John's Journal
Woodbury-Bethlehem Academy Volleyball Report9/8/2010
When you watch the Woodbury volleyball team, you see double. And triple. And what’s more, you see a very talented squad.

The easy headline for the Royals mentions all the sisters on the team: Identical twins Marika and Nicola Kim are senior hitters, and Sam, Nicole and Jenna Sullivan are triplets (Sam and Jenna are identical, adding to the fun). The Sullivans are also seniors. (In the photo below, 11-Jenna Sullivan and 7-Marika Kim team up for a block.)

I was in the Woodbury gym Tuesday night when the Royals played Bethlehem Academy from Faribault. Bethlehem Academy, the second-ranked team in Class 1A and the defending 1A state champion, pulled out an exciting 3-2 victory over the Royals, who are on the cusp of the top 10 in Class 3A.

In fact, I said to Royals coach Linda Crum after the match, “I don’t know why your team isn’t in the top 10.” Woodbury received some votes in this week’s coaches poll, but not enough to crack the top 10. That should change.

(To see more photos and a video from the match, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Tuesday’s match seemed like a prototypical matchup of 1A and 3A teams. Bethlehem Academy was undersized but highly skilled; Woodbury was taller at the net. The Kims are both 5-foot-11, and Royals seniors Cassie Cahill (5-9) and Jenna Sullivan (5-9) provide some clobbering power.

On the other side, Bethlehem Academy has 5-10 sophomore Maddie Borwege and 5-11 senior Taylor North, but the Cardinals’ strength is in their ball-control abilities. The back row of seniors Jena Budde and Victoria Nass and eighth-grader Payton Schlutz is tough to crack.

The game scores Tuesday night were 24-26, 25-22, 27-25, 22-25 and 15-9. The marathon match lasted 2 hours, 7 minutes.

“I thought they did an excellent job tonight of really staying consistent and staying in their game as far as ball-handling,” Crum said of the Cardinals. “They’re not necessarily flashy, but it’s more consistent.”

Bethlehem Academy won small-school state titles in the last four odd-numbered years: 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and they were state runners-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Bethlehem Academy, which is ranked No. 2 in Class 1A behind Minneota, opened the season against the top teams in the Class 3A and 2A rankings. Lakeville North defeated the Cardinals 3-0 on Aug. 31 and Bethlehem Academy beat Marshall 3-0 last Thursday. (In this week’s rankings, Marshall fell into the No. 2 spot in 2A behind Hutchinson.)

“They have a lot of tradition and a great program,” Crum said. “And I think one of the things I enjoy about playing their team is that they’re going to be a great ball-handling team, they’re going to balance what they do offensively and they’re going to play smart. That’s what you need, that’s what teams are doing in November and it’s great to play against teams like that and see, ‘Where are we?’ ”

Woodbury came into Tuesday’s match with a 2-1 record. The Royals beat Andover and Eagan and lost a 3-2 decision to Burnsville. Woodbury has gone to the state tournament four times: 1992, 1994, 2004 and 2007.

The plan at BA every year is to work hard, play as tough a schedule as possible and be ready for the state tournament. As coach Franz Boelter told me during preseason workouts, “If it’s our fate to finish first or second in alternate years, that’s a pretty nice fate to have.”

After Tuesday’s tough victory (celebratory photo at left), Boelter said of Woodbury, “They’re pretty good. The biggest thing is that we survived, and a lot of it was we had to survive ourselves. We just had so many errors and just generally we didn’t play that well but we kept playing hard. Sometimes, with the type of team we have, we’re just going to have to outlast people. We hung in there, hung in there, hung in there, and at the end maybe we had a little bit more left than they did.

“We gave them enough chances, we reduced our errors and they ended up making the final errors. That’s what volleyball is; it’s a game of errors, and you’ve got to reduce your errors. And yet you have to stay aggressive, and sometimes I thought we weren’t very aggressive.”

When I stepped out of my car at the school, I heard the Woodbury marching band rehearsing in the football stadium. The tune was the AC/DC classic “Dirty Deeds,” wonderfully played.

The national anthem was beautifully sung by Mike Kim … father of Marika and Nicole.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 35
*Miles John has driven: 1,647

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
New Volleyball Rankings9/7/2010
Lakeville North is atop Class 3A, Hutchinson moves to the top in 2A and Minneota remains No. 1 in Class 1A.

1. Lakeville North (12) 180
2. Bloomington Jefferson 145
3. Wayzata 140
4. Shakopee 136
5. Apple Valley 112
6. Waconia 104
7. Eastview 99
8. Lakeville South 87
9. Centennial 63
10. Hopkins 56
Others: Eden Prairie (51), Blaine (47), Stillwater (36), Chaska (9), Woodbury (7), Eagan (6)

1. Hutchinson (3) 87
2. Marshall (2) 79
Jackson County Central 79
4. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 75
5. Hibbing 57
6. Delano 51
7. Belle Plaine 47
8. Jordan 45
9. Stewartville 37
10. Lesuer-Henderson 22
Others: Byron (20), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (7), Caledonia (6), Minnehaha Academy (6), Kasson-Mantorville (6), Maple Lake (5)

1. Minneota (5) 188
2. Bethlehem Academy (6) 182
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 159
4. Canby 147
5. Mayer Lutheran 125
6. Martin County West 115
7. Mabel-Canton 101
8. Nevis 93
9. Windom 65
10. Win-E-Mac 60
Others: Northern Freeze (57), BBE (30), Tracy-Milroy (20), GFW (7), Heritage Christian (6)
Basketball Coaches Association Honorees Named9/6/2010
The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has named five men who will be inducted into the MBCA Hall of Fame this October. The purpose of the MBCA Hall of Fame is to give special recognition to the people of Minnesota who have made significant contributions to promote high school basketball in the state via their accomplishments and service. In addition, five men will be inducted into the Hall of Honor.

The 2010 inductees are Bill Baumann of North Branch, C.R. “Chuck” Gulsvig of Moorhead, Bruce Kugath, of Shakopee, Jerry Litfin of Delano, and Roger “Shorty” Schroeder of Willmar. The induction ceremonies will be held at the MBCA Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday, October 31st, 12:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.

Bill Baumann became the head boys basketball coach at North Branch in 1979 and spent 31 years as the leader of the Viking program prior to retiring in 2010. Bill’s career began as a head football coach, head baseball coach, and assistant basketball coach at Villard H.S. in 1975. Coach Baumann led his North Branch teams to six Rum River Conference titles. His 1984 and 2001 Viking squads earned State Tournament berths by capturing Section championships. Coach Baumann was named Rum River Coach of the Year three times and Region/Section Coach of the Year five times.

C.R. “Chuck” Gulsvig served as the head basketball coach at Moorhead H.S. from 1983-2009. His coaching career began in Kennedy where he coached football and served as assistant basketball coach for the legendary Louis Deere. His Spuds, not being a member of a conference, traveled all of Minnesota and parts of SD, ND, and Manitoba taking on all comers. During his 26 year career, the Spuds made the Section Finals 15 times, earning seven State Tournament berths. Coach Gulsvig’s teams earned three fourth place and one third place finish in their State Tournament appearances.

Bruce Kugath became the head boys basketball coach at Shakopee in 1993 and he will be entering his 18th season at the helm, and 33rd season with the program, when the 2010-11 season begins. His coaching career began in Plum Lake WI where he was the head coach in basketball and baseball from 1968-72. Bruce moved to Shakopee in 1972 and spent 15 years as an assistant coach in basketball and head baseball coach. He assumed the leadership reins of the Shako program in 1993. During his tenure at Shakopee, Coach Kugath has guided his hoops squads to seven Missota Conference titles and six Section championships. Coach K’s 2005 squad culminated their season by winning the AAA State championship. Bruce is a seven time honoree as Section Coach of the Year and was selected AAA State Coach of the Year in 2005.

Jerry Litfin coached basketball at Delano for 29 years, 26 as the head basketball coach. His Tiger teams won five Conference titles, seven district/ sub-section championships, and a Section title earning them a berth in the 1993 State Tournament. He retired from basketball coaching as a member of the 400 Win Club with a career mark of 404-210. Jerry’s coaching accomplishments earned him recognition from his peers by being selected District Coach of the Year nine times and Section Coach of the Year twice; 1984 and 1983.

Roger “Shorty” Schroeder coached basketball at Willmar for 32 years; seven as an assistant, fifteen as head boys coach, and seven as head girls coach. Coach Schroeder was the head basketball coach at Appleton for four years and Litchfield for six years prior to moving to Willmar as an assistant for MBCA Hall of Fame coach, Russ Adamson. His Cardinal teams won seven Conference titles and earned State Tournament appearances with three Section championships. The ’82-83 Cardinal team earned fourth place honors in the State Tournament.

The MBCA Hall of Honor has been established to honor those persons who have helped to improve/promote/ and or serve basketball in Minnesota. Honorees have been longtime supporters of their local teams or have given outstanding service to the game of basketball. Awards are given in four categories: Officials, Media, Coach - Head/Assistant, and Friend of Basketball. To be eligible for the Hall of Honor, a person must have been involved with basketball for at least 20 years. That person must be nominated by a MBCA member, the MBCA Executive Board, or the MBCA Hall of Fame committee.

The following individuals will be inducted as the initial members of the MBCA Hall of Honor in 2010:

• Jim Geske; Coach - First basketball coach at Mounds View H.S. and a “founding father” of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association.

• Frank Fee; Media - Broadcast career spanning over 36 years as the “Voice of the Crookston Pirates.” Member of the MSHSL Section 8 Committee and statistician for 8AA Boys and Girls basketball.

• Brad Larson, Assistant Coach – Served 38 years as an Assistant Basketball Coach at Owatonna H.S. , including ’88-’89 and ’89-’90 State Championship squads. State Assistant Coach of the Year in ’98-’99.

• Ken Lien, Friend of Basketball - Founder and Chairman of Mr. Basketball Committee for the 35 years of its existence. Recipient of MBCA Distinguished Service Award, 2001.

• Kwame McDonald, Media/Friend of Basketball – Columnist for Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder and promoter/supporter of High School activities. Recipient of MBCA Distinguished Service Award, 2005.

Also, legendary Cold Spring Rocori coach Bob Brink will be honored with the Legends of the Game Award and Don Shelby of WCCO television will be presented with the MBCA Ambassador of Basketball Award.
Minneota Makes A Strong Week 1 Statement9/3/2010
The Minneota Vikings finished the 2009 football season as the top team in Class 1A, and using their season-opening performance Thursday night as a measuring stick, they appear poised to make another run at a state championship.

The Vikings rolled past Adrian 49-12 in Adrian, taking advantage of mistakes by the Dragons and exhibiting a strong ground game and just enough of a passing attack to keep opponents off balance. First-year starting quarterback Beau Buysse, a senior, threw for two touchdowns and ran for one, Jacob Cheadle ran for two TDs and caught a scoring pass, and Brandon Anderson scored once on the ground.

Minneota’s big victory came in a rematch of last year’s Prep Bowl, a 42-21 victory over Adrian. Thursday’s decision in a Little Sioux Conference game gave Minneota a four-game winning streak against the Dragons.

(To see a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

“It wasn’t perfect. But it was Week 1 and this was Adrian, a team that we expect will be the favorite in their section,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “To come out with a win like this, I’m happy.

“Obviously we’ve got things to fix, we’ve got corrections to make, we had some botched assignments, some missed tackles, some not recognizing formations, but we’ve got a lot of kids with very little experience running around out there in a very big game. We’re going to build off this.”

WHEN I VISITED Minneota during preseason workouts, Johnston said he was optimistic despite the graduation of a dozen seniors. Quarterback Sam Derynck, who threw for 34 touchdowns in 2009, is among the now former Vikings. Buysse stepped into the quarterback job, and the prevailing wisdom was that Minneota’s running game would be in good hands with the return of Anderson (who ran for two TDs in the 2009 Prep Bowl) and Cheadle. The prevailing wisdom sure looked very wise Thursday night.

“We knew going into this year that we’d probably be a little more run-oriented, but Beau’s looked great,” Johnston said. “He worked hard all summer and he’s looked good in fall camp. We probably expected to throw it a little more tonight, but our running game was clicking and one of the things against Adrian is you want to keep their offense off the field.”

After Brock Bullerman put Adrian ahead 6-0 with a 27-yard touchdown run, it was all Minneota. Buysse scooted 20 yards for a first-quarter TD, and things began going south for Adrian when a low punt snap led to the punter’s knee touching the turf and the Vikings getting the ball on the Adrian 5. Cheadle ran in from there.

A long kickoff return by the Dragons was negated by a holding penalty, and before long Cheadle was off on a 35-yard scoring run. The score was 21-6 at halftime and there wasn’t much doubt after that.

“It doesn’t seem like we usually get a whole lot of breaks down here, and we got them tonight,” Johnston said. “We got a couple calls here and there, and those are things that can change the momentum. Overall, I was happy with how the kids played. We had a lot of kids step up.”

THE EVENING WAS spectacular for football. The weather was on the cool side, with a slight breeze. My concession-stand dinner was outstanding: a hamburger, a pork burger and a Diet Mountain Dew. The cheerleaders were in midseason form and the Adrian band was terrific.

Seventy-five minutes before kickoff, the Dragons coaches sat together in the coaches office while the players sat on the floor and leaned against the walls in a school corridor. Soon after, the pregame message to the Adrian seniors from coach Randy Strand was straightforward: “Here we are. It’s your senior year. If you don’t have some fire in your gut now, you shouldn’t be here.”

The instruction to the defense was just as clear: “Hit Buysse on every play, clean shots.”

This was small-town football at its finest. The teams walked the one block from the high school to the field by strolling down an alley, with back yards on both sides. The Adrian American Legion color guard presented the colors as the band played the anthem. I overheard an assistant coach from Minneota ask a counterpart from Adrian, “How much rain did you guys get down here last night?”

Johnston, proving to be an avid reader of John’s Journal, asked these questions when he saw me before the game: “How was the drive? You didn’t get slowed down by any local authorities, did you?” That was a needling reference to the speeding ticket I picked up in Renville on my way home from Minneota a few days earlier.

Nice line, coach. The only thing faster than my car is your football team.

I’LL BE BACK on a metro football field Friday night, visiting the University of St. Thomas to watch defending 5A state champion Cretin-Derham Hall meet Forest Lake in a Suburban East Conference game.

No more jokes about my heavy foot, please.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 31
*Miles John has driven: 1,559

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Cretin-Derham Hall Adds to a Week 1 Football Theme9/3/2010
When the Cretin-Derham Hall football team participated in a scrimmage last Saturday at Hopkins, the worst happened. The Raiders’ top two running backs (plus a backup) went down with injuries, lending an air of uncertainty to Friday night’s season opener against Forest Lake at the University of St. Thomas.

But when all was said and done – and the reserves had gone out and run – the defending Class 5A state champions were just fine. With new faces seemingly everywhere in the lineup, Cretin had no trouble rolling past the Rangers 40-0.

On Thursday, I saw defending 1A champion Minneota defeat Adrian. Also this weekend, Totino-Grace ( last year’s 4A champ) defeated 5A Minnetonka, and Stephen-Argyle (nine-man), Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2A) and New London-Spicer (3A) all won their first games of 2010.

Friday’s heroes for Cretin included sophomore running back James Onwualu (pictured at right), who rushed 27 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Kevin Miley, another varsity rookie who completed 12 of 17 passes for 136 yards and three TDs. Junior Taylor Montero caught two of those scoring passes, adding to the youthful look of the Raiders.

The top-tier running backs, senior Andre Hunt and junior Kendrik Brewster, did not play. Hunt has had recurring knee problems and Brewster suffered a concussion last week. Their return to action will come soon enough, said Cretin coach Mike Scanlan.

“Their coming out will be next week (at White Bear Lake),” he said. “We got really banged up. We’re pretty deep at that spot.”

Miley is taking over for departed quarterback Mark Alt, who starred in last year’s Prep Bowl victory over Eden Prairie and now plays hockey at the University of Minnesota.

The Raiders lost two first-half fumbles but their defense was solid all evening, keeping Forest Lake backed up. The exceptional defensive effort negated opening-game mistakes made elsewhere.

“We had a lot of guys making their first start, there were a couple of mistakes, a couple of fumbles, wrong formations, forgetting to send somebody in motion. But that’s the way it goes,” Scanlan said. “I think Mark Alt was nervous in his first start, too.

“The sophomore running back, a kid who had never played before, did very well. I thought Miley played well, too.”

This may be the fastest defense Cretin has had in many years, which is a troublesome thought for the rest of the Suburban East Conference as well as Class 5A.

“Now, if we get somebody real big and powerful and they can go right at us, it may be problematic,” Scanlan said. “But until we find that, I think we can play with most people.”

SINCE CRETIN’S MOST famous graduate is Joe Mauer, this public-address announcement fit perfectly with Friday’s action: “This just in from the Twins game … The score is 1-1 and Joe Mauer has an RBI.”

The crowd was large for both teams, especially the student sections. Everybody had a good time, displayed great sportsmanship and the kids were more than happy to smile and scream whenever I pointed my camera in their direction. A few of them somehow ended up wearing MSHSL hats, which added a dash of style to the proceedings.

To get a taste for the action on the field and in the stands, check out the photo gallery (plus video of a Cretin touchdown) on the MSHSL Facebook page. The number of MSHSL Facebook fans is growing rapidly, so jump in and join us for the ride!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 33
*Miles John has driven: 1,599

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