John's Journal
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

Wild Finish In 1A Boys Cross-Country11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- In an all-out, guns blazing, there’s-no-tomorrow sprint to the finish line – with bodies tumbling to the ground afterwards – three of the state’s top male cross-country runners made it anybody’s race until the absolute very end Saturday at St. Olaf College.

Junior Declan Dahlberg of Mounds Park Academy stretched across the line in a time of 15 minutes, 56.9 seconds, followed by junior Matt Steiger of La Crescent in 15:57.1 and senior Carl Kozlowski of Lake City in 15.57.3.

That’s a mighty tiny difference – quicker than the blink of an eye – between the top three runners in one of the tightest finishes in state meet history.

Dahlberg, who finished 19th last year, came out on top after a pack of seven runners rolled into the final 200 meters. Dahlberg, Steiger (17th a year ago) and Kozlowski (third in 2015) broke free from that pack before reaching the final stretch.

Dahlberg was ranked No. 1 in the statewide coaches poll, but he didn’t lean on that Saturday.

“You can’t expect to go in and be No. 1 just because your name’s on top,” he said. “It’s good to see the work has paid off. The (ranking) doesn’t mean much. This means everything.”

In the team race, Mora won its third straight championship. The Mustangs had a team total of 93 points, followed by Perham at 99 and La Crescent at 12.

Mora’s Michael Schwinghamer finishes seventh, Alec Sanbeck was 12th and John Schwinghammer was 15th. Perham was led by Jacob Dickerson in 19th, Hunter Kjelshus in 21st and Clayton Anderson in 30th. For La Crescent, Steiger was followed by Zack Emery in fourth and Andrew Lechnir in 64th.
Eighth-Graders Finish 1-2 In 1A Girls Cross-Country11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- Youth was served Saturday at the Class 1A girls cross-country championship, with eighth-graders finishing first and second. Tierney Wolfgram of Math & Science Academy in Woodbury won the state title with a time of 18 minutes, 23.6 seconds and Martin County West’s Marissa Whitehead was second in 19:08.6.

Whitehead made a strong push in the final strides to finish ahead of Perham senior Brynnan Covington, who was third in 19:08.8.

A year ago, Winona Cotter seventh-grader Grace Ping was the 1A champ, but she and her family moved to Utah over the summer. Wolfgram (pictured) placed 10th in 2015, Whitehead was 20th and Covington was 13th.

“She’s like a big role model to me,” Wolfgram said of Ping. “She showed me that a seventh-grader could get (age-group) world records and run that fast.”

Wolfgram was ranked No. 1 among 1A girls during the season and was not challenged in most of her races. As things turned out, the state championship race was much the same.

“I knew from the first mile that I’d win,” she said.

She is the first state champion in any sport from Math & Science Academy, which was founded in 1999. Because of her No 1 ranking and pile of first-place awards throughout the season, lots of people had told her she would win Saturday’s race.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking,” she said. “Coming into this race, I’ve never been more nervous. Because everyone I know was like, ‘Oh, you’re going to win.’ But what if I don’t?”

Fairmont captured the 1A team title with 84 points, followed by Perham at 86 and Annandale at 127. Fairmont’s top runners were Sarah Krumholz in 25th, Jenna Pavich in 27th and Iliana Ramon in 30th.

For Perham, Brynnan Covington was followed by Caitlin Covington in 24th and Hailey Wegscheid in 29th. Annandale’s top finishers were Emma Fashant in 28th, Jessica Scheer in 42nd and Emily Kasper in 53rd.