John's Journal
Teams Are Set For State Wrestling2/20/2011
The teams are set for the state wrestling tournament, March 3-5 at Xcel Energy Center. Teams will be seeded by the coaches Monday morning. Individual section tournaments will be completed next Saturday, Feb. 26. Here are the teams that will wrestle at state:

Class A: Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Jackson County Central, Minneota, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, Kimball, Border West, Pierz, Frazee.

Class AA: Kasson-Mantorville, Scott West, Wabasso/Red Rock Central, Simley, Monticello, Foley, Grand Rapids, Thief River Falls/Goodridge.

Class AAA: Albert Lea, Prior Lake, Apple Valley, White Bear Lake, Centennial, Hopkins, St. Michael-Albertville, Bemidji.
2011 State Girls' Hockey Tournament2/19/2011
Coaches have completed the seeding process for the top four seeds of the 2011 State Girls’ Hockey Tournament and the pairings have been drawn for their opponents.

Class A: Feb. 23, 2011
#2 Breck vs. New Ulm
#3 South St. Paul vs Hutchinson
#1 Warroad vs Alexandria
#4 Eveleth-Gilbert vs Red Wing

Class AA: Feb 24, 2011
#2 Edina vs Rosemount
#3 Lakeville South vs. Hill-Murray
#1 Minnetonka vs Elk River/Zimmerman
#4 Coon Rapids vs North Wright County

For the full schedule and brackets Click Here
The Ski Season Has Ended With A Wonderful Finish2/17/2011
The weather Thursday up here at Giants Ridge in Biwabik didn’t have quite as much of a Beach Boys feel as on Wednesday, but the conditions were quite nice for the state Nordic ski meet.

We hit 57 degrees under bright sunshine Wednesday during the state Alpine meet, and the temp Thursday danced around the 40 mark with overcast skies. But by all accounts the snow was fine for the racers and smiles were the order of the day.

Duluth East swept the boys and girls team titles, and the individual championships were won by Burnsville’s Sharmila Ahmed (pictured) on the girls side and Lakeville North’s Ben Saxton on the boys side.

Thus end the reports from two days at Giants Ridge. I’ll scoot back to the Twin Cities this evening, get some rest and head to the Target Center on Friday for the state dance tournament.

--Diet Coke Count: 2

For a photo gallery from the Nordic ski meet, check out the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 471
*Miles John has driven: 8,049

--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
Dancing Their Way To Target Center2/17/2011
It’s time for the state dance tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Target Center. Our special guest dance correspondent, Cannon Falls High School assistant dance coach Erin Hawkinson, recaps last weekend’s section meets and takes us into state.

By Erin Hawkinson, Special Correspondent

Section Recaps

SECTION 1A: Cannon Falls repeats as double section champions, extending its streak of kick victories to eight years in a row. Lake City, which took the second-place spot, has been competing close to home this year so they should be something new to see at state for many of their competitors. St. Charles again repeats the third-place position in both divisions. The jazz division took a huge step up this year with strong performances from all three qualifiers, but Cannon Falls rose to the top with their remix of the band “The Ting Tings.” Final Results: Kick - 1st Cannon Falls 2nd Lake City 3rd St. Charles. Jazz – 1st Cannon Falls 2nd Zumbrota Mazeppa 3rd St. Charles.

SECTION 2A: Aitkin comes out strong with a first-place finish in kick after winning the kick division at state last year. Their dance this year is a mix of Prince songs, complete with Purple Rain- style costumes. They will have to compete for attention with Totino-Grace in kick that has also chosen this theme – fortunately they are in Class AA. Section 2 also hosts last year’s jazz state champions, Duluth Marshall, who won the jazz division again and now looks for an impressive five state championships in a row in jazz. Aitkin also qualified in jazz, with Concordia Academy rounding out the field. Final Results: Kick – 1st Aitkin 2nd Duluth Marshall. Jazz – 1st Duluth Marshall 2nd Aitkin 3rd Concordia Academy.

SECTION 3A: Ties were the story of the day in this section as Yellow Medicine East and BOLD tied for first in jazz, requiring three tiebreakers to end up with YME in first and BOLD in second. BOLD has been generally topping YME during the year, so this result was a big challenge to them. BOLD had something to smile about in the kick division though, sneaking into the new four-place spot in kick, making it their first ever kick appearance at state. Lac Qui Parle Valley-Dawson Boyd took top honors in kick, edging close contenders Montevideo and YME, who took second and third respectively. Final Results: Kick – 1st LqPV 2nd Montevideo 3rd Yellow Medicine East 4th BOLD. Jazz – 1st YME 2nd BOLD 3rd Tracy Milroy Balaton.

SECTION 1AA: The competition in AA is fierce and the Section 1 meet was no exception in Albert Lea on Saturday. Academy of Holy Angels won the kick division over strong teams from Austin and Benilde-St. Margaret’s. In jazz, perennial top contender Benilde repeated as section champs with Simley making a return trip to state for the first time since 2008. Final Results: Kick – 1st Academy of Holy Angels 2nd Austin 3rd Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Jazz – 1st Benilde 2nd Simley 3rd Academy of Holy Angels.

SECTION 2AA: Totino-Grace grabbed the double blue in North Branch, carrying their strong tradition back to the state floor. Both of their dances have been well received this year, sections being no different. Rogers was also strong, taking second place in both divisions. Fridley was very excited to round out the kick field, making their first ever state appearance, and Hill Murray will only be going in jazz this year after taking third in both styles last year. Final Results: Kick – 1st Totino Grace 2nd Rogers 3rd Fridley. Jazz – 1st Totino Grace 2nd Rogers 3rd Hill Murray.

SECTION 4AA: Bemidji was a site for huge shakeups as last year’s state champions in AA kick settled for third in their section, with Sartell claiming the top spot and Sauk Rapids-Rice taking second. Sauk Rapids hasn’t been to state in kick since 2007 so they’ll be excited to qualify in both divisions. St. Cloud Cathedral did take home first in jazz again, after winning state jazz last year as well. Sartell also qualified again in jazz this year. Final Results: Kick- 1st Sartell 2nd Sauk Rapids-Rice 3rd St. Cloud Cathedral. Jazz – 1st St. Cloud Cathedral 2nd Sartell 3rd Sauk Rapids-Rice.

SECTION 1AAA: There were four amazing kick performances at this marquee sectional matchup in Bloomington. But with only three spots going to state, Burnsville will be missing the kick tournament for the first time in the 35-year history of the program. Eastview took top honors with Apple Valley bringing in a season-best performance and taking second in kick. Faribault took third after a nervous performance left their fan section wondering if they would pull it off. The gym at Bloomington Kennedy was probably the loudest I’ve personally ever seen. With many of the top teams going back to back, it caused the fan sections to try to outdo each other in cheering on their favorite, and resulting in the most adrenaline-packed performances of the season so far. In jazz, Eastview took home the blue with Lakeville North and Burnsville grabbing the other qualifying spots. Final Results: Kick – 1st Eastview 2nd Apple Valley 3rd Faribault. Jazz – 1st Eastview 2nd Lakeville North 3rd Burnsville.

SECTION 3AAA: Spring Lake Park took firstt in both kick and jazz in the morning division at Bloomington, with Mounds View and Henry Sibley rounding out the jazz qualifiers. In kick, Centennial and Eagan return to the state field after a few years’ break. Spring Lake Park’s innovative take on zombies really spiced things up and was good enough for a repeat section championship in kick. Final Results: Kick – 1st Spring Lake Park 2nd Centennial 3rd Eagan. Jazz – 1st Spring Lake Park 2nd Mounds View 3rd Henry Sibley.

STATE PREVIEW: State should not disappoint again this year as many top contenders from around the state gather at Target Center to battle it out for the championship. All of the champions from last year’s field have qualified, as well as many perennial finalists. The Jazz division will kick things off on Friday, with Kick following it up on Saturday. With the tournament finally moving off the Valentine’s Day holiday, we should see a packed house on Saturday, with dance team usually bringing in the best of the best in crowds and supporters. But if you’re smart, you’ll also be catching the awe-inspiring jazz dancing in Friday’s tournament – something not to be missed.

The Friday state day was originally scheduled to be kick, but in our “new” home at Target Center, a busy workday is more conducive to the jazz division so it looks like it will be Friday jazz for the foreseeable future. Also new this year is the national anthem procedure, which has coaches and captains out on the floor for the first time. This should be a great chance for athletes to display sportsmanship and pride in their teams and captainship. Performance times and orders are up on the dance team page of MSHSL.org as well as information on tickets, parking and directions to Target Center.

Erin’s State Week Stats:
Diet Dew Count: 5 this week so far (including one right now of course).
Miles to and from section meets: 145
Hours until state marking times begin: 46
It’s 57 Degrees? Hey, Let’s Go Skiing!2/16/2011
Yes, the high temperature in Biwabik on Wednesday was 57 degrees … above zero. Wednesday was also the day that the state Alpine ski meet was held at Giants Ridge, and things turned out just fine.

All skiers take two runs, and the conditions were superb for the morning run. Things got a little squishy for the afternoon run, but everyone agreed that a touch of warmth was much better than frigid cold.

“I thought the first run was pretty perfect,” said girls champion Brenna Murray, a senior from Bloomington Jefferson. “The snow was a little firm and it wasn’t too cold, wasn’t too warm. The second run, it really warmed up and it was a lot softer and slushier, so I think it was a lot tougher for everyone.”

The boys champ was senior Dylan Thomas of St. Thomas Academy, who captured the gold medal for the second year in a row. St. Thomas Academy also won the boys team title, with the girls crown going to Minnetonka.

It was amazing how the day changed as the temperature soared. In the morning I was wearing two pairs of socks and four layers of upper-body clothing. By the afternoon I had removed one pair of socks and was draped in a t-shirt and jacket. Kids were seen in shorts and t-shirts, and I saw a couple of boys who will compete in Thursday’s Nordic state meet skiing without shirts. Kids had snowball fights while wearing tank tops. Some kids wore t-shirts as they received their medals.

I overheard one man ask another man, who had … shall we say? … a lack of hair on top of his head, this question: “Are you wearing sunscreen?” I think he was serious.

People who are up here in Biwabik may come home looking as if we spent two days at a tanning salon. This is my first trip to the state ski meets, and here are some other things I jotted down in my notebook today…

--There were lots of firepits blazing in the morning as skiers stayed warm. I did not see or smell a fire in the afternoon

--Dogs come to this event. I didn’t see any Scottish deerhounds Wednesday … that’s the breed that won Best in Show in Tuesday evening’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York.

--Skiers here have first names like Lars and Bjorn and Steig and Thor. Nordic indeed.

--I heard a few cowbells in the crowd Wednesday. I bet there will be more on Thursday.

--“That’s OK, you’re a junior. You have another year.” Those were the words of a coach talking to a skier who wasn’t perfectly thrilled with his performance.

--A guy slammed the door as he exited the timer’s shack, and his reward was being dumped on by a load of snow falling from the roof.

--Veterans of this meet have been telling me horror stories of past meets cursed by bitter cold. Thus, I am taking all the credit for this weather. You are very welcome.

--*Diet Coke Count: This gets an asterisk today. Bag lunches were provided for MSHSL employees and meet workers, and they came with Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. Warm Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. I drank parts of one of those, then found a machine and happily paid two bucks for a nice cold Diet Coke. So, the day’s count is… 2.

For photo galleries from Wednesday's action, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 455
*Miles John has driven: 8,049

--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