John's Journal
First Rankings Of The Season: Cross-Country8/18/2011
Here’s another sign that the school year is upon us. The state cross-country rankings in Class 1A and 2A, as compiled by the coaches association, have been released.

The top-ranked teams are St. Cloud Cathedral (1A boys), Adrian (1A girls), Stillwater (2A boys) and Monticello (2A girls). Individually, the top preseason rankings are held by Brandon Clark of Blake (1A boys), Elena Danielson of St. Cloud Cathedral (1A girls), Cole O'Brien of Burnsville (2A boys) and Maria Hauger of Shakopee (2A girls).

The first competition date for cross-country teams is next Thursday, August 25.

Here are the rankings…

Class 1A
Boys Teams
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Minnehaha Academy
3. Esko
4. Perham
5. Waseca
6. Mora
7. Albany
8. LaCrescent
9. Plainview-Elgin-Millville
10. Byron
11. Mesabi East
12. Blake

Boys Individuals
1. Brandon Clark, Blake
2. Jonnathan Surber, St. James
3. Shane Streich, Waseca
4. Byron Schuldt, Nevis
5. Matt Welch, Proctor
6. Nick Stoks, Canby-Minneota/LinHi
7. Jackson Lindquist, Esko
8. Jacob Siekmeier, Math & Science Academy
9. Cade Ekstrom, Madelia/Truman
10. Charlie Lawrence, Foley
11. Jesse Delgado, Waseca
12. Pat Reinschmidt, Painview-Elgin-Millville

Girls Teams
1. Adrian
2. St. Cloud Cathedral
3. Esko
4. Blake
5. LaCrescent
6. Albany
7. Waseca
8. Annandale
9. Perham
10. Canby-Minneota/LinHi
11. Fairmont
12. Park Rapids

Girls Individuals
1. Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Marissa Shady, Esko
3. Lauren Friese, Fairmont
4. Jordan Chancellor, Blake
5. Kayla Woltz, Chatfield
6. Victoria Alexander, Lake of the Woods
7. Leah Jessen, Canby-Minneota/LinHi
8. Clare Flanagan, Blake
9. Emi Trost, Cannon Falls
10. Sadie Novak-Klug, Waseca
11. Savannah Ramirez, Litchfield
12. Hannah Goemann, United South Central/AC

Class 2A
Boys Teams
1 Stillwater
2 Wayzata
3 Rosemount
4 Moorhead
T5 Edina
T5 Andover
7 Mounds View
8 Eden Prairie
T9 Eastview
T9 Burnsville
11 Owatonna
12 White Bear Lake
Others receiving votes:
Forest Lake, Lakeville North, Alexandria, Monticello, Roseville, Minnetonka

Boys Individuals
1 Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
T2 Josh Thorson, Wayzata
T2 Glen Ellingson, Moorhead
T4 Joel Reichow, White Bear Lake
T4 Zach Roozen, Mounds View
6 Riley Macon, Rochester Mayo
7 Nathan Rock, Rosemount
8 Parker Wharram, Mound Westonka
T9 Connor Olson, Wayzata
T9 Tom Linner, Stillwater
11 Jan Ketterson, Jefferson
12 Will Burke, Edina
Others receiving votes:
Eric Colvin, Stillwater; Abdulah Salah, Burnsville; Mubarik Musa, Worthington; Jensen Orlow, Holy Family; Ryan Erdman, Mankato East; Keeghan Hurley, Fergus Falls; Will Sieling, Alexandria

Girls Teams
1. Monticello
2. Lakeville South
3. Eden Prairie
4. East Ridge
5. Elk River
6. Prior Lake
7. Wayzata
8. Alexandria
9. Andover
10. Albert Lea
11. Brainerd
12. Rosemount

Girls Individuals
1. Maria Hauger, Shakopee
2. Jamie Piepenburg, Alexandria
3. Erica Seidenkrantz, Monticello
4. Nicole Heitzman, Andover
5. Amber Seidenkratz, Monticello
6. Haylie Zenner, Fergus Falls
7. Bailey Ness, East Ridge
8. Chrissy Monson, Albert Lea
9. Taylor Scholl, Prior Lake
10. Kaelyn Williams, Robbinsdale Cooper
11. Elizabeth Frick, Eagan
12. Jenna Truedson, Bemidji
Wildlife And Football: They Have It All At Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin8/17/2011
I love to drive around Minnesota. That is no secret. Getting out, enjoying the countryside and spending time with high school students and their coaches is a great joy. And there’s a big bonus to this sort of travel: You never know what you’re going to see.

I journeyed to the Iron Range and visited Coleraine on Tuesday, where the Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin football team is in its second week of practice as it prepares for next week’s Zero Week opener. I arrived before the day’s workout began and immediately saw an interesting sight that had nothing to do with football.

Eight metal light towers surround historic Dixon-Barle Field, and a giant nest sits atop one of them. I thought I saw the head of a large bird in the nest, and the players told me that a family of osprey live up there. Osprey have been calling the top of that light tower home for a long time, and “That nest just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said coach Bob Schwartz.

As the players lined up and began doing calisthenics, an adult osprey (Mama? Papa? Not sure) flew around the field and screeched at the goings-on. The GNK Titans are used to this, because they didn’t bat an eye. But in all the years I’ve been hanging around football fields, this was absolutely new to me.

Schwartz and senior captain Jordan Peratalo told me that dead fish and mice can occasionally be found on the field, dropped by the raptors. Yes, it’s amazing what you see as you travel around our state.

Greenway and Nashwauk-Keewatin began a cooperative partnership in football three years ago. That means the current seniors have known nothing but Titan football.

“The first year we had a great group of kids,” Schwartz said. “We had about 23 seniors combined, and you couldn’t ask for better kids to pull it together. This year there’s nobody left that was a (Greenway) Raider or a (Nashwauk-Keewatin) Spartan.”

The two schools also coop in several other sports, so the football arrangement was a natural fit as football numbers dropped at both schools.

“We had seen each other enough in other sports, so we kind of got the hang of it right away,” Peratalo said. “It didn’t take that long to mesh.”

Coming off a 5-5 season in 2010, the Titans will open the season with a home game against Deer River on Aug. 26. Zero Week requirements mean teams have to take a week off during the season, and the Titans will do so after the Deer River game and play their second game on Sept. 9 at Hibbing. They will split their four home games between Coleraine and Nashwauk.

Schwartz – who was the Greenway coach before the coop began and is in his 15th year as a head coach -- said he felt a little rushed in preparing for the start of practice, and he’s undecided on the value of Zero Week scheduling.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not,” Schwartz (right) said. “I wish they’d move the season up so we’d get those cold-weather playoff games out of the way.”

Tyler Haigh, another senior captain (along with Peratalo, Derek Bundy and Scott Webb) said starting the season on a Zero Week timetable “gets us focused earlier, it gets people around each other before school starts, and it does give us a break in between games. I like it.”

Peratalo practiced with a cast on his right hand (pictured above), thanks to an injury suffered playing baseball. He’s hoping to be in the lineup for the opener, but if not he’ll have the bye week working in his favor.

Tuesday’s drive was a good one. I saw football players in Aitkin carrying their game jerseys (picture day?) and drove through the little village of Blackberry (there’s a corporate tie-in waiting to happen) as well as Cromwell, which is well-known for its athletic successes.

As I stopped at a convenience store in Moose Lake on the way home Tuesday evening, I heard a voice from a nearby car say, “Excuse me sir, could I ask you a dumb question?” I replied, “Sure, I’m pretty dumb so I might have an answer for you.” The question was: “How do you spell excellent?” The fellow was creating an advertisement to sell a boat motor. As I spelled the word, he wrote “Runs excellent.”

You never know what you’re going to see.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 2
*Miles John has driven: 429

--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
Class 6A Football Playoff Format Approved For 2012 Season8/16/2011
DEERWOOD -- The MSHSL Board of Directors held its August meeting at Ruttger’s Conference Center here Tuesday, and football grabbed the headline.

During a meeting that contained plenty of boilerplate board material, the members voted unanimously to approve a playoff format for Class 6A football. The new division will begin play in 2012.

The 32 Class 6A teams will be split into four sections, with eight teams in each section. (Sections are listed below.) For the first round of playoffs, each section will seed its teams 1 through 8. After the first round of games have been played, the four winning teams from each section will be matched with the top four from a different section by random draw; higher seeds will play lower seeds,with higher seeds being the home team. Those section-to-section pairings will rotate every two years.

After two rounds of games, eight teams will advance to the state quarterfinals and be seeded under the current format, with coaches voting to seed the top four teams and a blind draw deciding their opponents from the remaining four.

The 6A state quarterfinals will be played under the same timetable as quarterfinals in other classes. The 6A state semifinals will be played at the Metrodome on the Thursday evening prior to the traditional Friday-Saturday semifinals. The 6A championship game will be played on Friday night of Prep Bowl weekend.

The section lineups look like this …

SECTION 3
Burnsville High School
Eagan High School
Eastview High School
Lakeville North High School
Lakeville South High School
Park High School
Prior Lake High School
Rosemount High School

SECTION 4
Cretin-Derham Hall High School
Forest Lake High School
Mounds View High School
North High School
Roseville Area High School
Stillwater Area High School
White Bear Lake Area High School
Woodbury High School

SECTION 5
Anoka
Blaine High School
Brainerd High School
Centennial High School
Champlin Park High School
Coon Rapids High School
Maple Grove High School
Osseo

SECTION 6
Eden Prairie High School
Edina High School
Hopkins High School
Minneapolis South
Minnetonka High School
Robbinsdale Armstrong High School
Shakopee High School
Wayzata High School

IN OTHER BOARD NEWS…

--Former members of the board, whose terms ended in June, were recognized for their service. Those members are Carol Bomben, Ray Kirch, Brent Robbins, John Schumacher, Bill Webb and Les Zellmann.

--Contracts for speech consultant Mike Tillman and music consultant Carl Lipke were approved, as were contracts with MSHSL attorney Patrick Kelly and legislative consultant Roger Aronson.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 1
*Miles John has driven: 123

--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
We’re Off And Running!8/15/2011
It’s Day One of the 2011-12 year in school activities, with practices for fall sports kicking off today (with the exception of the Zero Week football teams, which begin their second week of workouts today).

I’m stationed near Deerwood, where the MSHSL Board of Directors is conducting orientation and workshop sessions today as well as its regular August board meeting on Tuesday. I’ll be hitting the road later today to report on the first day of football practice at Brainerd High School, where coach Ron Stolski is beginning his 50th year as a head coach.

Go to the MSHSL Facebook page and tell us about Day One for your team…

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 0
*Miles John has driven: 0

--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
For Brainerd’s Stolski, Football Season No. 50 Is Underway8/15/2011
BRAINERD -- Ron Stolski had several messages for the 101 members of the Brainerd High School football team as the first day of practice came to a close late Monday afternoon.

He talked about working hard: “I have never doubted that a Brainerd player will work hard. We really have to work on our conditioning.”

He talked about sticking together: “If we’re going to get it done, we’re going to get it done together.”

Stolski, who is in his 50th season as a head football coach and has won more games than any football coach in Minnesota history, also talked about doing good works for others. He reminded the Warriors that an event called “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” will be held Saturday in town, sponsored by The Women’s Center of Mid-Minnesota and Sexual Assault Services.

“As we’re creating this family for one another,” he said, “we need to be active in our community. We’ll walk in support of this very, very important community function.”

Ron Stolski is known as a football coach, certainly. But as with all fine educators, his teaching goes beyond the subject at hand. Monday was the first day of practice for the 2011 season, but Stolski already knows what the final gathering of the Warriors will be like. Whether they lose in the first round of the postseason or win the Class 5A state championship, the life lessons he teaches will be brought up one final time at season’s end.

“My last message to them is to be good people, be good in your community, care about your family and classmates and do other things,” he said. “I wish them well.”

Numbers as well as deeds define Stolski. His career record is 330-148-5 … his teams have reached the state semifinals in three of the last four seasons … and he celebrated his 72nd birthday last week.

After practice, I asked the Brainerd team captains this questions: How long has Coach Stolski been a head coach? The answers from Jacob Kassulker, Mitch McLain and Logan McAllister went like this: 51, 44 and 52. The correct answer is, of course, 50.

Then I asked the three seniors what words they use to describe Stolski. Their answers were “Awesome,” “Kind-hearted” and “Hardworking.” That’s a pretty strong testament.

Stolski has been in Brainerd since 1975, with previous stops in Kensington, Slayton, Princeton and Park Center. He talked about what has changed and what hasn’t in 50 years.

“I think the kids still pretty much come with their heart in their hands,” he said. “What has changed is that they’re growing up with lots of different pressures. I think the biggest thing, and this was true all those years ago, they want to have fun at the game. Too many experiences that they have don’t always turn out to be fun. What’s also different is the athletes are better.”

No matter what happens this season, the 2012 season will bring a big change to Brainerd. That’s when the new Class 6A will begin play, involving the largest 32 schools in the state. Brainerd is the only non-Twin Cities school that will play 6A football.

“It will be much different,” Stolski said. “Early on there was kind of a surprised reaction, because I was on the task force (that studied football changes) and (32) was not the recommended number. And that’s fine. We’re going to train and coach the best we can, and play the game each Friday night. We’re members of the High School League and we’re team guys, and if that’s what it is, that’s what it is.”

The Warriors will open the season at home against Rocori on Sept. 2, and right now that game is the focus. Stolski doesn’t spend much time worrying about the past, because he’s always focused on helping his players improve and preparing for the next opponent. As for season number 50?

“It feels great,” he said with a smile. “I wish I could say I feel smarter, and certainly I’m not in the physical condition I was in 50 years ago, but it feels great. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than on a football field in August.”

--To see a photo gallery from Monday's practice in Brainerd, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 1
*Miles John has driven: 123

--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