John's Journal
State Volleyball And Football Take Center Stage11/5/2014
We’re heading into a big three days of state tournament action, with volleyball and football taking center stage.

Volleyball, in all three classes, will play at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Quarterfinals will be played Thursday, with semifinals and consolation matches Friday, and championship, third-place and fifth-place matches Saturday.

Football quarterfinals will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday around the state, with three games Thursday, nine games Friday and 16 games Saturday.

I’ll be spending all three days at the volleyball tournament. I will be following the football scores from Xcel Energy Center, and I will post scores from both tournaments immediately on Twitter. You can follow me @MSHSLjohn

Here are the tournament lineups…

Thursday’s Quarterfinals

Chaska (27-3) vs. Bemidji (19-11), 9 a.m.
Roseville (25-4) vs. Champlin Park (24-7), 9 a.m.
Eden Prairie (27-3) vs. Rochester Mayo (26-3), 11 a.m.
Eagan (24-5) vs. Cambridge-Isanti (27-4), 11 a.m.

Stewartville (27-6) vs. Mora (26-5), 5 p.m.
Concordia Academy (26-7) vs. Maple Lake (27-5), 5 p.m.
Marshall (23-9) vs. Thief River Falls (23-9), 7 p.m.
Belle Plaine (22-10) vs. Rocori (25-5), 7 p.m.

Bethlehem Academy (26-4) vs. Kittson County Central (25-7), 1 p.m.
Martin County West (28-5) vs. Ada-Borup (26-5), 1 p.m.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (26-9) vs. Browerville (24-5), 3 p.m.
Mayer Lutheran (18-15) vs. Carlton (27-5), 3 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 6
9-Man/ Kelliher/Northome vs. Norman County East/U-H, Bemidji State, 7:30 pm
6A/ Mounds View vs. Totino-Grace, Maple Grove, 7 pm
6A/ Rosemount vs. Lakeville North, Edina, 7:30 pm

Friday, Nov. 7
9-Man/ Kittson County Central vs. Cromwell, Bemidji State, 7 pm
1A/ Minneapolis North vs. Blooming Prairie, Richfield, 7 pm
2A/ Hawley vs. BOLD, Alexandria, 7 pm
2A/ Maple Lake vs. Caledonia, Rochester Community College, 7 pm
4A/ Cloquet vs. DeLaSalle, Chisago Lakes, 7 pm
4A/ Holy Angels vs. Hutchinson, Minneapolis Washburn, 7 pm
5A/ Bemidji vs. St. Michael-Albertville, St. Cloud State, 7 pm
6A/ Eden Prairie vs. East Ridge, Woodbury, 7 pm
6A/ Maple Grove vs. Prior Lake, Minnetonka, 7 pm

Saturday, Nov. 8
9-Man/ Edgerton/Ellsworth vs. Nicollet, SW MN State, noon
9-Man/ Underwood vs. Grand Meadow, Irondale, 1 p.m.
1A/ Braham vs. Upsala/Swanville, Brainerd, noon
1A/ Mahnomen vs. Dawson-Boyd, Alexandria, 1 p.m.
1A/ Minneota vs. New Ulm Cathedral, SW MN State, 3 p.m.
2A/ Pipestone vs. Norwood-Young America, Gustavus Adolphus, 1 pm
2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River vs. Holdingford, Brainerd, 3 pm
3A/ Esko vs. New London-Spicer, St. Cloud State, noon
3A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton vs. Pierz, Brainerd, 6 pm
3A/ St. Croix Lutheran vs. Rochester Lourdes, Farmington, 6 pm
3A/ Blue Earth vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake, Burnsville, 6 pm
4A/ Rocori vs. Becker, St. Cloud State, 3 pm
4A/ South St. Paul vs. Stewartville, Rochester Community College, 6 pm
5A/ Bloomington Jefferson vs. Mankato West, Lakeville North, 2 pm
5A/ Sartell vs. Simley, St. Cloud State, 6 pm
5A/ Spring Lake Park vs. Faribault, Lakeville North, 6 pm
Runners To Be Considered for Spirit of Sport Award11/4/2014
Two cross-country runners who assisted a fallen competitor during the Class 1A girls state meet Saturday will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award, which is awarded annually by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The Spirit of Sport Award seeks to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport and represent the core mission of education-based athletics. High school governing bodies in each state can offer nominations for the award.

Esko High School senior Kailee Kiminski and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton junior Tierney Winter stopped running when they saw Jackson County Central freshman Jessica Christoffer on the ground less than 100 yards from the finish line. Kailee and Tierney helped Jessica get on her feet and had their arms around her as they completed the race together. Ninety-six runners among the field of 174 had crossed the finish line before the trio did so.

Due to national rules that prohibit competitors from assisting other runners, the athletes were disqualified, but that does not diminish from their tremendous act of sportsmanship. A meet official, who was with Jessica in case medical assistance was needed, informed the other runners that offering aid would violate the rules, yet they didn’t hesitate to assist Jessica in finishing the race.

All cross-country coaches are aware that athletes cannot assist others physically during races, whether teammates or opponents. This rule is based on fairness and the belief that each competitor must complete the course on their own, with no physical assistance. The rule states:

It is an unfair act when a competitor receives any assistance. Assistance includes:
a. Interference with another competitor.
b. Pacing by a teammate not in the race or persons not participating in the
c. Competitors joining or grasping hands with each other during a race.
d. Competitor using an aid during the race.

In addition, there could be serious health concerns for an injured runner if people who are not medically certified attempt to move the athlete.

Despite the consequences, Kailey and Tierney didn’t hesitate in coming to the aid of a fellow competitor. Because of their tremendous act of sportsmanship and selflessness, they will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award. Congratulations to Kailey and Tierney, their coaches, teammates, families and schools.
Alexandria’s Hasz Sisters: Identical Twins, Identical State Championships 11/1/2014
NORTHFIELD – It would only be fitting if Bethany and Megan Hasz, who are juniors this year at Alexandria High School, cross the finish line at the 2015 Class 2A state cross-country meet in a dead heat and share the state championship.

Because at this point they each own one state title and one second-place finish. A year ago Bethany was first and Megan second, and Saturday at St. Olaf College it was Megan – who is 29 minutes older than her identical twin sister -- getting the win, followed closely by Bethany. (Pictured are Bethany, left, and Megan.)

“We will always race each other to win,” Megan said. “We are competitive with each other. We always want to win, but even if we don’t we’re happy for the other one.”

Megan’s winning time was an all-class state-meet-record 13 minutes, 40.9 seconds; Bethany finished in 13:44.4 and third-place runner Tess Misgen, a sophomore from Shakopee, was timed in 14:13.5. Misgen nosed out junior Emma Benner of Forest Lake, whose time was 14:13.6.

The previous state-meet record was 13:42.0, set by Maria Hauger of Shakopee in 2012.

The twins also are stars on the track. Bethany was third and Megan fourth at state in the 2A 3,200 meters last spring; in the 1,600 Megan was second behind Misgen and Bethany placed third.

On Saturday, Megan began pulling away near the two-mile mark in the 4,000-meter race. Bethany tried to stay with her sister but couldn’t maintain the pace.

“She started to pull away and I tried to go with her,” Bethany said. “I didn’t have quite the same kick as she does. I’m proud of her. She definitely deserves it.”

Megan stated it pretty plainly: “I guess I started kicking a little harder a little sooner.”

Asked if next year’s state meet will be the tiebreaker, the sisters laughed.

“I guess so,” Bethany said. “We’ll see what happens.”

--Wayzata won its third consecutive 2A girls team title with 65 points. Edina was next with 94 and Willmar placed third with 96.


After two top-five finishes in the last two years, Wayzata senior Connor Olson rose to the top level of the podium with a dominating victory. The second-ranked Olson held off third-ranked Joey Duerr of Chaska and top-ranked Joe Klecker of Hopkins, winning in 15:16.86.

Duerr was second in 15:22.96 and Klecker was third in 15:25.9

“That kid’s one tough racer and he stuck in there for a long time,” Olson said of Duerr. “I’m just happy I could pull it off at the end.”

--Olson – who placed fifth in 2012 and second last year -- led Wayzata to the team title. The Trojans finished with 47 points, and Hopkins and Stillwater shared second place with 87. It was the second consecutive state title for Wayzata.


Two years ago, Waseca’s Shane Streich finished third at state. Last year he was the runner-up. His route to a state championship was finally completed Saturday, but it came with an important boost from a race in late September.

Streich (pictured), a senior, was the top finisher in the Roy Griak Inviational when he placed sixth overall among a national field that included many of the top 2A runners in Minnesota.

“Just for the opportunity to come up here and race with the big dogs, being from a small town, I just wanted to hang with them,” he said after the Griak. “I think today was my day.”

Saturday was also his day. His time of 15:46.4was nearly 15 seconds better than runner-up Isaac Overmyer of Park Rapids. Placing third was Perham’s Billy Bessman.

“I’ve been shooting for this since I was a seventh-grader,” Streich said. “It’s nice, especially since last year I was second, the year before I was third. Ever since the end of track season this was my goal, and my main focus was going for the state championship. It’s definitely exciting to be able to fulfill that goal.”

--Mora won the 1A boys team title with a score of 104, followed by Martin County West (108) and Glencoe-Silver Lake (117).


The Donnay sisters of Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball stole the show, with Emily – a senior and the top-ranked runner in 1A – claiming the state title and her sophomore sister Anna finishing third. The runner-up was Luverne sophomore Madison Schandelmeier.

“I figured she was right behind me at the finish,” said Emily, whose time of 14:27.5 was well ahead of Schandelmeier (14:49.0). “Tthat’s what I kept telling myself.”

Emily finished 10th at state last year; Anna had never before raced at state.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Anna. “I came and watched last year but that’s it.”

--Trinity School at River Ridge won the team title with a score of 55, followed by Annandale (87) and Fairmont (117).

--To see photo galleries from each race (provided by, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 144
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 3,921
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
A Storybook Ending To The Soccer Season 10/30/2014
ST. CLOUD -- Storybook. There is no better way to describe what the Orono girls soccer team accomplished Thursday. Yes, the Spartans won the Class 1A state championship, defeating Minneapolis Washburn in a game that was scoreless through two overtimes and was decided in a shootout at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium.

They did so without their best player, who also is one of the state’s best players. Senior Sophie Babo -- this year’s Class 1A Ms. Soccer winner who has made a commitment to play collegiately at Kentucky -- suffered a leg injury during the second half, which caused a lengthy delay while she was treated on the field and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

So here’s the challenge the Spartans were dealing with: Their leading scorer was gone and they were facing the undefeated, top-seeded and unbeaten Millers, a team that had not given up a goal since the third game of the season and had been scored on only twice all year.

“We did a really, really good job of rallying after Sophie got hurt,” said Orono goalkeeper Jessica Woessner, who also scored one of the goals in the 3-2 shootout verdict. “We knew that it would be harder without her, but we also knew we had to do it for her. Because she has helped us in so many games, she’s such a strong player. We had to do it for her and we did. And it feels so good.”

After 80 minutes of regulation ended in a scoreless tie, the teams played two 10-minute overtime periods. Then came the shootout, with each team taking five penalty kicks. The Millers and Spartans each scored on their first two attempts, with Morgan Cottew and Emma Stotts finding the goal for Washburn and Carly Goehring and Woessner doing the same for Orono.

Neither team scored in the third and fourth rounds, and the winner came from Orono junior Claire Bash. When Woessner stopped the final attempt of the shootout, it was bedlam for the Spartans.

“I think the biggest thing was everyone was worried about Sophie,” Orono coach Erin Murray said. “You could tell right away that it wasn’t good. But we’ve kind of talked all year that a lot of people think our team is Sophie. And Sophie is our best player and she is a dominant player, but we have so much that surrounds her and we’ve kind of been telling people that all year.”


There was no denying Apollo’s Leighton Lommel on two fronts: on his goal-scoring ability and on his postgame smile. The junior scored on a free kick in the 67th minute to lift the Eagles past DeLaSalle 1-0, capturing the first state soccer title for any St. Cloud school.

Lommel also had scored the game-winner Wednesday in a 1-0 semifinal victory over Mankato West, capping a pretty good stretch in his hometown.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “This is stuff you dream about.”

Apollo finished the season with a record of 21-0-2, making the Eagles the only undefeated soccer team in the state. They closed the year with five consecutive shutouts and gave up only 10 goals all season.

“Once an opportunity like this knocks at your door, you have to take advantage of it,” Lommel said. “This was incredible. This was awesome.”


The Tornadoes outscored Wayzata 5-4 in the shootout to take home their second state soccer title. The previous championship came in 2007.

Arthur Parens scores for Wayzata in the 28th minute of regulation and Anoka’s Joshua Dobler tied the score in the 44th minute. The score remained 1-1 through regulation and two 10-minute overtimes before the Tornadoes won the shootout. Every shot attempt in the shootout found the goal with the exception of one by Wayzata’s Jared Stout, a rocket that caromed off the crossbar.


A goal by Jade King in the 26th minute made the difference for the Wildcats, who won their first girls soccer state championship.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 112
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 3,867
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Max Drives The Bus, Cheers For The Team And Much More10/29/2014
ST. CLOUD – “Thanks Max!” “Thanks Max!” “Thanks Max!”

As the soccer players from Orono High School stepped off the bus before their Class 1A girls state semifinal game here Wednesday, the Spartans thanked their bus driver for delivering them safely once again. Max Kookie, however, is more than a bus driver to the Spartans; he is a friend, a fan, even a super hero. The Spartans love Max.

Kookie knows the players by name. He is almost always watching from the stands when they play, including home games when no bus is needed. He is invited to postseason team banquets, graduation parties for seniors, and is basically a member of the family. He drives other Orono teams, too, but the girls soccer players claim him as their own.

“A lot of these girls are two- and three-sport athletes who get to see Max all year round,” said soccer coach Erin Murray. “He’s always friendly, he’s always on time, we trust him. These girls can be loud and obnoxious on the bus, and some other bus drivers aren’t quite so accepting of that. He lets them sing and be crazy or celebrate after games. He comes to our banquets and kind of gets included in everything. He’s pretty much part of the team.”

Here’s the most amazing part of the story: Kookie moved to Michigan recently, but drove the 600 miles back to Minnesota this week in order to chaperone the team to the state tournament.
“I enjoy the kids,” said Kookie, who wore a sweatshirt with the words “Bus Driver Max” on the front, along with the logos of several Spartans teams. “They all know me and I know all of them by name.”

Kookie started driving a bus route for the Orono school system in 2001, and two years later he transported his first sports team. Athletes are always happy when they see Max behind the wheel.

“He’s like a super hero almost, showing up to our games, knowing every single one of us by name and being there all the time,” said junior soccer player Jessica Woessner. “Even when our parents aren’t there, he’s there. It’s not something a normal bus driver would do, and we thank him every single day for that.”

Kookie is known by more than the athletes. Parents, students and others said hi when they saw Max sitting in the stands Wednesday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium. One mom saw him and said with a smile, “Hi Max! Did you get those girls here safe?” Sure did, he answered.

“Max isn’t your typical bus driver,” Orono senior Abby Chargo said. “He cares about everybody. He comes to every single game. You look up in the stands at our home games and Max is there. He drove all the way back from Michigan just to drive us. He’s someone who’s really special to us. We wouldn’t trade him for any bus driver in the world.”


--Orono 4, Park Center 0/ Sophie Babo scored two goals as the Spartans advanced.

--Minneapolis Washburn 3, Hill-Murray 0/ The Millers scored all three goals in the second half.


--St. Cloud Apollo 1, Mankato West 0/ Leighton Lommel got the game-winner in the 48th minute as the Eagles advanced to Thursday’s title game.

--DeLaSalle 2, Chaska 1 (OT)/ The winner came on a header by Michael Wageman after a nice cross by Christian Kardio.

At Husky Stadium, St. Cloud State University

1A boys/ DeLaSalle vs. St. Cloud Apollo, 9:30 a.m.
1A girls/ Orono vs. Minneapolis Washburn, noon
2A boys/ Wayzata vs. Anoka, 2:30 p.m.
2A girls/ Eagan vs. Eden Prairie, 5 p.m.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 108
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 3,779
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn