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…
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