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“Dan Is Down!” Quick Action Saves The Life Of An Umpire
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/29/2013 11:11:45 AM

As I was talking with softball umpire Daryl Oja on Tuesday morning about the day last week when his officiating partner, Dan Wessel, collapsed on the field, died twice and was brought back to life, Daryl offered this:

“As we speak he’s being prepped for triple bypass today at 11 a.m. Two arteries were 100 percent blocked and one was 90 percent blocked. So he’s very lucky.”

Indeed, Wessel is lucky to be alive. But there was something more than just luck involved here. He also was fortunate that three people familiar with emergency procedures were in attendance at last Wednesday’s Class 2A Section 6 softball tournament game between Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and Minnewaska in Wadena.

It was fortunate that Jay Stewart of Glenwood and Gary Bentz of Browerville were at the game; they both are trained first responders.

“Gary drove the team bus for Long Prairie-Grey Eagle,” Oja said. “Dan knew Gary because Dan also is a wrestling official and Gary has sons who wrestled at Browerville. We had talked to Gary before going on the field.”

It was fortunate that Long Prairie police officer Ryan Hanson was there, too. When Wessel, 51,collapsed on the infield after the fourth inning, Stewart, Bentz and Hanson came running.

“Dan was on the bases,” Oja said. “He had been on the shortstop side of second base and he was working his way back to first base. I was marking my card between innings when the first base coach yelled, ‘Dan is down! Dan is down!’ He was face-first on the ground between first and second base.”

Hanson remembers his daughter Angela, the center fielder for Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, making a catch to end the inning. “They came running in, I was talking to my wife, I turned around and saw one of the umps laying face down in the field. I looked again and thought, ‘This aint right.’ ”

Oja helped turn Wessel over onto his back. “That was my only contribution other than the fact that I kept talking to him,” he said. “Those three guys worked on him.”

They began chest compressions and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Twice, Wessel stopped breathing and began turning blue. But twice, his rescuers brought him back.

“I looked down at him and there was blood coming from his nose,” said Hanson. “I didn’t have a mask like I would if I was on duty, but I knew if I don’t give him air he’s going to definitely die.

“I wiped his face off as much as I could and started giving him breaths. He started breathing and it was like, ‘Sweet. Awesome.’ And then we lost him again. He died at least twice there. At one point, almost immediately his face was purple. I thought, ‘He is not doing so hot.’ ”

Oja said, “I have never seen anyone die before and he died twice, right in front of me. He was not breathing or responding and they were able to bring him back. Those three guys are heroes because they knew what they were doing. They kept him alive until the amubulance got there with the AED and they used it to shock his heart. There was an AED in the school and someone was on the way to get it when the ambulance arrived.”

Dan is in his 29th year as an MSHSL official, having worked wrestling, softball and baseball. He has worked several state wrestling tournaments as an official and an evaluator of officials, and he has served as a charter clinician for the St. Cloud Wrestling Official Association.

Oja and Wessel don’t umpire together very often, but they know each other very well. Oja is a retired teacher and coach in Melrose and Wessel was a student there and played for Oja. “It was kind of surreal from that standpoint, as well,” Oja said.

When Wessel collaposed, Oja had a pretty good inkling of that had happened.

“He had an incident about 10 days earlier when he complained of severe chest pain,” Oja said. “I guess they had kind of ruled out his heart, they thought it was an infection of some kind and they gave him medication. But because of that incident, I knew this probably was heart-related.”

Hanson, who has been a police officer for 15 years and also is an assistant coach on the Wadena-Deer Creek/Long Prairie-Grey Eagle cooperative girls hockey team, guessed that he had performed life-saving procedures five to 10 times previously. That wasn’t the case for everyone on the scene.

“When I was talking to Jay, he goes, ‘I’ve been in the fire department for four years and this is the first time I’ve had to do CPR.’ I thought, ‘Wow, you’re doing good. You’re one for one.’ ”

The next day, Oja was working a game at Minnewaska in Glenwood when he struck up a conversation with a woman who was aware of what had taken place in Wadena.

“She was the wife of Jay Stewart and I got a chance to talk to her a little bit,” Oja said. “She said Jay came home and he was pretty shook. Like I told all three of those guys, they were heroes. Dan knows this, too, and I know he’s planning on meeting with those guys and letting them know that he appreciated what they did.”


*Schools/teams John has visited: 653
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,376
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Pierz Golfer Josh Rocheleau: His Heart’s Always In The Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/23/2013 9:58:57 PM

Josh Rocheleau doesn’t want any special treatment and he doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. The sophomore from Pierz just wants to be one of the guys, and that’s exactly what he is. Josh is a member of the Pioneers’ varsity golf team, he’s a manager for the football team, he’s a huge sports fan and he has a great smile.

The fact that he has a heart condition is all but second nature. And when I say “heart condition” I mean something really serious. Josh’s condition is called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In his words, “the left side of my heart is underdeveloped.”

Here’s what the Mayo Clinic website says about his condition…

“Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a complex and rare heart defect present at birth (congenital). In hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart is critically underdeveloped. If your baby is born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart can't effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must pump blood both to the lungs and to the rest of the body. Medication to prevent closure of the connection (ductus arteriosus) between the right and left sides, followed by either surgery or a heart transplant, is necessary to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. With advances in care, the outlook for babies born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome is better now than in the past.”

Yes, it’s something really serious. Josh, 16, has undergone numerous surgeries. “I don’t know,” he said, “about five or six surgeries.” The most recent surgery took place when he was 10 years old; a pacemaker was placed near his heart in that procedure. He will have more surgeries as he gets older.

Josh and I chatted Thursday in the clubhouse at Shamrock Golf Course in Corcoran. He and his teammates had competed in a Central Minnesota Conference meet. He shot a 47 over nine holes, which he termed “pretty good. I can do better, though. You always can.”

Josh has been the Pioneers’ No. 3 player for the last couple weeks. This is his second season on the varsity. Pierz coach Chris Dobis called Josh “a great kid. He loves sports, he loves everything about it.”

Josh is a big Minnesota Twins fans and is a regular at Pierz sporting events. He described his duties as a football manager thusly: “I get everything ready for the players. I like it.” He uses a golf cart in his football duties, and sometimes will drive a cart during competitive rounds of golf, too.

That’s because of his heart condition. He has received a waiver from the MSHSL to use a golf cart when needed. He’s usually fine when walking nine holes, but playing 18 holes or any number of holes on an especially hot day can lead to using a cart.

“He appreciates it very much, he’s very respectable when he uses a cart,” Dobis said. “But he likes to walk.”

Josh keeps himself hydrated on the course, which is important. And when he drives a cart, other players who don’t know him will usually inquire.

“If they ask, I tell them,” he said, smiling. “They understand.”

And when he’s walking a course, no one knows there’s anything different about him. “They never really ask, because it’s not noticeable,” he said. “I’m just a normal person.”

Dobis said, “I don’t think there really is much discussion about it as far as I know. He carries the waiver in his bag in case anyone would ask. Everybody who plays with him would like to ride with him.”

Josh would like to participate in other sports but he realizes that danger of doing so. “I wish I could play way more,” he said as he smiled again.

Not long ago he began working at Eagles Landing Golf Club in Fort Ripley, where his job entails working with, yes, golf carts.

“I’m a cart boy,” he said. “I put away carts and pick up the range.”

It’s a perfect workplace, because as Josh told me, “When I’m not working, I’m golfing.”

--To see a photo gallery from Thursday’s Central Minnesota Conference boys golf meet at Shamrock Golf Course in Corcoran, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 643
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,236
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

The Big Three Pays Off For New Life Academy’s Softball Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/21/2013 12:38:26 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal correspondent

As in most Christian high schools, a credo of faith, school and then athletics is followed by the athletes and coaches in the softball program at New Life Academy of Woodbury. The difference between the Eagles and the much of the rest of the state is the success that formula has brought the program.

Since 2006, head coach Mick Ramey, his staff and athletes have advanced to the Class 1A state tournament every year. They are gearing up for what they hope will be their eighth straight section championship. If they get there, they will tie the Minnesota record for consecutive section championships. During this stretch they won a state-record four straight state titles between 2008 and 2011. One of the keys to maintaining such a long run of excellence goes back to sticking with a system that is based in faith, school and sports.

Ramey started his coaching career in the Cottage Grove Athletic Association, coaching his kids in various sports. He was also a longtime board member for the association. He started coaching his boys and then as his girls got older he moved more toward their sports and eventually the sport his girls gravitated to – softball.

“I have coached 85 teams over the last 20 years,” said the longtime youth coach, “but every time I took away something about encouraging players, maximizing their strengths, minimizing their weaknesses and helping them relax.”

He became the New Life head softball coach in 2006. Although the team was young, the players had previously worked with Ramey so they all knew the system.

“That first year when we went to state, we had no seniors, one junior and the rest were sophomores all the way down to seventh graders. Because the girls were playing summer ball they were ready for the varsity scene. We just started playing good solid fundamental ball.”

With such a young team early on, it laid the foundation for the extended run of championships. The Schmidt sisters, first Danelle and then Rebecca, set the tone and the program has had a number of good pitchers -- especially during the four straight championships. The turning point for the program occurred while defending their first state championship. During a season that would end up with state title number two, the Eagles entered a regular-season tournament that put them up against the best team in the state.

“We played Burnsville and they were ranked number one in AAA that year,” said Ramey. “They were 20-0 and we played them in the opening game of the North St. Paul tournament. We played into the 11th inning and they hit a walk-off home run to beat us 3-2. That was the turning point for our program. That gave us the confidence that we could be a special team.”

In order to maintain that confidence, execution needs to be second nature. In practice the team focuses on what Ramey calls the Big Three.

“We don’t do many drills very long. We do a lot of drills for short periods. We do a lot of situations. Our girls are so aware of the Big Three. Always know your outs, always know where the runners are and always know the score and the situation. We drill that in every practice. We go through situations time and time again. We call out things like one down, girls on first and second, so every girl has been through this every practice.”

The Big Three has paid off. New Life has had a remarkable run of victories in one-run games. Ramey estimates they have had 25 one-run games over the years and have won about 21 of those games.

Another reason the girls have been so successful in the close games is that they are used to tough competition. Ramey schedules a number of bigger schools to go along with his conference schedule. His “iron sharpens iron” philosophy started out of necessity.

“For years St. Bernard’s was in our conference. I think they still lead the state in state tournament appearances so our section has always been strong,” said Ramey. “To be stronger we had to play those games and also schedule those AAA and AA schools.”
Maintaining such a high level for so long is a tribute to the coaching staff the Eagles have in place.

“We have so many good coaches in place that I can actually miss a practice or even a game and the machine still runs,” said the head coach of eight years. “We have had the same routine every year.”

One of the impressive aspects of this run of championships has to do with the small pool of athletes that New Life has to pull from. Sometimes they don’t have any players from a certain class on the team. After winning their first two titles they almost couldn’t field enough players to form the team that would ultimately win the third straight title. The system Ramey has in place has helped maintain enough numbers. Since he does not work in the school system, he has had to rely on the kids.

“I have had great captains over the years and they have been the foot soldiers that go out there and get kids to come out,” he said. “We have always been able to find a spot for everyone. Everyone has a role on the team.”
This year’s team was able to build on an unexpected playoff run last year.

“Last year was a rebuilding year,” Ramey said. “We were hoping to go .500. We were three or four games above .500 and had a tremendous run in section play. We beat a lot of good teams we maybe shouldn’t have. That first game at state we squeaked out a 2-1 win that maybe we shouldn’t have. It gave us a little more confidence going into this year. We didn’t have anyone graduate last year and we set some higher goals – one of them being winning it this year.”

Each year the veteran players do a great job of teaching the younger kids the system, making Ramey’s job easier. As Ramey said, it is the responsibility of the older girls to pay it forward and help the program not just during the current year, but down the road.

This year’s team – like countless others – has been aided by that “pay it forward” system and some of the players have grown into great leaders. Val Hohol and Malorie Gierie are the main pitcher and catcher, Chloe Westlund is the leadoff hitter, Amanda Heidmann has been manning third base for three years and Nicole Johnson is the team’s leading power hitter.

It’s yet to be determined of New Life Academy will win another state championship this year. But if the Eagles stick to both of their Big Threes – in softball and in life – they are sure to be in the mix for years to come.

Houston, We Have A Miracle And Her Name Is Bailey Proudfoot
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/14/2013 3:15:17 PM

HOUSTON, Minn. -- Bailey Proudfoot doesn’t remember the February morning when her car careened on an icy road and collided with another vehicle. She doesn’t remember the first week following the accident, which she spent in a LaCrosse, Wis., hospital.

But ask the Houston High School senior about her injuries and the list comes in a hurry. “My elbow, my jaw, my nose, my eye, my foot, my ankle, my femur,” she said Monday. “And my fibula, because the emergency brake went through my shin.”

After eight broken bones (including her throwing arm), multiple surgeries, weeks of therapy and rehabilitation, Monday was a special day for Bailey. Eleven weeks to the day after the accident, she returned to the softball field as the Houston Hurricanes defeated the Mabel-Canton Cougars 10-0 in a Southeast Conference game.

“She is hands down the toughest kid I have ever met,” Houston athletic director Casey Indra said.

Playing with a metal rod in her left femur and determination in her heart, Bailey hit a sharp liner to right field in her first at-bat. She was thrown out at first base but moved runners to second and third. She later walked twice, replaced by pinch runner Becca Lee.

“You ought to be smiling from ear to ear,” a very happy Houston coach Arlin “Pete” Peterson hollered from the third base coaching box as Bailey stepped in to hit for the first time this season. As she returned to the bench after the play, her teammates and hometown fans gave her a big round of applause.

Bailey, who normally plays catcher, put on shin guards and helped pitcher Abbey Loken warm up but played left field Monday. Her sister Becca, a junior, took over behind the plate as Loken struck out 11 and gave up two hits. Just having Bailey back with the team and in the game was reason enough to rejoice.

“It was super-meaningful,” said Peterson. “It was her dream to come back. When she got in that car accident, the ambulance people told me the first thing she said at the accident scene was, ‘I gotta get to school, I gotta catch for Abbey.’ And the first thing she said coming out of surgery the first time was, ‘Can I play softball?’ So this was a thrill for her to be out here.”

For anyone who saw Bailey’s car – or photos of the damage – it’s remarkable that she is alive, much less walking or running or playing softball. The dashboard and steering column were rammed into the driver’s seat and she was pinned there until emergency personnel freed her. The accident occurred four miles from the Proudfoot home.

“That’s the phone call you never, ever want to get in your entire lifetime,” said Bailey’s mom, Kim. “It was scary. Bringing her home in a wheelchair was hard. But I guess for me, I knew she’d play, I really did. She’s a fighter. When you have people telling you, ‘You can’t … you can’t … you can’t;’ she’s always been a fighter.”

Bailey’s main goal was to walk at the prom. That event was held two weeks ago, and walk she did, as well as dance. And now that she’s back on the softball field, life couldn’t get much better.

“This is awesome,” she said. “It feels normal and not like I’m in the hospital being babied and stuff. It feels great to be with everybody.”

Bailey said she is grateful to be alive. She spent 15 days in the hospital and stayed home for another week and a half before returning to school. She didn’t spend a single day on crutches, which is a testament to her determination. And her final season of high school softball was a good pretty strong factor, as well.

“It was good to be out there again,” she said. “I kind of figured that I wouldn’t be able to (play again) but I wanted to, so I worked hard. I went to therapy and they gave me a bunch of exercises, and I did those.”

Her parents, Kim and Bruce, weren’t sure how quickly Bailey would be back to normal.

“Originally, when she was in the hospital we were thinking she might not even walk for graduation,” Kim said. “She might have to wheel down to get her diploma.”

There will be no worries about that when the Houston High class of 2013 graduates on May 31.

In the meantime, the softball season will continue. The Hurricanes, who have a record of 9-2 and are ranked 10th in the state in Class 1A, will begin Section 1 postseason play next week.

“This is what she lives for,” Kim said of her daughter.

She sure does. And she sure did.

--To see a photo gallery (plus video) from Monday’s softball game between Houston and Mabel-Canton, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 636
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,156
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Hermantown And Proctor: A Great Display Of Sportsmanship
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/13/2013 9:19:28 AM

Here's an email that describes one of the many behind-the-scenes tales that says a lot about the lessons learned through high school activities....


I wanted to pass this along to you. My name is Nathan Johnson and I am a teacher/coach and newspaper adviser at Proctor High School. I get the Bulletin from the league and enjoy reading the letters on displays of sportsmanship.

I wanted to share an example that happened to the team that I help coach. Proctor attended the True Team Section Track meet in Chisago Lakes. The weather was great and the meet was wonderful. On the way down one of our two buses broke down. We only had one bus to try and take everyone home.

We have five coaches and had taken about 70 athletes to the meet. Needless to say we weren't going to fit everyone on one bus for the drive home. I approached the coaches from Hermantown to see if they had any room on their bus.

Hermantown and Proctor High School are close (less than 10 miles apart). We have a BIG rivalry with Hermantown. One of the highlights of our school year is the football game where the winning team takes home the "Hammer." Last year approximately 2,500 to 3,000 fans showed up for the game and it was televised on local TV. This is a wonderful rivalry that also extends to other sports.

When I asked if Hermantown had room, they offered to help out in any way. We ended up sending some of our athletes home with them. Hermantown coaches and bus drivers were awesome. They displayed a great deal of sportsmanship. They also were able to teach BOTH of our teams that rivalries don't have to always be competitive. We can help each other out, as well. I believe that this episode shows why sports and extra curricula are vital to our students.

Hermantown displayed the best of the values we all try to teach our athletes.

Nathan P. Johnson
Social Studies/English Teacher
Mallet Adviser
Assistant Football/Track Coach
Proctor High School

In Their Own Words: Surviving A Rotten Spring
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/10/2013 9:03:55 PM

A few days ago I invited people to share their thoughts about the spring that never wanted to be sprung. These recent weeks have certainly been a challenge, with games postponed and cancelled all over the state during bad weather … and a rush to reschedule contests as the weather improved.

Some people don’t realize all that goes into holding high school sporting events and other activities. From buses to ticket takers to concession workers to game officials and beyond, the logistics can be daunting even during the best weather conditions.

Here are some interesting perspectives from the viewpoint of administrators, coaches and officials…

A Balancing Act

The biggest issue, at least for me, is the abundance of doubleheaders that now are being played. We as spring officials understand that the weather will force game changes and such and have become used to this. However, this spring has been extremely difficult. When you work a regular job and then officiate you end up usually taking some time off work in order to get to games on time. With the number of doubleheaders now it makes it difficult as leaving now earlier than planned and more often. We are really trying to balance our careers with our love of umpiring as well.
--Michael Stokes, umpire

Staying Positive

We have had six meets cancelled. Finding a meet or meets is now becoming scarce or difficult. We had to get our track teams in for the Lakeville North meet scheduled for May 20; those schools are probably 10 times bigger than ours but we have to get our girls and boys prepared in time for subsection and section.

This is by far the worst spring I have seen as a former student here at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and as AD in my 30 years. I have asked my track coaches to stay positive with our girls and boys. They were very creative in making their practices more enjoyable. If they practice in our gym, they would set up some kind of games that requires a lot of running. Just to get them motivated for the practices.
--Davey Olson, Athletic Director, Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

Lulled To Sleep

As an AD I found myself getting lulled to sleep because nearly every day for awhile there was not a chance of playing, so I'd contact my fellow ADs and postpone the games without too much thought to other details such as game site workers, field prep, concessions, etc. Then when we had a stretch of good weather I found myself doing double time to make sure all areas were covered so that we could indeed play. I'll be happy to be back in that stressed mode again!

As a coach I've had to concede that we won't be able to get the quality practice time that I like, since we'll be cramming in a lot of games. But the kids signed up to play ball so when we have a good day I think it is important to give them the game experience that they enjoy.
--Scott McCready, Athletic Director/Head Baseball Coach, St. Charles High School

Amazing Resilience

Twenty years ... the worst I've seen. The amazing thing to me is the resilience of our kids and coaches, AND the patience of our support team (administrative assistants, busing personnel, building secretaries, etc.). Years from now we'll look back and say we survived the Spring of 2013! Lucky '13? ... I'd say NO!
--Ray Kirch, Athletic Director, Osseo High School

Wait, Wait, Wait … OK, Stillwater Ponies, It’s Time To Play!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/8/2013 2:15:53 PM

Imagine this scenario: It’s your senior year, your team is the defending state champion and you absolutely cannot wait to get back on the field and start a new season … and then the weather stops you in your tracks. Cold.

For the softball team at Stillwater High School, that is not a scenario. It is reality. The Ponies won the Class 3A state championship a year ago, lost only three senior starters from that team and were all charged up for 2013. And we know what happened. Snow. Ice. Rain. Games cancelled, schedules disrupted, a season put on hold.

“I wish we could have a re-do,” said senior Hannah Heacox, who threw a no-hitter in last year’s state quarterfinals and was the winning pitcher in all three games at state. “We just deal with what we’re given, I guess.”

Before sunshine and warmer temperatures arrived this week, Stillwater had seen 16 softball dates wiped out by the weather. But the Ponies have saddled up and returned to action in a big way, with games scheduled every day this week. On Monday they beat Woodbury 9-4 in the first game of a doubleheader and Woodbury won the second game 2-0. The Ponies defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 3-0 Tuesday (giving them a record of 7-2) and will meet East Ridge on Wednesday, Forest Lake on Thursday and Cretin-Derham Hall again on Friday.

“As long as we keep good weather, we’ll try to get in as many games as we can,” coach Bob Beedle said. (Pictured are Beedle and Heacox.)

There is indeed a mad dash – in all spring sports -- to play a full schedule of games before the postseason begins. Softball teams can play 20 regular-season games, and getting them all in could be an issue. For Stillwater, the Section 4 tournament will begin on May 20.

“I think this week will probably be the hardest week. It’s every day,” said Ponies senior infielder Haley Balzart. “After this week I’m probably going to be a little tired.”

Playing so many games in such a short time frame means playing doubleheaders, which is not usually the case. Beedle said the players need to maintain their focus in those situations.

“There’s a real mental adjustment they have to make,” he said. “Whether you win or lose the first game, it’s uncommen for them to have to play a second game.”

Heacox said, “It can be like, ‘Oh, we’re done … wait, we have another game to play.’ But I feel like it’s better to get more reps, and being outside helps us so much and just keeps us motivated, not being in the gym.”

Ah yes, the gym. That’s where most spring athletes all over Minnesota have spent day after day. Waiting for the weather to improve, coaches and athletes worked on skills while also trying to inject some fun and avoid boredom. The Ponies did a lot of games and team-bonding activities, and also enjoyed days away from the game.

“We did give kids a day off once in a while,” Beedle said. “I think if you’re pushing too hard, there’s a point of no return in terms of what you’re going to get out of them.

“I think the kids have been real resilient. The first time we got outside we saw a lot of anxiousness and maybe trying to do a little bit more than they needed to do.”

If the weather continues to cooperate, spring teams will be grateful. Even if it means playing a large number of games in a short amount of time.

“We’ll have eight softball games this week and six baseball games this week,” said Stillwater activities director Ricky Michel. “And the funny thing is, if we get this whole week in, then it’s not so bad. We’re getting there.”

--To see a photo gallery from Monday’s Woodbury-Stillwater softball doubleheader, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 624
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,662
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Two All-Time State Track And Field Records Fall
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/7/2013 9:27:02 PM

Tuesday was a big day in high school track and field, with two all-time state records falling...

--St. Francis senior Maggie Ewen broke her own girls state discus record with a throw of 175 feet, 9 inches in the Class 3A Section 5 True Team meet at White Bear Lake. Her previous record was 172-7.

--Lakeville South senior Lee Bares broke the boys state record in the pole vault with a height of 15-9 in the 3A Section 1 meet at Lakeville North. The previous record was 15-8, set by Moorhead's Macauley Spandl in 2010.

Ewen's 175-9 discus throw ranks No. 2 in the nation among high schools girls this season (the best throw is 184-2). Bares' 15-9 pole vault ranks No. 33 nationally among boys this spring the (the leader is 17-8 1/2).

Service Before Self -- Captains Band Together for Their Country
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/7/2013 11:23:31 AM

This wonderful story is courtesy of Apple Valley High School...

The 2012-13 Boys Swim and Dive season has come and gone. This year's varsity roster had six seniors and for most of them, their time together on a "team" was completed when the season came to a close. However, for captains Seth Berry, Jackson Scholberg, and Ryan Sentz, their time together as members of a team will continue beyond school. No, they have not selected the same college to attend. Instead, they all joined the National Guard as a means to serve their communities and their country. During the first weekend in May, the young men were at Camp Ripley for training. Each of the boys has given a brief synopsis of why they chose the National Guard:

--Scholberg: "I joined the Army National Guard because it seemed the best way to give back to my community, a way to better myself as a person, and a good way to pay for college. Initially, I knew I wanted to go to college, but when looking at careers, there weren’t many choices that sounded exciting. The military was one of the few areas that sounded interesting. Serving part time in the Army National Guard allows me to be in the military while attending college full time. I plan to go to Iowa State and enroll in the ROTC program to become an officer upon graduation. I will major in computer science with a minor in music technology ” Jackson leaves for Fort Sill, Oklahoma for his basic training on June 11 and will start at Iowa State in the fall. (Pictured are Berry, Scholberg, and Sentz at Camp Ripley.)

--Sentz: “I joined the National Guard because I felt it was the right thing for me. I’m proud to be an American and wanted to serve my country.” Ryan will be attending Basic Training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina this summer and advance training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas in summer 2014. At the end of his advanced training Ryan will be a Combat Medic. This fall, Ryan plans to attend North Dakota State University where he will study mechanical engineering.

--Berry: “I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and I wanted to serve my country. The National Guard will help me with leadership and team building skills. I was already accepted to the University of Wisconsin, River Falls when I made my decision to join the National Guard. With already having 1 semester of college credits from attending PSEO, I have chosen to defer my college for one semester so I can do both my Basic Training and AIT training back to back. I will start college Spring of 2014 and study Health & Human Performance." Seth will leave for Fort Sill, Oklahoma on June 24th and then head to Fort Lee, Virginia September 10th.

While attending college, the young men will also serve one weekend a month and two weeks per year as part of their service. Apple Valley High School is fortunate to have such great leaders walking the halls and our nation is lucky as well. On behalf of AVHS, thank you to Ryan, Seth, and Jackson for their service to this great nation.

Attention Athletes, Coaches, ADs, Officials, Fans …
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/3/2013 1:30:26 PM

As another stretch of bad weather rolls across much of our state -- resulting in more postponed and cancelled spring athletic events and contributing to what has become the worst spring in memory – I’m inviting everyone who is dealing with the conditions to pitch in and share your thoughts about the spring that never wanted to be sprung.

I invite you to send me emails (jmillea@mshsl.org) with your thoughts and I’ll compile your emails in a John’s Journal story …

--Athletes: How frustrating has this spring been as you work out indoors and wait for the weather to improve? Seniors, what has this spring done to your final season of high school athletics? And on the flip side for all athletes, have you had more time for things other than sports, such as studying?

--Coaches: What have you learned this spring? What kind of creative methods have you found to keep your athletes engaged? How frustrated are you? How will the lessons learned this spring pay off in the future?

--Athletic Directors: Does any previous spring compare to this one, in regards to trying to re-schedule events and find ways for your athletes to compete? How much time have you spent on this challenge, compared to other years? Is it a struggle to remain optimistic and encouraging for your coaches and athletes?

--Officials: You are sometimes the forgotten group in situations like this, but your lives and officiating schedules have been equally distrupted. What are the challenges you have been facing in trying to keep up with postponements and cancellations and the re-scheduling of events? Are you doing anything to keep your skills sharp?

--Fans: How have your lives been disrupted, especially if you are parents of athletes? How have you been encouraging your athletes to remain positive? And finally, what are your keys to staying warm and dry when watching outdoor events in, uh, less-than-ideal conditions?

Please send your emails to jmillea@mshsl.org … and keep your fingers crossed for better weather!


*Schools/teams John has visited: 614
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,510
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Snow, Rain, Mud, Slipping, Sliding: Perfect Lacrosse Conditions
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/2/2013 2:57:42 PM

On a daily basis, I scan a whole bunch of high school athletic schedules and calendars in an attempt to make plans. Some plans are down the road a week or two or three and some are immediate. The latter was the case Wednesday, with predictions of snow on May Day.

I assumed that baseball and softball games would be wiped out by the rain that fell most of the day, and this assumption turned out to be accurate. My thoughts turned to lacrosse, with the realization that lacrosse players are rough and ready when the conditions are far from perfect. The Suburban East Conference had a full slate of boys lacrosse games on Wednesday’s docket, but one stood out: Forest Lake at Hastings.

That game stood out because it was going to be played on natural grass. The Hastings lacrosse field, on the grounds of the high school, is bare bones (no bleachers, no scoreboard) and I guessed it would be a perfect setting for what I envisioned: Lacrosse in the snow and the mud and the muck.

And boy oh boy did I get what I wanted. The teams from Forest Lake and Hastings played Wednesday evening under conditions that could be called “tolerable” by some and “brutal” by others. Heavy, wet snow mixed with raindrops covered everything – and everyone – in wet soup.

“It was pretty bad,” said Hastings coach Brian Jenson. “We had to deal with it.”

The MVPs (Most Valuable Plowers) were a couple of fathers who used snow shovels to repeatedly clear the sidelines and center line so the players and officials could see where the ball was. It wasn’t easy.

Sam McGree, Andrew Cordell and Colin Shoen each scored twice to lead Hastings to a 9-8 victory. But for both teams, the outcome won’t be as memorable as the conditions.

“We weren’t sure how the weather was really going to affect the game,” said Jenson. “We knew it was probably going to be a little sloppy, it would be wet, we would be slipping around. We made sure to just say, ‘Be careful on defense, be ready to step in if a guy falls, and we can move the ball a lot easier than moving our feet in these conditions.’ ”

As the game wore on, the moisture kept falling and everyone – including spectators – got wetter and wetter and colder colder. The scorers table was protected somewhat by a portable roof tent, and a small heater was placed on the table under the tent. At halftime, players held their hands and the inside of their gloves over the heater.

“The biggest affect it had on the guys was when their gloves got wet,” Jenson said. “Holding those metal sticks, their hands got really cold, really fast. After halftime we had the guys on the sideline keep moving, we rotated them in, we had a lot of rotations to try to keep the blood flowing. The big thing, too, was everyone was having a lot of issues but the other team was going through the same thing.”

Jenson is a 2003 Hastings graduate who played lacrosse at St. John’s University and also is the head coach of the men’s club lacrosse team at St. Olaf College. He said he has played and coached college games in similar conditions, but those were on artificial turf.

“That’s a little easier. It’s not muddy, especially right in front of the goal. Some of our kids haven’t had much experience with weather like that.”

After seeing three home games wiped out by previous bad weather, Wednesday’s game was the first at home for Hastings. And the Raiders looked sharp, wearing new white uniform tops ... even if the coach second-guessed that decision.

“I really wanted to wear our away uniforms so we didn’t get the white ones dirty,” Jenson said. “After the game, I told everyone to bring their uniforms home and ask their mom how to properly wash them.”

--See a photo gallery from the snow-swept lacrosse game on the MSHSL Facebook page.


*Schools/teams John has visited: 614
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,510
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

For High-Profile Spring Athletes, Key Is Waiting And Being Ready
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/1/2013 12:05:09 PM

Red Wing baseball player Ryan Boldt and softball players Dana Morgan of Forest Lake and Anne Debertin of Visitation all have made college commitments, but this spring's poor weather has resulted in a slow start to their senior seasons. Brian Jerzak writes about how the trio is dealing with the situation. Read his story by clicking here.

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