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Summer Has Arrived: What Does That Mean For You?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/29/2010 10:25:50 AM

The temperatures have warmed, spring sports have come to a close and what were once known as the lazy, hazy days of summer have arrived. If you’re an athlete or active in other school activities, however, maybe summer doesn’t mean as much down time as it once did.

Hopefully you’re headed off on a family vacation or you’re taking time to drop a line in the water, read a good book and recharge. Maybe you’re participating in a sports camp or attending a debate camp or similar summer activity.

We’d like to learn what summer means to you, and we have started a discussion thread on the MSHSL Facebook page. Join us there and let us know what you’re doing on these summer days.

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

Baseball Coach Moves From Apple Valley to Lakeville South
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/28/2010 10:16:38 AM

Apple Valley High School has announced the resignation of Al Iversen as the head baseball coach. Iversen, a resident of Lakeville and an elementary school teacher in Lakeville, will become the varsity baseball coach at Lakeville South High School.

Iversen has coached the Eagles baseball team for the past 10 seasons, leading the team to a 148-96 (.607) record. Under Iversen, the Eagles captured the 2006 Class AAA state championship. They also won Lake Conference titles in 2002, 2004 and 2007.

Applications are now being accepted. Interested applicants can send a cover letter and resume to Apple Valley athletics director Pete Buesgens.

Maddie & Brittany: A Story of Best Friends
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/24/2010 7:19:39 PM

If you’re lucky, really lucky, you have a best friend. Someone who lifts you up when you’re down, someone you can call at any time for any reason, someone who is as close as family.

Brittany Webber and Maddie Ehrich have been going to school together since first grade. They became best friends in third grade, they have been classmates and teammates ever since, and they graduated from high school together this spring. They will remain together in college, too, as classmates and teammates.

I learned about Maddie and Brittany from Glenn Rollins, the principal at Lion’s Gate Christian Academy in Richfield. This spring he sent me an email that began like this: “For the past seven years, no matter what school, Maddie Ehrich and Brittany Webber have always had each other to lean on as classmates.”

I sat down with the girls Thursday morning at Lion’s Gate, a Lutheran school located near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The school opened last fall after the closure of Concordia Academy in Bloomington. The enrollment of 60 high school students included 19 graduating seniors; Maddie ranked fourth in the senior class with a 3.95 grade-point average and Brittany was fifth with a 3.84 GPA.

They were co-presidents of the student council and teammates in soccer, basketball and softball. They own numerous all-conference awards, all-section awards, all-state academic awards and school records.

Maddie and her family live in Eden Prairie and Brittany and her family live in St. Louis Park. They have experienced wonderful moments and tough times together, but their friendship is neither spectacular nor rare. Like so many friendships forged through school and related activities, however, it is very special.

THE FRIENDSHIP BEGAN when someone picked on Maddie in third grade at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Edina. Brittany, who was friends with the child who was mean to Maddie, came to her rescue.

“I told my friend that I wasn’t OK with that,” Brittany said. “I started hanging out with Maddie and we’ve been friends ever since.”

The girls have not only been friends, they have been in the same classroom for nearly every class throughout their education. For one semester in high school they were in separate math classes; other than that their class schedules have always been the same.

That means there were many hours of studying together, as well as homework consultations, sometimes very late in the evening.

“We would call each other super late,” Brittany said. “We would say, ‘I have no idea what this question is about. Can you help me out?’ ”

They go to Valleyfair, they go bowling, they hang out together with other friends. They were in the cast of the school musical this year, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

But life hasn’t always been sunshine and happy times. Both girls had serious injuries during their sophomore year; Brittany went down with a torn ACL early in the basketball season and Maddie suffered a thumb injury in softball. Both required surgery and lengthy rehabilitation.

It wasn’t easy for Maddie to visit Brittany in the hospital after her knee surgery. “Hospitals are like my biggest fear,” Maddie said. “She was scary-looking.”

The worst moments came when Brittany’s dad, Dan Webber, was diagnosed with throat cancer that same year. It was difficult, as well, for Brittany to accept that she required assistance just doing simple tasks after her knee surgery.

“I needed a lot of help with everything,” she said. “That was kind of hard for me because I’m used to being independent. So to have someone help me do every little thing was really frustrating. Then to go visit my dad in the hospital and not be able to do anything to help my mom, it was kind of a hard year. But my dad’s doing good now.”


Maddie & Brittany (Part Two)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/24/2010 7:17:54 PM

AS BRITTANY STRUGGLED, her best friend was there for her.

“For a while I kind of shut down, I stopped talking to people. Part of me didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to put a burden on other people,” Brittany said. “But one time Maddie was like, ‘What the heck? Talk to me.’ So that’s when we started talking again. That was really hard. It was crazy.”

The transition from Concordia Academy to Lion’s Gate also was rough at times. The students at Concordia were extremely close and it was difficult to accept that their school was closing. It was especially hard for the students in the class of 2010, who would spend their senior year in a new school.

“It was really hard for the seniors. The old building was like home to us,” Brittany said. “People would be there from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. There was just so much going on and it felt like home. Then to come here was kind of hard because you remember everything about the old school. “

“But it was the same people,” Maddie said.

“We talked about it a lot for the first month or so,” said Brittany. “We’d say, ‘This is so weird, it isn’t the same.’ But we knew it would be OK.”

Their senior year was filled with memorable sports moments, especially in basketball. Lion’s Gate and Bethany Academy in Bloomington have a cooperative girls’ basketball team which fell one game short of the Class 1A state tournament, losing to Maranatha Christian in the Section 4 championship game. The Bethany/Lion’s Gate team opened the season with a 13-game winning streak and finished with a record of 24-5.

Basketball will help Brittany and Maddie continue their friendship. Both will attend St. Olaf College in Northfield and play on the basketball team. The choice was easy for Brittany, who loved St. Olaf from her first visit and was accepted during the early decision admission process. Maddie’s family had a tradition of attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, and she struggled with her decision.

“I think the only reason I visited St. Olaf was because Britt said she liked it,” Maddie said. “So I thought I’d check it out, but I didn’t decide until April. It just felt a lot better, and the girls on the basketball team are like a little community. It’s pretty nice.”

“It wasn’t like we decided because of each other,” Brittany said. “Obviously that’s a great plus, but we both wanted to make the decision that was best for us.”

PARTLY BECAUSE OF their experiences with sports injuries, both girls plan to go into fields related to medicine and athletics.

“I want to be a physical therapist because of my knee,” Brittany said. “When I went through physical therapy I thought, ‘This is really cool.’ So I want to double major in biology and sports kinesiology.”

Maddie is considering becoming an athletic trainer. “Once we’re done playing sports, I’d still like to be in it somehow,” she said.

Both girls once had dreams of playing Division I basketball, “but once we got closer to college, we realized there were other things that were important to us; our faith and friends and families,” Maddie said.

They would love to be college roommates, but that is not guaranteed. When their filled out St. Olaf housing applications, they did it together – writing down the same information and preferences -- in the hopes they would be matched as roommates.

“That would be very cool,” Brittany said.

They are ready for college, but they share the same jitters and worries of all incoming freshmen.

“I think it’s going to be exciting but also kind of nerve-racking,” Brittany said. “College is so different; you’re on your own and you don’t have your parents there to remind you of everything.”

No, the girls won’t have their parents there. But they will have each other, best friends staying together.

And they’ll be just fine.

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

Lernell James Named Henry Sibley Basketball Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/23/2010 7:15:13 AM

Lernell James, who has been an assistant boys' basketball coach at Henry Sibley High School for five years, has been named the new head coach.

He replaces Tom Dasovich at the school in Mendota Heights. Dasovich resigned recently to become the head coach at Minnetonka.

Before joining Henry Sibley, James was an assistant coach at St. Agnes and Minneapolis Southwest.

From Facebook to John’s Journal: Share Your Memories
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/22/2010 1:36:38 PM

I posted a question on the MSHSL’s Facebook page Monday, inviting our Facebook friends to share some of their favorite memories from the 2009-10 school year.

We’ve had some great responses, and I’d like to extend a similar invitation here on John’s Journal. I would love to hear about your favorite memories from the year in high school activities. Did your team win a conference title? Make a long postseason run? Did you and your teammates/classmates/friends make some great memories on or off the court/field/gym/pool/mat? Twenty years from now, what do you think you will remember most from 2009-10?

Send me an email (the address is at the top of this entry) and tell me about your memories. I’ll pool the responses together and reprint them here on the Journal. Hopefully you won’t mind using your name, but if you’d rather remain anonymous I can take that into consideration. Let’s have fun with this.

SUMMER HAS ARRIVED and MSHSL World Headquarters is now on summer hours. That means we are open from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and the office is closed on Fridays.

ANOTHER NOTE FROM Monday’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting: The state speech tournament will be held at Chanhassen High School for the next two years.

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

Canadian Football Game(s) Approved
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/21/2010 11:34:07 AM

Update from the MSHSL Board of Directors meeting, which has ended …

--The board approved a request by Eden Prairie High School to travel to Manitoba to play a non-conference football game – and maybe two games -- over Labor Day weekend. They will play Canadian Football League rules (with 12 players per team), and the Eagles may split their squad into two teams and play two games in order to reach the limit of eight regular-season games.

--New board officers (as noted in the previous Journal item) have been elected: St. James activities director Les Zellman will become president at the August meeting; Belle Plaine activities director Mindy Sparby will be vice president; and Park Rapids activities director John Schumacher will be treasurer.

--The board voted on several changes recommended by advisory committees from various activities.

Adapted Floor Hockey/ 1) Modification of the rule regarding what materials the sticks can be made of. 2) Modification in how penalties are assessed in regard to the center position. Both were approved.

Dance Team/ Adding a registration method for sections to get an accurate count of participating schools. Approved.

Wrestling/ 1) Allowing a one-pound weight allowance for matches postponed from Saturday to Monday. Approved. 2) Adding true wrestlebacks to the state tournament. Not approved. 3) Seeding the state team tournament 1 thru 8, rather than top 4 and a random draw. Not approved. 4) Having eight placewinners, rather than six, at state. Not approved.

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

Today: MSHSL Board of Directors Meeting
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/21/2010 7:19:13 AM

The June meeting of the MSHSL Board of Directors will be held this morning here at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The agenda is not heavy on headline-making issues, but we will see some changes on the board between today’s meeting and the next gathering in August.

The terms of several board members will come to a conclusion today: board president Jeff Whisler, activities director at Mahtomedi High School; Dean Ogg, principal at Staples-Motley; Chad Stoskopf, activities director at Esko; board treasurer John Klinnert, a governor’s appointee from Fergus Falls who is a former activities director and coach and current businessman; and school board member Gary Lee of Fertile.

Four incoming members will be at today’s meeting, with their terms beginning in August. They are John Hamann, principal at Underwood; Walter Hautala of Gilbert, representing the Minnesota School Boards Association; Mike Kolness, superintendent at Ada-Borup; and Mike Manning, athletic director at Rosemount.

Today’s agenda includes the election of new officers. One board member has put his/her name into consideration for each office: St. James activities director Les Zellman is the candidate for president; Belle Plaine activities director Mindy Sparby for vice president; and Park Rapids activities director John Schumacher for treasurer.

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

Everybody Wins on Championship Saturday at Target Field
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2010 11:36:53 PM

“There are no losers today.”

I heard someone make that statement at mid-morning Saturday at Target Field. He was talking about the thrill of playing and watching high school baseball at the Twins’ beautiful new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis. And after the three state championship games wrapped up, no one will argue with those words.

I walked into the ballpark with an umpire who was there for the first time, and as I walked back to my car 11 hours later I exited the stadium with members of the Burnsville team that had lost to Eden Prairie 7-5 in the Class 3A championship game. Before stepping on the school bus, one of the Blaze players got out his camera and snapped a few final photos of the ballpark.

It was that kind of day, one filled with sweet memories, wonderful competition and smiles. It provided an exceptional ending to not only the Minnesota spring sports season but the 2009-10 prep year.

Here are some of the things I saw, heard and observed during championship Saturday …

--Troy Davis, an umpire from Fergus Falls, worked third base during the Class 1A game. Having never been inside Target Field before Saturday, he and his family were thrilled; they parked in the Twins employee lot and Troy entered the ballpark through the same door that the pro ballplayers, as well as umpires, use. He was as excited as any of the players or coaches.

--Joe Nathan, the Twins closer who is on the disabled list, was working out inside Target Field Saturday morning, running stairs while his teammates were in Philadelphia.

--The players from Class 1A Sebeka and Eden-Valley Watkins had the luxury of being on the field before anyone else, and they didn’t have to wait for a game to end before pulling out cell phones and cameras and snapping away from the field.

--The Target Field grounds crew had requested that no spikes be used on the grass until game time. So everyone wore tennis shoes for warm-ups and pregame drills. The grounds crew was the unheralded star of the day. Working like a team of surgeons, they manicured and groomed the field before each game, making it look like no one had set foot on it. That was an all-star performance.

--Eden Valley-Watkins played its first game this season in another familiar downtown Minneapolis ballpark: the Metrodome. The Eagles beat New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva way back on April 5… indoors.

--Burnsville senior Brandon Peterson made history in the bottom of the sixth inning against Eden Prairie in the 3A game. Peterson blasted a home run into the seats in left field. That was homer number one by a high school player in Target Field. Homer number two came a few minutes later, in the same inning, when Burnsville’s Tom Sherman knocked a blast into the bullpen. The Twins have hit 19 home runs in 36 home games this season; at Saturday’s rate the Blaze would hit 72 in 36 games.

--Eden Valley-Watkins assistant coach Jeff Haag was at Target Field for Wednesday night’s Twins-Rockies game. He stood in front of the third base dugout before Saturday’s game and pointed up to his Wednesday seats near the top of the stadium down the right field line. He had a much better view Saturday.

--State championship softball teams were honored before each game, including the 3A winners from Burnsville. Once the game started, the Blaze softballers were escorted to some of the best seats in the house: the Legends Club on the second level, right above the Twins dugout. The girls wore their gold medals for the occasion and had as much fun as anyone, on occasion leading cheers for the rest of the Blaze fans seated below them.

--Like all teams that come up short, the Sebeka Trojans were downcast after the 1A game. They will remember the defeat less and less as time goes on, and treasure the memories of a terrific season.

“From the beginning of the season, the goal was Target Field,” coach Jeff Lake said after Sebeka’s 7-4 loss to Eden Valley-Watkins. “Everybody knew it would be cool to play here. It would be cooler to win, but it was still cool. The field was amazing, the whole thing was amazing.”

The Trojans didn’t stick around Target Field for long after the game. They had to return home to Sebeka, jump on a float and be the stars of the annual Red Eye River Days parade.

--I have come to realize that a truly enjoyable part of my job has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with talking. In addition to speaking during the Minnesota Association of Secondary Principals Association summer workshop Friday up north at Breezy Point, during Saturday’s games I was a guest twice on WCCO radio with Steve Thomson in Minneapolis, I did an on-air inning during the 2A game with Emmett Keenan on KXSS (The Fan) in St. Cloud and taped an interview with the Twins Radio Network that will air next Thursday. I will also be on KSTP AM 1500 on Sunday morning at 10:20. Like they say, a face made for radio…

--Baseball players weren’t the only high school students having a great experience Saturday. If you watched the games on Channel 45 or saw the games being webcast on 45.grandstadium.tv, you saw the work of many students working the production end of the broadcast. Students from Eagan, New London-Spicer, Bloomington and Wayzata filled many roles, including operating the cameras that brought you all the action. Well done, everybody.

--After Eden Prairie’s victory over Burnsville, I stood in front of the Eagles dugout and snapped a photo of several Eden Prairie girls holding signs in support of their team. (That photo and others can be seen on the MSHSL Facebook page.) When I finished, one of the girls asked me, “Can you use my camera and take a picture of us?” Sure. So she tossed her camera over the dugout to me, I snapped a couple and tossed it back. The MSHSL is always ready to help in any way we can.

--After Rocori’s 3-0 victory over Delano in the 2A game, Rocori’s Eric Loxtercamp was asked about playing in Target Field. His words provided a pretty good summation of the day for all the players.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “Everybody was kind of in shock when we walked out here. This is pretty awesome. I think in the first inning or so we were probably still enjoying playing on this awesome field.”

In other words, there were no losers.

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

Rocori wins 2A Baseball Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2010 5:08:14 PM

The Rocori Spartans have defeated the Delano Tigers 3-0 here at Target Field to take home the Class 2A baseball championship.

Next up will be the 3A game between Eden Prairie and Burnsville, scheduled for 6 p.m.

One Champ in the Books, Two To Go
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2010 4:36:17 PM

For those of you not wired into Facebook or Twitter, here's an update from Target Field...

Eden Valley-Watkins defeated Sebeka 7-4 in the 1A championship game. The Eagles trailed 4-1 after two innings but got one in the third, three in the fifth and two in the sixth.

In the 2A game, Rocori is leading Delano 3-0 as we go to the bottom of the seventh.

More updates to come...

Welcome to Target Field!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/19/2010 11:12:52 AM

I’m sitting in the press box at Target Field, but I have been all over the ballpark this morning as we prepare for a full day of state championship baseball.

We’ll have games in all three classes: 1A-Sebeka vs. Eden Valley-Watkins at noon; 2A-Delano vs. Rocori at 3 p.m.; 3A-Eden Prairie vs. Burnsville at 6 p.m.

I walked into the stadium with one of the umpires for the first game. Troy Davis from Fergus Falls had never been the ballpark before today, but he and his family were thrilled – just like the rest of us – to walk through the gates.

The teams from Sebeka and Eden Valley-Watkins are out playing catch in the outfield right now. As soon as the players walked out onto the field, they all took out their cell phones and cameras and began snapping away. I’ve already posted some photos on Facebook.

Tickets prices are only $10 for adults and $7 for students, and you can sit anywhere you like. So come down and join us!

I’ll be posting on Facebook and Twitter throughout the day and writing a wrapup of the day here on John’s Journal when everything has come to a close.

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

My Favorite Athlete of the Year
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2010 7:51:12 PM

As another year of high school athletics and activities draws to a close, I know this: Trisha Kienitz is my favorite athlete in the class of 2010.

She is a senior at MACRAY High School in western Minnesota. She was born without a right leg, she wears a prosthetic leg and she left the Class 1A state tournament Thursday in Becker wearing an eighth-place medal and the biggest smile you could ever imagine.

A few weeks ago I visited Trisha at her school in Clara City. Among the topics we discussed was her goal of returning to state for the third time. She tied for 39th at state as a sophomore and tied for 17th last year.

“I just want to make it,” she told me then. “I’ve seen kids go to state before and then they don’t make it back their senior year. I’m just working on getting there and hopefully finishing in the top eight.”

She was tied for fifth after shooting an 85 in Wednesday’s first round. She shot a 91 Thursday, which was just good enough for that eighth-place medal. Before the results were final, she was hopeful of placing eighth. Some of the tournament officials, knowing about Trisha, kept an eye open as the results came in. One of them whispered to me that she had indeed finished eighth, and I was very happy to tell her the news.

She had thought about taking home a medal, sometimes late at night when things got quiet, “But I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to sleep,’” she said, laughing.

“It feels good,” she said. “Senior year is done and I did what I wanted to do.”

The key to her tournament was Wednesday’s first nine holes. She shot a 39, breaking 40 for the first time anywhere outside her home course in Raymond.

“I started off great. My putts fell, my chipping was amazing,” she said.

Trisha was a little downcast after Thursday’s round, but she was not alone. A strong, hot wind played havoc for most of the golfers in the second round. The 1A champion was Kelsey Ross of Osakis, who opened with a 75 and finished with an 84.

Providence Academy won the 1A girls’ team title. Stormy weather halted the boys’ tournament in 1A at Becker as well as in 2A at Jordan. Since not everyone finished 36 holes, Wednesday’s 18-hole scores were used to determine the boys’ standings.

The Minnewaska girls won their fifth straight title with a 15-shot win over Red Wing. Minnewaska seniors Allie Ostrander and Sarah Roering shared the individual title at 150, four shots ahead of Breck's Anna Laorr.

(For video of the Minnewaska team jumping in a pond and the Providence Academy girls celebrating with their championship trophy, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Using the 18-hole scores, Orono repeated as the team champ and Jake Erickson of Holy Angels was the medalist.

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

Rainy Update From State Tourneys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2010 6:29:51 PM

I’m inside the Pebble Creek clubhouse in Becker, watching a downpour through the windows. Play here for 1A boys’ golfers has been suspended, and that’s the case at 2A in Jordan, as well.

If the weather clears in time this evening, the golfers who have not finished 18 holes today will be back on the course. If play does not resume, the 18-hole scores from Wednesday will be used to determine the finish.

Baseball game results are continuing to pour in along with the rain. Check the top of this page for scores and brackets.

Thursday Golf and Baseball Updates
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/17/2010 1:50:24 PM

The Class 2A and 1A state golf tournaments are wrapping up today and the state baseball tournaments are beginning. The most immediate way to find results is on Facebook and Twitter.

The girls’ golf tournaments will be the first to finish, with the boys’ fields coming in later today. The baseball teams are halfway through the quarterfinal round, which will be followed by semifinals later today.

Today I’m stationed at Pebble Creek in Becker, site of 1A golf. MACCRAY senior golfer Trisha Kienitz, who was born without a right leg and was the focus of a John’s Journal feature story this spring, is in the running for a top-8 finish and a medal.

As always, there are lots of wonderful stories out here on the prep beat …

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

Minnewaska Seeks One For the Thumb
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2010 10:44:26 PM

Red Wing girls’ golf coach Mark Herzog smiled as he talked about being in second place behind Minnewaska at the Class 2A state golf tournament. That’s about all you can do when you – and everyone else who is paying attention – knows Minnewaska is far and away the dominant team in Minnesota golf.

Minnewaska held a 14-stroke lead over the Wingers after Wednesday’s first 18 holes. The tournament will end Thursday, and it will be a shocking result if the Lakers do not win their fifth consecutive state championship.

Their team van, parked at Ridges at Sand Creek near Jordan, told the story: on the rear window was written “One For The Thumb.”

“That’s our motto this year,” said senior Allie Ostrander, who shot a 1-over par 73 Wednesday and trails teammate and classmate Sarah Roering by two shots in the individual standings. “Words can’t describe how cool (winning five in a row) would be.”

Red Wing’s top individual Wednesday was sophomore Katie Kesti with a 76. Kesti and Roering will be in the final foursome to tee off Thursday at 9 a.m.

“Obviously they want to beat Minnewaska, but in golf you’re never playing against somebody else, you’re playing the course,” Herzog said. “We’ve got some really good players, but we’re just a little bit short of where they’re at.”

Red Wing and Minnewaska met several times during the regular season. In an event at Alexandria, the Lakers beat Red Wing by 14 shots. They met again at the TPC Twin Cities course and Minnewaska finished 20 shots ahead. And when they met on Red Wing’s home course, Minnewaska won by two shots.

The Wingers had played Ridges at Sand Creek several times this spring and never had a team total below 325. Their 319 Wednesday was a phenomenal score, but then again Minnewaska is a little more phenomenal than the rest of the teams.

“There is a little pressure and we knew Red Wing was a good team,” Ostrander said. “They have a solid six girls. We knew we couldn’t just relax out here. We know we have to play hard and make a good run the first day. I’d say there is a little pressure just because everyone expects you to win all the time. But in reality, someone’s going to lose at some point. We just don’t want it to end this year. I’d just love to keep going.”

IT’S HARD TO FIND a younger high school golf team than the girls’ squad from Detroit Lakes. Seventh-grader Sydney Busker is the rookie and sophomore Courtney Hedstrom is the veteran. The rest are eighth-graders: Trisa Hutchinson, Natalie Roth, Emma Thompson and Matty Tschider.

MY THURSDAY IS pretty well booked. I’ll be attending a meeting of newspaper sports editors from around Minnesota in the morning at Target Field and then driving to Becker for the final day of the Class 1A golf tournament. I’ll spend Thursday night at Breezy Point, where I will speak Friday morning during the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals summer workshop.

The biggest day of the week will be Saturday, when Target Field will be the site of the three baseball championship games. And after that … we rest.

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

Boys' Results From Wednesday’s Golf Tourneys
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2010 9:23:14 PM

We have champions in Class 3A, while 2A and 1A are at the halfway point. Your boys’ 3A team champion is Wayzata, which repeated as the winner. The Trojans had a team score of 595, followed by Elk River/Zimmerman at 611 and Rogers at 612.

The 3A medalist is St. Cloud Tech junior Charlie Braniff, who had an 18-hole total of 142. He was followed by Wayzata teammates Kyle Beversdorf and Tyler Lowenstein at 144.

Defending champ Orono leads the team race with a 292 score, followed by Rochester Lourdes at 304 and Virginia at 305. The individual leader is Holy Angels’ Jake Erickson at 69. Next are Nic Jensen of Lourdes at 70 and three players at 71: Luke Magnuson of Litchfield, Patrick Johnston of Orono and Zach Israelson of Staples-Motley.

Ortonville leads the team race with a score of 311, followed by Southwest Christian at 321 and Springfield at 328. Frazee’s Beau Hanson is the individual leader at 71, with Jesse Roscoe of Ortonville and Dillon Schultz of Springfield two shots back.

Today’s State Girls’ Golf Results
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2010 6:09:13 PM

We’re awaiting results from the boys’ half of the three state tourneys (the boys began play after the girls), but here’s the wrap-up from the girls’ action today. The Class 3A tourney has finished and 2A and 1A are at the halfway point.

Alexandria senior Maggie Leland shot a second-day 69 at the 3A state golf tourney Wednesday, winning the individual title with a state-record total of 143. New Prague wins the girls' team title with a seven-shot margin over Edina.

The four-time defending champion Minnewaska girls have a 305 total, 14 shots ahead of Red Wing at the halfway point. Individual leaders are Minnewaska's Sarah Roering at 71 and Allie Ostrander at 73, followed by Red Wing's Katie Kesti 76.

Providence Academy has the team lead after day one with a 348 total. Next are Lewiston-Altura at 363 and Osakis at 365. The individual leader is Kelsey Ross of Osakis at 75, followed by Kathryn Kennedy of Providence at 80 and Amy Mireault of Fosston at 83.

It's a Tough Job, But Somebody Has to be at State Golf
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/16/2010 12:26:10 PM

I'm on the scene at the Class 2A state golf tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek near Jordan. The course is in fabulous shape and the weather is absolutely unbeatable.

The Minnewaska girls are the four-time defending champs of this tournament, and the team van carries a message on the rear window: "One For The Thumb!"

As usual, I'm posting updates and photos on Facebook and Twitter. Take a look at the Facebook photos and you'll get a sense of this spectacular day.

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

Golf is a Family Affair for the Detlefsens
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/15/2010 10:37:36 PM

A few years ago I was driving a golf cart around a Twin Cities course, watching Katie Detlefsen win a section tournament. In 2007, the Minnehaha Academy senior made history by winning her fourth consecutive Class 1A state title, something no other golfer has done in any class.

On that afternoon, I had a passenger in my golf cart. Sara Detlefsen was in elementary school, and she studied a school textbook while we drove the course and watched her big sister hit the ball down the middle on hole after hole.

On Tuesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids, the tables were turned. Katie Detlefsen is now a college graduate, completing a degree in just two years at the University of Central Florida, where she now is working toward a master’s degree in mass communications and remains a member of the golf team.

Katie walked the course Tuesday, watching Sara compete in the Class 3A state tournament. Sara, a home-schooled student, is a sophomore on the golf team at Eastview High School in Apple Valley. She finished in a third-place tie at state a year ago and was one shot out of the lead after Tuesday’s first round. The tournament will conclude on Wednesday.

The first-day girls’ leader was defending champion Betsy Kelly, a senior from Forest Lake. Kelly shot an even-par 73, followed by Detlefsen and Alexandria senior Maggie Leland at 74.

“I feel pretty good about how I played today,” Sara said. “I definitely made some good shots.”

Back when Katie Detlefsen was in the midst of her history-making run, I spent a lot of quality time on golf courses in the Detlefsen gallery. The whole family was on hand Tuesday: parents Glenn and Louise, brother Erik (who recently graduated from law school) and even Grandpa and Grandma. Golf is truly a family affair for the Detlefsens.

“I feel like our family really is supportive of each other and it’s really special to have the opportunity to have your sister be your best friend,” Katie said. “I think it’s really fun to come and watch, especially to come and watch Sara. Because I feel like I’ve seen her grow from the person who watched me to a player who’s really taking control of her game. I can see how she’s matured and just really gotten good.”

The sisters talked before Tuesday’s round, and Katie said she had a feeling Sara was primed for a good day.

“She’s more in control than I’ve seen her be at just about any other time in terms of ‘I’m ready, I’ve put myself in the right places,’ and you just go out and see what you can do,” Katie said.

Sara spent a lot of time watching Erik and Katie play golf, and she couldn’t wait until it was her turn.

“I remember being 5 years old and worrying that I wouldn’t be able to carry a bag for 18 holes,” she said. “I always loved to watch them, and I always said, ‘I want to be out on the course.’ When I played my first big tournament, I thought, ‘This is so awesome. I love it.’ ”

The obvious question regarding the Detlefsen sisters concerns the pressure felt by Sara. It can’t be easy to be known as the little sister of the most successful golfer in Minnesota high school history, can it? Turns out it’s no big deal.

Sara responded to that question with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders.

“It’s great to have her as my older sister,” Sara said. “She’s just awesome as a sister, she helps me out a ton. It’s cool to be able to say, ‘My sister did that.’ It’s fun.”

Katie said she probably has felt more pressure than her little sister.

“I feel like there’s been pressure since I was young to be a good example for her. I’m like, ‘She’s going to copy everything I do, so I better do a good job.’ We encourage each other and challenge each other to do better. She’s always cheering me on and I’m always cheering her on. I would love to see her go and do things way beyond what I’ve ever done. I’m sure she feels there are expectations from other people to do a good job, but I think it’s a good kind of pressure for her.”

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

Day One at Class 3A State Golf Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/15/2010 12:30:48 PM

The first scores from the girls’ morning rounds are coming in, and the boys’ field will soon begin play in the Class 3A state golf tournament at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids.

I’ll be posting photos and scoring updates on Facebook and Twitter as the day goes on, and we’ll wrap everything up here on John’s Journal this evening.

Have a great day!

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

Let’s Gear Up For Another Tournament Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/14/2010 7:18:56 PM

It’s been a tremendous spring for high school activities in Minnesota, and we will close out the spring – as well as the 2009-10 school year – with another exciting week of state tournaments beginning Tuesday.

This is the week for golf and baseball. The Class 3A golf tournament will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids, the Class 2A tourney will be held at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Class 1A competition will be held at Pebble Creek in Becker, also on Wednesday and Thursday.

Baseball kicks off with state quarterfinal and semifinal games on Thursday at six beautiful ballparks. Class 3A games will be held at Midway Stadium in St. Paul and Siebert Field at the University of Minnesota, Class 2A at Dick Putz Field and Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud, and Class 1A at Chaska Athletic Park and the Mini Met in Jordan.

Consolation-round games are scheduled for Friday at the same sites, and all three state championship games are scheduled for Saturday at Target Field, the Twins’ new home in downtown Minneapolis. Class 1A will kick off the big day at noon, followed by 2A at 3 p.m. and 3A at 6 p.m. In addition to baseball, all three state softball championship teams will be honored at Target Field on Saturday.

Tom Witschen, the radio voice of Gophers baseball, will provide the play-by-play for the baseball championship games, which will be televised by Channel 45 and webcast online at 45.grandstadium.tv. The broadcast crew also includes Jim Erickson from Bob 106 FM and Chris Tubbs and Matt Nelson with T.J. Broadcast Services.

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

Memories are Made at State Track Meet
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/12/2010 6:28:29 PM

Two years ago, an eighth-grade girl from Fergus Falls came to the state track meet as someone who was all but unknown outside her hometown. But Haylie Zenner won the Class 2A 800 meters, then did the same thing last year.

As I wrote a few days ago, I love to compile memories from high school tournaments. Another great one was added to the list at Saturday’s state track and field meet, and Haylie Zenner was part of it.

In late April, I spent some time in Fergus Falls and wrote about Haylie here on John’s Journal. Here is a short excerpt: Haylie remembers being “in shock” after winning a state title in the 800 as an eighth-grader. “I was hoping for top five,” she said with a smile. She could become a five-time state champ, and she admits to thinking about that, “but you never know what’s going to happen.”

You never know what’s going to happen. Indeed. Haylie did not win title No. 3 in the 800 Saturday. She placed second in an extremely close finish, hitting the wire a fraction of a second behind Maggie Carruth of Minnetonka.

Maggie is an eighth-grader, putting her right where Haylie was two years ago. The best part of the race, however, came a couple of steps after the two runners hit the wire. Still striding, Haylie looked to her right and Maggie looked to her left. Their eyes met, and they each flashed a smile.

It was a remarkable moment. For 800 meters the two athletes had battled through the pack of nine runners, fought their way around the curves and put themselves in prime position coming down the stretch in front of the cheering crowd at Hamline University’s Klas Field. It came down to the last couple of strides, and the youngster from Minnetonka got to the finish line first, with the veteran – albeit still only a sophomore – coming up short in an effort to win title No. 3.

And they smiled at each other. And then they hugged each other, the two-time champion congratulating the new champion, and the new champion realizing what she had just accomplished.

That one will be remembered for a long time.

ANOTHER GREAT SIGHT came after an injury. During the Class 1A boys’ 4x200 relay, a runner from Cannon Falls was injured. In order to help get him to the medical tent, a teammate propped up one of the injured runner’s shoulders and walked beside him … and a competitor from St. Croix Lutheran aided the runner on the other side. That is sportsmanship at its finest.

AFTER A GREAT stretch of spring weather – especially early in the spring – the conditions were not ideal Saturday at Hamline. Cool, rainy weather does not usually equate to great performances, but several athletes and relay teams made headlines. Two Class 2A girls won two events and Hopkins set state records in winning two 2A girls’ relays…

--Richfield freshman Jessica January tied her own state record of 14.33 seconds in winning the Class 2A 100-meter hurdles. She also won the 300-meter hurdles.

--Park Center’s Sasha Davis won the 2A girls’ 100 and 400.

--The Hopkins 4x200 girls relay team of Elise Anderson, Mary Tanoe, Kirsten Anderson and Bridget Sweeney set a state mark of 1:40.62, breaking Minneapolis Washburn's 2004 record of 1:40.76. Hopkins set another state record in the 4x400. Mariah Witt, Sweeney, Stephanie Rouse and Hannah Borowsky finished in 3:51.28, breaking the record of 3:52.13, set by Apple Valley in 1997. Hopkins also won the 4x100.

January is a freshman, Davis is a junior and Kirsten Anderson is the only senior on those two Hopkins relays teams. In other words, we may be hearing more from those athletes.

THE CLASS 1A portion of the meet was held during a continuous light rain, but that didn’t stop some wonderful performances.

--Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston – a three-time state champ last year -- repeated her titles in the long jump and triple jump.

--Luverne’s Katlyn Sawtelle won the 100-meter hurdles and anchored the Cardinals’ winning 4x200 relay team. Also on the team were Alyssa Stegenga, Liberty Robinson and Britton Dyer.

--Calvin Clark of St. Paul Humboldt was another double winner, in the 100 and 200.

--Jordan Jarland of Lanesboro/Fillmore Central won gold in the long jump and 300 hurdles.

--Shawn Johnson of Eveleth-Gilbert swept the boys’ shot put and discus.

THANKFULLY, MY UMBRELLA – which spent Thursday night on the grounds of the state softball tournament in North Mankato – came in handy during Saturday’s track meet. Call me an eternal optimist for wearing short pants during a day in which the temperature never got above 60 degrees.

SATURDAY WAS A GOOD day for John’s Journal subjects. This spring I visited, interviewed, photographed and wrote about (among others) Jessica January, Analisa Huschle, Mubarik Musa (who won the 1A boys' 1,600) and Haylie Zenner.

THE TRACK MEET was another opportunity to rub elbows with some of the fine scribes who write about high school sports in Minnesota. Tom Elliott of the St. Cloud Times, Pat Ruff of the Rochester Post-Bulletin and Mike Bialka of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch … they all care about the kids and the teams and the communities they cover. Good guys one and all.

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

Hopkins Girls Set Two State Records
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/12/2010 1:02:31 PM

The Hopkins girls' track team has won the team race at the state Class 2A meet, led by two relay teams that set state records.

The Royals 4x200 team won in 1:40.62, breaking the mark of 1:40.76 set by Minneapolis Washburn in 2004.

In the 4x400, Hopkins set a record of 3:51.28, breaking the previous record of 3:52.13, set by Apple Valley in 1997.

Hopkins won the 2A girls title with 81 points, followed by Alexandria (45) and Richfield (41).

In 2A boys, the top three teams were Eden Prairie 56, Edina 49 and Wayzata 40.

Class 1A competition begins shortly...

A Pair of Double Champions
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/12/2010 12:02:16 PM

Jessica January of Richfield won the Class 2A 300-meter hurdles for her second title of the day. That's a pretty good outing for a ninth-grader.

And junior Sasha Davis of Park Center is a double winner in the 2A girls' 100 and 400.

Rain arrived shortly before noon at the state track meet, as the 2A half of the meet was winding down. It could be a cold, wet afternoon for the Class 1A competition.

State Track Update: Record-Setting Day
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/12/2010 10:34:16 AM

One state record has fallen and one has been tied today in the Class 2A girls' portion of the state track meet at Hamline University.

--Richfield freshman Jessica January tied her own state record of 14.33 seconds in winning the 100-meter hurdles.

--The Hopkins 4x200 girls relay team set a state mark of 1:40.62, breaking Minneapolis Washburn's 2004 recordof 1:40.76.

Freshest updates are being posted on Facebook and Twitter...

Celebrations That Are Hard To Beat
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2010 11:53:50 PM

Friday was a day of celebrations, and I saw four great ones. During the state softball tournament, Burnsville, Park Center and New Life Academy all won state championships in one-run games, and the joy was evident.

Later in the day at Mounds View High School, the boys’ lacrosse team from Benilde-St. Margaret’s recorded a 7-3 victory over Totino-Grace in the state title game, and the Red Knights capped the day with an exuberant celebration.

(To see video of each and every one of these celebrations, along with photos from the tournaments, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Friday was a long day for all of us in the Media Specialist profession, starting with the first Tweet around 9:30 a.m. and ending around midnight. I wasn’t able to attend the boys’ state tennis tournament or the opening day of the state track meet, but I have spies at all these events and was plugged in from my perch in Mankato.

We’ll be back at it Saturday morning, with the first event of the state track and field meet at 9 a.m.

As I neared Mankato on Friday morning, I hit the “scan” button on my radio and landed on New Ulm’s KNUJ – one of the premier radio stations for high school sports in our state – and listened to coverage of New Ulm Cathedral’s victory over Cherry/Cotton in the Class 1A fifth-place game.

Later in the day, when the three softball state title games began, we took a leap from radio to the internet. The championship games were all webcast live on 45.grandstadium.tv, with the camera crews and on-air talent doing a very professional job.

Next Saturday’s state championship baseball games also will be webcast on 45.grandstadium.tv, and Channel 45 will pick up the webcast for live television coverage from Target Field.

The softball championship teams will be honored during the baseball championships, as well, with all three gold medal softball teams being recognized on the Target Center field.

That will be a fitting end to the school year, but first things first: the second day of the state track meet on Saturday and next week’s tournaments in baseball and golf.

INTERESTING T-SHIRT: An older fellow at the softball tournament was wearing a black shirt that in big gold letters read “Burnsville Braves.” The nickname was changed to the Blaze several years ago, but traditions often linger.

BUSIEST PERIOD OF THE DAY: Four tennis matches and two softball games all ended within a few minutes of each other between Minneapolis and North Mankato. The Tweets, texts and emails were arriving in my lap rapidly, and fingers were flying on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to keep the information flowing to the rest of the world.

(And speaking of Facebook and Twitter, the number of folks who are following those sites is growing rapidly. This has quickly become a wonderful way to spread news in the fastest way possible.)

BEST QUESTION OF THE DAY: Someone I saw at the softball tournament said, “Is it true that you left the Pioneer Press?” False. I left the Star Tribune to join the MSHSL staff.

BEST DOUBLE PLAY: In the bottom of the sixth inning of the 1A softball title game with New Life Academy leading 2-0, Barnum had a runner on first with no outs. A dangerous sinking liner was hit to right-center, and New Life center field Andrea Peterfeso raced in to not only make the shoestring catch, but she then threw to first base to double up the runner. That was a big-league play.

BUDDY SYSTEM: Having working in the prep sports media world for so many years, I have come to know many of the other scribes from around the state. At tournament time, we all catch up with each other. In Mankato, it was nice to see good guys like Rick Weegman of the Duluth News-Tribune, Aaron Hagen of the Worthington Daily Globe and Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press. It’s a great little fraternity to be part of.

BEST SPORTSMANSHIP: After a tough defeat in the lacrosse championship game, the boys from Totino-Grace shook hands with the officials. In most sports, the officials quickly leave the field of play as soon as the game ends. In lacrosse, they stick around. It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if coaches and players in all sports lined up and shook hands with the officials after every game.

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

Updates and More ... All Day Long
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/11/2010 12:16:27 PM

For the fastest, quickest, hop-to-it-est updates on the four state tournaments being held today, keep one eye on the MSHSL Facebook page and the other eye on MSHSLjohn on Twitter.

I am in Mankato for softball, while track and field, boys' tennis and boys' lacrosse are taking place in the Twin Cities. I'll be at lacrosse this evening at Mounds View.

I'm connected to all the events and I'm throwing updates on Facebook and Twitter as soon as I have 'em.

For example, this was posted on Facebook earlier today: "In the 2A boys' triple jump, Eden Prairie's Mike Sandle won with a meet record of 49-5 1/2. The state record is 50-4, and Sandle is only a junior."

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

Softball, Rainfall, Graduation Plans, Lacrosse
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/10/2010 11:19:01 PM

Ah, the sweet smell of Diamond Dust. In other words, the state softball tournament and rain both arrived in North Mankato on Thursday.

I wrote on Wednesday that “I may attempt a long-distance doubleheader Thursday, driving to North Mankato in the morning and heading to Mounds View for Thursday evening’s boys’ lacrosse semifinals.” I indeed motored on down to the first day of softball, arriving shortly before play was suspended due to the trifecta of weather troublemakers: Rain, thunder and lightning.

The fields were cleared at 12:15 p.m. and everybody went into siesta mode for a couple of hours. Most of the fans were under umbrellas, but the teams, coaches and umpires were plenty wet. “This is a good time to find a laundromat,” one guy said as his team headed back to its hotel to wait out the delay. I also saw an enterprising fellow find a novel way to remove the moisture from his clothing: he held them under a hot-air hand dryer in the men’s restroom.

Later on, I saw two dads of players use the same method to dry out their daughters’ batting gloves. Good thing they didn’t have to put in quarters to keep the things running.

BEST JOKE I HEARD during the rain delay: “What’s the latest we could play today? 11:59.”

The Diamond Dust – a substance spread on wet infields to help remove the moisture – arrived in the backs of several Caswell Park maintenance vehicles. Watching the grounds crews rake the stuff in once the rain stopped, it was amazing how quickly they got the fields back into playing shape.

With all the spring tournaments come conflicts with big events, especially graduation ceremonies. Graduation at Forest Lake High School was held Thursday evening, so after the Rangers lost to North St. Paul in the Class 3A quarterfinals -- followed by the rain delay – their consolation-bracket game with Richfield resumed earlier than the others. That was done in order to let the Forest Lake folks get home in time for the ceremony.

The Richfield-Forest Lake game began at 2:30 and the darn thing lasted until 4:30, when Forest Lake scored in the bottom of the 11th inning to win 4-3. Had the game still been tied, it would have been suspended in order to allow the Forest Lakers to get home for graduation.

COOL MOMENT: During the final stages of the Forest Lake-Richfield game, the Forest Lake players chanted over and over (at a very rapid pace), “I Believe! You Believe! We Believe!”

I left North Mankato around 4:45 and scooted up Highway 169 toward the Twin Cities; specifically Mounds View High School and the semifinals of the boys’ state lacrosse tournament. By the time I got home around 10:30 p.m., I had put 190 miles on my car. I’ll do the same on Friday ... weather permitting, of course.

My lacrosse experience is limited, but here’s what I know: This is a very entertaining sport. It’s a mixture of football, hockey and soccer. Benilde-St. Margaret’s defeated Wayzata 19-4 in the first game and Totino-Grace got past Eagan 4-3 in a thrilling nightcap, setting up Friday’s 8 p.m. title game.

The Mounds View stadium is a great venue, with a backdrop of trees and terrific views of the action. Just the slightest mist fell late in the second game. No weather delays, no suspended play, no problem.

Oh, wait a minute. There was one slight problem: I forgot my umbrella in Mankato.

I’ll get it on Friday.

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

A State Championship, and a Special M.C.
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2010 8:57:27 PM

All it takes to understand the depth and breadth of high school sports taking place in Minnesota right now is one quick gander up a few inches, at the top of this web site.

Everything is laid out for us: Scores and brackets in girls’ lacrosse, boys’ lacrosse, boys’ tennis, softball …along with clickable tabs with information on the upcoming state track meet as well as the state baseball tournament, which will culminate the spring season in a very sweet way at Target Field.

Take a step away from the worldwide web, however, and visit one of the many scenes of all these events. There we see cheering crowds, celebrating student-athletes and the culmination of countless hours of hard work, planning and even a little bit of dreaming.

I always try to gather up my favorite moments from tournament time and savor them. I already have a frontrunner in that category this spring, and it is something new: a smiling female student manager, taking center stage during the presentation of state championship medals for a boys’ sport.

Her name is Lauren Brumback. After the Eagles defeated Eagan 6-1 Wednesday at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center to claim the school’s first Class 2A boys’ tennis team title, coach Dean Rudrud had Lauren take over as master of ceremonies. She announced the names of each player as they stepped forward, bowed their heads and had a gold medal draped around their necks. Then she stood and smiled some more, in the midst of the boys as they posed for a team photo. It was tremendously neat.

Speaking of tremendous things, Eden Prairie is experiencing a sports year that is something to behold. The boys’ tennis championship was part of a long line of success stories since the 2009-10 school year began. The Eagles football team went to state last fall for about the 99th time in the last 100 years, falling to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Class 5A championship game. But there’s plenty more where that came from…

--The Eden Prairie girls’ lacrosse team fell to Blake 11-10 in Wednesday night’s state championship game at Chanhassen. The Eagles had won two of the first three state titles since that sport came under MSHSL sponsorship. Blake's title capped a darn good day for the Bears, by the way; the boys' tennis team also won a state title earlier in the day.

--The baseball team won the Class 3A, Section 2 title Tuesday night and will play in next week’s state tournament.

--Heading into next week’s state track and field meet, the Eagles have the state’s best time this spring in the boys’ 4x100 relay, along with the top long jumper (Rumeal Harris) and triple jumper (Mike Sandle) in the state.

--In cross-country, the boys’ team won the Class 2A state title last fall and junior Aaron Bartnik was the individual champion.

--Sophomore Meghan Cummings won a state swimming title in the 100-yard butterfly last fall.

--In girls’ tennis last fall, senior Makenna Borg and sophomore Maddie Buxton won the Class 2A doubles title.

--The boys’ basketball team went to state in Class 4A last winter, finishing fourth.

--And the wrestling team went to state in Class 3A, also finishing fourth.

Rudrud said Eden Prairie’s success begins with athletic director/football coach Mike Grant.

“Mike Grant’s philosophy at our head coach’s meetings is that everybody should have 100 percent great experiences,” Rudrud said. “If the kids are having fun and they’re improving, winning will take care of itself. Mike is such a great leader and he’s not just about football. At least in our meetings, he’s like, ‘OK, tennis, what do you need? Choir, what do you need?’ He’s really kind of raised the bar. It starts at the top and just kind of works down.”

Wednesday’s tennis championship was not a world-class surprise, at least not to the coach. Rudrud began the season with a very young team and saw it take home the gold with a lineup that featured ninth-graders in the No. 2 (David Zhou), No. 3 (Salam Bachour) and No. 4 (Sam Doud) singles spots. The No. 1 singles player Wednesday was a relatively seasoned veteran: sophomore Scott Elsass.

“I’ve got four ninth-graders, and they could have made the team as seventh- and eighth-graders, but we can’t take seventh- and eighth-graders because of district policy,” Rudrud said. “My focus was winning the state championship this year. It would have been disappointing if we hadn’t won the state championship.”

Eagan, which also was seeking its first boys’ team tennis title, is almost as young as Eden Prairie. The top singles players – Vishal Yelsetti and Brian Fisk – are seniors, followed by sophomore Ben Ekstein at No. 3 singles and eighth-grader Zach Eckstein at No. 4. Half of the Wildcats’ six doubles players also will return next season.

NOW IS WHEN MILES begin to be added to a few odometers. The state softball tournament kicks off Thursday in North Mankato, leading to a stream of vehicles coming in from all over the state. I may attempt a long-distance doubleheader Thursday, driving to North Mankato in the morning and heading to Mounds View for Thursday evening’s boys’ lacrosse semifinals. If not on Thursday, that will definitely happen for me on Friday.

Let's see, driving from my house to North Mankato to Mounds View and then back home; how many miles is that?

I better go get my oil changed …

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

Apple Valley Coach Receives National Honor
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/9/2010 2:01:08 PM

Chuck Scanlon, whose Apple Valley boys’ soccer team captured its eighth state championship under his guidance last fall, has been selected by the National High School Coaches Association as the National High School Boys Soccer Coach of the Year for 2010.

The Eagles had a perfect record of 24-0 last season, including a 4-0 victory over Wayzata in the Class 2A state championship game at the Metrodome.

A letter from the NHSCA informing Scanlon of his award said in part, “this is a tremendous honor for you, your team, and your school, and signifies that you are one of the best of the best in the coaching profession.”

Congratulations to Coach Scanlon and everyone at Apple Valley.

Sights (and Sounds) From Day One of State Action
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2010 8:07:04 PM

The first sound I heard from the 2010 spring state tournaments was, fittingly, a loud cheer. It was a bit muffled, considering that it came from inside an inflatable tennis bubble while I was walking outside the bubble, but it was a wonderful sound nonetheless.

Today was day one of the Big Spring Swing, two weeks of state tournaments scattered around the Twin Cities and extending from Mankato and Jordan up to Becker. The cheer I heard came from the Class A boys’ tennis tourney at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis, where Breck was edging Rochester Lourdes 4-3 in a highly anticipated team quarterfinal.

(For photos and video from tennis and lacrosse, see the MSHSL Facebook page.)

The big news from the day was that one of the two bubbles at Reed-Sweatt was down, having deflated due to an electrical malfunction on Friday. The roof material was ripped as it fell and repairs could not be made in time for the first day of the tournament. We’ll see what the rest of the week brings; good weather could lead to outdoor tennis. Fingers are crossed.

With five courts in use instead of 10, Reed-Sweatt was a cramped facility. Bleachers were placed on either side of the five-court setup, so fans watching the matches in the middle had to strain just a bit to see everything. The schedule took a hit, too, but the tournament managers did a terrific job of keeping things moving.

At one point in the day, Luverne coach Greg Antoine was trying to solve a slight problem. He had a cooler filled with Gatorade and needed a place to stow it while the team went out to get some lunch between matches. MSHSL media steward Jil Fiemeyer of Wadena, who always has a smile on her face, showed him where to park it. The great thing about that cooler? The Gatorade was donated to the team by one of the local businesses in Luverne. Community spirit is alive and well.

There were no space issues during the 2A boys’ tournament at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center today. Baseline is pure state of the art, with plenty of room for spectators and outstanding views of the action.

What goes on behind the scenes at the tennis tournaments is interesting as well as inspiring. One of the very cool things about state tennis are the pre-match meetings. This morning, I walked out of the restroom at Reed-Sweatt and much to my surprise the hallway was packed with tennis players.

Because of the cramped conditions, Class A site manager Hal Miller of Alexandria was addressing the teams from Mound-Westonka and Thief River Falls in the hallway. Later in the day, I witnessed a similar meeting between Mounds View and Forest Lake in the 2A tourney at Baseline. This meeting was held in the spacious Baseline lounge, with comfortable chairs everywhere.

2A site manager Doug Peltier of Roseville quickly explained which matches would be held on which courts, and then the lineups were quietly announced. Peltier, for example, said, “The players at Number One singles are …” And coaches Mike Cartwright of Mounds View and Greg Patchin of Forest Lake introduced the players, who rose to shake hands with each other as well as the opposing coach.

After the meeting ended, the Forest Lake Rangers headed out to the courts. Back in the lounge, the Mounds View Mustangs gathered around Cartwright for a very quick pep talk, followed by the loudest sound the room heard all day: “1, 2, 3, Mustangs!”

AFTER MAKING THE 25-mile drive from the University of Minnesota to Chanhassen High School, the first sound I heard from the girls’ state lacrosse tournament was also muffled … because I was inside a porta-potty when Mounds View scored the first goal against Eden Prairie.

It was dinnertime, and the concession stand was out of Diet Mountain Dew; I chose a Diet Pepsi over a Diet Coke (DC is my official drink of the winter state tournaments). The people working in the concession stand apparently don’t have to be sport-specific, because I heard one lady say to another lady, “What’s the game that’s going on? Lacrosse?”

The best thing about Tuesday evening’s lacrosse action was the sky. There were a few darkish clouds, but the sun made several appearances after a day of soggy drops falling to the ground. We all felt like we were in a good spot, too, since the National Weather Service’s Chanhassen radar tower is only a couple hundred yards from the stadium at Chanhassen High School. If any trouble was afoot, you’d think we would be the first to know.

But thank goodness, the only thing close to a calamity on day one of the Big Spring Swing was a tennis bubble that wouldn’t behave. On the tennis court as well as the lacrosse field, the competition was spirited, the fans cheered for their boys and girls, and it was another wonderful day for high school activities in Minnesota.

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

State Tourney Week Begins With Bubble Trouble
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/8/2010 12:54:08 PM

Bright, sunny skies can cure a lot of ailments, and improving weather would sure offer some assistance to the Class A boys’ state tennis tournament. One of the two inflated bubbles at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis slowly deflated a few days ago because of electrical problems.

As a result, all of today’s Class A team matches are being held under the other bubble. If it weren’t raining today, efforts to raise the second bubble might be successful … but it’s raining today.

If the weather clears in the next three days, outdoor courts at Reed-Sweatt may be used. But for now, the tournament is being held on five indoor courts instead of 10. That means we’re behind schedule, but other than that everything is running smoothly.

Results-wise, Breck has defeated Rochester Lourdes 4-3 and Virginia has clinched a victory over Luverne (although the match hasn’t concluded). Over at Class 2A tennis at the U of M, Rochester Mayo has defeated Mounds View 5-2 and Eagan beat Forest Lake 4-3.

I’ll be hanging out here at Reed-Sweatt for a while yet, then heading over to the U of M Baseline Tennis Center to see some Class AA tennis. This evening is when the weather could really come into play. The girls’ lacrosse state semifinals will be held at Chanhassen High School, with Eden Prairie vs. Mounds View at 6 p.m. and Blake vs. Lakeville North/South at 8 p.m.

And yes, I do have an umbrella in the car…

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

Get Your Week On: It's Tourney Time!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/7/2010 12:43:54 PM

Buckle up, take a breath and pack a lunch, because this week is one of the most action-filled stretches of the year. From lacrosse to tennis to softball to track, the next few days will be a whirlwind of MSHSL spring state tournaments.

Here’s a brief primer of what’s on tap …

TUESDAY/ Boys’ tennis kicks off the week. Team quarterfinals begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will run through late afternoon. Class A teams compete at Read-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis and Class AA is held at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center. On Tuesday evening, the single-class girls’ lacrosse state semifinals will be held at Chanhassen High School, with Eden Prairie and Mounds View facing off at 6 p.m., followed by Blake vs. Lakeville North/South at 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY/ Boys’ tennis and girls’ lacrosse are on tap. Team titles will be decided in tennis, with semifinals at 8 and 10 a.m. in both classes and the title matches scheduled for 4 p.m. In girls’ lacrosse at Chanhassen, the third-place game will begin at 6, followed by the title game at 8.

THURSDAY/ The pace quickens on this day, with three sports in play. The boys’ lacrosse semifinals will be held at Mounds View; the first game pits Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Hopkins, followed by Totino-Grace vs. Eagan. In boys’ tennis, first- and second-round matches will be held in singles and doubles. And in North Mankato, the three-class state softball tournament will get rolling with quarterfinal and semifinal games.

FRIDAY/ This is the busiest day of the high school sports year in Minnesota, with state champions decided in four sports. In boys’ tennis, singles and doubles title will be on the line, with all championship matches scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Softball championship games are scheduled for 1 p.m. (3A), 1:30 (A) and 2 p.m. (2A), boys’ lacrosse will hold its third-place (6 p.m.) and championship (8 p.m.) games at Mounds View, and the first day of the state track and field meet will take place at Hamline University in St. Paul.

SATURDAY/ The state track and field meet will close the week, followed by a short respite before the state golf and baseball tournaments are held from June15-19. The spring tournament series will close with a bang: three state championship baseball games held at Target Field, the new home of the Twins.

Many of these events will be webcast on 45.grandstadium.tv. And throughout the week, updates will posted on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to check out all of those sites to stay in the loop on all the tournament action.

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

From Osseo to Kuwait: A Legend Says Farewell
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/5/2010 10:01:21 PM

Doug Anderson is a little worried about what will happen Tuesday night. The fact that he and his wife are pulling up stakes and moving halfway around the world later this summer isn’t what’s tugging at him right now; it’s Tuesday night’s postseason sports banquet at Osseo High School.

Anderson, who got the Osseo adapted sports programs off the ground in 1995 and has been coaching there ever since, saw his final competition at Saturday’s state adapted softball tournament at Coon Rapids. His CI (cognitively impaired) team qualified for state and finished the season with a 12-5 record. The Orioles lost to South Suburban 23-13 in Friday’s state quarterfinals and fell to Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 11-6 Saturday in the consolation bracket.

In August Anderson and his wife Sheila will move to Kuwait to teach at a private school. Sheila, recently retired from Osseo High School, teaches English and Doug will teach physical education and work as the athletic director at the Universal American School in a suburb of Kuwait City.

That’s all to come, though. Tuesday night is the immediate challenge.

“Tuesday night will be kind of my final closure with the program,” Anderson said during Saturday’s state tourney. “I’m kind of a sap anyway, so I imagine there will be a few tears flowing.”

Osseo activities director Ray Kirch uses words like “selfless” and “legend” and “icon” to describe Anderson and what he has meant to the athletes at Osseo.

“Doug has done great things for our special needs kids for years,” Kirch said. “We’re going to miss him like crazy.”

Anderson knows that he will miss all the athletes he has coached, and that includes a wide range of ages. He holds alumni games every year, and at the alumni softball game last week he asked one of his former players how old he was.

“I said, ‘Kenny, how old are you now?’ He said, ‘35 on my next birthday.’ I have one seventh-grader on the team now; Kenny is 34 and Alex is 14. I said, ‘Kenny, you were done playing for me before he was even born.’ We had the oldest player in the program and the youngest player in the program. It was pretty cool.

“I look forward to those alumni games more than anything else because I get to see them all, everybody whose lives you’ve touched.”

It’s impossible to quantify how many lives Anderson and all the adaptive coaches in Minnesota have touched. Saturday’s softball tournament was rock-solid evidence of the value of adapted athletics. After Osseo’s PI (physically impaired) team won the consolation championship with a 10-0 victory over Wayzata/Minnetonka, Orioles coach Al Chuba spoke to the team in the Coon Rapids cafeteria.

Standing next to the trophy that the team was taking home, Chuba said to the athletes, parents, grandparents and siblings, “Enjoy this. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Everyone was beaming. There were no downcast faces at finishing fifth in an eight-team tournament. It was an absolutely joyful moment during a day filled with them.

“This is just so much fun, working with these kids,” said Anderson. “A lot of them, they accomplish so little but they try so hard. And that’s gratifying. This gives these kids, whether they’re physically impaired or cognitively impaired, the opportunity to be part of a high school activity and have a chance to letter, to earn the same trophies and the same medals that they see the hockey players and the basketball players get on TV. It’s a great program.

“I was a college athlete, I coached baseball in college and I coached high school sports. But working with these kids, they give you 100 percent all the time, whether it’s the first day of practice or the last game of the state tournament. They go hard and they give their best. The parents are great and they’re grateful for the program.”

Kirch said Kelli Waalk, one of Anderson’s assistant coaches, will take over for him when the new school year begins.

“It’s tough to replace a legend, a guy who’s been kind of an icon in our adapted programs, but she’ll be a great replacement,” Kirch said.

Anderson, 57, is taking a leave of absence from his job at Osseo in order to work in Kuwait. While he and Sheila were celebrating their 25th anniversary in Hawaii 10 years ago, they met a couple who were retired teachers but had been working at schools in exotic places.

“They were having the time of their life,” Doug said. “We thought, ‘Geez, it would be fun if we could do that when we get to that point in our life.’ I guess we’re at that point in our life. We’ll do two years there. If we like it we’ll do two more. The plan is that we’ll probably be gone for four years.”

The Andersons will depart for Kuwait in early August.

“For a couple of farm kids from west-central Minnesota, this is a pretty big adventure,” Doug Anderson said with a smile. “We’ve been thinking about it and talking about it for 10 years. When my wife knew she was going to retire, we started looking into it.”

They went to a job fair at the University of Northern Iowa in February, where the Kuwaiti connection began.

“We interviewed with this school and they made an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Doug said.

Everyone who knows the Andersons wishes them well on the next chapter in their lives.

“A lot of us wouldn’t have the guts to try something like that," Kirch said. "But Doug’s an adventuresome person and so is Sheila. We just hope they have a great experience. They’ll do wonderful things for those kids in Kuwait.”

But first, there’s the matter of Tuesday night’s banquet … and farewell party.

“I’m going to have a hole in my heart on this one,” Anderson said.

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

Monumental Facebook History Has Been Made!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/5/2010 6:31:49 PM

Well, it's more of a neat plateau than earth-shaking history. But I am very proud to announce that more than 500 nice people who are interested -- if not downright passionate -- about high school activities have become friends of the MSHSL on Facebook.

That's an amazing number, considering that our Facebook page is barely two months old and has received very little publicity outside of our little neighborhood gathering spot here on John's Journal.

The next big goal is 1,000. I am setting a lofty target of reaching 1,000 before the end of the spring state tournaments. So share the news with your families and friends and tell them to jump on the bandwagon!

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

See Video & Photos from 2A Section 6 Track Finals
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/5/2010 12:17:31 AM

Jump on over to the MSHSL Facebook page to see (and hear) sights and sounds from Friday’s Class 2A Section 6 track and field championships at Cooper High School.

It was another beautiful day, filled with strong performances. Among the Facebook postings are:

--Video of Hopkins freshman Taylor Anderson winning the 100 with the state’s fastest girls’ time this season.

--Video of Edina junior Devin Crawford-Tufts winning the boys’ 100; he has the best time in Minnesota in that event in 2010.

--Video of Benilde-St. Margaret’s junior high jumper Trevor Yedoni, who also has the best performance in the state in that event.

--Photos of the boys’ 110 and girls’ 100 hurdles.

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

We're Nearing a Big Facebook Plateau
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/4/2010 1:17:48 PM

Thanks to everyone who has joined the MSHSL on Facebook. If you're not in the club, you're missing out on some great photos, videos and chat from high school activities all over Minnesota.

At this moment, 482 people have become fans of MSHSL on Facebook. It's free, easy and will brighten your day. We need 18 more humans to join us and bring that number to an even 500.

And from there, we'll keep building!

(Don't forget about us on Twitter, as well. It's another great way to stay connected.)

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

Apple Valley Names Girls’ Hockey Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/4/2010 1:02:22 PM

Apple Valley High School announced today that Don Erdall has been hired as the head girls’ hockey coach. He replaces Chuck Scanlon, who resigned in April; Scanlon had been the only girls’ hockey coach in the history of Apple Valley High School, starting as the ringette coach in 1992 and leading the transition to hockey in 1994-95. His team captured the nation’s first girls’ state hockey championship in 1995 and won a second title in 1998.

Erdall, a 2004 graduate of Bloomington Jefferson, played hockey and baseball for the Jaguars. He attended Winona State University, where he was a four-year starter and two-year captain of the baseball team.

His hockey coaching career included stints with the Winona Bantam teams and the Winona Senior High girls’ team while he was in college. Most recently, Don was the head JV coach at Lakeville North. This past season, his team compiled a 22-0-3 record. Additionally, he was a varsity assistant responsible for conditioning, drills and scouting. In addition to hockey, Don also coaches baseball at Eagan High School.

Jessica January: What Can’t She Do?
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2010 9:54:07 PM

As I talked with Jessica January on Thursday, I asked two straightforward questions.

Q: What is your favorite sport?

A: Basketball.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: Playing in the WNBA.

OK, then, the ninth-grader from Richfield must be a basketball star, right? Well, yes, she was the second-leading scorer for the Spartans last winter. She plays volleyball, too.

But the place where she really stands out is the track. The 15-year-old – whose birthday is in, yes, January -- will make her third trip to the Class 2A state meet next week, and she already has broken a state record … twice.

Must be nice: being a freshman, setting state records and being a heavy favorite to win at least one state championship … in your second-favorite sport.

“This is my third year with her,” said Richfield assistant track coach Beth Johnson, who coaches the hurdlers. “I can’t believe I get three more years with her.”

There’s a lot that’s hard to believe about Jessica January. She went to state for the first time as a seventh-grader and placed ninth in the 100-meter hurdles. As an eighth-grader last year she finished second in the 100 hurdles, seventh in the 300-meter hurdles and also advanced to state in the long jump (she didn't place in the top nine).

The fireworks got hotter this spring. She broke a 16-year-old state record in the 100 hurdles, winning in 14.33 seconds at the May 27 Classic Suburban Conference meet. She lowered the record to 14.30 Tuesday in the prelims of the 2A, Section 3 meet at Macalester College. The previous mark was 14.35, set by Woodbury’s Heidi Lundervold in 1994.

She didn’t set any state records in Thursday's Section 3 finals, but she did win both hurdle races and place second in the long jump.

Oh, she’s also a straight A student, a great role model and humble to the core.

“She’s amazing,” Richfield head coach Pat Burns said. “She wants to strive to do the best and be the best, and she’s extremely humble. She’s every coach’s dream.”

Burns first noticed January when she was in sixth-grade track and running as fast as the top kids on the varsity. Jessica also played softball, so the track coaches had to do some minor convincing to get her to put on running shoes.

She is gifted, certainly. “But she’s also the hardest worker you’ll see,” Burns said.

Johnson said that some early gymnastics training is part of the athletic mix for January. “Her form is very good naturally, and this year’s she running smoother and cleaner,” she said.

“And you talk about coachability; you tell her something and she gets it right the first time 90 percent of the time."

Jessica first tried running the hurdles in seventh grade.

“I just expected to get a workout,” she said. “I wasn’t really going for anything, to be good. But it was like, ‘OK, I kind of like this.’ ”

Then came that first trip to state, followed by another trip to state last spring, followed by her record-setting performances this spring.

Her favorite track event is the 100 hurdles (“I love the 100 hurdles. It’s short and sweet.”) Her goals for next week’s state track meet at Hamline University include winning the 100 hurdles and lowering the record even further.

So far in her young career, she has carried out every task and completed every assignment beyond anyone’s expectations.

Maybe the better question to ask is: What can’t she do?

She can’t fly. Can she?

UPDATING WEDNESDAY’S Journal reference to the Class 1A, Section 3 track championships in Montevideo, thanks to correspondent Joel Alvstad of the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom.

Via text message, here is Joel’s report: “Four girls moving on via standard in 100 hurdles. Defending state champion Bree Woelber of Pipestone finished third behind Katlyn Sawtell of Luverne and Jennie Romsdahl of Mt. Lake-Butterfield-Odin. Kaitlin Fell of MLBO also advanced by standard. She was fourth at state last year. Section 3 also has four girls moving on in the 300 hurdles via standard. Woelber of Pipestone took first.”

Thursday provided another fabulous setting for spring tournaments all over our state. Let's have more fun Friday and Saturday!

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

MTMEE: Softball and Track On a Beautiful Day
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/3/2010 3:57:38 PM

I witnessed another exciting softball matchup this afternoon during Part One of My Thursday Multi-Event Extravaganza (MTMEE). I was on hand as Burnsville held off Eagan 1-0 to win the Class 3A, Section 3 title and move on to state for the first time since the Blaze won state championships in 2004 and 2005.

The run was scored in the top of the seventh inning. Taylor Mackey singled and was bunted to second by Abby Harazin. Pinch hitter Megan Threlkeld, a ninth-grader mind you, hit a roller to the right side of the infield, beat the throw to first base and the run scored.

Burnsville junior pitcher Kelsey Anderson and Eagan senior Sara Moulton were locked up pretty good throughout the game. Anderson struck out 11 and gave up three hits while Moulton fanned nine and gave up seven hits. Defense was strong for both teams.

(A photo of the victorious Blaze has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and video is on the way.)

It was a spectacular afternoon for a softball game. I sat in the shade with Brian Stensaas, my former colleague at the Star Tribune. We enjoyed the pleasure that is sunflower seeds and waited patiently for the concession stand’s supply of Diet Coke to be restocked. The Diet Cokes arrived (whew!) during the late innings.

I saw a woman arrive at the game and hand a tube of sunscreen to her, uh, folically challenged husband. Hubbie quickly rubbed the stuff all over his head. Better safe than sorry, right? Smoke from the grill wafted by, dogs wandered through the area leashed to their owners (or is it the other way around?) and I heard only one Jim Joyce reference when the umpires made a close call.

Now it’s on to Part Two of MTMEE. I am writing this from the top level of the press box at Macalester College, where the Class 2A, Section 3 track and field finals are under way. The windows are open, the breeze is rippling through and everything looks good.

Check back here for another update this evening ….

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

Big Day in Softball: Richfield Pulls Shocker, Strikeout Record Falls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/2/2010 10:40:13 PM

The first big “Wow!” moment of the spring tournaments took place Wednesday evening in Richfield, on a softball diamond tucked in between the mammoth Best Buy headquarters complex and a giant Richfield water tower.

The towering story of Class 3A softball is the Richfield Spartans, who were seeded seventh in the Section 6 tournament and came out of the loser’s bracket Thursday to defeat No. 3 seed Armstrong twice and earn a trip to next week’s state tournament in North Mankato. The scores were 2-1 in an eight-inning first game and 3-0 in the finale.

Richfield began the postseason with a record of 10-11, but they will take a 17-12 mark into the state quarterfinals. The Spartans will meet Mounds View or Maple Grove at state; those teams will decide the Section 5 title on Thursday.

(For photos and video from the Richfield-Armstrong games, see the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Meanwhile, down south in Austin, the state record for career softball strikeouts changed hands. Hope Lutheran senior Felicia Meyer broke the record by striking out 15 in a 3-0 victory over Rushford-Peterson in the loser’s bracket final. Hope Lutheran's season then ended with a 4-0 loss to Class 1A, Section 1 champion and state qualifier Blooming Prairie. The career strikeout record had been 1,178, set by Lindsey Predovich of Virginia from1998 to 2003. Meyer's new record is 1,196.

The Richfield-Armstrong matchup drew a large crowd to the field at Richfield Middle School, as well as television coverage from cable Channel 12 from the northwest suburbs. With TV cameras on top of both dugouts, the games had a big-time air, and the play lived up to that level.

Among the stars for Richfield were junior pitcher Carly Klass and sophomore catcher Bry Guyton. Klass pitched all 15 innings to get the two victories and Guyton was big at the plate. She knocked in both runs in the first game, hitting a two-out RBI single in the first inning and doubling to drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning. She blasted a solo home run over the left-field fence in the second game. Earlier in Game 2, Richfield’s Kalie Johnson had smacked a two-run double.

The day’s action began with a strange scene: a shovel was brought out so the pitching rubber could be moved. The home plate umpire stepped off the distance between the rubber and home plate – doing so from each end of the rubber – and determined that the rubber was not squarely facing home plate. It didn’t take long for some dirt to be moved and the rubber corrected.

The bleachers behind the plate were full for both games, which took nearly four hours to complete. Lots of people sat in lawn chairs, a few watched from inside the batting cage that runs down the left-field line and the real sun lovers sat beyond the outfield fence, basking in the sunshine.

The day not only started with a strange scene (the pitching rubber being moved), it ended with another odd sight. After receiving their gold medals and section championship plaque, the Richfield players posed for photos. For a few snapshot they all held their index fingers in the air – signifying “We’re No. 1!” – but then the Spartans held up seven fingers ... signifying their seeding. Nice touch.

MEANWHILE, technology was flying around the state during Wednesday’s action. Winona Daily News reporter Jake Wanek – on the softball scene in Austin – altered me via Twitter that Meyer had broken the strikeout record. Also in Austin, one of my spies -- who goes by the code name D3 Photo Guy -- Tweeted me that Hastings had defeated Rochester Mayo to go to state as the 3A, Section 1 champion.

And colleague Joel Alvstad, sports editor of the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom – writing via old-fashioned email, which seems so 2008 – sent a preview of Thursday’s Class 1A, Section 3 track championships in Montevideo. He wrote in part …

“The girls100-meter hurdles field includes upwards of six girls who could all find their way to the state meet via qualifying standard. How good is the girls' hurdle competition in Section 3A? The defending state champion in the event, Bree Woelber of Pipestone, is seeded FOURTH at the section meet, and the defending fourth-place state medalist, Kaitlin Feil of Mt. Lake-Butterfield-Odin, finished second in the sub-section to her own teammate, Jennie Romsdahl. I may be biased, but I think year in and year out, Section 3A proves it is one of the best overall track sections in the state. It should be a fun meet in Montevideo, provided Mother Nature cooperates....”

Mother Nature sure was on our side Wednesday. Let’s keep it rolling …

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

Boys’ State Tennis Team Brackets Are Set
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/2/2010 12:41:10 PM

The exciting crush of spring state tournaments is almost upon us, as evidenced by the team brackets that are now set for the boys’ tennis tournament. The two-class event will begin next Tuesday (June 8) and end June 11.

Class A competition takes place at Read-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis and AA is held at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center. Team competition takes up the first two days, followed by two days of singles and doubles.

Class A team qualifiers (and quarterfinal matchups) are Rochester Lourdes vs. Breck, Luverne vs. Virginia, Mound-Westonka vs. Thief River Falls and Blake vs. Foley.

Class AA matchups are Rochester Mayo vs. Mounds View, Eagan vs. Forest Lake, Eden Prairie vs. Elk River and Mahtomedi vs. Wayzata.

Also contested next week will be state tournaments in softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and boys’ and girls’ track and field.

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

Tell Me Where To Go
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/1/2010 9:23:53 PM

With section tournaments in several sports hitting high gear this week, I'm trying to decide where to spend my time in the coming days. Tuesday's rainy weather moved some events back, and I'm looking at a wide open slate of action on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I've started a discussion thread along these lines on the MSHSL Facebook page. Tell me which section competition deserves to be visited by the FSM (Friendly Media Specialist) and why. I'm looking for exciting, intriguing matchups -- no matter the sport -- and I'm willing to let you passionate prep fans have a say in where I go.

I know I'll be at the state adapted softball tournament at Coon Rapids High School on Saturday, but Wednesday-Thursday-Friday are open to suggestions. So go to Facebook, land on "MSHSL" and make your pitch.

Wherever I end up going, I'll shoot some video, snap some photos and file reports for John's Journal.

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

Weather Update: Softball in Austin Postponed
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 6/1/2010 10:20:16 AM

Hope Lutheran softball pitcher Felicia Meyer is six strikeouts away from the state career record, but a new mark will not be set today (Tuesday) because weather concerns in the area have caused the games in Austin to be postponed until Wednesday.

Hope Lutheran will meet Rushford-Peterson at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the loser's bracket of the Class A Section 1 tournament at Todd Park in Austin. The winner will meet Blooming Prairie in the championship round at 7 Wednesday.

The career strikeout record is 1,178, set by Lindsey Predovich of Virginia from1998 to 2003.

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