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MSHSL Board Of Directors Meeting Today
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/30/2011 4:09:58 PM

The MSHSL board of directors has gathered at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center for its December meeting. The agenda includes these action items …

--Placement of Melrose High School into a conference. After being involuntarily excluded from the West Central Conference, Melrose has sought conference membership, applying to the Prairie, Granite Ridge, West Central and Central Minnesota conferences. All four conferences voted against adding Melrose as a member. That led to Melrose going through the MSHSL conference placement procedure. The recommendation of a placement committee and independent hearing officer will be presented to the board, and the board is expected to place Melrose into a conference.

--Setting dates for the state lacrosse tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

--The possibility of adding Public Forum debate to section and state debate tournaments.

--Discussing the status of wheelchair events in section and state track. The 800 meters, 1,600 meters and shot put were added for wheelchair athletes in 2011.

--Seeding for state tennis tournaments will be discussed and action may be taken.

--Blaine High School has offered to host the state speech tournament in 2013 and 2014, and the board will discuss the matter.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. I’ll have instant updates on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn) and a full report right here after the meeting is adjourned.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: TBA

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Familiar Friends/Foes Meet Again On The Ice …With A New Twist
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/29/2011 11:47:11 PM

In last season’s girls state hockey tournament, Edina defeated Rosemount 6-0 in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The coaches in that game -- Edina’s Laura Slominski and Rosemount’s Tracy Cassano -- were not only hockey teammates at the University of Minnesota, they were roommates, team captains and they won a national championship together in 2000.

The teams coached by Slominski and Cassano met again on Tuesday evening at Braemar Arena in Edina, but this time there was a new twist on the rivalry: Cassano is now the coach at Chaska-Chanhassen.

But some things never change. The coaches were walking off the ice together after Edina -- the No. 3 team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class 2A rankings – recorded a 2-0 victory when Slominski said to Cassano, “You guys look good, you have a really good team.”

Cassano replied, “Same to you guys. And we’re still waiting to score a goal against you.”

Whether it’s February or November, the Edina Hornets indeed have had the edge on Cassano. But Tuesday’s early-season contest was a solid reminder of how long the hockey season can be and how much work is required to get a program to the highest level.

Slominski has taken the Hornets to those heights. Now in her fourth year at the helm in Edina, her teams know nothing less than the state semifinals. They finished third at state in 2009 and played in the last two state championship games, losing to Roseville 4-0 in 2010 and to Minnetonka 3-2 last season.

This season Edina has a record of 4-1-1, giving Slominki a career record at Edina of 73-18-8.

“Since I’ve been here, all three years we’ve been to state and it’s been a lot of success so far,” she said. “These girls, coming up they’ve seen that and they want to be a part of it, and I think it’s kind of a year for us to regroup and make sure we’re ready to go to make that final run.”

Every successful team loses quality players to graduation, but Edina looks poised for another very good season. Five Hornets were named to the all-state tourney team last season, and the only senior was forward Sami Reber. Back this season are senior defenders Ali Austin and Megan Armstrong, senior goalie Maddie Dahl and junior forward Sarah Nielsen.

Armstrong had one of Tuesday’s goals on a power play, junior Liz Trautz scored the other goal unassisted and Dahl notched her first shutout of the season. The Chaska/Chanhassen Storm Hawks played a very solid first period, outshooting Edina 8-6 and trailing 1-0. After that, the Hornets’ strength and skill was evident.

“It was a really good battle, a good game,” Cassano said. “Edina obviously is one of the top teams in the state and every year they’re there. So I think it’s a good measuring stick for us as far as how we stack up against some of those top teams. I thought the kids came out and worked hard. In the first period I thought we looked pretty tough and in the second period I felt like they really took it to us and they used their speed and their physicalness. We got behind by those two goals and we couldn’t quite put one past Maddie Dahl.”

Chaska/Chanhassen sophomore goaltender Laura Chalupsky played very well, stopping 24 shots in a backup role. Starter Carly Van Orden, another sophomore, is on the shelf while she recovers from mononucleosis.

“I thought Laura stepped up, played solid and made great saves,” said Cassano. “She really stepped up her game and kept us in there. She gave us a chance to possibly win, and that’s all you can ask.”

The loss was Chaska/Chanhassen’s first after opening the season with victories over Farmington, Holy Family Catholic/Waconia and Holy Angels. Edina had defeated Eastview, Lakeville South and Blake while losing to Breck and tying Blaine.

Next up for Edina is a road trip that is both long (on miles) and short (on duration). The Hornets will get on a bus Friday morning and head for Roseau, where they will play that evening. They will play in Warroad on Saturday afternoon before driving home.

“The girls are excited,” Slominski said. “It’ll be seven or eight hours on a bus, so it’ll be good.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 1

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

It’s The Journey, Not The Result,That Matters The Most
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/26/2011 6:32:27 PM

Eighteen high school football games were played at the Metrodome in the last two weekends, culminating with six state championship games on Friday and Saturday.

The on-field postgame scene was similar after each game of Prep Bowl XXX: The losing team accepted its second-place trophy with resignation, the captains slowly raising it into the air and showing it to their fans. Conversely, the winning teams mobbed their captains once the championship trophies were presented at midfield, followed by mad dashes to celebrate with their fans and then posing for a team photo, all smiles and screams of delight.

But behind the scenes, where the television cameras do not go after games, things are a little different. When I can, I try to spend some time with the teams that did not see their season end in a victory. I can relate to them because my last game as a football player followed that route, with a heart-breaking defeat in a state championship game.

Two Metrodome memories, gathered while standing outside losing locker rooms, will stay with me as we tuck the 2011 football season into the history books.
One came in the semifinal round, after Hill-Murray lost to Rocori 37-35 in Class 4A. Brooks Bollinger, former NFL quarterback and first-year Hill-Murray coach, talked about the value of a season spent together.

“We were so lucky to get the experience we did and have some success,” he said. “It hurts when you get that close and don’t get it done, but my message to them was we lost today, but we won, I won, to be able to be part of something like this.”

A similar scene played out Saturday after Fairmont was defeated by St. Croix Lutheran 34-32 in the Class 3A title game. The Cardinals played their hearts out but came up short. All these years later, I remember the feeling.

After coach Mat Mahoney walked out of the locker room, he chatted with longtime Fairmont Sentinel sports editor Charlie Sorrells and me. I asked the coach what he had said to his players.

“I told them that I loved them,” he said. “I told them that this season they became better people, they became better teammates, they became better football players. We grew as a team as the season went on.

“These boys have done everything that we’ve asked them to do, and to be able to make a run like this is very special for our community. Just look at all the fans we had in the stands today; that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, football’s only a game. The support we saw out there with our crowd, our community was just phenomenal.”

The scenes are the same no matter the season, no matter the sport. Athletes, coaches and teams work so hard for so long, trying to improve, trying to keep the season alive until the final game is played. There are always winning teams and there are always losing teams. And everyone is better because of it.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 5,048
*Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 59 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Saturday's Prep Bowl Game Reports
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/26/2011 4:25:47 PM

Class 3A: St. Croix Lutheran 34, Fairmont 32

Class 4A: Rocori 17, Bemidji 7

Championship Game Reports: Prep Bowl XXX
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/25/2011 2:18:39 PM

Nine-Man: Edgerton/Ellsworth 36, Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 28

Class 1A: Dawson-Boyd 35, Mahnomen 20

Class 2A: Caledonia 27, Moose Lake/Willow River 0

Class 5A: Eden Prairie 13, Wayzata 3

Shopping For Football Memories: Notes From The Prep Bowl
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/25/2011 2:02:10 PM

Casey Schilling and his mother both smiled when I asked them if Ellsworth – on the heels of Edgerton/Ellsworth winning the Nine-Man football state championship Friday – was now a football town.

They affirmed that Ellsworth remains a basketball town, and who can argue? The Ellsworth boys basketball team is nearly a fixture at the state tournament. But Friday’s 36-28 victory over Wheaton/Herman-Norcross at the Metrodome put a new twist on the cooperative agreement that pairs Ellsworth and Edgerton in football.

“Ellsworth will always be a basketball town and Edgerton will always be a football town. That’s just how it goes,” said Casey, a 6-foot-6 senior who does nothing on the football field other than play wide receiver (seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown Friday), defensive end, punter and kickoff kicker.

His mom, Carla, concurred. “This is unreal,” she said. “He’s had the best of both worlds; Edgerton’s a big football town so Ellsworth is fortunate to go there and play football.”

The Schillings, just like everybody in Ellsworth, know all about state tournament success in basketball. The Panthers have played in five Class 1A championship games since 2003, winning titles in 2007 and 2008. Clayton and Carla Schilling’s three sons – Curt, Cody and Casey – have played important roles on those teams; Cody, in fact, broke the state’s all-time scoring record before graduating in 2008.

Curt also played football through high school, while Cody concentrated on basketball after his freshman year.

Edgerton had previously played in the state football tournament in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the combined Edgerton/Ellsworth team did the same last year. But all those teams lost in the state quarterfinals.

“Curt had some great teams but he never made it here, so I’ve got a little bit of bragging rights,” Casey said Friday.

Curt is now the athletic director and boys basketball coach at George-Little Rock High School, a short drive from Ellsworth across the Iowa border; George is Carla’s hometown. Cody is a senior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where Casey also will play basketball.

All the Schillings were at the Metrodome for Friday’s game, and a Twitter message from Cody summed everything up. He wrote: “E/E State Champs.. #proudbrother”

After Eden Prairie defeated Wayzata 13-3 in the Class 5A championship game, Trojans coach Brad Anderson was the picture of sportsmanship and class, as is always the case.

He smiled broadly as he congratulated the Eden Prairie coaches, and the smile stayed on his face as he spoke to his players, who were tearfully gathered around him on one knee.

"It hurts because it means something to you," he told the Trojans. "And I'm proud of every one of you."

(This item was written by Windom High School senior Thomas Elness, a member of the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program.)

It’s not unusual to see a group of people wearing identical t-shirts at a state tournament, but it is rare to see shirts with the names of two players from two different teams. That was the case Friday.

Aaron Vipond, a senior player for Mahnomen, and Tanner Kirkeide, a senior player for Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, both competed for state titles. The two are cousins and they had a cheering section of their own at the Metrodome. The group of around 50 family members all ordered matching shirts bearing the names and numbers of Aaron and Tanner.

“It took 10 hotel rooms, and the whole family wasn’t even here yet,” Uncle Joe Vipond said while cheering for Wheaton/Herman-Norcross. Football runs in the family, as does agriculture. “When the farming gets done, we go to all of the games,” he said.

Grandma Mary Ann made the trek to the Dome and noted, “It’s very, very exciting. I’m very proud.” With 10 children of her own, 26 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren (including one in her arms during the interview), it doesn’t look like football is going to be ending any time soon for the Viponds and Kirkeides.

Before the Caledonia Warriors defeated Moose Lake/Willow River 27-0 to win their second consecutive Class 2A state championship, they heard a special pregame speech. The message came from Farmington football coach Mark Froehling, a former coach in Caledonia who continues to have strong ties there.

Froehling is well-known for reading a different book to his team during the course of each season. This fall he read “Remember Why You Play,” which follows the football team at Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas, for a season.

“One of the mottos of that team was ‘focus and finish,’ ” Froehling told me before the game.

The Warriors have heard pregame talks by Froehling before, including last year’s Prep Bowl victory over Triton.

Edgerton/Ellsworth quarterback Isaac Heard completed 23 of 31 passes for 368 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. His favorite receiver was Devin Hulstein, who had seven catches for 198 yards and two scores. Two of those numbers were Prep Bowl records: Heard’s 368 passing yards and Hulstein’s 198 receiving yards.

In Dawson-Boyd's 35-20 victory over Mahnomen in the Class 1A title game, Dawson-Boyd's Evan Robertson tied a Prep Bowl record with three interceptions. Five previous players had picked off three passes in a Prep Bowl game.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 5,008
*Diet Coke Count: 6 for the day, 55 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Coming Friday: A Special TV Segment During The Prep Bowl
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/24/2011 7:22:31 PM

As you watch KSTC-Channel 45's coverage of the Prep Bowl football games Friday, please try to be watching between the Class 2A game and the Class 5A game. Sometime in the 6:20 to 6:45 p.m. time frame -- it's hard to predict the time because games can run long or short -- a special story will air.

It's a story that appears in the printed state tournament program, and it's a story that appeared in its original form here on John's Journal in early September. It concerns a tragic death and how two schools and communities came together to honor the young person whose life was lost and to help in the healing process.

A few weeks ago, KSTC sports producer Dennis Silva asked me if there was a great story out there that I could help shape into a video story to air during the Prep Bowl. This story was the easy choice, and KSTC videographer Brian Stemmler and I spent a day conducting interviews at Southland High School and Wabasha-Kellogg High School, as well as attending a football game in Wabasha.

Brian did a masterful job of editing the piece and guiding me -- a novice in TV storytelling -- through the process. It's a story that will touch your heart.

Here is the original printed story, which appeared here on Sept. 6...

Remembering A Teammate, An Opponent And What Sportsmanship Means

WABASHA – Across Minnesota last Friday, 104 high school football games were played. Every one of those games was important, but what took place prior to one specific game was very, very special.

It was a scene unlike anything I have witnessed in several decades of writing about sports of all kinds, from the professional ranks to the youth level. I doubt I will ever see anything like it again. The story, which began a year ago with a terrible tragedy, continued Friday evening with memories, tears and special tributes.

Cole Younker was 16 years old when he was killed in a car accident on Sept. 10 last year. He was a passenger in a car that collided with a semi-trailer on Highway 61 in Wabasha. Cole was a three-sport athlete at Wabasha-Kellogg High School.

On Friday, Southland High School’s football team played at Wabasha-Kellogg in the first game of the season for both teams. As Southland coach Shawn Kennedy told me, “We wanted to do something in honor of and in memory of the young man who was killed. We wanted to do something to really show true sportsmanship.”

It was a simple act, really, involving the planting of a tree and releasing of balloons. But simple acts can have the greatest impact.

The planning began when Southland athletic director Bill Feuchtenberger phoned Wabasha-Kellogg athletic director/football coach Nick Richmond. “He said Southland wanted to do something when the time was right,” Richmond said. “We decided we were going to do a tree and he said, ‘Whatever it takes, just send us a bill and we’ll do it.’ ”

Cole’s mother, Bonnie Younker, was asked to select a tree and she picked out a beauty. It’s a red maple, which will someday stand 35 to 40 foot tall. It was paid for by Southland. Between warm-ups and the start of Friday’s game, both teams lined up on either side of the planting site, which is in a corner of the football/track complex. Four captains from each squad placed the tree in a hole (that had been dug by Richmond a day earlier) and then used shovels to fill in the dirt around the trunk.

Bonnie stood with the Wabasha-Kellogg Falcons and cried while the tree in memory of Cole was planted. When the job was done, she hugged all eight captains.

It was quite a sight: young boys in football uniforms (minus helmets) taking their time and working together to get that tree started on its new life. A few fans gathered around to watch. Some of them cried and others sniffed back the tears.

“I’m very fortunate, along with the rest of the coaching staff, in that we get to play in a conference, the Three Rivers North and South, in which all of us coaches get along very well,” Kennedy had told me earlier. “When something like this happens, I think it affects everybody. He was a son, a sibling and it was a devastating thing. Why not try and do something in his honor, to really show that it’s only a game and to really show true sportsmanship? We always talk about being a class act at Southland, and Nick does the same thing over here, and that’s what it’s all about.”

On the right shoulder of each Falcons jersey this season are two small black numbers: 32. That was Cole’s number. Stickers with his number were affixed to their helmets. Some of the players had written Cole’s initials, CJR, on black anti-glare patches they wore under their eyes. Some have tattoos dedicated to Cole.

On Thursday, Richmond sat down to watch the film from last year’s game between Wabasha-Kellogg and Southland. He admitted that it was hard to watch as Cole made tackles, and he didn’t let the players watch the video.

“The one-year anniversary is coming up and the kids are still feeling it,” he said.

As a recording of the national anthem was played, the teams stood in lines at each end of the field. Bonnie Younker and several other women then brought out bundles of balloons and handed one to each Falcon. The players had written notes to Cole, which had been placed inside the balloons. As the balloons were released into the warm Minnesota sky, they floated up and began taking a southwesterly tack toward the nearby Mississippi River.

“I get goosebumps when I say this, but this is why we do this,” said Kennedy. “I’m starting my 27th year of coaching. And let me tell you something, I think this is pretty special to be able to be a part of this and help do something for Wabasha and for the family.

“I lost my father when he went in for gall bladder surgery and never came home. It just brings back those kinds of feelings for me personally. I am very blessed, because 55 of these kids drove six and a half hours in a snowstorm to be at my dad’s wake service. That’s pretty special. It’s only a game, and this puts it in perspective that there are more important things.”

The game ended with Southland winning 48-0. But that’s not the memory that will remain. The sight of a grieving mother, of young boys doing something larger than themselves and their game, of all those balloons sailing away ... all of it unforgettable.

“In a weird way, I expected a call from them just because I know coach Kennedy,” Richmond said. “From the first time I met him, he was a class act. I love the guy. So I knew it was coming. How do you show sportsmanship better than what they’re doing?”

As the season opener neared, some of the Falcons wrote notes to Cole that were separate from the notes that sailed away with the balloons. One of them read:

“Hey buddy, we miss you. It’s not the same here any more. We’re playing for you, OK? Thanks for everything you’ve ever done to and for me. Miss you.”

Looking Ahead To The Prep Bowl And Back Through A Great Season
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/22/2011 2:06:59 PM

If it’s Thanksgiving week, that means it’s also the biggest week of the Minnesota high school football season. The 30th annual Prep Bowl games will be played Friday and Saturday at the Metrodome, where six state championship teams will be crowned.

Seven teams will attempt to finish the season undefeated, and two of those teams will go head to head: Mahnomen and Dawson-Boyd in Class 1A.

One game will be a rematch from earlier this season: Wayzata beat Eden Prairie 9-0 in the final week of the regular season, and they will meet again for the Class 5A title.

Here’s the schedule …

Friday’s Games
10 a.m./ Nine-Man: Edgerton/Ellsworth (13-0) vs. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (12-1)
1 p.m./ Class 1A: Mahnomen (13-0) vs. Dawson-Boyd (13-0)
4 p.m/ Class 2A: Moose Lake/Willow River (13-0) vs. Caledonia (12-1)
7 p.m./ Class 5A: Eden Prairie (11-1) vs. Wayzata (12-0)

Saturday’s Games
Noon/ Class 3A: Fairmont (12-1) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (13-0)
3 p.m./ Class 4A: Bemidji (12-0) vs. Rocori (11-1)

Predicting is a tough business, but it seems like a safe bet to believe that offenses have an edge over defenses; that was surely the case in the state semifinals. The average score in last weekend’s games at the Metrodome was 43-17, with four games being so one-sided that running time was used in the fourth quarter (running time comes into play when the margin is 35 points or more). Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t possibly see some low-scoring games this weekend.

As we await the championship games, I’ve gone through my notebooks and compiled some of the memorable moments I have witnessed during the course of watching 31 high school football games so far this season …

--Best Warning: On Aug. 15, the first day of football practice, I visited the Brainerd Warriors during their afternoon workout. I walked onto the field and right into the middle of a passing drill. Assistant coach Deryl Ramey saved me from being trampled by shouting, “Look out John!”

--Nature Sighting: While hanging around practice at Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, I saw what looked like a great big nest on top of one of the light towers at Dixon-Barle Field. Confirmed: Osprey have lived up there for years, and during that day’s practice one of the big birds circled the field and screeched at the players. I was told the osprey sometimes drop dead fish or mice on the field.

--Misidentified: I was getting my pregame meal (booster club burger/chips/cookie/pop) before a game in Fulda when a young man – realizing that I was a stranger – asked me, “Are you a recruiter?”

--Name of the Year (the year 1911): Blake and St. Paul Academy first met in football in 1911. When the 2011 game was played, honorary captains were at midfield for the coin toss. Among those representing Blake was Tom Heffelfinger (Class of 1966), whose family tree goes back to grand uncle F. Peavey Heffelfinger, who played in the 1911 game.

--Official Plea for Help: As the officiating crew exited the field at halftime of a game that was becoming a bit chippy, a member of the crew said to me, “Hey John, did you bring a striped shirt? We could use some help out here!”

--Greatest Place to Play: The natural-grass surface at New London-Spicer's Pederson Field is treated like the White House lawn by a dedicated band of volunteers.

--Finest Transformation: Mahtomedi’s George Smith Field was completely redone before this season, with artificial turf, new bleachers, new press box, new concession stands, new ticket booths, etc. It’s a grand spot for football.

--Best Parade: The 12-minute Homecoming parade at Red Rock Central (it took 12 minutes for the parade to pass my location) in Lamberton was possibly the finest and most fun-filled parade I have ever witnessed.

--Greatest Use of Deer Stands: Minnehaha Academy has no press box at its football field, so where do the “eye in the sky” assistant coaches go? They climb deer stands to get a view of the action.

--Finest Pregame Meal: The roast beef sandwich at K.P. Kompelien Field in Minneota was to die for.

--Hardest Worker: On an extremely windy night, an official was running down the sideline – into the wind -- to loosen up before the game. He said, “I hope I don’t have to run in this direction too much tonight!”

--Favorite Pregame Sound: As the Fairmont Cardinals strode from the school to Mahoney Field, they stood five wide and held hands to the great sound of cleats on concrete.

--Biggest Zero Week Conflict: Football players who raise livestock having to decide whether to play football or show their animals at the state fair.

--Best Greeting: St. Peter coach Brian Odland as we shook hands before a game: “How’s the traveling going?”

--Best Recruiting Tool: An athletic director was trying to find one more person to play a crucial role in the game that was about to start: “Want to watch this game up close? We need one more guy on the chains.”

--Best Halftime Conversation: Female teenage fan No. 1: “Is it over?” Female teenage fan No. 2: “No, it’s halftime.” Female teenage fan No. 1: “I don’t understand football.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 4,928
*Diet Coke Count: 0 for the day, 49 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Saluting State Champions In Adapted Soccer and Girls Swimming/Diving
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/21/2011 11:32:43 AM

Saturday was championship day in two sports: girls swimming and diving as well as adapted soccer. State champs were crowned in adapted soccer at Stillwater High School and in girl swimming and diving at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

Here are the results …

Championship Games
CI Division/ Anoka-Hennepin defeated St. Cloud Area 3-2.
PI Division/ Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka defeated Anoka-Hennepin 3-0.

Third-Place Games
CI Division/ Park Center Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 5-2.
PI Division/ Dakota United defeated Park Center 4-3 in overtime.

Fifth-Place Games
CI Division/ Dakota United defeated South Suburban 12-4.
PI Division/ South Suburban defeated Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 8-3.


1. Sartell-Saint Stephen. 2. Northfield. 3. Hutchinson. 4. Visitation. 5. Monticello. 6. Marshall. 7. Breck School. 8. Mankato West. 9. Benilde-St. Margaret's. 10. Albert Lea.

All-Time mark in the 500-yard freestyle was set by Sartell-St. Stephen junior Marisa Wood. Class A marks were set in the 200-yard freestyle by Wood, 50-yard freestyle by Mankato West sophomore Danielle Nack, 100-yard butterfly by Nack.

200 Yard Medley Relay/ 1 Hutchinson (Megan Bateman, Jordan Ford, Kaylee Kucera, Aspen Billiet)

200 Yard Freestyle/ Marisa Wood, Sartell-St. Stephen

200 Yard IM/ Ellen Bloom, Sartell-St. Stephen

50 Yard Freestyle/ Danielle Nack, Mankato West

1 meter Diving/ Bailey Dupay, Northfield

100 Yard Butterfly/ Danielle Nack, Mankato West

100 Yard Freestyle/ Whitney Weisz, Little Falls

500 Yard Freestyle/ Marisa Wood, Sartell-St. Stephen

200 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Sartell-Saint Stephen (Tarin Anding, Lauren Martens, Molly Peichel, Marisa Wood)

100 Yard Backstroke/ Ellen Bloom, Sartell-St. Stephen

100 Yard Breaststroke/ Kathryn Ostrom, St Louis Park

400 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Sartell-Saint Stephen (Ellen Bloom, Jennifer Thompson, Molly Peichel, Marisa Wood)


1. Edina. 2. Minnetonka. 3. Stillwater. 4. Eden Prairie. 5. Rochester John Marshall. 6. Rochester Mayo. 7. Wayzata. 8. Robbinsdale Armstrong. 9. Prior Lake. 10. Chanhassen.

All-Time and Class 2A mark in 200-yard freestyle relay was set by Edina.

200 Yard Medley Relay/ Edina (Madeleine Eden, Olivia Anderson, Paige Haller, Maryellen Campbell)

200 Yard Freestyle/ Nikki Larson, Edina

200 Yard IM/ Taylor Bass, Rochester John Marshll

50 Yard Freestyle/ Kaia Grobe, Chanhassen

1 meter Diving/ Jessie Ramberg, Forest Lake

100 Yard Butterfly/ Nikki Larson, Edina

100 Yard Freestyle/ Kaia Grobe, Chanhassen

500 Yard Freestyle/ Kira Zubar, Eden Prairie

200 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Edina (Olivia Anderson, Emma Wittmer, Maryellen Campbell, Nikki Larson)

100 Yard Backstroke/ Emma Paulson, Wayzata

100 Yard Breaststroke/ Olivia Anderson, Edina

400 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Edina (Emma Wittmer, Amelia Anderson, Madeleine Eden, Nikki Larson)

A Rookie Coach, A Great Season And Knowing What's Important
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/19/2011 6:59:32 PM

Brooks Bollinger’s eyes were moist when he exited the Hill-Murray locker room Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers had just lost to Rocori 37-35 in the Class 4A state football semifinals at the Metrodome, ending Bollinger’s rookie season as a coach.

A locker room is no strange place for Bollinger, 32, who was a four-year starter at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin and spent time in the NFL with the Jets, Vikings, Cowboys and Lions. Saturday’s loss ended the first chapter in a new phase of his football life, and his postgame words – after an emotional talk with his players -- made it exceedingly clear that the game goes far beyond the X’s and the O’s for him.

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms, and that was just a special one,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be a part of it. It’s pretty emotional. We have a great group of seniors. It’s one of the reasons I love being a high school coach; what makes it great also hurts you so much when it ends. Just being a part of these kids’ lives and getting so attached to them.

“We were so lucky to get the experience we did and have some success. It hurts when you get that close and don’t get it done, but my message to them was we lost today, but we won, I won, to be able to be part of something like this.”

When longtime Hill-Murray coach Vince Conway retired after the 2010 season, athletic director Bill Lechner learned that Bollinger was living in the Twin Cities with his wife Natalie (a Twin Cities native) and their three kids. A phone call was made, interviews were held and the ex-pro had the job.

Before long, Bollinger was arriving at Hill-Murray in the morning and staying there all day, working on becoming a better football coach and shaping his new team.

“Vince Conway didn’t leave the cupboard bare, he left him a nucleus, which was good for Brooks to build on,” Lechner said. “He comes in with a good name, so that helped him. But that only goes so far. The kids can read through it if he’s not a real person. He’s a family guy, he’s a coach, he gets it, the kids love him and respect him and he’s worked hard to get that.”

The Pioneers finished with a 9-3 record, losing to South St. Paul and St. Thomas Academy during the regular season. They defeated Chisago Lakes and Mahtomedi in the Section 4 playoffs and beat Faribault in the state quarterfinals. Hill-Murray had not been to state in football since 1987 and Saturday’s game was the Pioneers’ first in the Metrodome.

Bollinger grew up with football; his father Rob was the offensive coordinator at the University of North Dakota and Brooks played quarterback at Central High School in Grand Forks.

“Growing up around my dad’s teams at North Dakota, this is what I love about it,” he said. “The relationships, the kids, the stories you’re creating, the big-picture stuff. I enjoy drawing up plays and running an offense, but to me that’s a means to an end. That’s what you have to do to build this bond and be able to experience things like this with your kids.”

That sentiment was echoed by a young quarterback: Hill-Murray junior Zach LaValle. Zach, who passed for 232 yards Saturday, called playing for and learning from Bollinger “one of the great experiences of my life.”

“He’s not only made me a better player but a better person,” LaValle said. “As a player, it’s all the little things, being a quarterback himself. As a person, he’s always there, teaching life lessons. He’s a great guy.”

LaValle missed summer workouts while recovering from an injury and wasn’t fully involved in practice until late in preseason drills. Bollinger said Zach’s growth, especially down the stretch this season, was critical to the Pioneers’ success.

“I think when everything came together and things turned the corner was when Zach LaValle really got comfortable at quarterback and just played his butt off the last six weeks of the season or whatever. He’s the kind of kid everybody needs, he’s a leader, he’s the guy you want to play quarterback.”

My final question for Bollinger concerned, oddly, his footwear. I have seen coaches who wear cleats on the sidelines, but this was completely different: Bollinger wore black golf shoes.

“I was waiting for someone to notice,” he said with a smile. “Some of the NFL guys have done it in places I’ve been. I needed some old black shoes and these are my old golf shoes.”

It’s just another part of a great story.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 4,928
*Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 49 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Saturday's Football Updates From The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/19/2011 10:54:04 AM

Wayzata Makes Return Appearance in Prep Bowl

Defending 2A Champ Caledonia Returns To Prep Bowl

St. Croix Lutheran Makes Some 'Tweaks', Beats Providence Academy

Rocori Sets Up Prep Bowl Match With Bemidji

Sophomore Quarterback Leads Dawson-Boyd Past Blooming Prairie

Wheaton/Herman-Norcross Reaches First Prep Bowl

Eden Prairie Marches On
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/18/2011 11:54:49 PM

Eden Prairie rolled past Totino-Grace in Friday's 5A semifinals, and Luke Sleeper has the report...

Eden Prairie 49, Totino-Grace 7

Report From Friday's Class 3A Game At The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/18/2011 8:04:04 PM

John's Journal correspondent Luke Sleeper reports on the big game in Class 3A...

Fairmont Advances to Prep Bowl

A Big Day Of Football Heroics At The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/18/2011 11:24:09 AM

Individual stars were the theme during the early portion of Friday’s state football semifinal games at the Metrodome. Impressive performances and big numbers were put up as Edgerton/Ellsworth, Mahnomen and Bemidji advanced to Prep Bowl XXX with dominant victories.

A total of six games were on tap today, with six more on Saturday as the Prep Bowl lineup is set. Here are some highlights from Friday’s games …

--Class 4A/ Bemidji pulled off the first big surprise of the semifinals, beating top-ranked Mankato West 45-26. West quarterback Philip Nelson had received the pregame acclaim, and rightfully so, since he will play for the University of Minnesota next year. But the star of this game was Bemidji’s Carey Woods. The senior receiver caught five passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, including scoring plays of 61 and 67 yards on passes from Mitchell Hendricks. Nelson completed 24 of 42 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions; he also led all rushers with 25 carries for 183 yards.

--Class 2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River 35, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 14: Jake Disterhaupt stole the show, scoring four touchdowns for the Rebels. Disterhaupt scored on runs of 80 yards (on the game’s first play), 7 yards and 66 yards, and caught a 10-yard TD pass from Tony Adamczak. Disterhaupt finished with 23 carries for 252 yards.

--Nine-Man/ Edgerton/Ellsworth 48, Ada-Borup 20: Edgerton/Ellsworth quarterback Isaac Heard was stellar, completing 17 of 19 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Casey Schilling and Devin Hulstein each caught a TD pass and Hulstein ran for 105 yards. Ada-Borup QB Jace Hennen completed 12 of 30 passesfor 238 yards and one score.

--Class 1A/ Mahnomen 32, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 12: Mahnomen quarterback Jacob Pavek was all over the field, scoring four touchdowns while running 17 times for 173 yards and completing three of four passes for 26 yards. Mahnomen led 24-6 at halftime and held off the Knights, who were led by QB’s Jordan Anderson 19-for-34 performance for 257 yards and two scores.

I arrived at the Metrodome more than an hour before the first game’s 8 a.m. kickoff. Here’s some of what happened from that point on …

6:58 a.m./ “Did you run away from home?” A security guard poses that question, seeing me entering the Metrodome with two backpacks full of essential journalism gear … and a big bag of candy for my press box colleagues.

7:09 a.m./ The Edgerton-Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen take the field for warm-ups. One of the band hosts for the games is Dean Verdoes, a longtime coach and administrator. Dean played on Edgerton’s 1960 boys state championship basketball team, and this is the first time in his memory since then that he has witnessed a team from Edgerton playing in a state tournament.

7:10 a.m./ The day’s first Twitter message asks me how many Diet Cokes I have consumed. Answer: None.

7:42 a.m./ Second Diet Coke inquiry via Twitter. Answer: None.

7:48 a.m./ I chat with the chain gang that will work the first two games. It’s a crew from Hopkins, including Brian Cosgriff, coach of the defending 4A state champion Royals girls basketball team.

8:01 a.m/ Kickoff between Ada-Borup and Edgerton/Ellsworth.

9:17a.m./ Edgerton/Ellsworth leads Ada-Borup 32-6 as the day’s first Diet Coke is cracked open.

9:42 a.m./ Continuing a long-standing tradition, I dump a pile of fun-size candy bars on a table in the back of the press box.

11:35 a.m./ Gastronomic highlight of the day so far…A nice box lunch is handed to me.

1:44 p.m./ Message on Twitter from someone in the stands… “Let me know when you'll need that next Diet Coke!”

2:55 p.m./ As I circle the field taking photos, a bunch of elementary-age Mankato West fans hang over the barrier behind one end zone. I reach up, they reach down and we do a series of high fives. I tell them, “Pretend I’m somebody famous!”

3:10 p.m./ Luke Sleeper, a talented journalism student from the University of Minnesota, arrives to help me get through the day and write about a couple of the games. How about this for dedication? Luke came right to the Metrodome after his classes ended. On a Friday. And he’s a college student. My hero.

4:10 p.m./ An, uh, colorful character from the Fairmont video crew attempted to move me out of the press box seat I had been occupying since 7 a.m. He said he may have to talk to security and have me moved. Good luck, dude.

5:35 p.m/ Dinner is a taco bar with all the fixin’s, provided to MSHSL employees and tournament workers.

8:20 p.m./ Cracked open favorite soft drink No. 5.

10:31 p.m./ During the 5A game between Eden Prairie and Totino-Grace, someone posted this comment on the MSHSL Facebook page: “Go Eagles!!” This was either a brilliant piece of satire, or someone didn’t realize that both teams are the Eagles.

(A Diet Coke aside: During the girls state swimming and diving championships Thursday, Farmington coach Jen Marshall asked me this question at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center: “How many today?” I was sitting at a table with 1) an empty plastic plate that had earlier contained some pizza and 2) an empty Diet Coke can. That was No. 1 for this weekend’s state tournaments.)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 139
*Miles John has driven: 4,888
*Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 44 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Lots Of Action This Weekend, And You Can See It
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/17/2011 11:45:15 AM

This will be a big weekend of high school sports in Minnesota, and you and your computer can watch much of the action live.

Football will take over the Metrodome on Friday and Saturday, with six state semifinal games held each day. The girls state swimming and diving championships are underway at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center (diving preliminariesThursday, swimming prelims Friday, finals on Saturday).

All 12 football games, as well as Saturday’s swimming and diving finals, will be streamed lived on the internet. Go to http://prep45.com/, click "Live Schedule" and find your favorite event.

The state adapted soccer tournament also will be held this weekend. Competition in the CI and PI divisions will be held Friday and Saturday at Stillwater High School.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 127
*Miles John has driven: 4,844
*Diet Coke Count: 0 for the day, 38 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Things To Know About The State Football Semifinals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/15/2011 10:28:11 AM

Every high school football player in Minnesota dreams of playing in the Metrodome, and 24 teams will do just that this weekend. The state semifinals will be held Friday and Saturday, with six games each day.

Here is the schedule …

8 a.m. Nine-Man/ Ada-Borup (11-1) vs. Edgerton-Ellsworth (12-0)
10:15 a.m. 1A/ Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (9-3)
12:45 p.m. 4A/ Bemidji (11-0) vs. Mankato West (11-0)
3:15 p.m. 3A/ Annandale (7-5) vs. Fairmont (11-1)
5:45 p.m. 2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River (12-0) vs. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (11-0)
8:15 p.m. 5A/ Eden Prairie (10-1) vs. Totino-Grace (11-1)

8 a.m. Nine-Man/ Kittson County Central (9-2) vs. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (11-1)
10:15 a.m. 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-0) vs. Blooming Prairie (11-1)
12:45 p.m. 4A/ Rocori (10-1) vs. Hill-Murray (9-2)
3:15 p.m. 3A/ Providence Academy (10-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (12-0)
5:45 p.m. 2A/ Warroad (9-2) vs. Caledonia (11-1)
8:15 p.m. 5A/ Wayzata (11-0) vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (11-0)

This week’s winners will return to the Metrodome a week later for Prep Bowl XXX. The state championship games will be held over two days, with the 1A, 2A, 3A and 5A games on Friday, Nov. 25 and 3A and 4A on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Here are some facts, figures and assorted tidbits to prepare us for this weekend’s games…

Defending State Champions
--2A Caledonia
--5A Wayzata, Totino-Grace (4A champ last year)

Undefeated vs. Undefeated
--2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River (12-0) vs. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (11-0)
--4A/ Bemidji (11-0) vs. Mankato West (11-0)
--5A/ Wayzata (11-0) vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (11-0)

Other Undefeated Teams
--Nine-Man Edgerton-Ellsworth (12-0)
--1A Mahnomen (12-0), Dawson-Boyd (12-0)
--3A St. Croix Lutheran (12-0)

No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Associated Press Rankings
--2A/ No. 1 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown vs. No. 2 Moose Lake/Willow River
--5A/ No. 1 Wayzata vs. No. 2 Cretin-Derham Hall

Unranked Teams Still Alive
--1A Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s
--2A Warroad
--3A Annandale, Providence Academy
--4A Hill-Murray

State’s Longest Current Winning Streak
--Wayzata, 22 games

First Time at State
--Nine-Man Bigfork
--1A Dawson-Boyd
--3A Annandale, Providence Academy
--4A Faribault

First-Year Head Coaches
--2A Gabe Richards, Warroad
--4A Brooks Bollinger, Hill-Murray

Former Head Coaches Who Played in the NFL
--4A Brooks Bollinger, Hill-Murray (Jets, Vikings, Cowboys, Lions)

Nickname vs. Same Nickname
--3A Warroad Warriors vs. Caledonia Warriors
--4A Annandale Cardinals vs. Fairmont Cardinals
--5A Eden Prairie Eagles vs. Totino-Grace Eagles

Most Unique Nickname Matchup
--Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks vs. Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms

Longest Distance Between Opponents
--506 miles between Warroad and Caledonia

*Schools/teams John has visited: 127
*Miles John has driven: 4,844
*Diet Coke Count: 38 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Behind The Championship: Pain, Guts And Volleyball Glory For Eden Prairie
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/12/2011 10:49:25 PM

The headlines, the talk and the memories from Eden Prairie’s first state volleyball championship will center on the length of Saturday’s match. The Eagles and Lakeville North played through five games and then beyond the standard first-team-to-15-points-is-the-winner plateau in the decisive Game 5.

Yes, the two teams traded punches for 2 hours, 6 minutes at Xcel Energy Center in a duel that will long be remembered for thunderous kills by Eden Prairie’s Sarah Wilhite and North’s Alyssa Goehner. The high-flying duo absolutely hammered the poor volleyball; Wilhite had 33 kills and Goehner had 34, but the outcome of the final match of the 2011 high school volleyball season probably hinged more on one thin little wrist than on the thumpers at the net.

During the second game, Eagles setter Maddie Reese smacked into a teammate. Hard. As Maddie told me afterward, her left wrist “kind of got crushed a little bit.” Eden Prairie coach Chad Becker called a timeout and team trainer Gary Smith gave Reese’s wrist as much treatment as was possible in about 60 seconds.

This was trouble, big trouble for the Eagles. A setter with a bad wrist? That’s like a baseball pitcher with a bad elbow. A bowler with no thumb. A one-legged punter.

“Maddie is a gutty player,” Becker said as he described to me what took place during that second-game timeout. Lakeville North, the defending state champs, had won the first game 25-22 and a 2-0 deficit would be a steep uphill climb for Eden Prairie. When Becker called timeout, the Eagles held a 16-14 lead but Reese was in pain. Lots of pain.

Maddie (pictured) had tears in her eyes. Her teammates were worried about her, and Becker was worried that they might lose their focus on playing volleyball.

“We’d battled some demons where we just don’t play loose and relaxed all the time,” Becker said. “And we’d been battling that, losing game one and going into game two. Right at that moment, when I called that timeout, I said, ‘These are situations we’ve been put in all year long. We’ve responded all year long. Maddie will be fine, we’re going to respond.’

He thought about having other players take over setting duties, at least temporarily, until – or if – Maddie was good to go again.

“I had planned to have the right side set that next rotation and then (Smith) kind of worked (the injury) out. When Maddie was going back out I said, ‘Can you set?’ And she said, ‘Yeah.’ And I think that just relaxed everyone. You could tell the team wasn’t concerned about maybe the score or the match, they were more concerned about their teammate. And I think that allowed them to relax and just play together.”

The Eagles won the second game 25-21and Smith wrapped Reese’s wrist in red athletic tape before the next game began. The teams split games three and four. The fifth game went Eden Prairie’s way by a 22-20 score, but only after ties and angst at 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20. The clinching point came on a kill by Wilhite and a set assist by … who else? Reese finished with 52 of her team’s 59 set assists.

“I just kind of fought through it, because I really wanted this for my team,” Maddie said. She admitted that it hurt every time she set the ball, but then again, what choice did she have?

“I knew we could do this,”she said, wearing a gold medal around her neck. (In this photo, Maddie stands with teammate Anna Domalewski during the postgame ceremony.) “We worked really hard all season.”

Did she ever think about coming out of the game? “No. No way.”

And then here came Smith, carrying a bag of ice. He put it on Maddie’s wrist, wrapped some tape around it … and the celebration continued.


While Eden Prairie’s 3A championship was the Eagles’ first in two state tourney appearances, the champions of 2A and 1A are familiar with going to state and finishing first.

In 2A, Marshall beat Stewartville 3-1 as the Tigers captured their fourth state title in 23 trips to state (the other championships were in 2004, 2007 and 2009).

And in 1A, Bethlehem Academy beat Nevis 3-0 to continue its pattern of winning state titles in every odd-numbered year since 2003. That’s right, the Cardinals previously won championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. What’s more, they were the state runner-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Their streak of state appearances was interrupted last year when they lost to eventual 1A champ Wabasha-Kellogg in the Section 1 final.

When Marshall won the 2A championship it completed a family threepeat. The Tigers’Kenzie Beekman wears number 14 and was part of a state championship team as a sophomore, as were her big sisters Amanda and Dani.

The team from Nevis wins the prize for most enthusiastic pregame singing. In a corridor just off the Xcel floor, the Tigers belted out oldies such as “Hey Baby” and “Splish Splash.” The volume was exceptional, the pitch was perfect.

CLASS 1A: Nico Schmidt, Mayer Lutheran; Erica Handley, Win-E-Mac; Tiffany Strand, Ada-Borup; Taylor Reiss, Kelsey Hennen, Minneota; Riley Hanson, Megan Norby, Nevis; Maddie Borwege, Jessie Mathews, Payton Schultz, Bethlehem Academy.

CLASS 2A: Macy Weller, Sauk Centre; Emily Miron, Wadena-Deer Creek; Kelsey Chambers, Emilee Gutzmer, Jordan; Kenzie Beekman, Morgan McKittrick, Sydney Griffin, Marshall; Hannah Tapp, Paige Tapp, Danielle DeGeus, Stewartville.

CLASS 3A: Lauren Schlobohm, Owatonna; Karlie Hauer, Kaytlin Turner, Andover; Sara Carlson, Ellie VanDeSteeg, Hutchinson; Sarah Wilhite, Ellen Piechowski, Eden Prairie; Alyssa Goehner, Jessica Wolf, Sami Flattum, Lakeville North.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 127
*Miles John has driven: 4,844
*Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 38 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Friday's Football Playoff Report From The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/11/2011 10:33:32 PM

Cretin-Derham Hall, Totino-Grace Advance To 5A Football Semifinals

More Familiar Volleyball Faces Are Popping Up All the Time
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/11/2011 7:56:45 PM

I know I’ve been around for a while, but it seems like there’s another reminder of how quickly time passes every time I turn around at the state volleyball tournament.

I’ll see a young lady who I thought was playing high school volleyball a year or two ago, and she’s a college graduate now working as a radio analyst (see the previous John’s Journal entry). I saw Marshall assistant coach Amanda Beekman on the sideline and recalled her playing for the Tigers not long ago … but she too is a college graduate. Sigh.

I thought I noticed a familiar face on the Eden Prairie bench, and sure enough it was another blast from the past. In 2004 – which seems like last week -- I wrote about Eden Prairie senior Courtney Cowles when she was named the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s metro player of the year. She’s now 24 years old and has returned to her high school as an assistant coach. She coached last year at Bloomington Jefferson and was hired by Eden Prairie head coach Chad Becker this season.

My player of the year story about Courtney, published November 9, 2004, began like this…

Eden Prairie volleyball coach Mark Kaschke first saw Courtney Cowles when she was playing the game in junior high. Even then, the thing that stood out in the little squirt was her competitive spirit.

“She had the fire in her eyes,” Kaschke said of Cowles, this year's selection as the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year. “She was such a great, competitive athlete even at that age, and she just continued that through her high school career. She is just pure guts, pure courage.”

The 5-8 senior setter is the matchstick that has ignited the third-ranked Eagles (27-3) to new heights this season. (end of excerpt.)

Two years later, Courtney’s sister Hailey was named metro player of the year; Hailey is now a senior on the University of Minnesota volleyball team.

Courtney played volleyball at North Carolina-Charlotte and returned to the Twin Cities after college because, as she told me, “I missed Minnesota.”

The only previous Eden Prairie team to reach the state tournament was in 2004 when Courtney was a senior. The Eagles finished third in Class 3A that year.

“She’s certainly made a big difference in our staff,” said Becker, who was an Eden Prairie assistant coach when Courtney was in high school. “She’s worked really hard and the experience she has, being in the state tournament, has really helped our kids understand what it’s going to be like and what to expect and what to go through.”

Courtney, who is working on a master’s degree at the University of St. Thomas, said once you’re an Eagle you’re an Eagle for life.

“Eden Prairie really does a nice job of from when you’re 5 years old to when you graduate, you’re an Eagle,” she said. “So there’s some deep-rooted pride there.

“We had a new team this year, with only three girls that were on varsity last year. So just being another set of eyes and someone that’s been there and played against these teams and been in these situations; you know they’re stressful but you have to know that you’re going to remember these moments for your entire life and that you just have to have fun.”

--One player’s family didn’t have any trouble getting to the arena for the volleyball tournament … or knowing where to park. Lakeville North junior Laura Larson’s father is Jack Larson, vice president and general manager of the Xcel Energy Center.

I had some enjoyable Twitter back-and-forth with football players at the volleyball tournament. I noticed Lakeville North footballers in the crowd watching their team and issued this tweet:

*“Lakeville North football players here at the X, just sitting. No jumping/screaming, saving energy for #mshsl playoff game tonight vs Cretin.”

Before long, this Tweet was sent to me …

*”@MSHSLjohn Hey we’re here too”

My reply: “Yes, Cretin football players are in the house, too. Panthers-Raiders will kickoff at the dome at 5 p.m. in #mshsl 5A game. I'll be there.”

And they played a heck of a football game. Things went back and forth until Cretin-Derham Hall won the game on a field goal with three seconds to play.


After six hours at the volleyball tournament Friday, I left the Xcel Center at 3 p.m., hit a drive-through just off Interstate 94 to collect something for dinner and arrived at the Metrodome at 3:45 p.m. for a football doubleheader. That was 45 minutes for a nine-mile drive. Thank you, slow traffic.


Due to interest from John’s Journal readers (I am not making that up), here is further information on the word “vomitories” as used in the previous edition…

From merriam-webster.com: VOMITORY: an entrance piercing the banks of seats of a theater, amphitheater, or stadium. Origin: Late Latin vomitorium, from Latin vomere; from its disgorging the spectators. First Known Use: 1730.

Can we stop now?

*Schools/teams John has visited: 127
*Miles John has driven: 4,804
*Diet Coke Count: 7 for the day, 33 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

A Familiar Name On The Radio And Other Volleyball Tidbits
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/10/2011 5:50:04 PM

Gordy Kosfeld, veteran play-by-play man for KDHL radio in Faribault, has a special guest commentator for state tournament coverage of the Bethlehem Academy volleyball team: Bethany Boelter, daughter of Cardinals coach Franz Boelter.

Bethany, a 2005 Bethlehem Academy graduate who went on to play volleyball at Minnesota State Mankato, played on the Cardinals’ 2003 Class 1A state title team and proudly wears a championship ring. The ring was made by Josten’s, where she works in the finance department.

Her initial radio gig came courtesy of her father. During a Bethlehem Academy fundraiser in the spring, KDHL offered opportunities to sit in as a color commentator during various Bethlehem Academy sporting events. Franz purchased the volleyball spot and gave it to Bethany.

She sat alongside Gordy during a regular-season match and did a great job, because afterwards Gordy asked her, “Would you like to do the state tournament?”

The top-seeded Cardinals narrowly avoided an upset loss in Thursday’s quarterfinals, winning the first two games against Win-E-Mac and losing the next two before winning the fifth and deciding game.

“That was nerve-wracking,” said Bethany, who coaches the Cardinals during the club volleyball season. “I felt like a parent. My dad keeps his cool better than I do.”

--I knew the volleyball tournament was going to be barrels of fun just by the Twitter chatter on Wednesday evening. These two tweets come from a member of the MSHSL Student SID program and a guy who works on the security detail at the Xcel Energy Center…
*“I'm ready to rep the MSHSL SID program @MSHSLjohn ....waiting for the moment I get my hands on the press pass :D #state #Ada-Borup”
*“@MSHSLjohn see you at the X Thurs-Sat. I will be working the floor from 7am til everyone leaves all 3 days. Looking forward to it!”

--I’ve been working at the MSHSL for more than a year and a half. The job change is old news for me, but word doesn’t always travel fast. One of the coaches involved in the volleyball tournament saw me at the Xcel Center Friday and told me that one of my co-workers at the Minneapolis Star Tribune had told her I would be covering the event for the newspaper. A little mixup, no big deal.

--The Ada-Borup pep band was at the volleyball tourney Thursday and will be back Friday, but facing a busy day. The band will play during the pregame portion of the Cougars’ 1 p.m. state semifinal match against Bethlehem Academy, then scoot up Interstate 35 to Duluth, where the Cougars football team will play Bigfork at 5 p.m. in the Nine-Man state quarterfinals.

--Diet Coke, Part I: I was sitting at courtside looking down into my laptop during the Ada-Borup vs. Cherry match when the call went out: “Heads up!” This urgent message signifies an incoming volleyball. Before I could lift my eyes, the ball bounced off the table in front of me. It missed my opened can of Diet Coke, as well as other less important items like my camera, cell phone and computer.

--Diet Coke, Part II: This thing has been wacky for a long time, and we reached a new level Thursday at the Xcel Center. Michael Isola, a good guy from Wadena who has a great website called beyondthebleachers.com, came to the volleyball tourney bearing a gift for me. The photo tells the story …

--Saving The Worst For Last Dept.: Each member of the volleyball media received a paper copy of MSHSL interview guidelines for the tournament. They spell out areas where interviews can and can’t be done. In explaining how to get from the courts to the locker room area, the instructions included this: “DO NOT exit through the vomitories behind the bench area.” Yes, vomitories. Why? I have no idea.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 147
*Miles John has driven: 4,784
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 3 for the state volleyball tournament, 26 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Volleyball All-State Teams, Players Of The Year, Ms. Volleyball
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/10/2011 7:21:16 AM

The Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association has announced this year’s postseason awards. Here are the all-state players for each class, as well as the players of the year and the identity of this year’s Ms. Volleyball award winner…

Jessie Mathews, Junior, OH, Bethlehem Academy
Kalyn Biever, Junior, S, Wabasha-Kellogg
Maddie Borwege, Junior, MH, Bethlehem Academy
Jennifer Mundt, Senior, MH, Lewiston-Altura
Riley Nordgaard, Senior, OH, Canby
Erica Handley, Junior, S, Win-E-Mac
Riley Hanson, Junior, MH, Nevis
Kelsey Hennen, Senior, LIB, Minneota
Mackenzie Horkey, Sophomore, OH, Southwest Christian
Kendra Schmidgall, Senior, OH, Hancock
Jennifer Krentz, Senior, LIB, Mayer Lutheran
Tiffany Strand, Senior, MH, Ada-Borup
Katie Lubben, Junior, S, Southwest Christian
Abbey Thissen, Senior, MH, MACCRAY

Casie Baer, Senior, S, Canby
Teagan Molden, Senior, MH, MACCRAY
Tori Davidson, Junior, MH, Northern Freeze
Erin Radke, Senior, MH, Nicollet
Brittany Roelike, Junior, OH, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
Belle Sand, Sophomore, OH, Mabel-Canton
Olivia Kaster, Senior, MH, Win-E-Mac
Nicole Schmidt, Junior, OH, Mayer Lutheran

Emilee Gutzmer, Senior, S, Jordan
Kenzie Beekman, Sophomore, OH, Marshall
Kaia Buck, Senior, S, Kasson-Mantorville
Whitney Burmeister, Senior, OH, Jackson Co. Central
Morgan McKittrick, Senior, OH, Marshall
Kelsey Chambers, Senior, OH, Jordan
Emily Miron, Junior, MH, Wadena-Deer Creek
Brittney Noon, Senior, OH, Wadena-Deer Creek
Brooke Decker, Senior, S, Maple Lake
Alexandra Duxbury, Sophomore, LIB, Chatfield
Hannah Tapp, Junior, MH, Stewartville
Haley Fogarty, Junior, OH/S, Belle Plaine
Abby Wolpern, Senior, MH, Belle Plaine

Stephanie Bandelin, Senior, MH, Esko
Jillian Krier, Junior, S, Byron
Emma Lange, Junior, MH, Caledonia
Anne Debertin, Junior, OH/RS, Visitation
Samantha Schlangen, Junior, S, Albany
Jessica Thelemann, Junior, OH/MH, LeSueur-Henderson
Sydney Griffin, Sophomore, MH/S, Marshall

Karlie Hauer, Senior, OH, Andover
Julianne Blomberg, Senior, OH, Chanhassen
Taylr McNeil, Sophomore, OH, Eagan
Sydney Dimke, Senior, RS, Blaine
Anna Pioske, Junior, OH, Waconia
Leigh Pudwill, Senior, OH, Centennial
Taylor Dordan, Senior, LIB, Blaine
Claire Sames, Senior, MH, Shakopee
Julia Doyle, Senior, S, Wayzata
Monica Turner, Senior, MH, Lakeville South
Sarah Wilhite, Junior, OH, Eden Prairie
Alyssa Goehner, Sophomore, OH, Lakeville North

McKell Anderson, Senior, OH, Lakeville South
Alex Berger, Senior, LIB, Shakopee
Maren Loe, Senior, OH, Apple Valley
Lydia Dimke, Sophomore, OH/RS, Blaine
Maggie Ewen, Junior, OH/MH, St. Francis
Jocelyn Youngdahl, Senior, OH, Hill-Murray

Class A Player of the Year – Riley Nordgaard, Canby

Class AA Player of the Year – Whitney Burmeister, Jackson County Central

Class AAA Player of the Year – Leigh Pudwill, Centennial

2011 Ms. Baden Minnesota Volleyball – Leigh Pudwill, Centennial

It’s Tournament Time … But Let’s Remember The Big Picture
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/9/2011 2:41:28 PM

This is a big week in high school sports, with the volleyball state tournament, football state quarterfinals and girls swimming section championships on the schedule.

During this exciting time, I wanted to share a wonderful reminder of the lessons that can be shared through school activities. Below is an email that I received from Chris Harvey, the football coach at St. Clair High School.

St. Clair is a small school near Mankato. Because of a lack of players, St. Clair did not play a varsity football schedule this season. The Cyclones instead played junior varsity games. The situation was similar at Minneapolis Roosevelt. The city school also had a shortage of experienced football players and played only junior varsity games.

The JV teams from the two schools scheduled a game against each other at Roosevelt; the kids from a small town in rural Minnesota coming to Minneapolis to play kids from the city.

How did it go? I’ll let Chris Harvey’s email tell the story (Mr. Frost is Roosevelt athletic director Al Frost) …

I would again like to express the gratitude of the St. Clair Cyclone football program for the hospitality shown to us by the staff, coaches and especially players of Minneapolis Roosevelt. I have been coaching for various programs since 1990 and have been to dozens of different schools. By far, Minneapolis Roosevelt showed more hospitality than I have ever experienced from a host team…a genuine first-class organization.

Mr. Frost did an outstanding job of getting students together, to get them out of their shells and provide them the opportunity to meet someone new. By inviting us to break bread with you, we were able to meet many great young men…young men whom we may never have met without this opportunity. There was a different atmosphere on the bus ride home. The conversations were a little louder. But, I didn't hear a word about the game. What I heard was a bunch of young men talking about the “cool” guys that they had just met.

The experience was the epitome of what athletics should be…two teams battling hard on the field, with respect and class, then sharing a wonderful meal afterward...with respect and class!

Thank you again for inviting us into your home. I hope we have the opportunity to return the favor someday!

Chris Harvey
Head Football Coach
St. Clair High School

State Football Tournament: Facts About The Quarterfinals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/8/2011 1:14:44 PM

Forty-eight teams are still playing high school football in Minnesota, with eight teams in each of six classes taking the field for state quarterfinal games Thursday through Saturday.

There is one game Thursday: Rocori vs. Rogers in a 7 p.m. Class 4A contest at St. Cloud State University. Sixteen quarterfinals will be played Friday and the round will be completed with seven games on Saturday.

Twenty-two of the 24 quarterfinal games will be played outdoors, with two taking place inside the Metrodome on Friday. Those games are both in 5A, between Lakeville North and Cretin-Derham Hall at 5 p.m. and Totino-Grace and Prior Lake at 8 p.m. After witnessing 17 outdoor football games this season, I’ll be at that indoor doubleheader on Friday.

This weekend’s winners will gather at the Metrodome for the state semifinals Nov. 18-19, and the Prep Bowl games will be held Nov. 25-26.

Here are some facts, figures and tidbits to prepare us for this weekend’s games…

Unbeaten matchups:
--Cretin-Derham Hall (10-0) vs. Lakeville North (10-0) in 5A
--Plainview-Elgin-Millville (11-0) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (11-0) in 3A

Other Unbeaten Teams:
--Wayzata (10-0) in 5A
--Bemidji (10-0) and Mankato West (10-0) in 4A
--Moose Lake/Willow River (11-0) and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (10-0) in 2A
--Mahnomen (11-0) and Dawson-Boyd (11-0) in 1A
--Edgerton-Ellsworth (11-0) and Spring Grove (11-0) in Nine-Man

No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups:
--No. 1 St. Croix Lutheran vs. No. 2 Plainview-Elgin-Millville in 3A

Other matchups of Top 5 teams:
--No. 2 Cretin-Derham Hall vs. No. 3 Lakeville North in 5A
--No. 2 Mahnomen vs. No. 5 Braham in 1A

Matchups of unranked teams:
--Annandale vs. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin in 3A
--Providence Academy vs. Perham in 3A
--Paynesville vs. Warroad in 2A

Notes from individual teams (information supplied by the schools)…

Ada-Borup (Nine-Man)
This is the Cougars’ fourth Section 6 championship in a row. The seniors have gone 40-7 in four years of varsity football. Lance Ruebke has nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, Ian Halle has 18 touchdowns and Jace Hennen has thrown for 1,173 yards and 15 TDs in nine games. The team GPA is 3.2.

Annandale (3A)
After an 0-4 start the Cardinals have won six of their last seven games. They played five 4A schools. Joe Allison is the grandson of former Twins player Bob Allison.

Anoka (5A)
Strong offensive line play has allowed four runners to amass more than 3,500 yards rushing. Josh Werness has over 1,300 yards, Ryan Rand has 1,200 rushing/receiving yards, DJay Johnson has over 1,000 rushing and return yards.

Blue Earth (2A)
The Buccaneers average 291 rushing yards a game and their opponents average 77 rushing yards. Jacob Olson is a 1,226-yard rusher, Carter Hanson has run for 835 yards, Brady Anderson has passed for 1,105 yards. Lineman Jonah Pirsig has made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota

Cretin-Derham Hall (5A)
The Raiders lost 16 starters from the 2010 team. This year’s team held its opponents to 80 total points in 10 games.

Dawson-Boyd (1A)
This is the first Dawson-Boyd team to make the state football tournament. Nathaniel Huot and Evan Robertson combine for 13 interceptions and Justin Lee and Brandon Schmitt combine for 14 sacks.

Edgerton/Ellsworth (Nine-Man)
Four rushers have gone over 500 yards. The seniors have a career record of 39-5. Johnny Menning has set a single-season sack record with 21. The team has a record of 78-13 since 2004.

Fairmont (3A)
The Cardinals went undefeated in the conference for the fourth straight year; they have won 20 straight conference games. Senior QB Ben Kain is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has 22 touchdowns. Junior running back Brandon Martin has 19 touchdowns. The offensive line has given up only six sacks in 11 games. Coach Mat Mahoney was a junior quarterback at Fairmont the last time the Cardinals went to state (1997).

Holy Family Catholic (3A)
The Fire is making its third trip to state in five years.

Kittson County Central (Nine-Man)
This is the first time in the coop's existence (since 2007) that the team has won the conference and the section title in the same season. Zach Rynning has broken the school record for passing yards and TD passes in a single season. Derek Coffied has broken the school record for receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs in a single season.

Lakeville North (5A)
The Panthers have given up only three points in the third quarter and have outscored their opponents 91-3 in that quarter. The 10-0 start is the best in the history of Lakeville North. Trey Heid is the QB, kicker and punter. Charlie Hayes and Joel Oxton have 95 catches combined. Karl Finkel leads the Panthers with 11 sacks, Mitch Johnson has nine sacks. Heid has rushed and passed for 2,424 total yards.

Mankato West (4A)
The Scarlets are 44-3 over the last four seasons. QB Philip Nelson has committed to the University of Minnesota.

Moose Lake/Willow River (2A)
Opponents have 28 turnovers to MLWR's four this season. They have a 46-game regular-season winning streak and this is the sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament.

Nicollet (Nine-Man)
The seniors have a career record of 33-11 and they have played in four section title games. The Raiders have a turnover ratio of plus-12. WR Jamie Fischer owns almost all school receiving records. QB Sean Murphy owns the school career TD pass record with 58 and career record for being involved in 89 TDs. Team GPA is 3.40 and all juniors and seniors are three-sport athletes.

The starting defense has only allowed 44 points. The team turnover ratio is plus-28. Three individual rushers have career totals of more than 1,500 yards: Garret Wolf, Aaron Grobe and Jack Ihrke. QB Brady Rahman has thrown 18 TDs with only 2 INTs. The team consists mainly of two- and three-sport athletes, including several who have state tournament experience in wrestling, basketball and track and field

Prior Lake (5A)
This is the Lakers’ first appearance in the state football tournament. Jack Kaiser has rushed for 1,127 yards and Jack Johnson has rushed for 762 yards.

Rocori (4A)
The Spartans have a plus-16 turnover margin. Christian Pedroza has tied the school record twice this year by kicking two 47-yard field goals. Alex Tray and Cory Asfeld are battling to set the school record for tackles for loss; Alex has 20, Cory has 18. Pedroza has kicked 20 touchbacks on kickoffs this season. The team has an overall GPA of 3.14. This is the fifth time the Rocori football team has been a state entrant in football.

Warren-Alvarado-Olso (1A)
WAO's defense has five shutouts. There are only four seniors on this year's roster of 44. Zach Riopelle (a North Dakota State football commit) is the school’s all-time leading rusher with over 4,000 yards. Andrew Lansing was part of the Thief River Falls state tournament hockey team that took third place in the 2011 Class A state tournament. WAO has played in the Section 8A championship game five of the last six years. This is WAO's first state football appearance since 2000, when the Ponies took second place. WAO has averaged at least seven wins over the past four seasons.

Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2A)
The team’s four-year record is 43-3. Jeff Amundson leads the state during his career in tackles for loss (63) and Grant Pope is in the top five with 44.5. Two freshmen play a significant amount of time: Ben Boran (LB and kicker) and Nick Amundson (OT).

Tournament Time: Tidbits From State Volleyball Teams
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/7/2011 2:01:09 PM

Fall state tournaments continue this week with the state volleyball tourney being played Thursday through Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, while the state football quarterfinals are played over the same three-day period.

Volleyball will kick off with Class 3A quarterfinal matches at 9 and 11 a.m. Thursday (two matches are played simultaneously), Class 1A at 1 and 3 p.m. and Class 2A at 5 and 7 p.m. The championship matches will be played Saturday, with 1A scheduled for 1 p.m., 2A for 3 p.m. and 3A for 5 p.m.

Two state champions return: Lakeville North in 3A and Wadena-Deer Creek in 2A. Defending 1A champion Wabasha-Kellogg was defeated by Bethlehem Academy in the Section 1 championship match.

Bethlehem Academy won state titles in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and was the 1A state runner-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Lakeville North and Wadena-Deer Creek each won their first state titles last year.

The top-seeded teams are Blaine in 3A, Marshall in 2A and Bethlehem Academy in 1A.

Here are a few tidbits, with information supplied by tournament teams …

Andover (3A)/ The Huskies are making their seventh state tournament appearance and fifth in a row. Outside hitter Karlie Hauer has made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota. Janelle Rupkalivis will graduate early and play collegiately at Michigan Tech.

Bethlehem Academy (1A)/ The Cardinals won their 11th straight Gopher Conference championship and have won 99 consecutive conference matches. They defeated the top three ranked 2A teams: Marshall, Jackson County Central and Belle Plaine. They lost to ranked 3A teams Eagan, Shakopee, Lakeville North and Eden Prairie as well as 1A Southwest Christian and 3A Owatonna. Juniors Jessie Mathews and Maddie Borwege and freshmen Payton Schultz are three-year starters and started on the 2009 state championship team. Seventh-grade setter Payton Nutter is only the second seventh-grader to ever start for the Cardinals; the other was Payton Schultz two years ago.

Blaine (3A)/ At one point this season the Bengals had a 22-game win streak.
Taylor Dordan surpassed the 1,000 mark in career digs with her first dig in the last regular-season match. This is senior Sydney Dimke's first full varsity season without an injury or illness keeping her off the court.

BOLD (1A)/ This is the first state tourney appearance for the BOLD volleyball team.

Eden Prairie (3A)/ Junior Sarah Wilhite's 556 kills is a single-season school record and she also set the school career kill record this season. She has 1,240 kills.

Esko (2A)/ Many of the volleyball players are multi-sport athletes and have seen success in all they attempt. Junior Kallyn Kunutson placed 24th in Saturday’s 1A state cross-country meet.

Hutchinson (2A)/ Sara Carlson will play Division I hockey at New Hampshire. Brianne Stamer will play volleyball at St. Cloud State, Ellie VanDeSteeg will play volleyball at Minnesota State Mankato and Courtney Fox will play volleyball at Bemidji State.

Jordan (2A)/ Setter Emilee Gutzmer went over 3,000 career set assists this season and has 1,023 set assists on the year. That puts her in fourth place on the all-time career set assists list.

Maple Lake (2A)/ The Irish did not have a senior on the team last season. This year they set school records for wins (26) and team kills (1,089). Five players have more than 100 kills. This is the first time Maple Lake has played in the state volleyball tournament. Brooke Decker is a four-year starter who holds all school setting records. Shelby Rachel is a three-year starter and the third of four sisters to come through the program. Rachel Latour and Jenny Puncochar are conference champion sprinters in the spring track season.

Marshall (2A)/ Morgan McKittrick has played in four state tournaments and Jessica Baker has played in three. The Tigers are riding a 15-match winning streak. They played 15 matches vs. teams that were ranked in the top 10 in their respective classes this year; Marshall finished 11-4 against those teams. The Tigers have been ranked No. 1 in the weekly coaches poll since Sept. 19. This marks the 11th straight trip to the state tournament for Marshall and the 23rd overall. The 11th straight trip is the longest streak for any of the 24 teams competing in the state tournament this year. The 23 trips overall ranks Marshall tops in Minnesota history along with Hibbing. Coach Dan Westby will enter the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame on Wednesday at the state tournament banquet.

Nevis (1A)/ Riley Hanson tied the school service ace match record this year with 15 service aces. Riley also had 32 kills in a match, beating another school record. Olivia Toft achieved 1,000 set assists as a sophomore. The Tigers have won their conference championship the last five years. Nevis has not lost a conference match in five years.

Lakeville North Remains Undefeated
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/6/2011 11:52:41 AM

Here's a special football report from one of our correspondents...

Lakeville North 26, Owatonna 7

A Gatorade Bath, Sweet Caroline And Some Football History
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/4/2011 11:28:31 PM

After the Prior Lake marching band played pregame music by John Philip Sousa and halftime tunes by Michael Buble, after the home crowd sang and swayed to “Sweet Caroline” and after Lakers football coach Matt Gegenheimer had been drenched with Gatorade, the party was well under way.

This was a party of historic proportions, too. Until the completion of Friday night’s 27-7 victory over Eastview in the Class 5A Section 3 title game, Prior Lake had never qualified for the state football playoffs. In the postgame glow, I asked the soaking-wet Gegenheimer a simple question: Can you explain how this feels?

“When you start coaching you have a vision of something, and this is what it is,” he said. “I’m truly happy for these kids. When they always tell you you’ve got a special group of kids, you know it. And that’s what’s happened with these guys.”

Gegenheimer has been coaching the Lakers for six years, and the process of building a program to this level is not easy or quick. The goal from the very beginning is to get to state, and the Lakers will now meet Totino-Grace in the state quarterfinals next Friday inside the Metrodome at 8 p.m.

“It’s a process is what it is,” Gegenhemer said. “The first couple of years it’s getting everything in line with boosters and youth programs. Our strength program, we really took that over and that’s kind of the biggest thing that’s made a difference in our program, the weight training and the strength of our kids.”

The Lakers (8-3) were indeed strong against Eastview (5-6) in a game between South Suburban Conference teams that did not meet in the regular season; Prior Lake finished third in the conference and Eastview was seventh.

Eastview had been a surprise team of the postseason. After a 3-5 regular season, the Lightning (seeded fourth in the section playoffs) defeated Burnsville and Rosemount in the postseason; last week’s 49-13 thumping of top-seeded Rosemount was an eye-opener. Second-seeded Prior Lake was 5-3 in the regular season, losing to Wayzata, Rosemount and Lakeville North. The Lakers beat Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy to reach the section final.

The Lakers’ victory Friday was methodical. They were stopped by Eastview at the 1-yard line early in the game, and in the second quarter a 26-yard run by Jack Johnson and a 30-yard pass from Nick Rooney to Nick Hart moved the ball to the Lightning 5. Johnson scored from the 1 to put the Lakers ahead 7-0.

Eastview tied it 7-7 with 63 seconds to go in the first half when Ryan Reger threw a short pass to Amari Kennedy and Kennedy turned it into a 55-yard score.

After stopping Eastview on downs at the Prior Lake 16 early in the third quarter, the Lakers pulled ahead 13-7 on a 38-yard run by Arends. Jack Kaiser scored on a 10-yard run early in the fourth period for a 21-7 score and the verdict was sealed for good when Rose ran into the end zone from 1 yard with 5:46 to play.

Gegenheimer was dumped with Gatorade in the final minutes, and after the clock ran out the teams shook hands and lined up for the presentation of section championship and runner-up trophies. This was a formal affair … until the winner’s trophy was handed to the Prior Lake captains. That’s when the Lakers students exited the grandstand and stormed the field. It was wonderful fun. (You can see postgame video and a photo gallery at the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Friday was a grand evening for outdoor football; in fact it was my last outdoor football game of the season. Having witnessed 17 football games this fall, I will be inside the Metrodome for next Friday’s 5A quarterfinal doubleheader. The first game, at 5 p.m, will be between Cretin-Derham Hall and Lakeville North, followed by Prior Lake vs. Totino-Grace.

But first, we have some other activities to enjoy. The state cross-country championships will be held Saturday in Northfield and the state volleyball tournament will begins its three-day run at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

How much fun is this?

*Schools/teams John has visited: 123
*Miles John has driven: 4,744
*Diet Coke Count: 1 for the day, 23 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Report From The First Football Section Title Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/4/2011 1:49:31 PM

This week's football section finals began on Thursday, and the first game was played at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

Here's a report ...

Ada-Borup 22, Ulen-Hitterdal 20

Soccer Champions Are Crowned In The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/3/2011 10:40:47 AM

Thursday was Championship Soccer Day at the Metrodome, where four state titles were decided. All four games were close and well-played as the Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys (Class 1A), Blake girls (1A), Eden Prairie boys (2A) and Wayzata girls (2A) captured gold.

Two scenes stood out for me Thursday. One was Eastview boys coach Scott Gustafson (right) breaking with tradition ever so slightly during the postgame presentation of medals and trophies. Gustafson shook the hand of every Eden Prairie player, manager and coach after they received their medals. That was a very genuine gesture of sportsmanship.

The other scene has to be witnessed to be believed. Go to the MSHSL Facebook page and watch the video of Benilde-St. Margaret’s Haley Jerabek executing a throw-in. In most cases, players simply stand on the sideline and throw the ball with two hands. But not Haley. As the ball sits on the turf, she runs toward it and performs a flip; she grabs the ball as her hands swing down, then flicks it high in the air as she plants her feet. It is way cool.

Here are the game reports …


The Red Knights (19-3-1) capped off a championship season by handing Prairie Seeds its first loss of the season. The defending state champion Lycans finished with a 19-1-2 record.

Jake Horton gave Benilde-St. Margaret’s a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute and Prairie Seeds’ Carlos Boquin – who missed the state quarterfinals and semifinals because of eligibility issues – tied the score in the 14th minute. Second-half goals by Carter Eckerline and John Mulvahill secured the victory for the Red Knights. Winning goalkeeper Kevin Lebahn made seven saves and the Lycans’ Betzabet Valle stopped three shots.

There were 26 fouls on each team and Prairie Seeds’ Ibrahim Keita was red-carded in the 78th minute.

The quote/ Benilde-St. Margaret’s goalkeeper Kevin Lebahn: “They have a lot of talented players. Our defense was great.”

All-tournament team/ Jake Collins, Mankato West; Julian Garcia-Delaney, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton; Hayden Speaks, Sartell-St. Stephen; Ben Braman, St. Paul Academy and Summit School; Will Elder, Jack Convery, James Armstead, Rochester Lourdes; John Mulvahill, Brendan Schember, Paul Graupner, Jake Horton, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Oscar Cendejas, Ismaila Jome, Adama Keita, Roberto Dominguea, Prairie Seeds Academy.


Grace Boatman scored with an assist by Hannah Randolph in the final minute of the first half to life the Bears (21-1-0) past Benilde-St. Margaret’s (18-1-3). The Red Knights outshot Blake 10-7, including 6-3 in the first half, but couldn’t get past Bears keeper Maddy Crawford. She made four saves and Benilde keeper Mikayla Coulombe had five saves.

The quote/ Blake coach Paul Menge: “We try to run our forwards across the field rather than straight up and down to create things for their defense to think about. And I think basically what you saw was Grace coming across on a diagonal and we played it over to her. We practice switching and crossing the ball a lot, and it paid off.”

All-tournament team/ Chloe Bachman, St. Peter; Marissa Ricci, South St. Paul; Caitlin Lilly, Esko/Carlton; Stina Haave, Bemidji; Hannah Anderson, Meredith Rolfs, Rochester Lourdes; Abigail Welle, Jennifer Nickasch, Totino-Grace; Mikayla Coulombe, Dana Buckhorn, Peggy Renier, Kelly Pannek, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Nicole Kozlak, Korlekuor Akiti, Grace Boatman, Lydia Sutton, Blake.


Eden Prairie led 1-0 into the late stages of the game before tacking on two quick goals and handing Eastview its first loss of the season. Medo Youssef put the Eagles (16-3-3) on the board in the fourth minute and the score remained 1-0 until Natalio Blanche and Michael Vuolo scored less than a minute apart in the final minutes. Mathew Gweh scored for the Lightning (20-1-1) in the final minute.

Eden Prairie outshot Eastview 17-7 and Eagles keeper Alex Dewey made just one save behind a solid defense. Eastview goalkeeper Sam Rueles made three stops.

The quote/ Eden Prairie’s Medo Youssef: “I think I did pretty good in the middle, just controlling the field and everything. Last week I didn’t control the midfield in the second half very well, so I had to come back and help my team win today.”

All-tournament team/ Derek Herman, Rochester Mayo; Julian Ocampo, North St. Paul; Jason Scheeler, Blaine; Connor Iverson, Anoka; Pat Enright, Alex Niederloch, Maple Grove; Liban Ayanle, Mohamud Abdi, Minneapolis Southwest; Sam Ruelas, Mathew Gweh, Mike Bonderud, Joe Karam, Eastview; Alex Dewey, Roman Derevyanko, Natalio Blanche, Abdur Omar, Eden Prairie.


The last game of the soccer season was the most suspenseful, with Wayzata and Burnsvile playing through 20 minutes of overtime and into a shootout before the Trojans came away with the victory. It was 1-1 at the end of regulation and through two overtimes, and Wayzata won the shootout 4-3. The winning goal was scored by Chelsey Ulrich in the sixth round of penalty kicks.

Burnsville sophomore Alyssa Blahnik broke a scoreless tie early in the second half, scoring on a breakaway and recording the 50th goal of her career. Wayzata tied it in the 59th minute on a goal by Kiana Nickel.

Goalkeeper Meghann Rudolph of Burnsville (17-5) made 11 saves and Mara Dougherty of Wayzata (18-2-2) had seven saves.

The quote/ Wayzata coach Tony Peszneker: “After we went through our top five (penalty kickers) I said, ‘Who wants to go next?’ We have a top five and a next five and I asked who’s ready to shoot. (Chelsey Ulrich) stepped up and volunteered.”

All-tournament team/Kellie McGahn, Eastview; Emily Erickson, Woodbury; Britney Monteon, Blaine; Kaitlin Beckman, Anoka; Simone Kolander, Breanna Sollie, Lakeville North; Jenna Roering, Megan Lenz, Centennial; Mara Dougherty, Katie Schulz, Kylie Schwarz, Kiana Nickel, Wayzata; Alyssa Blahnik, Meghann Rudolph, Tiana Khamvongsa, Hannah Freden, Burnsville.

--This is a busy time, with section titles being decided in volleyball and football and the state cross-country meet set for Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. I was at a section volleyball semifinal doubleheader at Lakeville South on Wednesday night, at soccer Thursday, I’ll be at a 5A football section final between Eastview and Prior Lake on Friday night and at the cross-country meet bright and early Saturday.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 121
*Miles John has driven: 4,719
*Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 22 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Soccer State Championship Lineup Is Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/1/2011 4:14:22 PM

Minnesota’s high school sports focus will be on the Metrodome Thursday, when four state champions will be crowned on the soccer field. Semifinals in Class 1A and 2A for girls and boys were held at the Dome on Monday and Tuesday, setting up the biggest day of the season.

Thursday’s action will begin at 8 a.m. with the Class 2A boys third-place game, followed by four state championship contests. Here is a look at the matchups…

CLASS 1A BOYS, 10 a.m.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (18-2-1) vs. Prairie Seeds Academy (19-0-2)
--Second-seeded Benilde has plenty of championship history, winning state titles in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. The Red Knights have allowed only eight goals all season.
--Top-seeded Prairie Seeds is the only defending champion still playing this season. The Lycans have recorded 11 shutouts, outscoring their opponents 137 to 13.

CLASS 1A GIRLS, 12:30 p.m.
Blake (20-1-0) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (18-0-3)
-- Blake junior Natalie Sill has the hot hand after scoring a goal and assist in the No. 2 seed Bears’2-0 semifinal win over Rochester Lourdes.
--Top-seeded Benilde is balanced, with five players who have scored double-digit goals.

CLASS 2A BOYS, 3 p.m.
Eden Prairie (15-3-3) vs. Eastview (20-0-1)
--Third-seeded Eden Prairie was led by sophomore Abdul Omar’s two goals in a 2-0 semifinal win over Maple Grove.
--Junior Mayhew Gweh is the offensive leader for top-seeded Eastview. He scored both goals in a 2-1 state quarterfinal win over Rochester Mayo and did the same in Tuesday’s 2-0 semifinal victory over Minneapolis Southwest.

CLASS 2A GIRLS, 5:30 p.m.
Burnsville (17-4-0) vs. Wayzata (17-2-2)
--Sophomore Alyssa Blahnik was the semifinal hero for unseeded Burnsville, getting three goals and two assists in a 5-2 win over Centennial.
--Fourth-seeded Wayzata knocked off top-seeded and previously unbeaten Lakeville North in the semifinals, surviving a scoreless regulation and two 10-minute overtimes before winning a shootout 5-3.

Tidbits From The Metrodome
--The largest crowd of the semifinals was from Maple Grove, with high school students paying five dollars to ride a fan bus. Info on the school website said “All students riding the fan bus must ride the bus to and from the event. The bus will depart the Dome at approximately 1:30 p.m. to return to MGSH.” Timing is not everything, because at 1:30 p.m. the game still had 25 minutes remaining in regulation. I bet the students were really disappointed, too.

--First mention of you know what/ 11:57 a.m.: “Hey John, how many Diet Cokes today?” (Answer below.)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 109
*Miles John has driven: 4,659
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 17 for the fall tournaments

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

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