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Miles, Memories And More: The Best Of John’s Journal From 2013-14
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/23/2014 3:13:55 PM

With another great year of stories and memories in the books, I’ve been looking back over 2013-14 in John’s Journal. I have posted 162 stories since August and have driven more than 13,000 miles in visiting events and schools all over our state.

There are way too many highlights to do justice to them all in one recap, but here are my personal Top 10 John’s Journal memories from 2013-14 …

NUMBER 10/ The Iron Range, Where Runners Run And A Volleyball Hero Returns (Sept. 6)

This was a highly Twitter-infused expedition for two events in one day: a cross-country invitational and a volleyball match. The invitation to come to Coleraine arrived via this Tweet from Will Floersheim, the Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin cross-country coach : “@MSHSLjohn Would love to have you visit the Range for big CC meet and great VB rivalry on 9/5 in Coleraine!”

Several Tweets later, my trip was booked. Then came this Tweet from a member of the Greenway volleyball team, senior Kate Kuck: “Excited for @MSHSLjohn to come and watch our game against Hibbing! Everyone else should come too! #volleyballgame #Thursday #bethere!”

NUMBER 9/ All Smiles In Esko: New Stadium, New Turf And A Big Win (Sept. 28)

This is one of of the greatest examples of community pride I have ever witnessed. An aging, decrepit football/soccer complex was finally sent packing by a massive flood in 2012. That’s when people stepped in and stepped up, raising awareness prior to a successful education levy and facilities referendum. The facilities plan called for a grass field, but people in town wanted to strive for more.

The Esko Turf Club was quickly formed, and money was quickly raised to install artificial turf and create what would become a first-class facility. I was there for the first event, a Week 5 football game with Two Harbors. On a glorious evening, the great Esko pep band played, the game ball was delivered by parachute and Cub Scouts held the flag as the Esko choir sang the anthem.

NUMBER 8/ The Orono Pep Band Makes Me Happy (March 12)

During the winter state tournaments, I was begging on Twitter to hear a pep band play “Happy” by Pharrell. The Mighty Mighty Orono band came through for me at Williams Arena during the boys state basketball tournament. I love it when bands take requests.

NUMBER 7/ Old Coach, New Team: Park Christian Makes History (March 13)

The Park Christian boys basketball team lost in the first round of the state tournament, but coach Erv Inniger was all smiles afterwards. The 69-year-old was joyous because he had experienced a wonderful journey, a journey that he never knew was coming until he decided to take over the Falcons for one season. He had never before coached a high school team despite a basketball resume that’s hard to match.

Inniger played at Indiana University in the 1960s and with the ABA’s Minnesota Muskies in 1967-68. His coaching career began at Golden Valley Lutheran College, followed by five years at Augsburg College and then a lengthy career as the coach at North Dakota State from 1978 to 1992. When Inniger retired at NDSU, he was the program's all-time winningest coach.

“It’s been a ball,” he said. “Who gets an opportunity like this? It’s been so special.”

NUMBER 6/ At Cambridge-Isanti, A Thunderous State Tourney Sendoff (May 15)

Several times, I had heard Cambridge-Isanti athletic director Mark Solberg talk about the sendoff when the Bluejackets adapted bowling team goes to the state tournament. He always said, “It’s the loudest our gym is all year.” He was not kidding.

The rally has become an annual tradition. Students and staff leave their classrooms and greet the bowlers with cheers as they enter the gym while the pep band plays the school song. Coach Steve Tischer spoke, as did senior members of the bowling team. The entire team was introduced, along with assistant coaches and student managers.

NUMBER 5/ Friday Was A Pretty Fair Day For Jackson County Central (Aug. 24)

How many reporters get to combine the State Fair and a high school football game into one story on the same day? Thanks to two Jackson County Central football players, I am a member of that very exclusive club. On a Friday morning I spent time in the Fairgrounds swine barn with Nolan Hohenstein and his crossbred barrow, as well as in the sheep barn with Scott Christopher and his blackface lamb.

That evening, Jackson County Central opened its season at St. Louis Park. Nolan arrived during warm-ups, putting on his football gear inside a port-a-potty.

NUMBER 4/ Caleb Thielbar: From Randolph To The Major Leagues (Jan. 3)

The first time I interviewed Caleb Thielbar was in June 2004. He was a junior at Randolph High School and part of a Rockets baseball team that was attempting to reach the state tournament for the first time in school history.

Nearly 10 years later, I interviewed Thielbar on “Caleb Thielbar Night” as the Randolph girls and boys basketball teams played host to Maple River in a Gopher Conference doubleheader. Thielbar made his major league pitching debut with the Twins in 2013 and was named the Twins’ rookie of the year. On this night back in his hometown, Caleb had autographed baseballs, hats, a jersey and other items, and he shook the hand of every raffle winner who took home a prize.

NUMBER 3/ Coaches vs. Cancer In St. Clair: Smiles, Love And Support (Jan. 31)

This event was further proof that high school activities can have positive impacts that extend far beyond a game and a final score. On a frigid winter evening, St. Clair hosted its fourth annual Coaches vs. Cancer night. Nine-hundred dollars was raised the first year and $7,800 the second year. In 2013 the total was almost $24,000, making it the largest Coaches vs. Cancer event at any school in Minnesota and the seventh-largest in the nation.

NUMBER 2/ A Selfless Act, A Hack Saw, And A Lesson For All (April 7)

I can’t take any credit for authoring this story. It came from Ryan Giles, the girls basketball coach at Lac qui Parle Valley High School in Madison, who wanted to share a story about the selflessness of one of the players. In an email, Ryan wrote about junior guard and team captain Alaysia Freetly, who was named the team MVP.

The next day, she came to Giles with a request: She wanted to share the award with junior Kaitlin Connor and eighth-grader Kelsea Lund. She told the coach that they were just as deserving as she was. Giles, who teaches Industrial Technology, used a hack saw to cut the plaque into thirds.

NUMBER 1/ Southland’s Riley Schmitz: Heart, Desire Make Up For Limited Vision (Oct. 15)

Southland football player Riley Schmitz can’t see the farm, the silos or the livestock that surround the Rebels’ practice field. Even though he has been practicing on these fields since he was a fifth-grade football player, clear vision for the senior extends no farther than the end of his arms. Those are two remarkable facts: Riley is a football player who is legally blind.

“His heart, his desire is tremendous,” said coach Shawn Kennedy. “He is absolutely so passionate about football.”



Memories Are Made, Right Through The Final Game Of 2013-14
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2014 8:42:35 PM

Tuesday was the final day of the 2013-14 year in MSHSL activities, ending a fall-winter-spring run that began on Aug. 12 and was filled with great stories and wonderful memories.

Back on Aug. 12, fall sports teams gathered for their first practices of the year (football teams that played Zero Week games began practice on Aug. 5), and the stories and memories continued right through to the end. The official conclusion came at 5:58 p.m. Tuesday when the last out was recorded in Mounds View’s 9-0 victory over Eden Prairie in the Class 3A baseball state championship game at Target Field.

There were two events Tuesday, both of them having been postponed by bad weather. In the boys lacrosse title game at Rosemount, Eden Prairie defeated Rosemount 13-11. That game had been originally scheduled for Saturday at Chanhassen, was washed out Saturday and postponed once more Monday.

The 3A baseball game had been scheduled for Monday at Target Field. The Class 1A and 2A games were completed Monday before heavy rain and lightning pushed the 3A contest to Tuesday. It was worth the wait, too, with good conditions for the year-ender.

There was even one big piece of off-the-field news Tuesday, when it was announced that Grand Rapids basketball star Alex Illikainen will leave Grand Rapids for his senior year and attend a prep school in New Hampshire.

The Illikainen news raced through the Twittersphere, but something completely different also was popular for folks who follow me (@MSHSLjohn) on Twitter. I asked people to Tweet their favorite memories from the 2013-14 year in MSHSL activities, and I received some great responses. Here are a few examples …

--“GBB tourney at Williams Arena filling most of the lower level and a good portion of the upper on Saturday.”

--“Mitch McKee STMA won the 120AAA Title over Malik Stewart Blaine and Stewart embracing McKee's dad, Steve.”

--“The Coliseum giving us one final colossal upset with Stillwater upsetting Hill-Murray in the Boys Hockey Section 4AA Final.”

--Boys basketball 4A semis.. Coffey with the 3/4 court winner, followed by Macura's step back triple 2 hours later.”

--“The most dramatic moment of the MSHSL season was when @MSHSLjohn ALMOST had to spend the night at Xcel Center!”

--“Our favorite #mshslmemories were from the #mshslrobots tournament! Fun to see so many great teams from across the state!”

--“Watching my hometown and @CarlieJoWagner win their second girls bball championship in a row.”

--“Redwood Valley Girls Basketball qualified for state tournament for first time since the 1970s.”

(If you want to add your own memories from 2013-14, send a Tweet to me with the hashtag #mshslmemories and I’ll re-Tweet.)

The Mounds View baseball team made some memories with its second consecutive state championship. The star for the Mustangs was pitcher Sam Hentges, who struck out eight in getting the shutout and had three hits (he's No. 34 in the photo above). After the game, it was announced that Sam had signed with the Cleveland Indians (he was their fourth-round draft pick) for a signing bonus of $700,000.

Hentges spoke glowingly of his teammates after the game, and the only major error they made came when two Mustangs attempted to interrupt a postgame interview by dumping a bucket of water on Hentges’ head. They got in too big of a hurry and dropped the Gatorade bucket before reaching their target, spilling its contents on the field instead of on Sam’s head (he’s 6-foot-7, so the prospect of lifting it high enough was iffy anyway).

“It’s obviously a really good feeling,” Hentges said. “We came in here today and scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning; that’s humongous. Our defense backed me up all day long. All the credit in the world goes to them. We did it again and it’s a great feeling.”

Humongous. Great word, Sam. And a great word to wrap up the year.

Let’s take some time off and enjoy summer. The first day of practice for 2014-15? Aug. 11.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 667
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 13,105
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Coming From Behind To Win State Championships
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2014 5:47:45 PM

There were two comeback stories Monday afternoon at Target Field. One involved a team that posted come-from-behind victories to reach the state title game, and the other a team that put together a miraculous come-from-behind win to capture a state championship.

New Life Academy, making its first appearance in the Class 1A state tournament, took home the title with a 5-4 victory over New York Mills. St. Cloud Cathedral rallied with four runs in the seventh inning to beat Fairmont 5-4 in the Class 2A title game.

The Class 3A title game between Mounds View and Eden Prairie was postponed by heavy rain and was rescheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Target Field. In addition, the boys lacrosse state championship game between Eden Prairie and Rosemount, scheduled for Monday night at Chanhassen; it was rescheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Rosemount (the higher seed).

New Life finished with a 14-6 record last season. That maybe didn’t portend a big run in 2014, but second-year coach Dave Darr was optimistic before the season began.

“We talked about getting here. This was a serious goal,” he said. “We thought we had the opportunity, with the individual talent and the pitching and the depth that we had, to do it. Teams make a goal to get here but we felt we had a good chance. You have to be lucky, and we were very lucky in beating a couple of teams to get here.”

The Eagles lost to Mayer Lutheran in the Section 4 playoffs and had to fight their way through the loser’s bracket and then beat Heritage Christian twice to advance to state. They got to Target Field with a 3-2, eight-inning win over defending state champion BOLD in Friday’s semifinals at Chaska.

In Monday’s game, Matthew Palkovich and Sam Horner each drove in two runs and John Horner (four innings) and Sam Horner (three innings) combined on the mound.

“It’s all these guys,” Darr said. “They’ve worked their tails off these last three months and when we absolutely needed to come through, we did. That’s a testament to these guys.

“This is amazing. You hope you can get here one day, and to win the whole thing, I don’t know if I can explain the feeling. I’m really, really proud of these guys. I love them to death.”

Unlike New Life, Cathedral is no stranger to baseball state championships. The Crusaders now own eight first-place trophies, with the previous crowns coming in 1980, 1988, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2011. Cathedral's Bob Karn, the state’s all-time leader in baseball coaching wins, ended the season with 711 victories.

No. 711 was a doozy, too. Cathedral trailed Fairmont 4-1 after six innings, but the Crusaders put up four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-4 lead. A triple by Steven Neutzling drove in the tying and go-ahead runs. In the bottom of the seventh, Fairmont had runners on second and third when the game ended on a groundball.

POSTSCRIPT …

New Life Academy’s Palkovich gets the award for predicting the state title. He did so before the season began, and it took place in a manner unfamiliar to those who are not up to date in the ways of social media.

It began when Palkovich sent a text to his girlfriend. I won’t name the young lady here, but Matthew told me, “She was actually my girlfriend at the time and still is, actually.”

His text to her said, “Hey, I’m calling it. We’re going to win state.”

“She posted it to Twitter and everyone saw it,” he said, wearing a big smile and a gold medal.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 665
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 13,052
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Memorable Season For Cathedral’s Karn: 710 Wins And A Heart Attack
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2014 8:49:32 PM

Two very memorable things happened to St. Cloud Cathedral’s Bob Karn this season. 1) He became’s the state all-time leader in baseball coaching victories; 2) He suffered a postseason heart attack.

The season will end Monday at Target Field when Cathedral meets Fairmont in the Class 2A state championship game. Win or lose, it has been quite a spring.

Karn, 72, leads the career victory category with 710 wins during 44 seasons as the Crusaders’ coach. New Ulm’s Jim Senske retired in 2005 with 707 wins and Brainerd’s Lowell Scearcy – whose team played in the Class 3A state tournament – ended the season with 706.

The heart attack came the day after the regular season ended. It was May 23, a Friday, and Karn was at the high school as the freshmen baseball players were turning in their uniforms.

Out of nowhere, he felt chest pains and began sweating profusely. “I thought, ‘This just isn’t normal, isn’t right,’ ” said Karn, whose father died of a heart attack.

He was driven to an urgent care facility, where it was immediately determined that he was having a heart attack. The next stop was St. Cloud Hospital and a very quick trip to surgery. One of the arteries in his heart was blocked and a stent was installed to allow blood to flow again.

“Through the amazing coordination of highly trained and skilled people, it took 18 minutes from the time I went into the operating room until they put the stent in and I was finished,” Karn said.

He spent two days in the hospital and was back in uniform on May 27 when the Crusaders opened Class 2A Section 6 tournament play. Eight postseason victories have followed and Cathedral will take a record of 26-1 into Monday’s 3 p.m. game against Fairmont (25-1).

Cathedral hasn’t lost since falling to Albany in its second game of the season and the Cardinals are unbeaten since a season-opening loss to New Ulm. The last time the teams met in the state tournament, Cathedral beat Fairmont 5-3 in the 2011 semifinals.

In the 2014 state tournament, top-seeded Cathedral has defeated Blake 5-1 and Glencoe-Silver Lake 6-0. Second-seeded Fairmont has beaten Aitkin 7-0 and Kasson-Mantorville 19-3 in five innings.

Karn said he is feeling “very good.” He goes to cardio rehab, is limited in how much he is allowed to lift but all restrictions should be removed in a few weeks.

The Cathedral baseball players learned about their coach’s heart attack right away, and assistant coach Charlie Burg took over until Karn returned. Burg coached third base for a time because doctors didn’t want Karn to be struck by batted balls.

Karn – who graduated from Cathedral in 1959, still teaches literature classes part-time and is the longest serving employee in school history -- said he told his players, “If you’re going to have a heart attack, make sure you have it close to a hospital that knows how to take care of heart attacks.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 665
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 13,002
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Best Way To Describe Hawley’s Parker Hanson? Pure Astonishment
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/13/2014 5:03:20 PM

ST. CLOUD -- When Parker Hanson was born, not everything was perfect. One thing was very clear: he didn’t have a left hand. There was something else, however, something unseen that is now very apparent in the junior from Hawley High School.

“I don’t care if you’re playing baseball in the state tournament or you’re playing checkers, Parker wants to win,” said Hawley coach Beau Lofgren on Friday at the Class 2A state baseball tournament. “He’s very competitive. He has that drive, which is something you don’t coach. That’s something you’re born with. We’re very proud of him.”

Parker is the Nuggets’ top pitcher, coming into this week’s state tournament with a record of 7-1, a 2.92 earned-run average and 70 strikeouts in 48 innings. The Nuggets lost to Kasson-Mantorville 5-3 in Thursday’s quarterfinals and fell to Aitkin 5-4 in Friday’s consolation bracket.

Hanson also plays football, including time at wide receiver. So yes, in the baseball field he hits and plays defense, and on the football field he catches passes and carries the ball. All with one hand.

“I don’t know what it’s like to play with two hands,” he said very simply. He calls baseball his passion, and there’s no doubting his talent. Before the state tournament, Parker was hitting .346 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 23 games.

On the mound and at first base, he puts his glove on his right hand. As he catches the ball he seamlessly takes the glove off, tucks it into his left arm and throws with his right arm. At the plate, he wears a prosthetic sleeve that attaches to the bat. As he drops the bat and runs to first base, the prosthesis remains attached to the bat.

“Regardless of what he has or doesn’t have, in terms of other human beings, he’s a phenomenal ballplayer,” Lofgren said. “He just shows a lot of tenacity and grit, and he’s able to lift a team when needed.”

Parker has been a varsity baseball player since eighth grade, and he has been an everyday player since the start of the 2013 season.

Lofgren said when opposing coaches got their first look at Hanson, the reactions were what you would expect.

“It’s pure astonishment. They’re almost beyond belief that he can do what he does. They see him throw and they say, ‘Oh geez, this kid’s for real.’ ”

The Nuggets made their first trip to state since 2009 the hard way, winning five consecutive elimination games to win the Section 8 championship. In all five games Hawley trailed in the sixth inning or later.

Teams don’t qualify for state without a lot of hard work, and Hawley is no exception. Parker, for example, has worn out his coaches while working to improve his defense at first base.

“He’s our leader, for sure,” Lofgren said. “I have hit him countless bags of groundballs. He’ll ask, ‘Can I have one more bag?’ It’s not, ‘I only want five more balls and then I’m done.’ ”

Parker isn’t onld enough to remember when Jim Abbott, who also was born with just one hand, spent 10 years (1989-99) as a major league pitcher. But Parker has done research on Abbott, including a school project in sixth grade. Parker has conversed with Abbott on Twitter.

“I’ve messaged him and he gave me a couple hints,” Parker said. “He’s really helped me, given me some confidence. He’s a really nice guy.

“He really set the bar high and gave me a lot of confidence to keep battling through all the struggles I’ve faced and keep going.”

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES MOVED TO MONDAY

Because of weather concerns, the baseball state championship games have been moved to Monday at Target Field. The games were originally scheduled for Saturday at Target Field but will be played Monday. Game times will be as originally scheduled, and here are the matchups…

Class 1A at noon: New Life Academy vs. New York Mills

Class 2A at 3 p.m.: St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Fairmont

Class 3A at 6 p.m.: Mounds View vs. Eden Prairie

LACROSSE, CLAY TARGET SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Saturday’s schedule also includes state championship events in lacrosse and clay target shooting. Both activities can be held in rain, but lightning can cause delays.

The lacrosse schedule…

Girls title game at 5 p.m.: Eden Prairie vs. Blake at Chanhassen

Boys title game at 7 p.m.: Eden Prairie vs. Rosemount at Chanhassen

The clay target shooting competition will be held at Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake. Opening ceremonies will be held at 8:30 a.m. and the first of three flights in team competition will begin at 9 a.m. The team awards ceremony is scheduled for 12:45. Individual competition will begin at 1:15 with awards scheduled for 5 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 639
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,932
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Marshall Boys Golf Team And The Coach They Love
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2014 8:42:57 PM

JORDAN – One of the more interesting figures at the Class 2A state golf tournament was not one of the golfers, but one of the coaches. He’s a retired golf pro who lives in a motor home on a farm, is beloved by his team members and is newly retired from coaching now that the high school season is over.

Allen Lucht has been coaching the Marshall High School boys golf team since 2009. He was the pro at Marshall Golf Club from 1993 until 2011, wintering in Florida with his wife, Shirley. Once he became the high school golf coach, he cut his warm-weather winters short to return to Marshall in March for the start of the golf season.

The impact on his players is immeasurable. He’s part father figure, part grandfather, part mentor and part friend.

“Allen’s one of the nicest, most kindhearted people I’ve ever met,” said Tigers senior Alex Buysse. “He knows the golf swing better than anybody. He’s just a great person, too, so what he’s taught us goes beyond golf.”

The Tigers were tied for fourth in the eight-team 2A boys field after Tuesday’s first round of play at Ridges at Sand Creek. They came back Wednesday with a strong performance, climbing two spots to finish second behind state champion Providence Academy. That was a great way for Lucht to end his high school coaching career.

As the club pro in Marshall, Lucht has had a long history with most of his players on the high school team. Five years ago one individual qualified for state and the team has represented Section 3 at state for four years in a row now. Marshall’s Max Deutz was the individual state champ in 2011 when the team also finished second.

This year’s Tigers were undefeated all season before the state tourney, which is a first for them.

“As far as I’m concerned these young men are champions all the way through,” Lucht said. “The greatest thing is their courage and demeanor and how they react to what you try to make them do. And you hope they react to it and they play the game the way you want them to play, and it’s the same thing in life. They work together very well and it’s really kind of cool to watch.”

The players enjoy hearing their coach tell stories from his own life and golfing career, as well as a steady string of jokes.

“He’s just always upbeat,” said senior Matt Bennett. “ He always tries to get us laughing and keep us calm as best he can. He’s always there; if you ever need something, he’s always got your back. He has stories for us and he always tells jokes, probably things we shouldn’t repeat. (insert laughter here)”

About that motor home. With their primary residence in Florida, the Luchts didn’t want to purchase another home in Marshall after retirement. So Allen bought a motor home from a member of Marshall Golf Club and parked it on a farm owned by another member.

The members of the golf team are the main recipients of Lucht’s decision to take over as coach.

“We were like six or eight years old and we went to lessons with him every day, all these guys,” said senior Matt Christianson. “Almost our whole team has been with him our whole life, basically. He’s like a grandpa. He keeps coming back and there’s really nothing in it for him other than seeing us every year.

“I think when I’m 25 or 35 or 45, I’ll still be thinking about Allen Lucht.”

GIRLS RESULTS

--Class 2A/ Detroit Lakes captured its third consecutive state team title with a score of 590, followed by Pequot Lakes (648) and Red Wing (650) in the top three. Detroit Lakes sophomore Kate Smith and Pequot Lakes junior Maggie Heggerston shared the individual championship, each shooting 73-70-143. It was Smith’s third state title, making her the fifth girl in Minnesota history to win three state golf titles. She could become the second to win four and the first to win five.

--Hole-in-one: Pequot Lakes junior Megan Snyder used a 9-iron to ace the 101-yard third hole at Ridges at Sand Creek.

--Class 1A/ Legacy Christian of Andover led the team race with a 718 score, followed by BOLD (732) and Fillmore Central (733). The individual champ was Christina Piwnica of Southwest Christian in Chaska, who shot 79-80-159. The runner-up was Abby Herding of Westbrook-Walnut Grove at 80-88-168.

--Class 3A/ Wayzata won the team competition with a score of 622, followed by Alexandria (641) and Edina (650). New Prague’s Kenzie Nielsen, who shared the individual title last year with Wayzata’s Sarah Burnham, won it outright with a 67-68-135, followed by Burnham at 67-69-136.

BOYS RESULTS

--Class 2A/ Providence Academy won the team title with a 602 total, followed by Marshall 612, Blake 614, Mankato East 618 and Fergus Falls 629. The individual title was shared by three players who had a 144 total: Andrew Sederlund of Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl, Andrew Israelson of Staples-Motley and Carter Haley of Mankato East.

--Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd won the team title at 660, followed by United South Central (675) and Legacy Christian (679). The medalist was Mounds Park eighth-grader Brock Bliese (76-74-150), followed by Cordell Weber of Martin County West 77(-75-151).

--Class 3A/ Edina captured the team title with a 590 score, followed by Wayzata at 591 and Hastings at 617. Rochester Century's Chris Captain was the medalist with a 71-71-142. There was a three way-tie for second at 145: Jack Holmgren of Wayzata, Max Savini of Anoka and Sam Foust of Edina.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 623
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,690
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Fillmore Central Girls Golf: Building A Program, Getting To State
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/10/2014 4:38:57 PM

BECKER -- After Tuesday’s opening-round scores were posted at the Class 1A state girls golf tournament, Fillmore Central coach Lane Powell said this: “It’s OK to be under the radar.”

That’s how the Falcons flew into the state tourney at Pebble Creek Golf Club. It’s the school’s first appearance at state and the six players on the roster are a seventh-grader, an eighth-grader, a ninth-grader, a sophomore, a junior and a senior. How’s that for symmetry?

Fillmore Central – the school is in Harmony in southeastern Minnesota – stands in third place at the halfway point of the tournament and is within range of a state title by tourney’s end Wednesday. BOLD leads the team race with a 365 score, followed by defending champion Legacy Christian (367), Fillmore Central (369) and Windom (379) in the eight-team field.

Christina Piwnica of Southwest Christian and Lauren Laffen of Sleepy Eye lead the individuals with 79s, followed by Abby Herding of Westbrook-Walnut Grove at 80 and Elizabeth Hennessy of Lewiston-Altura at 81.

Fillmore Central is a golf team (pictured) that has been building toward this first trip to state. Powell is in his third year as the varsity girls coach after spending eight years coaching the junior high boys team. Powell, the band director at Fillmore Central, also represents the Minnesota Music Educators Association on the MSHSL board of directors.

Fillmore Central is well-known for its music program. In the 2013-14 school year, the high school had an enrollment of 131 students and 98 of them were involved in band, including every member of the varsity girls golf team.

“Powell has completely changed the (golf) program,” said junior Katie Tammel. “You see the band program and how strong it is; that’s what’s happened with the golf team.”

Senior Keeley Todd said, “Last year we had eight or nine players and now we have 15. They’re mostly young but that’s good for the program.”

Powell said his philosophy of building a golf team is just like his philosophy of building a successful band program. For example, a summer golf program was started three years ago and it’s paying dividends now.

“You’ve got to have a five-, 10-year plan; ‘Here’s where we want to be and here’s how we get there,’ ” he said. “You keep preaching the same things over and over until it’s second nature. Our goals were incremental, small steps. We’ve knocked down each small step, and that’s like any success. It can’t happen overnight.”

The Falcons’ top scorer Tuesday was sophomore Laura Donney with an 88. Todd shot an 89, eighth-grader Grace Miller a 95, seventh-grader Madison Scheevel a 97, Tammel a 100 and ninth-grader Elayna Kiehne a 111.

After all the players finished Tuesday’s round, Powell gathered them in a tight circle and talked about what they had accomplished and what’s in store.

“I told them I was very proud of them,” he said. “They’re playing our style of golf, which is conservative, smart. We’re not big hitters. We try to score on what’s in front of us. It doesn’t have to be pretty. And to be honest, nobody expected us to be here. We’re four strokes out of first and people are like, ‘Who is this?’ ”

A year ago the Falcons didn’t advance from their subsection tournament to the Section 1 meet as a team. Five individuals did advance to sections a year ago, with one player missing a trip to state by one stroke and another coming two strokes short.

“We knew we were getting closer but they’d never been on a big stage before,” Powell said.

Tuesday’s round on that big stage was a team effort, explained Tammel.

“Today was one of those days where your teammates really come up big,” she said. “I was golfing in the No. 1 spot but I shot a No. 5 score. My teammates buckled down and shot really well. I think the pressure was taken off even when I knew I wasn’t playing my best golf, because I knew my teammates were playing so well.”

Another major part of the story is how the community has rallied around the team. The Falcons had no matching team shirts to wear during the season, but their attire at state is first-class: Sharp-looking teal shirts (the school colors are silver, black and teal) with their first names on one sleeve and “State 2014” on the other sleeve.

Families, the public and local businesses have raised money for all kinds of purposes, including practice rounds at four courses near Harmony that are similar to Pebble Creek (“that was 250 bucks a shot,” Powell said). A local bank paid for the team’s dinner Tuesday night.

“People have been great,” Powell said. “Sometimes the non-gate sports can get a little neglected in the eyes of the public. But once it got out that the girls were doing so well, all these things keep going on and on.”

With the first round in the books, the Falcons are primed for the final 18 holes Wednesday. Expectations?

“I have no expectations,” Tammel said. “Just play well. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If we win it, we win it. if we get second place, it’s one of those things. It’s icing on the cake to be here.”

“We want to play well,” Keeley said. “And if we do, it’ll be awesome.”

No matter what happens, it’s already pretty awesome.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 607
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,638
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Teams Of Two Score Big At State Track Championships
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/7/2014 10:14:45 PM

Discussions about team scoring at the state track and field championships often evolve into this question: Could one or two superstar athletes accumulate enough points to take home a team title?

That question was answered in a big way by two young sisters from Minneapolis Edison on Saturday at Hamline University’s Klas Field. Eighth-grader Jia Lewis won the Class 1A 100- and 200-meter races, and ninth-grader Jada Lewis finished third in both sprints. Adding to the symmetry, Kayla Stowell of LeSueur-Henderson placed second in both.

With 12 points for each first-place finish and eight points for third, the Edison duo’s total of 40 points gave the Tommies the team title. Belle Plaine/Holy Family Academy was second with 32.7 points, followed by Holy Family Catholic (31) and Osakis (29).

“It’s the best competition to have your sister with you,” said Jia Lewis.

There was a similar outcome in the Class 2A girls competition, where two sprint stars from Cretin-Derham Hall were the headliners. Sophomore Brieasha Hunter finished first and senior Megan Linder was second in the 100 and 400, and those finishes were reversed in the 200, with Linder winning and Hunter placing second.

No other female athletes from Cretin-Derham Hall scored points, but the Hunter-Linder total of 66 team points was good for second place behind state champion Minnetonka, which scored 80 points. Lakeville South was third with
62 points; 24 of those came from victories by Shaina Burns in the shot put and 100 hurdles.

Linder and Hunter didn’t discuss the possibilities before the state meet, but “I think it was kind of on our minds, even though we never really talked about it,” said Linder, who capped a stellar high school track career.

Last year at state Linder won the 400, was fourth in the 200 and seventh in the 100, while Hunter was third in the 400 and ninth in the 200. As a sophomore, Linder won the 400,was third in the 200 and fifth in the 100. When Linder was a ninth-grader she finished eighth in the 400. She will continue her track career at the University of Tennessee.

“I was just trying to get in the zone and soak it all in,” she said of Saturday’s experience. “I think I’ve been really privileged to do so well the past four years and I felt a little choked up today. I think I’ve truly left a legacy behind me, not just from my times but also from my attitude and the relationships I’ve made.”

--The morning began with a late start due to stormy weather which included lightning. The Class 2A portion of the competition started at 9:30, half an hour behind schedule. The Class 1A meet began on time at 3:30

CLASS 2A HIGHLIGHTS

--Mia Barron of Minnetonka (pictured in the 4x100) won both the girls long jump and triple jump, setting a state-meet record of 40 feet, 5 ½ inches in the triple jump. The all-time state record is 41-1 ¾ by Wayzata’s Jordan Helgren in 2008. Barron won the long jump Friday with a distance of 19-1 ½; she set the state record of 19-10 earlier this spring.

--Terrance Bowers of Hopkins won the boys long jump and triple jump and was a member of the Royals’ championship 4x100 relay team. He also won the triple jump last year.

--Stillwater sophomore Eli Krahn repeated as the boys 1,600 champ, adding to the 3,200 title he won on Friday.

--Hopkins’ Shaheed Hickman was a repeat champion in the boys 100.

--Bloomington Jefferson’s Matthew Rosen won the boys 800 for the second year in a row.

--Akeem Sirlead of North St. Paul was the repeat gold medalist in the boys 200.

--Marissa Bartels of Delano set a meet record in the 800-meter wheelchair race, winning in 3:08.04. She also won the wheelchair 100 and shot put.

--Senior Payton Otterdahl of Rosemount captured the boys discus and shot put crowns.

CLASS 1A HIGHLIGHTS

St. Croix Lutheran junior Jon Tollefson continued his domination of the hurdle world, sweeping the 100 and 300 races for the second year in a row. He set a 1A state-meet record of 14.36 seconds in the 100 hurdles (the all-time state record is 13.85).

The closest finish of the day came in the 300 hurdles, with the results delayed while meet officials looked at photos of the finish. The victory went to Tollefson with a time of 38.317 seconds, and the time for runner-up Samuel Lundquist of Minnehaha Academy was 38.318.

-- Staples-Motley senior Jaelin Beachy won her third consecutive title in the girls 100 hurdles.

--Tyler Beehler of Foley won both the 100 and 200 for the second year in a row and anchored the Falcons’ victorious 4x100 relay team.

--In the girls shot put, Katelyn Weber of St. Clair was a repeat champion.

--Jayme LaPlante of Chatfield swept the boys discus and shot put titles.

--The girls 1,600 winner was Kayla Huhnerkoch, a junior from Redwood Valley. She also won the 1,600 (and the 800) as an eighth-grader in 2011 and was second in the 1,600 as a freshman.

--In the boys 1,600, junior Shane Streich of Waseca repeated as champion (he also won the 800, in which he placed second last year). Streich set a 1A meet record in the 1,600 with a time of 4:13.80. Runner-up Keeghan Hurley (4:13.98) also beat the previous 1A meet record.

--To see photo galleries from state track by Minnesota Prep Photo, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 599
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,498
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Even In Defeat, Maple Grove Coach And Team Know What’s Important
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2014 8:26:26 PM

NORTH MANKATO -- In the midst of tournament mania -- as every team and every athlete and every fan is hoping and dreaming to celebrate glory in the form of a gold medal -- a very special scene took place Friday afternoon during the state softball tournament at Caswell Park.

The team was the Maple Grove Crimson, who a few minutes earlier had lost a heartbreaking contest to Lakeville South in the Class 3A state championship game. The Crimson were great sports, shaking hands with and congratulating the South Cougars, accepting their second-place medals and smiling as they held up the second-place trophy.

But you just know that losing had to sting. The Crimson had experienced a dream season, bringing a record of 22-3 into Friday’s game and taking a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. That’s when South scored twice to take a 3-2 lead that held up the rest of the game. The Crimson had their chances in the bottom of the seventh, getting runners to second and third with two outs before the game ended with a strikeout.

Heartbreak? Well, sure. But when coach Jim Koltes spoke to his players afterward, as they sat quietly on the outfield grass, his message was one of congratulations and pride. Every word, every syllable was absolutely and totally positive.

“You didn’t quit,” the coach said. “You played to the end and you gave us a chance to win the game. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I’m proud of you and I’ll be proud of you forever.”

Then he asked for “put ups” … meaning the opposite of putdowns. The assistant coaches and players took turns, raising their hands and offering positive comments on specific things that teammates had done during the game; running out groundballs and beating the throws to first base, making tough fielding plays, working hard in the dugout and keeping the energy up.

“We out-cheered them, that’s for sure,” Koltes said with a smile. And as the Crimson posed with their second-place trophy, everyone grinned. What a great way to end a great season.

SOFTBALL NOTEBOOK

--Kasson-Mantorville finished the year as the only undefeated team in the state, defeating LeSueur-Henderson 3-0 in the Class 2A title game. As usual, KoMets junior pitcher Maddie Damon was dominant in giving up only one hit, a bunt single to the first batter she faced, Veronica Sinell. Damon struck out 11 (as she did in the two previous games at state) and finished the season with a state-record 1,260 career strikeouts.

Here’s what might be the most amazing statistic of the entire softball season: the KoMets (28-0) won by shutout 20 times, gave up one run in seven games and allowed two runs only once, in a 4-2 win over Zumbrota-Mazeppa on May 6. They gave up nine total runs, only five of them earned runs.

--New Ulm Cathedral took home the Class 1A state title with a 3-1 win over New Life Academy in a matchup of two powerful small-school programs.

Cathedral has now played in seven championship games and won all seven, with previous crowns coming in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005 and 2007. New Life won state titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 while finishing second in 2007 and 2013.

TRACK NOTEBOOK

The state track and field championships began Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul, and will conclude Saturday. Most of Friday’s events were prelims, but finals in half of the field events were held as well as the 3,200-meter races.

On the track, Stillwater sophomore Eli Krahn made headlines by winning the Class 2A boys 3,200. A year ago he won the 1,600 at state.

--In a very competitive 2A girls 3,200, Emily Castanias of Chanhassen was the winner, followed by Shaelyn Sorensen of Tartan in second. The next to finish were sisters Bethany and Megan Hasz of Alexandria.

--Minnetonka’s Mia Barron repeated as the 2A girls long jump champion, leaping 19 feet, 1½ inches. She owns the state of 19-10.

--Terrance Bowers of Hopkins repeated as the 2A boys triple jump champion.

--New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva senior Carlie Wagner – a basketball star who has signed with the University of Minnesota – won her second 1A high jump title in three years.

--Kasson-Mantorville’s softball victory wasn’t the only title for the KoMets on Friday. Junior Taylor Wiebke won the girls high jump, leaping 5-9. She set the state record of 5-11 earlier this spring.

--Blaine junior Alexandra Williams, who set the girls 100-meter hurdles state record of 14.21 in her section meet, led Friday’s state prelims in 14.22.

TENNIS NOTEBOOK

--Blake junior Charlie Adams repeated as the Class singles state champ, defeating Ty Misialek of East Grand Forks 6-1, 6-0 in the finals.

--Nick Beaty of Wayzata won the 2A singles title with a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-2 win over Toby Boyer of Forest Lake.

--The 1A doubles crown went to Ben Ingbar and Taylor Parr of Blake, who defeated Jake Duxbury and Austin Wong of Breck 6-2, 6-4.

--In 2A doubles, Charlie Adkins and Rory Calabria of Maple Grove defeated Anthony Rosa and Carter Mason of Eden Prairie 6-1, 6-3 in the title match.

--To see photos from some of Friday's events (including a spectacular photo gallery from state track by Minnesota Prep Photo), go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 569
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,456
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Pitcher Is Worth A Thousand Words … And Strikeouts
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/5/2014 10:36:53 PM

NORTH MANKATO -- Thursday was a day for the hurlers at the state softball tournament, with dominating performances from the pitching circle providing a dominating theme at Caswell Park. And through two rounds of games Thursday, the setup for Friday’s three state championship contests was completed.

The title matchups look like this: LeSueur-Henderson vs. Kasson-Mantorville in the Class 2A contest at 1 p.m.; Lakeville South vs. Maple Grove for the 3A crown at 1:30; and New Ulm Cathedral vs. New Life Academy in 1A at 2 p.m.

A large contingent of fans was on hand to see Kasson-Mantorville junior ace Maddie Damon, who made headlines earlier this season. She came into the tournament with a state-record 1,227 career strikeouts, and she broke that record 21 times Thursday. The KoMets beat Hermantown 4-1 in the quarterfinals, with Damon striking out 10. In the semifinals, Damon hit a grand slam, tossed a one-hitter and struck out 11 in a 10-0, five-inning victory over Hawley.

--Also in 2A, Rockford sophomore Bria Majeski tossed a one-hitter in a 3-0 opening-round win over two-time defending state champ New Ulm.

--LeSueur-Henderson sophomore Carlie Brandt totaled 21 strikeouts in two games, a 4-2 win over St. Anthony Village and 1-0 blanking of Rockford.

--Cherry senior Kacey Herring very nearly tossed a perfect game in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Browerville in Class 1A. The only Browerville baserunner came with two outs in the seventh inning when Herring hit a batter with a pitch. The next batter, Crystal Pearson, singled for Browerville’s only hit. Herring got the final out on a strikeout, her 15th of the game. Browerville pitcher Makenna Hegseth gave up only three hits.

--In Class 3A, Lakeville South senior Kylie Stober had 21 strikeouts in victories over Orono and Anoka.

--Also in 3A, Maple Grove junior Sydney Smith took a no-hitter into the seventh inning vs. North St. Paul and gave up two hits as the Crimson advanced to the championship game with a 4-1 victory. She struck out 17 and gave up four hits in two wins Wednesday.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY

Maple Grove junior Kea Anderson belted a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning, putting the Crimson ahead of North St. Paul 3-0. As Kea returned to the dugout, she exited the dugout quickly, found her mom sitting just outside the fence and they shared a hug.

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

The wildest game of opening day came in the Class 1A consolation bracket when Kenyon-Wanamingo beat Norman County 13-12. K-W’s Ellyn Beulke set a single-game tournament record with seven RBIs, setting the mark with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh. She also tied tourney records for most home runs in a game (two) and most hits in a game (five).

The game’s total 25 runs tied the tournament record, set in 1983 when St.
Agnes beat Rockford 13-12.

AND IN OTHER TOURNAMENT ACTION…

--The boys state tennis tournament continued Thursday with singles and doubles competition. Semifinals and championship matches will be played Friday.

--The state track and field championships get underway Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. The bulk of Friday’s events are preliminaries, and the meet will conclude Saturday.

--Next week? On the docket are state tournaments in boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls golf and baseball. The final games on the 2013-14 calendar are the three baseball state championship games scheduled for June 14 at Target Field. Let’s keep our weather fingers crossed.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 569
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,318
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Luke Moorhead Beat Cancer, Now Plays Top-Level Tennis
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/4/2014 6:54:35 PM

Watching Luke Moorhead play in the state tennis tournament might seem like a run-of-the-mill endeavor for those who are unaware of the Mound Westonka sophomore’s history. Moorhead defeated Foley sophomore Zach Kantor at No. 1 singles in Wednesday’s Class 1A fifth-place team match, and both players gave maximum effort in a grind-it-out contest that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Moorhead is ranked second among Class 1A singles players, and 1A singles and doubles competition will be held Thursday and Friday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. The top-ranked singles player is Blake junior Charlie Adams, the defending state champ who defeated Moorhead in last year’s semifinals.

Moorhead (pictured) and Adams, who frequently practice together, could meet once more in Friday morning’s semifinals.

“The next two days will be interesting,” Luke said Wednesday. “I could have a good semifinal match with Charlie, although I don’t want to look ahead, past two tough opponents ahead of me. But it will be an exciting two days.”

That Luke is able to play tennis is a pretty exciting proposition, as well. He was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was 14 months old and underwent chemotherapy and other treatments until being given a clean bill of health at age 5. But in his case, “clean bill of health” might be a little misleading.

Side effects of those long-ago cancer treatments mean Luke’s organs are enlarged, he has limited hearing in one ear, and he undergoes surgery every two years to – as his mother, Tricia, explained – “clean up his organs.” The next round of surgery is a month away.

“He has to work extra hard to be out here and it has taken him a while to adjust to those kinds of things,” Tricia said. “He had a great coach when he was young, early on, who really worked with that kind of stuff and kind of got him on the right path. He has to work, this doesn’t come easy. He has to put the time in.”

Luke first qualified for state as an eighth-grader, playing doubles with Arend Turner. He finished fourth in singles a year ago. His introduction to tennis came while he was undergoing cancer treatments; Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota holds an annual event called the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic, benefitting cancer research.

After learning about the event, Luke’s parents decided to attend. That was the first time Luke saw the game played, and he immediately picked up a racket.

“It is his passion,” his mother said. “He fell in love with the game and started playing tennis based on that tournament.”

Luke said he doesn’t remember much from his cancer treatments, which is one of the benefits of going through it at such a young age.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. As for things like hearing loss and enlarged organs, his attitude is what you might expect from a determined and dedicated athlete.

“There are still a few side effects, but they’re minor,” he said. “I don’t care about that because I survived. I’ll take the side effects.”

Boys Team Tennis Championship Results

Class 1A
Title Match/ Blake defeated Rochester Lourdes 5-2
Third-Place Match/ Breck defeated Thief River Falls 7-0
Fifth-Place Match/ Foley defeated Mound Westonka 4-3

Class 2A
Title Match/ Wayzata defeated Minnetonka 5-2
Third-Place Match/ East Ridge defeated Elk River 4-3
Fifth-Place Match/ Mounds View defeated St. Cloud Tech 6-1

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 545
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,180
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



District Football Is Set For 2015 Season And Beyond
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/2/2014 2:57:14 PM

Football has been a major topic at meetings of the MSHSL board of directors for a long time, specifically a problem that many football teams deal with on a regular basis: finding enough games to fill the eight-game regular-season schedule.

At Monday’s board meeting, a completely new format for regular-season football was approved. The plan, called District Football, will reorganize teams into 18 districts across the state with the goal of eliminating the issue of filling schedules.

To see lists of districts and schools, click on “District Football 2015-16, 2016-17” on the MSHSL home page. Scroll to the bottom of that story and click on the link titled “District Lists and Maps.”

Here are some important points about District Football …

--It will begin in 2015. That means nothing will change this fall (2014).

--District football will have no impact on the postseason. Current section alignments will continue for section playoffs and the state tournament.

--This affects football only and no other sports.

--Districts will have between 12 and 28 teams, many with teams from different classes.

--Districts are labeled by names instead of numbers: West, South, Big Southeast, East Central, Mid State, etc.

--In most cases, districts will have the option of setting up sub-districts within the district. This means there will be plenty of scheduling flexibility.

--Schools in each district will meet to produce schedules for each team in the district. The MSHSL will not be involved in scheduling.

--In most cases, traditional rivalries will continue if the schools choose to do so. Each school with a football team filled out a form prior to the districts being created, and they were encouraged to list the rivalries they would like to continue.

MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle worked on the plan, along with a 10-member committee that placed schools into districts. It was unanimously approved by the MSHSL activity directors advisory committee before the board of directors gave its unanimous approval Monday.

“Everyone needs to keep in mind that this is just a step in the process of developing actual schedules for our member schools,” Merkle said. “Some districts have a wide range in size and geography, but once the districts determine their sub-district alignments, most of the enrollment and geographical issues will be solved.”

In other news from Monday’s meeting …

--The board approved adding Academic Decathlon to the umbrella of MSHSL activities. The MSHSL will be a presenting partner of Academic Decathlon, as it is with robotics and clay target shooting.

--The board approved a proposal to have home schools pay the same membership/activity fees that all other members schools do.

--In discussing implementing a transgender policy, no decisions were made. Members asked that more information be provided before the next board meeting in August.

--The board did not approve a recommendation from dance team, which wanted to add an additional level of competition in which sections cross over to advance the “best” teams to state, not necessarily by geography. After discussing the request, no board member made a motion for a vote.

--The board approved a request from Nordic skiing to have two teams per section advance to state instead of the current one team.

--The board approved a slight change in Class 1A boys diving, allowing one more diver per section to advance to state.

The board also …

--Approved the hiring of an additional IT staff member at the MSHSL office.

--Honored Elaine Taggatz, who is retiring as state coordinator of gymnastics officials.

--Recognized board members whose terms ended Monday: Laurie Esau, Mike Kolness, Mike Manning and John Hamann.

Sauk Rapids-Rice principal Erich Martens was elected board vice president for 2014-15. He will become president in 2015-16.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 527
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 12,110
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



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