John's Journal
Fosston And The First State Basketball Tournament Championship3/5/2012
By Colby Garlick
MSHSL Intern

Herbert Whaley graduated from Fosston in 1911 and began working for the railroad right after graduation. In the fall of the 1911-12 school year, Fosston High School was searching for a volunteer coach for boys basketball. When no one within the district accepted the responsibility, school officials approached Herbert with the offer due to his experiences as an athlete. Whaley graciously accepted the position.

Whaley wasted no time getting the team in tip-top shape; the Fosston team was at a disadvantage with the players weighing an average of 130 pounds. Herbert stressed fundamentals, teamwork and good ball movement. Even though the players were small, Whaley taught them to be a physical ballclub. In fact, the Fosston basketball team became so physical that other teams nicknamed them the “Jack Pine Savages” instead of their school’s name, the Jack Rabbits.

It wasn’t just the players of the Fosston team that helped them become so strong on the court, they also had some help from the atmosphere and the layout of the Fosston gymnasium. There was dim lighting from lamps, and steam pipes bordered the playing floor. It wasn’t uncommon for a Fosston player to give an opponent a little shove into the steam pipes during game play.

Carlton College in Northfield had just opened a new gymnasium and in order to promote the new gym, the college decided to create and host the first official high school state basketball tournament. Fosston’s rugged play earned them one of the best records in the state and a trip to the first state high school basketball tournament.

Carlton College paid for six players, along with a coach, to travel with each team. However, since Whaley wasn’t employed by the school district he was no longer officially dubbed the head coach; the principal was the official coach of the team and Herbert was the assistant. Herbert went on to travel with the team and was present at the state tournament, much to many contrary beliefs and stories that Fosston won the championship without a coach.

The Fosston team arrived in Northfield by train and on Thursday, April 3, 1913, played its first state tournament game against Wilmer. Fosston had no problem handling Willmar, winning 27-17. On the second day of the tournament, Fosston had a similar result against Plainview, winning 38-27.

On the third and final day of the tournament Fosston defeated Luverne 38-28 to advance to the first state championship game, which was played later that Saturday night against Mountain Lake. In front of 2,000 enthusiastic fans, Fosston defeated Mountain Lake in a 29-27 thriller, becoming the first state high school championship team.

That magical trip was the first time any of the Fosston players had left their hometown. The Fosston basketball team was probably more thrilled to see the big city than they were to play in the state tournament. When the team got to Carlton College, they saw a real authentic swimming pool for the first time in their young lives and they had the pleasure of actually swimming in it. The team’s entire experience was more overwhelming and exciting than winning the tournament; that was just a bonus for them and the town of Fosston.

Whaley graduated one year prior to these events and he may have looked quite young, but in reality he was older than his high school graduation date may suggest. Fosston didn’t have class graduations every year; they did this in order to keep the enrollment of the school at optimal levels. Whaley actually graduated with his brother, who was three years younger.

Following Fosston’s amazing championship run, Herbert Whaley retired after just one magical season as Fosston’s head coach. He married, moved to Crosby, where his wife was from, and they started a family. While living in Crosby, he helped the founder of Crosby, George Crosby, establish a restaurant and Whaley also became the assessor for the city of Crosby.
State Wrestling Championships: Surprises Everywhere 3/3/2012
When the gold medals had been placed around necks and cameras snapped from the stands at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night, some memories were made that will last a long, long time.

There were tears, as is always the case when dreams of state titles are not realized. But in at least two cases Saturday, tears flowed from the eyes of champions who have little in common other than they are wrestlers.

One of them was very familiar. Ben Morgan (right) of Forest Lake, who won a 3A title as an eighth-grader before placing third three times, went out in style as a senior with his second title, winning at 132 pounds. As an eighth-grade state champ four years ago, Morgan put on an exuberant celebration. This time, however, his emotions took over and he did little more than weep. It was a celebration, nonetheless.

Albert Lea senior 285-pounder Bryce DeBoer also cried after winning a 3A title. His story, however, is much different because he is far from a veteran wrestler, much less a veteran of the state tournament. DeBoer (pictured below) is a first-year high school wrestler, and he showed what can be accomplished.

The day’s biggest surprise came in 3A at 126 pounds, where St. Cloud Apollo junior Mitch Bengston, a three-time champ, saw his state-record winning streak ended at 179 matches. Sam Brancale of Eden Prairie won his second title by getting a reversal in the final seconds and winning 2-1.

Simley had seven individuals in the 2A championship round and came away with five winners, while Apple Valley had five in the 3A finals and crowned four state champions. Apple Valley’s Brandon Kingsley (160) won his fourth title.

Gaining gold for the third time were Medford’s Curt Maas (1A 152), Joey Munos of South St. Paul (2A 132) and Jake Short of Simley (2A 145).

Among wrestlers winning their second state championships were two seniors from 1A Kenyon-Wanamingo, Mitchel Lexvold at 120 and Oakley McLain at 126.

Apple Valley eighth-grader Mark Hall won his second title at 3A 145, keeping him on track to possibly become the state’s first six-time state champion.

The boys state swimming champions also were decided Saturday, and John’s Journal correspondent Luke Sleeper has posted stories from Class 1A and 2A here on our website.

And in other news, the pairings for next week’s boys state hockey tournament were finalized Saturday.

Here’s how the Class 2A hockey tourney looks…

#2 seed Maple Grove (24-2-2) vs. Hill-Murray (22-6), Thursday, 11 a.m. #3 seed Eagan (24-3-1) vs. Moorhead (21-6), Thursday, 1 p.m. #1 seed Duluth East (27-1) vs. Lakeville South (20-8), Thursday, 6 p.m. #4 seed Edina (23-5) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (22-6), Thursday, 8 p.m.

And here is the Class 1A field…

#2 seed St. Thomas Academy (23-4) vs. Little Falls (19-9), Wednesday, 11 a.m. #3 seed Breck (24-3-1) vs. Duluth Marshall (21-7), Wednesday, 1 p.m. #1 seed Hermantown (28-0) vs. Rochester Lourdes (20-8), Wednesday, 6 p.m. #4 seed Thief River Falls (22-4-2) vs. New Ulm (17-11), Wednesday, 8 p.m.

With that, we’re going to take part of a day off and began ramping up for another great state tournament week.

--See a photo gallery from the wrestling championship matches on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 15 for the tournament, 30 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS *Schools/teams John has visited: 381 *Miles John has driven: 6,565

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

--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.


--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.


--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.


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.


*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 John Millea is on Twitter at