John's Journal
Lots Of Decisions Made By MSHSL Board Of Directors 12/1/2011
There was plenty of action during Thursday’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting. Seeding was added for state tennis, Melrose was placed into a conference, new wheelchair events were approved for track and field, a new division was added to the state debate tournament and a new schedule for the state football semifinals was approved.

Here’s a summary of items/changes that were approved by the board…

--Melrose was placed in the West Central Conference.

--Dates for the 2012 state lacrosse tournament were moved to June 5-8. The original dates were June 12-15.

--Public Forum was added to the state debate tournament, beginning in 2013.

--The 100 meters, 3,200 meters and discus were added as wheelchair events for section and state track and field meets, beginning in 2012. The 800, 1,600 and shot put were added as wheelchair events in 2011.

--At state tennis tournaments, seeding will be used for the top four singles players in 2A and 1A, and teams will be seeded in 2A only.

--Blaine High School was approved as the site of the state speech tournaments in 2013 and 2014.

--A new state football semifinal format was approved for 2012, when Class 6A is added. Instead of six semifinals on Friday and six on Saturday, four games will be played on Thursday, five on Friday and five on Saturday, with no games starting before 9 a.m.


This section of the agenda provided a possible preview of future changes. The board discussed many proposals at length…

--A proposal was made to seed teams No. 1 through No. 8 for the boys state basketball tournament in all four classes, and to do so for Class 3A and Class 4A for the girls state tournament. Currently, girls and boys teams in Class 3A and 4A are seeded No. 1 through No. 4, with their state quarterfinal opponents determined by blind draw; Class 1A and 2A do not use seeding for state tournaments.

--A restructuring of the 4A boys and girls basketball section tournaments was offered, The plan would use geography and competitive balance to assign and seed all 64 4A teams into eight sections, with a committee assigning eight teams to each section and seeding those teams. The hoped-for result would be the best eight teams advancing to the state tournament.

--Recommendations were made to expand girls and boys lacrosse from four sections to eight sections, and have eight teams advance to the state tournaments instead of the current four teams.

--A hockey recommendation was made to change scrimmage rules. Currently, teams are allowed three calendar dates to hold three days of scrimmages or two days of scrimmages and one jamboree day. The recommendation is to allow unlimited scrimmages during the first two weeks of practice and completed by the third Monday after practice begins; after the third Monday, scrimmages would be limited to two scrimmage dates.

--Recommendations for baseball and softball propose to have all section tournaments be single-elimination until eight teams remain, with the final eight teams playing a double-elimination tournament. Currently, section tournaments use double-elimination for the final four teams.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 2

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
MSHSL Board Of Directors Meeting Today11/30/2011
The MSHSL board of directors has gathered at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center for its December meeting. The agenda includes these action items …

--Placement of Melrose High School into a conference. After being involuntarily excluded from the West Central Conference, Melrose has sought conference membership, applying to the Prairie, Granite Ridge, West Central and Central Minnesota conferences. All four conferences voted against adding Melrose as a member. That led to Melrose going through the MSHSL conference placement procedure. The recommendation of a placement committee and independent hearing officer will be presented to the board, and the board is expected to place Melrose into a conference.

--Setting dates for the state lacrosse tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

--The possibility of adding Public Forum debate to section and state debate tournaments.

--Discussing the status of wheelchair events in section and state track. The 800 meters, 1,600 meters and shot put were added for wheelchair athletes in 2011.

--Seeding for state tennis tournaments will be discussed and action may be taken.

--Blaine High School has offered to host the state speech tournament in 2013 and 2014, and the board will discuss the matter.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. I’ll have instant updates on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn) and a full report right here after the meeting is adjourned.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: TBA

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Familiar Friends/Foes Meet Again On The Ice …With A New Twist11/29/2011
In last season’s girls state hockey tournament, Edina defeated Rosemount 6-0 in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The coaches in that game -- Edina’s Laura Slominski and Rosemount’s Tracy Cassano -- were not only hockey teammates at the University of Minnesota, they were roommates, team captains and they won a national championship together in 2000.

The teams coached by Slominski and Cassano met again on Tuesday evening at Braemar Arena in Edina, but this time there was a new twist on the rivalry: Cassano is now the coach at Chaska-Chanhassen.

But some things never change. The coaches were walking off the ice together after Edina -- the No. 3 team in the Let’s Play Hockey Class 2A rankings – recorded a 2-0 victory when Slominski said to Cassano, “You guys look good, you have a really good team.”

Cassano replied, “Same to you guys. And we’re still waiting to score a goal against you.”

Whether it’s February or November, the Edina Hornets indeed have had the edge on Cassano. But Tuesday’s early-season contest was a solid reminder of how long the hockey season can be and how much work is required to get a program to the highest level.

Slominski has taken the Hornets to those heights. Now in her fourth year at the helm in Edina, her teams know nothing less than the state semifinals. They finished third at state in 2009 and played in the last two state championship games, losing to Roseville 4-0 in 2010 and to Minnetonka 3-2 last season.

This season Edina has a record of 4-1-1, giving Slominki a career record at Edina of 73-18-8.

“Since I’ve been here, all three years we’ve been to state and it’s been a lot of success so far,” she said. “These girls, coming up they’ve seen that and they want to be a part of it, and I think it’s kind of a year for us to regroup and make sure we’re ready to go to make that final run.”

Every successful team loses quality players to graduation, but Edina looks poised for another very good season. Five Hornets were named to the all-state tourney team last season, and the only senior was forward Sami Reber. Back this season are senior defenders Ali Austin and Megan Armstrong, senior goalie Maddie Dahl and junior forward Sarah Nielsen.

Armstrong had one of Tuesday’s goals on a power play, junior Liz Trautz scored the other goal unassisted and Dahl notched her first shutout of the season. The Chaska/Chanhassen Storm Hawks played a very solid first period, outshooting Edina 8-6 and trailing 1-0. After that, the Hornets’ strength and skill was evident.

“It was a really good battle, a good game,” Cassano said. “Edina obviously is one of the top teams in the state and every year they’re there. So I think it’s a good measuring stick for us as far as how we stack up against some of those top teams. I thought the kids came out and worked hard. In the first period I thought we looked pretty tough and in the second period I felt like they really took it to us and they used their speed and their physicalness. We got behind by those two goals and we couldn’t quite put one past Maddie Dahl.”

Chaska/Chanhassen sophomore goaltender Laura Chalupsky played very well, stopping 24 shots in a backup role. Starter Carly Van Orden, another sophomore, is on the shelf while she recovers from mononucleosis.

“I thought Laura stepped up, played solid and made great saves,” said Cassano. “She really stepped up her game and kept us in there. She gave us a chance to possibly win, and that’s all you can ask.”

The loss was Chaska/Chanhassen’s first after opening the season with victories over Farmington, Holy Family Catholic/Waconia and Holy Angels. Edina had defeated Eastview, Lakeville South and Blake while losing to Breck and tying Blaine.

Next up for Edina is a road trip that is both long (on miles) and short (on duration). The Hornets will get on a bus Friday morning and head for Roseau, where they will play that evening. They will play in Warroad on Saturday afternoon before driving home.

“The girls are excited,” Slominski said. “It’ll be seven or eight hours on a bus, so it’ll be good.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 153
*Miles John has driven: 5,085
*Diet Coke Count: 1

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
It’s The Journey, Not The Result,That Matters The Most 11/26/2011
Eighteen high school football games were played at the Metrodome in the last two weekends, culminating with six state championship games on Friday and Saturday.

The on-field postgame scene was similar after each game of Prep Bowl XXX: The losing team accepted its second-place trophy with resignation, the captains slowly raising it into the air and showing it to their fans. Conversely, the winning teams mobbed their captains once the championship trophies were presented at midfield, followed by mad dashes to celebrate with their fans and then posing for a team photo, all smiles and screams of delight.

But behind the scenes, where the television cameras do not go after games, things are a little different. When I can, I try to spend some time with the teams that did not see their season end in a victory. I can relate to them because my last game as a football player followed that route, with a heart-breaking defeat in a state championship game.

Two Metrodome memories, gathered while standing outside losing locker rooms, will stay with me as we tuck the 2011 football season into the history books.
One came in the semifinal round, after Hill-Murray lost to Rocori 37-35 in Class 4A. Brooks Bollinger, former NFL quarterback and first-year Hill-Murray coach, talked about the value of a season spent together.

“We were so lucky to get the experience we did and have some success,” he said. “It hurts when you get that close and don’t get it done, but my message to them was we lost today, but we won, I won, to be able to be part of something like this.”

A similar scene played out Saturday after Fairmont was defeated by St. Croix Lutheran 34-32 in the Class 3A title game. The Cardinals played their hearts out but came up short. All these years later, I remember the feeling.

After coach Mat Mahoney walked out of the locker room, he chatted with longtime Fairmont Sentinel sports editor Charlie Sorrells and me. I asked the coach what he had said to his players.

“I told them that I loved them,” he said. “I told them that this season they became better people, they became better teammates, they became better football players. We grew as a team as the season went on.

“These boys have done everything that we’ve asked them to do, and to be able to make a run like this is very special for our community. Just look at all the fans we had in the stands today; that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, football’s only a game. The support we saw out there with our crowd, our community was just phenomenal.”

The scenes are the same no matter the season, no matter the sport. Athletes, coaches and teams work so hard for so long, trying to improve, trying to keep the season alive until the final game is played. There are always winning teams and there are always losing teams. And everyone is better because of it.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 5,048
*Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 59 for the fall tournaments

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