John's Journal
A Proud Minnesota Tradition Returns: State Wrestling Tourney 2/22/2016
The 78th MSHSL state wrestling tournament will be held this week at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and there is no shortage of stories to follow. Team competition in all three classes will be held Thursday, with individual competition beginning Friday morning and culminating with championship matches Saturday evening.

Wrestling is very much a family-oriented sport, with thousands of committed fans who make the state tournament part of their annual plans. The crowd is always loud and proud, and there will be plenty of reasons to cheer this year.

Two families from southeast Minnesota will be cheering for their favorite wrestlers, Byron’s Alex Bertram and Kasson-Mantorville’s Aaron Berge.

The two seniors will compete in Class 2A at 182 pounds. They both represent Section 1, and they have wrestled against each other for a long time. They are in different halves of the bracket, but if they should meet this week it will be the final match in a very long string of head-to-head meetings.

One of these photos shows Alex and Aaron wrestling when they were just first-graders, and the other was taken at last week’s Section 1 tournament. That puts two really nice bookends on a wrestling connection.

THE WRESTLER UNDER the brightest spotlight this week is Apple Valley senior Mark Hall. He is expected to win the Class 3A state title at 170 pounds, which would make him the first six-time state champion in Minnesota history.

Hall is one of six five-time champs. The others are Matt Nagel of Frazee (1997-2001), Eric Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (1999-2003), Zach Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (2003-2007), Destin McCauley of Apple Valley (2006-08, 2010-11) and Cameron Sykora of Border West (2011-15). There have been 16 four-time state champs and 60 wrestlers have won three times.

In 2A, Kasson-Mantorville junior Brady Berge could become a four-time champion and open the possibility of joining the five-title club a year from now. He is the top seed at 160 pounds.

Five two-time champions will go for a three-peat this week. They are:

182/ Keegan Moore, Jackson County Central

132/ Garrett Aldrich, Albert Lea
152/ Griffin Parriott, New Prague

126/ Brent Jones, Shakopee
138/ Mitchell McKee, St. Michael-Albertville


113/ Ethan Cota, Kenyon-Wanamingo
120/ Noah Bauer, Pine Island
126/ Tanner Reetz, Frazee
220/ Manuel Garcia, BOLD

126/ Keaten Schorr, Kasson-Mantorville

120/ Rylee Molitor, Sartell-St. Stephen
120/ Peyton Robb, Owatonna
132/ Adam Hedin, Rosemount
182/ Lucas Jeske, St. Michael-Albertville
220/ Gable Stevenson, Apple Valley


3A/ Apple Valley is the team to beat, and that has been a theme at state for a decade now. The Eagles are the 10-time defending champions. They shared the title with St. Michael-Albertville in 2013 and the Knights are second-seeded behind Apple Valley this week. The last time Apple Valley didn’t come out on top was 2005, when Owatonna was the 3A champion. Apple Valley is at state for the 34th consecutive year and 35th time overall. The Eagles have had a state-best 89 individual champions, followed by Anoka (51) and Blue Earth and Robbinsdale (50 each).

2A/ Simley, which has won seven of the last eight championships, is seeded second behind Kasson-Mantorville. The KoMets broke up Simley’s reign by winning the title in 2013.

1A/ Kenyon-Wanamingo is the top seed and defending state champion Minnesota is seeded second. Kenyon-Wanamingo has never won a team state title.

Minnetonka (Class 3A) is the only team making its first appearance at state.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 506
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,409
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
In Age Of Specialization, She Specializes In Three Sports2/20/2016
Andrianna (Andy) Jacobs can fly. Her email address proves as much: it includes the words “girl” and “fly.” Yes, this girl can fly. And she does it in three different sports at Rochester Century.

In November she completed her diving career with a second-place finish at the Class 2A state meet. On Saturday she finished sixth in the all-around competition at the 2A gymnastics championships, placing fourth on the uneven parallel bars and fifth in floor exercise. Before long she will begin the track season as the top female high school pole vaulter in the nation.

The gymnastics meet was Jacobs’ 13th state tournament in a high school career that disrupts the notion of young athletes being best served by participating in only one sport. That’s something she has never considered.

“Honestly, no,” said Andy (pictured). “I started with gymnastics when I was really little. I did other sports for fun and in seventh grade I added diving and track and field. I just loved them all.”

This was her fourth time competing in the state gymnastics meet at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. As an all-around competitor she performed on all four events: floor exercise, vault, balance beam and uneven parallel bars. She was the Section 1 all-around champion, finishing first on floor and bars at the section meet. She said those two events are her favorites.

“I like floor a lot because there’s more showmanship than other events,” she said, adding that the uneven parallel bars have similarities with pole vaulting.

“I always thought the pole vault was a mixture of vault and bars put together; with the vault you have to structure your run like in pole vault. And on bars, what you do in the air is like what you do in the pole vault.”

Pole vaulting will be her future. After making official recruiting visits to Nebraska, Ole Miss, Indiana, South Carolina and Georgia, she signed with the Cornhuskers.

She is a three-time 2A state champion in the pole vault and holds the state record of 13 feet, 7¼ inches. She wasn’t an immediate success in the pole vault – she was a varsity hurdler in seventh grade -- but her current status is a testament to hard work and not giving up.

“I tried (pole vaulting) in seventh grade,” Andy said. “I did one or two meets and I was really bad. In eighth grade I focused more on it and I kind of realized I could be good at the pole vault.

“Some of my friends who were gymnasts thought I should try it. You’ve got to be a little bit crazy. It’s kind of weird.”

Her days as a competitive diver are over, and now her gymnastics career has ended. As her high school days wind down, she has some people she would like to thank.

“I’d really like to thank my coaches,” she said. “I probably shouldn’t try to name them because there are a lot of them. I’ve been blessed with some amazing coaches and I wouldn’t be here without them and all the opportunities they have given me. I don’t want to take that for granted.”

You can say that again. Or even three times.


Big Lake senior Mallary Dick (pictured) didn’t let a little thing like a severely injured foot keep her from winning the 1A state championship on the uneven parallel bars. She was all smiles afterwards, despite wearing a protective “boot” on her left foot.

Mallary suffered the injury in last week’s Section 7 meet.

“I was vaulting and I landed and it gave out on me,” she explained. “It’s severely sprained with a chip in one of the bones.”

The injury wasn’t much of a factor while she was on the bars. But landing had to hurt, right?

“A little bit,” Mallary said. “My coach did a very good job of taping it.”


All-Around Medalists
1. Maddie Mullenbach, Austin
2. Cora Okeson, Detroit Lakes
3. Mady Brinkman, Melrose
4. Kayla Austing, Melrose
5. Beth Kurkowski, Mahtomedi
6. Haley Mottinger, Willmar

Event Champions
Vault: Greta Klaphake, Melrose
Bars: Mallary Dick, Big Lake
Beam: Maddie Mullenbach, Austin
Floor: Emma Disse, Detroit Lakes

All-Around Medalists
1. Megan Trollen, East Ridge
2. Wren Anderson, East Ridge
3. Chaney Neu, Champlin Park
4. Maria McDonough, Faribault
5. Ashley Goodlund, Lakeville North
6. Andy Jacobs, Rochester Century.

Event Champions
Vault: Sophie Redding, Henry Sibley
Bars: Natalia Jacobson, Rochester Century
Beam: Megan Trollen, East Ridge
Floor: Wren Anderson, East Ridge



Lucy Burton and Carly Bullock had hat tricks for Blake and Bullock set a career tournament scoring record with 22 goals. The previous record of 21 was set by Park Center’s Krissy Wendell in 2000. It was Blake’s third title in four years and sixth overall.


The Eagles held a 2-0 lead after two periods before Maple Grove roared back to tie the score and send the game into overtime, but Eden Prairie used a five-on-three power play to score the game-winning goal. Lauren Oberle scored the winner for the Eagles, who outshot the Crimson 44-31.

Third-place games…
1A/ Warroad 3, Proctor/Hermantown 1
2A/ Hill-Murray 5, Edina 3

Fifth-place games…
1A/ New Prague 7, Alexandria 0
2A/ Eastview 2, Lakeville South 1

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 506
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,409
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
A Magic Moment For St. Cloud Tech Gymnastics Family 2/19/2016
Something very quiet, very special, very emotional took place Friday evening during the awards ceremony that capped off the Class 2A gymnastics team competition at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion.

As the gymnasts from St. Cloud Tech were called to the podium to receive their gold medals and championship trophy from members of the MSHSL board of directors, a woman in a wheelchair – behind the gaggle of gymnasts standing, cheering and applauding in front of the podium, and out of sight of many of those in attendance – ducked her head ever so slightly as Dave Swanberg, athletic director at LeSueur-Henderson High School and a member of the MSHSL board, smiled and placed a medal around her neck.

It didn’t take long for the Tech gymnasts to rush to the side of the woman in the wheelchair, because she is their coach, their mentor, their inspiration.

Colleen Stark-Haws has been dealing with multiple sclerosis since 2005, and she has little control of her body below the shoulders. She and husband Joel Stark-Haws have been coaching gymnastics at Tech since 1997, and Friday’s results were special on many levels.

It was the Tigers’ very first state team gymnastics championship. They have qualified for state for 11 years in a row, every year since 2006, and never won. Tech has never even had an individual all-around state champion. And to do it this year, when Roseville was attempting to win its fifth consecutive state title, and seeing that big blue ribbon and big gold medal hanging around Colleen’s neck … words really don’t do it justice.

“This has been so many years of work,” Colleen said. “We love this sport and we coach the beginner’s classes from kindergarten all the way through the high school. And to see the years and years of effort that the coaches and the gymnasts have done, and to keep believing that an outstate team could get it done. We’re just so proud, so proud.”

The Tech athletes were in tears as they huddled around Colleen. She spoke to them, but that was a private moment between her and eight high school kids, and they deserve to own that moment themselves forever. They posed for photos with Colleen and Joel, smiling the kind of meaningful smiles that arrive through hard work, commitment and a love for those you spend so much time with.

“It was a celebration tonight for all of us, and I wanted to make sure she was a part of this, and so did the kids,” Joel said. “It wasn’t even a thought; we all wanted to come over and share that moment and make sure that she was a part of that. Because she is the backbone of this program and it was just so exciting, it really was.”

Colleen and Joel were high school sweethearts at St. Cloud Cathedral and classmates at St. Cloud State. Their son Eli is also part of the coaching staff.

I asked Joel a question that I knew he couldn’t answer: Is it possible to measure the inspiration that Colleen provides for the team?

“You certainly cannot measure the inspiration that Colleen gives to our program, to me, to our family, to the people who are in our lives,” he said. “No, absolutely not. You can’t measure it. She just continues to inspire. It’s a group effort and we know it, and it’s always concentrate on what you can do; which easily falls into gymnastics. That’s what you’ve got to do. Don’t focus on the bad things that happen or the mistakes you made, concentrate on what’s coming up and what you can contribute. It’s unbelievable. Very special.”

When I asked Colleen what the moment meant to her, her answer said everything.

“It means that it’s all worth it. The everyday struggles just get washed away in a moment like this.”

Here are the Class 2A gymnastics team scores:
1. St. Cloud Tech 149.125
2. Roseville 147.925
3. East Ridge 147.375
4. Champlin Park 146.800
5. Cambridge-Isanti 146.200
6. Owatonna 146.125
7. Eden Prairie 144.225
8. Lakeville North 141.175

In Class 1A, Detroit Lakes put on a very strong performance and repeated as the state champion. The final standings looked like this:

1. Detroit Lakes 150.225
2. Melrose 147.025
3. Becker 144.325
4. Austin 144.275
5. Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 143.175
6. Mankato West 141.650
7. Mahtomedi 141.325
8. Worthington 134.450


At Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, state semifinals were held in the girls state hockey tournament. Top-seeded Blake and third-seeded St. Paul United advanced to Saturday’s Class 1A title game. Blake beat Proctor/Hermantown 5-1 and St. Paul United beat Warroad 4-3.

In Class 2A, Saturday’s championship game will be between third-seeded Eden Prairie and fourth-seeded Maple Grove. Eden Prairie defeated Edina 1-0 and Maple Grove beat unbeaten defending state champion Hill-Murray by the same 1-0 score.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 506
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,360
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
It’s Time For Class 2A At Girls State Hockey2/18/2016
If it’s Thursday we must be at the Xcel Energy Center for the Class 2A girls state hockey quarterfinals. The Class 1A field completed their quarterfinals Wednesday and are playing consolation-bracket games today at Ridder Arena.

The 1A quarterfinal results were …

--Warroad beat Northfield 3-0

--St. Paul United beat Alexandria 2-0

--Blake beat Luverne 10-0

--Proctor/Hermantown beat New Prague 2-1

And here are today’s Class 2A quarterfinal games…

--Eastview (18-6-4) vs. #2 Edina (19-7-1), 11 a.m.

--Forest Lake (18-7-3) vs. #3 Eden Prairie (19-7-2), 30 minutes after conclusion of 11 a.m. game

--Sartell/Sauk Rapids (21-7) vs. #1 Hill-Murray (27-0-1), 6 p.m.

--#5 Lakeville South (20-5-2) vs. #4 Maple Grove (20-5-2), 30 minutes after conclusion of 6 p.m. game

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 490
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,311
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

52 Minus 1 Equals A Victory For Edina2/18/2016
Fifty-two. Or if you prefer brevity, 52. That’s how many shots on goal were recorded in Thursday’s Class 2A girls hockey state semifinal game between Edina and Eastview.

Of those 52 shots, 51 were stopped by goaltenders Anna Goldstein (Edina) and Emma Tschida (Eastview). The shot that mattered the most got past Tschida at 7:44 of the third period, fired into the net by Edina’s Emily Odin.

Edina’s 1-0 victory moved the second-seeded Hornets into Friday’s semifinals. It also moved Eastview into the consolation bracket at Ridder Arena. And for fans of pure hockey, it was moving indeed.

The Hornets had allowed only 34 goals in 27 games this season. Eastview’s opponents had scored 50 times in 28 games. The teams had arrived at state in strikingly different manners, though.

Edina defeated Section 6 opponents Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Wayzata by identical scores of 6-0. In Section 3, Eastview opened with an 8-1 win over Rosemount, followed by two overtime decisions: 3-2 over East Ridge and 4-3 over Eagan.

“Our girls didn’t quit. They were solid until the end,” Eastview coach Herb Harvey said after Thursday’s game. "We just didn’t get the bounce. Pucks were hitting skates and shin pads. They got the one decent opportunity and ended up scoring.”

This game was a lesson in defense … but with a capital D. The skaters had to work hard to put those 52 pucks on net, with defenders buzzing and swatting and goaltenders stretching and bending.

“Their goalie played awesome,” said Oden. “I just knew I had to get a shot at least on net.”

Eastview had not previously lost a 1-0 game this season; its only 1-0 decision was a victory over Hastings.

“They definitely crash the net hard and try to create opportunities with rebounds,” Tschida said in the postgame news conference. “Our defense did a real good job of trying to shut them down.”

At which point her teammate Natalie Snodgrass turned to Emma and said, “So did you.”

Capital D.


The Eagles scored twice in the first period and twice in the third to advance to the semifinal round against Edina.

Eden Prairie and Edina met twice during the Lake Conference season, with Eden Prairie winning 1-0 and Edina winning 2-1 in overtime. Close finishes is a trend when those teams meet.

“The last four times we played them, it was either in overtime or decided in the final minute of play,” said Eagles coach Jaime Grossman. “Every time we play them it’s a 50-50 game. I think we’re fairly evenly matched teams.”

Eden Prairie junior Naomi Rogge, who had a goal and an assist Thursday, said, “Oh yeah, there’s nothing better than playing against Edina. Getting the opportunity to play the game here is going to be really incredible.”


The two-time defending state champion Pioneers outshot Sartell/Sauk Rapids 50-9 and got goals from five different players in advancing to Friday’s semifinals.


Lauren Kauffman had a hat trick as the Crimson moved into Friday’s semifinals against Hill-Murray.


Forest Lake junior forward Madi Nolan, asked about the large contingent of Rangers students who were in attendance: “They were happy. They got to miss school.”


--Warroad vs. St. Paul United, 11 a.m.

--Blake vs. Proctor/Hermantown, 30 minutes after conclusion of first game

--Edina vs. Eden Prairie, 6 p.m.

--Hill-Murray vs. Maple Grove, 30 minutes after conclusion of 6 p.m. game

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 490
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2015-16: 8,311
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn