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Several Short Items Of Note … (With Updates)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/26/2013 1:19:25 PM

Things are quiet on the competitive front, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening with high school activities. Here are a few news items…

--Congratulations to St. Cloud Tech grad Nate Wolters and Roseville grad Mike Muscala, who were selected in Thursday night's NBA draft. After several trades, Nate is now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and Mike is with the Atlanta Hawks.

--Former Eastview girls basketball coach Paul Goetz is the school's new boys basketball coach. In 14 years, his girls teams made four trips to state. He stepped down as girls coach three years ago in order to watch his son Garrett play basketball at Rosemount.

--After 17 seasons, Phil Ward is retiring as boys basketball coach at Wayzata High School. Former assistant Nick Tibesar has been named interim Wayzata coach. He was Andover's head coach for the past two years and led the Huskies to state last season. (Full details of the Wayzata coaching change and interim/permanent coaching situation are posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.)

--1992 Staples-Motley High School graduate Dave Joerger has been named head coach by the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. He has been a Grizzlies assistant coach for six years.

--Congratulations to Eden Prairie graduate Nick Leddy on being part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championship.

--Coaching news: Kelly Lund has been named girls basketball coach at Blake. Jon Graff is the new baseball coach at Farmington.

--Named activities director at Mankato West is Brian Fell, formerly of Bloomington Jefferson.

--Faribault’s Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf was awarded the first-ever Deaf America Cup. The award is based on a series of criteria across all seasons and both boys and girls sports.

--Reminder to coaches and athletes: the no-contact period is June 29 through July 5. (Baseball and softball are exempt.)

--Returning officials: renewal registration for 2013-14 is due July 1. If you register after July 1 you will be assessed a late fee.



Congratulations To Maggie Ewen, National Champion
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/23/2013 10:56:42 AM

Maggie Ewen, St. Francis High School class of 2013, was a four-time MSHSL state champion in the Class 2A discus and won three state titles in the shot put.

On June 22 she added a national junior championship, winning the discus title at the 2013 USA Track and Field national meet in Des Moines, Iowa. Her winning distance of 179 feet, 6 inches was a personal best.

Maggie has qualified to represent the United States in the Pan American Junior Championships in Medellin, Columbia, Aug. 23-25.



Pressbox View: John's Journal job even better than his old one
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2013 9:49:20 PM

Editor's note: Rochester Post-Bulletin sports editor Craig Swalboski wrote about John's Journal this week. My thanks to Craig for taking the time to chat and writing a great story. Here is what he wrote ...


John Millea loved three decades of writing sports for newspapers.

But these last three years have been even better.

Millea writes the blog "John's Journal" for the Minnesota State High School League's Website.

"I'm a 30-year newspaper guy, 20 years at the Star Tribune," Millea said during a recent short break between spring sports state tournaments. "It's all I thought I'd ever do.

"With this job I don't need to be revitalized. Basically it's what I did with them (the Star Tribune)."

Feature stories, opinion pieces, news articles and short bits of information. His posts on subjects like Board of Directors meetings are far more interesting than a press release.

One thing has changed regarding the opinions.

"I used to often be critical of the High School League," he said. "One of my jokes has been that they hired me to shut me up.

"I'm almost entirely positive now. I work for the High School League now."

Talking about values

In the spring of 2010, MSHSL executive director Dave Stead developed an idea for a position of "media specialist," and in a conversation Millea said he said, "whether it's me or someone else, the High School League could use someone with more of a public face."

Stead was impressed with Millea's work at the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune and aware of the potential goodwill and pragmatic benefit of getting the League's message out to the public.

"I was looking for someone who could talk about the values of high school activities and who had a history with readers and our member schools," Stead recalled.

"I had talked with John several times at our tournaments and learned about his interests, and when the board agreed that the media position was a good idea, we sent out information about the application process, our staff conducted eight interviews with many good people, and ultimately we hired John.

"I'm really glad John chose to work for the MSHSL because his stories and his statewide connections support all the good things coaches, schools, and school communities choose to do for education-based athletic and fine arts programs. John is the best advocate for Minnesota schools I know of."

Millea said, "I never dreamed I'd be driving a car with the (MSHSL) shield on the side."

That car is recognized when Millea rolls into one of Minnesota's small towns (he has visited 725 schools or programs and piled up more than 10,000 miles on his car in the school year that just ended.)

"It's been well-received. People often notice when I'm at an event.

"My only frustration with the Star Tribune, and it was a minor one, was that over time it got more Twin Cities-centric.

"I'm just trying to spread the good news of what we do. And that's not only athletics. It's one-act plays, speech, debate…"

A recent entry — one of nearly 200 for the school year — was a feature on John Johnston, who is retiring after 50 seasons as golf coach at Becker.

"Frequently small-town newspapers ask to reprint our stories and there is no charge, we are happy to do it," Millea said.

Late last month, one of his posts was about an umpire who collapsed during a section tournament game and was revived by three spectators who knew medical procedures.

"I got an e-mail from someone who heard about it," Millea said. "I didn't even have to travel, I did that one over the phone. Those are great stories, the human stories."

Loves Twitter

Millea was laid off from his first newspaper job at Des Moines when the afternoon paper was discontinued in the early 1980s. He then headed up a two-man sports staff at Ottumwa, Iowa, then worked a few years out West before coming to Minnesota.

He covered some pro sports in Minneapolis, then settled into a high school coverage role full-time in 2000. In 2005, he wrote a Newsweek magazine "My Turn" column headlined "My Happy Adieu to Professional Sports," in which he said covering the high school sports is the best job in the business.

"A huge difference is I am on my own now," Millea said. "The original plan was for me to check with Dave Stead regarding my plans and early on we found there was no need to do that."

If Stead needs to reach Millea, he can always find him on Twitter.

"I'm like a smoker," Millea said. "The last thing I do before going to bed is check Twitter and instead of a cigarette, the first thing I do when I wake up is check Twitter."

He might jot off dozens of tweets on a busy game night, forwarding scores and highlights from all over the state.



BOLD’s Sandgren Survives Early Morning Nerves, Tosses One-Hitter
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2013 3:38:18 PM

Nerves? Oh yes, there were plenty of nerves for the ballplayers who walked into Target Field for Monday’s baseball state championship games.

For BOLD pitcher Logan Sandgren, the nerves struck long before the first pitch of the Class 1A game at 10 a.m.

“I woke up at about 3:30, sat up for a little bit, had the butterflies. Eventually I went back to bed,” he said. “I got up at 6:30 and went to breakfast. I still had unbelievable nerves.”

Once the lefthanded junior took the mound against Osakis, however, the nerves were nowhere to be seen … even if Sandgren was still feeling them. He very nearly pitched a no-hitter for the third consecutive game, giving up one hit in BOLD’s 3-0 victory over the Silverstreaks.

“I was nervous the first couple innings,” Sandgren said. “I was wild, and I sort of calmed down, put the ball in there and let the defense do its job.”

He threw 112 pitches, walked five and struck out six. The only hit for Osakis was a liner to center field by Douglas Zimmel with one out in the sixth inning. Sandgren had previously thrown no-hitters in the Section 2 playoffs and the state quarterfinals. Three games, one hit. Not bad, kid.

“He was a little more wild, he walked a few more but he was dominant again,” BOLD coach Brian Kingery said. “He battled. The thing with Logan is he gets better when he gets in the stretch. So he might walk a guy or have people on base, but he’s tough when he gets in the stretch. He bears down and he takes care of business.”

Tyler Seehusen had two hits and drove in two runs for the Warriors, and Sawyer Tersteeg also had an RBI.

KASSON’S QUESTION MARK IS ANSWERED

Coming into this season, a big question for the baseball team from Kasson-Mantorville revolved around the pitchers mound. The KoMets’ hitting appeared to be solid from the get-go, but senior Joey Hyde was the only experienced pitcher returning.

All the questions were answered as the season went along, and the capper came with an 8-1 victory over Perham in Monday’s Class 2A state championship game. The KoMets finished with a record of 25-6 in winning their first state title, leaning on Hyde and fellow seniors Charlie Meyer and Riley Donovan.

By Kasson-Mantorville coach Broc Threinen’s reckoning, Donovan and Meyer combined to pitch only four innings during the 2012 season.

“We just had a lot of seniors throw last year,” the coach said. “We knew Charlie would be a good thrower. He had a good year last year in Legion and Riley did, too.”

Hyde gave up only five hits against Perham, striking out five and walking three while throwing 105 pitches. He also had one of the KoMets’ dozen hits; they scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to give Hyde a cushion.

“I was a little nervous but I felt confident that we would hit the ball and that I would throw strikes,” he said. “And we came out in the first inning and got three runs right away. It gave me a lot of confidence. I never looked back.”

BIG HITS AND A STATE TITLE

Mounds View put on the biggest hitting display of Championship Monday, knocking out 14 hits in its 8-0 victory over Rocori in the Class 3A title game. Sam Hentges nearly hit for the cycle, belting a single, double and triple and driving in two runs for the Mustangs.

“We had a lot of focus today coming to the ballpark,” he said. “We took BP, on the bus we were all focused, people swung the bats today. It was a good day.”

Max Knutson was the winning pitcher for Mounds View, striking out nine and walking one while throwing 90 pitches.

“One of our goals from the beginning of the season was to make it to state,” Hentges said. “And our coach and our captains were like, ‘Why not win state, right?’ ” We thought we had the talent, a good team with a ton of seniors. We thought we could.”

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

CLASS 1A/ Danny Kneeland, Windom; Riley Bernsdorf, Floodwood; Austin Baab, Cory Loechler, Wabasha-Kellogg; Alex Kleve, St. Agnes; Nick Kupfer, New York Mills; Riley Kramer, Logan Sandgren, Tyler Seehusen, BOLD; Jordan Frederick, Kilar Zimmel, Drew Fearing, Osakis.

CLASS 2A/ Zach Muckenhirn, Delano; Skyler Wenninger, Luverne; Matt Elsenpeter, Michael Herd, Watertown-Mayer; Jeff Fasching, Steven Neutzling, St. Cloud Cathedral; Josh Still, Eric Brauch, Austin Erickson, Perham; Riley Donovan, Jayden Prigge, Joey Hyde, Kasson-Mantorville.

CLASS 3A/ Beau Fandel, Forest Lake; Zach Creighton, Lakeville North; Tyler Kelm, Logan Shore, Coon Rapids; Luke Pettersen, Jared Ridge, Minnetonka; Mac Mueller, Reed Pfannenstein, Rocori; Alex Abercrombie, Sam Hentges, Max Knutson, Charlie Callahan, Mounds View.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Kasson-Mantorville’s Hyde got a sneak peak at Target Field on Sunday when he watched the Twins play the Detroit Tigers. In addition to visualizing himself on the mound, he also got a behind-the-scenes tour. “Our coach has a friend who works here and he gave me a tour of all the stuff,” Joey said. “I didn’t have to worry about coming here and being overly excited. I had already seen it.”

--Classy move by Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who came down on the field from his booth on the press level to congratulate the state champion BOLD Warriors.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 747
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,440
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Growing The Game: Lacrosse State Tournaments Get Bigger, Better
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2013 3:14:48 PM

As the high school lacrosse season came to an end Saturday with girls and boys state championship games at Chanhassen, there is a new vibe to the newish sport. As of this season and in the future, a full field of eight teams will qualify for each state tourney.

And this is a good, a very good thing, for lacrosse. The game has been played on the high school level in Minnesota since 1999, with the MSHSL sponsoring the state tournament beginning in 2007. The 2013 campaign saw the number of teams going to state increase from four to eight in both boys and girls.

Here’s an example of what that means: Until this year, the girls team from Burnsville knew it would probably run up against the teams from either Lakeville North or Lakeville South during section play. But the Blaze moved from Section 1 to Section 3 this spring, and they won their section championship before losing to Lakeville North 18-12 in the state quarterfinals. North lost to Blake 14-12 in Saturday's title game; it was the Bears' fourth straight state title.

“It definitely changed the aura, the feeling, the air around the situation,” said Burnsville coach Sarah Windhorst. “It kind of gave a little spark to the fire, where we didn’t have to beat Lakeville North or Lakeville South on top of everyone else. And that definitely inspired the team much more this year.”

The move to eight teams also brought another site into the fold. Boys and girls state tournament games have been held at Chanhassen High School for years, but Chaska High School also hosted games this year. The schools are in the same district and are only a few miles apart, making it easy for teams and fans.

That’s one more sign of how quickly the sport has grown – and continues to grow – in Minnesota. Another example: the boys team from Rochester Mayo qualified for state, marking the first time a non-metro team has done so.

“I think the more this game gets to different areas of the state, that will help,” said longtime Eden Prairie girls co-coach Judy Baxter. “That’s what we need, for more kids to get involved. It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing.”

Eden Prairie lost to Lakeville North in Thursday’s girls semifinals, which brought another change: From 2001 through last year, Eden Prairie and Blake had met in every girls lacrosse state championship game. In Saturday's boys title game, Eden Prairie beat Eastview 9-8.

Even though this year marked Burnsville’s first trip to state in girls lacrosse, Windhorst knows all about competing at that level. She was a member of hockey teams at Benilde-St. Margaret’s that played at state in 2002 and 2004.

“Any time you can go to the state tournament, it’s holy ground,” she said. “This is my third time being in a state tournament venue, and I take it very seriously and I pass that on to my players. It’s something you respect, it’s something you work for, because there are a bunch of other teams that would like to be here in your place.”

Eden Prairie defeated Champlin Park 18-0 in this year’s girls state quarterfinals, and Champlin Park is another team that might not have qualified for state under the four-team format. Champlin Park has had girls lacrosse for eight years, and this is its sixth year as a varsity sport.

“It’s an absolutely great experience to get out here and play Eden Prairie,” said Champlin Park coach Brian Finnvik. “Unfortunately we had them in the first game, but that’s all right. It’s an experience we’ve never had before. They’re all having fun with it.”

The Rebels’ fun factor was clear during halftime of their loss to Eden Prairie. The Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing” was played on the sound system at Chanhassen. The Champlin Park players – trailing by a score of 13-0 – joyfully sang along.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 741
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,392
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



State Baseball: Where No-Hitters Are The Theme Of Day One
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/13/2013 1:52:12 PM

JORDAN – From three Minnesota ballparks on a bluebird morning, the news was Tweeted and texted as the innings moved along in the opening three games of the three-class state baseball tournament.

“Coon Rapids pitcher Logan Shore has no-hitter thru 4 inn.” … “BOLD's Logan Sandgren doing same v Wabasha-Kellogg” … “St. Cloud Cathdral pitcher Jeff Fasching has a no-hitter through four.”

And then with a bang and a boom and a close but no cigar, the big news landed.

“Logan Shore with a NO NO in the State Tournament. Coon Rapids wins 2-0 over Wayzata in 3A.” … “Logan Sandgren throws a 6-inning (10-run rule) no-hitter as BOLD beats Wabasha-Kellogg 13-0 in 1A quarterfinals” … “State 2A baseball: Luverne's Gunnar Olson breaks up Fasching's no-hitter with a two-out double in the seventh.”

Wednesday’s downpours and lightning had left our state, to be replaced Thursday by a trio of aces. At Midway Stadium in St. Paul, Shore was king. At the Mini Met in Jordan (where I was stationed), Sandgren was on fire. And at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud, Fasching came oh so close.

Shore’s no-hitter only heightened his status as one of the top players in Minnesota; earlier in the week the senior was taken by the Twins in the 29th round of the amateur draft.

Sandgren (pictured), a junior lefthander, did what few pitchers on any level do. He tossed back-to-back no-hitters, the previous one coming against Waterville-Elysian-Waterville in the Section 2 tournament. Adding to the no-hitter mania, BOLD’s Riley Kramer had thrown a no-hitter in the game prior to that.

So yes, the BOLD Warriors have won their last three games on no-hitters.

“It was all about confidence, again,” said Sandgren, who struck out six and walked three. “We all had confidence coming into our last game, just like this. And with offense like that, 13 runs, hoo! That takes a load off my back. And when you’ve got zero errors up on that board, it’s nice.”

Sandgren was indeed helped by a strong hitting attack and solid defense, but he had a hand in the bat work, too, going 4-for-4 and driving in three runs.

“Logan has been dominant,” BOLD coach Brian Kingery said. “Today he pitched like a man. He dominated the strike zone with his fastball, he threw his curveball for strikes and he was able to keep them off balance. I think they only had two fly balls to right field and everything else was kept in the infield. And offensively he went 4-for-4. You can’t beat that kind of game for a kid, a junior who was fired up to go. He had a great day and I’m proud of him.”

Logan wanted to spread the credit, lauding his teammates’ hitting and glove work. He also said, “You can’t do it without your catcher, though. He’s calling the pitches.”

Catcher Trent Athmann deflected that credit right back to his buddy.

“That was all Logan,” Athmann said. “He threw a heck of a game. He knew what he wanted to throw the whole time and he executed on all of his pitches.

“He was hitting his spots, his pitches were perfect. His curveball had a nice bite, his changeup was really good today. He got quite a few strikeouts on his changeup today. He was just dominant.”

Final question for Sandgren: Have you pitched any other no-hitters?

His reply came with a big grin: “No, just these two.”

THE APPEAL OF CLASSIC BALLPARKS

On the scoreboard at the Mini Met in Jordan, balls, strikes and outs are revealed by bright electric buttons. But the score by innings, runs, hit and errors? Those numbers go up the old-fashioned way, with humans hanging the numbers on the beautiful old board. Oh, and there’s a rotary phone in the press box. The phone rang only once while I was there Thursday … it was a telemarketer.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--As the St. Agnes Aggies took the field for their 1A quarterfinal game against Windom, right fielder Roger Dickerson hollered, “It’s a great day for Aggies baseball!”

--The St. Agnes baseball team, which has no home field, rents its game fields and holds practices at a city playground. That’s not a great situation when the weather is great, but during this season of snow, rain, ice and cold, the Aggies had to endure a 15-day April stretch when they could not practice at all.

--A few weeks ago I wrote about Dan Wessel, an umpire who collapsed on the field during a softball game in Wadena. Dan died twice and was revived by first responders who were at the game. He has undergone triple bypass surgery and is recovering nicely. He lives in Osakis and was at the Mini Met on Thursday to watch the Osakis Bluestreaks play Blackduck. It was mighty nice to shake his hand.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 731
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,065
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Lasting Impact: BOLD Golf Coach John Johnston Retiring After 50 Years
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2013 2:48:14 PM

BECKER -- In 1963, John Kennedy was the president, the Beatles had not yet arrived on American soil and a 22-year-old named John Johnston was hired as the boys golf coach at Olivia High School.

A lot has changed in half a century. The school is now known as BOLD and girls golf was added along the way, but Johnston still holds the coaching job ... for the boys and girls teams. At least through the end of the Class 1A state tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club, that is. Now 72, Johnston will retire as coach when BOLD’s only state entrant, senior Cole Mertens, finishes two days of state tourney play on Wednesday.

The coach is going out with 50 years of coaching and lots of memories under his belt.

“He’s a great guy,” Mertens said after shooting a first-round 83 Tuesday. “ I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve learned golf skills and I’ve also learned things about life.”

Mertens (pictured with Johnston) is one of five seniors on this year’s boys golf team, and it’s a group that Johnston has a special affinity for. “I wanted to end it with them,” he said. “They are nice young men.”

Johnston, who grew up 40 miles to the south of Olivia in Springfield, taught elementary school in Olivia for 35 years before retiring from teaching. His philosophy about high school golf is straightforward.

“It’s a game,” he said. “We’re not going to make a living at it. It’s a game. I’ve had lots of fun at it with the boys and the girls.”

For the last 20 years, his wife Vi has helped coach the girls teams. With retirement at hand, John and Vi (pictured) will be able to spend a little more time in Arizona. “We’ve been going for January and February and then coming back because golf practice starts in March,” John said. “Now we’ll go for January, February and March.”

Johnston has had a strong impact on thousands of students and athletes. One of them, 1986 graduate Brad Kelvington, described Johnston to me this way: “He was a great teacher, he’s a great person, he’s had an impact in a lot of ways.”

Kelvington, who played in the 1985 state golf tournament and also was on the football and wrestling teams, is now the principal of Foley Intermediate School. His father also taught at BOLD and their families are close.

“Mr. Johnston was my fifth grade teacher,” Kelvington said. “He has been like a second dad to me.”

Roger Sandberg, who has been the golf coach at Ortonville for 37 years and knows Johnston well, said, “He’s always very optimistic. He’s always been very supportive of our teams and any golfers.”

Sandberg – whose girls team and boys individual Jade Hasslen qualified for state -- said he’s always liked to give Johnston the needle for being a lefthanded golfer.

“We’ve been butting heads for a long time, in a friendly way,” Sandberg said, adding that 50 years of coaching “says a lot about his dedication to the sport.”

Johnston is well-known for offering tips and advice to any golfer, whether the topic is golf-related or not. During Monday’s practice round at Pebble Creek, he noticed a girl from another school on the putting green.

“He just went over and helped her,” Mertens said. “Her coach came over and we thought he was going to chewed out, but he didn’t.”

Mark Kodet, a 2003 graduate who was a six-year varsity golfer and went to state twice, said “John was always there for me, if I wanted to talk about the swing, if I wanted to talk about life. He’s a fantastic, warm guy.”

Kodet works as an assistant golf pro at Bent Creek Golf Club in Eden Prairie, and Johnston played a role in his career choice.

“I learned my swing from John,” Kodet said. “He taught me everything from the grip to the swing plane, the whole swing. He just had a strong passion for helping students. He was so kind and super genuine. I just wanted to continue that so now I teach, too.”

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 725
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,019
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



State Track: Legends, Records, Sportsmanship And More
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2013 7:39:28 PM

Two of the all-time greats of Minnesota high school track departed the scene during Saturday’s state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul with different results but identical smiles. One is known for strength, one for endurance.

St. Francis’ Maggie Ewen (pictured here) capped an incredible prep career with a weekend sweep of the Class 2A throwing events. She won the discus for the fourth time on Friday and went out in a blaze of glory Saturday, setting a state record in the shot put with a toss of 54 feet, 8 ½ inches. It was her third state title in the shot.

Maria Hauger of Shakopee, who has been the state’s dominant distance runner for years, saw her career come to a close with a fourth-place finish in the 2A 1,600. That was a rarity for Hauger, who won the 1,600 a year ago, captured her third 3,200 state title Friday and also has won four state championships in cross-country.

Ewen, of course, was very pleased with her performance. But accepting the fact that she will not compete as a high schooler in Minnesota again was something new.

“It’s weird,” she said. “I still can’t believe this is the last time I’m going to be here. It’s like a tradition to come back every year, and now when I come back I’ll be part of the audience.”

Ewen’s winning toss was very close to the national high school record of 54-10 ¾. She will have two more cracks at that mark, competing at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals next weekend in North Carolina and the USA Junior Championships later this month at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t get it or anything,” she said. “I think it’s there.”

The previous state record was 52-4 ¾, set by Lakeville’s Liz Podominick in 2003. Podominick’s high school coach, Rick Ringeisen, now coaches at Lakeville South; Shaina Burns from South finished third in the shot put Saturday.

Ringeisen had alerted Podominick that her record was in jeopardy. “She said, ‘That’s probably a good thing. It’s time,’ ” Ringeisen said. “She was very philosophical.”

Hauger (pictured) seemed less concerned with her finish in the 1,600 as she was with giving advice to eighth-grade teammate Tess Misgen, who had the fastest time in the prelims of the 800 Friday but finished ninth in Saturday’s finals. Hauger has relished the role of mentor to Misgen and other younger runners.

“That is really cool,” she said. “Warming up, I just tell her different things, help her with different things. She’s like, ‘Can I warm up with you?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ I try to encourage her.”

Ewen will continue her throwing career at Arizona State and Hauger will run at the University of Virginia.

RECORD RELAY

In addition to Ewen’s record, the Wayzata 4x200 boys relay team also set a new state record. They won the 2A title in 1 minute, 26.92 seconds. The team consisted of juniors Keante' Johnson, Michael Smith and Steele Berg and senior Jeff Borchardt.

DOUBLE INDIVIDUAL WINNERS

Rosemount sophomore Rachel Schow won both the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles in 2A.

In 1A, Clare Flanagan of Blake won both the 3,200 and 1,600, Warroad’s Diedre Hahn won the high jump and long jump, Tyler Beehler of Foley won the 100 and 200, Jon Tollefson of St. Croix Lutheran won the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and Matt Neururer of Pillager won the 800 and high jump.

SPORTSMANSHIP AT ITS FINEST

One of the greatest sights of the 2A meet came after the girls 200-meter dash. The winner was Osseo’s Phillis Webb, who nosed out Taylor Anderson of Hopkins at the wire. Anderson suffered a leg injury late in the race and was hobbled, so Webb put Anderson on her back and carried her to the medical tent and then to the podium for the awards ceremony.

After the St. Cloud Cathedral 4x800 relay team of Hallee Curtis, Paige Danielson, Morgan Durbin and Rachel Eickhoff received their seventh-place 1A medals, they waited below the podium to shake hands with the other eight teams that won medals. Well done.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Perham’s 4x800 relay team of Billy Beseman, Dalton Dahms, Nick Carignan and Brady Speicher (pictured) not only won the 1A event, but they did it in style … thanks to four freshly shaved heads. “We just did ‘em last night,” Dalton said. “It was really quick.”

--After Amanda Allis of United South Central placed third in the 1A shot put Saturday, it marked the end of a lengthy coaching career. United South Central's Kent Viesselman, who retired with the completion of the meet, has completed 100 seasons as a head coach. During a 49-year career, Viesselman, 70, coached cross country and track for 49 years each and basketball for two years.

--Cody Walton of Forest Lake had finished third in the 2A 110 hurdles and fourth in the high jump. As he walked across the infield he saw four teammates who had just won the boys 4x100 relay. Cody motioned to the two ribbons hanging around his neck and said, “I’m gonna get a blue one.” Sure enough, a few minutes later he won the 300-meter hurdles.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 701
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,864
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



On A Busy Tournament Friday, Fun And Excitement Abound
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/7/2013 8:27:01 PM

How busy was Friday? Let me count the ways. And it was easy to do so simply by looking at the top of the MSHSL website. Streamed across the page were links to state softball results, state track results, brackets from the boys state tennis tournament, brackets for next week’s state lacrosse tournaments and day one tee times for next week’s state golf tournaments.

I’m no math expert, but it’s pretty clear that this current stretch of events is the busiest time of the year for postseason action in Minnesota. If some courageous soul wants to figure out how many individual athletes are involved in all these state tourneys, let me know what you come up with.

I spent Thursday in North Mankato at the softball tournament and drove home to the Twin Cities late Thursday evening. Friday began with an eye on the state track meet via social media and another eye on boys tennis. I drove back to the softball tournament, arrived in time for lunch – perfect timing! – and kept several eyes focused on all the events, including a handful of section championship games in baseball.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know how busy things are right now. But busy also means fun when the topic is high school activities.

This message was dispatched to me via Twitter at 8:30 a.m. Friday: “You gotta have the best gig in the world!”

My response consisted of two words: “ I concur.”

NEW ULM CATHEDRAL SAVES THE DAY FOR NEW ULM PUBLIC

Long before New Ulm defeated Kasson-Mantorville 1-0 in the Class 2A state championship softball game, things were looking a little dicey for the defending champion Eagles. Simply put, their bus broke down in the parking lot of a Mankato Hy-Vee grocery store. The team arrived at Caswell Park about a half hour behind schedule, went through a hurry-up warmup and played the game.

“It was a little rambunctious of a morning, but our girls are troupers,” said New Ulm coach Kristi Andersen Loose. “I’m crazy proud of them.”

The team had stopped at the Hy-Vee so the girls could get a bite at the buffet, but when they loaded the bus it wouldn’t start. Andersen Loose and her sister/assistant coach Danielle Andersen “immediately panicked,” the head coach said. “Dani said to me, ‘Do we have a backup plan for this?’ I said, ‘We will.’ ”

They tried to get a shuttle from their hotel. No good. Some cabs were called, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to put the girls into cabs with no adults along. The next call went to folks from New Ulm Cathedral, which had already finished the fourth-place game in Class 1A.

“It was a mass flurry of calling, and we finally got ahold of their coach (Bob Mertz), who is the bus driver as well,” Andersen Loose said. “They were eating at Big Dog (Sports Café). He said the bus was free and we happened to have an extra bus driver with us. We randomly flagged down a guy in the Hy-Vee parking and lot and said, ‘Can you please do us a favor?’ He gave our bus driver and our assistant coach a ride to Big Dog, they got on the Cathedral bus, we got here way late and did our thing.

“The moral of the whole thing is there is nothing that we can’t deal with as far as adjusting. I said, ‘We’ve adjusted to this, so we’ll be able to deal with anything that happens in the game.’ ”

How did I first learn of the Eagles’ predicament? Twitter, of course. Danielle Andersen alerted me with a Tweet after the team was safely en route to the park.

Andersen Loose said, “She asked me if she could Tweet about it and I said, 'Absolutely.' ”

--New Ulm’s victory over Kasson-Mantorville was decided when pitcher Sydney Schuck hit a one-out RBI single in the fifth inning. Schuck and Kasson-Mantorville pitcher Maddie Damon each allowed just five hits. Damon struck out nine.

--In Class 1A, Jenna Krell, Shelbi Swenson and Sam Ivers drove in runs as Blooming Prairie beat New Life Academy 3-1 in the title game. Swenson held New Life to four hits and struck out eight. New Life pitcher Valerie Hohol struck out nine.

--Elk River needed eight innings to beat Prior Lake for the 3A title. Elk River led 3-0 after four innings and the Lakers tied it in the fifth on a solo homer by Shayne Barton and two-run, two-out double by Libby Bingham. In the seventh, Barton hit a drive to center that was caught by Jayme Langbehn as she went over the wall to rob the home run. After the Elks took a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Courtney Jensen, Langbehn took away another possible home run in the bottom of the eighth, catching a drive by Sam Buhmann.

BOYS TENNIS CHAMPIONS

-- Junior Joey Richards of Minnetonka won the Class 2A singles state title and the Wayzata duo of senior Jack Graven and freshman Nick Beaty won the doubles title.

--In 1A, Blake sophomore Charlie Adams was the singles winner and the doubles title went to Blake senior Kai Skallerud and junior Taylor Parr.

TRACK: DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS

No state records were broken Friday, but there were some great performances. One of the most eye-opening came from Shakopee eighth-grader Tess Misgen, who led the prelims in the Class 2A girls 800 meters with a time of 2:10.46. The state record is legendary, because it’s the oldest on the books for girls. Blooming Prairie’s Jeanne Kruckeberg holds the mark of 2:08.24, set in 1984. Misgen will run the 800 again in Saturday’s finals, and then have four more years of high school running left.

Deidre Hahn of Warroad was a double champion, winning the girls 1A long jump and high jump. Maria Hauger of Shakopee won the 2A girls 3,200 for the third time and St. Francis’ Maggie Ewen won the 2A girls discus for the third time.

The meet will conclude Saturday.

SPORTSMANSHIP ON THE MEDAL STAND

Foley senior Charlie Lawrence won his second consecutive Class 1A state title in the 3,200-meter run Friday, but the rest of the medal winners also have plenty to be proud of … and it has nothing to do with what happened on the track.

Fourth-place finisher Ashenafi Hatte, a sophomore from Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul, was injured and unable to climb up to his spot on the podium for the awards ceremony. Runner-up Perham junior Keeghan Hurley helped Hatte get up to his spot, and Ashenafi leaned on sixth-place runner Isaac Overmyer, a sophomore from Park Rapids, while medals were given out and photos were taken. Hurley and Overmyer helped Ashefani get back down from the podium.

Well done.

FACEBOOK LOVE

A nice message was posted on the MSHSL Facebook page after the softball tournament. Here’s an edited version…

“I just wanted to drop a note and say WOW. This was our first trip to state (New York Mills). From the time we got to the gate to the time we left, it was a well-run tournament. The facility was great, prices for concessions were reasonable. … Thanks for all you guys do to put this on for the girls. It has created many great memories for all.”

AERIAL SUPPORT

As New Ulm was facing Kasson-Mantorville in the 2A softball title game, the Eagles got some support from above. A single-engine plane circled the Caswell Park complex; written on the underside of the wings were “GO NU EAGLES.”

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 701
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,821
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



State Softball Is All In The Family … Including The Umpires
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2013 3:24:45 PM

NORTH MANKATO -- By the time the state softball tournament comes to a conclusion, 33 games will have been played at Caswell Park. But no game will equal the family ties that were on display during one of the first games of the two-day event.

In a Class 1A quarterfinal that began at 9 a.m. Thursday, Eden Valley-Watkins defeated New York Mills 4-2. That was the headline from the game. But the subtext offers much more. Such as …

--Both teams are nicknamed the Eagles. But that’s nuthin’.

--One-third of Eden Valley-Watkins’ starting lineup consists of the Forcier sisters: senior center fielder Kaylee, sophomore left fielder Mindy and ninth-grader Faith. (In the photo, left to right, are Mindy, Kaylee and Faith.)

--One-third of New York Mills’ starting lineup consists of the Roberts sisters: senior shortstop EmaLeigh, junior pitcher/outfielder Autumn and seventh-grade outfielder Rhiana Roberts. Their cousin, junior Mckenna Roberts, is the catcher.

--The three umpires for the game were brothers: Chuck, Rich and Tim Murry.
I knew about the sets of sisters days earlier, but the surprise came after the game when Eden Valley-Watkins coach Dave Dziengel said to me, “Your story got even better, because the three umps in our game are brothers.”

The Murry boys (pictured) combine for 80 years of softball and baseball officiating experience, with Chuck in his 37th year, Rich is his 26th and Tim in his 17th. The Murry boys worked a total of 17 state softball tournaments and 18 state baseball tournaments.

Cool stuff, these high school games. Am I right?

Eden Valley-Watkins is making its second appearance in the state tournament, with the first coming a year ago. New York Mills qualified for state for the first time in the softball program’s 26-year history.

The Forcier sisters combined for five of their team’s 13 hits in the quarterfinals. Mickael Lies (two RBI), Jamie Scherer and Holly Schumacher (home run) drove in the runs. For New York Mills, Emaleigh Roberts, Autumn Roberts, Amy Nebosis and Alexia Rankka each had one hit against EV-W pitcher Baylee Lahr.

“Everybody’s contributinging,” Dziengel said of the Forcier sisters. “That’s one-third of the equation. They kind of police each other because they’re sisters, and yYou don’t have to say too much. They’re always positive and helping each other out. They have that sister bond. It’s been fun.”

Eden Valley-Watkins mets New Life Academy on the semifinals later Thursday.

Eden Valley-Watkins lost to New Life Academy 6-4 in the semifinals later Thursday.

CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY LINEUP

--3A/ Elk River and Prior Lake will meet in the championship game at 1 p.m. Friday. The third-place game will be between Forest Lake and Maple Grove at 11 a.m., and the fifth-place game will be between Orono and Bloomington Jefferson at 9 a.m.

--2A/ Kasson-Mantorville and defending champion New Ulm will decide the title at 2 p.m. Hermantown and Rockford will meet for third place at 11 a.m., and St. Anthony Village will face Maple River in the fifth-place game at 9 a.m.

--1A/ New Life Academy will take on Blooming Prairie in the championship game at 1:30 p.m. The third-place game will be between Eden Valley-Watkins and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg at 11 a.m., with Cherry and New Ulm Cathedral meeting for fifth place at 9 a.m.

TOURNAMENT NOTES

--No school brought a more exuberant crowd of students than Rockford. The kids painted their faces (and bodies), made signs (my favorite: "I'm skipping graduation for this!") and had an absolute blast cheering for their team from beyond the outfield fence. Well done.

--The state quarterfinals were not especially kind to defending state champs. In Class 3A, Maple Grove (last year’s runner-up) knocked off 2012 champ Stillwater 3-1 in eight innings. In Class 1A, New Life Academy beat defending champion Cherry 6-3. New Life’s trip to state is its its eighth in a row, tying the tournament record set by Winona Cotter from 2000 to 2007. New Life won state titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The third defending champion – New Ulm in 2A – beat Maple River 12-0 in the quarterfinals.

--This has been an especially challenging season for the Rockford Rockets. Like every team, they had to deal with terrible weather, but Rockford’s season also was disrupted by construction at their school. That means the Rockets played only one home game in 2013 and haven’t even practiced on their home field since May 10.

----Maple Grove pitcher Sydney Smith was outstanding in the Crimson’s 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Bloomington Jefferson. She gave up only three hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Smith’s record is 20-0 this season. She is only a sophomore but has accepted a scholarship offer from Louisiana State for the fall of 2015.

OTHER SPORTS

--The state track meet will begin Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Most of Friday’s running events will be preliminaries with the exception of the 3,200 meters for girls and boys in both classes. Half of the field event championship will be decided Friday, with the remainder of the running events and field events contested Saturday.

--The boys tennis state tournament will conclude Friday with semifinal and championship matches in singles and doubles in both classes. Class 2A is at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center and 1A is at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 701
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,681
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



For Thief River Falls, Tennis Season Meant Shoveling Snow
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/4/2013 12:11:00 PM

This was an unforgettable spring for the boys tennis team from Thief River Falls. For tennis reasons, yes, especially because the Prowlers qualified for this week’s state team tournament, their 10th consecutive appearance.

But 2013 also will go down as the spring with the worst weather in memory. There are no indoor tennis courts in Thief River Falls, meaning if the Prowlers wanted to swing a racket indoors on a real court they had to drive about an hour to Grand Forks, N.D.

“We had a couple players who went over in the winter, and once the season began a few would go over and hit,” said Thief River Falls coach Tim Engelstad. “It’s just not as easy as if you’re living down here (in the Twin Cities).”

Their season was short, with little time to practice on clear, dry courts and a big portion of their competitive schedule wiped out by the weather. Tournaments in Park Rapids and Pine City were erased by a late winter, and the Prowlers – who are the northernmost team in the state tournament -- were unable to travel to a tournament in Virginia because of a snowstorm.

“You try to bunch it up in a short period of time at the end of the year and we lost some real quality matches,” Engelstad said after the Prowlers fell to Breck 7-0 in Tuesday morning’s Class 1A quarterfinals at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

If there was a state championship in shoveling snow, however, the Prowlers would surely be wearing gold medals. The players spent hour after hour clearing snow from their six home courts, even as the snow kept falling.

How much snow did they shovel?

“Too much,” said senior Sam Olson. “The very first day, when we started, it was up to our waists. And as soon as we thought we were getting somewhere, it would snow five more inches.”

They tried to make do. A tennis court was set up in the elementary school gym, with a makeshift net and tape used for lines on a rubberized floor.

“It was a really fast surface,” said senior and coach’s son Logan Engelstad, who qualified for the state singles tournament, which will be held Thursday and Friday. It will be Logan’s third trip to state in singles after he qualified on a doubles team as a ninth-grader.

In the course of shoveling snow, hitting balls in the elementary gym and making trips to real tennis courts in Grand Forks, the Prowlers used the adversity to grow closer as a team.

“We did a lot of team bonding,” Tim Engelstad said. “Like I said at the banquet (Monday) night, I challenge anybody to shovel more snow than we did.”

Said Olson, “We just tried to make the best of it. We tried to cherish every moment we could get. We made our own fun.”

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 677
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,541
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Who’s Ready For Some Outdoor Prep Bowl Action?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2013 2:56:56 PM

Yes, it’s June. But football season and the Prep Bowl were major topics discussed at Monday’s MSHSL board of directors meeting. Here’s a summary of where we’re at …

--There will be no changes for the 2013 season. The season will start as scheduled, the playoff format will not change and the Prep Bowl games will be played on Thanksgiving weekend at the Metrodome. The dome will be demolished after the 2013 Vikings season, which means the Prep Bowl will be played in the elements at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and 2015 while a new stadium is built on the Metrodome site.

--The 2014 football season also will follow the familiar format, with changes coming in the state tournament. State semifinals will be played at multiple sites (not TCF since the Gophers have a home game) and the Prep Bowl will be held the weekend before Thanksgiving at TCF. The season will end prior to Thanksgiving in the hopes of better weather conditions.

--Bigger changes could come in 2015, when the University of Minnesota football team will play home games the Saturday before Thanksgiving as well as the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In 2015 the high school season could start one week earlier than usual and section playoffs could consist of two rounds instead of three (effectively cutting the number of teams involved in section playoffs in half). State semifinals also are likely to be played at multiple sites (not TCF) and the Prep Bowl could be played the weekend before Thanksgiving. Decisions about the 2015 football season will not be finalized for a few months.

On another football matter, scheduling problems continue to be an issue for many schools, especially in light of ongoing conference shakeups. As MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle told the board, “We need to do something. We need to make some changes.”

Administrators were surveyed at meetings around the state this spring as staff gathered input on the topic. One possibility is to place football teams into groups of eight, 12, 14 or 16 teams and have those teams work out their schedules with each other, with geography an important factor and no team playing an opponent who is one class larger of smaller.

“No matter what we do, there will be winners and losers,” Merkle said. “And if we stay with the status quo, there are winners and losers.”

Board member Tom Conzemius of Sauk Rapids-Rice said, “It’s no different at conference meetings or section meetings. Most of our time is spent on football.”

2013-14 SPEECH TOPICS

The board approved these titles…

--Discussion topic: “Building the Future: U.S. Infrastructure Challenges in the 21st Century.”

--Extemporaneous Reading-Poetry: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

--Extemporaneous Reading-Prose: “Read All About It! Great Read-Aloud Stories, Poems, and Newspaper Pieces for Preteens and Teens” edited by Jim Trelease.

--Storytelling: Grimms’ Tales for Young and Old, The Complete Stories” translated by Ralph Manheim.

ADVISORY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

--Nordic skiing: Coaches have proposed to change the single-class state meet by having two teams per section advance to state instead of one. Currently, the first-place team in each section and the next eight individuals from each section qualify for state. The proposal is for two teams and the next five individuals to advance from each section. This proposal was not approved.

--Dance team: Currently, dance teams register with the MSHSL in separate categories for High Kick and Jazz, with enrollment numbers used to classify teams into classes in each dance segment, with enrollment cutoffs different for each segment. Coaches proposed to have schools no longer register separately in High Kick and Jazz,using the same enrollment numbers for both. This proposal was approved.

--Music: A proposal was made to allow schools to decide which students will participate in section contests and festivals, including students in seventh grade and above. This proposal was approved.

BOARD CHANGES

--Board officers for 2013-14 were elected. The new board president will be John Hamann, who is the principal at Underwood High School. The vice president (and president-elect for 2014-15) will be Scott McCready, athletic director at St. Charles High School. The treasurer will be Steve Eklund, public representative from Stanchfield.

--Board members whose terms ended with Monday’s meeting are Laurie Esau, public representative from Orono; Mark Frederickson, principal at Waconia, Rick Bleichner, superintendent from Breckenridge; Tom Conzemius, activities director at Sauk Rapids-Rice; Walt Hautala, school board member from Gilbert; and Mike Rusinko, public representative from Eden Prairie.

--New board members who will begin their four-year terms in August are Emmett Keenan, activities director at St. Cloud Cathedral; Tom Graupmann, activities director at Northfield; Mike Olson, assistant principal at Little Falls; and Deborah Pauly, school board member from Jordan.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 669
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,503
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Kicking Off A Big Stretch With A Board Of Directors Meeting
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/2/2013 5:15:48 PM

This is a busy time, with spring state tournaments in boys tennis, softball, track and field, golf and lacrosse filling up the schedule for the next two weeks. Before all the action, we will begin this stretch with a meeting of the MSHSL board of directors on Monday morning.

The list of action items on the agenda probably won’t grab any headlines. But the table will be set for the 2013-14 year when new board officers are elected. One candidate is running for each of the three positions, so there won’t be any mystery in the balloting.

The new board president will be John Hamann, who is the principal at Underwood High School. The vice president (and president-elect for 2014-15) will be Scott McCready, athletic director at St. Charles High School. The treasurer will be Steve Eklund, public representative from Stanchfield.

On the discussion section of the agenda, football will take center stage. The board will be informed about three topics that were discussed with administrators from all over the state during spring area meetings: statewide scheduling for football, the 2014 Prep Bowl and the 2015 football playoff format. Changes are in the offing due to the impending demolition of the Metrodome, and the Prep Bowl games will be played at TCF Bank Stadium for two years while the new stadium is under construction. No decisions will be made at Monday’s meeting.

State tournaments will begin Tuesday, when boys tennis kicks off its four-day run in team, singles and doubles with Class 1A action at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis and Class 2A at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center. The three-class state softball tournament will be held Thursday and Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato and the two-class state track meet will be held Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

The three-class state golf tournaments are scheduled for June 11 and 12, and the single-class boys and girls state lacrosse tournaments will also be held that week. Finally, the three-class state baseball tournament will begin June 13, with championship games scheduled for June 17 at Target Field.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 669
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,503
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



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