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Small-School Athletes Shine At Hamline Elite Meet
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/28/2018 6:09:01 PM

Track and field is, in its purest form, an individual activity. Relay races are an important part of the sport, of course, but even in those events each athlete runs as one until handing off the baton.

Continuing down this train of track thought, the question is sometimes asked: Why is high school track and field split into classes? There are two classes in Minnesota, which seems about right. This spring for girls and boys there are 129 teams in Class 2A and 233 in Class 1A, and the best of the bunch will culminate the season with the state championships June 8-9 at Hamline University’s Klas Field in St. Paul.

The debate about classes is not new, no matter the individual sport being discussed: wrestling, swimming and diving, tennis, cross-country, golf, etc. One thing is certain, however, and that is the delight taken by fans of small schools when their kids come out on top in competition with kids from the big schools.

Friday night’s Hamline Elite Meet, the biggest gathering of track and field’s regular season, has been a showcase for 13 years at Klas Field. It’s a splendid concept, bringing together the best from across the state regardless of school size.

The superstars were out in force. The top individual performance this year was by Edina senior Emily Kompelien, who won the girls 800- and 1,600-meter titles over very strong fields.

Other large-school stars included North St. Paul’s Shaliciah Jones, who won the 100 meters and ran a leg on the Polars’ championship 4x100 relay with Brianna Bixby, Jebeh Cooke and J'Ianna Cager. Hopkins’ Joe Fahnbulleh won the 200 and anchored the Royals’ winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams (the 4x100 unit was Tyrone Bennett, George Jackson, King Allah and Fahnbulleh, and the 4x200 team was Allah, Jaylen Champion, Sam Leervig and Fahnbulleh). Minnetonka won the girls 4x200 and 4x800 relays.

But kids from small schools made their presence known. Of the 36 events at the Hamline Elite Meet, six were won by Class 1A athletes. They included Martin LaFond of Perham in the boys long jump, Samuel Moore of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale in the boys shot put, Robbie Grace of Blake in the girls long jump and Fairmont’s Allison Lardy in the girls shot put.

Two other small-school kids took different routes to Elite Meet championships. One is well-known to track and field fans and one is a virtual unknown … or was until Friday night. Both are three-sport athletes.

Mitchell Weber (pictured) is a senior from St. Clair (enrollment 180 in grades nine through 12). He became a state champion as a ninth-grader when he won the Class 1A title in the discus and placed second in the shot put. After sweeping both titles as a sophomore, he was plagued by a wrist injury last year but still finished second in the discus and third in the shot put at state.

Mitchell won the discus Friday night and placed fourth in the shot put (won by Moore). His discus distance was 171 feet, 4 inches; that’s his season-best but the season has not been great. Because of the cold, wet, snowy spring, the Elite Meet was only Weber’s third competition of the year.

“It’s been God-awful,” said Weber, who also has played football and basketball during high school. “I haven’t really thrown shot great this year, either. It’s really frustrating because I have some bigger goals for myself, to try and go on to juniors and also qualify for worlds. It’s kind of frustrating that I haven’t been able to get outside, it makes it a lot harder. Hopefully I can just kick it down and really get to work.”

The work will continue next year at the University of Missouri. Weber signed with the Tigers after also considering Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota State and North Dakota (where his sister Katelyn is a senior thrower). Mitchell wore a knit cap that resembled a Tiger before, between and after his events Friday, along with red, white and blue shorts.

The newcomer is Mora senior Cal Wright (pictured), who is in only his second full season as a track and field athlete. He gave up baseball as a sophomore and was spending time in the weight room before Mustangs coach Chris Goebel convinced him to give track a try.

Wright, who has never competed at the state track meet, won the boys 400 meters Friday, placed third in the 200 and seventh in the 100 in an astonishing bright-lights debut.

“He’s a 4.0 student,” Goebel said. “He does everything coaches ask. He’s involved in everything; football, basketball, track. Great kid, great leader.”

Wright is such a track newbie that he had never even competed in a preliminary race until Friday, running only in small meets with all-finals formats. The only events at the Elite Meet that use prelims are the girls and boys 100-meter races; 18 runners qualify and the top nine advance through prelims to the final.

Two springs ago, Goebel sent Cal an email. "I said, ‘Hey, you’re not going out for a sport this spring. This is what I think you can do.’ Winning the Elite Meet was not in there, but I told him, ‘I think you could go to state, I think you could be all-conference, I think this could be a sport for you.’ ”

The coach was correct.

“Track is amazing,” Wright said. “It’s a team sport yet it’s individual, as well. You can worry about yourself but you’ve got to put the team first. It’s a great experience.

“These are the fastest runners in the state at every position. It’s great competition, it’ll make each and every one of us better. It’s great to compete against these guys.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Girls Winners

100/ Shaliciah Jones, North St. Paul
200/ Kendra Kelley, Cloquet
400/ Claire Howell, Moorhead
800/ Emily Kompelien, Edina
1,600/ Emily Kompelien, Edina
3,200/ Emily Covert, Minneapolis Washburn
100 hurdles/ Shae Buchman, Rosemount
300 hurdles/ Natalie Windels, Eagan
4x100/ North St. Paul (Brianna Bixby, Shaliciah Jones, Jebeh Cooke, J'Ianna Cager)
4x200/ Minnetonka (Ashley Shields, Olivia O'Brien, Faith Robinson, Emma Harrison)
4x400/ Anoka (Aidan Senior, Sydney Paulson, Noelle Josephson, Taylor Krone)
4x800/ Minnetonka (Annalise Johnson, Grace Hoelscher, Elizabeth Halbmaier, Kylie Melz)
High jump/ Madison Schmidt, Blaine
Pole vault/ Julia Fixsen, Mounds View
Long jump/ Robbie Grace, Blake
Triple jump/ Allyson Weiss, East Ridge
Shot put/ Allison Lardy, Fairmont
Discus/ Cayle Hovland, Willmar

Boys Winners
100/ Keylan Jackson, St. Paul Johnson
200/ Joe Fahnbulleh, Hopkins
400/ Cal Wright, Mora
800/ John Starkey, Chaska
1,600/ Addison Stansbury, Stillwater
3,200/ Maxwell Manley, Edina
110 hurdles/ Jonathan Mann, Rosemount
300 hurdles/ Tyler Sealock, Osseo
4x100/ Hopkins (Tyrone Bennett, George Jackson, King Allah, Joe Fahnbulleh)
4x200/ Hopkins (King Allah, Jaylen Champion, Sam Leervig, Joe Fahnbulleh)
4x400/ Mounds View (Jared Herbert, Micah Smith, Josh Sampson, Lukas Hessini)
4x800/ Stillwater (John Degonda, Dylan Olson, Braden Hilde, Isaac Krahn)
High jump/ Xavier Thurman, St. Michael-Albertville
Long jump/ Martin LaFond, Perham
Pole vault/ Calvin Ciganik, Mounds View
Triple jump/ Ian Fosdick, Mahtomedi
Shot put/ Samuel Moore, Bertha-Hewitt
Discus/ Mitchell Weber, St. Clair

Class 1A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/26/2018 8:58:37 AM

1 Rochester Lourdes
2 St. Paul Academy
3 St. Peter
4 Breck
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Virginia
8 St. James
9 Luverne
10 Holy Family Catholic

1 Parker Law, Mounds Park
2 Logan Couillard, Minneapolis Edison
3 Drew Elofson, St. Peter
4 Max Soll, SPA
5 Rafat Solaiman, St. Peter
6 Eric Chestolowski, Rochester Lourdes
7 Jake Seitz, Virginia
8 Kevin Turlington, Rochester Lourdes
9 Victor Nelson, Mound Westonka
10 Clayton Haberman, Breck

Class 2A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/26/2018 8:58:12 AM

1 Blake
2 Rochester Century
3 Edina
4 Wayzata
5 Rochester Mayo
6 Minneapolis Washburn
7 Orono
8 Mounds View
9 Minnetonka
10 East Ridge

1 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
2 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
3 Jack Barker, Blake
4 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
5 Gavin Young, Eastview
6 Conner Olsen, Orono
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Ben Wheaton, Minnetonka
9 Petro Alex, Mounds View
10 Ian Altenburg, Chaska

The Day Spring Finally Arrived In Minnesota
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/23/2018 5:43:01 PM

Jef Winterlin had a nightmare. The girls track coach at Burnsville High School – like everyone involved in spring sports, haunted by the extended Minnesota winter -- woke up Monday morning thinking, “Did it snow?”

He quickly realized that the ground was clear, the sun was shining and his team would be able to actually compete outdoors later in the day. He thought, “Hey it didn’t snow! We have a meet!”

It’s been that kind of winter. Teams in MSHSL outdoor spring sports (track, golf, baseball, softball, lacrosse and boys tennis) have been cooped up in gymnasiums and other tight quarters, waiting for spring to arrive. Monday was the big day, at least in the Twin Cities area, with snow that caused schools to close a week earlier having melted and given way to bright sunshine and temperatures casting furtive glances at 70 degrees.

The Burnsville girls and boys track teams joined with teams from Lakeville North and Shakopee for a meet at Vaughan Field in Shakopee that began at 4 p.m.

“Oh, it’s been just terrible, fighting with all the other sports for two inches of gym space,” Winterlin said. “We’ve been lucky, we’ve truly got the best kiddos ever, they have great attitudes. But it’s been rough.”

Earlier Monday, the baseball teams from Centennial and Spring Lake Park kicked off their season with a game at the University of Minnesota’s Siebert Field. There was a pile of snow beyond the left field fence, but the playing surface is artificial turf other than home plate and the pitcher’s mound. The game began at 10 a.m. and the Cougars and Panthers had a grand time.

A year ago, Centennial played its first game on April 7 and Spring Lake Park did the same on April 11.

“It was great. I had a great time out here,” said Spring Lake Park senior Mickey Zeller after Centennial defeated the Panthers 6-1. “We’d been in a gym the past three weeks. That was tough.”

Senior teammate John Carlson said working out indoors “was kind of a grind. It was a little hard to keep the guys motivated, but when coach told us we had a game scheduled here, we were fired up right away.”

No admission was charged at Siebert Field and there were no concessions, no stadium announcer, no music and the scoreboard was not used. None of that diminished from the fact that the game was played outdoors, where fans in shorts and t-shirts basked in the sun.

The track meet at Shakopee was the first or second of the season for the teams involved. Lots of athletes got to participate, with multiple relay teams from the same school competing at times. And the best news was that no one was dressed in multiple layers.

“The weather today? There are no clouds in the sky, it’s really clear, it’s a little bit windy,” said Lakeville North freshman Karyn Senne. “The sun’s out and shining and the UV index is 6, which means you can get tan. And it’s warm. It’s the perfect temperature for track.”

Ilsa Khawaja, a Lakeville North sophomore, was just like everyone who was able to compete outdoors Monday: Grateful.

“It’s really crowded and hot in the gym, so it feels good to be outside,” she said. “We did the same thing every day, and we were sprinting through our school hallways and the carpet is slippery.”

With a promising weather forecast, there were lots of smiles Monday. Coaches, athletes and officials joked about the winter that never wanted to end. There will be stories to tell for a long time.

“One day we were supposed to do Feed My Starving Children,” said Centennial junior Dalton McManamara, referring to an organization that uses volunteer groups to pack meals formulated for malnourished children around the world.

“But that day we had a huge snowstorm so that got called off.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Molly's Game: Eastview Coach Is A Multisport Female Role Model
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/19/2018 1:02:52 PM

Molly Kasper is a young coach with an impressive resume. In her three years as the head girls basketball coach at Eastview High School, the Lightning have an overall record of 84-12 with back-to-back third-place finishes at the Class 4A state tournament before going 32-0 and winning the state title this year.

Kasper is in her second season as Eastview’s softball coach, making her a rarity among coaches at the state’s biggest schools: the head coach of two vastly different sports in back-to-back seasons. The 31-year-old and her husband Derek also have a two-year-old daughter and another daughter due in July.

Two coaching positions, full-time teaching, a young family and a pregnancy in the middle of it all? Molly’s life is a swirl of school and practice and daycare and family time, but one of her most important roles is quieter, more behind the scenes and crucial to the young athletes in her care.

Kasper is a role model not only as a multisport coach, but as a female who encourages her athletes to maximize their potential on and off the court and the field, to know their full worth and to support each other.

“It is pretty important to me,” said the native of Eau Claire, Wis., who played three sports in high school and basketball at Winona State. “I got to grow up being a multisport athlete, and it helped me with the mental health of being an athlete and being able to play different sports. It also helped me as a competitor and helped me as a teammate. It helped me so much.”

In basketball and softball, Kasper followed Eastview head coaches who stepped down to watch their kids play in college. Melissa Guebert (basketball) and Trevor Monroe (softball) both led their teams to recent state championships. If Kasper was intimidated by following in their footsteps, it never showed.

“When we did the first interviews about basketball, literally within five minutes you knew this is a person who gets it on every level,” said Eastview athletic director Matt Percival (who also has coached the Lightning to a state softball title). “The thing about her is that she has always, always, always been about the kids first and whatever she can do to help develop them as people. She wants to be such a strong role model as a female, as a mom, as a teacher, as a multisport person. That’s been important to her from the get-go.”

Kasper likes to direct her athletes to reading materials that focus on female empowerment, and she has created a Female Leadership Program at Eastview. The program, held one day each year, gives female athletes from all Lightning sports a chance to gather for interaction, instruction, hear speakers and more. Similar programs have been started at Apple Valley, Farmington and other schools.

“She’s definitely the best female role model that I’ve had. I look up to her,” said Megan Walstad, a senior who was named Minnesota’s Miss Basketball this year. “She’s so inspiring and she wants to encourage female athletes to keep doing things and keep getting out there.”

Kasper, who was inducted into the Eau Claire North High School Hall of Fame in 2017, lettered four times each in tennis, basketball and softball and was an all-state selection in basketball and softball. She played at state tournaments in tennis and softball but not in basketball despite playing on teams with a four-year regular-season record of 60-3.

She was a four-year basketball starter and two-year team captain at Winona State (she was Molly Anderson before getting married), where she was a graduate assistant women’s basketball coach for two years. She worked as an assistant girls basketball coach at Rosemount for three years before taking over as head coach at Eastview.

Coaching in back-to-back seasons means little or no down time between sports. This year, softball practice began the week of the girls state basketball tournament. Molly attended softball tryouts on Monday and stopped in briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday. Softball was called off Thursday so the players could go to the basketball tournament.

“I had all of Sunday to technically rest and softball started Monday,” she said with a laugh. “The transition’s been a lot easier probably than in the past, because we’re stuck inside.”

Yes, the weather. Like most other spring sports teams across Minnesota, Eastview softball practices have been held in the gym, with a few games played in domes and a team outing to a bowling alley to mix things up.

Whether the sport is basketball or softball, Kasper wants to make sure her athletes have a positive experience and support each other. Both teams watch other girls sports as a group, with basketball players cheering for the softball team, softball players cheering at track meets, etc. She said that’s important for all her athletes, whether they participate in one sport or more.

“There is so much specialization,” she said. “I’m a big believer that it increases injuries, especially for female athletes.

“I was able to get the other side of athletics, which was the fun part. My mom says I was always the one on the bench with traveling teams, wondering where we would be going to dinner later. I always felt it was part of being a family. I think it’s really hard for some of the teams, where they are, with single-sport athletes. I don’t want them honed in on just one aspect of their life.

“I get it, as you get older you want to specialize. But you need to also be in the weight room and take time off from your sport. I hear girls say they lost the passion, and that’s not why we play sports. We play to keep the passion and have good experiences.”

When Eastview was looking for a new softball coach, Kasper told Percival that she had a strong background in that sport. He was initially worried that she would be overworked by coaching two sports.

“We talked a lot about it because my biggest fear was burning her out,” he said. “She just said, ‘I want to show people that I can be a mom and be a coach. If I’m going to preach to these basketball kids all the time to be a multisport kid, then I can do it, too. We’re going to promote this idea of being a multisport athlete because I can do it as a coach.’ That means something.”

Andrea Abrams, a senior basketball player, said “She’s really good at encouraging everything that we do. And if we’re having a tough time she either talks to us or she knows somebody else who we should talk to. She always knows everything. She’s an amazing person to be around.”

Senior softball player Abby Lien, who will play at Iowa and plans to become a teacher and a coach, said, “She’s really good. She sends me articles and books, talking about being a good female role model. She’s a great coach and I love her so much.”

Percival added, “How does someone that young have that much wisdom? But she clearly does. She came in with a clear vision of what she wanted all this to be about.

“She’ll talk about how much she learns from these kids that has nothing to do with the sport. It has everything to do with how you develop a relationship. She is amazing. It’s been an absolute blessing to have her in our building.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Fergus Falls Golfers Love The Great Indoors
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/16/2018 12:57:06 PM

FERGUS FALLS – During these weeks when winter refuses to loosen its frozen grip and let spring proceed with its usual array of warmth, sunshine and outdoor activities, one sport at one school is an indoor outlier amid the grumbling that’s rightfully heard all over Minnesota.

In a spot where you might least expect to see golfers swinging clubs, balls flying over green – albeit simulated – fairways and putts dropping into cups, the Fergus Falls girls and boys have been patiently prepping their skills for the day when the outdoors finally beckons. In an upstairs space at the school’s “old” gym, the Otters have an indoor golf facility that is an absolute showplace.

There are two high-tech simulator stations, where golfers tee up the ball and watch it sail into a screen, with the machinery spitting out the shot’s distance, spin and other assorted NASA-style feedback. There is a large putting green with multiple cups, as well as fake-grass mats for chipping. There are comfortable couches and a large-screen TV, with messaging on the walls denoting Otters who have played at state tournaments as well as gracious, community-minded donors who made the place possible at a price approaching $100,000 (and zero cost to the school district).

“We obviously really would like to be outside, because that’s where you get the best practice,” said girls team member Sydney Thacker. “But we love it in here and we’re fortunate that we have it.”

Golf teams across Minnesota began practicing on March 19. Here we are almost a month later and about the only golfing activity outdoors anywhere in the state has meant hitting orange balls into snowbanks or across frozen lakes. But not in Fergus Falls, where the facility opened in 2014.

“The beautiful part is, neither the boys or girls have missed a practice this year,” said girls coach Ben Jurgens. “Everybody gets the opportunity to hit balls, putt and chip. The last two springs, our local course opened in mid-March. There are plenty of days when it’s rainy and cold, and on those days we don’t have to cancel practice.”

This spring, of course, every practice has been indoors, with the girls and boys teams working out in alternating shifts after school. There are 16 boys and 23 girls, and rotating everyone through the simulators, putting and chipping areas takes some patience and organization.

“We’ve been practicing in here for more than three weeks already,” said Otters boys coach Matt McGovern. “We have kids who literally have gone from not being able to hit the golf ball, and now they’re hitting it in the air, they’re getting it on 120-yard par-3s. It’s just an enormous advantage for us because otherwise we’d be sitting inside. And we have kids who are in midseason form.”

The entire space, from the entry doors to the walls and ceilings (even overhead pipes), is festooned in the school colors of maroon and gold. A sign above the main door says, “Good is the enemy of great.” The Otter Golf Wall of Champions, listing every state participant, begins with Roy Spilman in 1938 and continues through the years to 2017, when current players Nate Longtin and Aaron Shelstad went to state.

The Fergus Falls golfers have heard from friends at other schools who have, not surprisingly, expressed some measure of envy at the Otters’ indoor palace.

“They just say they want to get in here and they think about getting one of these,” Shelstad said. “The biggest thing is money, it takes a lot of money to get this. We’re blessed to have the donors, they put a lot of money into this. Thanks to them.”

High on one wall is this statement: “Otter Golf: Family, Faith, Academics, Integrity. Discipline & Determination.” Another message reads: “Humble in victory, gracious in defeat.”

Jurgens said Bob Albers, golf coach at St. John’s University, toured the facility when the university was planning its own indoor golf center and said, “This is what we want.” Jurgens sent video of the facility to University of Minnesota men’s golf coach John Carlson “and he couldn’t believe what we had.”

The space – which in past years has been used by gymnasts and wrestlers at different times -- is reserved solely for students in the school district, no matter the age. Outside of the golf season, students can use the facility when they are accompanied by an adult.

The ultimate payoff of having the facility is this spring, when frustration at the weather is common everywhere.

“It puts us ahead of the competition, especially being in northern Minnesota with the snow,” Longtin said. “Last year we were outside on March 14, so we only spent a week, a week and a half up here. We’re in here for probably two months this year and everybody else is hitting into nets and putting on gym floors. We can see distances, side spins and hit putts with a little break. It puts us way ahead of everybody else.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/16/2018 11:09:25 AM

1 Rochester Lourdes
2 St. Paul Academy
3 St. Peter
4 Breck
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Virginia
8 St. James
9 Luverne
10 Holy Family Catholic

1 Parker Law, Mounds Park
2 Logan Couillard, Minneapolis Edison
3 Drew Elofson, St. Peter
4 Max Soll, SPA
5 Rafat Solaiman, St. Peter
6 Eric Chestolowski, Rochester Lourdes
7 Jake Seitz, Virginia
8 Kevin Turlington, Rochester Lourdes
9 Victor Nelson, Mound Westonka
10 Clayton Haberman, Breck

Class 2A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/16/2018 11:08:47 AM

1 Blake
2 Rochester Century
3 Edina
4 Orono
5 Wayzata
6 Rochester Mayo
7 Minneapolis Washburn
8 Mounds View
9 Minnetonka
tie 10 Eastview
tie 10 East Ridge

1 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
2 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
3 Jack Barker, Blake
4 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
5 Conner Olsen, Orono
6 Gavin Young, Eastview
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Ben Wheaton, Minnetonka
9 Petro Alex, Mounds View
10 Ian Altenburg, Chaska

Stuck Indoors, The Polars Are Working Out, Having Fun
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/11/2018 11:18:54 AM

While the girls and boys track and field teams at North St. Paul High School were practicing, an errant softball – thrown as players loosened their arms in a hallway -- slammed loudly against the outside of a closed gymnasium door. Such is life when rotten spring weather puts the kibosh on outdoor sports and forces everyone inside.

Like every other school in Minnesota, athletes at North St. Paul are waiting for outdoor conditions to improve so they can use the track, baseball, softball and lacrosse fields, golf courses and tennis courts. In the meantime, the Polars (their nickname is quite fitting this spring) are stuck in the school gym, teams rotating through from 3 p.m. until late in the evening.

“I guess what we really work on is trying to make it fun for the kids, keep a good, positive perspective. They didn’t sign up to run in the gym all spring,” said Polars girls and boys track coach Todd Wallert.

Baseball, softball and track teams have been practicing since March 12, with other sports beginning a week or two later. There has definitely been frustration at being stuck indoors, but coaches and athletes are making the most of it.

“I’ve been playing since seventh grade so this is not new to me. I’ve experienced the indoor practices for quite some time,” said Polars senior softball player Aidan Crotty. “I think our coaches are pretty unique in the fact that they try to make things creative and fun for us. We’ve done yoga, we’ve done laser tag; they try to find ways for it to be fun and creative because there’s only so much you can do in a gym space.”

Indoor workouts can be highly structured and organized. During a two-hour practice earlier this week, the North St. Paul softball team used two batting cages that were lowered from the ceiling, along with several other batting stations on one side of the gym and a mock field with plastic bases on the other side of a partition. The gymnasium was filled with the sounds of bats striking balls and balls smacking into gloves.

“We get a lot of hitting in, we get some fielding in, some infield, some outfield,” said Tom Nemo, the softball co-coach along with Cliff Charpentier. “It’s not like you’re outside. You can work on baserunning, sliding, but you’re limited. You’ve got to make the best of it.”

Because of the weather and what will be a rushed regular season once games begin, the executive committee of the MSHSL board of directors has approved changes for baseball and softball, allowing doubleheaders with two five-inning games (instead of the normal seven innings) and playing games with one umpire if a waiver is approved by the MSHSL.

The most important thing right now is patience, waiting for snow to melt and the ground to dry.

“For field events, it’s honestly the worst,” said North St. Paul junior Noah Hurley, a pole vaulter and triple jumper. “For pole vaulting, we don’t have an indoor pit. We can only work on certain parts of our technique. We have the pit ready to vault when the snow melts, but it keeps on snowing. Also, we can’t get out to the jumping pits because there’s still snow on the track.”

Senior Jebeh Cooke, who runs the 100, 200 and on relay teams, said, “It’s kind of hard for sprints, because these are hardwood floors (in the gym) and the floors are really slippery so you can fall because we can’t use our spikes. So to get used to the blocks and the actual sprints, it’s going to be harder to do it in actual meets. And meets get pushed back because of the weather.”

The track teams were first in the gym after school Monday, followed by softball, baseball and lacrosse. The Polars golf teams can use domes and nets to work on their game, tennis players have been using the hockey arena across the street from the school as well as the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.

“We’re fortunate,” said North St. Paul activities director Jed Helwig. “We don’t have a big space but we have gym space to be able to offer this. And of course, we use the hallways, which isn’t unique for anybody at this point in time.”

At the beginning of track practice, the athletes sat on the gym floor as Wallert talked. He presented Zebra Cakes to Hurley and Shaliciah Jones for being named “athletes of the meet” at a recent indoor competition at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. That has been the team’s only meet during a month of practice.

Wallert, who has been coaching for 33 years, said this spring’s weather ranks among the three worst he has experienced.

“Over spring break we had one day when we were out on the track and it was actually nice,” he said. “But that was before April 1. You just kind of stick with it and make it fun. They’ll get through it. Pretty soon we’ll be outside and it will be a regular year.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 2A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/11/2018 11:08:30 AM

1 Blake
2 Rochester Century
3 Edina
4 Orono
5 Wayzata
6 Rochester Mayo
7 Minneapolis Washburn
8 Mounds View
9 Minnetonka
tie 10 Eastview
tie 10 East Ridge

1 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
2 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
3 Jack Barker, Blake
4 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
5 Conner Olsen, Orono
6 Gavin Young, Eastview
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Ben Wheaton, Minnetonka
9 Petro Alex, Mounds View
10 Ian Altenburg, Chaska

Class 1A Boys Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/11/2018 11:07:59 AM

1 Rochester Lourdes
2 Breck
3 St. Paul Academy
4 St. Peter
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Virginia
8 Holy Family Catholic
9 St. James
10 Luverne

1 Parker Law, Mounds Park
2 Logan Couillard, Minneapolis Edison
3 Drew Elofson, St. Peter
4 Max Soll, SPA
5 Rafat Solaiman, St. Peter
6 Eric Chestolowski, Rochester Lourdes
7 Jake Seitz, Virginia
8 Kevin Turlington, Rochester Lourdes
9 Victor Nelson, Mound Westonka
10 Clayton Haberman, Breck

Baseball/Softball Weather-Related Changes Approved
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/11/2018 10:11:18 AM

Due to the unseasonably cool temperatures, poor field conditions, frozen turf, and supply of
officials, the MSHSL Board of Directors’ Executive Committee has taken action to increase the
opportunities for member schools to schedule and complete contests in a condensed season. This
memo identifies a process to be used for the regular season only for the Spring 2018 baseball and softball season.

Length of Games

The length of a baseball or softball game may be amended as follows:

• By mutual agreement of the schools, two member schools may agree to play two 5 inning
games in a doubleheader format, or as currently available, doubleheaders may be played
with the first game lasting 7 innings and the second game lasting 5 innings or until a
“regulation game” is completed

• Single games must still be played under the NFHS rules requiring 7 inning games or until
a “regulation game” is completed.

• Appropriate application of the rules regarding “regulation game” and “suspended game”
is required. To review these rules, please see the softball and baseball activity pages in
the online Rules and Policy Manual.

Officiating Waiver Process

While every effort should be made to have two registered officials, the following officiating
arrangements can be used by following the waiver process*:

• Softball: One registered official is required and two are recommended. Using a single
non-registered official requires a waiver*.

• Baseball: Two registered officials are required. Using one registered and one nonregistered
official or using only one registered official requires a waiver*.

*A waiver may be obtained by sending an email to Jason Nickleby, MSHSL Coordinator of
Officials at jnickleby@mshsl.org prior to the first pitch of the contest. The waiver is in effect
upon the submission of the email. Verification of the receipt of the waiver will take place within
24 hours.

Longtime 'Voice Of MSHSL' Bob Reid Has Died
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/5/2018 11:42:39 AM

Bob Reid, the former public address announcer for Minnesota State High School League state tournaments in football, boys hockey, and boys and girls basketball as well as four other sports for 42 years, died on Friday in Wausau, Wis. He was 86.

He meticulously prepared for every tournament. “Kids are sensitive,” he once said. “They’ve worked hard to get to the state tournament. I certainly didn’t want to mar their tournament experience with mispronunciations. They deserve better than that.”

Reid was the Minnesota North Star first administrative director from 1967-72 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985.

He also worked as high school baseball umpire, as publicity director and lead statistician for the WCHA and as a statistician for the Vikings. He was a 2005 inductee into the MSHSL Hall of Fame.

A memorial service will be held for him at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Wausau.

Here is a full obituary...

Bob Reid, 86, formerly of Edina, passed away Friday, March 30, 2018. Bob loved to tell a good story, sharing (and hearing) jokes, the Chicago Cubs, and tapping his toes to Big Band and polka music. He was a "doer," and an outstanding role model with an exceptional work ethic.

He was born June 12, 1931 in Minneapolis, Minn. to the late Robert S. and Meryl Reid. Bob grew up in the Edina-Morningside neighborhood, graduating from St. Louis Park High School in 1949 and the University of Minnesota, class of 1953, earning a degree in Radio Speech. He was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He married Eleanor "Elie" Weld on Feb. 2, 1962 in Minneapolis. She claimed sharing the date with Groundhog's Day would ensure Bob couldn't forget their anniversary. Together they raised two children, Fritz and Julie.

Bob's professional career was centered on sports and entertainment management, enjoying a variety of notable roles. While attending the U of M, he worked for the Athletic Department's Intramural and Sports Information offices. After graduation, he was part of the Minnesota Centennial Commission's publicity team. He became the publicity director for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team from 1955-58, then joined Max Winter Attractions as an associate until 1963, where he provided public relations support for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hawaiian State Fair and the Midwest Auto Show. He became a partner with Padilla, Sarjeant, Sullivan and Speer Public Relations for four years, representing clients like the Grain Belt brewery and the Ice Follies. His connections led him to join the fledgling Minnesota North Stars, where he served as the team's first administrative director from 1967-1972 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985, expanding his duties to oversee the building that hosted not only the hockey team, but numerous rock concerts, the Barnham & Bailey Circus and the Ice Follies. He loved to talk about his experiences hosting the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and other major bands. During this time, he was involved with the International Association of Auditorium Managers' professional organization (now the IAVM), serving on its board of directors and on various committees. His last career move found Bob working for the Vee Corporation organizing the Sesame Street Live stage shows as its director of booking from 1985-1997.

Bob's interest in sports found him also serving for 42 years as the lead public address announcer for the Minnesota State High School League state hockey, baseball, softball, football and wrestling tournaments; as well as for the MSHSL as a baseball umpire; for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as publicity director and lead statistician, and also as a statistician for the Minnesota Vikings. He was also part of a group and one of the first coaches who started the Edina Little League organization in the 1950s.

Bob and Elie lived in Edina until 2003, when they moved to Wausau, Wisconsin, to be closer their to daughter Julie and her family. Bob's volunteer work was extremely important and fulfilling to him. While living in Minnesota, he was part of the Edina Recycling Commission, VEAP, Edina-Morningside Church, Loaves and Fishes, Edina High School PTA, Walk for Mankind, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Friends of Edina Public Library and St. Alban's Episcopal Church. After moving to Wausau, he was part of The Grand Theater board of directors, Friends of the Marathon County Public Library, St. John's Episcopal Church and Mobile Meals. As a former public relations man, he took great pleasure in collecting newspaper clippings for friends and family and keeping detailed travel diaries of the adventures he and Elie had traveling overseas to visit 46 countries and all seven continents.

Bob is survived by his son, Frederic "Fritz" Reid, partner Kim Forrest and son Forrest Hansen, Shingle Springs, Calif., daughter Julie Bliss, husband Jim, and children Reid Baker and Charlotte Bliss; siblings, older brother John M. "Jack" Reid, Seattle, Wash. and "baby" sister, Betty (Reid) Kuechle, Chanhassen, Minn, and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Elie, in 2009.

Fritz and Julie would like to thank the warm and supportive staff at Colonial Manor for taking such loving care of Bob over the past year. A funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 7 at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 330 McClellan Street, Wausau, with The Rev. Meredyth Albright officiating. Visitation with Fritz and Julie will be at 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the church, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum or St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church. To share online condolences, please visit brainardfuneral.com

Spring Has Sprung A Big Joke On Outdoor Sports
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/2/2018 4:46:24 PM

April has arrived, which means it’s time for warm sunshine, green grass and outdoor sporting events, right? Wrong. In much of the state we can glance out the window and see swirling snow, mushy ground and very little reason for optimism based on the weather forecast.

Spring has sprung a joke on us all, it seems.

Monday was the first official day of practice for MSHSL girls and boys lacrosse teams. Having reached this point, all spring sports are now underway … or at least they should be underway. But here we sit, with baseball, softball, track and field, golf, lacrosse, and boys tennis teams searching for indoor practice spaces.

I’ve gathered some reaction to all this from coaches and athletes around Minnesota, and it can best be summarized with two words: frustration and fun.

St. James High School softball coach Sam Baumgartner wrote in an email, “I’ve tried to be creative about mixing practice activities up. You have to make it fun and break the routines. This past week, we took the girls outside to the staff parking lot and hit fly balls in a light rain and 40-degree weather. There were huge snowbanks behind our players and a few balls drifted a little deep. The girls took those opportunities to make diving catches while landing in the snow. They had a blast! One of our B Squad players, Teresa Tobar, made three incredible catches in full layouts. Some of the balls we hit were too far back into the snow and they just sunk into the soft snow piles. We had girls in shorts trying to dig them out and several times they ended up sinking in up to their waist. It’s hard to remember most practices over the years but this one will stick with us for a long time.”

Someone sent me a photo of St. Paul Como Park assistant track coach Marv Rousse working with a hurdler on her form … in a school hallway instead of outdoors on the track (pictured here.)

Terry Sadler, softball coach at Warroad High School, posted to Twitter a short video of the Warriors “jousting” in the gymnasium, with players on all fours, teammates sitting on top of them wearing helmets and slow-speed jousting with bats at another team of “horse and rider.”

Pelican Rapids softball coach Dan Beck wrote, “With over a foot of snow on our field in Pelican Rapids, we took a break from the bats and gloves and brought out the sticks and the goals!” He added a photo of the girls in the gym, having fun with plastic hockey sticks.

On Facebook, the Moose Lake/Willow River baseball team posted a fun message about what the team is doing to have fun:

The baseball season is well under way, and after two weeks of working on just about everything that can be done in a gym practice for baseball, and with the foreseeable forecast looking grim to say the least, it was time to let loose a little...

Tonight the boys took part in the first annual Baseball Bracket Madness Challenge. The night was filled with five different competitive events, plus music, pizza, trash talk, and most importantly team bonding. The inaugural night began with brief opening ceremonies and positioning of the newly dubbed Ultimate BBMC Trophy, and later concluded with the crowning of champions and the opportunity to pose with their winning bracket of fallen soldiers as well as the aforementioned trophy. (pulled from the ashes of yesteryear).

Your 2018 BBMC event champions are:
Brendon Fogelberg and Danny Whited in the Team Bunting competition
Cooper Bexell in the One Hop competition
Brendon Fogelberg in the Think Small Miss Small competition
Ian Coil and Andrew Burn in the Team Spike Ball competition
Danny Whited in the Cage Bomb competition

The champions have won bragging rights for the entire year in their respective events.... or at least until Spring decides to show up.

Dear Spring,
Please come soon.
-MLWR Baseball

In an email, Moose Lake/Willow River assistant baseball coach Bryce Rushmeyer wrote, “The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebel baseball team is starting to hit the wall when it comes to indoor practices. We're practicing in the old school's gym (the lone occupants) and the fields and parking lots are too covered in snow to even try to take a few fly balls or long-toss sessions. This week, we had our “end of fundraising” celebration with a hot dog feed (over 150 hot dogs on a grill outside the main doors) for our 30-40 or so 7-12 baseball players (ending with attempting to send a hot dog through a pitching machine where one of our players was able to make contact).”

When the Minnesota Twins opened their season at Baltimore last week, the baseball team at Onamia High School used the televised game as an opportunity to learn and bond. Coach Jason Runyan wrote, “We watched the Twins game on a projector and talked about different situations. It was one of my better opening days! We went crazy when the Twins came back in the top of the ninth. They didn't win, but we had a fun time!”

Peyton Greve, a senior at Centennial High School, is a track and field athlete who competes in the shot put and discus. As you can imagine, training in these events is extremely difficult when you can’t use the outdoor throwing areas because of snow and cold. Peyton wrote last week…

“Let me start by saying, the struggle is real for us throwers right now. We have been inside for practice for three weeks and dedicated our practice on Thursday to shoveling the shot put and discus areas. We found our discus circle covered with two inches of ice and lots of snow. To make things even worse, we will likely not be outside all of next week due to the snow we got today. So while all of the runners go outside and run on the track, we will be inside, doing workouts and form with no shot put or disc. Hoped you enjoy hearing about our throwing struggle. Thanks, Peyton Greve.”

Hang in there, Peyton. Spring will come, the sun will shine, the ground will dry and everything will be perfect.

I hope.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

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