John's Journal
Hutchinson advances to Class 4A title game with victory over Becker11/15/2012
Hutchinson kept its undefeated record intact, despite having to fight off a prolific aerial assault from Becker in the state semifinals. Read Luke Sleeper's story by clicking here
On Tap: Playoff Football, State Swim/Dive, Adapted Soccer11/14/2012
This is another exciting week, with fall sports rolling toward their conclusion and winter sports beginning to heat up. The main action this week revolves around three fall activies and their state tournaments.

State football semifinals will be held at the Metrodome, beginning Thursday morning and concluding Saturday night. We will have 14 games over those three days, with the winners moving on to the 31st annual Prep Bowl the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. This week’s football schedule is below.

The girls state swimming and diving championships will be held Thursday through Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Diving preliminaries will be held Thursday in both Class 1A and Class 2A, swimming prelims in both classes will be held Friday and finals will take place Saturday. Each day, Class 1A action will begin at noon and Class 2A at 6 p.m.

The adapted soccer state tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at Stillwater High School, with CI (Cognitive Impairments) and PI (Physical Impairments) divisions. Action will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and resume at 9 a.m. Saturday. The PI championship is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday and the CI championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday

In addition, many winter activities have already begun practicing. The list will be complete when boys basketball, wrestling and adapted floor hockey teams begin practicing next Monday and boys swimming and diving teams do the same on Nov. 25.

--All of this week’s football games as well as Saturday’s swimming and diving championships will be webcast by Updates will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and I’ll be Tweeting like a madman. Follow @MSHSLjohn

State Football Semifinal Schedule At The Metrodome

Thursday’s Games
11:30 a.m./Class 2A: BOLD (11-0) vs. Caledonia (11-0)
2 p.m./Class 2A: Moose Lake/Willow River (12-0) vs. Jackson County Central (10-2)
4:30 p.m./Class 4A: Becker (10-1) vs. Hutchinson (11-0)
7 p.m./Class 6A: Rosemount (7-4) vs. Lakeville North (10-1)

Friday’s Games
9 a.m./Nine-man: South Ridge (11-1) vs. Grand Meadow (11-1)
11:30 a.m./Nine-man: Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke (10-1) vs. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (11-0)
2 p.m./Class 5A: St. Thomas Academy (10-1) vs. Owatonna (11-0)
4:30 p.m./Class 4A: Princeton (8-4) vs. Holy Family Catholic (9-3)
7 p.m./Class 6A: Wayzata (9-1) vs. Eden Prairie (9-2)

Saturday’s Games
9 a.m./Class 1A: Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Bethlehem Academy (10-2)
11:30 a.m./Class 1A: Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (9-2)
2 p.m./Class 3A: Annandale (10-1) vs. Rochester Lourdes (12-0)
4:30 p.m./Class 3A: Perham (10-1) vs. Blue Earth Area (11-0)
7 p.m./Class 5A: Bemidji (9-3) vs. Totino-Grace (11-0)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 315
*Miles John has driven: 4,532
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Perham's Morris Named National Cross-Country Coach Of The Year11/13/2012
Here's news of an outstanding honor bestowed on a Minnesota coach. The story is courtesy of the East Otter Tail Focus and reporter Robert Williams...

PERHAM, Minn. – For the second time in three years, a Perham coach is receiving national attention.

Perham boys cross country coach Jeff Morris was named the National High School Coaches Association’s coach of the year after guiding the Yellowjackets to a Minnesota Class 1A state title last week and the Division II NHSCA Championship awarded by

The state title is the fourth for the boys' program under Morris' direction. The national title is the first of any kind for Perham-Dent Public School's athletic programs.

Twitter was abuzz with the announcement Wednesday evening.

"So incredibly blessed to have had six amazing years under (Coach Morris)," senior Mark Huebsch said. "He deserves the national coach of the year more than anyone."

"We have the best coach ever," senior Ciarrin Covington said.

Morris was one of five finalists for the award and joins Perham head basketball coach Dave Cresap in gaining a national coach of the year honor.

"We went out there and they were prepared and they did what they were very capable of doing," Morris said of his team at St. Olaf after the state meet. "It was just so much fun. I'm really excited."

Cresap won the award from in 2011 when the Perham boys basketball team won the state championship.

The announcement from was slated to be given in December, but the dominating performance from this year's team made an early announcement possible.

"We all felt comfortable with the choice," said co-founder David Taylor. "To take a school that size and make a ranking as high overall requires a level of coaching far above that of the norm or even the elite. It is anomalous so we submitted the name for boys cross country."

Perham's cross country title avenged a one-point loss in the 2011 final, a motivating factor for a team that avenged that defeat by running one of the top five races in state meet history. By way of Morris' direction, the team set out on a mission from November 2011 not to be denied this year's trophy.

"That one point, you know, that was on us all year long and now that we've beat 'em it just feels so good," senior Dalton Dahms said. "It was just so much fun being out there with all the guys."

Today (Thursday, Nov. 8) at 5 p.m. CST, on the NHSCA National High School Sports Hour, (link with this story) host Jeff Fisher talks with Morris about Perham's season. The show can be listened to live or in the archives (show #347).

According to Taylor, will feature Perham in an annual series beginning December 15 titled "the Program".

The intent is to have the seven varsity runners and coach share a bi-monthly individual message on their team and program.

"It should be fun and it will keep Perham's name recognition growing, as well as show other programs how to be successful," Taylor said.

The national championship trophy should arrive in Perham Friday and the banner next week.

A tentative date of Friday, Nov. 30 has been scheduled to present the trophy and banner during the Minnehaha Academy/Perham boys' basketball game.

In a bit of irony, Minnehaha Academy cross country is a rather heated rival with the Perham boys' team next to the annual battles with St. Cloud Cathedral.
Caledonia Football: A Hair-Raising Tournament Tradition11/10/2012
The Caledonia Warriors, who advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals with a big win Friday, are riding a 23-game winning streak, have won the last two state championships and four of the last five. What's their secret? Look at their hair. Read Brian Jerzak's story by clicking here
State Volleyball Championships: A Day For Veteran Coaches 11/10/2012
The state volleyball tournament, like all such events, can be a blur of games and whistles and boisterious fans and bands and overtimes and winning and losing. The volleyball tournament, which concluded its three-day run at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night, fit the mold perfectly. There were tremendous athletes on display, superior teamwork and strategy as six chess pieces moved around the court for each team, with the landscape changing after every point and the fans along for a wild ride.

Scenes that stood out for me included …

--Superstars Sarah Wilhite of Eden Prairie and Alyssa Goehner of Lakeville North – who have been club volleyball teammates for four years – embracing (photo) after North defeated Eden Prairie 3-1 in the Class 3A title match.

--Caledonia football players, easy to spot with their blond mohawk haircuts, cheering for the Warriors volleyball team, which fell to Marshall 3-1 in the 2A championship match. The football team won in the state quarterfinals on Friday night and will play in the Metrodome in a few days, and you know the volleyball players will be doing the cheering.

--The teams from Bethlehem Academy and Southwest Christian gathering together after their match in a large circle and giving thanks. At that moment, the fact that Bethlehem Academy had won the 1A title with a 3-1 victory was of little importance to either team.

A common denominator for each title-winning team was the coach. All three have been coaching for a long time and all three are members of the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. None of them take any credit for their team’s success, but we all know better than that.

“We had some kids who stepped up and made some big plays,” said Bethlehem Academy coach Franz Boelter, who has been leading the Cardinals for 21 years and has won six state titles since 2002 and finished second at state four times.

The words of the other winning coaches were similar, giving credit to their players for all their hard work and commitment. During the Class 2A postgame ceremony, Marshall coach Dan Westby received his medal and applauded (photo) the Tigers fans as he walked across the court. Westby, who has been the coach at Marshall since 2004 (and also coached for 10 years at Renville County West, winning the 1A state title in 2002), has led Marshall to state championships in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011 and now this year.

The “newcomer” among the winning coaches Saturday was no newcomer, but he is in his first year at Lakeville North. Walt Weaver coached at Apple Valley for 31 years, taking teams to 13 state tournaments and winning titles two titles before retiring six years ago. He took over at North this season when Steve Willingham became the coach at Lakeville South.

North won the state title two years ago under coach Milan Mader, who retired after that season. Willingham led the Panthers to a state runner-up finish last year and Weaver was at the helm for this year’s championship.

From day one this season, the first words out of Weaver’s mouth have been about how talented the North players. The second words out of his mouth were usually along the lines of “I hope I don’t mess them up too bad.”

Boelter is the most outwardly emotional of the three coaches. As the Cardinals received their gold medals, he hugged each of them with tears in his eyes. It’s not about the end result, but the journey that the team shares.

“I’m really happy for our seniors,” Boelter said outside the locker room a few minutes later. “You see them come out here, a lot of wet cheeks. Sometimes you can’t tell if we’re the winning locker room or the losing locker room.

“The underclassmen can’t understand why the upperclassmen are crying so much and the upperclassmen can’t understand why they’re not. It’s kind of a funny situation. It’s a great group of kids and I knew that before our season ever started.”

Weaver was a late hire at Lakeville North and missed the first four days of practice because he had booked a trip to Alaska before accepting the job. He is not certain if he will return next season.

“Right now, this minute, I might be back, I might not,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

ONE OF THE NEW coaches at the state tournament also knows the experience as a player. Cassie Wolpern is in her third year at Belle Plaine, which finished fourth in 2A.

As a player at Belle Plaine she became a national volleyball figure, playing at state in her sophomore and junior years before graduating in 2003. She was a four-time all-state selection and during her senior season she became the all-time national leader in career kills with 2,638; today she ranks sixth on that list. She still holds the Minnesota prep record for career kills, as well as the single-season records for kills and blocks.

Wolpern played one season at the University of San Diego before transferring to Minnesota State Mankato, where she graduated with a degree in finance. The Tigers’ appearance at state this year was their first since 2005


--My favorite pre-match moment: The Bethlehem Academy players in a tunnel that leads to the floor, standing in a circle with their arms around each other, swaying and singing quietly, sweetly.

--My favorite in-match moment: The Southwest Christian students chanting during timeouts: “Coach ‘em up, Greg! Coach ‘em up!” (The coach is Greg Sayuk).

--Tweet of the day: “Congrats to the (redacted) Vball team, consultation state champs!” The word is “consolation.” But I know what you meant; congrats indeed!

--We have turned the Xcel Energy Center over to Bruce Springsteen, who will perform there Sunday and Monday.

--Class 1A: Carly Masloski, Underwood; Riley Hanson, Megan Norby, Nevis; Shelby Kaster, Win-E-Mac; Megan Larson, Taylor Reiss, Minneota; Mackenzie Horkey, Katie Lubben, Southwest Christian; Jessie Mathews, Maddie Borwege, Bethlehem Academy.

--Class 2A: Afton Sobasky, St. Croix Lutheran; Brooke Anderson, Thief River Falls; Mariena Hayden, Belle Plaine; Macy Weller, Sauk Centre; Maria Fruechte, Emma Lange, Taylor Winjum, Caledonia; Kenzie Beekman, Hannah Bennett, Sydney Griffin, Marshall.

--Class 3A: Jessica Yost, Bemidji; Meghan Koop, Roseville; Carlee Hoppe, Shakopee; Lydia Dimke, Taylor Morgan, Blaine; Sarah Wilhite, Jamie Cairncross, Eden Prairie; Alyssa Goehner, Erica Handley, Sami Flattum, Lakeville North.

--Photo galleries from the state volleyball tournament can be found on the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 313
*Miles John has driven: 4,035
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn