John's Journal
State Tennis, State Track: The Busiest Spring Athlete In Minnesota6/8/2011
Some amazing stories are being told this week at the boys state tennis tournament. Probably the most well-known player is Ingrid Neel, a seventh-grade female who is part of the Class 2A boys championship team from Rochester Mayo. Montevideo senior Eric Johnson qualified for the 1A tournament with doubles partner Jesse Brace. Oh by the way, Eric has a prosthetic left leg as a result of a childhood accident.

And then there is Brendan “Beezer” Skime, who is the busiest athlete in Minnesota this week. The senior from Thief River Falls competed with his Prowlers tennis teammates as they finished fourth in the Class 1A tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday in Minneapolis. He’ll stay in town for the rest of the week, but he’s not finished competing at state.

Come Friday, Skime (right) will compete in the 3,200-meter run in the 1A state track meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. On Saturday he will run the 1,600 meters, and that will complete a high school career like few others. By the time Skime hits the finish line on Saturday, he will have competed in 12 different state tournaments in four sports.

He’s been to state six times in tennis (joining the varsity as a seventh-grader), three times in cross-country, twice in track and once in hockey. He’s especially busy in the spring, going to tennis practice after school and getting in some miles for track in the evening. He’s the only two-sport spring athlete in Thief River Falls for as long as anybody can remember.

“Sometimes it’s hard,” he said Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center, site of the 1A tournament. “You don’t get to spend time with friends when you have to practice with the tennis team and then do a running workout. But it’s still fun.”

About that nickname. When Brendan was young, his favorite hockey player was NHL goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, whose nickname was Beezer. “My dad shot a softball at me, it hit me and he said, ‘Bonk on the Beezer.’ It just stuck with me ever since.” I asked Brendan if anyone ever calls him Brendan. Answer: Negative. In fact, the lane assignments for the state track meet have him officially listed as “Beezer Skime.”

Beezer is not only a committed and experienced athlete, he also is talented. He placed 15th and ninth at state in cross-country the last two years and was 15th in the 3,200 at the state track meet last year.

“He manages everything real well,” said Thief River Falls tennis coach Tim Engelstad. “He’s an exceptional young man.”

Beezer didn’t join the track team until his junior year. It’s no surprise that Prowlers boys and girls track coach Lynn Dyer urged him to give it a try.

“I made it to state when I was a sophomore in cross-country and then I wanted to (join track) as a sophomore but it didn’t work out because it was too late,” Skime said. “My junior year the track coach, Lynn Dyer, said, ‘The 3,200 would be a good race for you.’ ”

Beezer will attend North Dakota State University in the fall and be part of the cross-country and track teams. He calls tennis his No. 1 priority because it’s the sport he has played the longest.

One of his toughest decisions came last month when the Section 8 tennis tournament coincided with a sub-section track meet. Beezer -- who qualified for state tennis as an individual last year (when the two sports didn’t have a section conflict) -- had to make a hard decision this year and he chose track.

“This year it didn’t work out,” he said. “It was tough.”

His senior year has been pretty special, considering that he will have competed in four state tournaments. But it all seems to be part of the plan.

“I’m always practicing and working out, trying to improve,” he said.

--I’ll be in North Mankato on Thursday and Friday for the state softball tournament and at Hamline on Saturday for the second day of state track. As always seems to be the case, weather may play a factor in the softball tourney at Caswell Park. There’s a 70 percent chance of rain in the Mankato area on Friday with a high temp of 59 degrees (out with the sunblock, in with the umbrella). But looking at the half-full glass, the conditions Thursday for softball and Saturday for track look outstanding. Cross your fingers, everybody.

--To see a photo gallery from the boys state tennis tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 699
*Miles John has driven: 10,488

--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
Heat Alert: Boys Lacrosse Semifinals Delayed One Hour6/7/2011
Today's excessive heat, with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher, is having an impact on high school athletic events.

Today’s boys lacrosse state semifinal games at Chanhassen High School will begin one hour later than planned in order to make the conditions as safe as possible. The new schedule has Benilde-St. Margaret's and Burnsville playing at 7 p.m, followed by Eden Prairie vs. White Bear Lake at 9 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning. In addition, the turf field the game will be played on will be hotter than the air temperature. Tournament officials may also implement scheduled one-minute water breaks every four minutes during game time.

In southeastern Minnesota, today's Class 3A Section 1 baseball championship game between Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo has been moved back one hour (from 5 to 6 p.m.), also due to high temps.

If you're competing or cheering, please keep plenty of water on hand and keep an eye on each other. The weather is supposed to be much more confortable later in the week, so let's hope for better conditions.
MSHSL Board of Directors meeting is underway6/6/2011
The board’s June meeting has begun, and I’ll post a report once the meeting has ended.

This appears to be a fairly routine meeting, with few head-line grabbing possibilities. To see the agenda, look on the right side of mshsl.org for “League News.” The agenda is the first item under “Board of Director's Meeting Agenda - June 2011”

Board officers for the 2011-12 school year will be elected during this meeting.
Football in June? MSHSL Board Approves Plan For 2012 Season6/6/2011
Here we are in the midst of spring sports mania, and football is the main headline from today’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting. Go figure.

The board approved the lineup of classes and sections for 2012, when a new class will be added for the largest 32 schools. Class 6A will consist of four eight-team sections. The biggest buzz surrounds a section that consists of Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Armstrong, Shakopee, Wayzata and Minneapolis South. Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Wayzata have combined to win six state titles in the past seven years.

(To see the full list of class/section assignments for 2012 football, go to mshsl.org and look on the right side under “Popular Links.” The first link is the one you want: “2012 Football Competitive Section Assignments”)

Two schools opted up for the 2012 football season. Cretin-Derham Hall will play in 6A and Totino-Grace (which had already opted up to 5A for 2011) also will play in 5A in 2012.

The board also approved one football rule change, requiring four players to be positioned on each side of the kicker when an onside kick is attempted, and that no contact by the kicking team can take place until the ball has traveled 10 yards.

In other news from the meeting…

--The board approved a motion to have the League become a presenting partner of FIRST robotics competition. Minnesota will be the first state in the nation to have a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and a high school activities governing body.

--The election of new board officers for 2011-12 took place. Mindy Sparby, Belle Plaine activities director, will be the board president; vice president will be Mark Fredericksen, Waconia principal; and treasurer will be Luanne Wagner, St. Francis assistant principal.

--Six board members whose terms have expired were recognized. They are Carol Bomben of Eden Prairie, Ray Kirch of Osseo, Brent Robbins of Golden Valley, John Schumacher of Park Rapids, Bill Webb of Edina and Les Zellmann of St. James. When the board meets in August, new members will be Scott McCready of St. Charles, Roz Peterson of Lakeville, Lane Powell of Fillmore Central, Mark Solberg of Cambridge-Isanti and John Soma of Edina. One appointee by the governor’s office remains to be decided.
Here’s A Spring State Tournament Primer...6/6/2011
Let’s swing the gate open on a big two-week stretch of state tournaments. From the Twin Cities to Mankato, from Becker to Jordan, from St. Cloud to Chaska, there will be plenty of action to follow this week and next as we wrap up the school year.

This week’s lineup includes boys tennis, boys and girls lacrosse, girls softball and boys and girls track and field. The boys and girls golf tournament will be held next week, along with quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the state baseball tournament. The year will come to a close in grand style at Target Field on June 21 when baseball champions will be crowned in three classes.

Here is a brief look at each of this week’s tournaments. This is by no means a complete list of what to watch for, but let’s highlight just a few of the storylines…

BOYS TENNIS
Team competition Tuesday and Wednesday; singles and doubles Thursday and Friday. Class 2A at U of M’s Baseline Tennis Center, Class 1A at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
--Defending team champs/ Blake (1A), Eden Prairie (2A)
--Defending singles/doubles champs
*John Hill, senior, St. Paul Academy (1A singles)
*Dusty Boyer, junior, Forest Lake (two-time defending 2A singles champion)
*Wyatt McCoy, senior, Mounds View (won 2A singles title in 2007).
*Ford Traff, junior, Blake, seeks his third doubles title. He will compete this year with a new partner, sophomore Kai Skallerud.
*Ryan Erickson, senior, Hopkins, won 2A doubles in 2010, now playing singles.
--Keep an eye on Rochester Mayo team member Ingrid Neel, a seventh-grader.


BOYS AND GIRLS LACROSSE
Tuesday through Friday at Chanhassen; Boys play Tuesday/Thursday, Girls Wednesday/Friday)
--Defending champ/ Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys, Blake girls
--Boys teams/ #1 seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-0), #4 Burnsville (11-6), #2 Eden Prairie (14-2), #3 White Bear Lake (12-4)
--Girls teams/ #1 seed Blake (14-0), #4 Bloomington Jefferson (14-2), #2 Eden Prairie (14-1), #3 Stillwater (14-2)


BOYS AND GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD
Friday and Saturday at Hamline University’s Klas Field
--Athletes/events to watch
*Boys 2A high jump/ Trevor Yedoni, senior, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, has cleared 7 feet and Franky Veldman, senior, Eastview, has cleared 6-11. State record of 7-1 could fall.
*Girls 2A discus/ Maggie Ewen, sophomore, St. Francis, set a state record this season.
*Boys 2A triple jump/ Michael Sandle, senior, Eden Prairie, also set a state record this spring.
*Girls 2A hurdles/ Jessica January, sophomore, Richfield, holds the state record in 100 hurdles, is defending champ in 100 and 300 hurdles.
*Girls 2A relays/ Hopkins has the best times in all four relays, eyes a sweep.
*Girls 1A star/ Analisa Huschle, senior, Bagley/Fosston, holds state record in long jump, tops 1A this year in long jump, triple jump, 100 and 200.
*Missing/ Devin Crawford-Tufts, senior, Edina, is the defending champ in 2A 100 and 200. Due to an injury, he did not qualify for state.

SOFTBALL
Thursday and Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato
1A/ New Life Academy has won three titles in a row and is trying to become the first team to win four championships in a row. Senior captains Rebekah Schmidt and Katie Stodolka are making their sixth trip to state. Schmidt tied a record by pitching three shutouts in last year’s tournament.
2A/ Defending champion Park Center returns. The Pirates bring back plenty of experience, since there was only one senior on last year’s team.
3A/ Bloomington Jefferson qualified for its first state tournament in style, beating defending champion Burnsville in the Section 3 finals. Shakopee is at state for the first time since 1980. Keep an eye on Brainerd coach Mike Zauhar, who should be easy to spot since he will be wearing a plastic “boot.” Leaping in celebration of the Warriors’ section title, he suffered a torn muscle attached to his left Achilles tendon.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 691
*Miles John has driven: 10,381

--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