John's Journal
State Lacrosse Pairings Are Set6/2/2012
The coaches of the teams involved in the girls and boys state lacrosse tournaments completed the electronic seeding procedure Saturday morning, finalizing the pairings for the state tournaments.

Boys semifinals will be held Tuesday and girls semifinals will be played Wednesday, with third-place and championship games on Thursday. All games will be held at Chanhassen High School.

The top seeds are the Eastview boys and Eden Prairie girls. Here are the tournament schedules...

Boys Lacrosse State Tournament
Tuesday’s Semifinals
6 p.m.: #1 seed Eastview (14-1) vs. #4 seed Edina (7-9-1)
8 p.m.: #2 seed Totino-Grace (13-3) vs. #3 seed Eden Prairie (14-2)
Thursday’s Games
Third-place game at 6 p.m.
Championship game at 8 p.m.

Girls Lacrosse State Tournament
Wednesday’s Semifinals
6 p.m.: #1 seed Eden Prairie (16-0) vs. #4 seed Apple Valley (13-4)
8 p.m.: #2 seed Blake (14-2) vs. #3 seed Stillwater (14-2)
Thursday’s Games
Third-place game at 2 or 4 p.m.
Championship game at 2 or 4 p.m.
Field Is Finalized For State Softball Tournament6/2/2012
The brackets are set for the state softball tournament, which will be held Thursday and Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato. Congrats to all the teams who qualified.

Here are the quarterfinal matchups…

Class 1A
Eden Valley-Watkins (16-7) vs. Blooming Prairie (20-3)
Red Lake Falls (22-4) vs. New Ulm Cathedral (20-4)
Cherry (23-0) vs. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (24-0)
Sebeka (21-4) vs. New Life Academy (16-7)

Class 2A
New Ulm (20-2) vs. Kasson-Mantorville (23-2)
Albany (19-1) vs. Maple River (18-7)
Hawley (16-3) vs. St. Anthony Village (22-3)
Mound Westonka (16-9) vs. Cloquet (13-9)

Class 3A
Stillwater (18-8) vs. Farmington (17-4)
Bloomington Jefferson (17-2) vs. Mankato East (24-3)
Big Lake (14-7) vs. Maple Grove (22-2)
Forest Lake (23-1) vs. Orono (23-1)
Boys State Tennis Tournament Is Ready To Roll6/2/2012
In a week packed with state tournaments, boys tennis will be contested at two sites in Minneapolis. The Class 2A competition will be held at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center and 2A will take place at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.

Team competiton will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, with singles and doubles matches taking place Thursday and Friday.

Here are the team brackets…

Class 1A Quarterfinals
Breck vs. Duluth Marshall
Blake vs. Thief River Falls
Mound Westonka vs. Fergus Falls
Rochester Lourdes vs. Luverne

Class 2A Quarterfinals
Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata
Rochester Mayo vs. Eagan
Maple Grove vs. Elk River
Mahtomedi vs. St. Cloud Tech
Adapted Softball Dynasties Add More Championship Hardware6/2/2012
Two teams that have become very familiar with state championships added to their trophy cases Saturday by winning titles in the adapted softball state tournament at Coon Rapids High School.

In the PI division, Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka won its fourth straight state title with a 9-2 win over Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville. And in the CI division, Anoka-Hennepin captured its third consecutive state champinship with a 7-2 victory over Dakota United.

Here are the All-Tournament Teams …

PI Division: Chris Reichel, South Suburban; Grayson Nicolay, Dakota United; Josh Heim, Steven Fletcher, Wayzata/Minnetonka; Erik Santa, Corey Gieske, Anoka-Hennepin; Natanael Bernard, Mark Braun, Devian Thompson, Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville; Jordan Klein, Andy Madson, Charlie Wittmer, Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka.

CI Division: Andy Brown, Osseo; Bruce Matusovic, Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville; Amanda Henderson, Lucas Coy, South Washington County; Michael Dedeker, Tyler VanDerWerf, Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville; Quintin Nicolay, Ricky Arends, Joe Sandey, Dakota United; Troy Couch, Zach Theroux, Tyler Korkowski, Anoka-Hennepin.

Photos from the tournament can be viewed at the MSHSL Facebook page.
A Broken Leg, A Magical Season And A Return To State5/29/2012
When the 2011 softball season ended and the players from New Life Academy were celebrating their school’s fourth consecutive Class 1A state championship, there was one common thought as the dust settled: That was a great run for the Eagles.

Indeed it was. New Life – a Woodbury school with 239 students – made Minnesota history a year ago by becoming the first team to win four softball crowns in a row. Last year’s trip to the state tournament in Mankato also was the Eagles’ sixth in a row; the state record is eight straight appearances by Winona Cotter from 2000 to 2007.

New Life’s six-year string of success included a total record of 138 wins and only 22 losses. During the four-year championship run, the Eagles were 93-16. But as thoughts turned to the 2012 season, there was another glaring fact about New Life: The Eagles’ roster included a grand total of zero seniors.

Most people figured that the good times were over … including New Life coach Mick Ramey.

“I did, too,” he said Tuesday. “I hoped we’d go 50-50 this year.”

He issued that statement with a grin on his face, the grin of a guy whose team was headed back to Mankato. On the strength of a 5-3 victory over Minneapolis Washburn at Hamline University, the Eagles claimed the Section 4 title and their seventh consecutive state tournament appearance.

Their record is 16-6. They are not ranked in the Class 1A top 10. Oh, and their starting first baseman watched Tuesday’s game with a giant yellow cast on her left shin and foot. While sitting in a wheelchair.

Sometimes there is magic at work. Sometimes a team is better than everyone thought it would be. And sometimes both.

“I’m as happy as ever,” said sophomore Jessica Lamb from her wheelchair in the midst of the postgame celebration. “I’m so proud of us.”

Lamb was hurt on Friday during a 6-3 win over Washburb that knocked the Millers into the loser’s bracket. Washburn then defeated Heritage Christian Academy 6-4 on Friday, setting up Tuesday’s game. The injury came in a play at the plate.

“I was sliding into home on a passed ball, the catcher came down and we kind of like collided,” Lamb said. “Her knee drove into my shin.”

Bang. Crack. One broken tibia and one cracked fibula later, Jessica was undergoing surgery. Her teammates were frightened by her injury, but they held things together and kept winning.

“It was very frightening,” said freshman pitcher Valerie Hohol. “But we all got our emotions in check and kept our cool. We prayed about her and just kept going. She really motivated us and just put a little fire in our gut and helped us keep going.”

The challenge for Washburn was a steep one. The Millers -- trying to become the first Minneapolis public school to reach the state softball tournament -- needed to win Tuesday’s game in order to force a final, deciding rematch on Thursday. Washburn out-hit New Life 7-4 Tuesday but made too many errors and gave the Eagles too many chances.

With the aid of three walks and a hit batter, the Eagles scored twice in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk and a bunt in the same situation. They got two more in the second with singles by Hohol and Malorie Giere driving in runs, and three fourth-inning errors helped the Eagles score their fifth run. Lauren Post drove in two runs for Washburn and Lia Gambucci had one RBI.

Many of the Eagles had Lamb’s number 7 written on their arms, and they rushed to her side when she arrived in her wheelchair a few minutes before game time. They had spent time with her in the hospital over the long holiday weekend, but seeing her on a softball field again was special.

“She just got her cast on today, so that was the first time we’ve all seen her out of the hospital,” Hohol said. “It was great.”

Her spot at first base is being filled by sophomore Chloe Westlund, who made the move from center field. It was probably fitting that Tuesday’s game ended on a ground ball to sophomore Amanda Heidmann at third base, who threw to Westlund. Chloe caught the throw with her foot on the bag, raised her fist in the air and joined her teammates in a mob at the center of the infield.

In the middle of the mob was Hohol. Like her coach – and most everyone else who had an opinion about the Eagles before the season began – Hohol had her doubts about where this season would end.

“I really don’t have many words to express it,” she said. “People didn’t expect us to go to state, and at the beginning of the year I didn’t even expect us to go state. We just grew as a team and grew as people. It was great.”

And it continues to be pretty great.

--To see a photo gallery from the New Life Academy-Washburn game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 573
*Miles John has driven: 7,766

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