John's Journal
Tidbits From A Fun-Filled Tournament Day, And A Look Ahead10/27/2011
Thursday was one more step toward crowning state champions in girls tennis (singles and doubles) and boys and girls soccer. The tennis tourney will come to a conclusion Friday, and the state soccer quarterfinals also will wrap up Friday.

Come Monday we’ll mark Halloween (boo!) with six state semifinal soccer games inside the Metrodome, hold two more in there Tuesday and watch soccer champions crowned next Thursday under the Teflon roof.

Football swings back into action Saturday with section semifinals. My plans are set: I’ll be at the tennis tournament on Friday before heading south for a football game in beautiful Fairmont on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals (7-1), ranked fifth in Class 3A, will host third-ranked Montevideo (8-0) in the Section 3 semifinals and one of the marquee games of the week.

And with that, here is a look at Thursday’s highlights from the tournament trail …

DIFFERENCE-MAKER OF THE DAY

Eastview junior Mathew Gweh was a marked man on the field in the Class 2A boys soccer quarterfinals at Park High School, and for good reason. Rochester Mayo tried to keep a close watch on Gweh all night, but it wasn’t enough. He scored both goals as top-seeded Eastview won 2-0 to advance to next week’s semifinals.

“He’s a difference-maker, somebody who well step up,” Eastview coach Scott Gustafson said. “He’s a special kid.”

TWITTER CHATTER OF THE DAY

Me: Overheard at #mshsl 2A boys state soccer at Park: "(WCCO TV guy) Frank Vascellaro is here!"

Me: Early trigger on the Frank Vascellaro report. Confusion between Frank and the Eastview band director: Frank Pasquerella.

A Twitter follower: Is the Eastview Choir Director named Amelia Blantanello?

--Speaking of this newfangled thing called Twitter … a milestone was reached at 10:55 p.m. Thursday when my list of Twitter followers hit 900. And No. 900 was pretty special; it’s a guy named Jonathan Fortner (he’s @jrfortner in Twitterspeak). After I announced the identity of No. 900, Jonathan sent me this Tweet: “@MSHSLjohn Great news! Happy to help out. I enjoy following HS sports; I am a MSHSL Official for Baseball, Football & Basketball.” That’s about as fitting as it gets.

--First pep band sightings of the fall tournaments: The Eastview and Rochester Mayo Symphony Orchestras were on hand Thursday evening at Park. Sounded great, too, despite the cold temps.

--We almost had a very interesting matchup in the Class 1A tennis doubles tournament. Robb DeCorsey is the coach at Glencoe-Silver Lake, and GSL’s Mary Arnold and Jackie Stifter won their first match Friday before losing. If they had advanced and the Jordan team of Alex Hancock and Drew DeCorsey had done the same, we could have had the possibility a father vs. daughter matchup in the championship round. Yes, Drew from Jordan is the daughter of Robb.

--At the tennis tournaments there are narrow walkways behind some of the courts, which allow spectators to move between courts without distracting the players. A sheet of heavy, dark vinyl (photo at left) separates the walkway from one end of each court. While Annandale junior Kaytlin Kuefler was playing a second-round match in Class 1A Thursday, she sprinted back past the baseline in pursuit of a shot and ran into the vinyl ... hard. On the other side was a group of three female teens. They never saw it coming when Kuefler hit the vinyl and collided with one of them on the other side of it. The fan screamed in surprise, “Oh my God!” Nobody was hurt, but from inside the dark little walkway – where I witnessed one side of the collision -- laughter could be heard from the crowd.

--Who’s ready for winter sports? Girls hockey practice begins on Monday.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 81
*Miles John has driven: 4,243
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 6 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
Games Are Played, Champions Are Crowned, Diet Cokes Are Counted10/26/2011
Wednesday was another in a series of two-sport days for my laptop, my camera, my car and myself. We started with the Class 2A girls state tennis tournament at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center and ended with Class 2A girls state soccer quarterfinals at Hopkins High School.

In between the two locations, my dinner was handed to me through a drive-through window and consumed – trust me -- while concentrating on driving. It included a Diet Coke, of course, which also was how the workday began …

I hadn’t been inside Baseline for more than a few minutes before a fellow asked me, “Are you tracking the Diet Coke count again this year?” About that same time, 2A tournament site manager and all-around nice guy Hal Miller of Alexandria handed me a Diet Coke.

And with that simple handover of a single Diet Coke, we have begun the latest round of Diet Coke Counting. The total for each day of fall tournaments, as well as a running count through the post-Thanksgiving Prep Bowl weekend, are now appearing at the end of each John’s Journal (burp!) entry.

Also seen during a tennis/soccer kind of day …

--In Class 2A girls tennis, Edina won the team title for the 15th year in a row with a 5-2 decision over Rochester Mayo. And in 1A at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis, Blake defeated Rochester Lourdes 6-1 to capture a state title.

--There was a guy at the tennis tournament wearing a tag around his neck that said “College Scout.” Believe me, nobody representing any college wears such a thing. I’m sure he’s from a so-called scouting service, hoping to catch the eye of parents who want to waste their money.

--I have a scrape on the back of my left ankle, because I didn’t move quite fast enough to get out of the way of a sideline tackle during Tuesday’s football game between St. Paul Johnson and Minnehaha Academy. I stayed on my feet but somebody’s cleat caught me as they went down. Good thing I’m tough.

--Online Boo-Boo of the Day: During the second soccer game at Hopkins, I issued this Tweet: “Wayzata leads Blaine 1-0 on a goal by Maddie Eklin in the 22nd minute.” Wrong, twit for brains. I corrected the information later: “Halftime in Hopkins, and Wayzata leads Blaine 1-0 in #mshsl girls 2A soccer on a goal by Summer Johnson (Eklin had the assist..my bad).”

--A tennis player walked into the tournament headquarters room, saw the results of her match written on a scoresheet and blurted out, “Oh my God, I lost terrible!” (Didn't she already know the score of her own match?)

--One of the tennis chair referees was leaving Baseline when he stuck his head into headquarters and asked, “Do you folks validate parking?” Sorry, the MSHSL can do a lot of things, but that is not one of them.

--There were no Twitter hiccups Wednesday (see previous John’s Journal entry for the gory details from Tuesday), so it was easy to stay connected to the sports world. While at the tennis tournament, for example, I learned via Twitter that the day’s World Series game had been postponed. Later in the day I was sitting in the press box at Hopkins, where I could update scores from the two soccer games played there. St. Cloud Cathedral athletic director Emmett Keenan – like me, he’s an Irishman who can sometimes be trusted – was texting and Tweeting score updates from Class 1A girls soccer quarterfinals at St. Cloud State. Twitter is an outstanding means of communication … almost all the time.

--Email of the Day: “Don't know how big of a deal it is, but Monday night one of our volleyball players, Taylor Case, served 25 straight points in a sub-section set for Fillmore Central. The Falcons defeated Schaeffer Academy 3-0. Taylor was 36/36 for the night.” Nice going, Taylor.

--To see a photo gallery from 2A girls state tennis, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 73
*Miles John has driven: 4,154
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 3 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
A Wonderful Tournament Day … Despite The Big Twitter Failure10/25/2011
Tuesday was one of those days that stand out in this business. It’s tournament time, which for me meant spending the early part of the day watching Class 1A girls state tennis, then switching over to a 3 p.m. football playoff game, then heading home for dinner and what became The Big Twitter Failure of 2011.

Everything was going splendidly until, oh about 8:20 p.m. With football section quarterfinals being played all over the state, I had a rare evening; instead of standing on a sideline at a game, I had already seen one football game and planned to monitor statewide scores via Twitter and re-Tweet those scores to all the friendly prep fans who follow me on Twitter. And then the whole thing went kablooey.

I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden Twitter refused to allow me to conduct any business. I couldn’t Tweet, I couldn’t re-Tweet, nothing. Heck of a rotten deal. But that didn’t detract from a great day of competition, sights, sounds and stories…

REMEMBERING “AB-DUB”

The girls tennis team from Waseca (right) stood out in their matching pink T-shirts. They had “Play Like a Princess” printed on the back and the Bluejays wore matching pink ribbons in their hair. On the left sleeve was printed the word “Ab-dub” and a little crown.

That was a reference to Abigail “Abby” “Ab-dub” Claire Wendland, 16, who died earlier this month after being involved in an automobile accident. Abigail’s favorite color was pink and her nickname was Princess. Thus the T-shirts.

What kind of person was Abby? Here’s an excerpt from her obituary…

“A junior at Waseca High School, Abby excelled academically, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She was a member of Frontline in the Marching Band and played in the Concert Band. She challenged herself in both the percussion and horn sections. She sang in the high school choir and State Street Singers. She received numerous honors at solo ensemble competitions in both band and voice.

“Abby was a dancer and from the age of 3 performed in numerous recitals through Shari’s School of Dance. She was recently looking forward to being on the Extreme Dance Team. She was certain to sign up for every style of dance offered.

“In the sports arena, Abby was a football and basketball cheerleader and a member of the golf team. She served on the Student Council and was looking forward to planning this year’s prom. She also competed with the Speech and Law teams.

“She loved the theater and played numerous roles in Waseca Community Theater productions. Most recently, she was cast as a Pink Lady for the upcoming high school production of ‘Grease.’ ”

The Waseca team played a tough match Tuesday, falling to Rochester Lourdes 5-2 in the state quarterfinals. The Bluejays then defeated Staples-Motley/Verndale 5-2 in the consolation bracket and will meet Virginia in today’s fifth-place match.

INTERESTING TENNIS FACTS

--Three cousins qualified for the state tourney: Kayla Kraemer of Brainerd in 2A doubles, Janna Juntunen of Osakis in doubles and Taylor Kraemer of Osakis in singles. All three qualified in the team competition, too.

--The St. James team and fans had great T-shirts, bearing the names of all the coaches and players.

--The best tennis tournament hair was worn by a grandpa from Virginia who had apparently spray-painted his silver head a nice shade of blue.

-Virginia coach Dave Gunderson, returning to the tourney site after lunch, brought one slice of cheesecake to the tournament officials table. Sitting with several others from the MSHSL, I proclaimed a need for “medicinal cheesecake.”

KICKING INTO THE RECORD BOOK

Detroit Lakes football kicker Steven Labine came into Wednesday’s playoff game against Hibbing with 83 career extra points. He needed 84 to crack the top 10 in state history, and he got there with ease as the Lakers beat Hibbing 34-0.

AND SPEAKING OF FOOTBALL …

The football game I saw Tuesday was the very first playoff game in the state this year. It was my 15th game of the football season as well as the biggest comeback I have witnessed this fall. In a Class 3A, Section 4 quarterfinal game, No. 4 seed Minnehaha Academy trailed 20-0 in the second quarter before rallying for a 28-20 victory over No. 5 seed St. Paul Johnson.

It was my first trip to a football game at Minnehaha Academy, which is a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River in south Minneapolis. The field has no lights, requiring the 3 p.m. kickoff. Music by Jay-Z was playing on the PA system when I arrived during pregame warm-ups. Johnson coach Jeff Plaschko wore short pants despite the cold; that’s a common practice for a few football coaches.

Some other scattered observations from a football afternoon …

--I had never before seen deer stands at a football facility, but Minnehaha has two of them sitting alongside the bleachers. One assistant coach from each team (right) climbed a stand with his headphones and watched the game. There is sort of a press box, but it’s very small and not very enclosed. Maybe deer stands will catch on.

--Minnehaha Academy athletic director Ken Anderson is retiring in December after 34 years on the job. Smooth sailing, Ken!

--Overheard from a couple of wishful Johnson reserves as a group of Minnehaha female students walked around the field: “They’re totally checking us out.”

--I chatted on the sidelines with Minnehaha girls basketball coach Josh Thurow, who was a busy man Tuesday. He was soon headed to Becker, where he was the referee for the Becker-Princeton playoff game.

--Minnehaha quarterback Bjorn Halvorson threw a touchdown pass and ran for two scores in the big comeback. When I asked him about the rally, he said, “They were big, they came out really fast, we came out flat. We’ve been coming out flat in the first quarter a lot, but defense won the game again. We got our offense rolling, but defense won the game. The offensive line got a push, and once we got a push we started running the ball. I’m happy.”

The Redhawks’ prize for winning Tuesday is a Saturday game at St. Croix Lutheran. The Crusaders are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. But one of the many great things about high school sports is that anything can happen.

“We’re getting ready to shock the state and take down the No. 1 team,” Minnehaha coach Jordan Baynard told the boys after Tuesday’s big win.

Hey, why not?

--To see photo galleries from 1A girls state tennis and the St. Paul Johnson-Minnehaha Academy football game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 63
*Miles John has driven: 4,090

--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
Lakeville South, Marshall, Bethlehem Academy Lead Final Volleyball Rankings10/24/2011
Tournament time has arrived in fall sports, including volleyball. As section playoffs get rolling, the final rankings of the season have been released by the volleyball coaches association.

There are no changes at the top, with Lakeville South, Marshall and Bethlehem Academy holding steady at No. 1 in their respective classes. In all three classes, the No. 1 team received all but one first-place vote.

CLASS 3A
1. Lakeville South (15) 239
2. Eagan 202
3. Blaine (1) 192
4. Shakopee 185
5. Lakeville North 151
6. Andover 138
7. Bloomington Jefferson 128
8. Wayzata 124
9. Eden Prairie 114
10. Centennial 51
Others: Hill-Murray (22), Hutchinson (21), Hopkins (15), Waconia (14), Minnetonka (8), Apple Valley (6), Chanhassen (5), Cretin-Derham Hall (3), Owatonna (1)

CLASS 2A
1. Marshall (9) 149
2. Jackson County Central 134
3. Belle Plaine (1) 126
4. Stewartville 117
5. Lesuer-Henderson 114
6. Jordan 195
7. Kasson-Mantorville 92
8. Caledonia 87
9. Wadena-Deer Creek 59
10. Byron 44
Others: Sauk Center (14), Maple Lake (11), Visitation (7), Esko (6)

CLASS 1A
1. Bethlehem Academy (10) 163
2. Canby (1) 147
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 145
4. Southwest Christian 131
5. Mayer Lutheran 121
6. Minneota 106
7. MACCRAY 84
8. WinEMac 83
9. Ada-Borup 65
Nevis 65
Others: BBE (48), Hancock (14), Mabel-Canton (3)
Eden Prairie Football Shutout Was First In 237 Games10/22/2011
We have an answer to the question that was posed in the previous installment of John's Journal. In the wake of Wayzata's 9-0 football victory over Eden Prairie on Wednesday night, I wrote:

"The pressing postgame question, then, was this: When was the last time Eden Prairie was held scoreless? I still don’t have an answer, so if anyone knows, uh, let me know, will ya?"

Our hero is Dave Giles, a frequent in-arena announcer for various MSHSL state tournaments and historian for the annual Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game. Here is what Dave wrote to me in an email Saturday afternoon:

John,

I saw your "John's Journal" on the Eden Prairie-Wayzata football game. Great job as always.

Until last Wednesday's game at Wayzata, Eden Prairie had never been shut out with Mike Grant as the head coach. In 2005 (September 30, 2005), Chaska held Eden Prairie scoreless in regulation time as the teams battled to a 0-0 tie after 4 quarters. Chaska won the game 10-7 in 2 OTs.

In your journal, you asked "The pressing postgame question, then, was this: When was the last time Eden Prairie was held scoreless? I still don’t have an answer, so if anyone knows, uh, let me know, will ya?".

I wasn't sure if anyone answered the question about the last time Eden Prairie was held scoreless. I have the answer:

Friday October 11, 1991 (week 7 of the 1991 season):

Eden Prairie at Richfield in a Lake Blue conference game - final score: Richfield 35, Eden Prairie 0.

In week 2 of the 1991 season, Eden Prairie was also shut out by Minnetonka 7-0 (game played at Eden Prairie).

The 1991 Eden Prairie Eagles were not coached by Mike Grant. Grant took over at Eden Prairie the next year (1992). The Eden Prairie head coach in 1991 was Chuck Rodgers.

Eden Prairie is 214-22 in 20 seasons with Mike Grant as the head coach (236 games). They scored points in their last two games in 1991 and then scored in 235 straight games from 1992 through 10/19/11 (237 games without being shut out).

Dave Giles
Game Historian
Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game