John's Journal
Some Short Items On A Wintry Wednesday2/2/2011
Is it cold enough for you? There’s a digital billboard on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis that shows a rotating series of ads. One of them is a tourism spot for Scottsdale, Arizona. The ad, which shows a couple relaxing poolside with sunshine and mountains in the background, also displays each day’s forecast high temperature in Scottsdale. This morning it informed Minnesotans that it would be 49 degrees today in Scottsdale. Uh, that isn’t very tantalizing for a winter getaway.

TUESDAY NIGHT was a good one for fans of Eden Prairie basketball. The Eagles boys and girls teams both defeated the state’s top-ranked Class 4A teams from Hopkins. I was inside the Eden Prairie gym, where the second-ranked EP girls beat Hopkins 71-65. A few miles away, the No. 3 EP boys beat Hopkins 75-71.

I was exchanging text updates with a friend at the other game, and several people from Eden Prairie were checking with me throughout the girls game for scores from the boys game. University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton was also at EP, watching some talented players.

When I covered professional sports, not once did a coach see me and say, “Hi John. Thanks for coming.” That’s what exactly what Hopkins girls coach Brian Cosgriff said to me Tuesday night. And he said the same thing after the game. That’s one of the 100 million reasons why high school sports are so great.

TODAY IS SIGNING DAY, about which I have always had mixed feelings. Some high schools had signing celebrations today, when all their scholarship athletes sit at a table and sign their letters of intent. That is wonderful, because those students have worked hard at their sports and deserve to be recognized. But here are two points to remember about signing day: 1. Very few “scholarship” athletes receive full rides. Division I football, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball are the only sports that award full scholarships, and some athletes in those sports receive partial scholarships or walk on with no athletic aid. 2. It would be grand if students who receive academic-based scholarships were honored in the same way and received a similar amount of attention.

THINGS ARE BEGINNING to heat up as we move closer to the postseason for winter activities. Dance team section tournaments will begin Saturday and continue the following Saturday, the one-act play state tournament will be held Feb. 10-11, the state ski meet Feb. 16-17, wrestling team and individual sections Feb. 19 and 26, state dance Feb. 18-19, girls’ state hockey Feb. 23-26 and on and on through March.

That’s it for now. Keep warm, drive carefully and think about our friends in Scottsdale.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 331
*Miles John has driven: 7,391

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Ellsworth: A Small Town That Accomplishes Big Things1/31/2011
I witnessed two major accomplishments on Saturday … well, truthfully one of them was much more important than the other.

The first – and least important -- accomplishment was reaching the 7,000-mile mark. Since the 2010-11 school year began, I have driven 7,343 miles in writing about, talking about and learning about high school activities in Minnesota. Lately it seems like most of the miles have been driven through snow, and that was the case Saturday when I traveled to Ellsworth, the site of the day’s truly astounding accomplishment

Ellsworth is in southwestern Minnesota, and the school is exactly one mile from the Iowa border. Snow rolled through that part of the world Saturday afternoon, making it a less-than-delighful drive. But once I walked into the school, everything was beyond delightful.

Ellsworth is in my personal wheelhouse: a town of about 500 citizens, a high school with an enrollment of 61 students ... very similar to my own upbringing. Small towns are places where everybody knows everybody and they know how to get things done. And they did some very special things in Ellsworth on Saturday.

The Panthers boys’ basketball teams played Westbrook-Walnut Grove in a C-B-varsity tripleheader, and it was Ellsworth’s second annual Coaches vs. Cancer day. Last year the event raised more than $1,500, and Saturday’s tally was more than $2,200. That’s an amazing amount of money for such a small town and school. But it’s no surprise in Ellsworth, where more than $27,000 was raised last summer to replace the basketball court in the gym.The old court was there since the 1950s and the new court is as first-rate as they come.

“It speaks for all the people willing to help and chip in,” said Ellsworth boys’ basketball coach Tyler Morris, who is the driving force behind the Coaches vs. Center efforts in Ellsworth. He takes no credit, but he works year-round to plan the event and gather donations for raffles, a silent auction and basketball bingo.

The hallway outside the gym was filled with tables that carried all kinds of prizes: t-shirts, banners, backpacks, fruit, candy, CDs, hats, power tools, Timberwolves and Twins tickets and autographed items from the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, the Wild’s Niklas Backstrom, the Twins’ Tony Oliva, the 1954 Milan, Indiana, basketball team (which inspired the movie “Hoosiers”) and former University of Minnesota football coach Tim Brewstar (donated while Brewster was still with the Gophers). There also were coupons for free subs, free golf, beef jerky from Ellsworth Locker and a one-year family membership at the nearby Luverne pool and fitness center (a $499 value).

People bought tickets for the raffle items, they filled out silent auction forms and everybody played basketball bingo. That entailed buying a bingo card that instead of numbers contained events that happen during basketball games. It was interesting to see something happen on the court – a traveling call, an over-and-back, a ball bouncing off the rim and behind the glass, etc. – and then seeing a couple people scurry out of the gym with their now-filled card to select a prize.

“We’re trying to raise awareness and have fun,” Morris said. “It’s easy to pass a bucket in the stands and get donations, but it’s a lot more fun to get people involved.”

The Westbrook-Walnut Grove players wore pink Coaches vs. Cancer t-shirts during warm-ups, coaches from both teams dressed in pink shirts and/or ties, the Ellsworth players wore pink socks, the Ellsworth cheerleaders wore pink sashes around their waists and a majority of the fans wore pink shirts, hats, headbands, socks, etc.

Ellsworth won Class 1A boys’ basketball titles in 2007 and 2008 and finished second at state in 2003, 2006 and 2009. The current Panthers, ranked ninth in 1A, beat Westbrook-Walnut Grove 73-27 Saturday to improve to 13-2.

The Ellsworth gym is one of those places that is brimming with history and character. Most of the fans sit on one side of the court, with a few more on metal bleachers on the stage across the floor. The teams sit on chairs in front of the stage, and the scorers table is up on the stage. A small stepladder is placed right in front of the scorers table, allowing the officials to climb up and sign the official scorebook.

My first trip to Ellsworth came a few years ago, when an assignment for the Minneapolis Star Tribune took me and photographer David Joles to town for a couple days. At the time, the Panthers’ Cody Schilling was closing in on the state’s all-time career scoring record. David and I saw two games in Ellsworth, Cody drove us around on a tour of the town (which didn’t take long) and we visited the Schilling family farm.

I was able to reunite with Cody’s parents, Clayton and Carla, on my latest trip. Their youngest son, Casey, is a 6-foot-5 junior for the Panthers, Cody is a junior on the basketball team at Augustana College in Sioux Falls and oldest son Curt is the athletic director, a teacher and coach at George-Little Rock, Iowa, a few miles south of Ellsworth.

Clayton had a great trivia question for me: Who holds their school’s career scoring record, which will never be broken, but ranks fourth in scoring in their own family? The answer is Carla Schilling. She is the all-time girls’ basketball scoring leader at George High School, and her mark will never fall because George is now consolidated with Little Rock. And her three sons all have passed her career points mark.

Old friends, a small town and a tremendous amount of money raised for a terrific cause. Could anything be better than that?

How about this: Saturday was Tyler Morris’ 31st birthday.

Like I said, it was a very special day.

--For photo galleries and a video clip from Ellsworth, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 329
*Miles John has driven: 7,343

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Remembering Moorhead’s Phil Seljevold1/27/2011
Phil Seljevold, a 1945 Moorhead High graduate, passed away on Janury 8. In 1958, Seljevold began working as the elementary physical education supervisor for Moorhead Area Public Schools. In 1968, he began a 21-year career as the athletic director for the school district. Seljevold was inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor in 2008. Here is his Hall of Fame biography …

Phil Seljevold graduated from Moorhead High School in 1945. While at Moorhead High, Seljevold participated in band, orchestra, choir, basketball, football and track and was a class officer one year. He was co-captain of the basketball team in 1945.

Seljevold graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, in 1950 with a double major in physics and health and physical education. He earned a master’s degree in education from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

His employment history includes working at Industrial Loan, Sears, Bob Fritz Sporting Goods and Borders Insurance. Seljevold also taught for part of a year in Dilworth, Minn. In 1958, Seljevold began working as the elementary physical education supervisor for the Moorhead Area Public Schools. He served in that position for 10 years. In 1968, he began a 21-year career as the athletic director for the school district.

As athletic director, Seljevold was a part of the 1970s move to include girls in athletic programs. He was named Region 8AA Athletic Director of the Year four times. During his years as athletic director, Seljevold served as president of the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, was chair of the Region 8AA Committee, and chair of the District 23 Committee. In 1996, Seljevold was inducted into the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Hall of Fame for his contributions to Minnesota high school athletics.

Seljevold has served as a chairman of the Moorhead Athletic Association, was president of the Vikingland Kiwanis Club of Moorhead in 1992, and was council chair of Good Shepherd Church in 1992. In 1995 Seljevold was chairman of the all-school reunion. He was chairman of the Moorhead High School Stadium Committee, which raised funds to build Jim Gotta Stadium in 2000. Seljevold also was active in the creation of the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor. As a member of the Hall of Honor committee, Seljevold served as chair of the selection committee for several years.

Phil and Adeline Seljevold are the parents of four children and eleven grandchildren.
No. 1 Meets No. 1, And The Game Lives Up To Expectations1/27/2011
When the latest boys’ hockey rankings were released by Let’s Play Hockey on Wednesday, all eyes turned to Thursday night’s game at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood.

That’s because it suddenly became a match between two top-ranked teams. St. Thomas Academy already held the top spot in the Class 1A rankings, and Hill-Murray moved from No. 4 to No. 1 this week in Class 2A.

The game was worthy of the hype, too. Hill-Murray led 3-1 after two periods (with Bob Bruski scoring twice), the Cadet tied it 3-3 with two-third period goals by A.J. Reid, and Hill-Murray finally sealed the victory when sophomore Jake Guentzel scored with 1 minute, 13 seconds left in regulation.

Hill-Murray improved to 11-4 overall and 7-0 in the Classic Suburban Conference. St. Thomas Academy is 10-5 overall and 5-1 in the Classic Suburban.

The decision certainly secured the Pioneers’ position atop the 2A rankings and the loss probably won’t knock St. Thomas Academy off the No. 1 spot in 1A. The Cadets appear to have the more challenging remaining schedule, with four of 10 games against ranked opponents.

Hill-Murray has upcoming games against two ranked foes: #6-1A South St. Paul on Feb. 10 and a rematch with St. Thomas Academy on Feb. 19.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 327
*Miles John has driven: 6,893

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
The Return of Tyus Jones ... And The Turnaround1/25/2011
Tyus Jones was a little down after Tuesday night’s basketball game, but the Apple Valley freshman was also happy to be playing again. He suffered a lacerated kidney in the Eagles’ first game of the season and missed the next 13 games.

But Jones – the highest-profile young basketball player in Minnesota -- received medical clearance on Monday and played a team-high 32 minutes, 2 seconds in Apple Valley’s 83-70 loss to Lakeville North on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1 point guard scored 10 points, all in the first half.

There was a certain amount of anticipation in Jones’ return. Gophers coach Tubby Smith was in the crowd, for example. Before tipoff someone said to me, “So you came for The Return, huh?” And that indeed was the theme in the first half, with Apple Valley leading 42-32 at intermission. (In the photo, Jones is defending against North's Al Erickson.)

But the theme changed to “The Turnaround” in the second half, with Lakeville North opening the half with a 17-0 run and taking a 10-point lead seven minutes into the half. Lakeville North was led by Adam Petterson with 24 points and Tyler Flack with 21. It’s no coincidence that both of them stand 6-foot-6; they were big in the comeback, with Flack getting 15 points in the second half and Petterson 14.

Flack led the highlight reel with two alley-oop dunks, one on a pass from Al Erickson and the other with an assist by Devin Shockley. While North’s big guys were attacking, Apple Valley was dealing with foul trouble. Tom Schalk (25 points), the Eagles’ 6-7 center who has signed with William & Mary, fouled out with 4:24 to play, and that put Apple Valley in a big hole. It didn’t help that guard Dustin Fronk also fouled out.

North shot 42 percent in the first half and 60 percent in the second, outscoring Apple Valley 51-28 in the final 18 minutes.

--See a postgame video interview with Tyus Jones, plus a photo gallery, on the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 325
*Miles John has driven: 6,835

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