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Channeling History: Owatonna Takes Home A Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/30/2013 9:16:44 PM

For the unbiased football fan -- by which I mean anyone whose outerwear doesn't carry the words "Owatonna" or "Huskies" -- the sentimental favorite to win the final high school sporting event in the Metrodome was Brainerd football coach Ron Stolski.

After all, the guy has been a high school head coach for 53 years and has more victories (354) than any coach in Minnesota history. Stolski was one of the architects of the current playoff system, which began in 1972 and became an occupant of the Metrodome when the place was shiny and new in 1982. So it would have been fitting to see Brainerd take home its first state football championship in Saturday's Class 5A Prep Bowl.

But the story is Owatonna, and the Huskies' first-ever state football title is all the more deserving of accolades. Brainerd was playing in its first Prep Bowl and Owatonna had played in four and lost in four. Furthermore, Owatonna played in the first indoor Prep Bowl in 1982 and closed the building with a 24-0 victory over Brainerd on Saturday on the final prep game under the big roof.

Huskies coach Jeff Williams, who was a senior at Rochester John Marshall in 1982, said, "It was 32 years in the making, I guess, and to be able to close out the dome for high school football with a W is pretty cool."

Here's another link from 1982 to 2013: Owatonna senior Aaron Peterson -- who rushed 35 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns Saturday -- is the grandson of the late Jerry Peterson, who was the Huskies coach from 1966-96. Stolski, in fact, was good friends with Jerry Peterson.

"My grandpa coached the 1982 Dome team," Aaron said. "And to be able to come back and say a Peterson was on the first Owatonna team to win a state championship means a lot. I'm so proud to be here."

Owatonna took control of the game quickly. The Huskies' opening drive covered 80 yards in 16 plays and took nearly six minutes off the clock. Peterson capped it with a 3-yard scoring run. He scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead ... and the tone was set. Owatonna's defense was solid throughout, holding Brainerd to eight first downs and 89 rushing yards. The Huskies had 369 total yards and they went 7-for-7 on fourth-down conversions.

Last season, Owatonna lost to Totino-Grace 49-21 in the 5A Prep Bowl; Totino-Grace moved up to 6A this season. Before last season, Owatonna's most recent Prep Bowl came in 1998, and Williams talked about the change in attitude at the dome, and throughout the season.

"I don't think they necessarily enjoyed this experience as much as they enjoyed last year," he said. "This year was just all business. There wasn't any wow factor or the little tickle in the back of your neck when we came out of the tunnel into the dome. It was just business for these kids. I'm really happy they're getting to experience winning the last one."

Stolski (pictured) had been flooded with good luck messages during the two weeks between the state semifinals and the Prep Bowl. But he stressed after Saturday's game that this enterprise isn't about him. It's about his team.

"I really appreciate all the well-wishers, I really do," he said. "But honestly, we've won a lot of games, and to pick one over the other ... we've had some great wins. I wanted this, honestly, for our coaches and our kids. But for me, I'm way past it. Honestly.

And he said he'll be back next season, his 54th.

"We're going to coach next year and we're going to bring a bunch of kids along again."


If any football team is particularly sad to see the Metrodome go, it's the Mahnomen Indians. They have made the dome their second home over the years, and on Saturday they won their second consecutive Class 1A state championship with a 46-13 victory over Dawson-Boyd.

No high school team in the state has played in more Prep Bowls than the Indians, who have done so 13 times. And Saturday's title was their eighth, along with five state runner-up finishes. Their previous championships came in 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998 and 2012.

Mahnomen's last loss came against Dawson-Boyd in the 2011 Prep Bowl by a 35-20 score. The Indians have not lost since then, with Saturday's victory extending their streak to a current state-best 28 in a row. (The state record for consecutive wins is 76 by Stephen-Argyle from 2003 to 2008).

More numbers cast a bright light on how dominant Mahnomen has been this season. In 14 games, the undefeated Indians outscored their opponents 638-57; that's an average score of 45-4 ... with eight shutouts.

Saturday's game was largely the Pavek and Lefebvre Show, with sophomore quarterback Tom Pavek rushing 24 times for 179 yards and two touchdowns and classmate Kody Lefebvre scoring two TDs on the ground and leading his team with eight tackles.

Dawson-Boyd quarterback Joey Lee set two Prep Bowl records with 51 pass attempts and 27 completions. The previous records were 44 by Ryan Hulke of Nicollet in 1999 and 26 by Chris Meidt of Minneota in 1987.

Blackjacks receiver Michael Lee (Joey's cousin) set a Prep Bowl record with 12 receptions, topping the record of 11 receptions by Eric Hennen of Minneota in 1987. Dawson-Boyd also set a team record for pass attempts with 52; the previous mark was 46 by Nicollet in 1999.


In the Class 3A Prep Bowl, there were touchdown runs of 68, 67, 35, 48 and 69 yards. There were touchdown passes of 52, 35 (three times), 37 and 28 yards, plus a kickoff return of 64 yards for a score.

The result of that dynamite-enhanced indoor track meet was a 48-44 victory for St. Croix Lutheran over New London-Spicer. It was the Crusaders' second state title in three years.

The 92 total points set a Prep Bowl record. The previous mark was 91 (Triton 70, Luverne 21, 2A in 2006, and Cromwell 49, Lanesboro 42, nine-man in 2010). The teams also combined for 971 yards, with St. Croix Lutheran gaining 572 and New London-Spicer 399.

"There are so many aspects to the game of football and you saw them all today," said Crusaders coach Carl Lemke. "Passing, running, kicking. It's just an exciting time to be around football."

Hans Klingenschmitt led the Crusaders with 22 carries for 177 yards and a touchdown and Trever Koester ran 20 times for 139 yards and two scores. David Ponath completed five of six passes for 155 yards and three TDs.

"We knew they were a really explosive team and they would be tough to contain," Ponath said. "But we knew if we did our jobs and just executed we would hopefully win."

New London-Spicer's Ryan Vraa completed five of 11 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, while Adam Essler rushed 21 times for 194 yards and two scores.

This question was posed to Lemke: Was there a sense that the last team to score would win?

"That says it all. We were hoping we could hang on."


--I issued my 20,000th Tweet on Saturday, and it held special significance in relation to the end of the Metrodome. Follow @MSHSLjohn to see it.

--Total Prep Bowl attendance was 31,848, the largest total since 2008 and a great way to go out at the Metrodome.

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 45 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 219
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,822
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

RG5's Big Day Leads To Repeat State Title For Hutchinson
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/29/2013 1:26:41 PM

Robbie Grimsley is a junior running back for the Hutchinson Tigers who wears jersey number 5. Take his initials, his number and think of NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III -- also known as RG3. Thus, Grimsley is RG5.

RG5 had a red-letter day Friday in the Class 4A Prep Bowl. He carried the ball only three times in the first quarter, but he scored touchdowns on all three plays: 76 yards, 57 yards and a Prep Bowl-record 92 yards for a one-period total of 225. The defending state champion Tigers led 21-0 after the opening quarter, 35-0 at halftime and cruised to a 49-7 victory over Holy Angels.

Grimsley finished the game with six carries for 261 yards and the three TDs. It was an amazing performance that will long be remembered in Prep Bowl lore. But to Hutchinson coach Andy Rostberg, it was no big whoop.

"It didn't surprise me," the coach said. "Robbie's a good back and he's been doing that all year for us, long runs. And he's a game-breaker. He doesn't need much of a crack to shoot through there, and we were giving him some cracks. And if he gets out there in the secondary, it's usually over."

Grimsley's cohort in the backfield, senior Tory Adams, rushed 19 times for 147 yards and his own three scores (plus a punt return for a touchdown). That combination was lethal.

"I'm just really excited," said RG5. "The O line played a great game, they made it really easy for Tory and me to run. And the defense got a shutout until the end. It was overall a great effort by the whole team."

Grimsley was accepting no personal credit, either.

"I can't put that all on me," he said. "The O line made huge holes and it was just a track meet from there. The only thing I was thinking was, 'Run as fast as you can and don't let anyone catch you.' "

Last year Hutchinson beat Holy Family 67-7 in the Prep Bowl. Combine that with Friday's score and the total is 116-14. The Tigers have won 26 games in a row.

RG5's Prep Bowl didn't begin very auspiciously; he fumbled the opening kickoff and Holy Angels recovered. Rostberg mentioned that fact in the locker room at halftime.

"I told him, 'There isn't a worse way to start a game than fumbling the opening kickoff.' "

He made up for it.


It can be hard to understate the importance of Metrodome experience in the Prep Bowl. Teams that come to the big dome for the first time -- in the state semifinals -- often are a little intimidated by the sheer vastness of the arena. For Grand Meadow, Friday's nine-man state championship game was further proof that Metrodome experience can pay off in a big way.

A year ago the Superlarks were the state runners-up, losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 40-22 in the Prep Bowl. This time around, Grand Meadow rolled to a 28-6 victory over Underwood, a team that was playing in its first Prep Bowl. And for everyone in the southeastern Minnesota town, the title was big, big stuff.

"You can't even imagine," said coach Gary Sloan (pictured hugging quarterback Trenton Bleifus), whose career victory total now stands at 150. "Grand Meadow's a great football town and we've had a lot of success but this has been the one thing we haven't been able to do. And now we've done it."

Grand Meadow, which was the Class C runner-up in 1987, has now won the school's first state title in any sport. The Superlarks have only three seniors on their 24-man roster, so there may be more of the same in the future.

"I think we've got really mature kids," said Sloan. "Even though we're young, I think we're real mature and I don't think we play like we're young. I'm just so proud of these guys, and our whole community, the way they all support us. It's unbelievable."

Bleifus ran for two short touchdowns and threw to Blake Olson for a 36-yard score in the victory. Bleifus completed 10 of 20 passes for 111 yards and Landon Jacobson rushed 28 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Underwood scored in the fourth quarter when Adam Creek threw to LeRoy Hauge for a 32-yard TD.


Chatfield played a strong defensive game in defeating Minneota/Lilcoln HI 17-7 in the Class 2A Prep Bowl. Minneota was held to 62 rushing yards while quarterback Austin Buysse completed 20 of 33 passes for 204 yards. But Chatfield held the Vikings out of the end zone until Buysse hit Jaff Gladis from 16 yards in the final seconds.

Jacob Neis led the Gophers with 24 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. Nate Skare scored on a 3-yard run and kicked a 19-yard field goal for Chatfield.

Chatfield and Minneota are two of the state's storied football programs. Chatfield has been to the state playoffs eight times and won back-to-back-to-back Class C state titles from 1994 through 1996. Minneota, which is making its 11th appearance, had a similar run of three consecutive Class C championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988.


Eden Prairie won its third consecutive big-school state title with a 28-7 victory over Rosemount in the Class 6A game. The Eagles were 5A champs in 2011 and 6A winners last season. Eden Prairie outgained the Irish 403 yards to 157, with Anthony Anderson rushing 19 times for 165 yards and a touchdown.


In 1996 Matt Sogla was a member of the Chatfield football team that defeated Hawley 12-7 in the Class C Prep Bowl for the Gophers' third consecutive state championship. In that game, a 64-yd Hawley touchdown pass with less than three minutes to play was negated by an illegal procedure penalty. Sogla was the defensive back who gave up the touchdown, and he was quite relieved when it was called back.

"My teammates were saying there was a penalty on the play and it was coming back," Sogla recalled. "Talk about going from utter devastation to complete relief. At that moment and until in the locker room, I was never aware what the penalty was for. But at the time, it didn't matter because we still had to stop Hawley from scoring the rest of the game. Although I intercepted the game's final pass, I was still in shock by what could have happened. I found it difficult to celebrate. The locker room was fairly quiet as compared to in the previous years. We left everything on the field that early afternoon."

Matt, who is now a high school football official, came to the Prep Bowl to watch the 2013 Chatfield Gophers. With him was his wife Carolyn and his 6-year-old daughter Madison -- who wore her dad's old high school jersey.


--Grand Meadow's seniors lost only one game wearing their purple jerseys, and the underclassmen have never lost while wearing purple. "We feel pretty good when we put those on," said Sloan.


Nine-man/ Grand Meadow 28, Underwood 6
Class 2A/ Chatfield 17, Minneota 7
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 49, Holy Angels 7
Class 6A/ Eden Prairie 28, Rosemount 7

10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 40 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 219
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,777
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Good Morning From The Metrodome And Prep Bowl XXXII
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/29/2013 10:11:11 AM

The last weekend of high school football in the Metrodome is underway. We’re starting the day with the nine-man state championship game between Grand Meadow and Underwood, two teams that have never won a state football title.

We will continue with three more games today, followed by three games on Saturday as we wrap up 32 years in the Metrodome.

The games are being televised by KSTC Channel 45 and webcast on a pay-for-view basis by prep45.com.

Follow me on Twitter @MSHSLjohn for scoring updates, photos and assorted ramblings from the Prep Bowl.


10 a.m.: Nine-man/ Underwood (10-3) vs. Grand Meadow (12-1)
1 p.m: Class 2A/ Minneota (13-0) vs. Chatfield (12-1)
4 p.m.: Class 4A/ Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Holy Angels (7-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Rosemount (11-1)

10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)

Prep Bowl XXXII: Farewell To The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/27/2013 8:32:22 PM

Friday and Saturday will be historic as the Prep Bowl closes the books on the MSHSL fall sports season. Prep Bowl XXXII will be the official farewell to the Metrodome as the home of state championships in high school soccer and football. The Metrodome will be demolished at the conclusion of the Vikings' season, to be replaced by a new stadium on the same site that is scheduled to open in 2016.

For the 2014 and 2015 football seasons, the Prep Bowl will be held outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. State semifinals in those two years will be played at various sites, similar to the current state quarterfinals. State soccer semifinals and championship games will be played at St. Cloud State's Husky Stadium in 2014 and 2015, with football and soccer returning to the great indoors when the new stadium opens in 2016.

This week's Prep Bowl action will begin at 10 a.m. both days, with four state championship games played Friday and three Saturday. All games will be televised live by KSTC Channel 45, and all games will be webcast by prep45.com; the cost is $4.97 each day to view the webcasts.


10 a.m.: Nine-man/ Underwood (10-3) vs. Grand Meadow (12-1)
1 p.m: Class 2A/ Minneota (13-0) vs. Chatfield (12-1)
4 p.m.: Class 4A/ Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Holy Angels (7-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Rosemount (11-1)

10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)

Celebrating the Old Dutch Team and Athlete of the Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/27/2013 8:54:00 AM

This week's awards center on girls swimming and diving, with Team of the Week honors going to Wayzata High School and Athlete of the Week honors going to Mankato West's Danielle Nack. Read more by clicking here.

The Coach Is The Story In Chisholm, But Don't Forget The Players
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/25/2013 1:54:56 PM

CHISHOLM -- Amid all the hoopla of Bob McDonald's 59th and final season as a boys basketball coach, as well as his nearness to 1,000 career victories, something important can easily be forgotten. His players.

Is there a team in the state that feels more pressure than the Chisholm Bluestreaks? The team needs to win six games in order for McDonald to reach 1,000 wins. He took 994 victories into Friday's season opener against visiting North Woods, and his career victory total remains at 994 going into Tuesday's home game against Virginia.

North Woods beat the Bluestreaks 67-56 in Roels Gymnasium, the bandbox that has been the scene of countless historic moments. The Grizzlies used three-point shooting, quickness and hustle to beat the taller, more experienced Bluestreaks. Darnell Goggleye hit three three-point shots and had 21 points for North Woods, while Aaron Musburger led Chisholm with 27 points and Mitch Rusten had 13.

After the game, I talked with Musburger and Rusten about being seniors on McDonald's last team.

"There's a lot more pressure, I guess, to win," Musburger said. "We definitely don't want to underachieve."

Goal No. 1 for the players is to get their coach to 1,000 victories, said Rusten.

"We want to get it out of the way as early as possible and not have to worry about it any more."

As one of the locals told me before the game, this season could be called The End of The World Tour, "because the world must be ending if Bob isn't going to be coaching anymore."

McDonald remains one of the best-dressed coaches in the game, wearing a suit and tie ... just as his players do on game days. Before Friday's game he chatted with fans and shook hands, wearing a smile. He may pose for more photos than anyone in Minnesota this winter, because everywhere he goes people want to snap a picture. At different times Friday he was asked to stand with young Chisholm students as their parents took photos that will be treasured for a generation or more.

Bob's wife Carol and sister Darlene sat two rows behind the Chisholm bench Friday -- they sit there for every game -- and their third-row seats were at the top of the bleachers on the court level. There are no seats on one end and one side of Roels Gymnasium, with a balcony wrapping around the opposite end and side.

Behind the scorer's table is a small room that is equal parts equipment room, trainers room, snack room and inspiration room. The doors and walls are adorned with handmade signs, courtesy of the coach. One sign is headlined "Some Pertinent Sayings" and includes these words: "Depend on the rabbits foot if you will, but remember, it didn't work for the rabbit."

Other signs are specific to team goals, training rules and even what to wear on your head: "Baseball caps do not constitute cold weather headgear. Show some class and be a good example."

The Bluestreaks' mood was downcast after the loss to North Woods. McDonald spent a long time in the locker room with his team afterwards.

Rusten said, "We've got to do a better job of protecting against transition and guarding the perimeter. We gave up too many wide open shots and they knocked them down. Credit to them."

McDonald did not do much smiling during the game. After the final horn, he said, "This reminds me of a movie: Nightmare on Elm Street" He was, however, smiling as he spoke.

He smiled and shook hands with all the players and coaches from North Woods, complementing them on their victory. After McDonald emerged from the locker room, I asked him about the pressure his players face this season. He has never mentioned 1,000 wins to his team, but he knows they feel pressure and he wishes they didn't.

"I've been around a long time and they don't have to placate me in any way," McDonald said. "I know what they're capable of. I mean, with this outfit, six games to me is zilch. Why put all the eggs in one basket and six games, when you're playing 26? They don't realize that and they're in a hurry. It affects them.

"I'm thankful I have kids like that. But they don't owe me anything. I think it's grand that they're playing for me. They don't have to bow to me and think they have to placate every little whim."

The players know their coach is a legend, they know how long he's been coaching and they know how rare 1,000 career victories is; according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book, only 12 boys basketball coaches in the nation have reached 1,000.

"Obviously he's been doing the same things for 59 years and they've been producing results," Rusten said. "We've got to do what he says and listen to him and not try and question him. Because he's obviously forgotten a lot more about basketball than we will ever know.

"It's an honor to be on his last team."

--To see a photo gallery from Friday's game in Chisholm (including the back-room signs), go to the MSHSL Facebook page.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 219
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,732
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Who Will Be Next Old Dutch Athlete of the Week? And Team Of The Week?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/24/2013 10:37:00 AM

Nominations are open for the Old Dutch Athlete of the Week award, as well as the Old Dutch Team of the Week award. Read all the details by clicking here.

Congrats To The Old Dutch Athlete And Team Of The Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/23/2013 7:17:31 PM

Jeremy Jost, a junior at Robbinsdale Armstrong who plays on the Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka Robins adapted soccer team, is the Old Dutch High School Athlete of the Week.
Jeremy was one of the unsung for the Robins, who won their sixth consecutive state championship in the physically impaired division of the adapted soccer state tournament.

He played a vital role in limiting scoring chances by the Robins' opponents all weekend long, especially in the state championship game. Jeremy plays a defensive position in the back half of the court to assist the goalkeeper, and is not typically a high-scoring player. But he had a great weekend offensively, scoring seven goals and three assists for the tournament, including the vital game-tying goal with 2:47 left in the championship game.

In addition, Jeremy specifically requested to defer a spot on the all-tournament team, if nominated, as he felt he had teammates more deserving of the recognition than himself... a very selfless act!

Congratulations to Jeremy Jost for being this week's Old Dutch High School Athlete of the Week!

The Old Dutch High School Team of the Week is the Chatfield Gophers football team. The Gophers extended their season record to 12-1 with a 41-21 victory over Hawley in the Class 2A semifinals at the Metrodome. They will meet Minneota for the state title on Friday, marking the first time Chatfield has been in the Prep Bowl since a championship threepeat from 1994 through 1996.

The Gophers made it to the state tournament with a Section 1 championship game victory over Caledonia, which had won five of the last six 2A state titles.

Congratulations to the Chatfield High School Football Team for being this week's Old Dutch High School Team of the Week!

Mankato West Has A Nack (Or Two) For Swimming And Smiles
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/20/2013 10:06:47 PM

On a day when Section 1 reigned supreme at the Class 1A state swimming and diving championships, few teams were happier than the girls from Mankato West. The Scarlets finished a distance second in the team race to Visitation, but the smiles told the story at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

And a big part of the story was the Nack sisters, senior Danielle and junior Chantal (pictured). What kind of day did the Nacks have? Danielle won her second straight state title in the 50 freestyle and her third title in the 100 butterfly, while Chantal won her second gold medal in the 200 freestyle and also won the 500 freestyle. In addition to that, the Nacks teamed with Madison Bacon and Rachel Phinney to win the 200 freestyle relay.

Visitation won its first team title since it won four consecutive state championships from 2005 through 2008. The Blazers, from Mendota Heights, finished with 300 points, getting first-place finishes by Abbie Dolan in the 100 freestyle and two relay teams: Caroline Gaertner, Heather Farley, Emily Kishish and Lorelei Gaertner in the 200 medley relay and Caroline Gaertner, Lorelei Gaertner, Emily Connors and Dolan in the 400 freestyle relay (in a 1A meet record time).

Mankato West was second with 168 points, followed by Sartell-St. Stephen with 161, Hutchinson with 131 and Albert Lea with 130.

Wednesday marked the end of Danielle Nack high school swimming career, but her college swimming will take place at the same venue because she will attend the University of Minnesota.

Her younger sister said the state meet experience was “really cool. But it’s also kind of sad that it’s the last high school meet with my sister. It’s been a blast.”

The Scarlets’ victory in the 200 freestyle relay was a big thrill, especially considering that West had only the fifth-fastest time in Tuesday’s preliminaries.

“We had finished second four times in the relay, and to come out of fifth and take first is awesome,” said coach Dave Burgess.

Other Class 1A champions (all from Section 1)…

--Albert Lea sophomore Lindsey Horejsi, who set a 1A meet record in the 200 individual medley on Tuesday, won the event Wednesday in a slightly slower time. She also won the 100 breaststroke.

-- Northfield junior Bailey DuPay captured the 1-meter diving state title for the third year in a row.

--Cecilia Hake, a senior from Faribault, won the 100 backstroke.


--In the 200 medley relay, the Chanhassen team of Zoe Avestruz, Bridgette Grobe, Kaia Grobe and Kylie Dahlgren broke the all-time meet record for the second day in a row, winning in 1:41.96. Chanhassen also won the 400 freestyle relay in a state-record time of 3:25.69.

--Edina set an all-time meet record in the 200 freestyle relay. The team of Amelia Anderson, Olivia Anderson, Emma Wittmer and Rachel Wittmer won in 1:34.06.

--Chanhassen junior Kaia Grobe captured her third consecutive state title in the 100 freestyle.

--Edina junior Olivia Anderson won the 100 breaststroke for the third year in a row.

--Chanhassen junior Zoe Avestruz won her second straight state title in two events, the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

--Edina ninth-grader Rachel Wittmer won the 50 freestyle after finishing in a third-place tie in the prelims. Placing third in the finals was two-time champion Kaia Grobe.

--Wayzata won its first state team title, finishing with 275 points. Next were Minnetonka 232, Edina 221, Stillwater 206 and Chanhassen 197.

--Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 6 for the state swimming tournament, 35 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 217
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,252
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Day Of Caring At Underwood Shows Community Spirit
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/18/2013 12:44:50 PM

Earlier this month, a very special all-school day was held in Underwood, a small town near Fergus Falls. Underwood’s “Day of Caring” promotes efforts to assist students in giving back to their community by performing service projects around town and the area.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade, grouped by classrooms, went to local nursing homes, assisted living centers, food shelves and state parks, where they visited the elderly, played cards, sang songs and had a wonderful day.

Older students, in grades 7 through 12, were divided into 22 teams. Those teams performed more physical projects, including raking yards, cleaning house gutters, washing windows, planting grass, cleaning areas around the school grounds and creating and completing projects at local day-care facilities.

The students had a fun experience, working together to help others and make new friends. One elderly man offered to pay the students for raking his yard, but he settled for taking a photo of the students with his phone to show to his wife when she got home. One group raked five yards and ran out of leaf bags three times.

Some of the younger students made cards and art projects that they gave to elderly residents. A group of fourth-grade students was excited to meet a veteran who is 102 years old, and residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers were delighted to hear the children sing to them.

“The Day of Caring was fantastic,” said John Hamann, the school principal for grades 5 through 12 at Underwood. “Our students really worked hard, never complained, and showed that they care about people in our community.”

Dean of students Brian Hovland and school counselor Jennifer Whipple, who put the project together, “did an excellent job, from creating the groups, finding places for kids to go, dividing the town up into sections for cleaning ... they really stepped forward and did a nice job,” said Hamann.

“Everything that we do comes down to building and maintaining relationships with people,” Hamann said. “My hope is that the community and our students continue to build on that bond that makes Underwood so special.”

Who Will Be Old Dutch Athlete of the Week? And Team Of The Week?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/17/2013 12:50:10 PM

Nominations are open for the Old Dutch Athlete of the Week award, as well as a new honor: the Old Dutch Team of the Week! Read all the details by clicking here.

One More Season For Chisholm Coach Bob McDonald
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/16/2013 3:03:30 PM

Bob McDonald of Chisholm doesn’t plan to spend his retirement winters in Arizona or Florida. He won’t offer any coaching advice to his sons and grandsons who are basketball coaches. He also won’t slow down one little bit during the upcoming boys basketball season, which will be his 59th and final season as a head coach. Read more by clicking here.

Numbers (Mostly Zeroes) Tell The Story For Mahnomen
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/16/2013 2:56:30 PM

Saturday’s Class 1A football state semifinal game at the Metrodome was another ho-hummer for the Mahnomen Indians. Their formula is a basic one: Run the football, score some points and keep the opponent floundering in a sea of scoreboard donuts.

The Indians (13-0), who will play Dawson-Boyd (12-1) in the Prep Bowl on Nov. 30, are on an amazing run. Not only are they unbeaten this season, they have a record of 51-2 since the start of the 2010 season. They lost in the state quarterfinals that year, lost to Dawson-Boyd 35-20 in the 2011 Prep Bowl and went unbeaten in winning the state championship last year.

Mahnomen defeated Bethlehem Academy 19-0 Saturday while rushing for 225 yards and holding the Cardinals to 175 total yards. Bethlehem Academy was averaging 27 points per game.

“Everyone plays their position,” said Mahnomen sophomore defensive back Kody Lefebvre, who had a team-high five tackles and one interception. “We have no heroes on this team. It’s just 11 guys doing their job.”

Quarterback Tom Pavek scored on a 1-yard run and threw a 29-yard pass to Nathan Hanson for a score. Austin Reitan also scored for the Indians on a 12-yard run.

“There’s a lot of pride in the boys,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do, run the ball and play defense. We gave up some plays on defense but I thought we did a great job of stiffening up when we had to. We had a lot of kids who made key plays at key times.”

Mahnomen is making its 22nd appearance in the state football playoffs, and the Indians won state championships in 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998 and 2012.

After last season’s title run, there were mild concerns about the defensive side of the ball this year. But those worries pretty much went poof after the Indians opened the season by giving up only 14 points in the first four games.

“We thought we were going to take a hit on defense a little bit this year, but it’s amazing,” Clark said. “We have kids who step up. Everyboy says that, but we do. Kids who haven’t played much at all on the varsity other than mop-up time, they come in, and if they’re a senior they play like they’re a third-year starter, and if they’re a sophomore they play like they’ve been there for two years. It’s amazing.”

Mahnomen has now recorded eight shutouts in 13 games, and only two teams have scored in double figures (a 42-14 win over Red Lake County in Week 2 and a 28-12 victory over Upsala/Swanville in the state quarterfinals).

Thoughts will now turn to the Prep Bowl and Dawson-Boyd; the Blackjacks were the last team to beat Mahnomen.

“It makes it a little more exciting, I think,” said Clark. “Our teams have some assistant coaches who roomed in college together. They’ve been communicating all year; we’ve had our eye on them obviously and they’ve kind of had their eye on us. They got us last time; obviously we want to turn the tables. But two weeks is a lot of preparation. It’ll be interesting to see who can come up with something a little new and who can take away the others’ strengths.”

We can be sure of one thing: Mahnomen won’t change its winning formula.

“Play D and win ugly, that’s good enough for us,” Clark said. “I’d rather be winning ugly here in November than sitting at home looking pretty.”

--Since Bethlehem Academy didn’t score a touchdown Saturday, the fans did not get to see Cardinals kicker Lexi Temple. She came into the state semifinals with a stellar record on extra-point kicks, making 39 of 40 attempts this season. She plays on the Faribault High School girls soccer team (a cooperative team with Bethlehem Academy), and one of the season highlights came when her football teammates came en masse to the Cardinals’ Teacher Appreciation Night game and saw Lexi score two goals.


Joey Lee ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as the Blackjacks moved to the Prep Bowl in hopes of winning their second state title in three years. Lee’s rushing touchdowns came from 1 and 38 yards, and he threw to Michael Lee for a 36-yard score and to Noah Stelter for 24 yards and a TD.

Joey Lee completed seven of 19 passes for 175 yards. Dalton Palmer led Dawson-Boyd in rushing with 13 carries for 69 yards. David Surprenant of Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s carried 16 times for 103 yards and Brandon Helget ran 19 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Helget also threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Surprenant.


The game’s only points came with three seconds left in the fourth quarter when the Crusaders’ Alex Bornschlegl kicked a 23-yard field goal. It was a defensive struggle which featured only 15 pass attempts and three completions. Proctor (9-3) finished with 86 total yards to 281 for St. Croix Lutheran (10-2). The teams combined for 15 punts.

Sr. Croix Lutheran’s Hans Klingenschmitt rushed 25 times for 135 yards. Joe Carter led Proctor with 13 rushes for 51 yards.


The Wildcats scored 20 points in the second and 16 in the third to defeat the Eagles and advance to the Prep Bowl against St. Croix Lutheran. Adam Essler rushed 18 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats and Jarret Hatlestad ran eight times for 110 yards and a TD as New London-Spicer ran for a total of 317 yards. Lourdes quarterback Michael Brandt completed eight of 16 passes for 133 yards.


The game went down to the very last second before the Warriors advanced to the Prep Bowl. Brainerd took the 20-19 lead on a 41-yard run by Conor Gessell with 7:10 left in the third quarter, and Brainerd’s defense kept the Hawks out of the end zone after that.

Chaska missed a 27-yard field goal with 5:05 to play. The Hawks’ final possession ended when they were stopped on downs at the Brainerd 32 with 50 seconds remaining. Brainerd held the ball the rest of the game.

Thursday’s Results
Nine-man/ Underwood 34, Ely 20
Class 2A/ Minneota/Lincoln HI (12-0) vs. Maple Lake (8-4)
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 35, Delano 9
Class 6A/ Rosemount 35, Roseville 28

Friday’s Results
Nine-man/ Grand Meadow 21, Kittson Central 7
Class 2A/ Chatfield 41, Hawley 21
Class 5A/ Owatonna 27, St. Michael-Albertville 7
Class 4A/ Holy Angels 33, DeLaSalle 21
Class 6A/ Eden Prairie 47, Totino-Grace 22

Saturday’s Results
Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd 27, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 18
Class 1A/ Mahnomen 19, Bethlehem Academy 0
Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran 3, Proctor 0
Class 3A/ New London-Spicer 36, Rochester Lourdes 16
Class 5A/ Brainerd 20, Chaska 19


Friday, Nov. 29
10 a.m.: Nine-man/ Underwood (10-3) vs. Grand Meadow (12-1)
1 p.m: Class 2A/ Minneota (13-0) vs. Chatfield (12-1)
4 p.m.: Class 4A/ Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Holy Angels (7-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Rosemount (11-1)

Saturday, Nov. 30
10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)

--To see a photo gallery from Saturday's games, go to the MSHSL Facebook page. Photos on this page and Facebook were provided by Ian Jamieson, a student at Prior Lake High School and a member of the MSHSL Student Media Program.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 14 for the state football tournament, 35 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:185
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,212
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Basketball News: Bob McDonald Will Coach One More Season
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/15/2013 9:55:33 PM

There was breaking news Friday night when Chisholm boys basketball coach Bob McDonald, who has more victories than any coach in state history and ranks No. 1 in the nation among active coaches, announced that he will retire after the 2013-14 season.

McDonald, 80, will retire after 59 years as a head coach. He has been the Bluestreaks coach since 1961-62. Before that he coached for four years at McGregor and two at Barnum. He has 994 career victories.

Chisholm will open the season next Friday, Nov. 22, with a home game against North Woods.

For Father And Son, Prep Bowl Memories To Last A Lifetime
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/15/2013 6:46:32 PM

Owatonna High School football teams have played in three Prep Bowls, finishing as the state runner-up each time. The Huskies will get another crack at a state championship on Nov. 30 at the Metrodome, meeting the winner of Saturday night’s Class 5A semifinal between Brainerd and Chaska.

The first Owatonna team to get to the Prep Bowl was the 1982 squad. Doug Wanous, then in 11th grade, was the starting center on that team, which lost to Stillwater 34-27. That ’82 squad has lived in local lore for all these years as the team that set the bar for every team since then.

Doug Wanous was a very proud man Friday afternoon after the Huskies defeated St. Michael-Albertville 27-7. He’s an English teacher at the school and coaches the offensive line. Wanous posed for a photo with his son Luke -- a senior tight end and linebacker – as they celebrated a special father-and-son experience.

Doug played in the very first Prep Bowl held in the Metrodome and Luke will play in the last one before the building is torn down.

“It’s kind of a beautiful thing,” Doug said.

Owatonna lost to Totino-Grace 49-21 in last year’s 5A Prep Bowl. So Friday’s victory gives Luke some bragging rights; two Prep Bowls to his father’s one.

“I have not stopped hearing about it, ever since I was born,” Luke said with a giant smile. “He’s always been, ‘Oh, my class in ’82…’ Guess what? I’m back to back, I’ve one-upped him.”

And Doug couldn’t be more proud.

“The cool thing is, I’ve taken Luke to the semifinal games here since he was in third grade. This is really where he’s learned the game of football. We’d be able to look at various techniques, various defenses, various offenses and personnel. This dome is a pretty special place to both of us.”

Luke led the Huskies (12-0) with seven tackles Friday and also broke up a pass. The Owatonna defense held St. Michael-Albertville (10-2) to 49 rushing yards. The Huskies’ Aaron Peterson carried 30 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns and Ian Langeberg completed nine of 12 passes for 85 yards and a score. St. Michael-Albertville’s Jackson Greenwaldt completed nine of 24 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s unbelievable,” Luke said of returning to the Prep Bowl. “This is what we’ve been working for our whole lives, since when we started playing as little kids.”

With Doug’s athletic background and the strong Owatonna sports traditions, Luke was all but destined to be a part of it.

“The ’82 dome team was always talked about,” Doug said. “That was what our community kind of rallied around. And so Luke had no choice but to be inundated into that community.

“To see him experience this is really a wonderful thing. Somebody said to me, ‘I hope things work out for your son,’ and I said ‘It already has.’ ”


The Grand Meadow Superlarks played in the Prep Bowl a year ago, losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley in the nine-man championship game. Looking at that senior-dominated team, any thoughts of back-to-back appearances seemed a little like whimsy. That’s because the Superlarks gathered for the 2013 season with only three returning starters.

But here they are, a high school with only 94 students and a football team with only 24 players in uniform, back in the Prep Bowl. The Superlarks defeated Kittson County Central 21-7 in Friday’s semifinals.

Grand Meadow (12-1) will meet Underwood (10-3) in the championship game on Nov. 29. Underwood advanced to its first Prep Bowl with a 34-20 win over Ely on Thursday.

Is it miraculous that Grand Meadow is back in the Prep Bowl? No, it’s heart.

“We have a lot of inexperienced guys out there,” said Grand Meadow coach Gary Sloan. “I think the kids are just playing with a lot of heart.”

Last year’s Metrodome experience is certainly a factor, because playing in the big stadium for the first time often produces a deer-in-the-headlights scenario.

“I think (last year’s experience) was important,” Sloan said. “Even the guys that maybe didn’t play last year, they got the experience of being around the sideline, doing all the fun things that go with it. We talk about not letting the game be bigger than you, and I think the kids are up to the challenge.”

The Grand Meadow-Kittson game may have set a record for mileage between two high school opponents in the Metrodome. Kittson County Central is in Hallock in northwest Minnesota and Grand Meadow is in the southeastern part of the state. They are 500 miles apart.

Due to the distance, the Grand Meadow coaches weren’t able to scout the Bearcats in person.

“We had two games from them on video, and my coaches did a really good job of putting together a scouting report,” Sloan said. “Kittson’s got a heck of a good team; I wouldn’t want to play them again.”

Grand Meadow was led by Landon Jacobson (pictured), who rushed 33 times for 202 yards and a touchdown. Kittson quarterback Drew Olsonawski completed 15 of 27 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.


The Gophers scored the game’s first 28 points and advanced to the Prep Bowl, where they will meet the Minneota Vikings. Jacob Neis was the offensive star for Chatfield, carrying 26 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns. Alex Brandt rushed 15 times for 155 yards and the Gophers (12-1) finished with 484 total yards on the ground.

Hawley (10-2) quarterback Jordan Harms completed eight of 22 passes for 168 yards, with Ben Ellefson catching two passes for 103 yards.


After going 3-5 in the regular season, Holy Angels (7-5) extended its postseason winning streak to four games by defeating the Islanders (10-1). The Stars will play in the Prep Bowl on Nov. 29 against Hutchinson (12-0), which beat Delano 35-9 on Thursday.

Connor Moriarty rushed 23 times for 122 yards for the Stars and Danny Hoffman completed eight of 13 passes for 93 yards and a TD. Connor McCarthy ran for two touchdowns. For DeLaSalle, Chris Williams ran 28 times for 156 yards.


The Eden Prairie Eagles advanced to their third consecutive Prep Bowl with a dominating victory over the Totino-Grace Eagles. After a 7-7 first quarter, two-time defending champ Eden Prairie took control with 27 points in the second quarter. Eden Prairie (11-0) will meet Rosemount (11-1) in the Prep Bowl on Nov. 29.


--My favorite football semifinal nicknames: 1. Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks, 2. Hawley Nuggets, 3. Grand Meadow Superlarks, 4. Proctor Rails.

--My favorite mascots: Harley the Husky from Owatonna and Clarkthe Superlark from Grand Meadow.

Thursday’s Results
Nine-man/ Underwood 34, Ely 20
Class 2A/ Minneota/Lincoln HI (12-0) vs. Maple Lake (8-4)
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 35, Delano 9
Class 6A/ Rosemount 35, Roseville 28

Friday’s Results
Nine-man/ Grand Meadow 21, Kittson Central 7
Class 2A/ Chatfield 41, Hawley 21
Class 5A/ Owatonna 27, St. Michael-Albertville 7
Class 4A/ Holy Angels 33, DeLaSalle 21
Class 6A/ Eden Prairie 47, Totino-Grace 22

Saturday’s Games
9 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (12-0)
11:30 a.m.: Class 1A/ Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Bethlehem Academy (9-3)
2 p.m.: Class 3A/ Proctor (9-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (9-2)
4:30 p.m.: Class 3A/ New London-Spicer (9-2) vs. Rochester Lourdes (10-1)
7 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (11-0) vs. Chaska (11-0)

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 9 for the state football tournament, 30 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:165
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,164
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Noah Way: Underwood Gets To Prep Bowl With Star On Sideline
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/14/2013 2:49:16 PM

Noah Thompson, a 2,000-yard rusher from Underwood, left Thursday’s nine-man state semifinal game against Ely with eight minutes to play. At the time, Underwood held a seven-point lead and the outcome was up for grabs.

Having Thompson watching from the Metrodome sidelines was not optimal for the Rockets. He had carried the ball 239 times this season for 2,107 yards and 20 touchdowns. When he left Thursday’s game with an injury, he had rushed 31 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

The good news for Underwood: The Rockets went on to a 34-20 victory and their first berth in the Prep Bowl.

Thompson was hurt while playing defense; the helmet of Ely’s Mark Heiman slammed into his left bicep. The result was a bruise, a painful bruise.

“It hurt right away,” Thompson said. But a little pain is nothing new for the 5-foot-7, 157-pound junior. When I inquired if he had ever been injured before, he ran down the list.

--He broke his right thumb six weeks ago but didn’t miss any games while playing with a cast on his hand.

--He suffered a left knee injury early in the season.

--He injured his back playing softball last summer. “It still hurts,” he said.

More good news for the Rockets (10-3): They won’t play in the Prep Bowl for more than two weeks, which should give Thompson time to heal. They will meet the winner of Friday’s game between Kittson Country Central (12-0) and Grand Meadow (11-1) on Nov. 29.

Thompson isn’t the Rockets’ only weapon. Quarterback Adam Creek ran 15 times for 129 yards and Matt Biegler and Dylan Kalenze both ran for touchdowns. Kalenze’s score, a 13-yard burst, sealed the victory with 54 seconds left in the game.

Louis Gerzin led Ely (12-1) with 25 carries for 170 yards and a score, and quarterback Sean Jordan completed 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Michael Lah. Mark Heiman scored a rushing TD for the Timberwolves.


At the state football semifinals a year ago, I was walking behind one of the Metrodome end zones when someone in the bleachers hollered, “Hi John!” I looked up at a young man sitting in the second row and said, “Do I know you?” He smiled a big smile and said, “No, but I read your journal.”

It was Austin Buysse, who was then a junior at Minneota. The Vikings’ 2012 season had ended with a loss to Dawson-Boyd in the Class 1A Section 5 championship game.

We had a reunion on Thursday, and this time Austin (pictured) wasn’t sitting in the stands. The 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score as Minneota/Lincoln HI (13-0) defeated Maple Lake (8-5) 50-24 in the Class 2A semifinals.

Austin said that as he watched the games a year ago, he was hoping the Vikings would be on the field this season.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve been coming to the games here every year in high school, and to finally play here is like a dream come true.”

Footnote: Austin is one of five people named Buysse on the Minneota roster. Brock, Leo and student manager Brant are his first cousins, and Joe is a more distant cousin. Brock Buysse had a touchdown run Thursday and Leo had six tackles.


Hutchinson defeated Delano 35-9 in the Class 4A semifinals, as the Tigers (12-0) attempt to repeat as state champions. The game was close into the third quarter, after a safety brought Delano (10-2) within 21-9 of Hutchinson. But Hutchinson scored two touchdowns in the fourt quarter to lock up the victory.

Hutch quarterback Marcus Hahn was the game’s leading rusher, carrying six times for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. He also threw a 13-yard TD pass to Jake Wendland.


In an entertaining, back-and-forth 6A semifinal, Rosemount (11-1) recorded a 35-28 victory over Roseville (9-3). The victory was the 11th in a row for the Irish, who lost to Wayzata in double overtime in the season opener.

Dimitri Williams led Rosemount with 15 rushes for 135 yards, plus a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Roseville quarterback Jacques Perra completed 22 of 34 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns.

Thursday’s Results
Nine-man/ Underwood 34, Ely 20
Class 2A/ Minneota/Lincoln HI 50, Maple Lake 24
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 35, Delano 9
Class 6A/ Rosemount 35, Roseville 28

Friday’s Games
9 a.m.: Nine-man/ Kittson Central (12-0) vs. Grand Meadow (11-1)
11:30 a.m.: Class 2A/ Hawley (10-1) vs. Chatfield (11-1)
2 p.m.: Class 5A/ St. Michael-Albertville (10-1) vs. Owatonna (11-0)
4:30 p.m.: Class 4A/ DeLaSalle (10-1) vs. Holy Angels (6-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (10-0) vs. Totino-Grace (9-2)

Saturday’s Games
9 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (12-0)
11:30 a.m.: Class 1A/ Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Bethlehem Academy (9-3)
2 p.m.: Class 3A/ Proctor (9-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (9-2)
4:30 p.m.: Class 3A/ New London-Spicer (9-2) vs. Rochester Lourdes (10-1)
7 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (11-0) vs. Chaska (11-0)

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 4 for the state football tournament, 26 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:165
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,116
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Congrats to St. Croix Lutheran's Aaron Zoellner, Old Dutch athlete of the week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/13/2013 4:16:04 PM

The senior wide receiver/defensive back had a stellar game for the Crusaders against Glencoe-Silver Lake in the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Read more by clicking here.

Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s: Small School, Big Football Dreams
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/12/2013 2:40:08 PM

SLEEPY EYE – If you’re reading this after 7:30 a.m., you’re too late. You’ve already missed football practice at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, where the Knights are preparing for a 9 a.m. state semifinal game Saturday against Dawson-Boyd at the Metrodome.

Practicing from 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning is not the normal workout time for the Class1A Section 2 champions, but the Knights know how to work with what they have. And what they have on the team are 70 percent of the boys in grades nine through 12, plus a strong desire to be in Class 1A even though their enrollment would allow them to play nine-man football.

The school has only 113 students, which makes it the smallest school playing Class 1A football (enrollments listed for cooperative schools only list the enrollment for one school). Their enrollment would put them near the middle of the schools that play nine-man football. But St. Mary’s has always played with 11 boys on the field.

“To me, I think if you’re able to play 11-man football, you play 11-man. That’s how the game is designed,” said fourth-year head coach Brent Kucera. “The number in my head is if you can have more than 30 players on your team in grades nine through 12 year after year, then you play 11-man.”

This year’s team has 40 players, and they have rolled to a 12-0 record and their third consecutive appearance in the state tournament. Before their current run, the Knights’ only trips to state came in 1979 and 1988.

The Knights’ average score this season is 33-10. Their biggest scare came in a 20-14 triple-overtime victory over New Ulm Cathedral in Week 5. They beat the Greyhounds 41-26 in the Section 2 championship game, then held off Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity 20-14 last week in the state quarterfinals.

Dawson-Boyd (11-1) is also a tournament-tested team; the Blackjacks (enrollment 140) were the 1A state champs in 2011 and reached the state semifinals last year.

St. Mary’s has risen in football prominence since Kucera took over. From 2004 to 2009, the Knights finished above .500 only once (7-3 in 2005). Kucera’s first team in 2010 went 3-6, followed now by three state tournament appearances.

“The program wasn’t in the best shape,” he said. “The confidence wasn’t there. We had a good class that kind of helped pull us out of it, and it’s just been going on since then.”

The Knights use the running game to set up the passing game, and their leading rusher is David Surprenant, who has carried 200 times for 1,195 yards. Quarterback Brandon Helget and running back Jaden Wait have combined for another 1,345 rushing yards and Helget has thrown for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Two-way lineman Andrew Steffl, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior, said, “Our line has put in a lot of hard work in the offseason, and I think it’s showing this year. It matters quite a bit that we’ve put in time in the weight room and it definitely helps a lot.”

Defensively, St. Mary’s has allowed only six first-quarter points all season.

“Our defense is great this year. That’s one thing that’s improved,” said tight end/defensive end Mike Hirsch. “Offensively we have a lot more weapons we can use. We have a strong run game which can open up the pass, which is always available.”

This year’s senior were sophomores the last time the Knights played in the Metrodome, and they’re hoping that experience from 2011 will pay dividends on Saturday.

“It’s a great feeling to go back there,” said wide receiver/cornerback John Brandl. “That experience is definitely going to help us this year, coming around the second time. Walking in there is crazy. You don’t realize how big it is when you’re watching games.”

The long football postseason run doesn’t have any downside, although it is putting a damper on the Knights’ boys basketball team. Practice began Monday, and all but two of the basketball players are still playing football. They’re out there in the early mornings this week.

"We’ve got to get used to being alert in the morning,” Kucera said, looking ahead to playing indoors on Saturday. “To me it’s exciting because we’re the smallest 11-man team in the state. We’re proving a point. It’s pretty amazing.”


Thursday’s Games
11:30 a.m.: Nine-man/ Ely (12-0) vs. Underwood (9-3)
2 p.m.: Class 2A/ Minneota/Lincoln HI (12-0) vs. Maple Lake (8-4)
4:30 p.m.: Class 4A/ Delano (10-1) vs. Hutchinson (11-0)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Rosemount (10-1) vs. Roseville (9-2)

Friday’s Games
9 a.m.: Nine-man/ Kittson Central (12-0) vs. Grand Meadow (11-1)
11:30 a.m.: Class 2A/ Hawley (10-1) vs. Chatfield (11-1)
2 p.m.: Class 5A/ St. Michael-Albertville (10-1) vs. Owatonna (11-0)
4:30 p.m.: Class 4A/ DeLaSalle (10-1) vs. Holy Angels (6-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (10-0) vs. Totino-Grace (9-2)

Saturday’s Games
9 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (12-0)
11:30 a.m.: Class 1A/ Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Bethlehem Academy (9-3)
2 p.m.: Class 3A/ Proctor (9-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (9-2)
4:30 p.m.: Class 3A/ New London-Spicer (9-2) vs. Rochester Lourdes (10-1)
7 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (11-0) vs. Chaska (11-0)

--To see a photo gallery from Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 22 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:157
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,068
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Who Will Be Old Dutch Athlete of the Week? And Team Of The Week?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/10/2013 10:29:02 AM

Nominations are open for the Old Dutch Athlete of the Week award, as well as a new honor: the Old Dutch Team of the Week! Read all the details by clicking here.

State Volleyball: The Miracle Of Martin County West
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/9/2013 5:22:39 PM

The volleyball season ended for Martin County West in Saturday’s Class 1A fifth-place match at the state tournament. The Mavericks – whose school is in Sherburn, between Fairmont and Jackson near the Iowa border – lost to Nevis at Xcel Energy Center, but the 2013 season has a lot more meaning to the team than that.

The way it started is what everyone will long remember. On the afternoon of the season’s first scheduled match on Aug. 26, junior outside hitter Taryn Tumbleson, -- beginning her third season as a member of the starting lineup -- was driving from the family farm to the school, where she would catch the bus for the season opener at Fairmont.

She never made it. Taryn’s Ford Explorer went off the gravel road and rolled over several times. When I asked about her injuries this week, she said, “Eleven broken ribs, a compression fracture in my back, a few other minor injuries, a real bad concussion.”

The match was cancelled. Taryn (pictured here with her teammates during pregame introductions at state) was airlifted from the Fairmont hospital to a hospital in Rochester, where she was in intensive care. It’s no wonder that Taryn did not play at all this season, but her simple presence, the fact that she was able to rejoin the team and watch from the bench – even if she wasn’t wearing her number 12 jersey – was something to behold.

“She’s a walking miracle,” said Mavericks coach Mary Sussenguth. “And miracle is an understatement.”

When Taryn was late catching the bus, the Mavericks began making phone calls. “Her mom had just gotten to the scene and was pretty panicky,” Sussenguth said. “They didn’t know what was going to happen. They really didn’t.”

Taryn still wears a back brace, but not full-time. She was in street clothes at the state tournament, introduced with her teammates before each match and watching from the bench.

“It’s been really humbling for me,” she said. “Just the change of view, getting to watch my teammates play, trying to help them out while I’m not on the court. But it’s definitely a different view from the bench. And I wish I was out there, but I’m so glad that I’m here and that I can be on the bench.”

She hopes to resume her basketball career this winter, and by spring she should be back on the Mavericks track team. Last spring she teamed with Hailey Holtz, Haley Jensen and Libbie Lange to finish second at state in the Class 1A 4x100 relay.

“She’s been our motivator,” Sussenguth said. “She’s been the reason for us to keep going and being strong. We have a team word every year, and it was 'strong' this year. It could not have been more fitting.

“She works so hard and she’s incredibly athletic. She had a back injury during her freshman year and we had to try and limit her then. And she’s tough to limit. The last two weeks she’s gotten to practice a little more, and she’s still got it. We’ve told her, ‘You’re going to come back, step in and not miss a beat.’”

Taryn’s accident, survival and recovery have provided many lessons for the Mavericks, Sussenguth said.

“She brings that focus and that intensity, and we missed that right away. We told the girls, ‘This is a great lesson to learn in life. Things are going to happen and we’ve got to keep moving forward.’ ”

Martin County West has now played at state two years in a row. If all goes well next season, the Mavericks will be back at state and Taryn Tumbleson will be back on the court.

“Next year, definitely,” she said with a smile.


CLASS 1A/ Southwest Christian beat Fillmore Central 25-22, 25-17, 25-16
The Stars, who were state runners-up last year, won their first state title in their third trip to the tournament. Fillmore Central had defeated Southwest Christin 2-0 in a tournament during the regular season, but the Stars were nearly unstoppable Saturday.

Mackenzie Horkey led Southwest Christian with 17 kills, 22 digs and three ace serves, and Rachel Carlin had 34 assists. Fillmore Central’s Taylor Case had nine kills and 17 digs, and Morgan Malley had19 assists and eight digs.

CLASS 2A/ Marshall beat Hill-Murray 25-13, 25-19, 25-16

The Tigers won their third straight state title and finished the tournament with three 3-0 victories. The state record for consecutive titles is five by Armstrong from 1980 to 1984. Marshall is the fourth team to win three in a row (Tracy-Milroy 1994-96, Central Minnesota Christian 1998-2000 and Shakopee 2007-09.

In the title match, Marshall’s Kenzie Beekman had 25 kills and 15 digs, Sydney Griffin had 25 assists, and Hannah Bennettt (22), Stephanie Baker (13) and Rachel Sanow (11) combined for 46 digs). Hill-Murray’s Marisa Franco had 23 digs and Hannah Angeli had 15 assists.

CLASS 3A/ Eagan beats Delano 25-13, 27-29, 26-24, 21-25, 15-12
In a back-and-forth battle that went to the wire, the Wildcats won their fifth state title and first since 2003. Delano was the tournament’s giant killer, coming to state as the smallest among 96 schools in 3A. Eagan’s Taylr McNeil (36) and Brie Orr (20) combined for 56 kills, while Orr also had 39 assists and 15 digs. For Delano, Shelby Seurer had 26 kills and 19 digs, Kristin Kreklow had 57 assists and Alex Wittinger had 18 kills.


1A/ Minneota beat Win-E-Mac 26-24, 25-11, 25-8

2A/ Fergus Falls beat Kasson-Mantorville 25-15, 26-28, 25-22, 25-23

3A/ Osseo beat Eden Prairie 25-20, 25-14, 28-26


1A/ Nevis beat Martin County West 25-19, 26-24, 25-13

2A/ Belle Plaine beat Dassel-Cokato 25-16, 25-8, 25-12

3A/ Rochester Mayo beat Moorhead 25-22, 25-15, 25-22


1A/ Megan Norby, Nevis; Shelby Kaster, Win-E-Mac; Taylor Reiss, Megan Larson, Minneota; Mackenzie Horkey, Abby Palkert, Rachel Carlin, Southwest Christian; Taylor Case, Morgan Malley, Tori Peterson, Fillmore Central.

2A/ Mariena Hayden, Belle Plaine; Brooklyn Lewis, Hailey Busch, Kasson-Mantorville; Briana Rasmussen, Laura Gaustad, Fergus Falls; Kennedy Fabian, Rachel Kueppers, Hill-Murray; Sydney Griffin, Kenzie Beekman, Hannah Bennett, Marshall.

3A/ Anna Winter, Rochester Mayo; Ashley Brueggeman, Eden Prairie; Megan Pekarek, Christina Boe, Osseo; Kristin Kreklow, Shelby Seurer, Alex Wittinger, Delano; Taylr McNeil, Kelly Madison, Brie Orr, Eagan.

--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 15 for the state volleyball tournament, 22 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,828
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Mother And Daughter Reunion At State Volleyball
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/8/2013 5:24:20 PM

Last Saturday, in gymnasiums 135 miles apart, two volleyball teams won section championships and qualified for this week’s state tournament in St. Paul. Ada-Borup won the Class 1A Section 6 crown with a 3-2 victory over Henning in Glenwood and Delano won the 3A Section 2 title with a 3-2 victory over Chaska at Chanhassen.

Those results ensured that a family with roots in Ada would be having a reunion this weekend.

For 34 years, Ada-Borup has been coached by Ruth Hayden. This is the seventh time the Cougars have played at state. Rebecce Rue (pictured) has been the Delano coach for seven years, and this is the fifth time Rue has brought the Tigers to state.

Key point: Ruth is Rebecca’s mother. This tournament marks the third time they have both brought their teams to state.

Ada-Borup lost to Fillmore Central in Friday’s 1A quarterfinals, then fell to Nevis in Friday’s consolation bracket. Delano defeated Grand Rapids and Osseo to advance to Saturday’s 3A championship match against Eagan.

“We’re pretty pumped,” said Rue, who graduated from Ada-Borup in 1997. She played college volleyball at Mayville State in North Dakota; because high school volleyball was a winter sport in North Dakota at that time, Rebecca also worked as an assistant coach at May-Port Clifford Galesburg High School in Mayville, where the team won three state titles during her four years there.

“I also got to come to state as a player and I know how hard the road is to get here,” Rue said. “The fact that we both get teams here, and this is the third time that’s happened, I don’t take it for granted.

“I take it in and enjoy every moment and I feel blessed. I’m so proud of my mom, too. Without what she’s instilled in me, I wouldn’t be here.”

Delano’s enrollment is 724, making it the smallest school playing 3A volleyball. Eagan is the 13th largest school in the state with an enrollment of 2,043.

If third-seeded Delano can defeat top-seeded Eagan, it would be the first state championship for the first family of volleyball.


There are moments, although not many, when Eagan volleyball player Brie Orr will say something that leaves her teammates smiling and shaking their heads a little.

Taylr McNeil, the Wildcats’ senior star, put it this way: “She has her moments, when she’ll say something and we’ll be like, ‘You’re such a freshman.’ ”

The key word in that statement is “freshman.” Orr (pictured) is a 5-foot-10 setter and outside hitter who works wonders all over the court for top-seeded Eagan, and she is one of the reasons the Wildcats will play in Saturday’s Class 3A state championship match. And she is a 14-year-old ninth-grader.

“Isn’t she something?,” said Eagan coach Kathy Gillen-Melville after the Wildcats beat Eden Prairie 3-1 in Friday’s semifinals at Xcel Energy Center. Orr had 13 kills, 16 set assists and 22 digs, numerical proof of what she does at the net, in the back row and in setting up her teammates.

“She is one of those kids who if she makes a mistake she doesn’t get rattled,” Gillen-Melville said. “When she’s setting she creates unbelievable openings for our hitters. She puts the ball somewhere where you never thought the ball could be sent to, and it’s right there for our hitters. It took a few weeks for that chemistry between setter and hitters to evolve, but once it evolved we knew we had something special with her.”

This is actually Orr’s third year on a varsity team. She was at Eastview as a seventh- and eighth-grader before transferring to Eagan; both schools are in the same district.

“It’s really exciting,” Orr said of the season so far. “It’s great to not have our season end before it should have. This is really fun to be part of this team.”

Gillen-Melville spoke with Orr early on about adding a role as outside hitter to her duties as setter.

“I talked to her at the beginning of the season and asked what she thought. She said, ‘Yep, I’ll do it. Whatever you want, coach.’ And that’s the beauty of Brie. You can’t beat that.”


Rochester Mayo put on an inspired comeback against Grand Rapids in the 3A consolation bracket. After the Thunderhawks won the first two games, Mayo won the third game by a score of 40-38 and then swept the next two games to advance to the fifth-place match against Moorhead.


--Marshall’s roster includes three pairs of sisters: Sydney and Mallory Griffin, Lexi and Morgan Saugstad, and Haley and Hannah Bennett.

--The 24 state tournament teams combine for a grand total of 15 players named Taylor (or Taylr, in the case of Eagan’s Taylr McNeil). Kasson-Mantorville leads the way with three Taylors: Taylor Wiebke, Taylor Busch and Taylor Miller.


Class 1A/ Fillmore Central vs. Southwest Christian at 1 p.m.

Class 2A/ Marshall vs. Hill-Murray at 3 p.m.

Class 3A/ Eagan vs. Delano at 5 p.m.


Class 3A
Eagan beat Eden Prairie 25-21, 19-25, 25-17, 25-13
Delano beat Osseo 25-9, 21-25, 25-15, 25-21

Class 2A
Marshall beat Fergus Falls 25-15, 25-14, 25-7
Hill-Murray beat Kasson-Mantorville 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 18-25, 15-10

Class 1A
Fillmore Central beat Win-E-Mac 25-13, 27-25, 22-25, 27-25
Southwest Christian beat Minneota 25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-10

--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 7 for the state volleyball tournament, 18 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,788
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

First-Time Nerves … And State Tourney Success
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/7/2013 4:57:10 PM

Fillmore Central came into the Class 1A state volleyball tournament riding high, with a record of 33-2, coming off the championship of always-strong Section 1 and receiving the No. 1 seed at state.

That didn’t mean the Falcons -- and their coach -- weren’t nervous when they met Ada-Borup in Thursday’s quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. Ada-Borup won the first game 25-19 before the Falcons rallied to win the next three games 25-16, 25-14, 25-2. Fillmore Central will meet Win-E-Mac in Friday’s semifinals at 1 p.m.

“We got off to a slow start, we were nervous,” said coach Denise Case, who admitted she felt some nerves, too. “Yes, I was nervous a little bit. I’m still nervous, I think.”

First-time teams at state volleyball often have issues in becoming accustomed to the Xcel Energy Center’s sky-high black ceiling and wide-open spaces. The Falcons practiced Thursday morning in the gym at Concordia University in St. Paul, but there’s really no way to replicate the Xcel Center’s vastness.

Fillmore Central’s only two losses this season were against Class 3A Rosemount. The Falcons were 26-6 last season and 24-6-1 two years ago, and everyone was expecting big things this season … and beyond. The Falcons have only two seniors on the roster, including Case’s daughter Taylor, who had 17 kills and 25 digs against Ada-Borup.

There’s a third member of the family on the bench; Denise’s daughter Ashley, 27, is an assistant coach.

“We pretty much talk a lot of volleyball at home,” Denise said.


Thursday was a great day for music at the volleyball tournament. The Eagan band has a fantastic sound, the Roseville band played a great rendition of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” and the world-famous Ada-Borup band brought electricity in more way than one. Mix in the bands from Fergus Falls, Mora, Marshall, etc., and it was fantastic.

Fillmore Central, which is playing at a girls state tournament for the first time in any sport, not only brought enthusiastic fans but a fabulous band. Think about this: Fillmore Central has a high school enrollment of 131, and 96 of those students are in the band program. Thursday’s band was a bit smaller, however, because all but one of the Falcons volleyball players also are musicians. Oh, and the school is located in the town of Harmony. Perfect.


During a timeout, Eagan students chanted: “We love physics!” Assistant coach Steve Elliott teaches, yes, physics.


Sparty, the big dude who represents the Rochester Mayo Spartans, is hard to beat.


After Eagan swept Moorhead 3-0 in Class 3A beind 19 kills by the 6-foot-1Taylr McNeil, Fargo-Moorhead Forum scribe Chris Murphy issued this Tweet:

“That'll do it. Top-seeded Eagan moves on to the semifinals with a 25-13, 25-16, 25-14 sweep of Moorhead.Taylr McNeil is unfair.”


Class 3A
Eagan beat Moorhead 25-13, 25-16, 25-14
Eden Prairie beat 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 26-24
Osseo beat Rochester Mayo 27-25, 25-19, 25-18
Delano beat Grand Rapids 25-18, 25-14, 25-14

Class 2A
Marshall beat Mora 25-9, 25-7, 25-18
Fergus Falls beat Belle Plaine 26-28, 25-19, 25-14, 19-25, 15-9
Kasson-Mantorville beat Maple Lake 25-20, 25-17, 25-21
Hill-Murray beat Dassel-Cokato 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 25-22

Class 1A
Fillmore Central beat Ada-Borup 19-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21
Win-E-Mac beat Nevis 25-21, 25-20, 25-20
Minneota beat Carlton 25-21, 25-8, 25-18
Southwest Christian beat Martin County West 25-18, 25-16, 25-9

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 4 for the state volleyball tournament, 15 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,740
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Gearing Up For State Football Quarterfinals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/6/2013 2:23:26 PM

The state football playoffs have arrived. In all seven classes, from nine-man to 6A, quarterfinal games will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. See the schedule and more by clicking here.

Congrats to Cannon Falls' Emi Trost, Old Dutch athlete of the week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/6/2013 1:54:03 PM

Emi Trost, a senior at Cannon Falls High School, capped an outstanding high school cross-country career by winning the Class 1A state championship Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Emi, who had finished second at state the previous two years, won with a decisive 10-second margin of victory. It was her fifth appearance at the state cross-country meet.

In addition to her success in cross-country, Emi also was a state champion in the 800-meter run at last spring’s state track meet and runner-up in the 1,600 meters.

Emi has a 3.97 grade-point average and has been named academic all-state in track and cross-country. She has been involved in 4H for 10 years and has held leadership positions such as treasurer, Cloverbud leader and vice president. She also is very active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where she currently is a Youth Leader, and she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Cannon Falls pool.

Congratulations to Emi Trost for being this week's Old Dutch High School Athlete of the week!

State Volleyball: Changing Of The Championship Guard
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/5/2013 12:38:04 PM

This week’s state volleyball tournament will have a bit of a new look, especially in the category of returning state champions. Two-time defending champ Marshall in Class 2A is the only team carrying that banner this week, with longtime tournament regulars Bethlehem Academy (1A) and Lakeville North (3A) losing in section finals.

The tournament begins Thursday with quarterfinal games at Xcel Energy Center, semifinals will be held Friday and championship matches will be played Saturday. The tournament will be webcast by prep45.com.

Bethlehem Academy lost to Fillmore Central in the Section 1 championship match. That result not only interrupted Bethlehem Academy’s lengthy streak of state berths, but it also assured Fillmore Central of its first trip to state in any girls sport. Fillmore Central is the No. 1 seed in Class 1A.

Bethehem Academy was the state champion the last two years and also claimed titles in 2009, 2007, 2005 and 2003, along with runner-up finishes in 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2002. The Cardinals had been to every state volleyball tournament except one since 2002. They missed state in 2010, when Wabasha-Kellogg represented Section 1 and won the state title.

In 3A, defending state champ Lakeville North lost to Eagan in the Section 3 final. North has played in state championship matches the last three years, winning titles in 2010 and last year. The Panthers also played at state 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 (all as Lakeville High), 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Eagan’s return ends a seven-year state tourney hiatus for the Wildcats, who won state championships in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Marshall is at state for the 13th year in a row, and the Tigers won state titles in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. This is Marshall’s 25th trip to state, which is a state record.

Here are some other tournament tidbits…

--Delano (3A) coach Rebecca Rue is the daughter of Ada-Borup (1A) coach Ruth Hayden. This is the third time both have had teams at state.

--In 2A, Fergus Falls, Hill-Murray and Dassel-Cokato are all at state for the first time.

--No teams in the tournament have unbeaten records. Osseo (3A) has the fewest losses with a record of 28-1. Teams with two losses are Eagan (3A, 27-2), Grand Rapids (3A, 29-2) and Fillmore Central (1A, 33-2).

--On another topic, the MSHSL Facebook page reached a new milestone this week. We now have more than 13,000 “Likes.” Wow!

--Diet Coke Count: 11 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:131
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,698
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

The search is on for the next Old Dutch Athlete of the Week!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/4/2013 9:46:14 AM

After another great week of action, nominations are open for this prestigious statewide award. See all the details by clicking here.

A Cross-Country Day Filled With Big Wins, Wonderful Storylines
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/2/2013 3:44:36 PM

NORTHFIELD – Saturday was one of the finest days for cross-country state championship storylines in memory. All four races – Class 2A and 1A for girls and boys – provided epic moments and wonderful hoopla on a gloriously sunny day at St. Olaf College.

We saw a runner sprint to a state title by running with one shoe. We saw twin sisters finish first and second. We saw a two-time state runner-up finally claim a gold medal. And we saw history in the first father-son duo to win state cross-country titles. Here’s a recap…


A year ago, Richfield’s Obsa Ali finished second, four scant seconds behind Wayzata senior Wayde Hall.

Ever since that day, Ali (pictured) has been thinking, pondering, imagining how it would feel to be the first runner to finish the picturesque, wooded 5,000-meter course at St. Olaf. But in his wildest dreams, Ali never ever could have imagined what took place Saturday.

He has been battling sore shins, which caused him to take two weeks off late in the season. He has been struggling with the flu and a bad head cold. And then the kicker: he finished the state championship wearing one shoe.

Another runner stepped on the heel of his right shoe during the race, causing the back of his foot to slip out. With 400 meters left in the race, he kicked off the kick and went on to cross the finish line two seconds ahead of Wayzata junior Connor Olson. Ali’s time of 15 minutes, 15.2 seconds was five seconds off the course record.

“I took it off and went for it,” he said. “It was messing with my head; ‘Should I stop?’ I just kicked it in (to the finish line).”

It was clear from Ali’s postgame demeanor that a state title was something he dearly wanted.

“It feels amazing. I feel like I just lost a thousand pounds, a huge weight off my back. It was keeping me up at night. This was my biggest, biggest goal since last year. It’s amazing.”

Isaiah Barlow of Hutchinson finished third, followed by Jacob McDermott of Cretin-Derham Hall and Zack Benning of Hastings.

Olson’s finish helped Wayzata claim the 2A boys team title with 53 points. Edina finished second (66) for the second year in a row and two-time defending champion Stillwater (99) was third.


When twins Bethany and Megan Hasz were born, Megan was the first to appear, followed by Bethany 29 minutes later. In Saturday’s 2A girls race, Bethany was first and Megan second, adding an Alexandria family flair to the finish.

A year ago Bethany (pictured) placed third and Megan was sixth. This time, there was no denying the twins. Bethany finished the 4,000 meters in 13:53.1 and Megan was next in 14:13.9, followed by Bemidji junior Jenna Truedson in 14:19.2. The top five finishers were all non-seniors, including fourth-place Anna Van Wyk, a junior from Eagan, and fifth-place Emily Betz, a junior from East Ridge.

Wayzata junior Anna French, who was second last year and ranked No. 1 in 2A this year, finished 14th.

“We knew Anna French was ranked ahead of us so we really didn’t know what would happen,” Bethany Hasz said. “But we definitely knew it was a possibility for one of us to win it.”

Wayzata captured the 2A girls team title for the second year in a row. The Trojans’ top finishers were ninth-grader Annika Lerdall (eighth) and senior Annika Halverson ( 11th).


Emi Trost knows all about finishing second at state. The Cannon Falls senior was the second-place runner each of the last two years, but her final high school cross-country race broke the pattern in a big way.

Trost (pictured) ran to victory with a winning time of 14:40.3, 10 seconds ahead of St. Paul Academy junior Mary Naas. Becca Wilkin of Trinity School at River Ridge was third, followed by Elizabeth Schlafke of Annandale and Courtney Alama of Annandale.

In each of the last two years Trost finished behind Blake’s Clare Flanagan. Flanagan is now a senior, as well, but did not compete in the postseason because of a knee injury; she was on crutches at the race Saturday. Even if Flanagan had been healthy, it would have made little difference in Trost’s race because Blake moved up to Class 2A this season.

Schlafke and Alama led Annandale, which placed second last year, to the 1A girls team crown with a total of 85 points. Second was Lac Qui Parle Valley with 113 and third was Perham with 138.


Perham senior Keeghan Hurley wanted to win a state championship for several reasons. But mostly for his dad, who knows how it feels to wear a gold medal. Don Hurley won Class 2A state titles in 1976 and 1977 running for Cretin High School in St. Paul. On Saturday, son joined father in that very exclusive club.

“This means so much to me and my father,” said Keeghan (pictured with Don), who finished fifth at state last year. “This is a really, really special moment for us and for Perham.”

Don had a few simple words for his son Saturday morning. “He just said, ‘I love you’ and ‘Go do it. Do the best you possibly can.’ And that’s what I did today.”

Keeghan’s time was 15:36.7. Placing second was Waseca junior Shane Streich, 14 seconds behind Hurley. Third was Rochester Lourdes senior Ian Torchia.

Perham also won the 1A boys team title for the second year in a row, with a total of 51 points. Yellowjackets senior Jayden Cullen placed third among team entrants and junior Billy Beseman was seventh. Mounds Park Academy was second with 111 points and St. Cloud Cathedral was third with 145.

Keeghan Hurley had envisioned winning at St. Olaf for a long time. During training runs near his home, he ran up and down hills while thinking of the final hill in Northfield … an uphill climb that leads to the home stretch and the finish line.

“I’ve just been picturing that last hill,” he said. “It was like a dream come true when I hit that hill. It was like, ‘I’ve already seen this, I know what’s going to happen.’ It was very, very cool.”

--To see photo galleries from all four races, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 2 for the state cross-country tournament, 11 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:131
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,698
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

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