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Minnesota Students Honored On A National Stage
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/29/2017 9:20:29 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Thursday was a day to remember for the Minnesotans who are here in Providence for the 98th annual summer meeting of the National Federation of State High School Associations. The convention, which is attended by representatives of every high school governing body in the nation, was highlighted when two Minnesota students received national NFHS arts.

Danny Lilya, who will be a junior this fall at Moose Lake, received the National High School Spirit of Sport Award. Josie Ross, who this spring graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park, was the recipient of the National High School Heart of the Arts Award. People from around the nation are nominated for these awards by their state governing bodies, which are grouped into eight sections of the nation. Section winners are chosen for each award, and from those finalists the national winners are selected. This is the first time both winners have come from the same state. (Pictured are Danny with his parents, Dan and Sheryl, NFHS president Bob Gardner, right, and the MSHSL's Kevin Merkle, left.)

Danny and Josie received their awards Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, with more than 500 convention attendees on hand. Each received a standing ovation.

Here are summaries of Danny and Rosie…

Danny Lilya, Moose Lake

Like most other students at Moose Lake (Minnesota) High School, a school with 184 students, sophomore Danny Lilya plays a variety of sports.

However, unlike those other students, Lilya was born with a broken back, is a paraplegic, and has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life.

Nonetheless, that has not prevented him from participating in the sports he loves, including football, sled hockey, track and wheelchair softball. By doing that, he literally has all four seasons covered with different sports. Last fall, Lilya was the holder on extra points and field goals for the Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels football team.

Despite the attention that Lilya has received from his extraordinary achievements, Moose Lake High School Athletic Director Tony Andres said, “Danny’s just an average teenager - he’s very personable, he’s fun and he participates in a lot of different things.”

Josie Ross, Benilde-St. Margaret’s

From the cultural epicenter of the Twin Cities, Josie Ross has embodied the very best the performing arts offer. Ross’ tremendous talents and accomplishments in the arts have been matched, perhaps even exceeded, however, by her selfless nature and her unyielding desire to help others. (Josie is pictured with her parents, Chuck and Debra, Bob Gardner and the MSHSL's Amy Doherty.)

In addition to her exemplary 3.96 grade-point average and membership in the National Honor Society, Ross has been involved in many activities and clubs.

Ross has participated in numerous performing arts activities, including debate, speech and choir. Among her many awards in this area are the Minnesota State High School League ExCEL Award and the Benilde-St. Margaret’s School Outstanding Character Award.

However, it is the realm of theatre that could accurately be described as her true passion.
Among her theatre accomplishments, she’s a four-year cast member of the One-Act Play, a performer in multiple school musicals and plays, and has received several Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight Theatre Awards.

*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



The Best of John’s Journal: Honorable Mention
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/26/2017 6:06:59 PM

Every year at this time, I read through everything that’s been posted on John’s Journal from the start of practice for fall sports in August through state tournaments in the spring. The goal is to come up with a Top 10 list of my favorite stories each year. This is never easy.

Looking back at 2016-17 was a delightfully time-consuming task. Going through what was posted was a whole bunch of fun, sifting through 364 total posts, jotting down notes and beginning with a very long list in the course of finalizing a Top 10.

The initial winnowing brought the number down from 364 to 46. And then the real work began. As I went through those 46 posts, struggling to shorten the list, an idea popped into my head: Adding an Honorable Mention list to the Top 10.

After deciding on the Top 10, I put together my next five favorite stories. In the coming days I’ll re-post each of the Top 10 stories individually. For the Honorable Mention stories, I’ve put together a summary for some along with the date they were posted. (If you scroll to the bottom of this post and click on “More of John’s Journal”, you will see a month-by-month list of everything that has been posted here since I joined the MSHSL staff in March 10.)

And with that, here are the Honorable Mention stories (in chronological order)…

Aug. 27/ Football season opener in Babbitt

The very first game of the 2016 football season took place way up north in the tiny town of Babbitt, where nine-man teams from Mountain Iron-Buhl and Northeast Range met on a sunny and warm Friday afternoon. An excerpt from the story:

This game and atmosphere was wildly, spectacularly, unbelievably different from what will take place on November 25 and 26 in downtown Minneapolis. Half an hour or so before kickoff, a dozen fans patiently waited in front of a little ticket booth that was as yet unoccupied. They eventually wandered through the gate and took their gratis seats on the single set of bleachers. Ticket takers arrived a little later and enough paying fans came through to almost fill the stands.

The football field, tucked in behind Ron Castellano Ice Arena, is surrounded by a very Shawshanksian metal fence topped with barbed wire ... as if there is something worth stealing inside. There once was a running track around the field, but all the lanes are grass-covered now. A thin concrete curb remains in place inside where Lane 1 used to be, presenting just enough of a lip to trip up those who aren’t paying attention.

The bleacher accommodates fans from both teams, and they can see an old scoreboard directly across the field. I don’t know the age of the scoreboard, but the thing makes a “click” sound with each second that ticks off. It is pure analog glory.


Sept. 13/ Officiaiting crew mourns a lost member

Travis Kiel was 35 years old when he was killed in a traffic accident on July 31. He graduated from Milaca High School and lived in Foley. A football and basketball official, Travis was well-liked by his fellow officials. His crew honored his memory all season by wearing patches with his initials on their caps, and for some games a moment of silence was observed in Travis’ memory before kickoff. An excerpt:

“He was very studious of the game,” said Tom Bolduc, the referee (white cap) on the football crew that Travis was part of. “Nobody ever said a bad thing about him.”

Travis’ death was doubly tough on Bolduc’s crew because back judge Paul Seaton’s daughter Erin was married to Travis for 10 years before he died. They have two children, seven-year-old Whitney and four-year-old Wyatt.

“He loved the Friday nights,” Seaton said. “He played at Milaca High School, and when the opportunity came to be an official he had that gleam in his eye. Friday nights were special for him. Right from the get-go he was a quality official.”


May 15/ Monticello’s Nick Zwack: Three Sports And A Lot More

Nick Zwack is a busy young man. As graduation nears, the senior at Monticello High School is putting the wraps on a prep career that, while hard to match, will inspire the next generation of Monticello student-athletes.

If you see his name and wonder, “Where have I heard about that kid?,” think back to the Class 1A boys state hockey tournament. That’s when Nick became a statewide star in leading the unseeded cooperative team from Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake to a state runner-up finish.

Hockey is just one-third of his athletic career. He also was the quarterback on the football team and this spring he is the No. 1 pitcher and also plays frst base for the Magic baseball team. The lefthander will stay with baseball in college, pitching at Division I Xavier University in Cincinnati.

But athletics is only part of Nick’s legacy. He was his school’s recipient of the MSHSL Triple A Award, which recognizes achievements in Academics, Arts and Athletics. Zwack is a top student who also plays violin in the school orchestra. He was named the Region 8AA winner of the Triple A Award and was recognized with other winners from around the state at a halftime ceremony on the Target Center court during the boys state basketball tournament.


May 31/ Let’s Do This In Minnesota: Future Teacher Signing Ceremonies

A wonderful happened this spring at Norwalk High School in Iowa, when graduating seniors who planned to become educators were honored in a special ceremony. An excerpt:

“Everyone loved it. It’s been huge,” Johanna MacKenzie told me. She is a teacher in Norwalk who was asked by superintendent D.T. Magee -- it was his idea -- to put together the signing ceremony for future teachers.

“The general feedback was, ‘This is so awesome, we want to see it every year,’ ” Johanna said. “The kids felt so honored. They felt like they were a really big deal that day.”

That’s the point. Nothing is more vital to the future of our world than education, and we need to do everything we can in Minnesota and elsewhere to encourage young people to consider careers in education. (Full and proud disclosure: I am the son of a teacher and the father of two teachers.)


June 1/ Everyone In Alexandria Is Cheering For Josh Molden

While Josh Molden was in a Minneapolis hospital, his Alexandria High School track and field teammates were competing at a section meet in Moorhead. Josh, one of the top long and triple jumpers in the state, was undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. An excerpt:

Josh’s name was first on the list as the triple jump competition began. The official called his name and the 60-second timer started. The official declared a foul and the rest of the jumpers took their turns. Through three rounds of jumps, the pattern continued.

“Pretty much our entire team, everyone who was not competing at the time, was standing there by the triple jump,” (coach Mike) Empting said. “It was a special moment. It wasn’t a really big deal for anybody who didn’t know what was going on. But it was very significant for everybody who did know.

“It was emotional. It was pretty quiet. I don’t think our kids even knew how to respond, other than they knew they wanted to be there, they wanted to be a part of it.”


*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Waconia Makes History, Completes Perfect Season
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2017 10:48:45 PM

Waconia High School baseball coach Mark Grundhofer knew what had just happened: His Wildcats had completed a perfect season by defeating Hibbing 6-1 Monday at Target Field in the Class 3A state championship game.

They became only the ninth baseball team in MSHSL history to win every game. When that fact was mentioned to Grundhofer, he grinned and said, “That’s crazy. In this game? Seriously? Who wins all their games?”

MSHSL state baseball tournaments have been held for 70 years. The first team to finish unbeaten was Chisholm, which went 16-0 in 1948. Four other schools did the same in the one-class era: Halstad went 13-0 in 1952, Austin went 15-0 in 1954, Little Falls finished 13-0 in 1957 and Richfield went 25-0 in 1965.

In the multi-class era, Cretin-Derham Hall was 29-0 in 1998, Eden Valley-Watkins was 27-0 in 2010 and St. Cloud Cathedral finished 25-0 in 2015.

Waconia’s record a year ago was 12-12, a fact that didn’t provide much of an omen for the Wildcats’ history-making 2017 season.

“No, you can’t see this coming,” Grundhofer said. “I knew the kids, the senior guys, those six guys, they learned a lot last year. We had a lot of mistakes last year that we got through. They came back here determined.”

Waconia pitcher Dillon Whittaker held Hibbing (19-9) hitless for three-plus innings, by which time the Wildcats held a 4-0 lead. Whittaker struck out six and walked none in going the seven-inning distance. Waconia banged out 10 hits, with Robbie Smith getting three and Alex Longelin and Austin Friedrich two apiece.

The Wildcats won their state quarterfinal and semifinal games in dramatic fashion, defeating Mahtomedi and Marshall by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

“They’re just mentally tough kids, Grundhofer said. “You could see the confidence they have in each other. They were ready to play and they wanted to get it done and not have to wait until the last inning. It helps the old coach out, that’s for sure.”

Class 1A: Parkers Prairie Takes The Next Step

One year after falling in an 11-inning state championship game, the Parkers Prairie Panthers defeated Legacy Christian 6-3 to claim their first baseball state title. In the 2016 championship game, Springfield defeated Parkers Prairie 4-2.

Levi Arnold, who finished the season with a 12-0 record on the mound, pitched a complete-game six-hitter as Parkers Prairie finished with a 26-2 record. He threw 92 pitches, striking out two and walking two. Travis Yohnke, Casey Peterson and Matt Ferley each had two hits for the Panthers. Jarvey Hill had two hits for Legacy Christian (21-5).

Class 2A: Minnehaha Academy Repeats

In a rematch of last year’s state semifinals, Minnehaha Academy defeated Pierz 6-4 to claim its second consecutive state title. In last year’s state semis, Minnehaha Academy defeated Pierz 4-2.

The Redhawks (26-2) broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the seventh inning. With one out, a ball hit by Simon Huyck glanced off the first base bag and rolled deep into right field as Huyck went to second. Noah Dehne singled to score Huyck, and Dehne later scored on a double by Alex Evenson.

Alex Jordan had three hits for the Redhawks, while Lane Girtz and Matthew Kummet each had two hits for the Pioneers (26-3).

Class 4A: Unseeded Eden Prairie Wins

The Eden Prairie Eagles were seeded fourth in the Section 2 playoffs and not seeded among the top five teams in the eight-team state tourney field. But they are now state champions after defeating Forest Lake 5-1.

Winning pitcher Jack Zigan gave up three hits in seven innings for the Eagles (18-9). Forest Lake starter Cameron Kline struck out 12, walked two and gave up seven hits in six innings for the Rangers (20-7). Ryan Wrobleski and Matthew Dolan each drove in two runs for the Eagles.

Special Recognition For Merkle

Kevin Merkle, who has served with passion, dedication and commitment as an MSHSL associate director for 16 years, was honored during a brief ceremony before the Class 4A championship game. Kevin will transition to a part-time role with the MSHSL later this summer; longtime Mounds View High School activities director Bob Madison will succeed Kevin as associate director in charge of baseball, football, boys basketball and dance.

Twins president Dave St. Peter presented Kevin with a Twins jersey that had “Merkle” stitched on the back. St. Peter later Tweeted: “Few have had a more positive impact on MN HS athletics + activities than Kevin.”

All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A


Jesse Sather, Brett Sundquist, Fosston; Liam Blaschko, Wabasha-Kellogg; Taylor Bunting, Trevor Pederson, Skyler Reddemann, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove; Josh Peterson, Nils Anderson, Ethan Mocchi, Legacy Christian;
Andrew Johnson, Travis Yohnke, Levi Arnold, Parkers Prairie.

Class 2A Wyatt White, New London-Spicer; Joe Macken, Rochester Lourdes; Derrick Winn, Peter Hansen, Duluth Marshall; Hunter Malachek, Ben Reilley, Maple Lake; Lane Girtz, Matthew Tautges, Matthew Kummet, Pierz; Alex Evenson, Justin Evenson, Bennett Theisen, Minnehaha Academy.

Class 3A Jamie Berg, Mahtomedi; Jake Rascher, St. Thomas Acasdemy; Conner Hammerback, Jake Drew, Alexandria; Mason Penske, Logan Tomasek, Marshall; Travis Carruth, Dylan Mattson, Anthony Kanipes, Hibbing; Dillon Whitaker, Jacob Hendricks, Alex Logelin, Waconia.

Class 4A Charlie Horton, Maple Grove; Tyler Young, Wayzata; Ronald Sweeny III, Max Meyer, Woodbury; Nick Split, Gavin Baker, Lakeville North; Cameron Kline, Jake Wensmann, Forest Lake; Zack Elliot, Connor Kehl, Bailey DeMets, Jack Zigan, Eden Prairie.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 800
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 12,001
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



3 Sports, 3 State Tournaments For Marshall’s Ryan VanMoer
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2017 8:51:31 PM

Ryan VanMoer managed to smile just a little as we chatted Friday afternoon at Siebert Field. The third baseman for Marshall High School had played well in the Class 3A baseball state semifinals, with a walk, a strikeout, a single and triple from his No. 2 spot in the batting order.

The outcome wasn’t what the fifth-seeded Tigers wanted. They scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-4 lead over top-seeded and unbeatem Waconia, but the Wildcats came back to score three of their own in the bottom half of the inning, with Robbie Smith’s walk-off single driving in the winning run in Waconia’s 7-6 victory.

Ryan, a senior (pictured), had one game left in his high school baseball career; Marshall defeated Alexandria 10-9 later Friday in the third-place game. When I asked him about the memories he will take from high school athletics, he smiled and said, “The great teammates. That’s something special. The bonds that we’ve built with each team, it’s a family.”

VanMoer has been a part of several teams/families. He has been a three-sport athlete throughout high school, participating in football, basketball and baseball. His senior year has been one for the ages; Ryan played on teams that (take a deep breath here) reached the state semifinals in football, the state semifinals in basketball and the state semifinals in baseball. He also is a percussionist in marching band and will compete at the MSHSL clay target shooting championships next Saturday.

Two Marshall juniors – Nicholas Klaith and Jacob Hess – also played on the Tigers’ football, basketball and baseball teams that went to state.

The football team finished with a record of 11-1, losing to eventual state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Class 4A state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. The basketball team finished third in the Class 3A state tournament and had a 28-4 record. The baseball team went 20-7; Ryan had two hits in the third-place game and pitched two innings in relief.

VanMoer not only collected state tournament medals, he made lasting impressions on his teammates and coaches.

“There’s not a better kid out there than Ryan VanMoer,” said Tigers baseball coach Chace Pollock. “And I really mean that. He’s an unbelievable kid, in the classroom, out on the baseball field, football field, wherever it is. He’s a hard worker and a great kid.”

Ryan joined Marshall’s clay target shooting team as a junior. He said he usually was able to get to the shooting range one day a week after baseball practice. The state championship competition will be held next Saturday at Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.

“One of the things I respect so much about Ryan is that he’s not only a three-sport athlete and a contributor in all three sports, he’s also in our marching band, he’s a phenomenal drummer,” said Marshall activities director Bruce Remme. “He does it all and he gets it done in the classroom, too. He’s a super leader. We feel really fortunate to have a kid like Ryan VanMoer in our programs.”

Ryan came through in a crucial spot against Waconia on Friday, stepping into the batter’s box with two outs, no one on base and the Tigers trailing 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning. He belted a triple. Dylan Criquet-Danielson reached on an error (VanMoer scored) and Logan Tomasek singled. Hess hit a two-run triple to put Marshall ahead 6-4 before the inning ended. In the bottom of the seventh, Waconia won the game on a walk, a hit-by-pitch and consecutive singles by Jacob Hendricks, Dillon Whittaker and Smith.

Despite Friday’s disappointment, Ryan was grateful for all he has been able to experience.

“It’s something special,” he said. “It’s all I could ask for in my senior year. I know there are two other guys that have been part of this, too. I’ve had great coaching, great teammates through it all. It’s really special.”

Ryan will attend Concordia College in Moorhead, where he will study biology and play football and baseball.

He’ll be a full-time college student, participating in two sports. But what will he do with all that free time?

Friday’s Baseball State Semifinals

Class 1A

Parkers Prairie 8, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove 3
Legacy Christian 7, Wabasha-Kellogg 5

Class 2A
Minnehaha Academy 8, Maple Lake 3
Pierz 1, Duluth Marshall 0

Class 3A
Waconia 7, Marshall 6
Hibbing 8, Alexandria 7

Class 4A
Eden Prairie 14, Lakeville North 0
Forest Lake 9, Woodbury 1

Baseball State Championship Games
Monday at Target Field


1A/ Parkers Prairie vs. Legacy Christian, 10 a.m.
2A/ Minnehaha Academy vs. Pierz, 1 p.m.
3A/ Waconia vs. Hibbing, 4 p.m.
4A/ Eden Prairie vs. Forest Lake, 7 p.m.

Lacrosse State Championship Games
Saturday at Chanhassen High School


Girls/ Blake vs. Eden Prairie, 3:30 p.m.
Boys/ Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Eagan, 6 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 792
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,941
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



The Little Guy Gets The Big Hits When It Counts
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/15/2017 9:47:22 PM

JORDAN – The meat of the batting order for the baseball team from Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove must scare the dickens out of opposing pitchers, even before they step in the batter’s box. No 3 hitter Cole Pankonin, who stands stands 6 feet tall and weighs 230 pounds, is followed by Corey Maras (6-2, 235) and Trevor Pederson (6-5, 300). All are seniors.

The star for the Falcons, however, in Thursday’s Class 1A state quarterfinal was someone younger and smaller than those guys. Sophomore left fielder Austin Irlbeck, all 5-10 and 155 pounds, had three hits and drove in three runs as the Falcons defeated Fosston 11-1 in six innings.

Irlbeck, the only non-senior in the batting order, singled, doubled and hit a home run over the right-field fence at the Mini Met. It was his team’s second home run of the season; Pankonin hit the first earlier in the year.

“Austin is a special player,” said Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove
coach Derrick Jenniges. “He’s a good contact player, he can run the bases really well, he’s a good bunter, so he gives us lots of options. Especially at the top of the order, he gives a little protection for those big swingers behind him.”

The day’s biggest swing came from Irlbeck in the second inning when his solo homer gave the Falcons a 3-0 lead. He belted a two-run double in the third and singled in the fifth. Pankonin also had three hits, while Maras, Evan Blomgren and Mitchell Willhite had two each. Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove finished with 13 hits.

The last time a baseball team from any of those southern Minnesota communities went to state was in the 1940s; Westbrook made the trip in 1947 and 1949. Things are different now, with several communities and two schools coming together.

Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove will meet Parkers Prairie in Friday’s semifinals at noon Friday in Jordan. The winner will play for the state title Monday at Target Field.

“This is really big,” Irlbeck said. “We come from a small town and we want to try to help each other out the best we can, do it for the town, do it for our school, do it for our fans.”

As he said those words, one of Austin’s teammates handed him a plastic turkey, a good-luck charm which he was happy to explain…

“This is Tom the Turkey. He’s been with us since last year when we had a little run in the playoffs. He’s stuck ever since.”

The Goal: Return To Target Field

Parkers Prairie knows what it’s like to play at the home of the Minnesota Twins. The Panthers were the 1A runners-up last year, and they moved one step closer to a return visit to Target Field with an 8-0 win over Pillager in Thursday’s 1A quarterfinals.

Parkers Prairie and Pillager are both in the Park Region Conference, and the Panthers defeated Pillager twice during the regular season.

“You come down here and you think you’ll see different teams, and then you see a conference opponent,” said Panthers coach Derek Denny. “There were no secrets; we knew them, they knew us. It was about the players; let the boys come out and just play the game. We’re happy. Very happy.”

Parkers Prairie’s Levi Arnold improved his pitching record to 11-0 with the victory. He had a no-hitter through five innings and gave up two singles in the final two innings, throwing a fastball, curveball and knuckleball.

A year ago the Panthers lost in the championship game to Springfield 4-2 in 11 innings. It was the second-longest championship game in MSHSL baseball history, and the Panthers would love to get back.

“We were one out away (from winning last year),” Arnold said. “We want to make it back. We don’t need to win it, but that would be really nice.”

State Baseball Quarterfinals

Class 1A

Parkers Prairie 8, Pillager 0
Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove 11, Fosston 1
Legacy Christian 9, Ely 4
Wabasha-Kellogg 2, Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 2


Class 2A

Minnehaha Academy 10, Warroad 5
Maple Lake 11, Rochester Lourdes 1
Duluth Marshall 8, Belle Plaine 4
Pierz 6, New London-Spicer 2

Class 3A
Waconia 2, Mahtomedi 1 (9)
Marshall 3, Red Wing 1
Hibbing 9, St. Cloud Tech 2
Alexandria 7, St. Thomas Academy 2

Class 4A
Eden Prairie 6, Wayzata 1
Lakeville North 8, Burnsville 1
Forest Lake 6, Maple Grove 5
Woodbury 4, Champlin Park 1

Boys Lacrosse State Semifinals
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6, Wayzata 5
Eagan 12, Mahtomedi 11 (OT)

Girls Lacrosse State Semifinals
Blake 10, Prior Lake 9
Eden Prairie 19, Farmington 3

Lacrosse State Championship Games
Saturday at Chanhassen High School


Girls at 3:30 p.m.
Blake vs, Eden Prairie

Boys at 6 p.m.
Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Eagan

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 788
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,891
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Four Days, Two State Tournaments, One Talented Athlete
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2017 7:29:30 PM

BECKER -- Wabasha-Kellogg’s Liam Blaschko brought all his essential equipment to the Class 1A state golf tournament, which was held here Tuesday and Wednesday at Pebble Creek Golf Course. Liam brought his clubs, his shoes, his balls and tees … and his baseball gear, too.

This is a very big week for the senior, who is playing in two state tournaments. After wrapping up the golf tournament Wednesday, he headed to Jordan to meet his baseball teammates. The Falcons will face Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A tournament on Thursday at the Mini Met in Jordan.

If they win Thursday they will play in the state semifinals Friday in Jordan for the chance to play in the state championship game Monday at Target Field. If they lose Thursday, they will play in the consolation bracket Friday in Chaska.

All in all, Liam (pictured) is experiencing a real rarity.

“I’m feeling pretty good about it,” he said of his two rounds at state golf. He shot an 84 Tuesday and an 83 Wednesday, finishing in a tie for 23rd in the 88-player field.

Liam is the Falcons’ top pitcher with an 8-2 record and 98 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings. He also plays catcher and his batting average of .313 ranks No. 4 on the team behind Cooper Holtorf (.442), Jackson Gosse (.377) and Chase Holtorf (.333).

“He’s really taken it in a relaxed fashion,” Falcons golf coach Donny Killeen said of Liam’s golf season. “He said baseball’s a little more stressful for him. When he’s pitching there are eight other guys out there. Here, he said, ‘It’s me. If I mess up it’s my own fault.’ ”

Liam’s brother Fletcher played at the state golf tournament three times, placing sixth as a senior in 2013. The last time Wabasha-Kellogg qualified for the state baseball tournament was when Liam was in eighth grade.

Liam left home Monday for the state golf tournament. The Falcons’ baseball team departed for Jordan on Wednesday morning and Liam met them later in the day. After finishing on the golf course each day, he played catch with his father Chris and Killeen.

“There is stress in baseball,” he said. “In golf you just go out and have fun.”

Liam’s playing partners Wednesday were Springfield freshman Mason Kretsch, Heritage Christian junior Ian Johnson and Minneota freshman Nolan Boerboom. None of them knew Liam would be playing in another state tournament a day later; he didn’t mention it.

Wabasha-Kellogg allows athletes to play two sports simultaneously, but they must designate their top sport. Liam chose baseball, which meant he was on hand for baseball practices and games while working on his golf game when he found time.

As his sister Rowan put it, seeing her little brother at the state golf tournament was “the icing on the cake.”

In the midst of a very busy spring, Liam also performed in the school musical, “The Music Man.”

He has simple advice for others who might be considering a similar path: “Don’t be afraid to fill your schedule.”

State Golf Results

Boys

Class 1A:
Mahnomen/Waubun won the team title and Blooming Prairie's Tommy Braaten captured the individual championship.

Class 2A: Blake won the team crown and Red Wing's Cecil Belisle won the individual championship.

Class 3A: The team title went to Wayzata, as did the individual crown to the Trojans’ Van Holmgren.

Girls

Class 1A:
BOLD (pictured) won the team state championship and Springfield's Callie Wersal captured the individual championship.

Class 2A: Detroit Lakes took home the team title and Anni Heck of Visitation repeated as individual champ.

Class 3A: The team title went to Edina, and the individual title was shared by Edina's Joanna Kim and Red Wing's Sophia Yeomans.

Tournament Tidbits

--The Springfield girls golf team -- which placed third in Class 1A -- is coached by Dillon Schultz, who was the 2009 Class 1A boys champion for Springfield/Comfrey.

--After a snapping turtle was spotted during the golf tournament in Becker, one of the course marshalls made the following statement on his walkie-talkie. “She can move her ball from there because of the Dangerous Animal rule.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 780
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,843
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Tuesday Filled With State Tournaments
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/13/2017 7:26:32 PM

The busiest stretch of the spring season is underway with state tournaments in three sports at 10 sites taking place this week. Tuesday was the opening day of the golf and lacrosse state tournaments. Golf will end with second-round play Wednesday; lacrosse semifinal games will be played Thursday, with girls and boys championship games on Saturday. The state baseball tournaments will begin Thursday, with semifinals on Friday and championship games scheduled for Monday at Target Field.

Here is a summary of Tuesday’s activities…

Boys Lacrosse State Quarterfinals
At Chanhassen

Benilde-St. Margaret’s 17, Anoka 4
Wayzata 6, Eden Prairie 5
Mahtomedi 13, Prior Lake 12
Eagan 19, Lakeville North 8

Boys Lacrosse State Semifinals
Thursday at Minnetonka

3 p.m.: Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Wayzata
5 p.m.: Mahtomedi vs. Eagan

Girls Lacrosse State Quarterfinals
At Minnetonka

Blake 17, Cretin-Derham Hall 10
Prior Lake 16, Maple Grove 6
Farmington 10, Stillwater 9 (OT)
Eden Prairie 18, Blaine 5

Girls Lacrosse State Semifinals
Thursday at Chanhassen

3 p.m.: Blake vs. Prior Lake
5 p.m.: Farmington vs. Eden Prairie

Class 1A State Golf
Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan

Girls:
Springfield holds the day one lead with a team score of 342, followed by Fillmore Central at 348 and BOLD at 357. Callie Wersal of Springfield is the individual leader with a first-round 74, followed by Sophie Gray of Legacy Christian at 76, and Heidi Guttormson of Minneota and Emily Doeden of Park Christian at 78.

Boys: Mahnomen/Waubon leads the team race with a 14-stroke lead over second-place Sleepy Eye United. Mounds Park Academy holds third place, 15 shots behind the leader. On the individual side, Tommy Braaten of Blooming Prairie holds the lead with a first-round 68, followed by Matt Berning of Mounds Park Academy (72) and Ben Laffen of Sleepy Eye United (75)

Class 2A State Golf
Pebble Creek, Becker

Girls:
Lake City holds a five-shot lead over Detroit Lakes, 332-337, after the first 18 holes. Standing in third place is Visitation at 345. Minnewaska’s Ashlyn Guggisberg leads the individuals with a 73, followed by Anni Heck of Visitation at 75 and Lexi Geolat of Lake City at 76.

Boys: Blake holds a two-shot lead over Detroit Lakes in the team standings, with Holy Family one shot further back. Lincoln Cizek of Holy Family and Cecil Belisle of Red Wing share the individual lead at 68, with three players at 69: Jack Michel of Holy Family, Esten Stensrud of Minnewaska and Jacob Zosel of Morris.

Class 3A State Golf
Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids

Girls:
Edina opened a 16-point lead over Red Wing after the opening round, with Forest Lake 22 shots out of the lead and Buffalo one stroke behind Forest Lake. Edina’s Joanna Kim had the top individual score with a 73, followed by Megan Welch of Lakeville North at 74 and Sophia Yoemans of Red Wing at 75.

Boys: Minnetonka holds the lead at the tournament’s halfway point with a four-shot lead over Wayzata. St. Thomas Academy is in third place, six shots behind the leader. The individual leader is Caleb VanArragon of Blaine at 69, followed by Ben Frazzini of Wayzata, Jacob Pedersen of Minnetonka and Carson Haley of Mankato East at 71.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 764
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,698
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Very Busy Tuesday
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/13/2017 3:52:25 PM

The busiest stretch of the spring season is underway with state tournaments in three sports at 10 sites taking place this week. Tuesday was the opening day of the golf and lacrosse state tournaments, and baseball will begin Thursday.

Here is a summary of Tuesday’s activities…

Boys Lacrosse State Quarterfinals
At Chanhassen

Benilde-St. Margaret’s 17, Anoka 4
Wayzata 6, Eden Prairie 5
Mahtomedi 13, Prior Lake 12
Eagan 19, Lakeville North 8

Girls Lacrosse State Quarterfinals
At Minnetonka

Blake 17, Cretin-Derham Hall 10
Prior Lake 16, Maple Grove 6
Farmington 10, Stillwater 9 (OT)
Blaine vs. Eden Prairie

Class 1A State Golf
Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan

Girls:


Boys: Mahnomen/Waubon leads the team race with a 14-stroke lead over second-place Sleepy Eye United. Mounds Park Academy holds third place, 15 shots behind the leader. On the individual side, Tommy Braaten of Blooming Prairie holds the lead with a first-round 68, followed by Matt Berning of Mounds Park Academy (72) and Ben Laffen of Sleepy Eye United (75)

Class 2A State Golf
Pebble Creek, Becker

Girls:


Boys: Blake holds a two-shot lead over Detroit Lakes in the team standings, with Holy Family one shot further back. Lincoln Cizek of Holy Family and Cecil Belisle of Red Wing share the individual lead at 68, with three players at 69: Jack Michel of Holy Family, Esten Stensrud of Minnewaska and Jacob Zosel of Morris.


Class 3A State Golf
Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids

Girls:


Boys: Minnetonka holds the lead at the tournament’s halfway point with a four-shot lead over Wayzata. St. Thomas Academy is in third place, six shots behind the leader. The individual leader is Caleb VanArragon of Blaine at 69, followed by Ben Frazzini of Wayzata, Jacob Pedersen of Minnetonka and Carson Haley of Mankato East at 71.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 764
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,698
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



A Very Busy Tuesday Is Underway
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/13/2017 11:59:04 AM

The busiest stretch of the spring season is underway with state tournaments in three sports at 10 sites taking place this week. Tuesday was the opening day of the golf and lacrosse state tournaments, and baseball will begin Thursday.

Here’s what’s happening today (updates to come)…

Boys lacrosse state quarterfinals at Chanhassen
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 17, Anoka 4
Wayzata vs. Eden Prairie
Prior Lake vs. Mahtomedi
Lakeville North vs. Eagan

Girls lacrosse state quarterfinals at Minnetonka
Cretin-Derham Hall vs. Blake
Maple Grove vs. Prior Lake
Stillwater vs. Farmington
Blaine vs. Eden Prairie

Class 1A State Golf
Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan

Class 2A State Golf
Pebble Creek, Becker

Class 3A State Golf
Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 764
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,698
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Females Rule Track And Field, In High School And Beyond
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2017 5:25:18 PM

These are glory days for girls track and field in Minnesota. The 2017 season ended over the weekend with the best in our state competing at Hamline University in St. Paul to decide Class 1A and Class 2A state championships.

Meanwhile, on an even bigger stage, a trio of Minnesota high school girls track and field all-time record holders were making their mark at the NCAA Division I national championship in Eugene. Ore. Here’s a summary…

--Maggie Ewen, a junior at Arizona State from St. Francis, won the national championship in the hammer throw, placed second in the discus and sixth in the shot put. She holds MSHSL all-time records in the shot put and discus.

--Ruby Stauber, a Louisiana State freshman from Wayzata, advanced to the NCAA championship meet in the 800 meters. She set the Minnesota prep record in that event one year ago.

--Jedah Caldwell, a Chanhassen grad and freshman at Kansas, ran on the Jayhawks’ 4x100 relay team at the NCAA championships. Jedah holds Minnesota state records in the 100 and 200 meters, both set one year ago.

One all-time state record was broken at the MSHSL championships, and fittingly it was a group of four young ladies who did so. The North St. Paul quartet of Shaliciah Jones, Alexis Pratt, J’Anna Cager and Jebeh Cooke won the Class 2A 4x100 and 4x200 relays on Saturday; their 4x200 time of 1:39.20 set an all-time state record. The previous mark was 1:40.08, set by Hopkins in 2010.

There are 18 events in Minnesota high school track and field, and girls state records have been set in 11 events in the last three years.

All in all, it was a splendid weekend for Minnesota track and field, girls and boys. The two-day state championship meet was held under clear skies on a picture-perfect Friday and a warm, breezy Saturday. There were superstars in attendance, including Bloomington Kennedy senior Honour Finley, the state record holder in the 400 meters, who won that Class 2A event for the third year in a row and will be teammates with Caldwell at Kansas in the fall.

Another superstar who became a three-time state champion was Jenna Kes, a senior from Jordan. Jenna is a three-sport athlete, also competing in soccer and basketball. She placed fifth in the Class 1A triple jump as a ninth-grader before beginning her three-year reign in that event.

She was thrilled for several reasons Saturday, including wearing the triple jump gold medal for the third time. She set a personal best Saturday of 40 feet, 2 ¾ inches, which was more than a foot beyond her previous best. She also finished second in the 100 hurdles and long jump, giving her a total of eight medals from her high school career at state track.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” she said with a great big smile.

Asked about the factors that contributed to her track success, she didn’t say a word about herself. The only person she talked about was Brian Homan, who coaches the Jordan jumpers.

“That all goes to my coach,” said Jenna, who will be a collegiate track and field athlete at North Dakota State. “He just knows the right things to say at the right times to keep me focused, and having fun always. Having fun is really what it’s all about. I just can’t thank him enough.”

After participating in three sports throughout high school, Jenna called it “an amazing experience. My closest friends are also athletes. For me it was always, you go to practice, you work hard but also you get to spend an extra two hours a day with your friends. They keep everything fun and exciting. It’s an awesome experience.”

Aiming For a Record

North St. Paul senior Jake Kubiatowicz has been dreaming of setting a state record in the discus for a long, long time.

“That’s kind of been my goal ever since I found out about it when I was a little kid,” he said Saturday. The state record of 201 feet, 7 inches was set by Rochester Century’s Karl Erickson in 2001, and Jake appeared to be a serious threat to break it going into the state meet.

He threw 199-7 at the Section 4 championships, which is second to Erickson on the state’s all-time list.

With a large crowd on hand to watch the 2A boys discus competition Saturday, Jake’s first throw was 177-11, followed by 160-1. His final throw in the preliminaries sailed 194-6 and brought whoops from the fans. With three more throws coming up in the final round, Erickson’s 201-7 looked to be on shaky ground.

But it still stands. Jake threw 193-5, 190-2 and 194-4 in the finals. He was a little disappointed, he admitted. But …

“I really wanted to break that record ... But I’ve got too many other blessings in life; it’s just one record.”

Jake, who will become an Ivy League track and field athlete at the University of Pennsylvania this fall, also won the 2A discus title last season.

Other Class 2A Highlights

--Eden Prairie’s Denzel Brown won the 100 and 200 meters, taking the 200 for the second year in a row.

--St. Michael-Albertville’s Anna Keefer, who earlier this spring set a state record in the long jump, won that event at the state meet as well as the 100 and 200.

--Edina repeated as state champ in the girls 4x800 relay.

--Amanda Anderson of St. Francis won her second title in the girls discus.

--Armstrong’s Alexandrea Hurst repeated as girls shot put state champ.

--Allyson Weiss of East Ridge won her second title in the girls triple jump.

Other Class 1A Highlights

-- Tierney Wolfgram,an eighth-grader from Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, won the 3,200 on Friday and the 1,600 on Saturday, adding those to the state cross-country state title she won in November.

-- Minneapolis North’s T’Nia Riley swept the girls 100 and 200.

-- Reid Pierzinski of Pequot Lakes won the boys 110 and 300 hurdles races.

--Samuel Moore of Bertha-Hewitt swept the boys shot put and discus.

--Millie Klefsaas of Staples-Motley repeated as girls pole vault champion.

--Mara Quam of Kenyon-Wanamingo won her second title in the girls long jump.

Team Scoring

Class 1A boys

1. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 58
2. Pequot Lakes 42
3. Pipestone 40
4. Ottertail Central 35
5. Esko 33

Class 1A girls
1. Minneapolis Edison 48
2. Pequot Lakes 41.50
3. Belle Plaine 40
4. Byron 38
5. Jordan 35

Class 2A boys
1. East Ridge 51
2. Lakeville South 44
3. Wayzata 43
4. (tie) Mounds View 42, Hopkins 42

Class 2A girls
1. St. Michael-Albertville 54
2. Farmington 48
3. North St. Paul 43
4. Mounds View 36
5. Armstrong 33

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 748
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,648
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



The Moments – And The Lessons – That Last A Lifetime
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2017 9:55:35 PM

NORTH MANKATO – In every state tournament, there are moments. And then there are Moments, split-second instances that become lifetime memories for all who were there to witness it.

One of those moments took place at 4:03 p.m. Friday at Caswell Park. A scoreless softball game to decide the Class 4A state championship ended on a walk-off home run by Farmington junior Emma Frost with two out in the 10th inning. That gave the Tigers the championship – Farmington folks said it was the first team state title in school history -- with a 1-0 victory over Anoka.

Emma will surely remember it forever, as will her teammates and coaches and parents and siblings and grandparents and other fans. And how about Farmington senior pitcher Maddie Muelken (profiled yesterday in John’s Journal), leading her team while undergoing cancer treatments? Amazing.

Friday’s defeat was a tough pill to swallow for the kids from Anoka, who had a grand season and came oh-so-close to being state champs. Take it from someone who played on a high school football team that came up just short in a state championship game: You never forget the fun, the good times, the positive memories.

Which brings us to a coach named Andrew Fleischman. His team from Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian finished second in Class 1A softball, falling to New York Mills 8-4 Friday. (Pictured are the New York Mills captains receiving the first-place trophy.) The Flying Dutchmen continued an amazing run in softball, where they were state champs last season and finished third and fourth the two years before that. That’s four big-time trophies for the five seniors on the team: Jaidyn Henstra, Jordyn Smidt, Jenny Nelson, Liz Buckridge and Mallory Zeinstra.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” Fleischman said. “Our seniors are a great group of girls. They were great leaders. There’s nothing to hang your head about to have a career where you’re consolation champions, third place, second place and first place.

“What’s more important, though, is that they’re great teammates, great young ladies, great people to be around, and that goes for all our girls. We talk a lot about whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. I’m really, really proud of them.”

Read those words again: Whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. A few days ago I mentioned such a philosophy in this space, writing, “Lots of teams and individuals will pose with trophies and medals, wearing the biggest smiles of their lives. Those are wonderful moments for sure, but the simple joys of competing, learning, sharing and growing are what’s most important.”

Andrew (pictured) is in a unique position. He coaches teams in three different sports, involving kids from three different schools. In the fall he’s the head coach of the Edgerton/Ellsworth football team; in the winter he’s the head coach of the Edgerton girls basketball team; and in the spring he leads the Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian softball team.

Southwest Minnesota Christian is located in Edgerton, a town of slightly more than 1,000 people in southwest Minnesota. Ellsworth is 30 miles south.

Girls from Edgerton High School and Southwest Christian High School are rivals during basketball season and teammates during softball season; boys from Edgerton and Ellsworth are teammates in football and opponents in basketball.

Fleischman, a history teacher at Edgerton, laughed about keeping everything and everybody straight.

“Oh, I’ve got to work with names and pronounciations,” he said. “I’ve got like 42 Jadens and things like that.

“It’s just fun. I get to work with lots of different kids. And what they all have in common is they’re all great kids, they all work hard and they all buy into being great teammates and great community members.”

He was smiling after Friday’s defeat, expressing nothing but positives about the Eagles of New York Mills and his own team. It was the essence of class, dignity and doing what’s best for kids. Like all great coaches around our state, Andrew Fleischman knows what’s important.

“Sometimes you work hard and you do everything you can to prepare yourself, and when the moment comes it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “We can dwell on that or we can dwell on the fact that New York Mills has a very good team. We played hard, played up to our ability, gave it a good run at the end and ultimately came up just a bit short.”

Andrew is the father of three daughters, so expect to see the family name on his team’s rosters in the future; the girls will be in ninth grade, fifth grade and second grade when the 2017-18 school year begins.

The coach of fall, winter and spring teams doesn’t see much change during the summer. His plans for the day after the state softball tournament? Helping coach one of his daughter’s youth softball teams at a tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.

You just know everyone will have a great time.

State Softball Tournament

Championship games

1A/ New York Mills 8, Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian 8-4
2A/ Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Maple Lake 1
3A/ Winona 9, Hermantown 2
4A/ Farmington 1, Anoka 0 (10 innings)

Third-place games
1A/ Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 15, Hayfield 2
2A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9, Esko 2
3A/ Totino-Grace 8, Mankato West 1
4A/ Chanhassen 1, Woodbury 0

Fifth-place games
1A/ Kimball 9, Pillager 3
2A/ Pipestone 12, Albany 0
3A/ Waconia 4, Thief River Falls 2
4A/ Buffalo 6, Maple Grove 4

Boys State Tennis

Class 1A


--Doubles/ Ben Ingbar and Christopher Hall of Blake won the title by defeating Breck’s Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz 6-4, 6-4.

--Singles/ Blake junior Jack Barker defeated freshman teammate Joe Mairs 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match.

Class 2A

--Doubles/ The championship went to Rochester Century’s Nick Aney and Varun Iyer with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Chase Roseth and Hunter Roseth of Lakeville South.

--Singles/ Ben Van der sman of East Ridge defeated Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the title match.

State Track Day One Highlights

--Osseo eighth-grader Nyalaam Jok won the Class 2A girls high jump, clearing 5-8 (the state record is 5-11).

--St. Michael-Albertville senior and state record holder Anna Keefer captured her second Class 2A long jump title, going 18 feet, 10 ½ inches.

Most of the events Friday were preliminaries. The meet will conclude Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 718
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,606
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Boys State Tennis Championships
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2017 6:51:38 PM

Class 1A

Doubles/ Ben Ingbar and Christopher Hall of Blake won the title by defeating Breck’s Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz 6-4, 6-4.

Singles/ Blake junior Jack Barker defeated freshman teammate Joe Mairs 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match.

Class 2A

Doubles/ The championship went to Rochester Century’s Nick Aney and Varun Iyer with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Chase Roseth and Hunter Roseth of Lakeville South.

Singles/ Ben Van der sman of East Ridge defeated Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the title match.



State Softball Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2017 6:50:44 PM

Championship games
1A/ New York Mills 8, Edgerton/Southwest MN Christian 8-4
2A/ Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Maple Lake 1
3A/ Winona 9, Hermantown 2
4A/ Farmington 1, Anoka 0 (10 innings)

Third-place games
1A/ Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 15, Hayfield 2
2A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9, Esko 2
3A/ Totino-Grace 8, Mankato West 1
4A/ Chanhassen 1, Woodbury 0

Fifth-place games
1A/ Kimball 9, Pillager 3
2A/ Pipestone 12, Albany 0
3A/ Waconia 4, Thief River Falls 2
4A/ Buffalo 6, Maple Grove 4



State Softball: Farmington’s Inspirational Leader
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2017 10:47:25 PM

NORTH MANKATO – Thursday’s opening day of the state softball tournament at Caswell Park worked out wonderfully for the Farmington Tigers. The fifth-seeded team in the Class 4A field defeated fourth-seeded Park of Cottage Grove 13-2 in the quarterfinals and then beat top-seeded Chanhassen 2-0 in the semifinals. And as usual, Maddie Muelken was one of the fulcrums for the Tigers.

In the first game, the senior had two hits, walked once and drove in a run; in the pitcher’s circle, she gave up four hits, struck out one and walked four in getting the complete-game victory. She also went the distance against Chanhassen, giving up four hits and striking out three with no walks;

Those are pretty good stat lines for a kid with cancer.

“It’s a big thing when she’s in the lineup,” said Farmington coach Paul Harrington.

Maddie (pictured) was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma the day before softball practice started in March. She has undergone chemotherapy and lots of medical tests since, but she is in good health at the most critical time of the season. And the timing is pretty good, too; having completed one round of chemotherapy, she is between rounds during the state tournament.

“I’m 95 percent cancer-free,” she said. “I just finished a round and this week I had off (from treatments). Then I’ll have another round and then another PET scan to figure it out.”

It’s amazing what Maddie has done. How many athletes can go in for chemo in the morning and pitch a few hours later? She did that during the regular season and was in the midst of chemo during the Section 1 playoffs.

“We’re always worried, but every day I talk to her and she lets me know,” Harrington said. “If she says ‘great’ then I’m really happy. Today she said everything was great so we knew we were in good shape. In some games we were switching lineups to the very last second because we didn’t know who was playing.

“It’s awesome when she can take the field. When she does, we’re ready to go. It pumps us up a little bit more to know she’s going to be leading us, not just on the mound but with her bat. She gets a lot of big hits for us in the five spot. It’s a big thing when she’s in the lineup.”

Maddie has provided a lot of inspiration for the softball team, the Farmington community and beyond. The Tigers’ state tournament T-shirts, worn by many fans at Caswell Park on Thursday, say “Never stop the fight.” Muelken wears No. 47, and Farmington youth players had her number written on their cheeks Thursday. After the victories, she posed for photos with every little girl who wanted one.

Maddie will take a pitching record of 17-3 into Friday’s state championship game against Anoka. She has signed a letter of intent to play softball at Wisconsin-La Crosse.

She said, “People ask, ‘How do you do it? How do you feel?’ And I feel fine most days.”

Farmington, which is playing at state for the fourth time since 2012, is hoping to win its first title.

“It was one of our season goals, “Maddie said, “to make it here, and hopefully win a state championship.”

State championship games are set for Friday in the other three classes of softball, too. Here’s the lineup (times are approximate).

4A: Farmington vs. Anoka, 1 p.m.

3A: Winona vs. Hermantown, 1:30 p.m.

2A: Maple Lake vs. Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 2 p.m.

1A: Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian vs. New York Mills, 2:30 p.m.

State Tournament Experience

Marshall High School’s baseball team has qualified for next week’s Class 3A state tournament, meaning three Tigers athletes have been members of football, boys basketball and baseball teams that have gone to state during this school year. The three are senior Ryan VanMoer and juniors Jacob Hess and Nick Klaith.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 718
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,466
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



It’s Tournament Time, And It’s Very Special
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/6/2017 3:41:00 PM

A short snippet of video, just 37 seconds long, was directed to me Monday morning via Twitter, and it was spectacular. In a scene repeated in towns all around our state at tournament time, the video showed police and fire vehicles – sirens blaring – escorting a school bus as it departed Crookston for the 300-mile trip to the Twin Cities. Behind the bus, a line of family vehicles joined the parade with horns honking and flashers flashing.

On board the bus was the Crookston Pirates boys tennis team, bound for the Class 1A state team tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. The Pirates had no individuals or doubles teams survive the Section 8 tournament and qualify for state, so this was truly a team endeavor. The video was provided by KROX radio in Crookston.

“It’s a great time,” said Crookston coach Mike Geffre. “Probably 75 percent of these kids have never been here so this is new for them. Just taking it all in is a lot of fun. The parent support, the community support, coming down and playing in this atmosphere is pretty cool.”

For some schools, particularly large schools, advancing to state in any sport can nearly become commonplace. That is not the case in Crookston, even though the boys tennis team has made several recent state appearances (placing fifth in Class 1A a year ago)

The Pirates boys basketball team was the state runnerup in in 2005, the girls basketball team had the same finish in 2006 and went back to state in 2008. The Crookston football team last went to state in 2003 and the girls hockey team made the trip in 2007. Nobody in town takes these things for granted.

“It’s a special thing for a little school,” said Crookston activities director Greg Garmen.

Some of that specialness comes via the relationships that develop through MSHSL activities. A terrific example is a gentleman named Hal Miller (pictured), who lives in Alexandria. Hal, who was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame in 2015, has been a site manager for girls and boys state tennis tournaments for 31 years, and this week’s boys tournament is his 62nd in that role. He was a teacher and coach in Willmar for 34 years before retiring and returning to Alexandria, where he graduated from high school in 1966.

To see tennis coaches, players and fans greet their friend Hal with a smile, handshake or hug is very special. And a lot of other special things will take place in the coming days as tournaments continue.

This is high time for spring state tournaments; events in badminton, adapted bowling, robotics, synchronized swimming and adapted softball have already been completed. The boys tennis tournament will be held over four days this week (with singles and doubles competition on Thursday and Friday).

The state softball tournament will take place Thursday and Friday in North Mankato, and the state track and field championships will happen Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Next week it will be state tournaments in girls and boys golf, girls and boys lacrosse and baseball. The spring tourney season will come to a grand conclusion with baseball state championship games at Target Field on June 19.

When you break all that down, you come up with an amazing number of competitions. By the time everything ends in boys tennis, softball, baseball, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse, a total of 224 games/matches will have been played. And that number does not include golf or track and field.

Lots of teams and individuals will pose with trophies and medals, wearing the biggest smiles of their lives. Those are wonderful moments for sure, but the simple joys of competing, learning, sharing and growing are what’s most important.

So by all means get those sirens blaring, honk those horns and celebrate your teams’ accomplishments.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Crookston’s Geffre. “The kids get a real kick out of it.”

That’s the point.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 686
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,391
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Ranked Teams Advancing To State Softball
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:40:09 PM

Here are the final softball rankings in each class, provided by the Minnesota Softball Coaches Association. Teams playing in the state tournament are in bold.


CLASS 1A
1. Edgerton/SW MN Christian
2. New York Mills
2. Sleepy Eye Saint Mary's
4. Kimball Area

5. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg
6. Cherry
7. Hayfield
8. New Ulm Cathedral
9. Carlton
10. Red Lake Falls

Others receiving votes: NCE/UH Titans, Mankato Loyola, Maranatha Christian Academy, Blooming Prairie, Mayer Lutheran, Sebeka, Nashwauk-Keewatin, Wabasha-Kellogg, Pine River-Backus, Badger/GB-MR, Bethlehem Academy.

CLASS 2A
1. Maple Lake
2. Rochester Lourdes
3. Pipestone Area
4. Annandale
5. Park Rapids Area
6. Chatfield
7. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton
8. Albany

9. St. Cloud Cathedral
10. Zumbrota-Mazeppa
Others receiving votes: East Grand Forks, Esko, St. Peter, Cotter, Norwood-Young America, Concordia Academy-Roseville, Warroad

CLASS 3A
1. Mankato West
2. Rocori
2. Totino-Grace
4. Hermantown
5. Winona

6. Chisago Lakes
7. Visitation
8. Faribault
9. New Ulm
10. Waconia
Others receiving votes: Academy of Holy Angels, Alexandria Area, Big Lake, TRF/Goodridge/Grygla, Stewartville, Becker, Mound Westonka, Delano, Mankato East, Mahtomedi

CLASS 4A
1. Chanhassen
2. Anoka

3. Prior Lake
3. Woodbury
5. Farmington
5. Park

7. Forest Lake
8. New Prague
9. Blaine
9. Buffalo
Others receiving votes: Maple Grove,, Bloomington Jefferson, North, Eagan, Hastings, Hopkins.



Final Class 1A Softball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:19:44 PM

CLASS 1A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(4) Edgerton/SW MN Christian* (S3)-(73)
2.(2) New York Mills (S6)-(72)
2.(2) Sleepy Eye Saint Mary's (S2)-(72)
4.(7) Kimball Area (S4)-(49)
5.(5) Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (S3)-(48)
6.(14) Cherry (S7)-(34)
7.(14) Hayfield (S1)-(29)
8.(1) New Ulm Cathedral (S2)-(28)
9.(9) Carlton (S7)-(27)
10.(12) Red Lake Falls (S8)-(21)
Others receiving votes: NCE/UH Titans* (S8)-(18), Mankato Loyola (S2)-(13),Maranatha Christian Academy (S4)-(12), Blooming Prairie (S1)-(10), Mayer Lutheran (S4)-(10), Sebeka (S5)-(9), Nashwauk-Keewatin (S7)-(8), Wabasha-Kellogg (S1)-(7), Pine River-Backus (S5)-(3), Badger/GB-MR* (S8)-(2), Bethlehem Academy (S1)-(2),



Final Class 2A Softball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:19:17 PM

CLASS 2A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(1) Maple Lake (S5)-(71)
2.(2) Rochester Lourdes (S1)-(66)
3.(3) Pipestone Area (S3)-(55)
4.(6) Annandale (S5)-(44)
5.(3) Park Rapids Area (S8)-(42)
6.(3) Chatfield (S1)-(40)
7.(8) Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (S8)-(37)
8.(7) Albany (S6)-(23)
9.(8) St. Cloud Cathedral (S6)-(20)
10.(10) Zumbrota-Mazeppa (S1)-(18)
Others receiving votes: East Grand Forks (S8)-(15), Esko (S7)-(11),St. Peter (S2)-(11), Cotter (S1)-(6), Norwood-Young America (S5)-(4), Concordia Academy-Roseville (S4)-(4), Warroad (S8)-(1)



Final Class 3A Softball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:18:54 PM

CLASS 3A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(1) Mankato West (S2)-(60)
2.(4) Rocori (S5)-(49)
2.(5) Totino-Grace (S4)-(49)
4.(3) Hermantown (S7)-(44)
5.(6) Winona (S1)-(43)
6.(8) Chisago Lakes (S7)-(33)
7.(10) Visitation (S3)-(30)
8.(2) Faribault (S2)-(17)
9.(18) New Ulm (S2)-(12)
10.(18) Waconia (S6)-(8)
Others receiving votes: Academy of Holy Angels (S3)-(7), Alexandria Area (S8)-(7),Big Lake (S5)-(7), TRF/Goodridge/Grygla-G* (S8)-(5), Stewartville (S1)-(5), Becker (S5)-(4), Mound Westonka (S6)-(3), Delano (S6)-(3), Mankato East (S2)-(2), Mahtomedi (S4)-(2)



Final Class 4A Softball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:18:32 PM

CLASS 4A
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(1) Chanhassen (S2)-(70)
2.(3) Anoka (S7)-(63)
3.(2) Prior Lake (S2)-(58)
3.(3) Woodbury (S4)-(58)
5.(5) Farmington (S1)-(42)
5.(6) Park (S3)-(42)
7.(9) Forest Lake (S7)-(30)
8.(7) New Prague (S1)-(26)
9.(8) Blaine (S7)-(21)
9.(13) Buffalo (S8)-(21)Others receiving votes: Maple Grove (S5)-(17), Bloomington Jefferson (S2)-(5),North (S4)-(5), Eagan (S3)-(5), Hastings (S3)-(4), Hopkins (S6)-(1),



Boys State Tennis Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2017 7:13:13 PM

The boys state tennis tournament will be held Tuesday through Friday, with team competition on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by singles and doubles play on Thursday and Friday.

The Class 1A tournament will be held at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. Class 2A matches will take place at Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

Here are the final boys tennis rankings of the season, provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association. Teams who have advanced to state are in bold.

CLASS 1A
TEAMS
1 Blake
2 Rochester Lourdes
3 Breck
4 St. Paul Academy
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Holy Family Catholic
8 St. James
9 Virginia
10 Hibbing

INDIVIDUALS
1 Ben Ingbar, Blake
2 Jack Barker, Blake
3 Joe Mairs, Blake
4 Karthik Papisetty, Breck
5 Thomas Metz, Breck
6 Mathew Metz, Breck
7 Peter Erickson, Rochester Lourdes
8 Justin Bobo, Rochester Lourdes
9 Ryan Ortega, Winona Cotter
10 Jose Williamson, Minnehaha

CLASS 2A
TEAMS
1 Minnetonka
2 East Ridge

3 Lakeville South
4 Edina
5 Mounds View
6 Rochester Mayo

7 Rochester Century
8 Wayzata
9 Eastview
tie 10 Orono
tie 10 Minneapolis Washburn

INDIVIDUALS
1 Ben van der Sman, East Ridge
2 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
3 Nikita Snezhko, Armstrong
4 Conner Olsen, Orono
5 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
6 Gavin Young, Eastview
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Chase Roseth, Lakeville South
9 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
10 Carter Mason, Eden Prairie



Everyone In Alexandria Is Cheering For Josh Molden
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/1/2017 12:04:59 AM

A quiet but very important set of circumstances unfolded Wednesday afternoon in the triple jump area at Moorhead High School. The event was the Class 2A Section 8 track and field meet and the person foremost in one team’s thoughts was 230 miles away in a Minneapolis hospital bed.

Josh Molden is a captain on the Alexandria High School boys track team and one of the top long and triple jumpers in Minnesota. He went to state last year in the triple jump and it was assumed he had a good shot at advancing to state in both jumps this spring. But life sometimes has a way of getting in the way.

Josh’s plans were derailed last September -- during the second week of his senior year – when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He has spent more time in hospitals than in school since then.

“Ninety to 95 percent of kids diagnosed with this type of leukemia are very treatable,” Josh’s mother, Pam, told me from his bedside. “This didn’t quite go the way it was expected to go.”

When initial treatments didn’t result in the hoped-for results, Josh underwent a bone marrow transplant on March 31. The full results of the transplant are not yet known, so it’s a waiting game for Josh, his family and friends.

Alexandria boys track coach Mike Empting wasn’t willing to wait. He wanted to do something special for Josh (pictured from last season) at what would have been one of the peak days of his final season of high school track. Before the section meet, Mike sent an email to all the other coaches in the section: from Becker, Bemidji, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Little Falls, Monticello, Moorhead, Rocori, Sartell-Saint Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Apollo, St. Cloud Tech, Thief River Falls and Willmar. He sent the same email to meet officials, asking everyone for a favor.

The email read in part: “Josh loves track and field and this season was going to be a special one as it is for all senior athletes, but it was taken from him. Josh was a great track and field competitor and is now competing in a different fight. I am asking that I enter Josh in the triple jump. … I am asking that his name get called when his turn comes up and the 60-second clock is started and then his attempt is marked as ‘foul’ after the 60 seconds is up after each of his three ‘trials.’ … Please let me know if this is unreasonable, out of line or if anyone has any strong objections. Thank you for considering this request.”

The replies were overwhelming and unanimous. Yes. Absolutely. We need to do this for Josh, even if he is at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital instead of the track meet.

“I feel pretty fortunate to be able to coach with the coaches I do in our conference and section,” Empting said. “The responses were ‘Of course, this is the right thing to do. If we can’t do this for someone like Josh, then why are we coaching?’ ”

Josh’s name was first on the list as the triple jump competition began. The official called his name and the 60-second timer started. The official declared a foul and the rest of the jumpers took their turns. Through three rounds of jumps, the pattern continued.

“Pretty much our entire team, everyone who was not competing at the time, was standing there by the triple jump,” Empting said. “It was a special moment. It wasn’t a really big deal for anybody who didn’t know what was going on. But it was very significant for everybody who did know.

“It was emotional. It was pretty quiet. I don’t think our kids even knew how to respond, other than they knew they wanted to be there, they wanted to be a part of it.”

Josh has had an up-and-down week. He had a feeding tube placed through his nose and into his stomach on Tuesday. His mother wrote on Josh’s CaringBridge page: “It was terrible … him gagging, me getting weepy. It is so uncomfortable, he won't even talk because of how weird it feels. We've been told after 24 hours it does get better, I really hope so.”

But there also was an upside later Tuesday when some preliminary test results came back. Again, from Pam on the CaringBridge page: “NO EVIDENCE OF LEUKEMIA!!!! Oh my, that feels good to type! There was concern that his unexplained fevers could signal relapse so this is a huge sigh of relief. The donor results are not in yet … hopefully tomorrow.”

The Moldens have been embraced by the Alexandria community since Josh’s diagnosis. And via a FaceTime chat on Sunday, Empting told them what he had planned for the section track meet.

“We are amazed,” said Pam, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. “It wasn’t even something that we had ever thought about.”

Everyone wished Josh had been in Moorhead as a competitor. To see him proudly wearing his Alexandria Cardinals uniform, sprinting down the runway and leaping through the air, extending himself as he landed in the pit.

“Josh is a great kid and he has always been that way,” Empting said. “Track and field has been important to Josh and he’s a competitive kid. He loves jumping. Even immediately after he was diagnosed the doctors thought he might be able to do track. We were sort of holding out hope and he was training for it. But when it became more apparent that he was going to have the bone marrow transplant, we knew this wasn’t going to happen for him.

“It was like, ‘Josh has given so much to our program.’ We tried to find a way to recognize him, give something back to him and his family, let them know he’s still an important member of our team. His presence, his inspiration and his leadership have been so important.”

As Josh’s name was announced Wednesday, Empting used his cell phone to take a photo (shown here) of Josh’s teammates watching the triple jump. He texted the photo to Josh with a simple message: “You’re up.”

“He didn’t reply,” Mike said. “I’m guessing he’s tired, probably sleeping. But I got a text back from his mom. She said it was really neat. Honestly, Josh and his family are great people. Throughout this whole thing it’s been amazing to me how much they’ve given back as they’ve gone through this.”

Josh and his parents, Pam and Chad, and sister Koryna now have some target dates in mind. The first is June 9-10 and the MSHSL state track championships at Hamline University in St. Paul; Josh would like to be there to watch the action. The other is June 11, when he hopes to walk across the stage at graduation back home in Alexandria.

Postscript: After Wednesday’s track meet in Moorhead ended, there was some big news at the hospital. Josh’s father had returned home from Minneapolis, and on CaringBridge Chad wrote about hearing of the latest test results in a phone call from Pam while on the road…

The marrow they extracted is 100% donor!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is huge news, this is exactly what we needed to hear and as soon as I heard it the tears ran again, this time tears of joy!!!! As Pam and I were letting the tears flow I realized how bent up you are as you are waiting to hear news, any news, good or bad you just need to know. It was as if my body was a garden hose that was being kinked and as soon as I heard 100% donor the kink was released. One doesn't realize how you are handling different stresses as you go through something like this. We are still waiting on some other results from the biopsy but this one is awesome news!”

Go Josh.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 658
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,251
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



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