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John's Journal: Five Years Later, Henning Hornets Remember Jacob

Team Dedicated Championship Season To Late Teammate, And Their Commitment Continues

Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2024 - 5:25 PM




Left to right: Henning’s Sam Fisher, Parker Fraki, Dylan Trana and coach Randy Misegades after winning the 2019 Class A state title.


Fertile-Beltrami's Caiden Swenby, who played in a state championship game, received a $4,000 scholarship as a recipient of the MSHSL AAA Award (Academics, Arts, Athletic).

It’s strange how time flies. That thought popped into my head early Saturday morning after a photo popped up on my cell phone. A Google alert told me I had memories to look at from five years ago, and there it was: A photo I took after the 2019 Class A boys basketball state championship game at Target Center.

I remember it well, because the team involved is one of the most memorable, most inspirational groups I have encountered in many years of writing about sports. The Henning Hornets, making their first trip to state in 53 years, won the 2019 championship while keeping a special teammate – who had died two years earlier in a vehicle accident – with them the whole way.

The photo (above) shows three of the Hornets and coach Randy Misegades sitting at a table in the postgame interview room. The kids carried Jacob Quam’s No. 33 jersey with them for every game after his death. They had it with them for the interview, and before the questions ended I asked them to hold it up.

Every player on the team had two initials sewn on the back of their jersey, just below the neckline. The letters? J.Q. The Hornets ran through three games at the state tournament, defeating Christ’s Household of Faith 63-56, Spring Grove 67-34 and North Woods 67-42.

Misegades was watching Saturday’s 2024 state championship games at Williams Arena, and it wasn’t hard to rewind history and think about 2019.

“You come down here and watch this and you realize that was us,” he said. “And to be one of the small schools in the state, it’s just something you never could dream would actually happen.”

With the members of that team now deep into college or out of college or working in the field of their choosing, Jacob remains part of them all. A five-year reunion was held on March 1 at a game in Henning when the Hornets hosted Battle Lake.

At the reunion, one of Jacob’s jerseys had been framed and his state championship medal was attached. People took photos of the jersey with their kids. The 2019 team also posed for photos with a billboard that celebrates their state title.

“They were all back that night and it was fun to see everybody,” Misegades said. “It's crazy how you go your separate ways, even in five years. I talked to those guys quite a bit.”

Some of those guys remain close to home and some live far away. Dylan and Brandon Trana, who are in real estate in Arizona, flew home for the reunion. Sam Fisher lives in the Henning area and works as an electrician. Parker Fraki lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Blake Wallevand works in health care.

“They’re doing a lot of different things,” the coach said.

A year after winning the state title, Henning was 25-1 and headed back to state when Covid shut down sports in Minnesota. They finished 14-6 in 2020-21, 23-6 in 2021-22 and a year ago they were 28-2, falling one win short of the state tournament.

The Hornets finished 26-3 this season, losing to Morris Area/Chokia-Alberta and Worthington on back-to-back days at a holiday tournament in Fergus Falls and to Ada-Borup in the Class A Section 6 playoffs.

Jacob’s locker in the home locker room in Henning remains untouched from the last time he used it. His shoes, his shorts, his name on the front. It’s all there, as is a plaque in his honor on the wall outside the locker room.

“It's only five years removed, but I find myself wanting to talk to our younger kids about it, those that didn't know the story,” Misegades said. “Some of them were pretty young and didn’t know him and there will be questions like, ‘Why is that there?’ It's something we’ve talked about. It's a good life lesson.”

Angie Quam, Jacob’s mother, said Saturday in a phone conversation that the kids on that team remain close to her. They send her flowers and cards on Mother’s Day, they visit with her, and Jacob remains a part of their lives.

“I don’t have my own son, but I have everybody else’s,” Angie said.

Among the items at a recent silent auction was a jersey dedicated to Jacob, with the signature from his driver’s license embroidered into the cloth. Dylan Trana, Jacob’s best friend, paid more than a thousand dollars for it. Some of the proceeds from that auction were given to a family in nearby Battle Lake whose son was in an ATV accident.

Another of Jacob’s friends, Calvin Stueve, has started a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that is part of the annual Watermelon Day celebration in nearby Vining, where Angie lives. The event is called “3v3 for 33.”

“Jacob and Calvin used to spend hours on the outdoor court in Vining,” Angie said.

Some of the former Henning players who live in town or nearby remain connected to the high school team, doing things like operating the shot clock at games or keeping the scorebook or officiating lower-level games.

“They're around a lot,” Misegades said. “And they come to practice, they just like hanging out and seeing the kids. We had a number of them home over Christmas break and they're hanging out at practice and then they want me to hang around so they can play themselves, and it's fun. It's that type of family atmosphere and culture where they feel like they're welcome to come back.”

As much as the basketball team’s success five years ago is a great story, it remains rooted in tragedy. Jacob was loved by his buddies and they miss him every day.

“You sit and wonder, what would he have been doing at this point,” Misegades said. “He'd be 21 or 22. What career would he have chosen? It’s kind of a real eye-opener for all of us about what's really important, and it's not winning and losing.”

--To read a John’s Journal story about Henning and Jacob Quam from 2019, click here:

The First Family Of Basketball

When Minnetonka defeated Wayzata 72-61 for the Class 4A state title, a new chapter of Minnesota basketball history was written. Minnetonka coach Bryce Tesdahl is the grandson of the late Bob McDonald, who won more games than any boys basketball coach in state history.

Bob’s teams at Chisholm won state championships in 1973, 1975 and 1991. Three of his sons also coached teams that qualified for state:

--Joel McDonald, Hibbing, 2021.

--Mike McDonald, Cambridge-Isanti, 1991, 2008, 2019, 2020.

--Tom McDonald, Ely, 2001.

Another of Bob’s grandsons, Rhett McDonald, led Duluth East to state in 2021. Rhett is Mike McDonald’s son.

So, 51 years after Bob McDonald’s first state title, one of his grandchildren has joined that exclusive club.

Tournament Tidbits

--It was a pretty special weekend for Fertile-Beltrami senior Caiden Swenby. He played in the Class A state championship game and at halftime of the next game (after changing into a suit and tie), he was honored with a $4,000 scholarship as a recipient of the MSHSL AAA Award (Academics, Arts, Athletic). Others receiving the same scholarship were Paul Fasen of Monticello, Madeline Ngo of Simley and Teagan Stark of Minnewaska Area.

--Lake City senior Hunter Lorensen made history in Friday’s Class 2A semifinals, and all he had to do to see a reminder was look at the giant banners inside Williams Arena that honor Gophers players who have had their number retired. Number 45 is Randy Breuer, a 1979 Lake City grad who played in the NBA after his college career. Lorensen moved past Breuer into third place on the school’s career scoring list. The top four after Friday were: 1. Nate Heise 2,307; 2. Lance Meincke 1,852; 3. Hunter Lorenson 1,607; 4. Randy Breuer 1,599.

Breuer still holds two state tournament records, set in 1979. In leading Lake City to back-to-back state championships in 1978 and 1979, Breuer scored 113 points in three games in 1979, while making 50 field goals.

--The boys basketball team from Lake City wears orange warmup shirts with the words “Spread Love” across the front in support of the Peters Memorial Fund. The fund honors Sawyer and Tessica Peters. Sawyer was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder when he was 8 months old. Tessica was an elementary teacher in Lake City who was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in May 2018.  After they fought fiercely and courageously for years, Sawyer passed away on March 5, 2019 at the age of 3. Tessica lost her battle to breast cancer on March 25, 2019. She was 36. In Tessica and Sawyer's honor, all proceeds from events, donations and sales of “Spread Love” apparel go to families in need in local communities and hospitals.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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Boys Basketball State Tournament 2024: Class AA Championship