John's Journal
Coming From Behind In State Nordic Skiing 2/16/2017
BIWABIK -- Xavier Mansfield didn’t come out of nowhere to win the boys Nordic skiing state championship Thursday at Giants Ridge. The senior from Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony Village, however, had some ground to make up in order to capture the gold medal.

Mansfield finished third in the morning 5K freestyle race. Eagan senior Patrick Acton finished with a five-second lead over William Kerker of Minneapolis Southwest in that race, with Mansfield 15 seconds behind Foss (and 20 seconds behind Acton). In the afternoon 5K classical pursuit race, the skiers leave the starting line in the order they finished the morning race. So Acton went out with a five-second head start on Kerker and 20 seconds ahead of Mansfield.

The margin vanished by the 2K mark and the trio of seniors skied together until reaching the 3K point. Mansfield pulled away, picking up speed on the downhill portion and finishing with a nine-second margin over Acton in combined times from the two races. Mansfield won the classical race by nearly 30 seconds, with Acton second and Kerker third.

“I was just trying to catch them,” Mansfield said. “They had a good skate race and I felt having them to chase helped a little bit with motivation. I knew it would be hard, but I had confidence going in that I could catch them and hopefully just stay ahead of them on the downhill.

“Sometimes it comes down to whoever has the fast skis coming down the hill, no matter how hard you work at going up.”

Acton also finished second last year to then-Bloomington Jefferson senior Zak Katterson. Mansfield was third a year ago and Kerker was sixth.

Manfield’s time Thursday was 28:23.2, Acton finished in 28.32.2 and Kerker’s time was 28:35.6.

In the boys team competition, Minneapolis Southwest claimed the state title for the second year in a row with a score of 421, followed by Wazyata at 405 and St. Paul Highland Park at 385.

Northern Minnesota girls finished first and second in their portion of the competition. Ely senior Erin Bianco won the state championship, followed by Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior Anja Maijala. St. Paul Highland Park senior Erin Moening was third.

Maijala was the leader after the 5K freestyle race, followed by Bianco and Anna Johnson of Mesabi East. Maijala held a four-second lead over Bianco with Johnson 11 seconds behind Bianco; Moening was seventh.

In the 5K classical pursuit, Bianco came on strong as Maijala battled a shoulder injury that hampered her speed.

“Erin caught me right away,” Maijala said. “That was kind of my plan because I did not know how it was going to go. My shoulder was bothering me a ton after the race and I was really trying to power through with my legs. It’s been bothering me the whole week. I was trying to hold on to Erin but I had so much pain the whole time so it was really hard.”

Even after Bianco took the lead she worried about the pack chasing her.

“I knew that everyone was super close behind so I wasn’t like super confident but I just wanted to be around people, and Anja definitely really pushed me,” she said. “I couldn’t have raced that way without her.”

Erin’s combined time was 32:20.0, with Maijala finishing in 32:26.7 and Moening in 32:49.6.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to lose to anyone else,” Maijala said. “She’s been the top skier in our area, always in the top bunch, since I joined skiing in eighth grade.”

In the girls team race, Ely took home the state championship with a score 413. Armstrong was second at 394 and Minneapolis Southwest finished third at 368.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 403
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,294
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Friends, Competitors Finish 1-2 In Girls Alpine Skiing 2/15/2017
BIWABIK -- When best friends finish in front of the pack, everybody’s happy. That was the situation Wednesday after the girls event at the state Alpine ski championships at Giants Ridge. Blake senior Nellie Ide and Orono senior Rosie Hust finished first and second, respectively. That reversed their positions from one year ago, when Hust was second and Ide third behind state champion Maddie Dekko of Blake.

“I was going to be happy either way, because having your friend win is almost as good as winning yourself,” said Hust, who also finished second in 2015 as well as third and fifth in prior years. “We’ve spent a lot of time together.”

Ide said, “This year we’ve been together 100 percent of the time,” as they have traveled to competitions around the country.

Ide’s victory completed a family string of skiers at the state meet, where her two older sisters and brother also competed. She is the first in the family to win a state title.

“It’s pretty fun,” Nellie said. “I’ve definitely been racing here for a long time and there have been a bunch of Ides that have come through. It feels good to end it on a strong note as the last Ide coming through.”

Senior Bailey Servais of Lakeville North placed third in the individual competition. The team title went to Chisago Lakes, followed by Lakeville North and Mankato West.

In the boys event, Northfield senior Elliott Boman notched his second state title. He won in 2015 and skipped last year’s championship because he was competing in national events.

“It feels good to do it twice,” said Boman, who attends Cannon Falls High School and is part of Northfield’s cooperative team.

The boys was runner-up was Chisago Lakes senior Anders Brown, who was the fifth-place finisher as a sophomore. He’s a three-sport athlete who will play baseball at Minnesota-Duluth. He also played football in high school.

“I think the other sports definitely help,” he said. “It’s fun to be able to do different things and come into skiing and not be burned out at all and just have fun each season. I’ve always loved baseball the most but skiing is so much fun, too.”

Sophomore Isaiah Nelson of West Lutheran finished third in the individual competition. The team title went to Minnetonka, followed by Edina and a three-way tie for third among Cook County, Stillwater and Breck.

--To see complete results, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 371
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,294
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Gymnastics Rankings2/14/2017
Provided by the gymnastics coaches association.

1 Detroit Lakes 8A 151.608
2 Melrose Area 6A 148.992
3 Willmar 6A 146.008
4 Austin 1A 145.375
5 Becker 7A 144.108
6 Perham 8A 144.033
7 Worthington 3A 143.692
8 Pine Island 1A 142.650
9 Sartell-Saint Stephen 7A 142.533
10 Mahtomedi 4A 142.158
11 North Branch 7A 142.108
12 Mankato West 2A 141.942
13 Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 5A 141.450
14 Jackson County Central 3A 141.433
15 Monticello 7A 140.050
16 Byron-Lourdes 1A 139.917
17 Big Lake 7A 139.867
18 Waconia 2A 139.433
19 New London-Spicer 6A 139.292
20 Hendricks/RTR 3A 138.317
21 Martin County Area 3A 138.092
22 Fergus Falls 8A 137.850
23 Benson-KMS-Montevideo 6A 137.683
24 Rush City/Pine City/Hinckley-F. 7A 136.550
25 Alexandria 8A 136.258

1 Lakeville North 2AA 149.067
2 Owatonna 1AA 148.167
3 St. Cloud Tech 8AA 146.933
4 Stillwater 4AA 145.942
5 Roseville Area 4AA 145.608
6 Cambridge-Isanti 7AA 145.258
7 Lakeville South 2AA 145.250
8 Farmington 1AA 143.942
9 Maple Grove 5AA 143.675
10 Anoka 7AA 143.550
11 Champlin Park 5AA 143.525
12 Eagan 3AA 143.333
13 Brainerd 8AA 143.317
14 Prior Lake 2AA 142.550
15 Rosemount 3AA 141.808
16 Forest Lake 7AA 141.125
17 Wayzata 5AA 140.842
18 Park Center 5AA 140.317
19 New Prague 2AA 140.075
20 Saint Michael-Albertville 8AA 140.033
21 Rogers 5AA 139.850
22 Edina 6AA 139.500
23 Minnetonka 6AA 139.042
24 East Ridge 3AA 138.508
25 Saint Francis 7AA 137.517
New Boys Basketball Award Named For Bob McDonald2/13/2017
February 13, 2017

Press Release: Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association

Subject: Announcement of the Establishment of the McDonald Award

The Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association is proud and honored to announce the establishment of the McDonald Award. This award will be presented annually to the outstanding Senior Basketball Player of the Year beginning with the 2017-18 basketball season.

The award is named in honor of Bob McDonald, a legend and icon in Chisholm, the state of Minnesota, and the nation for his accomplishments as a coach and his commitment to educating students. Coach McDonald served 59 years as a high school basketball coach. Coach McDonald led his teams to 1,012 victories, the only coach in Minnesota hoops history and one of 13 in the nation to accomplish this many wins. He was also known for instilling the values of hard work, teamwork, a strong moral code, and high academic expectations for the students he served on the court and in the classroom. Bob is a member of the MBCA Hall of Fame, the MSHSL Hall of Fame, and the National High School Hall of Fame.

The Award, patterned after the Wooden Award, will include, but not be limited to, qualifications such as exhibiting strength of character, both on and off the court; contributing to team effort ; excelling on both offense and defense; and performance over the course of the entire season. Tentative plans are that the selection committee will include retired and/or Hall of Fame coaches representing geographic locations of the State (NW, NE, SW,SE) and Metropolitan (NW, NE, SW, SE, Minneapolis, St. Paul) areas.

The the establishment of the award is also designed to focus attention on the positive aspects of basketball and the role coaches play in the lives of all the student-athletes they represent and serve. In moving forward, it is the goal of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association that the McDonald Award will be widely viewed as the top award that a senior high school basketball player in Minnesota can receive.
Guest Submission: "I Hope I Can Become A Coach Like Him"2/12/2017
The following was sent to me by Matt Gunderson, assistant boys basketball coach at Ogilvie High School. It says a lot about what's truly important in high school athletics and activities.

Our team is hardworking but after having four players leave our team during the year we have had to piece things together. Ogilvie is a very small school where winning isn’t a huge thing so when losses mount frustration can become a very real situation.

On our recent to trip to Kimball for a boys basketball game on Friday, Feb. 10, we knew we were going to have our hands full with a very good Cubs team that was near the top of our section (5A). The bus got there an hour early prior to the JV game so we had plenty of time to shoot and relax.

While the team was shooting around my four-year-old son was with me and he was dribbling a big varsity-sized ball on the baseline when the Kimball head coach, Jay Klein, came up to him and handed him a smaller ball. It was one that you would get from a carnival for playing a game; my son's eyes lit up at the sight of a new ball. Coach Klein didn’t have to do that but he did out of the goodness of his heart.

The junior varsity game went to Kimball 60-38 with both teams battling a close second half that saw Kimball outscore Ogilvie only 24-23 after having a 36-15 halftime lead. Following the JV game, Mr. Klein approached me and gave me very positive comments about the team just by his observation of watching the game.

The varsity game was a bit more one-sided with Kimball winning 91-31. Only having 14 players on the roster (9-12 grade), we don’t have the manpower to compete with most teams for a full game. Fatigue sets in as our rotation contains a core of six players (three seniors and three juniors). After those six we go to our JV players, who aren’t on a varsity level but due to lack of numbers are learning on the fly and working hard doing it.

Now to the reason I’m sending this email. Coach Klein of Kimball came into our locker room after the game and spoke to our players. He gave an example of the Kimball football team, which hasn’t won a game in four years. The way he talked to the players, he has a very sportsmanship-like attitude and cares more about the lives of the students than the game of basketball. As I continue my coaching career I hope I can become a coach like him because a coach like him is what every team needs. No matter if you're undefeated or haven’t won a game, a coach who teaches life lessons that help players become better men first and ballplayers second is very important.

Our head coach in Ogilvie has been trying to teach our kids about life as the year has gone on, and now hearing it from another coach I hope the words we say in practice and in games begin to sink in.

Again, big thank you to Coach Klein for everything that he did. He didn’t have to do any of it but he did anyway.

Matt Gunderson
Assistant Boys Basketball Coach
Ogilvie High School