John's Journal
Boys State Tennis Championships6/9/2017
Class 1A

Doubles/ Ben Ingbar and Christopher Hall of Blake won the title by defeating Breck’s Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz 6-4, 6-4.

Singles/ Blake junior Jack Barker defeated freshman teammate Joe Mairs 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match.

Class 2A

Doubles/ The championship went to Rochester Century’s Nick Aney and Varun Iyer with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Chase Roseth and Hunter Roseth of Lakeville South.

Singles/ Ben Van der sman of East Ridge defeated Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the title match.
The Moments – And The Lessons – That Last A Lifetime 6/9/2017
NORTH MANKATO – In every state tournament, there are moments. And then there are Moments, split-second instances that become lifetime memories for all who were there to witness it.

One of those moments took place at 4:03 p.m. Friday at Caswell Park. A scoreless softball game to decide the Class 4A state championship ended on a walk-off home run by Farmington junior Emma Frost with two out in the 10th inning. That gave the Tigers the championship – Farmington folks said it was the first team state title in school history -- with a 1-0 victory over Anoka.

Emma will surely remember it forever, as will her teammates and coaches and parents and siblings and grandparents and other fans. And how about Farmington senior pitcher Maddie Muelken (profiled yesterday in John’s Journal), leading her team while undergoing cancer treatments? Amazing.

Friday’s defeat was a tough pill to swallow for the kids from Anoka, who had a grand season and came oh-so-close to being state champs. Take it from someone who played on a high school football team that came up just short in a state championship game: You never forget the fun, the good times, the positive memories.

Which brings us to a coach named Andrew Fleischman. His team from Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian finished second in Class 1A softball, falling to New York Mills 8-4 Friday. (Pictured are the New York Mills captains receiving the first-place trophy.) The Flying Dutchmen continued an amazing run in softball, where they were state champs last season and finished third and fourth the two years before that. That’s four big-time trophies for the five seniors on the team: Jaidyn Henstra, Jordyn Smidt, Jenny Nelson, Liz Buckridge and Mallory Zeinstra.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” Fleischman said. “Our seniors are a great group of girls. They were great leaders. There’s nothing to hang your head about to have a career where you’re consolation champions, third place, second place and first place.

“What’s more important, though, is that they’re great teammates, great young ladies, great people to be around, and that goes for all our girls. We talk a lot about whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. I’m really, really proud of them.”

Read those words again: Whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. A few days ago I mentioned such a philosophy in this space, writing, “Lots of teams and individuals will pose with trophies and medals, wearing the biggest smiles of their lives. Those are wonderful moments for sure, but the simple joys of competing, learning, sharing and growing are what’s most important.”

Andrew (pictured) is in a unique position. He coaches teams in three different sports, involving kids from three different schools. In the fall he’s the head coach of the Edgerton/Ellsworth football team; in the winter he’s the head coach of the Edgerton girls basketball team; and in the spring he leads the Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian softball team.

Southwest Minnesota Christian is located in Edgerton, a town of slightly more than 1,000 people in southwest Minnesota. Ellsworth is 30 miles south.

Girls from Edgerton High School and Southwest Christian High School are rivals during basketball season and teammates during softball season; boys from Edgerton and Ellsworth are teammates in football and opponents in basketball.

Fleischman, a history teacher at Edgerton, laughed about keeping everything and everybody straight.

“Oh, I’ve got to work with names and pronounciations,” he said. “I’ve got like 42 Jadens and things like that.

“It’s just fun. I get to work with lots of different kids. And what they all have in common is they’re all great kids, they all work hard and they all buy into being great teammates and great community members.”

He was smiling after Friday’s defeat, expressing nothing but positives about the Eagles of New York Mills and his own team. It was the essence of class, dignity and doing what’s best for kids. Like all great coaches around our state, Andrew Fleischman knows what’s important.

“Sometimes you work hard and you do everything you can to prepare yourself, and when the moment comes it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “We can dwell on that or we can dwell on the fact that New York Mills has a very good team. We played hard, played up to our ability, gave it a good run at the end and ultimately came up just a bit short.”

Andrew is the father of three daughters, so expect to see the family name on his team’s rosters in the future; the girls will be in ninth grade, fifth grade and second grade when the 2017-18 school year begins.

The coach of fall, winter and spring teams doesn’t see much change during the summer. His plans for the day after the state softball tournament? Helping coach one of his daughter’s youth softball teams at a tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.

You just know everyone will have a great time.

State Softball Tournament

Championship games

1A/ New York Mills 8, Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian 8-4
2A/ Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Maple Lake 1
3A/ Winona 9, Hermantown 2
4A/ Farmington 1, Anoka 0 (10 innings)

Third-place games
1A/ Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 15, Hayfield 2
2A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9, Esko 2
3A/ Totino-Grace 8, Mankato West 1
4A/ Chanhassen 1, Woodbury 0

Fifth-place games
1A/ Kimball 9, Pillager 3
2A/ Pipestone 12, Albany 0
3A/ Waconia 4, Thief River Falls 2
4A/ Buffalo 6, Maple Grove 4

Boys State Tennis

Class 1A


--Doubles/ Ben Ingbar and Christopher Hall of Blake won the title by defeating Breck’s Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz 6-4, 6-4.

--Singles/ Blake junior Jack Barker defeated freshman teammate Joe Mairs 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match.

Class 2A

--Doubles/ The championship went to Rochester Century’s Nick Aney and Varun Iyer with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Chase Roseth and Hunter Roseth of Lakeville South.

--Singles/ Ben Van der sman of East Ridge defeated Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the title match.

State Track Day One Highlights

--Osseo eighth-grader Nyalaam Jok won the Class 2A girls high jump, clearing 5-8 (the state record is 5-11).

--St. Michael-Albertville senior and state record holder Anna Keefer captured her second Class 2A long jump title, going 18 feet, 10 ½ inches.

Most of the events Friday were preliminaries. The meet will conclude Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 718
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,606
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
State Softball: Farmington’s Inspirational Leader 6/8/2017
NORTH MANKATO – Thursday’s opening day of the state softball tournament at Caswell Park worked out wonderfully for the Farmington Tigers. The fifth-seeded team in the Class 4A field defeated fourth-seeded Park of Cottage Grove 13-2 in the quarterfinals and then beat top-seeded Chanhassen 2-0 in the semifinals. And as usual, Maddie Muelken was one of the fulcrums for the Tigers.

In the first game, the senior had two hits, walked once and drove in a run; in the pitcher’s circle, she gave up four hits, struck out one and walked four in getting the complete-game victory. She also went the distance against Chanhassen, giving up four hits and striking out three with no walks;

Those are pretty good stat lines for a kid with cancer.

“It’s a big thing when she’s in the lineup,” said Farmington coach Paul Harrington.

Maddie (pictured) was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma the day before softball practice started in March. She has undergone chemotherapy and lots of medical tests since, but she is in good health at the most critical time of the season. And the timing is pretty good, too; having completed one round of chemotherapy, she is between rounds during the state tournament.

“I’m 95 percent cancer-free,” she said. “I just finished a round and this week I had off (from treatments). Then I’ll have another round and then another PET scan to figure it out.”

It’s amazing what Maddie has done. How many athletes can go in for chemo in the morning and pitch a few hours later? She did that during the regular season and was in the midst of chemo during the Section 1 playoffs.

“We’re always worried, but every day I talk to her and she lets me know,” Harrington said. “If she says ‘great’ then I’m really happy. Today she said everything was great so we knew we were in good shape. In some games we were switching lineups to the very last second because we didn’t know who was playing.

“It’s awesome when she can take the field. When she does, we’re ready to go. It pumps us up a little bit more to know she’s going to be leading us, not just on the mound but with her bat. She gets a lot of big hits for us in the five spot. It’s a big thing when she’s in the lineup.”

Maddie has provided a lot of inspiration for the softball team, the Farmington community and beyond. The Tigers’ state tournament T-shirts, worn by many fans at Caswell Park on Thursday, say “Never stop the fight.” Muelken wears No. 47, and Farmington youth players had her number written on their cheeks Thursday. After the victories, she posed for photos with every little girl who wanted one.

Maddie will take a pitching record of 17-3 into Friday’s state championship game against Anoka. She has signed a letter of intent to play softball at Wisconsin-La Crosse.

She said, “People ask, ‘How do you do it? How do you feel?’ And I feel fine most days.”

Farmington, which is playing at state for the fourth time since 2012, is hoping to win its first title.

“It was one of our season goals, “Maddie said, “to make it here, and hopefully win a state championship.”

State championship games are set for Friday in the other three classes of softball, too. Here’s the lineup (times are approximate).

4A: Farmington vs. Anoka, 1 p.m.

3A: Winona vs. Hermantown, 1:30 p.m.

2A: Maple Lake vs. Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 2 p.m.

1A: Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian vs. New York Mills, 2:30 p.m.

State Tournament Experience

Marshall High School’s baseball team has qualified for next week’s Class 3A state tournament, meaning three Tigers athletes have been members of football, boys basketball and baseball teams that have gone to state during this school year. The three are senior Ryan VanMoer and juniors Jacob Hess and Nick Klaith.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 718
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,466
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
It’s Tournament Time, And It’s Very Special 6/6/2017
A short snippet of video, just 37 seconds long, was directed to me Monday morning via Twitter, and it was spectacular. In a scene repeated in towns all around our state at tournament time, the video showed police and fire vehicles – sirens blaring – escorting a school bus as it departed Crookston for the 300-mile trip to the Twin Cities. Behind the bus, a line of family vehicles joined the parade with horns honking and flashers flashing.

On board the bus was the Crookston Pirates boys tennis team, bound for the Class 1A state team tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. The Pirates had no individuals or doubles teams survive the Section 8 tournament and qualify for state, so this was truly a team endeavor. The video was provided by KROX radio in Crookston.

“It’s a great time,” said Crookston coach Mike Geffre. “Probably 75 percent of these kids have never been here so this is new for them. Just taking it all in is a lot of fun. The parent support, the community support, coming down and playing in this atmosphere is pretty cool.”

For some schools, particularly large schools, advancing to state in any sport can nearly become commonplace. That is not the case in Crookston, even though the boys tennis team has made several recent state appearances (placing fifth in Class 1A a year ago)

The Pirates boys basketball team was the state runnerup in in 2005, the girls basketball team had the same finish in 2006 and went back to state in 2008. The Crookston football team last went to state in 2003 and the girls hockey team made the trip in 2007. Nobody in town takes these things for granted.

“It’s a special thing for a little school,” said Crookston activities director Greg Garmen.

Some of that specialness comes via the relationships that develop through MSHSL activities. A terrific example is a gentleman named Hal Miller (pictured), who lives in Alexandria. Hal, who was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame in 2015, has been a site manager for girls and boys state tennis tournaments for 31 years, and this week’s boys tournament is his 62nd in that role. He was a teacher and coach in Willmar for 34 years before retiring and returning to Alexandria, where he graduated from high school in 1966.

To see tennis coaches, players and fans greet their friend Hal with a smile, handshake or hug is very special. And a lot of other special things will take place in the coming days as tournaments continue.

This is high time for spring state tournaments; events in badminton, adapted bowling, robotics, synchronized swimming and adapted softball have already been completed. The boys tennis tournament will be held over four days this week (with singles and doubles competition on Thursday and Friday).

The state softball tournament will take place Thursday and Friday in North Mankato, and the state track and field championships will happen Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Next week it will be state tournaments in girls and boys golf, girls and boys lacrosse and baseball. The spring tourney season will come to a grand conclusion with baseball state championship games at Target Field on June 19.

When you break all that down, you come up with an amazing number of competitions. By the time everything ends in boys tennis, softball, baseball, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse, a total of 224 games/matches will have been played. And that number does not include golf or track and field.

Lots of teams and individuals will pose with trophies and medals, wearing the biggest smiles of their lives. Those are wonderful moments for sure, but the simple joys of competing, learning, sharing and growing are what’s most important.

So by all means get those sirens blaring, honk those horns and celebrate your teams’ accomplishments.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Crookston’s Geffre. “The kids get a real kick out of it.”

That’s the point.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 686
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,391
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Boys State Tennis Tournament6/3/2017
The boys state tennis tournament will be held Tuesday through Friday, with team competition on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by singles and doubles play on Thursday and Friday.

The Class 1A tournament will be held at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. Class 2A matches will take place at Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

Here are the final boys tennis rankings of the season, provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association. Teams who have advanced to state are in bold.

CLASS 1A
TEAMS
1 Blake
2 Rochester Lourdes
3 Breck
4 St. Paul Academy
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Holy Family Catholic
8 St. James
9 Virginia
10 Hibbing

INDIVIDUALS
1 Ben Ingbar, Blake
2 Jack Barker, Blake
3 Joe Mairs, Blake
4 Karthik Papisetty, Breck
5 Thomas Metz, Breck
6 Mathew Metz, Breck
7 Peter Erickson, Rochester Lourdes
8 Justin Bobo, Rochester Lourdes
9 Ryan Ortega, Winona Cotter
10 Jose Williamson, Minnehaha

CLASS 2A
TEAMS
1 Minnetonka
2 East Ridge

3 Lakeville South
4 Edina
5 Mounds View
6 Rochester Mayo

7 Rochester Century
8 Wayzata
9 Eastview
tie 10 Orono
tie 10 Minneapolis Washburn

INDIVIDUALS
1 Ben van der Sman, East Ridge
2 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
3 Nikita Snezhko, Armstrong
4 Conner Olsen, Orono
5 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
6 Gavin Young, Eastview
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Chase Roseth, Lakeville South
9 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
10 Carter Mason, Eden Prairie