John's Journal
Faster, Farther: Girls Track Record Holders Strive For More4/18/2012
The state track record book is a document that lists 36 events – 18 for girls, 18 for boys – and the all-time bests cover a span of 39 years. The oldest record is in the boys high jump, where Rochester John Marshall’s Rod Raver cleared 7 feet, 1 inch way back in 1973 (Chaska’s Jon Markuson tied that record in 1993).

Raver’s mark is the only current record that was set in the 1970s. Six marks were set in the 1980s, including the oldest on the girls side: Blooming Prairie’s Jeanne Kruckeberg set the 800-meter record of 2:08.24 in 1984. Two records were set in the 1990s and 28 have been established since 2000.

Now imagine all those outstanding athletes, spanning all those years, and ponder the odds of two state record holders competing at the same place at the same time. It happened at last year’s state meet and it happened Tuesday. That’s because the two newest records were set in 2010 and 2011, and the holders of those records won’t finish their high school careers until 2013.

Jessica January of Richfield and Maggie Ewen of St. Francis, who have barely reached the halfway point of their high school years, competed at Tuesday’s Heidi Kunz Invitational at Mahtomedi. The two juniors won their events, which is no surprise to anyone.

January set the state record in the 100-meter hurdles when she was a freshman, and one of her goals is to break her record of 14.33 seconds. Ewen set a new state mark of 166 feet, 8 inches in the discus last season. January easily won the hurdles Tuesday with a time of 15.38 and Ewen threw the discus 159-5 while also winning the shot put.

Ewen (right) won the Class 2A discus state championship as a freshman and won both the discus and shot put as a sophomore. January also holds three state title titles, winning the 100 and 300 hurdles as a freshman and the 100 hurdles as a sophomore.

Their goals are similar: Beat their own records.

“Definitely,” January said. “I’ve just got to keep working at it.”

Ewen said, “My goals are just to throw an inch farther than my best.”

Faster, farther. That sums up January and Ewen. One runs and jumps and the other spins and throws. They told me Tuesday that they have never met, but it was clear that they have great respect for each other. Both of them wore souvenir state tourney pullovers at Mahtomedi; January wore a grey basketball pullover and Ewen was in a black pullover from state track.

January is also a talented basketball player and plans to play that sport in college. In fact, she is splitting her spring sports time between track and AAU basketball; after running the 100 hurdles and the 4x200 relay Tuesday, she left the track meet for basketball practice.

She plans to concentrate on the 100 hurdles this spring while possibly also running the 300 hurdles. She has ranked among the state's best in the long jump but said she isn’t competing in any jumping events this year.

January (left) competed at state as a seventh-grader and was a state runner-up in the 100 hurdles as an eighth-grader. Ewen’s first trip to state came when she was in eighth grade; she placed third in the discus. Now in their fourth year as varsity track athletes, the duo knows how important all that experience is.

“I think it helps a lot,” January said. “I don’t think it would be the difference between winning and losing, but definitely the nerves and just being comfortable with the environment, it helps you stay relaxed.”

Tuesday’s meet was a bit on the chilly side, but Ewen said she prefers competing when the weather is colder rather than warmer.

“I really like the cold,” she said, smiling. “I’m not sure why, but I like it more when it’s colder instead of hot.”

Ewen has the state’s best performances this spring in her two events, with season-bests of 162-1 in the discus and 48-6 in the shot put (the state record in that event is 52-4 ¾, set by Lakeville’s Liz Podominick in 2003).

January’s 15.38 in the 100 hurdles Tuesday was her best so far this season. Farmington junior Nadia Lorencz has the fastest reported time in the state in 2012, running a 15.21.

January is starting to think about college, listing Stanford, DePaul and Miami as her top three choices. Ewen has not yet settled on a list of possible colleges.

When I told Ewen that January would play basketball in college, Maggie said, “That’s a lot of track talent.”

She was talking about Jessica, but that statement stands for herself as well.

--To see a photo gallery of Ewen and January, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 501
*Miles John has driven: 7,130

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Location Change For All-Star Football Game4/16/2012
Here's a press release from the Minnesota Football Coaches Association ...

A location change for the 39th annual Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game is being announced by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association (MFCA). The 2012 All-Star Football Game will be held on Saturday June 30 at Husky Stadium on the campus St. Cloud State University, instead of at TCF Bank Stadium, as was previously scheduled and announced by the MFCA. The kick-off will be at 1:00 PM, making this the first afternoon All-Star Football Game since 2004.

Reason for the location change:

The NCAA passed legislation in September 2011 that prohibits All-Star games and other similar events from being held on the campuses of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS - Division I) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS - Division IAA) schools.

The specific NCAA bylaw is (13.11.1.10) is re-printed below:

13.11.1.10 Non-scholastic Practice or Competition -- Football. An institution [including any institutional department (e.g., athletics, recreational/intramural)] shall not host, sponsor or conduct a non-scholastic football practice or competition (e.g., seven-on-seven events) in which football prospective student-athletes participate on its campus or at an off-campus facility regularly used by the institution for practice and/or competition by any of the institution's sport programs.

The MFCA and the University of Minnesota attempted to get a waiver from the NCAA, but the waiver was not granted. The University of Minnesota Athletic Department officially notified the MFCA of the decision on April 2. With the above NCAA bylaw in place, the University of Minnesota is not permitted to host the 2012 Minnesota All Star Football game at TCF Bank Stadium.

It should be noted that the above NCAA bylaw will also impact high school all-star football games in other states where FBS or FCS facilities have been used (Michigan and North Dakota have announced location changes for their respective All-Star Football games).

NCAA bylaw 13.11.1.10 does not impact NCAA Division II or Division III campuses or facilities. This allows the MFCA to return the All-Star Football Game to Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State University, an NCAA Division II school, where the game was successfully held from 2005 to 2010.

In a statement to the MFCA Executive Committee and conference representatives, All-Star Game Director Dave Fritze said this about Husky Stadium: “prior to last year’s game at TCF Bank Stadium, the past several All-Star Games were at St. Cloud’s beautiful stadium. It is an excellent, fan friendly facility. The location is very convenient as it is only minutes from our new practice site at St. John’s University.”

The MFCA looks forward to a successful 2012 Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game at St. Cloud State University.

Note: because of the location change to St. Cloud State University, the second annual All-Star Football Media Day will not be held in 2012. The Media Day event had been scheduled for Wednesday June 27 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Rainy Days And Mondays...4/16/2012
It's another cold, wet day in Minnesota, and we all know what that means for spring sports.

That's correct ... lots of outdoor activities today have been/will be postponed or cancelled. We've got a growing list of changes posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and I'm re-Tweeting every change I see on Twitter. It's easy to follow me on Twitter; I'm @MSHSLjohn

Have a great day and stay dry!
Burnsville Baseball: Miraculous Memories And A New Season4/12/2012
At 8:04 p.m. last June 21, rain was falling at Target Field during the bottom of the final inning of the final game of the high school baseball season. That’s when lightning struck … lightning in the form of a two-run, two-out, bases-loaded single by Burnsville junior Bo Hellquist. The game-winning hit capped a six-run rally that gave the Blaze the Class 3A state championship with an improbable 6-5 victory over Maple Grove.

“I think everybody knew we could do it, even though we were down five runs,” Hellquist told me before Burnsville’s home opener Wednesday afternoon. “We hadn’t really been hitting the ball, things weren’t going our way, we’re weren’t getting the bounces, but faith in each other and faith in ourselves helped us pull it off.”

The comeback was miraculous. Maple Grove had scored five runs in the fifth inning and led 5-0 when Hellquist opened the bottom of the seventh with a single. When his turn to bat came around again later in the inning, the score was 5-4. Then came the hit that will be long remembered.

Ten months after that game, Blaze coach Mick Scholl is still trying to catch up with all the emails and letters of congratulations.

“I’ve had over 300 emails from all over the United States and around the world,” he said. “I heard from people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, I had letters from people who graduated back in 1964 and ’65. Winning a state championship really meant a lot to this community.”

The state title was Burnsville’s first in baseball; the Blaze had finished as the 3A runner-up a year earlier. But in the What Have You Done For Me Lately Department, a new season has begun. It is no surprise, however, that the Blaze are No. 1 in the first rankings of the season, released this week by the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association. They return a solid group of veterans, forged by last year’s run to the championship.

There is one missing piece, though, and it’s a big piece. Righthanded senior pitcher Adam Lambrecht, whose 9-0 record last year (with 54 strikeouts in 48 innings) included victories in the state semifinals as well as the state championship game, is on the sideline all season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last fall.

“Having Adam Lambrecht going down, that put a hole in our lineup. That one hurt us,” said Scholl (pictured here). “He’s the kind of kid you hand the ball to and you know you’re going to get the best. Our Achilles heel this year, I guess, will be pitching but it gives other kids some opportunities to step up.”

Lambrecht was pitching in a fall league when his elbow blew. He had surgery to replace a ligament in November and is on track to begin his collegiate career at North Dakota State next spring. Despite being unable to play, he remains a big part of the Burnsville team, helping other pitchers, working on conditioning and doing whatever he can for his teammates.

“He’s 100 percent part of the team,” Scholl said. “He said he wanted to help out and he’s been here every day.”

Lambrecht said, “So far everybody’s been really supportive and made me feel like part of the team, and I’m really happy about that. I love this team. I’m here to support and cheer for the guys.”

Burnsville took a 3-0 record into a Thursday game at Edina. After spending spring break in the Phoenix area – where they spent eight hours a day practicing – the Blaze have defeated Eagan, Duluth East and Lakeville North. The lessons that were so valuable a year ago – never quit, always stay together – are already a valuable tool for the 2012 Blaze.

“Coach talks about that all the time, being humble and not taking anything for granted,” Hillquist said. “We know we’re the team that everybody wants to get and we put a target on the back of our shirt like we did last year. Last year the target represented just getting to Target Field, and this year it’s a target on our back. We can’t take anything for granted, we’ve got to work hard and never give up.”

No matter how this season ends, the members of the 2011 team will always treasure their memories from Target Field. The 5-0 deficit … the six-run seventh … Hellquist’s winning single … the celebratory dogpile in the rain.

“When you break it down and think of all the individual aspects of it, it just becomes so unreal,” Hellquist said. “Not many teams put up six runs in an inning, let alone in the state championship game. With all the different aspects all coming together, it’s just amazing that we did it.

“I watch the final at-bat and I still get chills when you see everybody jumping on top of each other.”

--To see a photo gallery of the Burnsville baseball team, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 495
*Miles John has driven: 7,088

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
A Day With The Wolves I’ll Never Forget4/9/2012
(This article was written by one of the high school students who attended a Timberwolves game through the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program.)

By Turner Blaufuss
Breckenridge High School Student SID

Wow. What an experience. If I told you I was lucky enough to meet some of my favorite sportswriters, get an amazing seat to watch Kevin Love light up the Denver Nuggets and interview Anthony Tolliver in the same day, you’d expect me to finish my story with “Yeah. And then I woke up.”

Thanks to Minnesota Timberwolves public relation senior coordinator Aaron Seehusen, John Millea and the Minnesota State High School League, it wasn’t a dream, but a dream come true.

On March 25, I was lucky enough to attend the first MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors day with the Timberwolves. I had always wondered what it would be like to be a sportswriter covering a professional team and I once made a promise to myself I’d work my way there to find out. After getting a taste of what I hope is my future, I’m that much more determined to make my dream a reality.

We jumped right into the good stuff at the beginning of our day by meeting with some long-time idols of mine. My fellow Student SIDs Thomas Elness, Katelynn Halter and Nick Wagner and Luke Sleeper from the University of Minnesota were given loads of advice from an incredible group of men. The all-star cast included Associated Press reporter Jon Krawczynski, KARE 11 sports reporter/anchor Dave Schwartz, Timberwolves public relations senior coordinator Aaron Seehusen, Augsburg College SID Don Stoner, Timberwolves play-by-play announcer Tom Hanneman and my personal favorite Jerry Zgoda, who is the Timberwolves beat writer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune (my dream job).

They all stressed that hard work gets you anywhere you want to be, and nothing is more important to an individual’s success. It was incredible listening to them talk about their profession with such passion. It made me realize how perfect a job in sports will fit me and hopefully I can follow in their footsteps with the same love for my career.

After that we switched gears and Aaron took us for a tour. The Wolves’ locker room was my favorite and seeing reporters talk to the players and coach Rick Adelman gave me a great feel for the relationship you develop with athletes and coaches as a writer. Our next step was the dining room, where we hit up the pasta bar. It. Was. Amazing.

The game tipped off and the atmosphere was incredible. We were four rows up in the press seats, which was a view I could definitely get used to. The Timberwolves and Love are definitely worth the price of admission. The game was free for us, but you know what I mean. The Timberwolves put on a show for the MSHSL crew, scoring a season-high 68 first-half points on their way to a 117-100 victory. It was hard not to cheer while being unbiased media.

After the game Aaron approached us and I initially thought he was going to thank us for coming, but he said something that made my heart skip a beat. “Would you guys want to interview Anthony Tolliver?” All of us were a little slow to respond because we were a bit surprised. It was an amazing first interview with a professional athlete and it couldn’t have been with a nicer player. Thank you, Mr. Tolliver. You are way taller in person.

I would like to thank Aaron and John for organizing the day. It was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. Meeting Jerry Zgoda and other sports writers I’ve always adored, attending a Timberwolves game, interviewing a real professional athlete all in one day? If I could have gotten K-Love’s autograph for my sociology teacher it would’ve been perfect, but that’s part of being media and not a fan. I’m happy and proud to be an MSHSL Student SID.