John's Journal
Red Wing’s Schammel Is Among Elite Girls Hockey Company2/19/2014
Nicole Schammel is a senior hockey player from Red Wing who is in the final stages of a stellar high school career. She holds school records in career goals and points and has signed a letter of intent to play Division I college hockey at Minnesota State Mankato.

Schammel had three goals and three assists in the Winger’s 7-2 victory over New Ulm in Wednesday's Class 1A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. On the season she has 61 goals, more than any other player in the tournament field.

As her high school hockey career comes to its conclusion this week, she was surprised to learn Wednesday where she ranks among some of the game’s legendary players.

Natalie Darwitz, who played at Eagan from 1997 to 2000 before continuing her career at the University of Minnesota as well as in the Olympics, is the state’s all-time leader with 468 career points. Schammel is No. 2 on that list with 452 points.

On the career goal-scoring list, Darwitz is first with 316, Schammel has 269 and Krissy Wendell (Park Center, 1998-2000) is third at 219. Wendell also played for the Gophers and in the Olympics, so that’s some pretty good company.

“That’s pretty cool,” Schammel said. “Obviously those guys are great. It’s an honor.”

Schammel plays on one of the top lines in the state with senior Emily Stegora and junior Reagan Haley. That trio did all the scoring for the Wingers on Wednesday. Stegora will also play at Minnesota State Mankato and Haley has made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Duluth.

“They might go down as one of the highest-scoring trios in high school league history,” said Red Wing coach Scott Haley. “What’s neat is the synergy between those three.”

That synergy extends beyond the ice. Schammel and Stegora are doubles partners on the Wingers tennis team, and they reached the section semifinals last fall. Haley, Schammel and junior Kayla Oberding are members of the golf team, which placed fourth in the Class 3A state tournament last spring.

“It’s a pretty special group,” Haley said. “We’ve really enjoyed watching these three play.”

YOUTH MOVEMENT

If there is a younger group of girls at Xcel Energy Center during this week’s state tournament than the Blake hockey team, they’re probably selling Girl Scout cookies. Yes, the Bears are the defending Class 1A state champions, but they also have a roster packed with very young players.

Eight players graduated from last year’s Blake team, and nine of the 20 players on the 2014 state tournament roster are in seventh, eighth or ninth grade. The Bears’ class breakdown goes like this: three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen, three eighth-graders, two seventh-graders.

“I’m happy with the poise they’ve exhibited all season,” coach Shawn Reid said after the Bears defeated Alexandria 3-2 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. “We have some really good poise on this team. The younger players are playing above their maturity level, which is phenomenal to see.”

Blake’s goals Thursday were scored by sophomores Carly Bullock (two goals) and Sylvie Wallin. One of Bullock’s goals was unassisted, and the assists on the other two Bears goals were by junior Lilia Everson and ninth-grader Sarah Levitt.

MULTI-TASKING AT ITS FINEST

Both of Alexandria’s goals against Blake were scored by senior Melissa Drown, who does much more than play hockey. Melissa not only is a captain on the hockey team, she is president of her school’s A Club, president of the Liberty Livewires 4H club, student council vice president, member of the National Honor Society and has a 3.8 GPA while taking advanced and college-level classes.

EVENING ACTION

--In a game between teams making their first appearances at the state tourney, top-seeded East Grand Forks defeated Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 8-1. Haley Mack had four goals for the Green Wave and Alexa Mack had one goal and three assists. Kennedy Sommerfeld had the goal for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato.

--St. Paul United defeated Proctor/Hermantown 5-2 in the day’s last quarterfinal. Joie Phelps had two goals for St. Paul United, which was outshot 26-21 by the Mirage. St. Paul United is a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--The best scene in the formal postgame interview room: While East Grand Forks coach Jim Scanlan and players Haley Mack and Coco Piche sat at a table in front of the gathered media, the rest of the Green Wave players sat with the reporters. As the session ended, the players applauded.

--Blake is the defending champion, and two of the key scorers in the Bears’ 2013 state title lineup returned this season .. and they are not yet seniors. Bullock and Karlie Lund (now a junior) were both named to the Class 1A all-tournament team a year ago. Bullock had four goals and two assists in three games at state last time and Lund finished with five goals (including a hat trick in the state semifinals) and five assists.

The Bears are playing without Lund at state, however. Coach Shawn Reid had some fun when talking about her status, jokingly using an approach common in the NHL: “Karlie is questionable with an upper body injury (end of joke). She has a broken collarbone, she’s out.”

--Blake is seeking not only its second consecutive state championship but its fifth overall. The Bears won titles in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2013.

--New Ulm (which is a cooperative team involving New Ulm, New Ulm Cathedral, Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s) is making its sixth consecutive appearance at state.

--Top-seeded East Grand Forks is playing at state for the first time. The Green Wave met Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato is Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game. Wednesday’s action also was the first at state for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, as well as for St. Paul United ( a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School), which met Proctor-Hermantown in the day’s final game.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 315
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,292
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Dance Season Closes With A Terrific State Tournament2/15/2014
The high school dance season culminated in grand fashion over the weekend, with 36 teams advancing to the state tourney in the Jazz division and 36 more advancing in High Kick. After the first round in each division, six of the 12 teams in each class advanced to the championship round at Target Center.

In Jazz, here are the championship results…

Class 1A
1. Yellow Medicine East, Granite Falls
2. Marshall School, Duluth
3. Aitkin
4. Frazee
5. Rockford
6. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton

Class 2A
1. Benilde-St. Margaret’s, St. Louis Park
2. Totino-Grace, Fridley
3. Sartell-St. Stephen
4. Simley, Inver Grove Heights
5. South St. Paul
6. Mound Westonka

Class 3A
1. Eastview
2. Wayzata
3. Maple Grove
4. Chaska
5. St. Cloud Tech
6. Brainerd

And in High Kick, the results are …

Class 1A
1. Aitkin
2. Yellow Medicine East
3. Frazee
4. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd
5. Montevideo
6. Pelican Rapids

Class 2A
1. Totino-Grace
2. Sartell-St. Stephen
3. Cannon Falls
4. Austin
5. St. Cloud Cathedral
6. Holy Angels

Class 3A
1. Eastview
2. Chaska
3. Faribault
4. Eden Prairie
5. Wayzata
6. St. Cloud Tech

Congratulations to all the teams that competed at state!

--To see outstanding photo galleries by Minnesota Prep Photo from the state dance tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 307
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,252
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
The Winter Ski Season Is Complete As Nordic Champs Crowned2/13/2014
BIWABIK -- Thursday brought a fresh few inches of snow to Giants Ridge, where the state Nordic ski championships were held. The snow may have slowed some of the athletes but the day went off without a hitch.

The Wayzata girls captured their second consecutive team title with three individuals finishing among the top 10. Placing second was Armstrong, with Stillwater third.

The girls individual champion was Irondale senior Mattie Watts, followed by Burnsville senior Vivian Hett and Wayzata senior Alayna Sonnesyn.

The boys team champion was Forest Lake, followed by St. Louis Park and Duluth East.

Topping the boys individuals was Bloomington Jefferson sophomore Zak Ketterson, followed by Mounds Park Academy senior Nick Gardner and Forest Lake junior Leo Hipp.

All skiers raced a 5k freestyle course in the morning and a 5k classical event in the afternoon.

Congratulations to all the skiers!
Hello From Giants Ridge And The State Ski Championships2/12/2014
BIWABIK – The spotlight turns to skiing for two days, as Giants Ridge hosts the state championships of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Alpine racing will be the focus Wednesday and Nordic takes over Thursday.

While en route to Biwabik, I spent Tuesday evening at historic Roels Gymnasium in Chisholm. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed Tuesday as “Bob McDonald Day” in Minnesota, and the Chisholm Bluestreaks played host to the Hibbing Bluejackets, who are coached by Bob’s son Joel.

It was a whale of a ballgame, with Chisholm winning 79-69 in three overtimes; it was the first triple-overtime game in Bob McDonald’s nearly six-decade coaching career.

Before the game, Tony Sertich, former state representative and current commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (he also played basketball at Chisholm), presented Bob McDonald with the proclamation signed by Gov. Dayton. The governor was unable to attend because he underwent hip surgery this week.

In addition, Joel McDonald presented his father with a ball commemorating the 100th game Bob McDonald has coached against Hibbing. Bob McDonald has a 48-52 career record vs. Hibbing. In 34 meetings between father and son, Bob has won 19 games to Joel's 15.

Now we turn our attention to the state ski championships. To receive updates and photos in real time, follow me on Twittter; I’m @MSHSLjohn

Later in the week I plan to attend the 66th annual state one-act play festival on Friday at St. Catherine University's O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul (the event begins Thursday), and on Saturday I will attend the second day of the state dance team tournament at Target Center.

This week means a lot of miles, but even more smiles!

--To see photos from the Hibbing-Chisholm game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 283
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,689
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Congratulations To The 2014 Alpine Ski State Champions2/12/2014
BIWABIK -- Wednesday was a spectacular day for the state Alpine skiing championships, offering wonderful conditions for skiers and fans alike.

Louis Nguyen of Chanhassen is a ninth-grader who competed at state for the third time, and he is now a state champion. Nguyen placed sixth at state as a seventh-grader and seventh as an eighth-grader, and on Wednesday he captured the boys individual championship. Finishing second was Keillen O'Brien, a senior from Cretin-Derham Hall. Third was Taylor Lindy, a senior from Centennial.

On the girls side, senior Megan Greiner of Minnetonka won the individual title, followed by teammate and fellow senior Erin Olejnik in second and Hermantown junior Madison Danelski in third.

Minnetonka also won the girls team title, followed by Blake and Minneapolis Southwest. The boys title went to Blake, with Forest Lake second and Orono third.

Nordic skiers will take the spotlight Thursday, with girls and boys state titles decided among individuals as well as teams.