John's Journal
Elissa Reinsma Loses a Match And Gains More Fans3/4/2011
The Big Story in the opening round of the state wrestling tournament Friday was Elissa Reinsma, who has become a well-known name in the sport. Two years ago as a sophomore at Fulda/Murray County Central, Elissa became the first female to qualify for the state tournament. She wrestled twice and lost both matches in 2009.

She was sidelined with a knee injury late last season, but she made it back to state this week. She drew a tough opening-round opponent in Foley sophomore Tristan Manderfeld, who is ranked second at 103 pounds in Class 2A and came to state with a season record of 41-1.

Elissa, who is not ranked, lost a 7-0 decision to Tristan on Friday morning. (Tristan is on the left and Elissa on the right in this photo.) That put her record at 32-6 and put her in waiting mode; if Tristan advances through Friday evening’s quarterfinals, Elissa will remain alive in the tournament’s wrestleback bracket and have a chance to go home with a medal on Saturday.

There are two sides to many wrestlers, including Elissa. One side is the competitive side, where they work harder than most people can imagine and leave everything on the mat. The other side is the smiling, friendly side; it’s almost as if they turn a switch when the competition ends.

That was Elissa on Friday morning. She wrestled hard and lost to a talented wrestler. After the match, she was distraught. She knew she didn’t wrestle her best match, and her coach, Dan Blankenship, spent a lot of time with her in an Xcel Energy Center corridor. He told her she needed to realize that she probably would wrestle again later in the day, and that she could learn from the day’s first match.

A few minutes later Elissa met with a group of waiting reporters, shook hands with everybody and even managed to smile. The switch had been turned, at least temporarily.

“After getting down right away it got into my head,” Elissa said. “I hope I get a wrestleback. I don’t want to be one and out, and I don’t want to be two and out. If he goes on and wins it, I can say I lost to the champ.”

Blankenship said, “She’s just ticked off because she lost. That’s just like any other wrestler; they’re going to be mad when they lose. She gets frustrated, just like any wrestler does.”

After Fulda/Murray County Central’s Austin Kluis (125 pounds) and Jordan Anderson (171) competed in the opening round, the coaches and wrestlers returned to their hotel for some down time. They would be back at the Xcel Center in the evening, ready for the wrestlebacks if they qualified.

When I asked Elissa about her goals for the tournament, it was clear they had changed with the opening-round loss.

“Just to place,” she said.” Obviously a goal would be to win it, but placing now.”

Soon after talking to Elissa, I posted several photos from her match on the MSHSL Facebook page. One reader posted a comment that did a nice job of summing things up. The comment: “Great pictures. She looks great. Just like a wrestler ... nothing more. Glad I was able to see this to understand that she is just a wrestler.”

That is indeed correct. She is just another wrestler. One who loves to compete and hates to lose.

--Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 6 for the tournament, 24 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 503
*Miles John has driven: 8,297

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Setting Up Championship Saturday at State Wrestling Tournament3/4/2011
Friday’s long day of wrestling has come to a close at Xcel Energy Center, and the stage is set for Saturday’s individual semifinals and championship matches. Semifinals are scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. and the title rounds are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

There were few surprises during Friday’s opening- and quarterfinal-round matches. Three of 21 past state champions lost Friday, as did four of 16 wrestlers who came to state with undefeated records.

In Class 3A at 119 pounds Friday, two state champions met in the quarterfinals. Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud, a two-time champion, defeated Sam Brancala of Eden Prairie 1-0. Bengston won at 112 last year and Brancale was the champ at 103 pounds.

Elissa Reinsma, the senior from Fulda/Murray County Central, was knocked out of the tournament Friday night with a 9-2 loss to Luke Betchwars of Scott West in the consolation bracket.

Apple Valley brought 13 wrestlers to state and 11 of them will wrestle in the semifinals. The Eagles’ Destin McCauley will attempt to become the fourth wrestler in history to win five state titles. Already in that exclusive club are Matt Nagel of Frazee (1997-2001), Eric Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (1999-2003) and Zach Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (2003-2007).

If not for a loss in the state finals when he was a sophomore, McCauley would be trying to become the state’s first six-time champion.

--On the boys hockey front, the section champions have been decided and the state tournament seedings and brackets will be completed Saturday morning. I’ll post the brackets as soon as they are completed.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 10 for the tournament, 26 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 503
*Miles John has driven: 8,297

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Wrestling, Hockey, Swimming … It’s All Happening3/3/2011
I’m back at Xcel Energy Center for the first day of the state wrestling tournament. We are clearly in the “whirlwind” phase of the winter tournament season, because in the 14-day period that ends Saturday I will have been at state or section tournament events on nine of those days.

Wednesday night’s venue was Mariucci Arena for a boys hockey section final doubleheader. Edina beat Burnsville 3-2 on a goal in the final 70 seconds of regulation and Eden Prairie defeated Wayzata in double overtime.

Interesting note from the hockey doubleheader: Retired Edina athletic director Steve Dove lives in Burnsville and has a son who is a senior at Burnsville High School. So he dressed carefully; wearing neither Edina green nor Burnsville gold. Very diplomatic.

So far today at Xcel, the team quarterfinals in all three wrestling classes have been completed and the semifinals will begin soon. For ongoing results from wrestling throughout the tournament, check me out on Twitter as well as the MSHSL page on Facebook. We’re throwing a few photos on the Facebook page, too.

The boys state swimming and diving also is under way today with the diving competition at the U of M. So as you can tell, there’s plenty going on.

--Diet Coke Count: 2 for the day, 2 for the tournament, 18 for the winter tournaments.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 503
*Miles John has driven: 8,256

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Wrestling Team Finals Are Set3/3/2011
The top seeds have all advanced to the championship round at the state wrestling, as have one No. 2 seed and two No. 3 seeds. The title matches will begin at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

In Class 1A, top-seeded and defending champion Jackson County Central will meet No. 3 seed Frazee in the finals. Jackson beat Pierz 59-16 and Minneota 35-20 earlier today, while Frazee defeated Border West 39-18 and Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 27-25.

In 2A, it will be top-seeded and three-time defending champion Simley taking on No. 3 seed Scott West for the title. Simley beat Grand Rapids 56-7 and Foley 52-3, while Scott West defeated Monticello 46-22 and Kasson-Mantorville 36-19.

In 3A, top-seeded and five-time defending champ Apple Valley will meet second-seeded St. Michael-Albertville. Apple Valley beat White Bear Lake 66-12 and Prior Lake 70-0, while the Knights defeated Centennial 59-3 and Albert Lea 36-13.

Third-place and fifth-place matches will begin at 5 p.m., with championship matches set for 7 p.m.
Wrestling Team Champions Are Crowned3/3/2011
The first day of the three-class state wrestling tournament came to an end with four state champions. Yes, that’s right, four state champions.

Apple Valley in 3A and Simley in 2A repeated as champions, and Jackson County Central and Frazee tied 28-28 in the 1A championship match. There is no tiebreaker in championship matches, so the Hornets and Huskies are co-champs.

Apple Valley completed a dominating run through 3A with a 61-6 win over St. Michael-Albertville and Simley beat Scott West 39-16 in the 2A final.

The individual competition begins at 9 a.m. Friday. One of the most intriguing wrestlers in the field is Fulda/Murray County Central senior Elissa Reinsma, who two years ago became the first female to qualify for state. She will open the tournament around 11 a.m. against sophomore Tristan Manderfeld of Foley.

--Thursday’s attendance was 13,003.

--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 4 for the tournament, 22 for the winter tournaments.

To see photo galleries from the tournament, including the championship teams, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 503
*Miles John has driven: 8,256

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at