John's Journal
Tournament Time: Tidbits From State Volleyball Teams11/7/2011
Fall state tournaments continue this week with the state volleyball tourney being played Thursday through Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, while the state football quarterfinals are played over the same three-day period.

Volleyball will kick off with Class 3A quarterfinal matches at 9 and 11 a.m. Thursday (two matches are played simultaneously), Class 1A at 1 and 3 p.m. and Class 2A at 5 and 7 p.m. The championship matches will be played Saturday, with 1A scheduled for 1 p.m., 2A for 3 p.m. and 3A for 5 p.m.

Two state champions return: Lakeville North in 3A and Wadena-Deer Creek in 2A. Defending 1A champion Wabasha-Kellogg was defeated by Bethlehem Academy in the Section 1 championship match.

Bethlehem Academy won state titles in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and was the 1A state runner-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Lakeville North and Wadena-Deer Creek each won their first state titles last year.

The top-seeded teams are Blaine in 3A, Marshall in 2A and Bethlehem Academy in 1A.

Here are a few tidbits, with information supplied by tournament teams …

Andover (3A)/ The Huskies are making their seventh state tournament appearance and fifth in a row. Outside hitter Karlie Hauer has made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota. Janelle Rupkalivis will graduate early and play collegiately at Michigan Tech.

Bethlehem Academy (1A)/ The Cardinals won their 11th straight Gopher Conference championship and have won 99 consecutive conference matches. They defeated the top three ranked 2A teams: Marshall, Jackson County Central and Belle Plaine. They lost to ranked 3A teams Eagan, Shakopee, Lakeville North and Eden Prairie as well as 1A Southwest Christian and 3A Owatonna. Juniors Jessie Mathews and Maddie Borwege and freshmen Payton Schultz are three-year starters and started on the 2009 state championship team. Seventh-grade setter Payton Nutter is only the second seventh-grader to ever start for the Cardinals; the other was Payton Schultz two years ago.

Blaine (3A)/ At one point this season the Bengals had a 22-game win streak.
Taylor Dordan surpassed the 1,000 mark in career digs with her first dig in the last regular-season match. This is senior Sydney Dimke's first full varsity season without an injury or illness keeping her off the court.

BOLD (1A)/ This is the first state tourney appearance for the BOLD volleyball team.

Eden Prairie (3A)/ Junior Sarah Wilhite's 556 kills is a single-season school record and she also set the school career kill record this season. She has 1,240 kills.

Esko (2A)/ Many of the volleyball players are multi-sport athletes and have seen success in all they attempt. Junior Kallyn Kunutson placed 24th in Saturday’s 1A state cross-country meet.

Hutchinson (2A)/ Sara Carlson will play Division I hockey at New Hampshire. Brianne Stamer will play volleyball at St. Cloud State, Ellie VanDeSteeg will play volleyball at Minnesota State Mankato and Courtney Fox will play volleyball at Bemidji State.

Jordan (2A)/ Setter Emilee Gutzmer went over 3,000 career set assists this season and has 1,023 set assists on the year. That puts her in fourth place on the all-time career set assists list.

Maple Lake (2A)/ The Irish did not have a senior on the team last season. This year they set school records for wins (26) and team kills (1,089). Five players have more than 100 kills. This is the first time Maple Lake has played in the state volleyball tournament. Brooke Decker is a four-year starter who holds all school setting records. Shelby Rachel is a three-year starter and the third of four sisters to come through the program. Rachel Latour and Jenny Puncochar are conference champion sprinters in the spring track season.

Marshall (2A)/ Morgan McKittrick has played in four state tournaments and Jessica Baker has played in three. The Tigers are riding a 15-match winning streak. They played 15 matches vs. teams that were ranked in the top 10 in their respective classes this year; Marshall finished 11-4 against those teams. The Tigers have been ranked No. 1 in the weekly coaches poll since Sept. 19. This marks the 11th straight trip to the state tournament for Marshall and the 23rd overall. The 11th straight trip is the longest streak for any of the 24 teams competing in the state tournament this year. The 23 trips overall ranks Marshall tops in Minnesota history along with Hibbing. Coach Dan Westby will enter the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame on Wednesday at the state tournament banquet.

Nevis (1A)/ Riley Hanson tied the school service ace match record this year with 15 service aces. Riley also had 32 kills in a match, beating another school record. Olivia Toft achieved 1,000 set assists as a sophomore. The Tigers have won their conference championship the last five years. Nevis has not lost a conference match in five years.
Lakeville North Remains Undefeated11/6/2011
Here's a special football report from one of our correspondents...

Lakeville North 26, Owatonna 7
Report From The First Football Section Title Game11/4/2011
This week's football section finals began on Thursday, and the first game was played at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

Here's a report ...

Ada-Borup 22, Ulen-Hitterdal 20
A Gatorade Bath, Sweet Caroline And Some Football History11/4/2011
After the Prior Lake marching band played pregame music by John Philip Sousa and halftime tunes by Michael Buble, after the home crowd sang and swayed to “Sweet Caroline” and after Lakers football coach Matt Gegenheimer had been drenched with Gatorade, the party was well under way.

This was a party of historic proportions, too. Until the completion of Friday night’s 27-7 victory over Eastview in the Class 5A Section 3 title game, Prior Lake had never qualified for the state football playoffs. In the postgame glow, I asked the soaking-wet Gegenheimer a simple question: Can you explain how this feels?

“When you start coaching you have a vision of something, and this is what it is,” he said. “I’m truly happy for these kids. When they always tell you you’ve got a special group of kids, you know it. And that’s what’s happened with these guys.”

Gegenheimer has been coaching the Lakers for six years, and the process of building a program to this level is not easy or quick. The goal from the very beginning is to get to state, and the Lakers will now meet Totino-Grace in the state quarterfinals next Friday inside the Metrodome at 8 p.m.

“It’s a process is what it is,” Gegenhemer said. “The first couple of years it’s getting everything in line with boosters and youth programs. Our strength program, we really took that over and that’s kind of the biggest thing that’s made a difference in our program, the weight training and the strength of our kids.”

The Lakers (8-3) were indeed strong against Eastview (5-6) in a game between South Suburban Conference teams that did not meet in the regular season; Prior Lake finished third in the conference and Eastview was seventh.

Eastview had been a surprise team of the postseason. After a 3-5 regular season, the Lightning (seeded fourth in the section playoffs) defeated Burnsville and Rosemount in the postseason; last week’s 49-13 thumping of top-seeded Rosemount was an eye-opener. Second-seeded Prior Lake was 5-3 in the regular season, losing to Wayzata, Rosemount and Lakeville North. The Lakers beat Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy to reach the section final.

The Lakers’ victory Friday was methodical. They were stopped by Eastview at the 1-yard line early in the game, and in the second quarter a 26-yard run by Jack Johnson and a 30-yard pass from Nick Rooney to Nick Hart moved the ball to the Lightning 5. Johnson scored from the 1 to put the Lakers ahead 7-0.

Eastview tied it 7-7 with 63 seconds to go in the first half when Ryan Reger threw a short pass to Amari Kennedy and Kennedy turned it into a 55-yard score.

After stopping Eastview on downs at the Prior Lake 16 early in the third quarter, the Lakers pulled ahead 13-7 on a 38-yard run by Arends. Jack Kaiser scored on a 10-yard run early in the fourth period for a 21-7 score and the verdict was sealed for good when Rose ran into the end zone from 1 yard with 5:46 to play.

Gegenheimer was dumped with Gatorade in the final minutes, and after the clock ran out the teams shook hands and lined up for the presentation of section championship and runner-up trophies. This was a formal affair … until the winner’s trophy was handed to the Prior Lake captains. That’s when the Lakers students exited the grandstand and stormed the field. It was wonderful fun. (You can see postgame video and a photo gallery at the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Friday was a grand evening for outdoor football; in fact it was my last outdoor football game of the season. Having witnessed 17 football games this fall, I will be inside the Metrodome for next Friday’s 5A quarterfinal doubleheader. The first game, at 5 p.m, will be between Cretin-Derham Hall and Lakeville North, followed by Prior Lake vs. Totino-Grace.

But first, we have some other activities to enjoy. The state cross-country championships will be held Saturday in Northfield and the state volleyball tournament will begins its three-day run at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

How much fun is this?

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 123
*Miles John has driven: 4,744
*Diet Coke Count: 1 for the day, 23 for the fall tournaments

--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
Soccer Champions Are Crowned In The Metrodome11/3/2011
Thursday was Championship Soccer Day at the Metrodome, where four state titles were decided. All four games were close and well-played as the Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys (Class 1A), Blake girls (1A), Eden Prairie boys (2A) and Wayzata girls (2A) captured gold.

Two scenes stood out for me Thursday. One was Eastview boys coach Scott Gustafson (right) breaking with tradition ever so slightly during the postgame presentation of medals and trophies. Gustafson shook the hand of every Eden Prairie player, manager and coach after they received their medals. That was a very genuine gesture of sportsmanship.

The other scene has to be witnessed to be believed. Go to the MSHSL Facebook page and watch the video of Benilde-St. Margaret’s Haley Jerabek executing a throw-in. In most cases, players simply stand on the sideline and throw the ball with two hands. But not Haley. As the ball sits on the turf, she runs toward it and performs a flip; she grabs the ball as her hands swing down, then flicks it high in the air as she plants her feet. It is way cool.

Here are the game reports …

1A BOYS/ BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S 3, PRAIRIE SEEDS ACADEMY 1

The Red Knights (19-3-1) capped off a championship season by handing Prairie Seeds its first loss of the season. The defending state champion Lycans finished with a 19-1-2 record.

Jake Horton gave Benilde-St. Margaret’s a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute and Prairie Seeds’ Carlos Boquin – who missed the state quarterfinals and semifinals because of eligibility issues – tied the score in the 14th minute. Second-half goals by Carter Eckerline and John Mulvahill secured the victory for the Red Knights. Winning goalkeeper Kevin Lebahn made seven saves and the Lycans’ Betzabet Valle stopped three shots.

There were 26 fouls on each team and Prairie Seeds’ Ibrahim Keita was red-carded in the 78th minute.

The quote/ Benilde-St. Margaret’s goalkeeper Kevin Lebahn: “They have a lot of talented players. Our defense was great.”

All-tournament team/ Jake Collins, Mankato West; Julian Garcia-Delaney, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton; Hayden Speaks, Sartell-St. Stephen; Ben Braman, St. Paul Academy and Summit School; Will Elder, Jack Convery, James Armstead, Rochester Lourdes; John Mulvahill, Brendan Schember, Paul Graupner, Jake Horton, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Oscar Cendejas, Ismaila Jome, Adama Keita, Roberto Dominguea, Prairie Seeds Academy.

1A GIRLS/ BLAKE 1, BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S 0

Grace Boatman scored with an assist by Hannah Randolph in the final minute of the first half to life the Bears (21-1-0) past Benilde-St. Margaret’s (18-1-3). The Red Knights outshot Blake 10-7, including 6-3 in the first half, but couldn’t get past Bears keeper Maddy Crawford. She made four saves and Benilde keeper Mikayla Coulombe had five saves.

The quote/ Blake coach Paul Menge: “We try to run our forwards across the field rather than straight up and down to create things for their defense to think about. And I think basically what you saw was Grace coming across on a diagonal and we played it over to her. We practice switching and crossing the ball a lot, and it paid off.”

All-tournament team/ Chloe Bachman, St. Peter; Marissa Ricci, South St. Paul; Caitlin Lilly, Esko/Carlton; Stina Haave, Bemidji; Hannah Anderson, Meredith Rolfs, Rochester Lourdes; Abigail Welle, Jennifer Nickasch, Totino-Grace; Mikayla Coulombe, Dana Buckhorn, Peggy Renier, Kelly Pannek, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Nicole Kozlak, Korlekuor Akiti, Grace Boatman, Lydia Sutton, Blake.

2A BOYS/ EDEN PRAIRIE 3, EASTVIEW 1

Eden Prairie led 1-0 into the late stages of the game before tacking on two quick goals and handing Eastview its first loss of the season. Medo Youssef put the Eagles (16-3-3) on the board in the fourth minute and the score remained 1-0 until Natalio Blanche and Michael Vuolo scored less than a minute apart in the final minutes. Mathew Gweh scored for the Lightning (20-1-1) in the final minute.

Eden Prairie outshot Eastview 17-7 and Eagles keeper Alex Dewey made just one save behind a solid defense. Eastview goalkeeper Sam Rueles made three stops.

The quote/ Eden Prairie’s Medo Youssef: “I think I did pretty good in the middle, just controlling the field and everything. Last week I didn’t control the midfield in the second half very well, so I had to come back and help my team win today.”

All-tournament team/ Derek Herman, Rochester Mayo; Julian Ocampo, North St. Paul; Jason Scheeler, Blaine; Connor Iverson, Anoka; Pat Enright, Alex Niederloch, Maple Grove; Liban Ayanle, Mohamud Abdi, Minneapolis Southwest; Sam Ruelas, Mathew Gweh, Mike Bonderud, Joe Karam, Eastview; Alex Dewey, Roman Derevyanko, Natalio Blanche, Abdur Omar, Eden Prairie.

2A GIRLS/ WAYZATA 2, BURNSVILLE 1 (SHOOTOUT)

The last game of the soccer season was the most suspenseful, with Wayzata and Burnsvile playing through 20 minutes of overtime and into a shootout before the Trojans came away with the victory. It was 1-1 at the end of regulation and through two overtimes, and Wayzata won the shootout 4-3. The winning goal was scored by Chelsey Ulrich in the sixth round of penalty kicks.

Burnsville sophomore Alyssa Blahnik broke a scoreless tie early in the second half, scoring on a breakaway and recording the 50th goal of her career. Wayzata tied it in the 59th minute on a goal by Kiana Nickel.

Goalkeeper Meghann Rudolph of Burnsville (17-5) made 11 saves and Mara Dougherty of Wayzata (18-2-2) had seven saves.

The quote/ Wayzata coach Tony Peszneker: “After we went through our top five (penalty kickers) I said, ‘Who wants to go next?’ We have a top five and a next five and I asked who’s ready to shoot. (Chelsey Ulrich) stepped up and volunteered.”

All-tournament team/Kellie McGahn, Eastview; Emily Erickson, Woodbury; Britney Monteon, Blaine; Kaitlin Beckman, Anoka; Simone Kolander, Breanna Sollie, Lakeville North; Jenna Roering, Megan Lenz, Centennial; Mara Dougherty, Katie Schulz, Kylie Schwarz, Kiana Nickel, Wayzata; Alyssa Blahnik, Meghann Rudolph, Tiana Khamvongsa, Hannah Freden, Burnsville.

--This is a busy time, with section titles being decided in volleyball and football and the state cross-country meet set for Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. I was at a section volleyball semifinal doubleheader at Lakeville South on Wednesday night, at soccer Thursday, I’ll be at a 5A football section final between Eastview and Prior Lake on Friday night and at the cross-country meet bright and early Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 121
*Miles John has driven: 4,719
*Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 22 for the fall tournaments

--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