John's Journal
Wayzata, Visitation Win Third Straight State Swim Crowns11/20/2015
The finishes were familiar Friday at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center, where Wayzata in Class 2A and Visitation in Class 1A captured their third consecutive team titles in the girls swimming and diving championships.

In the 2A team race, the Trojans had a total of 315.5 points, followed in the top five by Minnetonka 256, Edina 246, Stillwater 160 and Lakeville South 137.5.

Wayzata started strong, winning the first three events and setting an all-time record in one and a Class 2A record in another.

The Trojans’ spree started with the 200 medley relay, where the team of Carly Quast, Madison Preiss, Alexis Schaaf and Colleen Donlin won in 1:41.57. That set an all-time record, breaking the previous mark of 1:41.96 set by Chanhassen in 2013.

Quast then won the 200 freestyle and Preiss finished first in the 200 individual medley. Preiss’ time of 2:01.00 was a 2A record, topping the 2:01.38 set by Abby Duncan of Champlin Park in 2010. Quast added a gold medal in the 100 backstroke later in the meet, and Preiss won her second gold in the 100 breatstroke.

Edina’s Rachel Wittmer was a double winner, repeating as champion in the 50 freestyle and also winning the 100 butterfly.

Minnetonka won the 200 freestyle relay after Edina was disqualified. The Hornets were the first team to touch the wall but their finish was wiped away by the DQ. Edina came back to win the final event, the 400 freestyle relay.

Other Class 2A state champions were …

1-meter diving: Michelle Schlossmacher Smith.

100 freestyle: Bella Smith, Andover.

500 freestyle: Kelly McCarthy, Edina.

CLASS 1A: VISITATION REPEATS AGAIN

Visitation won two relays and claimed first-place finishes in two individual events in rolling to its third consecutive Class 1A title. The Blazers had a team score of 312, followed in the top five by Breck 238, Albert Lea 194, Sartell-St. Stephen 160 and Orono 124.

The Visitation team of Lorelei Gaertner, Emily Conners, Emily Kishish and Abbie Dolan set an all-time record in the 200 freestyle relay. The Blazers’ time of 1:34.07 topped the previous state record of 1:34.80 set by Stillwater in 2008. Visitation also won the 400 freestyle relay; the team consisted of Grace Snyder, Meaghan Sexton, Sophie Kishish and Dolan.

Dolan, who broke the all-time, all-class record in the 200 freestyle in Thursday’s prelims, won that championship Friday. Her record is 1:47.72 and her time in the finals was 1:48.10. Dolan repeated as champion in the 100 freestyle, and the second-place finisher was Visitation teammate Emily Conners.

Breck’s Bre Thorne repeated as the champion of the 100 butterfly and also finished first in the 100 backstroke. The Mustangs’ Alyssa Phelps won the 200 individual medley.

Albert Lea’s Lindsey Horejsi set a Class 1A record in winning the 50 freestyle. Her time of 22.79 seconds bettered the previous Class 1A mark of 22.82 set by Mankato West’s Danielle Nack in 2012. She also finished first in the 100 breaststroke, winning in 58.66 seconds. One day earlier, she set a national high school record of 58.56 in the prelims.

Horesji and teammates Bailey Sandon, Ahnika Jensen and Anna Andersen set a Class 1A record in the 200 medley relay. Their time of 1:43.61 bettered the mark of 1:44.73 set last year by the same quartet.

Other Class 1A state champions were…

200 individual medley: Allyssa Phelps of Breck.

1-meter diving: Mallary Dick, Big Lake.

500 freestyle: Kasey Milstroh, Foley.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 306
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 5,881
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
First Boys Basketball Rankings Of The Season 11/19/2015
Here are the first rankings of the MSHSL boys basketball season, provided by Minnesota Basketball News...

CLASS 4A
1. Apple Valley ()
2. Hopkins ()
3. Maple Grove ()
4. Eden Prairie ()
5. Wayzata ()
6. Champlin Park ()
7. Tartan ()
8. Lakeville North ()
9. Rochester John Marshall ()
10. Shakopee ()

CLASS 3A
1. DeLaSalle ()
2. Marshall ()
3. Rocori ()
4. Mankato East ()
5. St. Paul Johnson ()
6. Mahtomedi ()
7. Northfield ()
8. Hermantown ()
9. Benilde-St. Margaret's ()
10. Minneapolis Henry ()

CLASS 2A
1. Melrose ()
2. Minnehaha Academy ()
3. St. Croix Lutheran ()
4. Braham ()
5. Caledonia ()
6. St. Paul Academy ()
7. Esko ()
8. Jackson County Central ()
9. Lake City ()
10. Albany ()

CLASS 1A
1. Minneapolis North ()
2. Central Minnesota Christian ()
3. Battle Lake ()
4. Spring Grove ()
5. Minnesota Transitions ()
6. Rushford-Peterson ()
7. Browerville ()
8. Heritage Christian ()
9. Springfield ()
10. Cass Lake-Bena ()
Boys Hockey Rankings11/19/2015
The first rankings of the MSHSL boys hockey season, provided by Let's Play Hockey...

CLASS 2A
1 Eden Prairie (7)
2 Edina (1)
3 Lakeville North (2)
4 Grand Rapids
5 Hill-Murray
6 Duluth East
7 Blaine
8 Wayzata
9 Benilde-St. Margaret's
10 Bemidji
11 St. Thomas Academy
12 Minnetonka
13 Elk River/Zimmerman
14 Stillwater Area
15 Prior Lake
16 Holy Family Catholic
17 Farmington
18 Centennial
19 Bloomington Jefferson
20 Moorhead

CLASS 1A
1 Hermantown (8)
2 Breck
3 East Grand Forks (2)
4 St. Paul Academy
5 St. Cloud Apollo
6 Mahtomedi
7 Delano/Rockford
8 Luverne
9 St. Cloud Cathedral
10 Hibbing/Chisholm
11 Thief River Falls
12 Orono
13 Fergus Falls
14 Duluth Denfeld
15 New Prague
16 Alexandria
17 St. Paul Johnson
18 Warroad
19 Sartell-St. Stephen
20 Mankato West
A National Swimming Record Falls … And Tears Flow11/19/2015
Lindsey Horejsi broke into tears when she finished her preliminary race in the 100-yard breaststroke during Thursday’s Class 1A state swimming meet. The senior from Albert Lea touched the pool wall at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center, turned to look at the scoreboard … and here came the tears.

The crowd roared at the announcement that Horejsi had set a national high school record. Her time of 58.56 seconds topped the previous mark of 58.75 set in 2009 by Kasey Carlson of Los Lamas High School in Walnut Creek, California. And Lindsey will take another crack at her fresh new record in Friday’s championship race.

“I just burst into tears,” said the future University of Minnesota swimmer (pictured). “It’s just an emotional roller coaster, and being my senior year I want to go out with a bang.”

She wasn’t exactly surprised at breaking the record. In fact, she had been aiming for that time.

“I had my sights on it for a long time,” she said. “I looked at it a lot. I had known that 58.75 probably for a good year, year and a half.”

How fast was she Thursday? Her time would have put her in fifth place at this year's NCAA Division I championships as well as first place at the Division II and Division III meets.

Lindsey is no stranger to first-place finishes. She came into this year’s state meet already owning five individual state titles and two relay state championships. In Friday’s final day of swimming, she will compete in finals of the 100 breaststroke and 50 freestyle and on the Tigers’ 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Her teammate Anna Andersen, the defending state champion in the 50 freestyle who has signed with Division I North Dakota, has known Horejsi since they were in day care together.

“We had happy tears for her,” after her national record, Andersen said. “I was standing with the coaches. She went out in 27.2 and we were all like, ‘C’mon!’ ’’

Andersen, who will compete Friday in the finals of the 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay, is a workout partner with Horejsi.

“Definitely,” she said. “In practice I’m the little engine that could and she’s the little engine that did.”

OTHER RECORDS

--Visitation senior Abbie Dolan, who has signed with Notre Dame, broke the all-time state record in the 200 freestyle, topping the prelims in 1:47.72. The previous mark of 1:47.86 was set by Cretin-Derham Hall's Kiera Janzen in 2008.

--Visitation’s 200 freestyle relay team of Lorelei Gaertner, Emily Conners, Emily Kishish and Dolan set a Class 1A record of 1:35.12 in the prelims.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 306
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 5,837
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Game Plan For Victory: “Now It’s Our Turn To Carry Him”11/14/2015
The game plan for the Class 1A defending state champion Minneota Vikings on Saturday was pretty simple: Run the ball, eat the clock, score touchdowns … and keep Minneapolis North quarterback and future University of Minnesota player Tyler Johnson on the defensive side of the ball at safety.

When the Polars did possess the ball, Minneota’s defense needed to contain Johnson, who is as dynamic on his feet, as well as throwing the ball, as anyone in the state.

The Vikings’ offense has been powered for two seasons by senior Garrett Hennen, a 6-foot, 220-pound wrecking ball who came in with a school-record 2,056 rushing yards in 13 games. Hennen is also Minneota’s leading tackler, so his defensive headlights would be aimed at Johnson. (Hennen is the fellow wearing number 34 on the cover of the state football tournament program.)

The Hennen-centric plans went kablooey before seven minutes had been played. After Garrett assisted Hunter Gillund in tackling Johnson, he grabbed his left knee. And that was it for him in the Prep Bowl. He was helped to the bench, examined and tried to put weight on the leg. The tire was flat, Garrett was given crutches, ice was strapped to his knee, his shoulder pads came off and now what?

Observing all this from the Minneota sideline was a gentleman named Byron Higgin. Byron is the publisher, editor, reporter, photographer, sportswriter, sales staff and Mr. Everything for the Minneota Mascot newspaper. As with small-town newspaper and radio coverage all over the state, Byron’s stories and photos document history in Minneota, including the exploits of the Vikings teams.

After Hennen left the game, Minneota assistant coach Matt Buysse walked up to Byron and said: “He’s been carrying us for two years. Now it’s our turn to carry him.”

There. That was the answer to “now what?” It was time to pick each other up. As Garrett’s cousin Kyle Hennen said after the Vikings’ 35-18 victory, “We came together strong as a team.”

There’s a lesson in this. A lesson in staying calm. Stepping up. Hanging in there. Coming together. Strong.

Minneota is no stranger to high-level football. The Vikings have now played in three consecutive Prep Bowls; they were a state runner-up in 2013 and won it all last season. They also won state championships in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 2009. Some of the boys from those teams in the 1980s are now watching their sons wear blue and gold. They went 14-0 this season.

Minneapolis North is a newer entrant to postseason runs. The Polars lost to Dawson-Boyd in the state semifinals last year and put together a masterful 12-0 season before facing Minneota.

Johnson was Johnson on Saturday, running 17 times for 186 yards and touchdowns of 64 and eight yards. He completed 11 of 23 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions. Tyler hit Isaac Johnson on a picturesque 34-yard hookup in the first quarter, and Tyler’s 64-yard magic show put the Polars ahead 12-7.

The Hennen boys – senior Kyle and sophomore Isaac (Garrett’s brother) – along with senior Bryce Bruner, sophomore Alex Pohlen and a stellar offensive line, never pushed the panic button on offense. Minneota had scoring drives that lasted eight minutes, 10 minutes and 11 minutes; goal achieved.

Bruner carried the ball 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown, Isaac Hennen ran 24 times for 103 yards and three scores, and Pohlen completed nine of 12 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown to Kyle Hennen.

It was an emotional end to a memorable season for the Vikings. Coach Chad Johnston worked to compose himself before meeting the media. He sat with Kyle and Isaac Hennen in the interview room, talking about the great athleticism of Tyler Johnson and how they prepared for him

It turns out that one of the younger members of the coaching staff played the role of Johnson in practice all week; a guy who could run and change gears and cut and skedaddle all over the field. Guy by the name of Matt Buysse.

CLASS 3A: PIERZ 36, JACKSON COUNTRY CENTRAL 8

Noah Boser scored three touchdowns and Aaron Weber passed for two as the Pioneers completed a 13-0 season. Pierz scored on a 75-yard pass from Weber to Michael Meyer before the Huskies (10-3) took an 8-7 lead on a 37-yard hookup from Easton Bahr to Ryan Salzwedel. Pierz did all the scoring after that.

CLASS 5A: ST. MICHAEL-ALBERTVILLE 28, ST. THOMAS ACADEMY 21
br>The Knights (12-1) broke away from a 14-14 with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to win the first state football championship in school history. Mitchell Kartes scored on two one-yard runs; the first score tied it 14-14 and the second gave the Knights a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. St. Thomas Academy finished with a 12-2 record.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 266
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 5,793
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn