When the teenager from Perham collapsed while playing basketball, he could have died. But quick action saved his life and he’s become an inspiration to everyone who knows his story.
I’m not talking about Zach Gabbard, although the previous words certainly apply to the Perham eleventh-grader who inspired the Yellowjackets through Saturday’s 45-37 victory over Rochester Lourdes in the Class 2A state championship game. I’m referring to Brent Hanson, a Perham assistant coach who has lived 10 years now with an internal defibrillator.
Zach collapsed on Jan. 20 during a game in the gym at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. He was revived via CPR and an AED, transported to Fargo and later to the Twin Cities, where he remains. He has had multiple surgeries and some setbacks, but his appearances at Williams Arena and Target Center this week were magical.
Brent Hanson was 19 and playing pickup basketball with some buddies in the gym at the Perham Area Community Center when he went down. Paramedics were close by, arrived quickly and used an AED to shock his heart back into rhythm. An internal defibrillator was implanted in his chest and he is in great health. He plays basketball and has even run a marathon since his cardiac episode.
Brent stayed close to Zach and his parents in the days following Zach’s collapse.
“I’m not a heart doctor but I’ve gotten a heart education, that’s for sure,” he said. “As a parent, one of the things you’re concerned with is, ‘Is there something we could have done to prevent this?’ I have learned that it’s freak, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen.
“With them seeing me lead a normal life and coach Zach, I think that gave them a little bit of hope, knowing that this isn’t going to end his athletic career, hopefully.”
When I asked Brent -- who works as an IT technician for Becker County – about the Yellowjackets’ storybook season, he said, “Somebody should get the Disney movie rights, because it’s unbelievable.”
--Zach and his parents were not at Target Center for Saturday’s championship game. After the game, this message was posted on Zach’s CaringBridge website …
“Zach's Friday was an extremely long day for him. Our 5 hour excursion to the Target Center turned out to be 7 hours. Zach was exhausted this morning and his blood pressure was low. We struggled with the decision of taking him to the game but didn't want to have a setback. And wouldn't you know it: his blood pressure was normal halfways into the first half. We watched the game on t.v. and the win was very emotional for all of us (tears of joy and sadness that Zach was not playing or even there.) Onward and upward from this day forward! Hard work so he can get home. :)”
Since Zach wasn't on hand to receive his championship medal when his name was called, teammate Jordan Bruhn accepted it on behalf of Zach. Bruhn held up three fingers (Zach wears jersey number 3) as he did so. When the team posed for photos with the championship trophy, they held up three fingers instead of the traditional index fingers.
A SPECIAL DAY FOR SOME SPECIAL STUDENTS
Basketball wasn’t the only event on the schedule Saturday. The MSHSL held the annual AAA (Academics, Arts & Athletics) Award luncheon, across the street from Target Center at the Graves 601 Hotel. The luncheon honored 32 high school seniors from all over Minnesota. Afterwards, the AAA award winners were introduced on the court during halftime of the Class 2A championship game.
One honoree was unable to attend the luncheon, but he had a pretty good reason. When the luncheon began, Springfield senior Dillon Schultz was in the starting lineup and helping Springfield win the Class 1A state championship. The Tigers defeated Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 70-58, with Schultz scoring 17 points.
Like all of the AAA Award recipients, Dillon (right) is busy. He’s on the basketball and golf teams, he participates in choir and is also a member of the speech program at Springfield. And he just doesn’t participate; he is highly successful.
He was the Class A golf state champion as a sophomore and finished in a second-place tie at state as a junior. He will take one more crack at a state golf title this spring. At the state speech meet two years ago, Dillon and Cody Henrickson finished 11th in Class A Duo Interpretation. Last spring they finished second in the same category.
“My family’s always there and they always motivate me to keep going and keep being the best I can be at everything I do,” he said. “And I try to do everything absolutely to my best. I don’t take things as given and I don’t ever slack off. There’s free time, but you’re never too busy.”
CLASS 3A: FAMILY TRADITION CONTINUES
When Bird Island-Lake Lillian won state basketball titles in 1980 and 1981, the coach was Jerry Wohler and the star player was his son, Barry. The family business added more gold Saturday night when Orono beat Columbia Heights 85-76 to win the 3A championship.Barry Wohler is now the coach of the Orono Spartans and the starting lineup includes his son Brady, a junior guard. Brady, who scored 23 points Saturday, has watched his dad’s state championship games on video and dreamed of winning a gold medal.
Asked about his son’s performance Saturday, Barry (pictured below) joked, “I’d like to think he gets that from his mother.”Grandpa and Grandma Wohler, who were in the stands Saturday, have one more family tie in the tournament: Osseo senior guard Ross Miller is also their grandson.
--In 4A, Hopkins won its third consecutive state title with a 64-52 win over Eden Prairie.
Here’s an email I received Saturday. It is self-explanatory…
“Would you please help make corrections to comments made during Perham's state championship games concerning the fact that Perham has no "Band" because of budget cuts? The fact is that Perham's budget cuts caused the Band to not operate at the same capacity, but the PHS Band and Pep Band is alive and well. It is directed by Mr. Larry Wankel who puts his heart and soul into each students' musical success and they love him for it. It was very disheartening for Band members to not be able to play at State games but the Garage band won the luck of the draw. This correction would mean so much to the already "let-down" Perham Band members. Thank you so much!”
That's a wrap for the winter tournaments. Let's take some time off and wait patiently for the earth to dry. Spring sports are here!
We close with a drum roll (insert that sound effect here) and the final numbers...
--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 20 for the tournament, 81 for the winter tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807
--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