John's Journal
State Volleyball: The Miracle Of Martin County West 11/9/2013
The volleyball season ended for Martin County West in Saturday’s Class 1A fifth-place match at the state tournament. The Mavericks – whose school is in Sherburn, between Fairmont and Jackson near the Iowa border – lost to Nevis at Xcel Energy Center, but the 2013 season has a lot more meaning to the team than that.

The way it started is what everyone will long remember. On the afternoon of the season’s first scheduled match on Aug. 26, junior outside hitter Taryn Tumbleson, -- beginning her third season as a member of the starting lineup -- was driving from the family farm to the school, where she would catch the bus for the season opener at Fairmont.

She never made it. Taryn’s Ford Explorer went off the gravel road and rolled over several times. When I asked about her injuries this week, she said, “Eleven broken ribs, a compression fracture in my back, a few other minor injuries, a real bad concussion.”

The match was cancelled. Taryn (pictured here with her teammates during pregame introductions at state) was airlifted from the Fairmont hospital to a hospital in Rochester, where she was in intensive care. It’s no wonder that Taryn did not play at all this season, but her simple presence, the fact that she was able to rejoin the team and watch from the bench – even if she wasn’t wearing her number 12 jersey – was something to behold.

“She’s a walking miracle,” said Mavericks coach Mary Sussenguth. “And miracle is an understatement.”

When Taryn was late catching the bus, the Mavericks began making phone calls. “Her mom had just gotten to the scene and was pretty panicky,” Sussenguth said. “They didn’t know what was going to happen. They really didn’t.”

Taryn still wears a back brace, but not full-time. She was in street clothes at the state tournament, introduced with her teammates before each match and watching from the bench.

“It’s been really humbling for me,” she said. “Just the change of view, getting to watch my teammates play, trying to help them out while I’m not on the court. But it’s definitely a different view from the bench. And I wish I was out there, but I’m so glad that I’m here and that I can be on the bench.”

She hopes to resume her basketball career this winter, and by spring she should be back on the Mavericks track team. Last spring she teamed with Hailey Holtz, Haley Jensen and Libbie Lange to finish second at state in the Class 1A 4x100 relay.

“She’s been our motivator,” Sussenguth said. “She’s been the reason for us to keep going and being strong. We have a team word every year, and it was 'strong' this year. It could not have been more fitting.

“She works so hard and she’s incredibly athletic. She had a back injury during her freshman year and we had to try and limit her then. And she’s tough to limit. The last two weeks she’s gotten to practice a little more, and she’s still got it. We’ve told her, ‘You’re going to come back, step in and not miss a beat.’”

Taryn’s accident, survival and recovery have provided many lessons for the Mavericks, Sussenguth said.

“She brings that focus and that intensity, and we missed that right away. We told the girls, ‘This is a great lesson to learn in life. Things are going to happen and we’ve got to keep moving forward.’ ”

Martin County West has now played at state two years in a row. If all goes well next season, the Mavericks will be back at state and Taryn Tumbleson will be back on the court.

“Next year, definitely,” she said with a smile.


CLASS 1A/ Southwest Christian beat Fillmore Central 25-22, 25-17, 25-16
The Stars, who were state runners-up last year, won their first state title in their third trip to the tournament. Fillmore Central had defeated Southwest Christin 2-0 in a tournament during the regular season, but the Stars were nearly unstoppable Saturday.

Mackenzie Horkey led Southwest Christian with 17 kills, 22 digs and three ace serves, and Rachel Carlin had 34 assists. Fillmore Central’s Taylor Case had nine kills and 17 digs, and Morgan Malley had19 assists and eight digs.

CLASS 2A/ Marshall beat Hill-Murray 25-13, 25-19, 25-16

The Tigers won their third straight state title and finished the tournament with three 3-0 victories. The state record for consecutive titles is five by Armstrong from 1980 to 1984. Marshall is the fourth team to win three in a row (Tracy-Milroy 1994-96, Central Minnesota Christian 1998-2000 and Shakopee 2007-09.

In the title match, Marshall’s Kenzie Beekman had 25 kills and 15 digs, Sydney Griffin had 25 assists, and Hannah Bennettt (22), Stephanie Baker (13) and Rachel Sanow (11) combined for 46 digs). Hill-Murray’s Marisa Franco had 23 digs and Hannah Angeli had 15 assists.

CLASS 3A/ Eagan beats Delano 25-13, 27-29, 26-24, 21-25, 15-12
In a back-and-forth battle that went to the wire, the Wildcats won their fifth state title and first since 2003. Delano was the tournament’s giant killer, coming to state as the smallest among 96 schools in 3A. Eagan’s Taylr McNeil (36) and Brie Orr (20) combined for 56 kills, while Orr also had 39 assists and 15 digs. For Delano, Shelby Seurer had 26 kills and 19 digs, Kristin Kreklow had 57 assists and Alex Wittinger had 18 kills.


1A/ Minneota beat Win-E-Mac 26-24, 25-11, 25-8

2A/ Fergus Falls beat Kasson-Mantorville 25-15, 26-28, 25-22, 25-23

3A/ Osseo beat Eden Prairie 25-20, 25-14, 28-26


1A/ Nevis beat Martin County West 25-19, 26-24, 25-13

2A/ Belle Plaine beat Dassel-Cokato 25-16, 25-8, 25-12

3A/ Rochester Mayo beat Moorhead 25-22, 25-15, 25-22


1A/ Megan Norby, Nevis; Shelby Kaster, Win-E-Mac; Taylor Reiss, Megan Larson, Minneota; Mackenzie Horkey, Abby Palkert, Rachel Carlin, Southwest Christian; Taylor Case, Morgan Malley, Tori Peterson, Fillmore Central.

2A/ Mariena Hayden, Belle Plaine; Brooklyn Lewis, Hailey Busch, Kasson-Mantorville; Briana Rasmussen, Laura Gaustad, Fergus Falls; Kennedy Fabian, Rachel Kueppers, Hill-Murray; Sydney Griffin, Kenzie Beekman, Hannah Bennett, Marshall.

3A/ Anna Winter, Rochester Mayo; Ashley Brueggeman, Eden Prairie; Megan Pekarek, Christina Boe, Osseo; Kristin Kreklow, Shelby Seurer, Alex Wittinger, Delano; Taylr McNeil, Kelly Madison, Brie Orr, Eagan.

--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 15 for the state volleyball tournament, 22 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,828
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Mother And Daughter Reunion At State Volleyball11/8/2013
Last Saturday, in gymnasiums 135 miles apart, two volleyball teams won section championships and qualified for this week’s state tournament in St. Paul. Ada-Borup won the Class 1A Section 6 crown with a 3-2 victory over Henning in Glenwood and Delano won the 3A Section 2 title with a 3-2 victory over Chaska at Chanhassen.

Those results ensured that a family with roots in Ada would be having a reunion this weekend.

For 34 years, Ada-Borup has been coached by Ruth Hayden. This is the seventh time the Cougars have played at state. Rebecce Rue (pictured) has been the Delano coach for seven years, and this is the fifth time Rue has brought the Tigers to state.

Key point: Ruth is Rebecca’s mother. This tournament marks the third time they have both brought their teams to state.

Ada-Borup lost to Fillmore Central in Friday’s 1A quarterfinals, then fell to Nevis in Friday’s consolation bracket. Delano defeated Grand Rapids and Osseo to advance to Saturday’s 3A championship match against Eagan.

“We’re pretty pumped,” said Rue, who graduated from Ada-Borup in 1997. She played college volleyball at Mayville State in North Dakota; because high school volleyball was a winter sport in North Dakota at that time, Rebecca also worked as an assistant coach at May-Port Clifford Galesburg High School in Mayville, where the team won three state titles during her four years there.

“I also got to come to state as a player and I know how hard the road is to get here,” Rue said. “The fact that we both get teams here, and this is the third time that’s happened, I don’t take it for granted.

“I take it in and enjoy every moment and I feel blessed. I’m so proud of my mom, too. Without what she’s instilled in me, I wouldn’t be here.”

Delano’s enrollment is 724, making it the smallest school playing 3A volleyball. Eagan is the 13th largest school in the state with an enrollment of 2,043.

If third-seeded Delano can defeat top-seeded Eagan, it would be the first state championship for the first family of volleyball.


There are moments, although not many, when Eagan volleyball player Brie Orr will say something that leaves her teammates smiling and shaking their heads a little.

Taylr McNeil, the Wildcats’ senior star, put it this way: “She has her moments, when she’ll say something and we’ll be like, ‘You’re such a freshman.’ ”

The key word in that statement is “freshman.” Orr (pictured) is a 5-foot-10 setter and outside hitter who works wonders all over the court for top-seeded Eagan, and she is one of the reasons the Wildcats will play in Saturday’s Class 3A state championship match. And she is a 14-year-old ninth-grader.

“Isn’t she something?,” said Eagan coach Kathy Gillen-Melville after the Wildcats beat Eden Prairie 3-1 in Friday’s semifinals at Xcel Energy Center. Orr had 13 kills, 16 set assists and 22 digs, numerical proof of what she does at the net, in the back row and in setting up her teammates.

“She is one of those kids who if she makes a mistake she doesn’t get rattled,” Gillen-Melville said. “When she’s setting she creates unbelievable openings for our hitters. She puts the ball somewhere where you never thought the ball could be sent to, and it’s right there for our hitters. It took a few weeks for that chemistry between setter and hitters to evolve, but once it evolved we knew we had something special with her.”

This is actually Orr’s third year on a varsity team. She was at Eastview as a seventh- and eighth-grader before transferring to Eagan; both schools are in the same district.

“It’s really exciting,” Orr said of the season so far. “It’s great to not have our season end before it should have. This is really fun to be part of this team.”

Gillen-Melville spoke with Orr early on about adding a role as outside hitter to her duties as setter.

“I talked to her at the beginning of the season and asked what she thought. She said, ‘Yep, I’ll do it. Whatever you want, coach.’ And that’s the beauty of Brie. You can’t beat that.”


Rochester Mayo put on an inspired comeback against Grand Rapids in the 3A consolation bracket. After the Thunderhawks won the first two games, Mayo won the third game by a score of 40-38 and then swept the next two games to advance to the fifth-place match against Moorhead.


--Marshall’s roster includes three pairs of sisters: Sydney and Mallory Griffin, Lexi and Morgan Saugstad, and Haley and Hannah Bennett.

--The 24 state tournament teams combine for a grand total of 15 players named Taylor (or Taylr, in the case of Eagan’s Taylr McNeil). Kasson-Mantorville leads the way with three Taylors: Taylor Wiebke, Taylor Busch and Taylor Miller.


Class 1A/ Fillmore Central vs. Southwest Christian at 1 p.m.

Class 2A/ Marshall vs. Hill-Murray at 3 p.m.

Class 3A/ Eagan vs. Delano at 5 p.m.


Class 3A
Eagan beat Eden Prairie 25-21, 19-25, 25-17, 25-13
Delano beat Osseo 25-9, 21-25, 25-15, 25-21

Class 2A
Marshall beat Fergus Falls 25-15, 25-14, 25-7
Hill-Murray beat Kasson-Mantorville 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 18-25, 15-10

Class 1A
Fillmore Central beat Win-E-Mac 25-13, 27-25, 22-25, 27-25
Southwest Christian beat Minneota 25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-10

--To see photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament, go to the MSHSL Faceboook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 7 for the state volleyball tournament, 18 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,788
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
First-Time Nerves … And State Tourney Success11/7/2013
Fillmore Central came into the Class 1A state volleyball tournament riding high, with a record of 33-2, coming off the championship of always-strong Section 1 and receiving the No. 1 seed at state.

That didn’t mean the Falcons -- and their coach -- weren’t nervous when they met Ada-Borup in Thursday’s quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. Ada-Borup won the first game 25-19 before the Falcons rallied to win the next three games 25-16, 25-14, 25-2. Fillmore Central will meet Win-E-Mac in Friday’s semifinals at 1 p.m.

“We got off to a slow start, we were nervous,” said coach Denise Case, who admitted she felt some nerves, too. “Yes, I was nervous a little bit. I’m still nervous, I think.”

First-time teams at state volleyball often have issues in becoming accustomed to the Xcel Energy Center’s sky-high black ceiling and wide-open spaces. The Falcons practiced Thursday morning in the gym at Concordia University in St. Paul, but there’s really no way to replicate the Xcel Center’s vastness.

Fillmore Central’s only two losses this season were against Class 3A Rosemount. The Falcons were 26-6 last season and 24-6-1 two years ago, and everyone was expecting big things this season … and beyond. The Falcons have only two seniors on the roster, including Case’s daughter Taylor, who had 17 kills and 25 digs against Ada-Borup.

There’s a third member of the family on the bench; Denise’s daughter Ashley, 27, is an assistant coach.

“We pretty much talk a lot of volleyball at home,” Denise said.


Thursday was a great day for music at the volleyball tournament. The Eagan band has a fantastic sound, the Roseville band played a great rendition of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” and the world-famous Ada-Borup band brought electricity in more way than one. Mix in the bands from Fergus Falls, Mora, Marshall, etc., and it was fantastic.

Fillmore Central, which is playing at a girls state tournament for the first time in any sport, not only brought enthusiastic fans but a fabulous band. Think about this: Fillmore Central has a high school enrollment of 131, and 96 of those students are in the band program. Thursday’s band was a bit smaller, however, because all but one of the Falcons volleyball players also are musicians. Oh, and the school is located in the town of Harmony. Perfect.


During a timeout, Eagan students chanted: “We love physics!” Assistant coach Steve Elliott teaches, yes, physics.


Sparty, the big dude who represents the Rochester Mayo Spartans, is hard to beat.


After Eagan swept Moorhead 3-0 in Class 3A beind 19 kills by the 6-foot-1Taylr McNeil, Fargo-Moorhead Forum scribe Chris Murphy issued this Tweet:

“That'll do it. Top-seeded Eagan moves on to the semifinals with a 25-13, 25-16, 25-14 sweep of Moorhead.Taylr McNeil is unfair.”


Class 3A
Eagan beat Moorhead 25-13, 25-16, 25-14
Eden Prairie beat 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 26-24
Osseo beat Rochester Mayo 27-25, 25-19, 25-18
Delano beat Grand Rapids 25-18, 25-14, 25-14

Class 2A
Marshall beat Mora 25-9, 25-7, 25-18
Fergus Falls beat Belle Plaine 26-28, 25-19, 25-14, 19-25, 15-9
Kasson-Mantorville beat Maple Lake 25-20, 25-17, 25-21
Hill-Murray beat Dassel-Cokato 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 25-22

Class 1A
Fillmore Central beat Ada-Borup 19-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21
Win-E-Mac beat Nevis 25-21, 25-20, 25-20
Minneota beat Carlton 25-21, 25-8, 25-18
Southwest Christian beat Martin County West 25-18, 25-16, 25-9

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 4 for the state volleyball tournament, 15 for the fall state tournaments.


*Schools/teams John has visited:155
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 4,740
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Congrats to Cannon Falls' Emi Trost, Old Dutch athlete of the week11/6/2013
Emi Trost, a senior at Cannon Falls High School, capped an outstanding high school cross-country career by winning the Class 1A state championship Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Emi, who had finished second at state the previous two years, won with a decisive 10-second margin of victory. It was her fifth appearance at the state cross-country meet.

In addition to her success in cross-country, Emi also was a state champion in the 800-meter run at last spring’s state track meet and runner-up in the 1,600 meters.

Emi has a 3.97 grade-point average and has been named academic all-state in track and cross-country. She has been involved in 4H for 10 years and has held leadership positions such as treasurer, Cloverbud leader and vice president. She also is very active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where she currently is a Youth Leader, and she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Cannon Falls pool.

Congratulations to Emi Trost for being this week's Old Dutch High School Athlete of the week!
Gearing Up For State Football Quarterfinals11/6/2013
The state football playoffs have arrived. In all seven classes, from nine-man to 6A, quarterfinal games will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. See the schedule and more by clicking here.