John's Journal
Saluting State Champions In Adapted Soccer and Girls Swimming/Diving11/21/2011
Saturday was championship day in two sports: girls swimming and diving as well as adapted soccer. State champs were crowned in adapted soccer at Stillwater High School and in girl swimming and diving at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

Here are the results …

Championship Games
CI Division/ Anoka-Hennepin defeated St. Cloud Area 3-2.
PI Division/ Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka defeated Anoka-Hennepin 3-0.

Third-Place Games
CI Division/ Park Center Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 5-2.
PI Division/ Dakota United defeated Park Center 4-3 in overtime.

Fifth-Place Games
CI Division/ Dakota United defeated South Suburban 12-4.
PI Division/ South Suburban defeated Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 8-3.


1. Sartell-Saint Stephen. 2. Northfield. 3. Hutchinson. 4. Visitation. 5. Monticello. 6. Marshall. 7. Breck School. 8. Mankato West. 9. Benilde-St. Margaret's. 10. Albert Lea.

All-Time mark in the 500-yard freestyle was set by Sartell-St. Stephen junior Marisa Wood. Class A marks were set in the 200-yard freestyle by Wood, 50-yard freestyle by Mankato West sophomore Danielle Nack, 100-yard butterfly by Nack.

200 Yard Medley Relay/ 1 Hutchinson (Megan Bateman, Jordan Ford, Kaylee Kucera, Aspen Billiet)

200 Yard Freestyle/ Marisa Wood, Sartell-St. Stephen

200 Yard IM/ Ellen Bloom, Sartell-St. Stephen

50 Yard Freestyle/ Danielle Nack, Mankato West

1 meter Diving/ Bailey Dupay, Northfield

100 Yard Butterfly/ Danielle Nack, Mankato West

100 Yard Freestyle/ Whitney Weisz, Little Falls

500 Yard Freestyle/ Marisa Wood, Sartell-St. Stephen

200 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Sartell-Saint Stephen (Tarin Anding, Lauren Martens, Molly Peichel, Marisa Wood)

100 Yard Backstroke/ Ellen Bloom, Sartell-St. Stephen

100 Yard Breaststroke/ Kathryn Ostrom, St Louis Park

400 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Sartell-Saint Stephen (Ellen Bloom, Jennifer Thompson, Molly Peichel, Marisa Wood)


1. Edina. 2. Minnetonka. 3. Stillwater. 4. Eden Prairie. 5. Rochester John Marshall. 6. Rochester Mayo. 7. Wayzata. 8. Robbinsdale Armstrong. 9. Prior Lake. 10. Chanhassen.

All-Time and Class 2A mark in 200-yard freestyle relay was set by Edina.

200 Yard Medley Relay/ Edina (Madeleine Eden, Olivia Anderson, Paige Haller, Maryellen Campbell)

200 Yard Freestyle/ Nikki Larson, Edina

200 Yard IM/ Taylor Bass, Rochester John Marshll

50 Yard Freestyle/ Kaia Grobe, Chanhassen

1 meter Diving/ Jessie Ramberg, Forest Lake

100 Yard Butterfly/ Nikki Larson, Edina

100 Yard Freestyle/ Kaia Grobe, Chanhassen

500 Yard Freestyle/ Kira Zubar, Eden Prairie

200 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Edina (Olivia Anderson, Emma Wittmer, Maryellen Campbell, Nikki Larson)

100 Yard Backstroke/ Emma Paulson, Wayzata

100 Yard Breaststroke/ Olivia Anderson, Edina

400 Yard Freestyle Relay/ Edina (Emma Wittmer, Amelia Anderson, Madeleine Eden, Nikki Larson)
A Rookie Coach, A Great Season And Knowing What's Important11/19/2011
Brooks Bollinger’s eyes were moist when he exited the Hill-Murray locker room Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers had just lost to Rocori 37-35 in the Class 4A state football semifinals at the Metrodome, ending Bollinger’s rookie season as a coach.

A locker room is no strange place for Bollinger, 32, who was a four-year starter at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin and spent time in the NFL with the Jets, Vikings, Cowboys and Lions. Saturday’s loss ended the first chapter in a new phase of his football life, and his postgame words – after an emotional talk with his players -- made it exceedingly clear that the game goes far beyond the X’s and the O’s for him.

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms, and that was just a special one,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be a part of it. It’s pretty emotional. We have a great group of seniors. It’s one of the reasons I love being a high school coach; what makes it great also hurts you so much when it ends. Just being a part of these kids’ lives and getting so attached to them.

“We were so lucky to get the experience we did and have some success. 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.”

When longtime Hill-Murray coach Vince Conway retired after the 2010 season, athletic director Bill Lechner learned that Bollinger was living in the Twin Cities with his wife Natalie (a Twin Cities native) and their three kids. A phone call was made, interviews were held and the ex-pro had the job.

Before long, Bollinger was arriving at Hill-Murray in the morning and staying there all day, working on becoming a better football coach and shaping his new team.

“Vince Conway didn’t leave the cupboard bare, he left him a nucleus, which was good for Brooks to build on,” Lechner said. “He comes in with a good name, so that helped him. But that only goes so far. The kids can read through it if he’s not a real person. He’s a family guy, he’s a coach, he gets it, the kids love him and respect him and he’s worked hard to get that.”

The Pioneers finished with a 9-3 record, losing to South St. Paul and St. Thomas Academy during the regular season. They defeated Chisago Lakes and Mahtomedi in the Section 4 playoffs and beat Faribault in the state quarterfinals. Hill-Murray had not been to state in football since 1987 and Saturday’s game was the Pioneers’ first in the Metrodome.

Bollinger grew up with football; his father Rob was the offensive coordinator at the University of North Dakota and Brooks played quarterback at Central High School in Grand Forks.

“Growing up around my dad’s teams at North Dakota, this is what I love about it,” he said. “The relationships, the kids, the stories you’re creating, the big-picture stuff. I enjoy drawing up plays and running an offense, but to me that’s a means to an end. That’s what you have to do to build this bond and be able to experience things like this with your kids.”

That sentiment was echoed by a young quarterback: Hill-Murray junior Zach LaValle. Zach, who passed for 232 yards Saturday, called playing for and learning from Bollinger “one of the great experiences of my life.”

“He’s not only made me a better player but a better person,” LaValle said. “As a player, it’s all the little things, being a quarterback himself. As a person, he’s always there, teaching life lessons. He’s a great guy.”

LaValle missed summer workouts while recovering from an injury and wasn’t fully involved in practice until late in preseason drills. Bollinger said Zach’s growth, especially down the stretch this season, was critical to the Pioneers’ success.

“I think when everything came together and things turned the corner was when Zach LaValle really got comfortable at quarterback and just played his butt off the last six weeks of the season or whatever. He’s the kind of kid everybody needs, he’s a leader, he’s the guy you want to play quarterback.”

My final question for Bollinger concerned, oddly, his footwear. I have seen coaches who wear cleats on the sidelines, but this was completely different: Bollinger wore black golf shoes.

“I was waiting for someone to notice,” he said with a smile. “Some of the NFL guys have done it in places I’ve been. I needed some old black shoes and these are my old golf shoes.”

It’s just another part of a great story.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 4,928
*Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 49 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
A Big Day Of Football Heroics At The Metrodome11/18/2011
Individual stars were the theme during the early portion of Friday’s state football semifinal games at the Metrodome. Impressive performances and big numbers were put up as Edgerton/Ellsworth, Mahnomen and Bemidji advanced to Prep Bowl XXX with dominant victories.

A total of six games were on tap today, with six more on Saturday as the Prep Bowl lineup is set. Here are some highlights from Friday’s games …

--Class 4A/ Bemidji pulled off the first big surprise of the semifinals, beating top-ranked Mankato West 45-26. West quarterback Philip Nelson had received the pregame acclaim, and rightfully so, since he will play for the University of Minnesota next year. But the star of this game was Bemidji’s Carey Woods. The senior receiver caught five passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, including scoring plays of 61 and 67 yards on passes from Mitchell Hendricks. Nelson completed 24 of 42 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions; he also led all rushers with 25 carries for 183 yards.

--Class 2A/ Moose Lake/Willow River 35, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 14: Jake Disterhaupt stole the show, scoring four touchdowns for the Rebels. Disterhaupt scored on runs of 80 yards (on the game’s first play), 7 yards and 66 yards, and caught a 10-yard TD pass from Tony Adamczak. Disterhaupt finished with 23 carries for 252 yards.

--Nine-Man/ Edgerton/Ellsworth 48, Ada-Borup 20: Edgerton/Ellsworth quarterback Isaac Heard was stellar, completing 17 of 19 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Casey Schilling and Devin Hulstein each caught a TD pass and Hulstein ran for 105 yards. Ada-Borup QB Jace Hennen completed 12 of 30 passesfor 238 yards and one score.

--Class 1A/ Mahnomen 32, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 12: Mahnomen quarterback Jacob Pavek was all over the field, scoring four touchdowns while running 17 times for 173 yards and completing three of four passes for 26 yards. Mahnomen led 24-6 at halftime and held off the Knights, who were led by QB’s Jordan Anderson 19-for-34 performance for 257 yards and two scores.

I arrived at the Metrodome more than an hour before the first game’s 8 a.m. kickoff. Here’s some of what happened from that point on …

6:58 a.m./ “Did you run away from home?” A security guard poses that question, seeing me entering the Metrodome with two backpacks full of essential journalism gear … and a big bag of candy for my press box colleagues.

7:09 a.m./ The Edgerton-Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen take the field for warm-ups. One of the band hosts for the games is Dean Verdoes, a longtime coach and administrator. Dean played on Edgerton’s 1960 boys state championship basketball team, and this is the first time in his memory since then that he has witnessed a team from Edgerton playing in a state tournament.

7:10 a.m./ The day’s first Twitter message asks me how many Diet Cokes I have consumed. Answer: None.

7:42 a.m./ Second Diet Coke inquiry via Twitter. Answer: None.

7:48 a.m./ I chat with the chain gang that will work the first two games. It’s a crew from Hopkins, including Brian Cosgriff, coach of the defending 4A state champion Royals girls basketball team.

8:01 a.m/ Kickoff between Ada-Borup and Edgerton/Ellsworth.

9:17a.m./ Edgerton/Ellsworth leads Ada-Borup 32-6 as the day’s first Diet Coke is cracked open.

9:42 a.m./ Continuing a long-standing tradition, I dump a pile of fun-size candy bars on a table in the back of the press box.

11:35 a.m./ Gastronomic highlight of the day so far…A nice box lunch is handed to me.

1:44 p.m./ Message on Twitter from someone in the stands… “Let me know when you'll need that next Diet Coke!”

2:55 p.m./ As I circle the field taking photos, a bunch of elementary-age Mankato West fans hang over the barrier behind one end zone. I reach up, they reach down and we do a series of high fives. I tell them, “Pretend I’m somebody famous!”

3:10 p.m./ Luke Sleeper, a talented journalism student from the University of Minnesota, arrives to help me get through the day and write about a couple of the games. How about this for dedication? Luke came right to the Metrodome after his classes ended. On a Friday. And he’s a college student. My hero.

4:10 p.m./ An, uh, colorful character from the Fairmont video crew attempted to move me out of the press box seat I had been occupying since 7 a.m. He said he may have to talk to security and have me moved. Good luck, dude.

5:35 p.m/ Dinner is a taco bar with all the fixin’s, provided to MSHSL employees and tournament workers.

8:20 p.m./ Cracked open favorite soft drink No. 5.

10:31 p.m./ During the 5A game between Eden Prairie and Totino-Grace, someone posted this comment on the MSHSL Facebook page: “Go Eagles!!” This was either a brilliant piece of satire, or someone didn’t realize that both teams are the Eagles.

(A Diet Coke aside: During the girls state swimming and diving championships Thursday, Farmington coach Jen Marshall asked me this question at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center: “How many today?” I was sitting at a table with 1) an empty plastic plate that had earlier contained some pizza and 2) an empty Diet Coke can. That was No. 1 for this weekend’s state tournaments.)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 139
*Miles John has driven: 4,888
*Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 44 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
Report From Friday's Class 3A Game At The Metrodome 11/18/2011
John's Journal correspondent Luke Sleeper reports on the big game in Class 3A...

Fairmont Advances to Prep Bowl