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The March to March 11 Is On For Boys Hockey Teams
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/31/2016 1:30:50 PM

As the calendar turns over into a new year, March 11 is a crucial date for boys hockey teams in Minnesota. If you are playing on March 11, you are one of the final teams still on the ice. The dream is to play for a state championship on that date at Xcel Energy Center.

There are months to go before then, of course, but hearts and minds are focused on the biggest day of the hockey season. Players, coaches and teams are working to eliminate their weaknesses and build up their strengths, all in the hopes of lacing up the skates on the second Saturday in March.

Two of last seasons final four teams in Class 2A are Eden Prairie and Grand Rapids. The Eagles defeated the Thunderhawks in the 2015 state semifinals before losing to Wayzata in the championship game; Grand Rapids defeated Stillwater in the third-place game.

It can be safely assumed that those teams are doing everything in their power to get back to state.

Having made it to the state tournament last year, if nothing else, it raises our expectations, said Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt. Weve been there and our goal is to go back. This group doesnt want to just make it there and take fourth place or third place. Thats great, but they want to win.

In one of the premier regular-season boys hockey events, Grand Rapids went 2-1 at the Edina Holiday Classic. The Thunderhawks defeated Edina and Eden Prairie and lost to Elk River/Zimmerman, which also went 2-1 in the three-day event at Braemar Arena. Eden Prairie and Edina finished 1-2.

Heading into New Years Eve, Grand Rapids had a record of 9-1-1, Eden Prairie was 6-3-2, Elk River/Zimmerman 10-2 and Edina 7-3.

The most well-known player in the state is Eden Prairie senior Casey Mittelstadt. He was the only prep player invited to be on the U.S. national under-18 team that won bronze at the world championship tournament last spring, and he was one of only two high schoolers among 42 players who took part in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Philadelphia in September.

Before the current high school season began, Mittelstadt had options other than returning to the Eagles. He could have enrolled early at the University of Minnesota and started his collegiate career, and he could have played the entire season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. He chose to begin the USHL season in Green Bay and came back to Eden Prairie when the high school hockey season started.

Its a great thing for high school hockey to have him back, Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. Hes a great kid besides being a great player.

After last seasons state tournament, Mittelstadt told Smith he would be back for his senior season.

Hes always been a man of his word, Smith said. I know he put himself into a position where he could have been at the university. Im glad he chose to stay back.

Mittelstadts decision was the subject of a full-page story in the New York Times on Dec. 10. The story said, Elite American prospects like Mittelstadt, projected to be a first-round pick in Junes N.H.L. draft, usually do not play high school hockey, or they stop after their sophomore or junior year.

Obviously its a cool thing, Casey said of the newspaper story. But the main thing is we have to be better out here and make sure we get the wins. That stuff will be cool when its all over.

Eden Prairie lost in the state semifinals two years ago, so Mittelstadt has come close to two championships. One last opportunity to win it all was a prime reason for his return to the Eagles.

When it all comes together and you think about it, the guys in the room are the reason I fell in love with the game, he said. I think I owe it to them. It was a pretty easy decision.

If Mittelstadt had not returned, We would still have a good team, Smith said. Hes a difference maker, someone the opponents put a lot of time and effort into. I still think we could have a chance to go to the state tournament, but with him we have a better chance of maybe winning the state tournament.

Playing in the Edina Holiday Classic was a good test for all four teams. Scheduling top-flight opponents is one way to improve as a hockey team, and Grand Rapids is taking full advantage, no matter the mileage required. Of the Thunderhawks 25 regular-season games, 11 of them are in the Twin Cities. Their northern Minnesota opponents include teams like Duluth East, Hermantown, Bemidji and Moorhead,

We want to play the best teams in the state, Klatt said. We need the challenge. We need to see what our weaknesses are. And when you play high-quality teams, thats when youre exposed. You make a lot of mistakes, it doesnt look good, but boom, there it is. Now we can work on it, now we can improve, and hopefully by the end of the year we can fix some of the problems.

The drive, the determination, the passion, the goals, its clearly visible. Theyre really hungry.

The march to March 11 is on.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 306
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,367
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

A Year Of Accomplishment And History In Winona
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/21/2016 11:37:27 AM

Winona High School has been on a pretty strong athletic roll. The Winhawks made appearances at state tournaments last winter, last spring and this fall, with their girls basketball, softball and football teams all finishing as state runners-up.

Not many schools can brag about such things. But people in Winona remember when sports success was, shall we say, less regular than clockwork.

Girls basketball coach Tim Gleason has seen a lot in his 24 years at Winona. Hes the head coach for girls basketball as well as girls and boys track, and is a band director. Gleason also was an assistant football coach for a few years, including a stretch in which the Winhawks lost 37 consecutive games before ending the slide in 2008.

There were a lot of things that we had to overcome here, he said. We had great people we were working with. As unfortunate as it was, things just wouldnt fall our way.

That is certainly not the current theme. The football team reached the Class 3A Section 1 championship game in 2015 and made it all the way to the 3A Prep Bowl this year before losing to Benilde-St. Margarets. The girls basketball team had a 2015-16 season to remember for several reasons, bracketed by the death of Gleasons father and a trip to state, where the Winhawks lost to Holy Angels in the Class 3A title game at Williams Arena. The softball team was 22-5 last spring, falling to Mankato West 4-3 in the 3A championship game.

Trips to state have not been common occurrences for those teams. The softball team had never played at state before last spring, the girls basketball team had been to state only once previously (2003) and the football teams only other trip to state resulted in a runner-up finish in 1987.

It has changed the culture of our school, activities director Casey Indra said of the athletic success. Not only with the athletes but with the kids that are in the arts, too. Its crazy. Weve talked about it. Its like a light switch was flipped.

Success in athletics and other activities can be a building block to even more good things in a school environment. Casey Moger, a senior on the girls basketball team, was also a manager on the football team for four seasons.

It brings our school together, she said of the sports success. You see people in the hallways that might never talk to you, but theyll say, Hey, good game. Nice job.

Gleason said, Its really been fun to watch people from different backgrounds, different groups, come together. There are lot of things going on, and to see the solidarity and the community that has been built in our school, and the energy that is translated out to our community. It has been so much fun to watch and its been energizing for everybody involved, whether theyre athletes, the teaching staff or the student body itself.

Gleasons father Jerry was a music teacher, just like his son. Jerry, a Winona High School graduate, died in mid-February. The Winhawks won a game that night and didnt lose again until the state championship.

There were so many things that you look at as a coach that you just dream about, Gleason said. Some of the things the team did in honor of my father, some of the things the players said after those games. Its an emotional time, and to see the composure they had, and how tight that group became, how close-knit they were and still are. I will always remember that and it will always be a part of me. Even now, eight months later, talking about it brings back all those feelings.

Having a coach who also is a band director ties the schools musicians even more closely to the teams. The Winhawks pep band has become a fixture at big postseason games, adding to the community spirit.

Our band is just unbelievable in regards to what they do for us, Indra said. I made the comment at our Prep Bowl welcome home that its Thanksgiving break and we brought three buses of kids to play in the band. And they were gung-ho to do it. I think were the only team that travels with seven tubas. Its awesome, it truly is.

The current girls basketball team has a record of 4-1, playing their first five games on the road. Current seniors Abby Winter, Danneka Voegeli, Eden Nibbelink and Justine Schultz all started in last seasons state championship game. Winter has been slowed by an injury but should return before long.

Through some of the adversity that weve had, some injuries and kind of redefining of roles, Im really encouraged and proud of how far weve come in such a short time, said Gleason (pictured). I hope we can keep going. I hope we can keep trying to get better.

Schultz has a unique perspective on what has happened in the last year. Not only is she on the basketball team, but she also was the catcher on the softball team.

With our basketball season last year it kind of gave confidence to our team for future years and for other teams, she said. It got the softball team rolling and it got the football team rolling. So now our whole school is like, We can do it.

Asked what she will remember years from now, Justine made two points. The first was easy: Friendships. The second said a lot about what has been taking place in Winona: The process to get to where we are. Not necessarily the outcome or the finish, but the road to get where we are going.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 306
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,367
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Basketball Rankings: Class 1A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:12:30 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Mountain Iron-Buhl 3-0
2. Maranatha Christian 0-1
3. Goodhue 4-1
4. Wheaton-Hrm.-Nor. 3-0
5. Cromwell-Wright 3-0
6. SW MN Christian 3-0
7. Canby 3-0
8. Cedar Mt.-Comfrey 4-0
9. Mankato Loyola 4-0
10. Mayer Lutheran 3-1
11. Sleepy Eye 3-0
12. Lyle-Pacelli 2-0
13. Kimball 3-1
14. Lester Prairie-WinstedHoly Trinity 2-1
15. EGF Sacred Heart 2-0
16. Stephen-Argyle 1-0
17. Ada-Borup 1-1
18. Parkers Prairie 2-0
19. Red Lake 2-0
20. Minneapolis North 2-2

Basketball Rankings: Class 2A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:11:54 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Watertown-Mayer 2-0
2. Roseau 2-0
3. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 4-0
4. Sauk Centre 2-1
5. Minnehaha Acad. 2-1
6. Esko 3-0
7. New London-Spicer 3-0
8. Norwood-Y. Amer. 2-0
9. Annandale 2-0
10. Dilw.-Glyn.-Felt. 3-0
11. Pequot Lakes 1-0
12. St. Cloud Cathed. 3-0
13. Pipestone 1-0
14. Holy Family Cath. 3-1
15. Tracy-Milroy-Bala. 2-0
16. Osakis 2-0
17. Caledonia 2-0
18. Morris Area 3-0
19. Rush City 3-0
20. Rochester Lourdes 3-0

Basketball Rankings: Class 3A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:10:54 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Hutchinson 3-0
2. Holy Angels 2-0
3. Mahtomedi 2-0
4. Alexandria 2-1
5. Winona 1-1
6. Grand Rapids 3-0
7. Waseca 3-0
8. Orono 2-0
9. Zimmerman 2-0
10. Northfield 3-0
11. Chisago Lakes 2-0
12. Hermantown 3-1
13. Worthington 2-0
14. Byron 2-1
15. DeLaSalle 1-2
16. Kasson-Mantorville 1-3
17. Delano 3-0
18. Waconia 3-2
19. Sartell-St. Stephen 2-0
20. Thief River Falls 2-1

Basketball Rankings: Class 4A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:10:24 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Hopkins 5-0
2. Eastview 3-0
3. Centennial 3-0
4. Elk River 2-0
5. Apple Valley 2-0
6. Wayzata 3-0
7. Edina 2-0
8. Cretin-Derhan Hall 4-0
9. Lakeville North 4-1
10. Roseville Area 3-0
11. East Ridge 2-1
12. Park Center 2-1
13. Andover 3-0
14. St. Michael-Albert. 2-2
15. Anoka 2-1
16. Rosemount 3-1
17. Lakeville South 2-0
18. White Bear Lake 2-2
19. Minnetonka 1-2
20. Rochester JM 3-0

Basketball Rankings: Class 1A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:08:29 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minneapolis North 1-1
2. Red Lake 2-0
3. Cent.MN Christian 1-0
4. Browerville-Eagle Valley 2-0
5. Spring Grove 3-0
6. Lk. Park-Audubon 2-0
7. Goodhue 2-0
8. Nevis 2-0
9. Hillcrest Lutheran 0-0
10. Rushford-Peterson 0-0
11. Westbrook-WG 3-0
12. Mountain Lake 2-0
13. Springfield 1-1
14. Cass Lake-Bena 2-0
15. Cleveland 2-0
16. Waubun 2-0
17. Verndale 1-0
18. Mt. Iron-Buhl 1-0
19. MN Valley Luth. 3-0
20. North Woods 1-0

Basketball Rankings: Class 2A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:07:34 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Caledonia 1-0
2. Minnehaha Acad. 1-1
3. Annandale 2-0
4. Jackson Co. Cent. 1-0
5. Esko 3-0
6. Crosby-Ironton 0-0
7. Eden Valley-Watk. 0-0
8. St. Cloud Cathedral 1-0
9. Perham 1-0
10. St. Charles 1-0
11. Brooklyn Center 2-0
12. Waterville-ElysianMorristown 1-0
13. Melrose 1-0
14 Maple River 1-0
15. Jordan 1-0
16. NRHEG 2-0
17. Rochester Lourdes 0-0
18. N.London-Spicer 2-0
19. St. Croix Lutheran 0-1
20. Dilworth-Gln-Felt. 0-1

Basketball Rankings: Class 3A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:06:41 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 2-0
2. Fergus Falls 1-0
3. Delano 2-0
4. Minneapolis Henry 1-0
5. Marshall 1-0
6. Austin 1-0
7. Mahtomedi 2-0
8. Big Lake 3-0
9. Orono 1-1
10. Alexandria 1-0
11. Northfield 2-0
12. Benilde-St. Marg. 1-0
13. Sauk Rapids-Rice 1-0
14. Waseca 2-0
15. Totino-Grace 1-0
16. Fridley 1-1
17. Rocori 1-1
18. Detroit Lakes 0-0
19. Simley 2-0
20. Grand Rapids 1-1

Basketball Rankings: Class 4A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2016 8:05:54 PM

Rankings provided by Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Champlin Park 1-0
2. Lakeville North 1-0
3. Hopkins 2-0
4. Maple Grove 0-0
5. Cretin-Derham Hall 1-0
6. Apple Valley 1-0
7. Woodbury 1-0
8. Chaska 2-0
9. Osseo 0-0
10. Park Center 1-0
11. New Prague 2-0
12. Edina 0-1
13. Tartan 1-0
14. Eden Prairie 1-0
15. North St. Paul 1-0
16. Wayzata 1-0
17. St. Louis Park 1-1
18. Mounds View 0-1
19. Rochester JM 0-1
20. Lakeville South 0-1

Hockey Rankings: Class 2A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/15/2016 12:54:30 PM

This week's Class 2A boys hockey rankings from Let's Play Hockey.

Rank Team Record Last Week
1. Eden Prairie (13) 4-0-0 1
2. Stillwater Area (1) 4-0-0 2
3. Grand Rapids 5-0-0 3
4. Elk River-Zimmerman (1) 4-0-0 4
5. St. Thomas Academy 5-1-0 7
6. Holy Family Catholic 5-1-0 5
7. Edina 3-1-0 6
8. Minnetonka 3-2-0 8
9. Lakeville North 3-1-0 10
10. Centennial 3-1-0 9
11. Duluth East 3-2-0 11
12. Hill-Murray 4-0-0 14
13. Moorhead 4-1-0 12
14. Wayzata 1-4-0 13
15. Prior Lake 3-0-0 16
16. Lakeville South 4-2-1 15
17. St. Michael-Albertville 4-0-0 18
18 Maple Grove 4-1-0 17
19. White Bear Lake 5-0-0 20
20. Bemidji 3-2-0 19
Receiving votes: Duluth Marshall, Benilde-St. Margarets, Eastview, Burnsville

Hockey Rankings: Class 1A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/15/2016 12:53:46 PM

This week's Class 1A boys hockey rankings from Let's Play Hockey.

Rank Team Record Last Week
1. Delano (6) 5-0-0 1
2. Hermantown (4) 2-1-1 2
3. St. Paul Academy 3-0-0 3
4. Breck 3-2-0 4
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 4-1-2 5
6. Mahtomedi 2-2-0 6
7. Alexandria 2-0-2 9
8. Sartell-St. Stephen 3-0-2 11
9 Greenway 6-1-0 7
10. East Grand Forks 3-1-1 8
11. Warroad 1-3-1 10
12. Minnehaha Academy 3-1-0 12
13. Hibbing/Chisholm 4-1-0 15
14. Orono 3-2-0 13
15. New Prague 4-1-0 14
16. Monticello 5-1-0 20
17. Northfield 3-1-1 18
18. Totino-Grace 2-4-0 17
19. Blake 4-3-0 16
20. Mankato West 3-2-0 19
Receiving votes: Rochester Lourdes, Luverne, Princeton, Thief River Falls, Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl, Minneapolis

Hockey Rankings: Class 2A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/15/2016 12:53:13 PM

This week's Class 2A girls hockey rankings from Let's Play Hockey.

Rank Team Record Last Week
1. Edina (10) 7-0-0 1
2. Maple Grove 8-1-0 2
3. Eden Prairie 6-2-0 3
4. Blaine 8-0-0 4
5. Hill-Murray 7-2-0 5
6. Elk River/Zimmerman 7-2-0 6
7. Centennial 7-2-0 7
8. Cretin-Derham Hall 5-3-1 9
9. Lakeville South 8-3-0 8
10. Forest Lake 4-2-1 11
11. Wayzata 4-4-0 10
12. Minnetonka 3-4-2 12
13. Eagan 6-1-1 14
14. Chaska/Chanhassen 5-6-0 13
15. White Bear Lake 6-3-0 15
16. Dodge County 7-2-0 17
17. Hopkins/Park 9-2-0 18
18. Mounds View 5-1-0 19
19. Eastview 5-5-0 16
20. Stillwater Area 5-3-0 20
Receiving votes: Shakopee, East Ridge, Lakeville North, Champlin Park, Andover, Brainerd/Little Falls

Hockey Rankings: Class 1A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/15/2016 12:52:38 PM

This week's Class 1A girls hockey rankings from Let's Play Hockey.

Rank Team Record Last Week
1. Blake (10) 7-1-1 1
2. Breck 7-3-0 2
3. Warroad 5-3-1 3
4. Thief River Falls 10-2-0 4
5. St. Paul United 9-2-1 5
6. New Prague 4-4-1 6
7. Proctor/Hermantown 5-3-0 7
8. Delano/Rockford 9-1-0 11
9. Hibbing/Chisholm 5-4-0 8
10. Alexandria 3-2-1 10
11. Northfield 4-3-1 9
12. Princeton 7-3-0 13
13. Orono 3-3-0 12
14. Red Wing 7-2-1 15
15. East Grand Forks 4-2-1 14
16. South St. Paul 5-4-0 16
17. Moose Lake 7-1-1 18
18. Mound Westonka 7-4-0 17
19. Owatonna 6-1-0 19
20. New Ulm 7-1-1 20
Receiving votes: Hutchinson
Boost Post

Prep Bowl Highlight Video
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/13/2016 9:47:01 AM

This is too good not to share. Thanks to our broadcast partner KSTC-TV Channel 45 for putting this together.

2016 Prep Bowl - Music Video

Johns Mailbag: Transfers And Shot Clocks
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/12/2016 1:27:07 PM

For this installment of Johns Mailbag, lets delve into a couple of questions that are often brought up.

Question: How many people do you have working on making sure that athletic transfers are following the rules?

First, a clarification: There is no such thing as an athletic transfer. Under Minnesota law, students are free to open enroll at the school of their choice. The MSHSL is responsible for governing the rules and bylaws of athletics and activities in the state, and student eligibility is part of that.

Another point to remember: The MSHSL is not the NCAA. The college governing body has an enforcement division which investigates possible rule violations. The MSHSL has no similar staff. On the high school level in Minnesota, the main responsibility for making sure these rules are followed falls to the schools.

When a student transfers from one school to another, administrators at both schools have a part in the process and sign off on the transfer. Yes, there is paperwork. Those documents come to the MSHSL office for review and approval. The student must meet one of five provisions in the transfer bylaw to be fully eligible; additionally, there are six specific provisions that can be appealed. There is also a hearing request process.

If you care to dive into the fine print, click the Handbook link near the top of this page. The bylaws regarding eligibility can be viewed there.

Question: How close are shot clocks to being implemented for basketball in Minnesota?

Sorry, shot clock fans. There is currently no strong effort to make shot clocks a requirement for high school basketball in Minnesota. The cost of installing shot clocks is an issue (this can be thousands of dollars), as is the cost to pay people to operate shot clocks during games.

In 2007 the MSHSL board of directors approved the use of 35-second shot clocks in limited circumstances: non-conference games and regular-season tournament games, on the condition that both teams agree. Boys coaches had pushed the idea, while girls coaches were largely silent.

The result has been a little underwhelming. Some gyms are equipped with shot clocks but they are rarely used. Small schools in particular seem to be opposed to shot clocks, based partially on the expense.

Shot clocks are used to some extent for girls and/or boys basketball in eight states (California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington). Because those states dont follow national high school rules in this area, their governing bodies are not allowed to be part of the National Federation of State High School Association Basketball Rules Committee.

When the MSHSL shot clock experiment was approved in 2007, some people believed the desire for shot clocks would grow quickly. In a story I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the board approved shot clocks, one athletic director told me, This is one of those things where if we start experimenting today, two or three years down the road we'll all be using shot clocks.

That was almost a decade ago and the fervor for shot clocks hasnt exactly been overwhelming.

Keep those questions coming.

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 304
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,300
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

"A Display Of Overall Caring, Sportsmanship, And Respect"
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/10/2016 2:38:02 PM

Wonderful things happen in high school activities, and many times they have little to do with the results on the scoreboard. Here is one recent example, as described in a letter from a basketball official to the MSHSL...

I am writing to tell a story regarding a boys game I officiated on 12/6/16, Annandale at Maple Lake. After the National Anthem, the Maple Lake coach, Mr. Staloch, took the microphone and began speaking in regards to a very serious medical condition that the grandbaby of Mr. Dolan (Annandale coach) has been going through for the past seven months. He also stated they are all very lucky to be able to play the game, but how small and insignificant this particular game means as there are more serious issues we all deal with.

Mr. Staloch stated that the halftime shootout proceeds will go directly to the family of Mr. Dolan, and a bucket will be placed at half court for donations.

At halftime, I found myself standing on the court, in awe, as the Maple Lake players lined up, and each made an individual donation into the bucket. Shortly after halftime, an announcement was made that more than $1,000 was raised for the family.

With approximately two minutes left in the game, Mr. Dolan asked me to stop the game for a minute. He grabbed the microphone, thanked everyone for attending the game and for the generosity that was extended to his family. There was not a dry eye in the place. Mr. Dolan walked over to me, shook my hand, thanked me for officiating the game, and allowing the events to take place.

While wiping away my tears, I explained it was my pleasure to be a part of this, and I wished him and his family all the best.

I am very proud and honored to have witnessed such a display of overall caring, sportsmanship, and respect that the Maple Lake staff, fans, coaches and players had for the visiting team's coach, Mr. Dolan, and his family.

It was a game I will honestly never forget, for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the game of basketball.

Thank you for your time,
Dean Kerfeld
Runestone Officials Association

The Legend Of Marcus Harris, Three-Sport Coach At Breck
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/8/2016 3:58:17 PM

Members of the girls basketball team at Breck dont know much about their head coachs background. Thats not odd, considering its been a few years since Marcus Harris was in the headlines as one of the nations top athletes.

Im not really sure about all that he did but I know hes kind of a legend, said senior captain Lauren Bilcik.

Legend is a good word to describe Harris. He was a football superstar at Brooklyn Center High School, where he set 16 school records and was named the Metro Player of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1992. His college career as a wide receiver at Wyoming was even more legendary.

Harris led the nation with 1,431 receiving yards as a sophomore in 1994. He finished his college career with 259 receptions for 4,518 yards and 38 touchdowns. He set an NCAA record for career receiving yards, finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting, was named a consensus All-American and received the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver after his senior year in 1996.

He was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions, was released during training camp and later played in the Canadian Football League as well as in arena football.

I was in just about everything you could be in for at least a week or so, he said of his post-college football career.

These days, Harris is a busy man. Not only is he Brecks girls basketball coach, hes also an assistant football coach at the Golden Vallley school as well as the head softball coach. He is a father of three daughters whose day job is working on the grounds crew at Breck, which can mean some very long hours.

Most days hes at work from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (although when snow falls he might be working at 3 or 4 in the morning making sure roads, parking lots and sidewalks on campus are clear of snow). That is followed by practices that can last until 6 p.m., and his daughters activities can stretch into the evening.

Its a long workday, he said. And then whenever my girls get done with their practices and whatnot, it can be tough to find sleep but we get it done.

He coached at Brooklyn Center for several years before moving to Breck nine years ago. This is his second season as head girls basketball coach, and the Mustangs will take a 1-2 record into a home game Friday with Nova Classical Academy.

Their first victory of the season came Tuesday at Brooklyn Center when the Mustangs defeated the Centaurs 36-23. Harris remained seated throughout the game, his voice never rising as he spoke to his players and the officials. He said that isnt always the case, especially during practice.

Junior team captain Keely Conroy said Harris is always ready to talk to anybody whenever they want. Hes super instructive. He can joke around but also he stays really serious on the court because he wants us to be the best we can be.

He pushes us really hard. Im not going to lie, he pushes us. But thats just because he wants us to live up to our potential. He really believes in us.

Harris left Wyoming after his senior football season to pursue his professional dreams. He returned to his studies years later, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science in 2015. He was inducted into the University of Wyoming Hall of Fame in 2004.

Here I was without a degree, unable to pursue any coaching at a higher level, and I knew I needed to get this done and put my family in a better position, he said. I hustled up and got that done. I didnt want those three and a half years I spent at Wyoming to go to waste.

His original course of study was education, with the intention of becoming a teacher. Working with the teams at Breck helps fulfill that aspiration.

Its my way of teaching, he said. Its a teaching atmosphere without walls. It energizes me to work with young people.

Harris doesnt often bring up his athletic accomplishments, even when others might.

A lot of parents, they like to Google and look their kids coaches up, he said. Sometimes in football things will come up that lead to those kids maybe doing a search or something. I had a good corps of receivers a few years ago, and I gave them a CD that showed I actually knew what I was talking about.

Thats OK, even if his basketball players dont know the details.

I know he was a college football player, Conroy said. Thats about all I know, to be honest.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 292
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,247
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Hockey Rankings: Class 1A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/7/2016 7:54:27 PM

The Associated Press poll for Minnesota Class 1A girls high school hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper.

1. Blake 6-1-1 1
2. Breck 7-2-0 2
3. Warroad 3-3-1 4
4. Thief River Falls 8-1-0 5
5. St. Paul United 7-2-1 3
6. New Prague 3-3-1 7
7. Proctor/Hermantown 4-3-0 8
8. Hibbing/Chisholm 5-2-0 9
9. Northfield 3-2-1 6
10. Alexandria 2-1-0 10

11. Delano/Rockford, 12. Orono, 13. Princeton, 14. East Grand Forks, 15. Red Wing, 16. South St. Paul, 17. Mound Westonka, 18. Moose Lake-Willow River, 19. Owatonna, 20. New Ulm

Hockey Rankings: Class 2A Girls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/7/2016 7:52:54 PM

The Associated Press poll for Minnesota Class 2A girls high school hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper.

1. Edina 6-0-0 2
2. Maple Grove 6-1-0 3
3. Eden Prairie 4-2-0 1
4. Blaine 7-0-0 5
5. Hill-Murray 4-2-0 4
6. Elk River/Zimmerman 6-1-0 8
7. Centennial 5-2-0 9
8. Lakeville South 6-2-0 11
9. Cretin-Derham Hall 2-3-1 7
10. Wayzata 4-2-0 10

11. Forest Lake, 12. Minnetonka, 13. Chaska/Chanhassen, 14. Eagan, 15. White Bear Lake, 16. Eastview, 17. Dodge County, 18. Hopkins/Park, 19. Mounds View, 20. Stillwater

Hockey Rankings: Class 1A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/7/2016 7:51:12 PM

The Associated Press poll for Minnesota Class 1A boys high school hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper.

1. Delano 3-0-0 2
2. Hermantown 0-1-1 1
3. St. Paul Academy & Summit School 2-0-0
4. Breck 1-2-0 4
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 3-0-1 5
6. Mahtomedi 1-1-0 6
7. Greenway 4-0-0 7
8. East Grand Forks 2-0-1 9
9. Alexandria 2-0-0 10
10. Warroad 0-2-1 11

11. Sartell-St. Stephen, 12. Minnehaha Academy, 13. Orono, 14. New Prague, 15. Hibbing/Chisholm, 16. Blake, 17. Totino-Grace, 18. Northfield, 19. Mankato West, 20. Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake

Hockey Rankings: Class 2A Boys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/7/2016 7:49:59 PM

The Associated Press poll for Minnesota Class 2A boys high school hockey, provided by Let's Play Hockey newspaper.

1. Eden Prairie 2-0-0 1
2. Stillwater 2-0-0 2
3. Grand Rapids 3-0-0 3
4. Elk River 2-0-0 4
5. Holy Family Catholic 3-0-0 5
6. Edina 3-1-0 7
7. St. Thomas Academy 3-1-0 6
8. Minnetonka 2-2-0 8
9. Centennial 2-0-0 9
10. Lakeville North 1-0-0 13

11. Duluth East, 12. Moorhead, 13. Wayzata, 14. Hill-Murray, 15. Lakeville South, 16. Prior Lake, 17. Maple Grove, 18. St. Michael-Albertville, 19. Bemidji, 20. White Bear Lake

Johns Mailbag: Possible Future Activities, Tournaments On TV
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/5/2016 1:45:34 PM

Lots of good questions have been coming into Johns Mailbag. For the inaugural segment, well delve into the future and shed a little light on televising MSHSL state tournaments.

Question: Are there any events on the MSHSL radar that might become sanctioned in the future? I've always thought fishing has potential.

If someone had told you 20 years ago that high school activities in Minnesota would include things like robotics and clay target shooting, you probably would have been surprised. The MSHSL is unique around the country in that we sponsor non-athletic activities that include speech, debate, visual arts, music and others.

When the MSHSL board of directors discusses adding new activities, a common question is posed: Is this good for kids in Minnesota? That simple query is at the core of what the MSHSL does and how it acts.

There are currently no new activities on the immediate radar. The process can be lengthy, and lacrosse is a good example. Girls and boys lacrosse became full MSHSL activities in 2007. Both had been played as high school club sports for a number of years, with state tournaments held by amateur lacrosse associations. New MSHSL activities usually require a minimum number of participating schools as well as the approval of the MSHSL Representative Assembly, which is a comprised of 48 members from schools around the state. The Representative Assembly vetoed boys lacrosse twice before approving it.

Fishing state tournaments are officially sanctioned by high school governing bodies in some states. There are club fishing teams in Minnesota now, and a state tournament is held each year. Ultimate Frisbee is similar, with club teams at schools. And BMX biking, and archery, and bowling, and you name it. Lets see what the future holds.

Question: Why doesn't the MSHSL televise the state volleyball tournament?

This is a very common question that is often asked in regards to state tournaments that are not televised, such as volleyball and wrestling. The answer may seem odd, but here it is: The MSHSL doesnt have the final say on which state tournaments are televised.

We have a contract with KSTC-TV Channel 45 that designates 45 as the official television partner of the MSHSL. KSTC makes the decisions on which state tournaments it will televise.

Sports like volleyball and wrestling might present unique TV challenges, with multiple matches taking place at the same time. There are almost always two volleyball matches being played at Xcel Energy Center, and during the state wrestling tournament in the same arena, action starts with eight mats in use and championship matches are held on three mats at the same time. That may be difficult to televise and give proper attention to everyone competing.

Plus, as anyone who knows a little about the media realizes, revenue is important in these matters. If a television station knows that the cost/revenue equation would result in a loss, the decision would probably be fairly easy.

Keep those questions coming.

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

High School Football: Bigger In Minnesota Than In Alabama
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/5/2016 11:09:39 AM

Via news from Alabama, we have learned something thats pretty spectacular: More fans bought tickets to our seven football state championship games this year than fans in Alabama for their seven championship games.

--Our Prep Bowl attendance was 47,309 over two days at U.S. Bank Stadium.

--For Alabamas Super 7 games, held over three days at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa (home of the Alabama Crimson Tide), the total attendance was 45,229.

A story on the Alabama attendance numbers also included this: There were no weather issues, with sunny, mild conditions during the day and chilly, clear conditions for the night games.

Alabamas largest single-day attendance this past weekend was 20,141 for three games on Friday. Our largest was 28,399 for four games the Friday after Thanksgiving.

So, this indeed means that high school football is bigger in Minnesota than in Alabama (at least for one weekend in 2016).

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Send Your Questions To John's Mailbag
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/3/2016 9:58:36 PM

People often ask me questions in a wide range of areas related to the MSHSL. How was a particular decision made? Who was involved in said decision? What will this mean in the future?

A flurry of questions followed the MSHSL board of directors' recent decisions to add consolation games to the girls and boys state basketball tournaments and to initiate pitch-count limits in baseball. I answered some of these questions on Twitter, but I think having a more open place to post questions and answers may be helpful to more people.

So in keeping with that idea, I'll begin posting "John's Mailbag" segments here on John's Journal. Feel free to ask questions and I will try to answer them. There are several ways to bring questions to my attention:

--Send a message to me on Twitter. I'm @MSHSLjohn on that platform.

--Send me an email. My email address is jmillea@mshsl.org

--Snail mail? Why the heck not? Lick a stamp and send a note to John Millea, MSHSL, 2100 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center MN 55430

--Post a message on the MSHSL Facebook page. Search for "MSHSL" on Facebook and post away. I will see it.

I'll keep the identity of questioners secret, because the question is much more important than who's asking it.

Let the questioning begin!

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

A Big Start To The Wrestling Season
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/2/2016 2:47:52 PM

The Apple Valley High School wrestling team is so dominant that its conference winning streak outlived two conferences. Between the 1991 season and Thursday night, the Eagles won every conference dual meet; that streak began when they were in the Lake Red Conference, lasted through the Lake Conference and finally ended in a 29-28 home loss to Shakopee in South Suburban Conference action.

The Eagles are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by The Guillotine and Shakopee is No. 2, spots that are sure to flip when the next rankings come out.

Thursdays match provided an interesting coaching twist: Shakopee coach Jim Jackson is a former Apple Valley head coach. The Eagles have won 23 big-school state titles since 1983. They have every 3A title since 2006; their last loss to a Minnesota team came against Wayzata on Dec. 22, 2006.

Jackson coached the Eagles for 32 years (the first 15 as an assistant) and had a head-coaching record of 618-27-3, winning 14 team state championships.

Thursday was the first day of competition for the 2016-17 wrestling season, but eyes are already turning to the Class 3A Section 2 team tournament in February. Thats when Apple Valley and Shakopee will presumably decide which team goes to state.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 288
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 5,086
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

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