John's Journal
Previewing Thursday’s MSHSL Board of Directors Meeting12/1/2010
The MSHSL Board of Directors will hold its December meeting on Thursday at MSHSL headquarters in Brooklyn Center. Football will be a focus of the meeting, with two of the three action items on the agenda dealing directly with football.

The board has previously approved the implementation of Zero Week football games, allowing schools with scheduling difficulties to play their first game of the season one week earlier than the traditional start of the season. Thursday, the board will discuss specific provisions of the Zero Week policy, including timelines for Zero Week game applications and specific rules regarding bye weeks that must be used by teams that play Zero Week games.

The board will also discuss football conference placements for Grand Rapids, Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld. Through the MSHSL’s placement process, Grand Rapids has been assigned to the Central Lakes Conference and Duluth East and Denfeld have been placed in the Mississippi 8 Conference.

The other action item on the agenda concerns policies for administrative regions and class and section assignments.

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. I will post updates here on John’s Journal, as well as on the MSHSL Facebook and Twitter pages, during the meeting.
An Official Makes His Toughest Call11/30/2010
The day after Thanksgiving was, according to Dale Wakasugi, “kind of an interesting evening.”

That’s one way to describe the high school basketball official’s near-death experience. It was the second time his heart had malfunctioned during a game, and it’s a miraculous thing that Wakasugi is here to talk about it. He knows how lucky he is.

In December 2007 Wakasugi, then 49, collapsed during a game at Fridley High School. He had suffered a heart attack, he had no pulse and he was brought back to life because the school was equipped with automated external defibrillator (AED). It was used for the first time that night, delivering an electrical shock that restarted Wakasugi’s heart.

Round Two came last Friday night at Hamline University, where Wakasugi was working girls’ games at the Pat Paterson Memorial Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament. This was a rare night, because he worked back-to-back games. The first one, between Hopkins and White Bear Lake, was a fast-paced contest. With a very short break between games, Wakasugi and his partner, Crystal Flint, were officiating a game between Blaine and Rosemount

Near the end of the first half, Wakasugi was stationed on the baseline when he collapsed.

“It was a scary situation,” Blaine coach Steve Reiter said. “All of a sudden he was down. We ran over right away and at first I thought it was a heart attack. He was still breathing, and a doctor came down from the stands right away, luckily.”

This time it wasn’t a classic heart attack, but an electrical malfunction in Wakasugi’s heart. After his 2007 heart attack, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) was implanted in his chest. When his heart malfunctioned last week, the ICD did its job. He was unconscious for only a few seconds, and after being taken to a hospital in an ambulance and being checked out, he was home that same evening.

“I had no real ill effects, other than being tired for the next day,” he said. “I didn’t even spend the night in the hospital. How crazy is that?”

Since his 2007 experience, Wakasugi has been active in the “Anyone Can Save a Life” educational program, a joint effort of the MSHSL and Medtronic Foundation. He’s also a member of the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network, a non-profit organization that supports SCA survivors and their families, advocates for community access to AEDs and educates people about SCA and early defibrillation.

He will remain involved in those efforts, but he said his officiating career is probably over. He feels perfectly normal, in great shape to keep working basketball games. But he knows that his on-court partners, along with people who assign officials, will worry about him and the possibility of another episode.

“I don’t want to put people through that,” he said. “Even if I feel great and doctors give me medical clearance, I’ve already decided I’m probably going to just quit. It’s gotta be what’s best for the kids and the game and sport and the coaches.

“I can’t control the pace of a basketball game and I can’t pace myself. I love it, I’m passionate about it, but the decision to go forward or not was pretty easy. I don’t think it would be fair to everybody around me.”

Wakasugi wants to stay involved, possibly helping mentor and train young officials.
Apple Valley Boys’ Hockey Gets Off To A Strong Start11/30/2010
If the first game of the season is any indication of what to expect from the Apple Valley boys’ hockey team, one thing to watch for is balance.

The Eagles, who surprised some people with a run to the Class 2A state tournament semifinals last season, return a strong corps from that young team and showed their strength in defeating Bloomington Jefferson 6-3 Tuesday night at Bloomington Ice Garden. Apple Valley is No. 7 in the Let’s Play Hockey magazine 2A rankings, and Jefferson is No. 13.

The Eagles’ goals came from five players, with junior forward Trent Heuer scoring twice and getting two assists. Heuer assisted on the game’s opening goal by Hudson Fasching, last year’s leading scorer, and Heuer’s goals came in the second period as Apple Valley opened a 4-1 lead.

“We forecheck hard and see what happens,” Heuer said. “Tonight we got a couple of hardworking goals. It felt good to get two goals. We couldn’t ask for a better night.”

Last year, Apple Valley finished sixth in the Lake Conference with a 10-9 league record. But the Eagles got on a postseason roll that didn’t end until they lost to eventual state champion Edina in the state semifinals. There will be no surprising success story this year, because Apple Valley has been tagged as a team to watch.

“It just helped, going to the state tournament and knowing we had the ability to go to the next level,” Heuer said. “It feels great to get the first win. Everyone’s just looking at us now as one of the top team teams in the state.”

Apple Valley is diving right into the competitive soup, playing at third-ranked Eden Prairie on Thursday. The Eagles’ fifth game of the season, on Dec. 14, will be against No. 2 Wayzata.

Jefferson, which went 19-6-3 last season and finished the season with a loss to Edina in the Section 2 tournament, has a similarly tough early schedule, meeting Eden Prairie on Saturday and facing Wayzata on Dec. 16.

(To see a postgame video interview with Trent Heuer and a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 249
*Miles John has driven: 5,364

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
A Neat Sportsmanship Story From North Carolina11/29/2010
Readers of John’s Journal may recall the story told here exactly one month ago today about cross-country runner Trevor Jahn from Orono High School, who stopped near the finish line to assist Hutchinson’s Isaiah Barlow after Isaiah fell during a section meet.

A similar event took place in a district cross-country meet in North Carolina. Here is the story, courtesy of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association …

There are not always enough "good" stories in sports-- but here is one that truly represents the essence of high school athletics and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

Tommy Harkey, athletic director at North Stanly High School, says, "This event at the regional cross country meet had spectators clapping, cheering, and crying at the same time." Drew Laucher, the North Stanly cross-country coach, wrote a story about it for the local paper, The Stanly News and Press, which drew additional attention to it.

Jenna Huff is a runner for North Stanly who was competing at Dan Nicholas Park in the 2-A Midwest Regional for the right to advance to the state championship. Late in the race she is in 22nd place, trailing Deb Gunther of Cuthbertson by about five meters. Suddenly Gunther screams in pain and grabs her hip, almost stopping.

Instead of sprinting past Gunther to gain a spot in the standings, Huff slows down, checks on her and tells her, "Come on," gently putting her hand on Gunther's elbow.

They shuffle along toward the finish line, and as coach Laucher says, "As they approach the finish line, the crowd catches on. Applause and cheers erupt. Jenna puts Deb in front of her, just as it would have been before Deb's hip gave out. Jenna didn't take that point; it was always Deb's so it stayed Deb's."

That in itself is remarkable, but it also had an impact on the meet. It turned out that Cuthbertson and Salisbury tied for first in the regional meet, and ties in cross country means that the performance of the sixth-place finisher is used. Cuthbertson's sixth-place runner: Deb Gunther.

As Harkey noted, "Jenna could have passed the Cuthbertson runner, but instead made sure she went across the finish line in front of her, which ended up giving Cuthbertson the victory over Salisbury."

Coach Laucher was right when he said, "Cuthbertson won the regional meet that day. Jenna Huff won the crowd."

Stories like this may be fairly rare in the world of sports today, but fortunately they are not so rare in the realm of NCHSAA athletics. Our thanks to North Stanly High School and The Stanly News and Press for their accounts, and most especially we salute Jenna Huff of North Stanly High School for exhibiting the values that we hope our sports programs promote.
Prep Bowl Day II: Let’s Have Some More Fun11/27/2010
Hello again from the Metrodome, where the high school football season will come to an end with two state championship games on this lovely Saturday.

At noon, Rochester Lourdes and Holy Family will meet to decide the Class 3A champion, and at 3 p.m. it will be Totino-Grace vs. Rogers in the 4A title game.

Friday’s four-day slate was filled with great games and exciting outcomes, and I’m sure we will see more of the same today.

Remember, the games are being televised by KSTC Channel 45 and webcast by 45.GrandStadium.TV. And I’m posting instant updates, photos and videos on the MSHSL Facebook page, and Twitter is part of the scheme, too.

--Diet Coke Count: 0