John's Journal
Guest Posters Now Available9/23/2011
This is from Chris Franson, a great up and coming scribe.
A Great Story Of One Runner Coming To The Rescue9/22/2011
This story comes courtesy of a press release from the Anoka-Hennepin School District….

When Andover High School cross-country runner Josh Ripley heard the screams of Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas, Josh knew he needed to help. While other competitors in the Applejack Invite in Lakeville ran by, Josh stopped to see what was wrong.

In the first mile of a 2-mile junior varsity race held Sept. 16, Josh found Mark holding his ankle and bleeding profusely. Worried that Mark had punctured his Achilles heel, Josh carried the wounded runner for a half a mile to get him to his coach and parents. After making sure Mark was in good hands, Josh jumped back into the race.

It turns out Mark had been “spiked,” meaning he was stepped on or came in contact with pointed metal spikes some runners wear on their shoes to get better traction. Mark was taken to a hospital where he received more than 20 stitches and is in a brace/boot to immobilize the area so the stitches do not pop out.

Josh, a junior at Andover High School, said stopping to help the injured runner was “just natural instinct.”

“I didn’t think about my race, I knew I needed to stop and help him,” Josh said. “It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Josh, the son of Stacey and Jason Ripley of Andover, will be honored by the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for his actions at the board’s meeting Monday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Coon Rapids.

Mark’s coach and parents are extremely grateful to Josh for his actions.

“I was stunned and so proud of the sportsmanship and kindness he showed to our runner who was injured,” said Jessica Just, the Lakeville South team’s coach. “The family, our Lakeville South coaching staff and our whole team were so thankful and appreciative of Josh's act of kindness and selflessness to a rival competitor.”

Gene Paulauskas, Mark’s father, learned of Josh’s actions after Mark had been handed off to him.

“While I was running with Mark in my arms [to get medical attention], he told me that it was a runner from another team who had stopped and helped him to an area of the course where he could get some help,” Paulauskas said. “It was horrible to see Mark with such a bad injury, but we were all struck by the selfless act of compassion, kindness and sportsmanship exhibited by Josh Ripely, the Andover runner.”

When someone told Josh’s coach, Scott Clark, that Josh was carrying another runner, Clark said he thought he misheard.

“Then Josh comes jogging into view carrying a runner,” Clark said. “I noticed the blood on the runner’s ankle as Josh handed him off to one of the coaches from Lakeville. Josh was tired and you could tell his focus was off as he started back on the course, clearly he intended to finish, this happening inside the first mile. I got his attention and told him to relax and get his focus back for racing and not worry about his place. Josh continued to run and finished.”

Clark said what Josh did says a lot about him as an individual.

“Clearly Josh is a compassionate and caring person,” Clark said. “We consistently talk about being a team and caring about how each person on the team does. Cross country is filled with quality athletes at each school. It is always gratifying to see it exhibited in such a way as Josh did.”
As New U.S. Citizen, Soccer Official Knows What’s Really Important9/22/2011
ST. CLOUD -- Adalberto Villalobos has played soccer all his life and worked as a high school soccer official in Minnesota for many years. But when Villalobos stands for the pregame national anthem this season, something is different.

The native of Costa Rica became an American citizen in May, and here’s how he describes hearing the anthem at his first soccer game this fall…

“A young lady sang it beautifully, and I found myself turning so the other officials wouldn’t see me getting teary-eyed. Emotions took over and it hit home; it’s for real, I’m here, I’m part of it. Not that I didn’t feel part of it or welcome or respected before, but it has taken a different turn. It’s a different lens now. It kind of makes you see things from a different perspective.”

Villalobos (right), 42, lives in St. Cloud with his wife Diane and their children Gabriel, 12, and Sofia, 8. Adalberto and Diane met when she visited Costa Rica as a student at St. Cloud State in 1991. He worked with a program that helped visiting students become acquainted with the country’s culture.

“The moment I saw her, the stars and the butterflies and everything came together,” he said, smiling. “She tells everybody the feeling was mutual.”

When Villalobos was 12 he had lived with relatives in Michigan for a year. He learned English at that time and he calls that year “one of the best gifts I’ve received. It continues to give.”

As his relationship with Diane – who teaches Spanish at St. Cloud’s South Junior High -- continued, he moved to Minnesota in 1993 and the couple was married. He played soccer in St. Cloud for several years, worked as an assistant coach at Tech High School and got into officiating. He worked junior varsity games for seven years and is now in his sixth season as a varsity official.

“Officiating definitely gives me a way to maintain that connection with a sport that is a passion in my life, to give back to the community and to give to the future generations,” he said. “I think that is key. Not only do we officiate and enforce the rules of the sport, but we serve as role models in a very direct way. We are almost a sample of authority that young adults will be faced with in their lives and they have to learn to respect that. I see it as a huge opportunity to contribute.”

In Costa Rica, soccer was everywhere for Villalobos. He was kicking a ball as he learned to walk, began playing on teams in elementary school and continued playing to the college level. Diane played soccer at Rosemount High School, and they both help coach their children’s soccer teams.

Villalobos (he is known to his friends as Adal), who works as a Spanish translator/interpreter, became an American citizen on May 4 at the Federal Courthouse in St. Paul. He was the only Costa Rican among 60 people who were naturalized that day. (In photo at left, he holds his certificate of citizenship.)

He could have applied for citizenship in 1996, three years after marrying Diane. “At the time the expense to become a citizen was enough to kind of say, ‘You know, if I’m a legal resident and all I’ll be missing is voting and being able to run for office, I’m OK with that.’ All the other benefits and advantages were there.”

But one day his children came home talking excitedly about holding elections at school. Their question: “Daddy, who are you voting for?”

“I had to explain it to them, which they understood,” he said. “It put a bug in my brain; this country has opened its doors to me, I feel welcome, respected, proud. How about if we formalize it?”

I spoke with Villalobos on Sept. 15, which was Costa Rica’s independence day. He admitted that his native country still tugged at his heart.

“It kind of bugged me, ‘Am I giving up being Costa Rican?’ Deep in my heart, I’m not stopping being Costa Rican. I’ll never stop cherishing and valuing just being who I am. But at the same time, it is an honor, it is a privilege and I take it with all the seriousness that it entails to be a U.S. citizen.

“To me, the participation in democracy at all levels is important. I’m a firm believer that we teach and we do much better when we show with our actions, when we are role models. If I’m teaching my kids to be good citizens and participate in democracy, why not show that dad is also proud of that and part of it.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 35
*Miles John has driven: 2,304

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This Week’s Associated Press Football Rankings9/21/2011
#1 (1) Eden Prairie (3-0)
2 (2) Wayzata (3-0)
3 (3) Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0)
4 (4) Lakeville South (3-0)
5 (6) Minnetonka (3-0)
6 (5) Blaine (3-0)
7 (7) Rosemount (3-0)
8 (8) Lakeville North (3-0)
9 (T10) Mounds View (2-1)
10 (T10) Hopkins (2-1)
Others receiving votes: Shakopee, Osseo, St. Cloud Tech, Owatonna

#1 (1) Mankato West (3-0)
2 (2) St. Thomas Academy (3-0)
3 (4) South St. Paul (3-0)
4 (5) Rogers (3-0)
5 (6) Bemidji (3-0)
6 (3) Mahtomedi (2-1)
7 (7) Delano (3-0)
8 (9) Hutchinson (3-0)
9 (10) Marshall (3-0)
10 (NR) Holy Angels (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Spring Lake Park, Hill-Murray, Detroit Lakes, Faribault, Hermantown, Northfield

#1 (1) Rochester Lourdes (3-0)
2 (T2) Albany (3-0)
3 (T2) Glencoe-Silver Lake (3-0)
4 (T2) Holy Family Catholic (3-0)
5 (7) Pequot Lakes (3-0)
6 (NR) St. Croix Lutheran (3-0)
6 (8) Plainview-Elgin-Millville (3-0)
8 (NR) Waseca (3-0)
9 (NR) Zimmerman (3-0)
10 (NR) New London-Spicer (3-0)
10 (NR) Fairmont (2-1)
Others receiving votes: Mora, Pine City, St. Cloud Cathedral, Montevideo

#1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (3-0)
2 (3) Moose Lake-Willow River (3-0)
3 (T4) Barnesville (3-0)
4 (T4) Jackson County Central (3-0)
5 (T4) Pierz (3-0)
6 (NR) Caledonia (2-1)
7 (8) Chatfield (2-1)
8 (NR) Norwood-Young America (3-0)
9 (NR) Hawley (3-0)
9 (10) Mayer Lutheran (3-0)
9 (NR) Blue Earth Area (3-0)
Others receiving votes: BOLD, Eden Valley-Watkins, Maple River, Osakis, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton

#1 (1) New Ulm Cathedral (3-0)
2 (2) Goodhue (3-0)
3 (3) Mahnomen (3-0)
4 (4) Adrian (3-0)
5 (6) Dawson-Boyd (3-0)
6 (T8) Southland (3-0)
7 (10) Warren-Alvarado-Oslo (3-0)
8 (T8) Blooming Prairie (3-0)
9 (NR) Braham (3-0)
9 (NR) Le Center (3-0)
Others receiving votes: MACCRAY, Deer River, Sleepy Eye, Fertile-Beltrami, Minneota/Lincoln

#1 (1) Edgerton/Ellsworth (3-0)
2 (2) Nicollet (3-0)
3 (3) Ada-Borup (3-0)
4 (5) Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (3-0)
5 (6) Hills-Beaver Creek (3-0)
5 (7) Ulen-Hitterdal (3-0)
7 (8) Spring Grove (3-0)
8 (T10) Kittson County Central (2-1)
8 (NR) North Woods (3-0)
10 (NR) Grand Meadow (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Wheaton, Nevis, Onamia, Stephen-Argyle, Eagle Valley, Climax/Fisher, Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke

Running For Lots Of Reasons, Putting Cancer In The Background9/20/2011
It’s safe to say that this is the biggest weekend of the regular season in high school cross-country, with the Roy Griak Invitational, the Milaca Mega Meet and the Apple Valley Eagle Invitational all scheduled for Saturday. Most of Minnesota’s top runners will be competing, with teams and individuals looking ahead to the state cross-country meet in Northfield on Nov. 5.

One Minnesota runner will not be seen reaching the finish line first in any of those races and she will not qualify for state. But she is content to just run, no matter the race, no matter the competition and no matter where she finishes.

Pierz High School junior Beth Broschofsky has been finishing way back in the pack while competing in junior high races this fall, and that is just fine with her. That’s because after surviving cancer and having a metal rod replace the humerus in her right upper arm, just running – even while wearing a large brace that keeps the arm strapped close to her body -- is enough.

As Beth finished last at a junior high race in Royalton last week, the encouragement was solid. She came down the final stretch to the sounds of teammates and friends shouting “C’mon Beth!” and “Way to go Beth!”

While I interviewed Broschofsky after the race, another runner came up and interrupted with a very quick, “Good job!” Beth told her, “You too!”

She does not run very fast, which is understandable with one arm strapped against her body. Broschofsky was a strong runner on the track team as a freshman, finishing third in the 3,200 meters at the Central Minnesota Conference championships. But a year ago, a week before the start of her sophomore year in school, the trouble began with a bump and some soreness in her right upper arm. She thought it might be a muscle tear or similar injury.

“We had an x-ray done and the doctor said it didn’t look right,” Beth told me. The x-ray was sent to the University of Minnesota hospital, and Beth soon had an appointment with a specialist there.

“They looked at the x-ray and they said the bone was weak. They were thinking it was either an infection or some sort of tumor.”

A biopsy was performed the next day, and the news was not good. It was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. (Orono High School soccer player Nick Manzoni, who was profiled in John’s Journal on Sept. 1, also was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma last year.)

Beth had her first chemotherapy treatment the same day that school started in Pierz. Surgery to remove the tumor in her arm was done Dec. 27, with more chemo following, as well as a bone-marrow transplant. She was home-schooled throughout the 2010-11 school year but it wasn’t all bad, she said with a smile.

“My grandpa (Herb Broschoskfy) taught me how to play cribbage during that time,” she said. “We played cribbage every day.”

Other than losing her hair, Beth handled the chemo very well. She saw other young patients suffering much worse fates, and she is thankful for the treatment and care she received.

“She leads by example and you never hear her complain,” said Pierz cross-country coach Rey Zimney. “And if anybody would have a reason to complain about something it would be her. She’s really been quite an inspiration.”

Last season would have been Beth’s first on the cross-country team. Now that she’s finally able to run again, her goals for this fall are simple: get stronger and be ready for track next spring.

“I’d just like to improve, I guess,” she said. “I’m kind of trying to get back into shape for track and be competitive.”

A section of bone and muscle in her shoulder was removed during surgery and the range of motion is limited. “I can still write and everything, but I can only lift my arm about this high,” she said, raising it a few inches. “Maybe with therapy I’ll be able to lift it a little farther.”

She wears the brace because the running motion could damage her shoulder and arm. “I’ll pretty much have to wear it forever (when running), because of my surgery. They want to keep my arm in place,” she said.

The highlight of the season might have come in Pierz’s first big meet, the Irish Invitational at Maple Lake on Sept. 1. Via email, Zimney told coaches of the other teams what Beth had experienced. He wrote: “This young lady went through HELL last year, but we can give her a moment she will never forget.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Beth knew nothing about what was in store as she got closer and closer to the home stretch of the junior high race.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “It was weird; I was running and everybody was saying my name and I was thinking, ‘How do they all know my name?’ I saw all these signs with my name and they were wearing my shirt that they had for a benefit. It was a surprise.”

Beth is healthy and getting stronger all the time. She has regular medical checkups but so far, so good.

“Yep, it’s looking good right now,” she said with another smile. “I’m just hoping it won’t come back.”

Indeed. One big comeback is enough.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 34
*Miles John has driven: 1,854

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