John's Journal
Nickname Challenge: Halfway To The Sweet 165/27/2020
The second rounds of voting in the MSHSL Nickname Challenge are taking place this week. The Pretzel & Cheese Region and #ThankARef Region have completed regional quarterfinal voting, with four teams from each region advancing to the Sweet 16.

Here are results from the Pretzel & Cheese Region:

1 Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms 59.5%
8 Edgerton Flying Dutchmen 40.5%

Fosston/Duluth East/New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds 51.1%
4 Elk River Elks 48.9%

3 Triton Cobras 37.6%
East Grand Forks Green Wave 62.4%

7 St. Paul Johnson Governors 36.9%
2 Lanesboro Burros 63.1%

Here are results from the #ThankARef Region:

1 Moorhead Spuds 71.5%
8 Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks 28.5%

Tri-County/MCC Northern Freeze 28.2%
4 Aitkin Gobblers 71.8%

3 Winona Winhawks 50.6%
Chisholm Bluestreaks 49.4%

Little Falls/Bagley Flyers 24.5%
2 Fergus Falls Otters 75.5%

And here are the remaining Regional Quarterfinal matchups:

Pork Chop Region


1 Thief River Falls Prowlers
8 Brooklyn Center Centaurs

Anoka Tornadoes
4 Minneapolis North/N. St. Paul Polars

Bemidji/Cloquet Lumberjacks
6 Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers

7 McGregor Mercuries
2 Wrenshall Wrens

#BeTheLightMN Region

1 Wabasso Rabbits
Houston Hurricanes

Two Harbors Agates
4 Esko Eskomos

3 Yellow Medicine East Sting
6 Eastview Lightning

7 Hawley Nuggets
2 Grand Meadow Superlarks

Follow me @MSHSLjohn on Twitter to see the all matchups and cast your votes.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

Nickname Challenge Regional Quarterfinals Are Set5/22/2020
The first round of voting has been completed in all four regions of the MSHSL Nickname Challenge. The number of votes cast is absolutely amazing: 42,670.

Here are results from the #BeTheLightMN Region:

1 Wabasso Rabbits 59.9%
Hancock Owls 40.1%

8 Chatfield Gophers 41.1%
Houston Hurricanes 58.9%

5 Blackduck Drakes 38.1%
Two Harbors Agates 61.9%

4 Esko Eskomos 81.1%
Canby/La Crescent-Hokah Lancers 18.9%

3 Yellow Medicine East Sting 54.5%
Montevideo Thunder Hawks 45.5%

6 Eastview Lightning 51.6%
Pipestone Arrows 48.4%

7 Hawley Nuggets 51.6%
Proctor Rails 48.4%

2 Grand Meadow Superlarks 50.9%
Jordan Hubmen 49.1%

And here are the Regional Quarterfinal matchups:

Monday, May 25

Pretzel & Cheese Region


1 Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms
8 Edgerton Flying Dutchmen

Fosston/Duluth East/New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds
4 Elk River Elks

3 Triton Cobras
East Grand Forks Green Wave

7 St. Paul Johnson Governors
2 Lanesboro Burros

Tuesday, May 26

#ThankARef Region


1 Moorhead Spuds
8 Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks

Tri-County/MCC Northern Freeze
4 Aitkin Gobblers

3 Winona Winhawks
Chisholm Bluestreaks

Little Falls/Bagley Flyers
2 Fergus Falls Otters

Wednesday, May 27

Pork Chop Region


1 Thief River Falls Prowlers
8 Brooklyn Center Centaurs

Anoka Tornadoes
4 Minneapolis North/N. St. Paul Polars

Bemidji/Cloquet Lumberjacks
6 Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers

7 McGregor Mercuries
2 Wrenshall Wrens

Thursday, May 28

#BeTheLightMN Region


1 Wabasso Rabbits
Houston Hurricanes

Two Harbors Agates
4 Esko Eskomos

3 Yellow Medicine East Sting
6 Eastview Lightning

7 Hawley Nuggets
2 Grand Meadow Superlarks

Follow me @MSHSLjohn on Twitter to see the all matchups and cast your votes.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

Quarantine Diary: Our Household Routine5/22/2020
I was sad when I came home from the girls state basketball tournament on Thursday, March 12. I made the decision that I would not go back due to personal concerns about Covid-19. Hours later, of course, the final two days of the tournament were cancelled, as was the following week's boys state basketball tournament.

More than 60 days have passed since I came home that day. And our world is much different. A pandemic and quarantine conditions will do that, I guess. It's very strange, isn't it?

On that Thursday in March I began a John’s Journal entry with these words: This has been a very strange day all around. As I begin typing these words, it's 6:10 p.m. and I’m sitting at my kitchen table watching TV coverage of the girls state basketball tournament. That was not at all my plan when this day began.

Ever since, I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table. That’s where I’m sitting as I type right now. Back when my wife and I shared our home with our three kids, my workspace was a desk in a basement room we referred to as the den. I needed that hideaway when the house was filled with the splendid mayhem of a five-person family.

After they all flew the coop, the den became somewhat isolating. One day Beth suggested I do some work at the kitchen table while she cooked dinner and that’s when my job site changed.

I park myself at the kitchen table and spend more time in front of my laptop than doing anything else. Our office staff (working from home) has daily video calls, sometimes multiple times. I have been on video calls with one other person and some with more than 300, involving our staff and activity directors from all over the state.

I’m not here all the time, of course. We do yard work, we sit by evening fires in the back yard, we walk the dog. I also walk in a neighborhood park, which has become my psychological getaway. It’s a chance to literally get away from the news that seems to be so disheartening.

In fact, I just returned from a walk in the park. There is a path that encircles a pond, and I generally walk for an hour, maybe 90 minutes, sometimes two hours. There was a time a few years back when I jogged around the park, but walking seems to be my optimal pace now.

I wear wireless earphones and listen to different things. Music (mostly bluegrass and classic rock & roll), podcasts (shows on the Talk North network – home of my own podcast -- Conan O’Brien, Malcolm Gladwell, Marc Maron and others), sometimes local radio.

The park is a beautiful spot. Lots of green grass, ducks and their babies on the pond, a picnic shelter, clean air, plenty of room. The walkers, bikers, skateboarders, stroller pushers, etc., respect each other and always maintain proper social distance. I usually carry a water bottle and take occasional sips. When the weather turns warmer my water bottle will become a more urgent need.

I’m not sure how much distance I cover in the park. My very general guess is that each lap might be close to one mile; I envision a 400-meter track and extrapolate, wildly guessing that one lap around the pond is close to four laps around a track. So when I walk eight laps I like to think that I walked eight miles … but it’s probably less than that.

Today I saw something that I really enjoyed. Four kids -- I’m guessing they were in the 10- to 12-year-old range – were dancing in the picnic shelter in front of a cell phone propped up on a picnic table. They were trying to create a TikTok video … which I know because I look at TikTok videos from time to time and recognized their dance moves. Weird? Not weird? I’m not sure.

Sometimes a fellow sits in a lawn chair in the middle of a big grassy stretch, plays a guitar, blows on a harmonica and sings. Elton John songs, Beatles, Johnny Cash, Eagles. When I get within earshot on my walk, I remove my earphones and listen. He’s pretty good. Sometimes people will stop and listen, and a few may even sit on the grass in front of him … always maintaining that proper distance.

One day I watched a very fit 20-something guy hang a heavy bag from the beams in the picnic shelter, lace on boxing gloves and get in a serious workout. He stuck, he moved, he did sit-ups, push-ups, working much harder than the old guy on the walking path.

I try to walk every day. The only other times I leave the house are for supplies. Cub Foods, Target, an occasional fast-food drive-through. Last evening I picked up takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant. We always wear masks when we’re close to other humans, I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket and a couple of disinfecting wipes in my hands; they’re good for wiping down shopping carts.

I wish we could go visit my mother. Beth’s parents and my dad have passed away, and my 87-year-old mom lives in the house where she and my dad raised six kids. Beth grew up in the country a few miles outside of our little town in Iowa, a short hop south from Fairmont and Jackson, Minnesota. Graettinger, Iowa, has a population of 796 souls, which is about 24,000 fewer than the suburb we have now called home for nearly 30 years.

We plan regular visits to see my mom. We don’t go as often as we should but every few weeks we’d take a day and head south. Sometimes mom needs salt for her water softener, so we’ll take a drive to buy a few bags and I’ll haul them down into the basement. Our last visit was probably sometime in January, before my schedule became loaded with winter state tournaments.

And now we’re too scared to go. We fear that if we are carrying the virus and don’t know it -- we have not been ill – we could hand it off to my mom. She’s very healthy and stays busy, although like the rest of us she misses her social gatherings and her church and other things. She takes walks with her friend Obby, whose son Randy was a classmate of mine all the way through school.

I don’t know what the future holds. No one does. Beth and I are doing our best and we know you are, too.

Hang in there, friends. This will surely pass and we’ll return to some semblance of our previous lives. My suggestion: Take some walks.

Be well.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

Nickname Challenge Update: Pork Chop Region Results5/21/2020
The first round of voting has been completed in the Pork Chop Region of the MSHSL Nickname Challenge. Voting is now taking place in the #BeTheLightMN Region.

Through the first three rounds of voting, 32,361 votes have been cast. Voting in the #BeTheLightMN Region will be finalized Friday and regional quarterfinal voting will begin next Monday, May 26.

Here are results from the Pork Chop Region:

1 Thief River Falls Prowlers 57.9%
Minneapolis Washburn Millers 42.1%

8 Brooklyn Center Centaurs 51.7%
Barnum/Cannon Falls/Braham Bombers 48.3%

5 Badger/Greenbush-Middle River Gators 41.2%
Anoka Tornadoes 58.8%

4 Minneapolis North/N. St. Paul Polars 66.4%
Underwood/Randolph/Rochester JM/Rockford Rockets 33.6%

3 Perham Yellowjackets 39.4%
Bemidji/Cloquet Lumberjacks 60.6%

6 Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers 55.1%
Grand Rapids Thunderhawks 44.9%

7 McGregor Mercuries 60.8%
Burnsville Blaze 39.2%

2 Wrenshall Wrens 64%
Minnetonka Skippers 36%

Here are the first-round matchups in the #BeTheLightMN Region:

1 Wabasso Rabbits
Hancock Owls

8 Chatfield Gophers
Houston Hurricanes

5 Blackduck Drakes
Two Harbors Agates

4 Esko Eskomos
Canby/La Crescent-Hokah Lancers

3 Yellow Medicins East Sting
Montevideo Thunder Hawks

6 Eastview Lightning
Pipestone Arrows

7 Hawley Nuggets
Proctor Rails

2 Grand Meadow Superlarks
Jordan Hubmen

Follow me @MSHSLjohn on Twitter to see the all matchups and cast your votes.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Nickname Challenge Update: #ThankARef Region Results5/20/2020
The first round of voting has been completed in the #ThankARef Region of the MSHSL Nickname Challenge. Voting is now taking place in the Pork Chop Region.

Through the first two rounds of voting, 22,838 votes have been cast.

Here are results from the #ThankARef Region:

1 Moorhead Spuds 76.9%
Waseca Bluejays 23.1%

8 Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks 55.2%
Battle Lake Battlers 44.8%

5 Kimball Cubs 35%
Tri-County Northern Freeze 65%

4 Aitkin Gobblers 83.2%
Adrian/Pine City/Litchfield Dragons 16.8%

3 Winona Winhawks 64.8%
Columbia Heights Hylanders 35.2%

6 Stillwater/Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Ponies 32.5%
Chisholm Bluestreaks 67.5%

7 Breckenridge Cowboys 36.6%
Little Falls Flyers 63.4%

2 Fergus Falls Otters 78.8%
East Ridge Raptors 21.2%

Here are the first-round matchups in Pork Chop Region:

1 Thief River Falls Prowlers
Minneapolis Washburn Millers

8 Brooklyn Center Centaurs
Barnum/Cannon Falls/Braham Bombers

5 Badger/Greenbush-Middle River Gators
Anoka Tornadoes

4 Minneapolis North/N. St. Paul Polars
Underwood/Randolph/Rochester JM/Rockford Rockets

3 Perham Yellowjackets
Bemidji/Cloquet Lumberjacks

6 Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers
Grand Rapids Thunderhawks

7 McGregor Mercuries
Burnsville Blaze

2 Wrenshall Wrens
Minnetonka Skippers

Follow me @MSHSLjohn on Twitter to see the all matchups and cast your votes.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.