John's Journal
A Sure Sign of Fall: Preseason Rankings8/4/2010
As we continue the countdown to the 2010-11 year in activities, the first preseason ranking has been released: Class 2A boys’ cross-country. We’ll follow up with rankings in other sports as they arrive.

Class 2A Boys’ Cross-Country Preseason Rankings
Teams
1 Eden Prairie
2 Wayzata
3 Burnsville
4 Edina
5 Moorhead
6 White Bear Lake
7 Totino-Grace
8 Stillwater
9 Owatonna
10 Lakeville North
11 Alexandria
12 St. Thomas Academy

Also received votes: Rosemount, Hopkins, Bloomington Jefferson, Forest Lake, Andover, Cambridge-Isanti, Roseville, Red Wing, Willmar

Individuals
1 Aaron Bartnik 12 Eden Prairie
2 Cole O'Brien 11 Burnsville
3 Josh Thorson 11 Wayzata
4 Adam Zutz 12 St. Francis
5 Mohamed Mohamed 12 Eden Prairie
6 Aldis Inde 12 Edina
7 Christian Skaret 12 Minnetonka
8 Bryant Blahnik 12 Red Wing
9 Trent Lusignan 12 Shakopee
10 Steven Dado 12 Totino-Grace
11 Ben Saxton 11 Lakeville North
12 Lukas Gemar 12 Moorhead

Also received votes: Elliot Fenske 12 Farmington; Adam Braun 12 Totino-Grace; Tyler Olson 12 Maple Grove; Adam Moline 12 Wayzata; Kyle Bratrud 12 Eden Prairie; Wayde Hall 10 Stillwater; Shane McCallum 12 Rosemount; Glen Ellingson 11 Moorhead; Tom Linner 11 Stillwater

--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
The Countdown Has Begun8/2/2010
It’s time to start the countdown to the 2010-11 school year. August 16 is the first day of practice for fall sports, so the sands of summer are running out.

This question has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page: “What will you be doing two weeks from today?” Folks have begun responding with their own comments, so feel free to add to the discussion.

Enjoy these last two weeks of summer!

--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
We Interrupt This Vacation to Honor Officials7/24/2010
Saturday was probably the biggest day in the history of sports officiating in Minnesota, and the ensuing days promise more of the same. The National Association of Sports Officials annual summit – July 25-27 at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis – was preceded by Saturday’s “Officiate Minnesota” gathering, a first-time event that brought together officials from all sports from all over the state.

Officiate Minnesota offered five different blocks of general and sport-specific 45-minute sessions. I removed myself from the vacation hammock and spent some time at Saturday’s event, which was unlike anything I have ever seen. A former baseball/softball official myself, I popped into several sessions and found them all to be interesting, educational and invaluable.

(To see a variety of photos from Officiate Minnesota, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

One of Saturday’s highlights was the keynote address by retired NFL official Jerry Markbreit. He talked about his career as a Big Ten and NFL official, but he began his career working touch football games in 1956, being paid three dollars a game.

Here is an excerpt from Markbreit’s speech:

“There’s nothing in the world like officiating. Seven men in the NFL walk into a stadium three hours before kickoff. Different races, different religions, different in every way. You get in that locker room and you take everything off. Out comes that magnificent zebra outfit, the uniform of the official. The uniform changes you from who you are in public to who you are in sport. That uniform transforms you. When I put that uniform on, I felt like Superman coming out of a phone booth. Out on that field to work a football game or a tennis match or a swimming meet or whatever.

"In the whole scheme of life, it meant maybe this much (he held two fingers about half an inch apart). But to the people involved, and the fans and the school and the families and teams and everybody else, it’s big stuff. And you’re doing it. What could be better? What could give you more reward inside than doing that job?”

--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


Squeezing In A Little Down Time7/19/2010
John's Journal is taking a short break while the author rests, relaxes and recharges. Vacation time doesn't last long, however, and before long we'll all be ramping up for the start of fall sports.

The first day for fall practice is Aug. 16. I'll be back in action well before that, but for now I'm sitting on a dock ...or mowing the lawn ... or looking at the stars ... or (fill in your favorite summer vacation activity).

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Wheels Keep Turning, And California Adds Girls’ Wrestling7/15/2010
If I have learned anything since joining the MSHSL staff, it is this: There is no offseason for high school activities. Yes, summer is a time when no school-sponsored athletic contests or other activities are taking place, but wheels are constantly turning nonetheless.

Here at MSHSL World Headquarters, summer is a time for planning and preparing for another school year. For example, next week’s schedule at our office includes half a dozen meetings, including orientation for new members of the board of directors and rules clinicians meetings in soccer, football and volleyball.

The story is the same across the nation; things are always happening. The latest example is Wednesday’s announcement from the California Interscholastic Federation that it will begin sponsoring a state tournament for girls’ wrestling. The first statewide event will be held in February, with a two-day tournament at a high school.

According to an announcement from the CIF, “The invitational comes on the heels of successful regional tournaments last January in which 704 athletes and 173 schools participated statewide.”

“The CIF has been building up to this event the last couple of years,” CIF State Executive Director Marie M. Ishida said. “As the popularity and number of female wrestlers continues to increase, the CIF is committed to the philosophy, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ The CIF is pleased to offer this new event and we are hopeful it will grow into an event that will mirror the boys’ championships.”

Ishida’s words come on the heels of a similar message (recounted in an earlier John’s Journal posting) from National Federation executive director Bob Gardner at last week’s summer meeting in San Diego. “If you build it, THEY will come,” Gardner said, referring to the high school students who take part in activities.

The California girls’ wrestling tournament will have 14 weight classes. Boys also have 14 classes, but the girls’ weights in California will vary slightly from those used by boys. The girls’ weight classes in California are 98, 103, 108, 114, 118, 122, 126, 132, 138, 146, 154, 165, 189 and 235 pounds.

Texas and Hawaii already hold state wrestling tournaments for girls.

(For a link to the CIF announcement, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

--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