John's Journal
St. Thomas Academy Wins 10th 1A Swim Title Since 19993/3/2012
Eden Prairie Takes 2A Swim Title Behind 9 Medal-Winning Performances 3/3/2012
State Wrestling Tournament: Day Two Update3/2/2012
It’s a wild and woolly scene inside Xcel Energy Center today as the individual competition of the state wrestling tournament gets under way. We have completed the first round of matches in all three classes, with quarterfinal-round matches coming up this evening.

There were few surprises in the first round, with all returning state champions and undefeated wrestlers advancing. Here are some items of note from the first round…

CLASS 3A
--All nine returning champs advanced.

--Eleven of Apple Valley’s 13 state qualifiers moved to the quarterfinals tonight.

--At 126 pounds, three-time champ Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud Apollo extended his state-record winning streak to 177. The junior will face Michael Pleski of Forest Lake in the quarterfinals.

--In the most anticipated quarterfinal match, three-time champ Dakota Trom of Apple Valley will meet 2008 champ Ben Morgan of Forest Lake at 132 pounds. Morgan beat Trom at the Minnesota Christmas tournament.

CLASS 2A

--All 10 past champions moved into the quarterfinals. No quarterfinal matches will pit returning champions or unbeaten wrestlers.

--The 285-pound class is stocked with talent. Austin Goergen of Caledonia is a two-time state champ, and Jesse Hein of Perham and Michael Krolls of Scott West are undefeated this season. If Hein and Krolls win tonight they will meet in the semifinals on Saturday.

CLASS 1A

--Seven returning state champions won their opening matches.

--The biggest quarterfinal match will pit two returning champions at 120 pounds: Isaac Novacek of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River and Mitchell Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo.

--Undefeated wrestlers will meet at 145: Garret Hoffner of Mahnomen/Waubun vs. Larry Bomstad of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.

GREAT NEWS FOR NICK MANZONI

On Sept. 1 I posted a story here about Nick Manzoni, a soccer player from Orono High School. The senior, who was named a Class A first-team all-state player as a junior, is considered one of the best players in the state. Last summer Nick was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma and he was unable to play soccer last fall.

His treatments included surgery and chemotherapy, and some great news was announced via Twitter on Friday:

“Nick has finished his chemo! Time to give thanks! Prayer service March 8, 7:30, St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral. All are welcome.”

Congratulations Nick!

--Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 7 for the tournament, 22 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 381
*Miles John has driven: 6,523

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
The Biggest Victory Of The Tournament, But More Work Remains 3/2/2012
There was no celebration, no pumping fists, no backflips, no victory laps, no arms thrust toward the ceiling of Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Ben Morgan simply shook hands with Dakota Trom and walked off the mat.

Yes, it was the biggest match of the first day of individual competition at the state wrestling tournament. But it was only the first day. Morgan needs two more victories Saturday to take home a gold medal, and boy oh boy will it be a sweet moment for the Forest Lake senior if that happens.

You see, Morgan already owns one state title. That came when he was an eighth-grader, and for three years since then he has finished third at state. Friday’s 7-2 victory over Trom, an Apple Valley senior who won state championships in each of the last three years, certainly put Morgan on the right path. (They are pictured here.)

“I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” he said of coming up short of a state title. “I’ve worked too hard this year, I went through too much pain and stress to lose my last state tournament.”

Morgan is ranked No. 9 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News and Trom is No. 11. Those spots would be reversed if not for a 5-3 victory by Morgan over Trom at the Minnesota Christmas tournament. And ever since that day in December, Trom has thought ahead to meeting Trom again at state.

“The mental focus? I can’t even tell you how much, man,” he said. “It’s every other 30 minutes. Ever since the Christmas tournament, I’ve spent at least nine hours a day thinking about this moment.”

Now Morgan (36-2 this season) will focus on his semifinal match against senior Phillip Horsager (15-7) of Spring Lake Park. On the other side of the bracket, the matchup is sophomore Justin Harold-Plakut (33-8) of Woodbury and sophomore Mark Voss (37-8) of St. Michael-Albertville.

When Morgan won his first state title so many years ago, his celebration was something to behold. Fists clenched and arms raised, Morgan leaned back and roared to the heavens. With blood dripping from his forehead, he sprinted around the mat and leaped into the arms of his father (and Forest Lake assistant coach), Gordy Morgan. He received a thunderous ovation from the fans.

That was in 2008. This is 2012. Forest Lake coach Billy Pierce reminded Morgan immediately after Friday’s big win that he still had work to do.

“I’ve already talked to him about that,” Pierce said. “I said, ‘This is not a final match. Save your celebration for later. Keep it respectful and eye on the prize.’ ”

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Simley has a tournament-best nine individuals in the Class 2A semifinals. Eight wrestlers from Apple Valley have reached the 3A semifinals. In Class 1A, Kimball, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Jackson County Central, Wabasso and Minneota all have four individuals in the semifinals.

--At 126 pounds, three-time 3A champ Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud Apollo extended his state-record winning streak to 178. The junior will face Rosemount senior Steve Levine in the semifinals.

--In the biggest quarterfinal match in Class 1A, Mitchel Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo beat Isaac Novacek of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 6-2 at 120 pounds. Lexvold won a state title last year and Novacek did so in 2010.

--One of the biggest matches of Saturday’s quarterfinals will come in 2A at 145 pounds. Jake Short of Simley and Gabe Fogarty of Scott West, will meet to decide who advances to the title match.

--Wrestlers who lost for the first time this season on Friday: Clay LaVasseur, Rogers (3A 195); David Johnson, Roseville (3A 220); Michael Jarnot, Holdingford (1A 138) and Garrett Hoffner, Mahnomen/Waubun (1A 145); Taylor Lewandowski, Foley (2A 160); Garret Miller, Plainview-Elgin-Millville (1A 170); and Jesse Hein, Perham (1A 285).

WHERE DO THE MATS COME FROM?

My wife posed that question to me, and I did not know the answer. But after interrogating a high-ranking official – tournament manager Byron Olson – I learned a few things.

The mats used at state are brand new. They are made by Dollamur Sport Surfaces, and some of them have already been sold to Minnesota high schools before the tournament begins. That way, the schools save money on shipping because Dollamur sends them to the Xcel Center and the schools are responsible for them after the tournament ends.

Mats used this year will soon be headed to Lakeville North, Byron, Yellow Medicine East and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

AND IN HOCKEY NEWS...

These teams have qualified for next week's boys state hockey tournament…

Class 2A
Lakeville South (20-8)
Edina (23-5)
Eagan (24-3-1)
Hill-Murray (22-6)
Maple Grove (24-2-2)
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (22-6)
Duluth East (27-1)
Moorhead (21-6)

2A seedings and brackets will be announced Saturday morning.

Class 1A
Rochester Lourdes (20-8)
Breck (24-3-1)
New Ulm (17-11)
St. Thomas Academy (23-4)
Hermantown (28-0)
Little Falls (19-9)
Thief River Falls (22-4-2)
Duluth Marshall (21-7) or Hibbing/Chisholm (16-11)

Duluth Marshall and Hibbing/Chisholm play at 2 p.m. Saturday. 1A state seedings and brackets will be announced Saturday evening.

GREAT NEWS FOR NICK MANZONI

On Sept. 1, I posted a story here about Nick Manzoni, a soccer player from Orono High School. The senior, who was named a Class A first-team all-state player as a junior, is considered one of the best players in the state. Last summer Nick was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma and he was unable to play soccer last fall.

His treatments included surgery and chemotherapy, and some great news was announced via Twitter on Friday:

“Nick has finished his chemo! Time to give thanks! Prayer service March 8, 7:30, St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral. All are welcome.”

Congratulations Nick!

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 10 for the tournament, 25 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 381
*Miles John has driven: 6,523

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
State Wrestling Championship Matches Are Set3/1/2012
The lineup is set for tonight’s matches to decide the team champions of high school wrestling in Minnesota. The quarterfinals and semifinals have been completed at Xcel Energy Center, and here are the 7 p.m. title matchups…

Class 1A
Kimball (34-0) vs. Jackson County Central (24-3)
Class 2A
Scott West (25-0) vs. Simley (27-3)
Class 3A
St. Michael-Albertville (29-6) vs. Apple Valley (28-1)

The top seeds (Jackson, Simley and Apple Valley) have all advanced. Kimball and Scott West are No. 2 seeds and St. Michael-Albertville is the third seed.

Apple Valley has won the last six 3A titles and 12 of the last 13. Simley is trying to win its fifth straight championship and Jackson County Central is a two-time defending state champ.

Simley and Scott West also met in the title match a year ago, with Simley winning 39-16. In 3A last year, Apple Valley defeated St. Michael-Albertville 61-6 in the title match.

The championship matches can be seen on the web by going to www.prep45.com and clicking on “Live Schedule.” That site is also webcasting tonight’s Section 7AA boys hockey final between Duluth East and Andover at Amsoil Arena in Duluth at 7:30.

Recapping today’s wrestling action…

Semifinals
Class 1A
Kimball 35, Minneota 33
Jackson County Central 25, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 25

Class 2A
Scott West 31, Foley 21
Simley 47, Kasson-Mantorville 20

Class 3A
St. Michael-Albertville 31, Hastings 19
Apple Valley 62, Prior Lake 3

Quarterfinals

Class 1A
Kimball 55, Barnesville 9
Minneota 44, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 23
Jackson County Central 52, Pierz 15
Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 39, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 30

Class 2A
Scott West 53, Monticello 9
Foley 47, Windom 10
Simley 44, Milaca 17
Kasson-Mantorville 43, Perham 10

Class 3A
Hastings 47, Little Falls 19
St. Michael-Albertville 56, Champlin Park 7
Apple Valley 58, Willmar 12
Prior Lake 44, White Bear Lake 15

On Friday we’ll kick off the individual wrestling competition at 9 a.m.

But it’s not just wrestling on the docket today. The boys state swimming and diving meet begins its three-day run today with diving preliminariesat the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, there are seven boys hockey section finals as well as section games in girls and boys basketball.

As always, instant updates on all these events can be found by following @MSHSLjohn on Twitter, and lots of photos (especially from today’s wrestling tournament) are being posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 5 for the tournament, 20 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS *Schools/teams John has visited: 321 *Miles John has driven: 6,481

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn