How busy was Friday? Let me count the ways. And it was easy to do so simply by looking at the top of the MSHSL website. Streamed across the page were links to state softball results, state track results, brackets from the boys state tennis tournament, brackets for next week’s state lacrosse tournaments and day one tee times for next week’s state golf tournaments.
I’m no math expert, but it’s pretty clear that this current stretch of events is the busiest time of the year for postseason action in Minnesota. If some courageous soul wants to figure out how many individual athletes are involved in all these state tourneys, let me know what you come up with.
I spent Thursday in North Mankato at the softball tournament and drove home to the Twin Cities late Thursday evening. Friday began with an eye on the state track meet via social media and another eye on boys tennis. I drove back to the softball tournament, arrived in time for lunch – perfect timing! – and kept several eyes focused on all the events, including a handful of section championship games in baseball.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know how busy things are right now. But busy also means fun when the topic is high school activities.
This message was dispatched to me via Twitter at 8:30 a.m. Friday: “You gotta have the best gig in the world!”
My response consisted of two words: “ I concur.”
NEW ULM CATHEDRAL SAVES THE DAY FOR NEW ULM PUBLIC
Long before New Ulm defeated Kasson-Mantorville 1-0 in the Class 2A state championship softball game, things were looking a little dicey for the defending champion Eagles. Simply put, their bus broke down in the parking lot of a Mankato Hy-Vee grocery store. The team arrived at Caswell Park about a half hour behind schedule, went through a hurry-up warmup and played the game.
“It was a little rambunctious of a morning, but our girls are troupers,” said New Ulm coach Kristi Andersen Loose. “I’m crazy proud of them.”
The team had stopped at the Hy-Vee so the girls could get a bite at the buffet, but when they loaded the bus it wouldn’t start. Andersen Loose and her sister/assistant coach Danielle Andersen “immediately panicked,” the head coach said. “Dani said to me, ‘Do we have a backup plan for this?’ I said, ‘We will.’ ”
They tried to get a shuttle from their hotel. No good. Some cabs were called, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to put the girls into cabs with no adults along. The next call went to folks from New Ulm Cathedral, which had already finished the fourth-place game in Class 1A.
“It was a mass flurry of calling, and we finally got ahold of their coach (Bob Mertz), who is the bus driver as well,” Andersen Loose said. “They were eating at Big Dog (Sports Café). He said the bus was free and we happened to have an extra bus driver with us. We randomly flagged down a guy in the Hy-Vee parking and lot and said, ‘Can you please do us a favor?’ He gave our bus driver and our assistant coach a ride to Big Dog, they got on the Cathedral bus, we got here way late and did our thing.
“The moral of the whole thing is there is nothing that we can’t deal with as far as adjusting. I said, ‘We’ve adjusted to this, so we’ll be able to deal with anything that happens in the game.’ ”
How did I first learn of the Eagles’ predicament? Twitter, of course. Danielle Andersen alerted me with a Tweet after the team was safely en route to the park.
Andersen Loose said, “She asked me if she could Tweet about it and I said, 'Absolutely.' ”
--New Ulm’s victory over Kasson-Mantorville was decided when pitcher Sydney Schuck hit a one-out RBI single in the fifth inning. Schuck and Kasson-Mantorville pitcher Maddie Damon each allowed just five hits. Damon struck out nine.
--In Class 1A, Jenna Krell, Shelbi Swenson and Sam Ivers drove in runs as Blooming Prairie beat New Life Academy 3-1 in the title game. Swenson held New Life to four hits and struck out eight. New Life pitcher Valerie Hohol struck out nine.
--Elk River needed eight innings to beat Prior Lake for the 3A title. Elk River led 3-0 after four innings and the Lakers tied it in the fifth on a solo homer by Shayne Barton and two-run, two-out double by Libby Bingham. In the seventh, Barton hit a drive to center that was caught by Jayme Langbehn as she went over the wall to rob the home run. After the Elks took a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Courtney Jensen, Langbehn took away another possible home run in the bottom of the eighth, catching a drive by Sam Buhmann.
BOYS TENNIS CHAMPIONS
-- Junior Joey Richards of Minnetonka won the Class 2A singles state title and the Wayzata duo of senior Jack Graven and freshman Nick Beaty won the doubles title.
--In 1A, Blake sophomore Charlie Adams was the singles winner and the doubles title went to Blake senior Kai Skallerud and junior Taylor Parr.
TRACK: DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS
No state records were broken Friday, but there were some great performances. One of the most eye-opening came from Shakopee eighth-grader Tess Misgen, who led the prelims in the Class 2A girls 800 meters with a time of 2:10.46. The state record is legendary, because it’s the oldest on the books for girls. Blooming Prairie’s Jeanne Kruckeberg holds the mark of 2:08.24, set in 1984. Misgen will run the 800 again in Saturday’s finals, and then have four more years of high school running left.
Deidre Hahn of Warroad was a double champion, winning the girls 1A long jump and high jump. Maria Hauger of Shakopee won the 2A girls 3,200 for the third time and St. Francis’ Maggie Ewen won the 2A girls discus for the third time.
The meet will conclude Saturday.
SPORTSMANSHIP ON THE MEDAL STAND
Foley senior Charlie Lawrence won his second consecutive Class 1A state title in the 3,200-meter run Friday, but the rest of the medal winners also have plenty to be proud of … and it has nothing to do with what happened on the track.
Fourth-place finisher Ashenafi Hatte, a sophomore from Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul, was injured and unable to climb up to his spot on the podium for the awards ceremony. Runner-up Perham junior Keeghan Hurley helped Hatte get up to his spot, and Ashenafi leaned on sixth-place runner Isaac Overmyer, a sophomore from Park Rapids, while medals were given out and photos were taken. Hurley and Overmyer helped Ashefani get back down from the podium.
A nice message was posted on the MSHSL Facebook page after the softball tournament. Here’s an edited version…
“I just wanted to drop a note and say WOW. This was our first trip to state (New York Mills). From the time we got to the gate to the time we left, it was a well-run tournament. The facility was great, prices for concessions were reasonable. … Thanks for all you guys do to put this on for the girls. It has created many great memories for all.”
As New Ulm was facing Kasson-Mantorville in the 2A softball title game, the Eagles got some support from above. A single-engine plane circled the Caswell Park complex; written on the underside of the wings were “GO NU EAGLES.”
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 701
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 9,821
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn