John's Journal
Class 3A Baseball Rankings5/17/2017
The Associated Press poll for Minnesota high school baseball, provided by Let's Play Baseball newspaper.

1. St. Cloud Tech
2. Waconia
3. Bemidji
4. Holy Angels
5. New Ulm
6. Benilde-St. Margaret’s
7. Marshall
8. Mankato West
9. Alexandria
10. Kasson-Mantorville
11. Monticello
12. Red Wing
13. Hibbing
14. Worthington
15. Little Falls
16. Delano
17. Northfield
18. Hutchinson
19. Rocori
20. Mahtomedi
Also receiving votes: Fridley, Chisago Lakes Area, St. Thomas Academy, St. Anthony Village, Stewartville, Mound Westonka
Class 2A Baseball Rankings5/17/2017
The Associated Press poll for Minnesota high school baseball, provided by Let's Play Baseball newspaper.

1. Belle Plaine
2. Minnehaha Academy
3. Pierz
4. Sauk Centre
5. Jackson County Central
6. Caledonia
7. Maple Lake
8. New Life Academy of Woodbury
9. Pine Island
10. Rochester Lourdes
11. Barnesville
12. Glencoe-Silver Lake
13. St. Peter
14. Aitkin
15. Holy Family Catholic
16. Duluth Marshall
17. Proctor
18. Esko
19. Providence Academy
20. Pequot Lakes
Also receiving votes: Cannon Falls, Foley, New London-Spicer, Fillmore Central, La Crescent, St. Cloud Cathedral, Wadena-Deer Creek, Kenyon-Wanamingo
Class 1A Baseball Rankings5/17/2017
The Associated Press poll for Minnesota high school baseball, provided by Let's Play Baseball newspaper.

1. Parkers Prairie
3. Legacy Christian Academy
4. Springfield
5. Mankato Loyola
6. Deer River
7. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley
8. ML/GHEC/Truman
9. Canby
10. Fosston
11. Wabasso
12. Hinckley-Finlayson
13. Sleepy Eye
14. Cleveland
15. Randolph
16. Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove
17. Minneota
18. Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton
19. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s
20. Wabasha/Kellogg
Also receiving votes: Adrian, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Southland, Menahga, Nevis, Hill City/Northland, Heritage Christian Academy, South Ridge, Ely
Representative Assembly Approves Five Bylaw Changes5/15/2017
The MSHSL Representative Assembly is a group of 48 people from schools around the state who are named to the Assembly by their respective regions; there are 16 regions, eight representing Class A (small) schools and eight representing Class AA (large) schools. Each of the 16 regions has three people on the Assembly.

The Assembly is the “legislative” body of the MSHSL and must approve any changes to League bylaws. The Assembly met Monday morning at the DoubleTree hotel in Brooklyn Center to consider five proposed bylaw changes.

Seventy-five percent approval from the members was required for passage, and all five changes were approved. All changes take effect with the 2017-18 school year.

Here are summaries of the proposals that were approved:

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 208.5 – Non-School Competition and Training
This change would allow high school athletes to take part in college sports tryouts/auditions for scholarships during their sports season. Currently, students who do so can only take part in such events after the completion of their season. This amendment has been proposed by the MSHSL board of directors.

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 403.00 – Cooperative Sponsorships
This change would make adjustments to the bylaws concerning cooperative sponsorships, including using similar formats for small and large schools. It also would adjust the steps required to form cooperative sponsorships, and adds updated language regarding appeals to add new coop teams and request a review of existing coop teams

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 504-1.2 – Baseball
This change, if approved, would add a five-day conditioning period prior to the traditional two weeks of practice before the first baseball game. The five-day conditioning period would consist of arm conditioning and overall physical conditioning, using only baseballs, gloves and catcher’s equipment as well as strength training and aerobic conditioning equipment.

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 518.3 – Girls and Boys Tennis
This amendment proposes to add a 17th contest to be used for inter-conference or intra-conference championship matches. The maximum number of contest dates would remain at 16, with the total number of team contests not to exceed 28. The 17th date could be used to determine conference championships in conferences with two divisions without needing to count the event as a regular-season event.

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 521.3A – Wrestling
Currently, wrestling has limits of 18 regular-season event dates and 36 competitions. This change would make those numbers 16 events and 45 allowable competitions.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 631
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 10,667
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Monticello’s Nick Zwack: Three Sports And A Lot More5/15/2017
Nick Zwack is a busy young man. As graduation nears, the senior at Monticello High School is putting the wraps on a prep career that, while hard to match, will inspire the next generation of Monticello student-athletes.

If you see his name and wonder, “Where have I heard about that kid?,” think back to the Class 1A boys state hockey tournament. That’s when Nick became a statewide star in leading the unseeded cooperative team from Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake to a state runner-up finish.

He scored four goals, including two in a quarterfinal victory over second-seeded Delano and the winning goal with less than three seconds left in overtime to defeat Northfield in the semifinals. In a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Hermantown in the championship game, Zwack had one goal and one assist.

Hockey is just one-third of his athletic career. He also was the quarterback on the football team and this spring he is the No. 1 pitcher and also plays frst base for the Magic baseball team. The lefthander will stay with baseball in college, pitching at Division I Xavier University in Cincinnati.

But athletics is only part of Nick’s legacy. He was his school’s recipient of the MSHSL Triple A Award, which recognizes achievements in Academics, Arts and Athletics. Zwack is a top student who also plays violin in the school orchestra. He was named the Region 8AA winner of the Triple A Award and was recognized with other winners from around the state at a halftime ceremony on the Target Center court during the boys state basketball tournament.

“When I started as a freshman I didn’t even know that was an award,” said Nick, whose classes this spring include calculus, college economics, college composition and college English. “To actually win it for my school was special and I was glad to be a part of it.”

Zwack certainly is a gifted athlete, but a positive, team-first attitude is also one of his strengths.

“Without a doubt, he’s a great teammate and a very good leader,” said Monticello baseball coach Cole Deibele. “When he pitches, he’s always the last one off the field and congratulates everyone else. Being a hockey and football captain, that’s helped him learn, and those other coaches have done a really nice job helping him along, as his parents have done.”

Baseball has become Nick’s favorite sport, even though before high school he considered giving up the sport to concentrate on hockey.

“In my freshman year I kind of started focusing more on pitching and seeing a future in that,” he said. “I was thinking along the lines of hockey more than baseball, but once I got into high school I thought baseball might be the way to go.”

As this week began, Zwack had a 4-2 record with 65 strikeouts and 16 walks in 35 2/3 innings pitched. At the plate, his batting average is .343 with 10 RBIs.

“You look out there and he’s about 6-3, he’s over 200 pounds and he’s lefthanded,” Diebele said. “So right away he’s a big physical presence. And he has good control of four different pitches and he throws hard. A lot of times you see lefties and they’re a little more crafty. He’s the opposite, he throws really hard. He’ll hit 85-86 (mph), and by the end of the year when it warms up I’d guess he’ll be in the 87-88 range.

“I think opposing coaches like the pitch count more than anything, because they can say, ‘Yes, he pitched on Friday and we’re not going to see him.’ ”

Playing three sports and being a successful student and musician doesn’t leave a lot of free time.

“There’s not much of a break,” Zwack said. “That’s a good thing, it kind of keeps me focused on what I need to be focused on. To go from one season to the next and be a contributor in all three of my sports, it’s been fun. It’s made high school a really fun experience for me.”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 631
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 10,667
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn