John's Journal
Congratulations To Maggie Ewen, National Champion6/23/2013
Maggie Ewen, St. Francis High School class of 2013, was a four-time MSHSL state champion in the Class 2A discus and won three state titles in the shot put.

On June 22 she added a national junior championship, winning the discus title at the 2013 USA Track and Field national meet in Des Moines, Iowa. Her winning distance of 179 feet, 6 inches was a personal best.

Maggie has qualified to represent the United States in the Pan American Junior Championships in Medellin, Columbia, Aug. 23-25.
Pressbox View: John's Journal job even better than his old one6/19/2013
Editor's note: Rochester Post-Bulletin sports editor Craig Swalboski wrote about John's Journal this week. My thanks to Craig for taking the time to chat and writing a great story. Here is what he wrote ...


John Millea loved three decades of writing sports for newspapers.

But these last three years have been even better.

Millea writes the blog "John's Journal" for the Minnesota State High School League's Website.

"I'm a 30-year newspaper guy, 20 years at the Star Tribune," Millea said during a recent short break between spring sports state tournaments. "It's all I thought I'd ever do.

"With this job I don't need to be revitalized. Basically it's what I did with them (the Star Tribune)."

Feature stories, opinion pieces, news articles and short bits of information. His posts on subjects like Board of Directors meetings are far more interesting than a press release.

One thing has changed regarding the opinions.

"I used to often be critical of the High School League," he said. "One of my jokes has been that they hired me to shut me up.

"I'm almost entirely positive now. I work for the High School League now."

Talking about values

In the spring of 2010, MSHSL executive director Dave Stead developed an idea for a position of "media specialist," and in a conversation Millea said he said, "whether it's me or someone else, the High School League could use someone with more of a public face."

Stead was impressed with Millea's work at the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune and aware of the potential goodwill and pragmatic benefit of getting the League's message out to the public.

"I was looking for someone who could talk about the values of high school activities and who had a history with readers and our member schools," Stead recalled.

"I had talked with John several times at our tournaments and learned about his interests, and when the board agreed that the media position was a good idea, we sent out information about the application process, our staff conducted eight interviews with many good people, and ultimately we hired John.

"I'm really glad John chose to work for the MSHSL because his stories and his statewide connections support all the good things coaches, schools, and school communities choose to do for education-based athletic and fine arts programs. John is the best advocate for Minnesota schools I know of."

Millea said, "I never dreamed I'd be driving a car with the (MSHSL) shield on the side."

That car is recognized when Millea rolls into one of Minnesota's small towns (he has visited 725 schools or programs and piled up more than 10,000 miles on his car in the school year that just ended.)

"It's been well-received. People often notice when I'm at an event.

"My only frustration with the Star Tribune, and it was a minor one, was that over time it got more Twin Cities-centric.

"I'm just trying to spread the good news of what we do. And that's not only athletics. It's one-act plays, speech, debate…"

A recent entry — one of nearly 200 for the school year — was a feature on John Johnston, who is retiring after 50 seasons as golf coach at Becker.

"Frequently small-town newspapers ask to reprint our stories and there is no charge, we are happy to do it," Millea said.

Late last month, one of his posts was about an umpire who collapsed during a section tournament game and was revived by three spectators who knew medical procedures.

"I got an e-mail from someone who heard about it," Millea said. "I didn't even have to travel, I did that one over the phone. Those are great stories, the human stories."

Loves Twitter

Millea was laid off from his first newspaper job at Des Moines when the afternoon paper was discontinued in the early 1980s. He then headed up a two-man sports staff at Ottumwa, Iowa, then worked a few years out West before coming to Minnesota.

He covered some pro sports in Minneapolis, then settled into a high school coverage role full-time in 2000. In 2005, he wrote a Newsweek magazine "My Turn" column headlined "My Happy Adieu to Professional Sports," in which he said covering the high school sports is the best job in the business.

"A huge difference is I am on my own now," Millea said. "The original plan was for me to check with Dave Stead regarding my plans and early on we found there was no need to do that."

If Stead needs to reach Millea, he can always find him on Twitter.

"I'm like a smoker," Millea said. "The last thing I do before going to bed is check Twitter and instead of a cigarette, the first thing I do when I wake up is check Twitter."

He might jot off dozens of tweets on a busy game night, forwarding scores and highlights from all over the state.
BOLD’s Sandgren Survives Early Morning Nerves, Tosses One-Hitter6/17/2013
Nerves? Oh yes, there were plenty of nerves for the ballplayers who walked into Target Field for Monday’s baseball state championship games.

For BOLD pitcher Logan Sandgren, the nerves struck long before the first pitch of the Class 1A game at 10 a.m.

“I woke up at about 3:30, sat up for a little bit, had the butterflies. Eventually I went back to bed,” he said. “I got up at 6:30 and went to breakfast. I still had unbelievable nerves.”

Once the lefthanded junior took the mound against Osakis, however, the nerves were nowhere to be seen … even if Sandgren was still feeling them. He very nearly pitched a no-hitter for the third consecutive game, giving up one hit in BOLD’s 3-0 victory over the Silverstreaks.

“I was nervous the first couple innings,” Sandgren said. “I was wild, and I sort of calmed down, put the ball in there and let the defense do its job.”

He threw 112 pitches, walked five and struck out six. The only hit for Osakis was a liner to center field by Douglas Zimmel with one out in the sixth inning. Sandgren had previously thrown no-hitters in the Section 2 playoffs and the state quarterfinals. Three games, one hit. Not bad, kid.

“He was a little more wild, he walked a few more but he was dominant again,” BOLD coach Brian Kingery said. “He battled. The thing with Logan is he gets better when he gets in the stretch. So he might walk a guy or have people on base, but he’s tough when he gets in the stretch. He bears down and he takes care of business.”

Tyler Seehusen had two hits and drove in two runs for the Warriors, and Sawyer Tersteeg also had an RBI.

KASSON’S QUESTION MARK IS ANSWERED

Coming into this season, a big question for the baseball team from Kasson-Mantorville revolved around the pitchers mound. The KoMets’ hitting appeared to be solid from the get-go, but senior Joey Hyde was the only experienced pitcher returning.

All the questions were answered as the season went along, and the capper came with an 8-1 victory over Perham in Monday’s Class 2A state championship game. The KoMets finished with a record of 25-6 in winning their first state title, leaning on Hyde and fellow seniors Charlie Meyer and Riley Donovan.

By Kasson-Mantorville coach Broc Threinen’s reckoning, Donovan and Meyer combined to pitch only four innings during the 2012 season.

“We just had a lot of seniors throw last year,” the coach said. “We knew Charlie would be a good thrower. He had a good year last year in Legion and Riley did, too.”

Hyde gave up only five hits against Perham, striking out five and walking three while throwing 105 pitches. He also had one of the KoMets’ dozen hits; they scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to give Hyde a cushion.

“I was a little nervous but I felt confident that we would hit the ball and that I would throw strikes,” he said. “And we came out in the first inning and got three runs right away. It gave me a lot of confidence. I never looked back.”

BIG HITS AND A STATE TITLE

Mounds View put on the biggest hitting display of Championship Monday, knocking out 14 hits in its 8-0 victory over Rocori in the Class 3A title game. Sam Hentges nearly hit for the cycle, belting a single, double and triple and driving in two runs for the Mustangs.

“We had a lot of focus today coming to the ballpark,” he said. “We took BP, on the bus we were all focused, people swung the bats today. It was a good day.”

Max Knutson was the winning pitcher for Mounds View, striking out nine and walking one while throwing 90 pitches.

“One of our goals from the beginning of the season was to make it to state,” Hentges said. “And our coach and our captains were like, ‘Why not win state, right?’ ” We thought we had the talent, a good team with a ton of seniors. We thought we could.”

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS

CLASS 1A/ Danny Kneeland, Windom; Riley Bernsdorf, Floodwood; Austin Baab, Cory Loechler, Wabasha-Kellogg; Alex Kleve, St. Agnes; Nick Kupfer, New York Mills; Riley Kramer, Logan Sandgren, Tyler Seehusen, BOLD; Jordan Frederick, Kilar Zimmel, Drew Fearing, Osakis.

CLASS 2A/ Zach Muckenhirn, Delano; Skyler Wenninger, Luverne; Matt Elsenpeter, Michael Herd, Watertown-Mayer; Jeff Fasching, Steven Neutzling, St. Cloud Cathedral; Josh Still, Eric Brauch, Austin Erickson, Perham; Riley Donovan, Jayden Prigge, Joey Hyde, Kasson-Mantorville.

CLASS 3A/ Beau Fandel, Forest Lake; Zach Creighton, Lakeville North; Tyler Kelm, Logan Shore, Coon Rapids; Luke Pettersen, Jared Ridge, Minnetonka; Mac Mueller, Reed Pfannenstein, Rocori; Alex Abercrombie, Sam Hentges, Max Knutson, Charlie Callahan, Mounds View.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Kasson-Mantorville’s Hyde got a sneak peak at Target Field on Sunday when he watched the Twins play the Detroit Tigers. In addition to visualizing himself on the mound, he also got a behind-the-scenes tour. “Our coach has a friend who works here and he gave me a tour of all the stuff,” Joey said. “I didn’t have to worry about coming here and being overly excited. I had already seen it.”

--Classy move by Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who came down on the field from his booth on the press level to congratulate the state champion BOLD Warriors.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 747
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,440
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Growing The Game: Lacrosse State Tournaments Get Bigger, Better6/14/2013
As the high school lacrosse season came to an end Saturday with girls and boys state championship games at Chanhassen, there is a new vibe to the newish sport. As of this season and in the future, a full field of eight teams will qualify for each state tourney.

And this is a good, a very good thing, for lacrosse. The game has been played on the high school level in Minnesota since 1999, with the MSHSL sponsoring the state tournament beginning in 2007. The 2013 campaign saw the number of teams going to state increase from four to eight in both boys and girls.

Here’s an example of what that means: Until this year, the girls team from Burnsville knew it would probably run up against the teams from either Lakeville North or Lakeville South during section play. But the Blaze moved from Section 1 to Section 3 this spring, and they won their section championship before losing to Lakeville North 18-12 in the state quarterfinals. North lost to Blake 14-12 in Saturday's title game; it was the Bears' fourth straight state title.

“It definitely changed the aura, the feeling, the air around the situation,” said Burnsville coach Sarah Windhorst. “It kind of gave a little spark to the fire, where we didn’t have to beat Lakeville North or Lakeville South on top of everyone else. And that definitely inspired the team much more this year.”

The move to eight teams also brought another site into the fold. Boys and girls state tournament games have been held at Chanhassen High School for years, but Chaska High School also hosted games this year. The schools are in the same district and are only a few miles apart, making it easy for teams and fans.

That’s one more sign of how quickly the sport has grown – and continues to grow – in Minnesota. Another example: the boys team from Rochester Mayo qualified for state, marking the first time a non-metro team has done so.

“I think the more this game gets to different areas of the state, that will help,” said longtime Eden Prairie girls co-coach Judy Baxter. “That’s what we need, for more kids to get involved. It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing.”

Eden Prairie lost to Lakeville North in Thursday’s girls semifinals, which brought another change: From 2001 through last year, Eden Prairie and Blake had met in every girls lacrosse state championship game. In Saturday's boys title game, Eden Prairie beat Eastview 9-8.

Even though this year marked Burnsville’s first trip to state in girls lacrosse, Windhorst knows all about competing at that level. She was a member of hockey teams at Benilde-St. Margaret’s that played at state in 2002 and 2004.

“Any time you can go to the state tournament, it’s holy ground,” she said. “This is my third time being in a state tournament venue, and I take it very seriously and I pass that on to my players. It’s something you respect, it’s something you work for, because there are a bunch of other teams that would like to be here in your place.”

Eden Prairie defeated Champlin Park 18-0 in this year’s girls state quarterfinals, and Champlin Park is another team that might not have qualified for state under the four-team format. Champlin Park has had girls lacrosse for eight years, and this is its sixth year as a varsity sport.

“It’s an absolutely great experience to get out here and play Eden Prairie,” said Champlin Park coach Brian Finnvik. “Unfortunately we had them in the first game, but that’s all right. It’s an experience we’ve never had before. They’re all having fun with it.”

The Rebels’ fun factor was clear during halftime of their loss to Eden Prairie. The Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing” was played on the sound system at Chanhassen. The Champlin Park players – trailing by a score of 13-0 – joyfully sang along.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 741
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,392
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
State Baseball: Where No-Hitters Are The Theme Of Day One6/13/2013
JORDAN – From three Minnesota ballparks on a bluebird morning, the news was Tweeted and texted as the innings moved along in the opening three games of the three-class state baseball tournament.

“Coon Rapids pitcher Logan Shore has no-hitter thru 4 inn.” … “BOLD's Logan Sandgren doing same v Wabasha-Kellogg” … “St. Cloud Cathdral pitcher Jeff Fasching has a no-hitter through four.”

And then with a bang and a boom and a close but no cigar, the big news landed.

“Logan Shore with a NO NO in the State Tournament. Coon Rapids wins 2-0 over Wayzata in 3A.” … “Logan Sandgren throws a 6-inning (10-run rule) no-hitter as BOLD beats Wabasha-Kellogg 13-0 in 1A quarterfinals” … “State 2A baseball: Luverne's Gunnar Olson breaks up Fasching's no-hitter with a two-out double in the seventh.”

Wednesday’s downpours and lightning had left our state, to be replaced Thursday by a trio of aces. At Midway Stadium in St. Paul, Shore was king. At the Mini Met in Jordan (where I was stationed), Sandgren was on fire. And at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud, Fasching came oh so close.

Shore’s no-hitter only heightened his status as one of the top players in Minnesota; earlier in the week the senior was taken by the Twins in the 29th round of the amateur draft.

Sandgren (pictured), a junior lefthander, did what few pitchers on any level do. He tossed back-to-back no-hitters, the previous one coming against Waterville-Elysian-Waterville in the Section 2 tournament. Adding to the no-hitter mania, BOLD’s Riley Kramer had thrown a no-hitter in the game prior to that.

So yes, the BOLD Warriors have won their last three games on no-hitters.

“It was all about confidence, again,” said Sandgren, who struck out six and walked three. “We all had confidence coming into our last game, just like this. And with offense like that, 13 runs, hoo! That takes a load off my back. And when you’ve got zero errors up on that board, it’s nice.”

Sandgren was indeed helped by a strong hitting attack and solid defense, but he had a hand in the bat work, too, going 4-for-4 and driving in three runs.

“Logan has been dominant,” BOLD coach Brian Kingery said. “Today he pitched like a man. He dominated the strike zone with his fastball, he threw his curveball for strikes and he was able to keep them off balance. I think they only had two fly balls to right field and everything else was kept in the infield. And offensively he went 4-for-4. You can’t beat that kind of game for a kid, a junior who was fired up to go. He had a great day and I’m proud of him.”

Logan wanted to spread the credit, lauding his teammates’ hitting and glove work. He also said, “You can’t do it without your catcher, though. He’s calling the pitches.”

Catcher Trent Athmann deflected that credit right back to his buddy.

“That was all Logan,” Athmann said. “He threw a heck of a game. He knew what he wanted to throw the whole time and he executed on all of his pitches.

“He was hitting his spots, his pitches were perfect. His curveball had a nice bite, his changeup was really good today. He got quite a few strikeouts on his changeup today. He was just dominant.”

Final question for Sandgren: Have you pitched any other no-hitters?

His reply came with a big grin: “No, just these two.”

THE APPEAL OF CLASSIC BALLPARKS

On the scoreboard at the Mini Met in Jordan, balls, strikes and outs are revealed by bright electric buttons. But the score by innings, runs, hit and errors? Those numbers go up the old-fashioned way, with humans hanging the numbers on the beautiful old board. Oh, and there’s a rotary phone in the press box. The phone rang only once while I was there Thursday … it was a telemarketer.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--As the St. Agnes Aggies took the field for their 1A quarterfinal game against Windom, right fielder Roger Dickerson hollered, “It’s a great day for Aggies baseball!”

--The St. Agnes baseball team, which has no home field, rents its game fields and holds practices at a city playground. That’s not a great situation when the weather is great, but during this season of snow, rain, ice and cold, the Aggies had to endure a 15-day April stretch when they could not practice at all.

--A few weeks ago I wrote about Dan Wessel, an umpire who collapsed on the field during a softball game in Wadena. Dan died twice and was revived by first responders who were at the game. He has undergone triple bypass surgery and is recovering nicely. He lives in Osakis and was at the Mini Met on Thursday to watch the Osakis Bluestreaks play Blackduck. It was mighty nice to shake his hand.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 731
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 10,065
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn