to tell me in person (while smiling) ‘The MSHSL does a great job!’ will win a very nice prize.” Our winner was Pipestone senior Jacob Schneider.

--I know that opening an umbrella indoors is considered to be bad luck. Too bad, but I had my umbrella opened in the bathtub of my hotel room overnight. During Thursday’s night rain, I leaned it against the door of the tournament headquarters trailer. Except I set it upside down, so the rain fell INSIDE the umbrella …and it was soaked both inside and out. Yes, I am a genuis.

--I think I have somehow unwittingly bribed tournament personnel to keep my bloodstream flowing with Diet Coke. As I wrote earlier, media steward/supervisor of scorekeepers Scott Nelsen had a cold Diet Coke waiting for me when I arrived at Caswell Park on Thursday. Come Friday, Scott had another one on ice for me, as did statistician coordinator Don Stoner. I can’t wait to see what’s in store when I go to Hamline University for the state track meet on Saturday.

--Diet Coke Count: Four

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 723
*Miles John has driven: 10,624

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



Diet Coke, An Umpire On Twitter And A Nice Mauer Move
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2011 7:51:44 PM

NORTH MANKATO -- I walked into the media room at the state softball tournament Thursday morning and knew immediately that it was going to be a wonderful day. Veteran media steward Scott Nelsen had a nice cold Diet Coke waiting for me, and that got the festivities at Caswell Park off to a rollicking start.

This is the 35th annual state softball tournament, and this event is always a mix of great games, enthusiastic crowds, weather concerns and a schedule that can best be described as fluid. Thursday’s schedule was tweeked due to some graduation ceremonies, and the same is true for Friday’s girls state lacrosse tournament.

North St. Paul and Forest Lake both held graduation Thursday night, so when those teams advanced to Thursday’s Class 3A semifinals against each other, the game was moved from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. Forest Lake came out on top 3-1, and if anybody saw a softball-themed caravan of cars zipping north on Highway 169, it’s a pretty safe bet it was the Rangers and the Polars. Forest Lake will meet Hastings in Friday’s 3A title game, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (fingers crossed; eyes on the sky).

(Weather Bulletin: Play was delayed at 7:50 p.m. Thursday when lightning zipped across the sky. Rain followed, play was stopped for the day and the rulebook was followed to the letter as far as which games were declared to be over and which games were to be resumed Friday morning.)

As for girls lacrosse, Eden Prairie and Blake won state semifinals on Wednesday to move into Friday’s title game. The championship game was originally scheduled for 8 p.m., but Eden Prairie’s graduation will also be held Friday night. So the title game will begin at 2 p.m. at Chanhassen High School, followed by the third-place game between Stillwater and Bloomington Jefferson (once again, weather permitting).

So with those scheduling concerns out of the way, let’s move on to a few assorted notes and quotes from a day of softball…

--Mallory Peebles is a young reporter for KEYC-TV in Mankato. When I introduced myself to her, she was happy to meet someone with knowledge of the tournament. Mallory is a California native who is new to Minnesota, and this wild and wacky softball scene can be a little difficult to figure out for newcomers. She asked, “Can I interview you?” Knowing that today’s modern television equipment is nearly immune to failure when pointed at a face made for radio, I agreed. Mallory asked me about the tournament format, the teams involved, the competition and lots of other great questions.

--Pitching was a major theme on day one, especially in the Class 2A quarterfinals. Park Center’s Nicole Tada threw a five-inning perfect game with 13 strikeouts in the Pirates’ 15-0 win over Albany; Hermantown’s Katue Thun tossed a one-hitter and fanned 10 in a 10-0 victory over St. Paul Johnson; and Mankato East’s Nicole Ries threw a six-inning one-hitter and struck out 12 as the Cougars beat Zumbrota-Mazeppa 9-1. In the other 2A quarterfinal, Pipestone beat Fergus Falls 3-2 despite a combined one-hitter by Fergus Falls’ Aimee Magnusson and Sadie Knudson.

--The MSHSL’s decision to add a new class in football for the largest 32 schools in 2012 continues to be a talker. State softball statistician coordinator Don Stoner posed this question to me Thursday: “What number is higher: the miles you have driven, the Diet Cokes you have consumed or the times you have been asked about seven-class football?” Answer: 10,624, four for the day, and countless.

--The Twitter universe is quite unique. (If you don’t know anything about Twitter I won’t try to explain it.) On Wednesday evening I received this message via Twitter: “Will I see you in Mankato tomorrow?” The answer was affirmative. By Thursday afternoon, I had watched the Twitter sender work a game as the home plate umpire, gave her a fist bump as she left the field after the game, and later shot a photo of her with her children. And of course, I sent her a copy of the photo via Twitter. (To see the photo and learn the umpire’s identity, go to the softball photo gallery on the MSHSL Facebook page. And if Facebook is a mystery to you, I cannot help you.)

--Softball has to be the most comfortable tournament around. People stroll into Caswell Park bringing lawn chairs and blankets, and there is plenty of room to spread out. The bleachers are usually full at all the fields, with plenty of fans sitting beyond the outfield fences on lawn chairs … or laying on blankets … or just kicking back on the good old green grass

--MSHSL executive director Dave Stead, who was on hand for much of Thursday’s action, saw me from a distance, smiled and began walking toward me. I thought, “Here we go; is he gonna make fun of my brand new black tennis shoes with red laces or will he make fun of my legs (I was wearing shorts).” It was the legs – which are seriously free of any semblance of a tan. Dave, a golfer, pointed downward and said, “They look like out-of-bounds markers.” For the non-golfers, such markers are painted white. Funny guy.

--The aforementioned Scott Nelsen and Don Stoner are part of the army of people who make all the state tournaments go. Scott is the assistant athletic communications director at Minnesota State here in Mankato and Don is the sports information director at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. These guys are pro’s pros ... and I’m not just saying that in the hopes that the gratis Diet Cokes will keep appearing.

--The name “Mauer” is synonomous with St. Paul and baseball. But the Mauer name also is carrying some weight at this softball tournament in Mankato. After St. Paul Johnson won the Class 2A Section 4 title, coach Ron Snaza began exploring options for transporting the Governors to state. He knows a relative of Billy Mauer (brother of Joe), who is one of the owners of Mauer Chevrolet in Inver Grove Heights. Billy gave the Johnson team the use of two Chevy Tahoes (above) for the tournament. Snaza said he asked Billy, “What do we owe you?” The answer: No charge.

--All three state championship games will be streamed live on the internet at http://prep45.kstc45.com. The games will be produced by grandstadium.tv and the announcers will be Tom Witschen, Chris Tubbs and Matt Nelson.

--Diet Coke Count: Four.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 723
*Miles John has driven: 10,624

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



State Tennis, State Track: The Busiest Spring Athlete In Minnesota
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2011 6:53:19 PM

Some amazing stories are being told this week at the boys state tennis tournament. Probably the most well-known player is Ingrid Neel, a seventh-grade female who is part of the Class 2A boys championship team from Rochester Mayo. Montevideo senior Eric Johnson qualified for the 1A tournament with doubles partner Jesse Brace. Oh by the way, Eric has a prosthetic left leg as a result of a childhood accident.

And then there is Brendan “Beezer” Skime, who is the busiest athlete in Minnesota this week. The senior from Thief River Falls competed with his Prowlers tennis teammates as they finished fourth in the Class 1A tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday in Minneapolis. He’ll stay in town for the rest of the week, but he’s not finished competing at state.

Come Friday, Skime (right) will compete in the 3,200-meter run in the 1A state track meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. On Saturday he will run the 1,600 meters, and that will complete a high school career like few others. By the time Skime hits the finish line on Saturday, he will have competed in 12 different state tournaments in four sports.

He’s been to state six times in tennis (joining the varsity as a seventh-grader), three times in cross-country, twice in track and once in hockey. He’s especially busy in the spring, going to tennis practice after school and getting in some miles for track in the evening. He’s the only two-sport spring athlete in Thief River Falls for as long as anybody can remember.

“Sometimes it’s hard,” he said Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center, site of the 1A tournament. “You don’t get to spend time with friends when you have to practice with the tennis team and then do a running workout. But it’s still fun.”

About that nickname. When Brendan was young, his favorite hockey player was NHL goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, whose nickname was Beezer. “My dad shot a softball at me, it hit me and he said, ‘Bonk on the Beezer.’ It just stuck with me ever since.” I asked Brendan if anyone ever calls him Brendan. Answer: Negative. In fact, the lane assignments for the state track meet have him officially listed as “Beezer Skime.”

Beezer is not only a committed and experienced athlete, he also is talented. He placed 15th and ninth at state in cross-country the last two years and was 15th in the 3,200 at the state track meet last year.

“He manages everything real well,” said Thief River Falls tennis coach Tim Engelstad. “He’s an exceptional young man.”

Beezer didn’t join the track team until his junior year. It’s no surprise that Prowlers boys and girls track coach Lynn Dyer urged him to give it a try.

“I made it to state when I was a sophomore in cross-country and then I wanted to (join track) as a sophomore but it didn’t work out because it was too late,” Skime said. “My junior year the track coach, Lynn Dyer, said, ‘The 3,200 would be a good race for you.’ ”

Beezer will attend North Dakota State University in the fall and be part of the cross-country and track teams. He calls tennis his No. 1 priority because it’s the sport he has played the longest.

One of his toughest decisions came last month when the Section 8 tennis tournament coincided with a sub-section track meet. Beezer -- who qualified for state tennis as an individual last year (when the two sports didn’t have a section conflict) -- had to make a hard decision this year and he chose track.

“This year it didn’t work out,” he said. “It was tough.”

His senior year has been pretty special, considering that he will have competed in four state tournaments. But it all seems to be part of the plan.

“I’m always practicing and working out, trying to improve,” he said.

--I’ll be in North Mankato on Thursday and Friday for the state softball tournament and at Hamline on Saturday for the second day of state track. As always seems to be the case, weather may play a factor in the softball tourney at Caswell Park. There’s a 70 percent chance of rain in the Mankato area on Friday with a high temp of 59 degrees (out with the sunblock, in with the umbrella). But looking at the half-full glass, the conditions Thursday for softball and Saturday for track look outstanding. Cross your fingers, everybody.

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

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 699
*Miles John has driven: 10,488

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



Late Night Lacrosse (With Plenty Of Fluids)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2011 12:40:32 AM

When the final game horn sounded at around 11 p.m. Tuesday evening, the weather conditions were pretty darn decent … considering what had transpired earlier in the day. The temperatures leaped past 100 degrees in much of Minnesota, and Tuesday’s boys state lacrosse semifinal games were moved back one hour in order to make the conditions easier to handle.

The two semifinals – which had their starting times moved to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. – were worth the wait, too. Top-seeded and defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s had its hands full before defeating fourth-seeded Burnsville 11-10, and second-seeded Eden Prairie got an unassisted goal by sophomore Jake Woodring with 10.8 seconds left in regulation to hold off No. 3 seed White Bear Lake 5-4.

Shortly before the first game began, the temperature on the artificial turf at Chanhassen High School was 120 degrees. Thus the sideline sights of extra buckets of water, coolers filled with ice and towels soaked in that ice.

The Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights began hydrating on Saturday, when their coaches took a look at the forecast. After all, athletes can’t start pounding the fluids on game day and expect to be prepared for the kind of conditions that Tuesday presented.

“It was a big concern,” said Benilde coach Colin Mulcahy. “With a heat index over 100, anything can happen. We didn’t want any of our boys to go down.”

Everyone appeared healthy after both games, thanks to smart preparation and teams of trainers and managers who kept the players hydrated, iced and sprayed with water.

The girls lacrosse state semifinals will take place at Chanhassen on Wednesday, with top-seeded Blake facing No. 4 seed Bloomington Jefferson at 6 p.m. and No. 2 seed Eden Prairie and No. 3 seed Stillwater meeting at 8 p.m.

The boys state tennis tournament also will continue Wednesday with team competition, before singles and doubles are held Thursday and Friday.

And the weather looks to be improving, which is about the best news of all.

--To see a photo gallery from the boys lacrosse semifinals, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 695
*Miles John has driven: 10,440

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



Heat Alert: Boys Lacrosse Semifinals Delayed One Hour
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/7/2011 1:43:24 PM

Today's excessive heat, with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher, is having an impact on high school athletic events.

Today’s boys lacrosse state semifinal games at Chanhassen High School will begin one hour later than planned in order to make the conditions as safe as possible. The new schedule has Benilde-St. Margaret's and Burnsville playing at 7 p.m, followed by Eden Prairie vs. White Bear Lake at 9 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning. In addition, the turf field the game will be played on will be hotter than the air temperature. Tournament officials may also implement scheduled one-minute water breaks every four minutes during game time.

In southeastern Minnesota, today's Class 3A Section 1 baseball championship game between Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo has been moved back one hour (from 5 to 6 p.m.), also due to high temps.

If you're competing or cheering, please keep plenty of water on hand and keep an eye on each other. The weather is supposed to be much more confortable later in the week, so let's hope for better conditions.



Here’s A Spring State Tournament Primer...
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2011 9:32:43 PM

Let’s swing the gate open on a big two-week stretch of state tournaments. From the Twin Cities to Mankato, from Becker to Jordan, from St. Cloud to Chaska, there will be plenty of action to follow this week and next as we wrap up the school year.

This week’s lineup includes boys tennis, boys and girls lacrosse, girls softball and boys and girls track and field. The boys and girls golf tournament will be held next week, along with quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the state baseball tournament. The year will come to a close in grand style at Target Field on June 21 when baseball champions will be crowned in three classes.

Here is a brief look at each of this week’s tournaments. This is by no means a complete list of what to watch for, but let’s highlight just a few of the storylines…

BOYS TENNIS
Team competition Tuesday and Wednesday; singles and doubles Thursday and Friday. Class 2A at U of M’s Baseline Tennis Center, Class 1A at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
--Defending team champs/ Blake (1A), Eden Prairie (2A)
--Defending singles/doubles champs
*John Hill, senior, St. Paul Academy (1A singles)
*Dusty Boyer, junior, Forest Lake (two-time defending 2A singles champion)
*Wyatt McCoy, senior, Mounds View (won 2A singles title in 2007).
*Ford Traff, junior, Blake, seeks his third doubles title. He will compete this year with a new partner, sophomore Kai Skallerud.
*Ryan Erickson, senior, Hopkins, won 2A doubles in 2010, now playing singles.
--Keep an eye on Rochester Mayo team member Ingrid Neel, a seventh-grader.


BOYS AND GIRLS LACROSSE
Tuesday through Friday at Chanhassen; Boys play Tuesday/Thursday, Girls Wednesday/Friday)
--Defending champ/ Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys, Blake girls
--Boys teams/ #1 seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-0), #4 Burnsville (11-6), #2 Eden Prairie (14-2), #3 White Bear Lake (12-4)
--Girls teams/ #1 seed Blake (14-0), #4 Bloomington Jefferson (14-2), #2 Eden Prairie (14-1), #3 Stillwater (14-2)


BOYS AND GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD
Friday and Saturday at Hamline University’s Klas Field
--Athletes/events to watch
*Boys 2A high jump/ Trevor Yedoni, senior, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, has cleared 7 feet and Franky Veldman, senior, Eastview, has cleared 6-11. State record of 7-1 could fall.
*Girls 2A discus/ Maggie Ewen, sophomore, St. Francis, set a state record this season.
*Boys 2A triple jump/ Michael Sandle, senior, Eden Prairie, also set a state record this spring.
*Girls 2A hurdles/ Jessica January, sophomore, Richfield, holds the state record in 100 hurdles, is defending champ in 100 and 300 hurdles.
*Girls 2A relays/ Hopkins has the best times in all four relays, eyes a sweep.
*Girls 1A star/ Analisa Huschle, senior, Bagley/Fosston, holds state record in long jump, tops 1A this year in long jump, triple jump, 100 and 200.
*Missing/ Devin Crawford-Tufts, senior, Edina, is the defending champ in 2A 100 and 200. Due to an injury, he did not qualify for state.

SOFTBALL
Thursday and Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato
1A/ New Life Academy has won three titles in a row and is trying to become the first team to win four championships in a row. Senior captains Rebekah Schmidt and Katie Stodolka are making their sixth trip to state. Schmidt tied a record by pitching three shutouts in last year’s tournament.
2A/ Defending champion Park Center returns. The Pirates bring back plenty of experience, since there was only one senior on last year’s team.
3A/ Bloomington Jefferson qualified for its first state tournament in style, beating defending champion Burnsville in the Section 3 finals. Shakopee is at state for the first time since 1980. Keep an eye on Brainerd coach Mike Zauhar, who should be easy to spot since he will be wearing a plastic “boot.” Leaping in celebration of the Warriors’ section title, he suffered a torn muscle attached to his left Achilles tendon.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 691
*Miles John has driven: 10,381

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



Football in June? MSHSL Board Approves Plan For 2012 Season
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2011 2:17:31 PM

Here we are in the midst of spring sports mania, and football is the main headline from today’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting. Go figure.

The board approved the lineup of classes and sections for 2012, when a new class will be added for the largest 32 schools. Class 6A will consist of four eight-team sections. The biggest buzz surrounds a section that consists of Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Armstrong, Shakopee, Wayzata and Minneapolis South. Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Wayzata have combined to win six state titles in the past seven years.

(To see the full list of class/section assignments for 2012 football, go to mshsl.org and look on the right side under “Popular Links.” The first link is the one you want: “2012 Football Competitive Section Assignments”)

Two schools opted up for the 2012 football season. Cretin-Derham Hall will play in 6A and Totino-Grace (which had already opted up to 5A for 2011) also will play in 5A in 2012.

The board also approved one football rule change, requiring four players to be positioned on each side of the kicker when an onside kick is attempted, and that no contact by the kicking team can take place until the ball has traveled 10 yards.

In other news from the meeting…

--The board approved a motion to have the League become a presenting partner of FIRST robotics competition. Minnesota will be the first state in the nation to have a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and a high school activities governing body.

--The election of new board officers for 2011-12 took place. Mindy Sparby, Belle Plaine activities director, will be the board president; vice president will be Mark Fredericksen, Waconia principal; and treasurer will be Luanne Wagner, St. Francis assistant principal.

--Six board members whose terms have expired were recognized. They are Carol Bomben of Eden Prairie, Ray Kirch of Osseo, Brent Robbins of Golden Valley, John Schumacher of Park Rapids, Bill Webb of Edina and Les Zellmann of St. James. When the board meets in August, new members will be Scott McCready of St. Charles, Roz Peterson of Lakeville, Lane Powell of Fillmore Central, Mark Solberg of Cambridge-Isanti and John Soma of Edina. One appointee by the governor’s office remains to be decided.



MSHSL Board of Directors meeting is underway
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2011 9:43:11 AM

The board’s June meeting has begun, and I’ll post a report once the meeting has ended.

This appears to be a fairly routine meeting, with few head-line grabbing possibilities. To see the agenda, look on the right side of mshsl.org for “League News.” The agenda is the first item under “Board of Director's Meeting Agenda - June 2011”

Board officers for the 2011-12 school year will be elected during this meeting.



Preparing For The Busiest Week Of The Year
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2011 8:56:53 PM

The weekend has arrived but that doesn’t mean anyone is slowing down. Across the state, teams and individual competitors are preparing for the busiest week of the high school year in Minnesota. Beginning Monday and running through Saturday night, the schedule is loaded.

The fun began Friday and Saturday with the state adapted softball tournament at Coon Rapids High School. To see video and a photo gallery from the tourney, go to the MSHSL Facebook page. (At right is Mark Braun of Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville.)

We will have some off-the-field action when the MSHSL Board of Directors meets on Monday morning at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The agenda is not as packed as is sometimes the case, but there are always items of interest to come from board meetings.

Spring state tournaments begin Tuesday, the first day of action for boys tennis as well as lacrosse for boys and girls. Both tournaments will extend through Friday. The state softball tournament will be held at Caswell Park in North Mankato on Thursday and Friday and the state track meet will take over Hamline University’s Klas Field on Friday and Saturday.

With four state tournaments being held in the same week, this five-day stretch is unmatched for the amount of action taking place.

I’ll be posting updates from the board meeting on Monday and from the tournaments the rest of the week, with full coverage of all the action being splashed across Twitter and Facebook, too.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 683
*Miles John has driven: 10,327

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



The Waiting Ends ... And A New State Record Is Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/1/2011 11:10:16 PM

Michael Sandle was growing weary of hearing the question, over and over and over. After every track meet for the last month, the Eden Prairie senior has been peppered with the same query: How close did you come to the state record?

The cross-examinations came to an end during Wednesday’s Class 2A Section 6 meet at Hopkins. Sandle broke the all-time state record in the boys triple jump, going 50 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his first attempt in the preliminaries. The previous record was 50-4, set by Blaine’s Reondo Davis in 1999.

Sandle has made a steady advance toward history. As a sophomore his best mark was 45-3 ½, and as a junior he won the state championship with a season-best leap of 49-5 ½. The questions about the state record began popping up after he jumped 50-3 ¼ at the Hamline Elite Meet on April 29. That was the second-best triple jump in Minnesota high school history, and since then Sandle has been thinking about the record.

“Every day,” he said. “Three quarters of an inch. It was like less than a fingernail, and it kept biting at me. That’s all everybody said: ‘How close were you? How close were you?’ ”

Sandle’s record jump was initially measured at 50-8, but when meet official Steve Gerber methodically re-checked the distance – ensuring the tape was not twisted – the official distance was announced as 50-4 ½. That was more than good enough for the record, and for Sandle.

“They pulled it back a little,” he said. “I’m just grateful that it was enough.”

He also was grateful that a new takeoff board had been painted at Hopkins earlier in the day. Knowing Sandle’s abilities and wanting to ensure the landing pit was long enough to contain him, Hopkins officials got out some white paint and put down a new broad stripe.

“They painted him a new board, and he was happy about that,” said Eden Prairie jump coach Bill Terriquez, a former longtime coach and administrator at Carleton College. “That was helpful. Prior to that he was hitting the long jump board and he actually had a little bruise on his foot from it.”

Sandle had leaped over 50 feet at Hopkins a couple weeks ago at the Lake Conference meet, and he woke up Wednesday expecting good things … once he realized that it wasn’t raining.

“I woke up this morning and I could have sworn it was raining. I was like, aaaahhh. But then when I took out the trash it was beautiful. For the last three years every section meet was a P.R. day and an amazing day. So I knew I was going to do something amazing today.”

He jumped twice in the prelims, going 50-2 on his second attempt. He passed on his first two jumps in the finals, concentrating on the 200-meter prelims (in which he had the fastest time in the prelims). On his only jump in the finals he went 48-10 ¼. He said he had figured he would go 49 feet on his first try and break the record on a subsequent jump.

“I said I was going to get a 49 and then I was going to break it. But I broke it on the first one; I had a little more than I thought I did.”

After the section meet, the only remaining opportunity to break the state record would have come at next week’s state meet at Hamline.

“I was counting down,” Sandle said. “But I knew that at either this meet or the next one, I was going to break it.”

And he’s not done yet, saying he thinks he can jump 52 feet at the state meet.

“I think I have a 52 in me, so I’ll definitely do that at Hamline,” he said. “When you work so hard, you know what your limits are and what your abilities are. When you get a 49, a 50, you know the big one’s coming pretty soon. I have no doubt in my mind that’s coming.”

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
--A new 2011 statewide season best was set in the girls high jump at the Section 6 meet Wednesday. Minneapolis Southwest junior Tatyana Pashibin (right) won the event with a leap of 5 feet, 8 inches. Prior to Wednesday, Pashibin in 2A and Caledonia/Spring Grove sophomore Emma Lange in 1A had both cleared 5-7 this season. The state record is 5-10 ¾.

--Edina senior Devin Crawford-Tufts, a Gophers football signee who won the Class 2A 100 and 200 at last year’s state meet, reinjured his left hamstring in the prelims of the 100 Wednesday. He finished the race behind several other runners and did not qualify for the finals. He later scratched in the 200 prelims.

--To see video and photos from Sandle’s record triple jump, as well as video of Crawford-Tufts running the 100 and photos of Pashibin and others, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 675
*Miles John has driven: 10,273

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



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