John's Journal
State Track Champions Abound At Friday’s Hamline Elite Meet 4/24/2014
The Hamline Elite Meet has become one of the premier events of the high school track and field season. The ninth annual Elite Meet will be held Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul, beginning at 5:30 p.m. And as usual, many of Minnesota’s top athletes will compete.

Entries for the Elite Meet are based on performances so far this spring. The top nine submitted entries for each event are accepted and all races are finals (with the exception of the boys and girls 100 meters, in which 18 runners qualify and prelim races are held). As is always the case at the Elite Meet, the field includes a raft of defending state champions.

Friday’s field includes 21 athletes who were state champions last season. Eight of those champs won titles in the Class 2A girls state meet, five come from 1A girls, five from 1A boys and three from 2A boys.

Among the marquee events Friday will be the girls and boys 1,600 meters. The girls entrants include the top three from the 2013 Class 2A state meet: champion Jenna Truedson of Bemidji, runner-up Tess Misgen of Shakopee and third-place Rachel King of St. Michael-Albertville.

The boys 1,600 field includes defending state champs Eli Krahn of Stillwater in 2A and Shane Streich of Waseca in 1A, as well as Obsa Ali of Richfield (state champ in the 3,200 and third-place finisher in the 1,600) and the second- and third-place 1A state finishers, Nick Golebiowski of St. Cloud Cathedral and Keeghan Hurley of Perham.

The girls 300 hurdles field includes state champs Rachel Schow of Rosemount (2A) and Taylor Grandgenett of Blue Earth (1A). Schow also is the defending 2A state champ in the 100 hurdles; also in that event Friday are the second- and third-place 2A state finishers, Michaela Preahchuk of Lakeville North and Alex Williams of Blaine.

The girls high jump field includes the top three finishers at state in 2A a year ago: Caraline Slattery of Lakeville South, Taylor Wiebke of Kasson-Mantorville and Morgan Pieri of Lakeville South.

The fields for these events also include defending state champions from both Class 1A and Class 2A …

--Girls pole vault/ Andy Jacobs of Rochester Century (2A) and Carolyn Nye of Blake (1A).

--Girls triple jump/ Piper Jensen of Minnetonka (2A) and Katie Heilman of Watertown-Mayer (1A).

Other athletes and events of note …

--Tyler Beehler of Foley is the defending 1A state champion in the 100 and 200.

--Jon Tollefson of St. Croix Lutheran is the defending 1A champ in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

--The top three state finishers in the 1A girls 100 are in Friday’s field: Vanessa Lane of Pequot Lakes, Haley Jensen of Martin County West and Claire Oberle of Holy Family Catholic.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 428
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,064
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Detroit Lakes Opens Girls Golf Season With A Bang4/22/2014
BRAINERD – The Legacy golf courses at Cragun’s Resort opened for the season on Saturday. Two days later, 14 high school girls teams gathered for the first big tournament of 2014, the Cardinal Invitational hosted by Staples-Motley.

Season opener or not, it appears that the team from Detroit Lakes is already in great shape. The Lakers are the two-time defending state champions in Class 2A, and they put on a show Monday in winning the team title by 37 shots. Detroit Lakes’ total was 305, followed in the top five by Alexandria 342, Minnewaska 354, Pequot Lakes 356 and Staples-Motley 366.

In the individual competition, Detroit Lakes sophomore Kate Smith finished first with a 2-under-par 70 and senior teammate Natalie Roth was second with a 72. The next players, finishing at 78, were Emily Israelson of Staples-Motley, Mandy Boyle of Moorhead and Amanda Bigger of Alexandria.

Smith and Roth are familiar names because they shared the individual title in last year’s 2A state meet at Ridges of Sand Creek in Jordan. The journey from Cragun’s on Monday to the 2014 state meet June 10-11 in Jordan will go quickly, and the Lakers are excited about pursuing a third consecutive state championship.

“The pressure’s definitely on,” said Smith, who hit every green Monday except the final three holes. “I feel it. You can’t just ignore it, you accept it and keep going.”

There is pressure to repeat as individual and state team champs, but there also is pressure within the team itself, pressure to compete with teammates for spots on the roster.

“It’s fun pressure,” Roth said. “We motivate each other so much. It’s a good competition and that’s what builds a strong team.”

Detroit Lakes’ two state titles have been earned on the backs of young players. Experience, however, is a strength this spring with four seniors on the squad.

“This team has been together for five seasons,” said Lakers coach Cali Harrier. “It’s kind of an emotional season for us, with four seniors. They’re good teammates and they also push each other. The six of them will be competing for the spots on the team, which prepares them.”

A few inches of snow fell at Cragun’s last week, but there were very few remnants of snow on the course Monday. Temperatures were in the upper 50s and the wind kicked up on occasion, but the picturesque course was in exceptional condition.

“The wind was a factor for a couple of shots,” Smith said. “It wasn’t just a one-club wind, it really affected your shots. Sometimes the wind is fun, it makes it a little more challenging. I just had a lot of fun today.”

Staples-Motley coach and tournament director Glen Hasselberg said, “A week ago, the likelihood of this event happening was not very good.”

But the tournament went off without a hitch. After a short awards ceremony in the clubhouse, there was a wonderful display of sportsmanship and appreciation. As they walked to the parking lot for the drive home, every player and every coach shook Hasselberg’s hand and offered their thanks for a great event.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 420
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,000
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
New Ulm Hosts One Of Minnesota’s Great Athletic Traditions4/14/2014
For 60 years, senior athletes from New Ulm’s three high schools have been honored at a grand gathering every spring. The event is a banquet hosted by the New Ulm Club, a civic group dedicated to serving and supporting the athletic programs at New Ulm High School, New Ulm Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran.

The New Ulm Club is unique in that its membership is limited to 30 members. The longest-serving member in club history is Red Wyczawski, who has been on board for 42 years. I’ve known Red for many years, and during last year’s state softball tournament he invited me to speak at the 2014 Athletic Appreciation Banquet (as it is formally known).

The event was held earlier this month, and it was a real treat for me. Previous speakers include Jesse Owens, Dan Devine, Mick Tingelhoff, Paul Giel, Dick Beardsley, Janet Karvonen, Dave Stead, John Gagliardi and many other well-known names.

Senior athletes who have earned at least one varsity letter, along with their families, are invited to the banquet, which is held in the gymnasium at Martin Luther College. Everyone enjoyed a splendid dinner, all the senior athletes were recognized, and the evening culminated with one female and one male from each school honored with plaques as their school’s outstanding senior athletes.

Framed photos of the winners from each year since 1955 were positioned for everyone to see during the banquet. When the 61st banquet is held next year, a photo of the 2014 winners will join the list.

Named this year’s outstanding athletes (pictured) were Russ Hoffman and Karlee Pfaff from Cathedral, Chad Lease and Nicole Moldstad from Minnesota Valley Lutheran and Judd David and Ellie Schneider from New Ulm High. Those six multi-sport athletes have combined to earn 46 letters in football, baseball, volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer and hockey.

The banquet is a great way to honor New Ulm’s senior athletes, and it is unique in that three schools come together to celebrate. There is no other event like it in Minnesota, and maybe in the nation.

Congratulations to the New Ulm Club on its commitment to high school athletics!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 406
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,626
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Rochester Lourdes Coach Myron Glass Announces His Retirement4/11/2014
Myron Glass, who has been a member of the coaching staff at Rochester Lourdes for 41 years, has announced his retirement. Myron coached cross-country and girls basketball, winning state championships in both sports and creating one of the greatest traditions in Minnesota high school sports.

I wrote about Myron in January, when he was uncertain if he would retire. Here is that story ...


If numbers help define Myron Glass, don't look at the number of girls basketball state championship teams he has coached at Rochester Lourdes High School. Or the number of teams he has taken to state tournaments. Or the state titles his teams have captured in cross-country and track.

Those numbers are indeed impressive. Under Glass the Eagles have won eight basketball titles, which is a state record he shares with Faith Johnson Patterson, formerly of Minneapolis North and currently at DeLaSalle. And Glass has coached 15 teams to state tourneys, which is the most in girls basketball history.

The numbers that really count, however, are the numbers of girls he has mentored, taught, coached and led since his career as a teacher and coach began at Lourdes in 1968. He has been the Eagles' girls basketball coach since 1983.

"He's given his life to this school," said Lourdes athletic director Marv Peters. "That's the easiest way to say it."

Glass is one of the pioneers of girls athletics in Minnesota. He helped start girls programs at Lourdes, building models for many other schools in southeastern Minnesota and around the state.

"Look at how far the young ladies have come," Glass said. "That's something that myself and others can be really proud of. Once we ran a couple meets and got more teams doing it, it just took off."

Glass may or may not retire after this season -- more on that in a moment -- but no matter when he steps down he will leave big shoes to fill. He ranks second all-time in Minnesota girls basketball victories; his 713-134 mark stands behind only New London-Spicer coach Mike Dreier's record of 799-145.

Glass coached girls and boys cross-country at Lourdes for 40 years, winning four state championships with the boys team and two with the girls. His girls track teams also won two state championships. Lourdes owns a total of 42 state team championships and Glass was the head coach for 16 of them.

"I am perplexed about replacing him," Peters said. "It's going to be tough.''

Glass is waffling just a bit on retiring. He had originally talked about ending his coaching career after the 2012-13 season, but Peters convinced him to stay on while Lourdes departed its downtown location after 71 years and moved into a sparkling new campus in northwest Rochester. Now, in the midst of the 2013-14 season, Glass won't absolutely, positively confirm that he will retire at season's end. But it appears that he will.

He laughed when I asked him about retiring, saying that is the likely scenario "unless Marv talks me out of it, like he did last year."

Little has changed over the years. Glass still wears a wristwatch calculator, befitting a math teacher; he also taught social studies before retiring from teaching several years ago. He also still prepares some of the most detailed scouting reports of any high school coach in any sport. He puts together seven- or eight-page packets for each of his players to study before every game.

Glass has coached young athletes who grew up and had children, and then he coached the second generation. As he put it,"You have kids who you held as a baby, because you coached and taught their parents, then you're coaching them when they're 16, 17 years old."

Martha Macken, a Lourdes player in the 1980s, wishes Glass would stick around long enough to coach her fifth-grade daughter, Sydney Elliott, and hand her some of those famous scouting reports.

"The thing about Mr. Glass is he knows the team that you're playing. We know their offense and their defense before we play them. He's very prepared," said Macken, who made one of the biggest baskets in Lourdes history, a buzzer-beater that lifted the Eagles past Wheaton 33-31 in the 1987 state title game.

"Mr. Glass has really created a foundation here, and a legacy," Macken said. "He's built these programs. When I grew up we didn't have all the leagues and everything that they currently have, and it's due to him. He put in a lot of time and effort. He's a fixture at the school."

At both the old school and the new school, Glass is the person who opens the gym doors in the morning and locks up the place at night. He sweeps the floor, he mends uniforms, he runs summer basketball camps, he even runs the clock for ninth-grade girls basketball games.

"He's here every weekend," Peters said. "Every Saturday, and he comes in on Sunday. The thing about Myron is that there are so many layers, but every layer connects back to the school. It's been his vocation.

"I think he's one of the gentlest, kindest guys around. He really makes it all about the kids. He deflects so much; he deflects praise, he deflects congratulations. He deflects all those things, he's so old-school."

Glass' success as a coach is remarkable because he didn't play the game. He was cut from the basketball team at Minneapolis South and worked his way through St. Cloud State as a non-athlete, working at a gas station in Minneapolis during summers, weekends and holidays. After graduating, he interviewed for teaching jobs at Albany, at a Minneapolis junior high and Lourdes. The first offer came from Lourdes and he happily accepted.

Now 46 years later, as a lifelong bachelor in his late 60s, he is pondering a transition to a post-coaching lifestyle.

"That's the hard part about deciding on retirement," he said. "What do you do? Being a single guy you don't have that 'honey do' list that the married guys have. The mind is no problem, it's the body that as you get older has a little trouble keeping up. I'm probably looking forward to a knee replacement and stuff like that."

When Glass retired as a classroom teacher, he began working as a scheduling coordinator at Lourdes. As any administrator knows, putting together schedules for classes, teachers, students and classrooms can be a tedious, difficult process. And that's right up the coach's alley.

"He's just been a whiz at that because of his math skills," Peters said. "Even if basketball comes to an end, I really hope we can keep him on as our scheduler and helping in the guidance department."

Glass has not only taught and coached generations of athletes at Lourdes, he also has had a major impact on other coaches at Lourdes and southeastern Minnesota.

"I'm sure he stole or figured out everything he did, and now he's the most copied coach around," Peters said. "Everybody in this area who's successful does what he does. It's unbelievable. That's the best form of flattery."
A Selfless Act, A Hack Saw, And A Lesson For All 4/7/2014
This is one of those wonderful stories that goes beyond what happens in the athletic arena. I received an email from Ryan Giles, the girls basketball coach at Lac qui Parle Valley High School in Madison, who wanted to share a story about the selflessness of one of the players. There’s no need for me to put any spin on it, because Ryan’s email tells the story so well …

On Tuesday night the Lac qui Parle Valley basketball team held their year-end awards banquet. The team honored statistical leaders, all-conference players and West Central Tribune all-area players as well as the team’s individual awards. One of the awards was the MVP, which was given to junior guard and captain Alaysia Freetly.

Alaysia humbly walked to the front of all her teammates, the other players in our program and their parents and accepted the award with a firm handshake from head coach Ryan Giles. (On a side note, the firm handshake is something that is taught and practiced). Alaysia was chosen for the award by the coaching staff based on stats, leadership both on and off the court, her solid grades, and her involvement with our youth basketball program.

The banquet ended around 7:30 p.m. and just 12 hours later, Alaysia walked into coach Giles' classroom with the MVP plaque in hand. She wanted to talk. She demanded that coach Giles, who is an Industrial Technology teacher, take the MVP plaque back and cut it into thirds as she felt junior post Kaitlin Connor and eighth-grade point guard Kelsea Lund were just as deserving as she is. (Pictured here, left to right, are Kelsea, Alaysia and Kaitlin.) She went on to say that in some games they picked it up when she was struggling. She said she didn't sleep well thinking about it, talked with her parents and knew that cutting the plaque in thirds was the right thing to do because they deserve it!

Coach Giles put his skills to work, measured the six-inch wide plaque into thirds and used a hack saw to cut through the wood, team picture, plastic cover and engraved brass plate. A program meeting was called after school, where all girls from seventh through 12th grade gathered in coach Giles' classroom. Alaysia addressed the team and told them why the meeting was called. She explained, with the cut-up plaque in hand, that she felt Kaitlin and Kelsea were just as deserving as she is. She handed each of them a third of the plaque.

Emotions filled the room, tears of joy ran down the faces of both young and old players, others started cheering for the moment and everyone concluded with clapping for Alaysia and hugging her. The Lac qui Parle Valley girls basketball team found out that Alaysia was the MVP: the Most Valuable Person!

Alaysia has had a stellar high school career with her senior year coming up next! She also competes on our cross-country team and track and field team. In cross-country she is a four-time individual state qualifier and earned All-State honors last season as well as being the No. 1 runner for the LqPV/Dawson-Boyd team that placed second in Class 1A. On the basketball court Freetly has been a starter for two seasons, earning all-conference last year in the West Central and with the school moving to the Camden Conference she repeated as all-conference. She was also named to the West Central Tribune all-area team. Alaysia is closing in on 1,000 points for her career, which isn’t too bad for basketball being her third-best sport, stat-wise. In the spring, Alaysia is a among our state’s beat Class 1A milers. She qualified for the state meet the past two seasons and finished fifth last year representing LqPV/DB track and field team.

Academically, Alaysia takes all the rigorous courses that LqPV has to offer. Her GPA is 3.82. She is a member of our National Honor Society, youth coach for the cross-country, basketball and track and field elementary programs. Outside of school she is involved in her church youth group and recently was asked by the Minnesota Design Team to sit in on meetings to give a youth perspective on how to make a better Appleton, her hometown community!

I hope you are touched by this story as much as it has touched myself, the girls basketball team at LqPV, our school body and school community that serves many towns. Alaysia has heard from fellow competitors and coaches who have congratulated her on what she did. As her basketball coach and track coach I am so proud of her selfless act that demonstrates her true character. I've been fortunate to be part of a few conference, sub-section, section championships and a couple state championships, but what Alaysia did is what I'm most proud of.

Ryan Giles
Laq Qui Parle Valley High School
Industrial Technology Teacher
Head Girls Basketball Coach
Head Girls Track & Field Coach