John's Journal
Class 1A State Volleyball: Top Four Seeds Advance11/10/2016
Playing at the state volleyball tournament for the first time in school history is exciting, thrilling, and it can be a little scary. Especially if the first-time team is facing an opponent that knows the ropes.

That was the formula Thursday at Xcel Energy Center when unseeded Stephen-Argyle met top-seeded Mayer Lutheran in the Class 1A quarterfinals. The Stephen-Argyle Storm was at state for the first time; the Mayer Lutheran Crusaders were in the big show for the 12th time since winning the 1A title in 1982. Mayer Lutheran’s most recent appearance was two years ago, so lots of current players had been here before.

The result was no surprise, as the Crusaders rolled to a 3-0 victory.

“It’s huge,” Crusaders coach Joelle Grimsley said of having state tourney experience. “We basically have a routine of what we’re doing. We’re very conscious of our time and what needs to be done. The thing we stress the most is to keep everything as normal as possible.”

That can be a tough assignment, particularly for a team walking into the giant arena for the first time and looking up into that high, dark ceiling. Couple that inexperience with a talented opponent, and the task is very tall.

“They’re just a little bit bigger and faster than what we saw on tape,” said Storm coach Renae Lindgren. “It was kind of an eye-opener for our girls. But it wasn’t for lack of effort and heart.”

The day and the match went according to plan for Mayer Lutheran (27-6).

“It was kind of what we wanted, to get out fast and stay strong,” said Grimsley.

Stephen-Argyle (28-4) will play at least one more match, facing Underwood in Friday’s consolation bracket; the winner will play in Saturday’s fifth-place match. Win or lose, the Storm have made lots of memories in getting to state.

“There’s been so much excitement,” Lindgren said. “We had a fun time with the kids at our elementary school, and the high school has been pretty crazy. We’ve had to share it because our football team went to state, too. (The football team will meet Waubun in the nine-man state quarterfinals Friday night at Brainerd High School.)

“We told the girls, ‘Don’t hang your heads. We lost to a good team.’ Our goal is to get to 30 wins. And we’ve got another shot at that tomorrow.”

--Fourth-seeded Heritage Christian (26-10) held off fifth-seeded Underwood (28-5) in the match of the day in Class 1A. The teams split the first four sets before the Eagles won the fifth and deciding set 15-13.

--Second-seeded Tracy-Milroy-Balaton advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 victory over unseeded Kimball.

--Third-seeded Caledonia advanced by defeating unseeded Cook County 3-0.

State Volleyball Tournament

Class 1A Quarterfinals
Mayer Lutheran defeated Stephen-Argyle 3-0
Heritage Christian defeated Underwood 3-2
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton defeated Kimball 3-0
Caledonia defeated Cook County 3-0

Friday’s 1A Semifinals
1 p.m./ Mayer Lutheran vs. Heritage Christian
3 p.m./ Tracy-Milroy-Balaton vs. Caledonia

Friday’s 1A Consolation
1 p.m./ Stephen-Argyle vs. Underwood
3 p.m./ Kimball vs. Cook County

Class 2A State Volleyball: “An Absolute Blast”11/10/2016
Sometimes it’s hard to tell who won and who lost. That was the case after the first match of the Class 2A state volleyball tournament Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

The result was no shock: Top-seeded Kenyon-Wanamingo defeated unseeded Holy Angels 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Afterwards, one of the head coaches said this: “It is and has been an absolute blast.”

One of the players said, “People always talk about how great the state tournament is. But I think some of the teams that come here more frequently take it for granted. The fact that we’ve gotten this far is really unbelievable.”

Here’s the thing. Those statements came from the losing team. Holy Angels coach Tom Emanuel and senior Mackenzie Downes were as chipper as could be despite losing to the Knights (33-1).

Holy Angels (27-5) had not been to state in volleyball since 1995, so this was an entirely new experience for everybody. And the Stars squeezed every ounce of enjoyment out of it, coming to the arena at 8:30 a.m. to watch some of the Class 3A matches, returning to school for a pep rally and then getting ready to play.

“I think we’re still all on cloud nine,” Emanuel said.

--Fourth-seeded Concordia Academy of Roseville defeated fifth-seeded Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 3-1.

--Second-seeded Maple Lake defeated unseeded Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 3-0.

--Third-seeded Kasson-Mantorville defeated unseeded Hermantown 3-0

State Volleyball Tournament

Class 2A quarterfinals
Kenyon-Wanamingo defeated Holy Angels 3-0
Concordia Academy defeated Morris/Chokio-Alberta 3-1
Maple Lake defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 3-0
Kasson-Mantorville defeated Hermantown 3-0

Friday’s 2A Semifinals
5 p.m./ Kenyon-Wanamingo vs. Concordia Academy
7 p.m./ Maple Lake vs. Kasson-Mantorville

Friday’s 2A Consolation
5 p.m./ Holy Angels vs. Morris/Chokio-Alberta
7 p.m./ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton vs. Hermantown
Finalists Announced For 2016 Mr. Football Award11/9/2016
The 10 finalists for the 2016 Mr. Football Award have been announced by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.

The Mr. Football Award is sponsored by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association (MFCA) and the Minnesota Vikings.

The Mr. Football Award was first presented in 2004, with the first winner being Nick Mertens of East Grand Forks High School. The 2015 winner was J.D. Spielman of Eden Prairie High School.
The 2016 Mr. Football Award will be presented at the Mr. Football Banquet on Sunday, December 4th (10:00 AM) at the Doubletree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place Hotel (500 Park Place Blvd., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55416).

The 10 finalists for the 2016 Mr. Football Award (in alphabetical order) are:

Name School Position Sub-District Class
Blaise Andries Marshall OT/DT South Central Red 4A
Christopher Bain Grand Meadow RB/LB N.Central Red 9M
Mitchell Fulton Wabasso RB/S Southwest 1A
Sam Gibas Elk River RB/LB North Central Blue 5A
Noah Gindorff Crosby-Ironton QB/LB/K Northeast Blue 2A
Zach Ojile Spring Lake Park QB/DB/P Suburban Red 5A
Jaran Roste Alexandria QB North Central Red 5A
Jacob Stanislawski Winona OL/DL Big Southeast Blue 4A
Wade Sullivan Lakeville North RB Metro East White 6A
Tanner Tiege Big Lake RB/WR/K North Central White 4A

Mr. Football Award Criteria:

•Nominee must be a graduating senior.
•Nominee’s Head Coach must be a current member of the MFCA.
•Nominee must not have any MSHSL violations.
•Each player must be nominated by their Sub-District/MFCA representative.

Class 6A, 5A and Sub-Districts will be allowed to nominate two players. Class 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A and 9 man Sub-Districts will nominate one player.

Previous winners of the Mr. Football Award:
2015 – J.D. Spielman, Eden Prairie
2014 – Robbie Grimsley, Hutchinson
2013 - Jeffrey Jones, Minneapolis Washburn
2012 - Bridgeport Tusler, Osseo
2011 - Philip Nelson, Mankato West
2010 - Peter Westerhaus, Holy Family Catholic
2009 - Zach Vraa, Rosemount
2008 - Varmah Sonie, Apple Valley
2007 - Michael Floyd, Cretin-Derham Hall
2006 - Blake Sorensen, Eden Prairie
2005 - Matt Carufel, Cretin-Derham Hall
2004 - Nick Mertens, East Grand Forks
Preseason Girls Hockey Rankings From Let's Play Hockey11/9/2016
1 Eden Prairie (9)
2 Maple Grove (3)
3 Hill-Murray (2)
4 Edina (1)
5 Minnetonka
6 Cretin-Derham Hall
7 Elk River/Zimmerman
8 Centennial
9 Blaine
10 Wayzata
11 Lakeville South
12 Chaska/Chanhassen
13 Eastview
14 Eagan
15 Forest Lake
16 White Bear Lake
17 Lakeville North
18 Spring Lk Park/Coon Rapids
19 Stillwater Area
20 Dodge County
Receiving votes: Mounds View, Hopkins/Park, Benilde-St. Margaret's, Farmington, Sartell/Sauk Rapids, Grand Rapids/Greenway, Cambridge-Isanti, Bloomington Jefferson, Duluth, Prior Lake, Roseau, Champlin Park, East Ridge

1 Blake (10)
2 St. Paul United
3 Breck
4 Warroad
5 Proctor/Hermantown
6 Thief River Falls
7 Mound Westonka
8 Alexandria
9 New Prague
10 Northfield
11 Red Wing
12 Hibbing/Chisholm
13 Orono
14 Owatonna
15 South St. Paul
16 Princeton
17 New Ulm
18 Moose Lake Area
19 East Grand Forks
20 Hutchinson
Receiving votes: Duluth Marshall, Mahtomedi
Today’s The Day: Cross-Country State Championships11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- The weather forecast is excellent for today’s MSHSL cross-country state championships at St. Olaf College. The annual event brings together the state’s finest distance runners as team and individual champions are crowned in Class 1A and 2A, girls and boys.

The temperature is expected to reach into the upper 60s under sunny skies. It sounds like we have a glorious day ahead.

All of today’s races will be 5,000 meters. Separate awards ceremonies will be held for each class. And if you’re on the bubble about attending in person, you should know that admission is free.

I’ll be posting immediate updates on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn if you care to follow along) after each of the four races, followed by stories about the races here on John’s Journal.

Here is today’s race schedule…

10 a.m./ Class 1A boys
11 a.m./ Class 1A girls
1 p.m./ Class 2A boys
2 p.m./ Class 2A girls

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 234
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 4,638
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn