John's Journal
Apple Valley Names Girls’ Hockey Coach6/4/2010
Apple Valley High School announced today that Don Erdall has been hired as the head girls’ hockey coach. He replaces Chuck Scanlon, who resigned in April; Scanlon had been the only girls’ hockey coach in the history of Apple Valley High School, starting as the ringette coach in 1992 and leading the transition to hockey in 1994-95. His team captured the nation’s first girls’ state hockey championship in 1995 and won a second title in 1998.

Erdall, a 2004 graduate of Bloomington Jefferson, played hockey and baseball for the Jaguars. He attended Winona State University, where he was a four-year starter and two-year captain of the baseball team.

His hockey coaching career included stints with the Winona Bantam teams and the Winona Senior High girls’ team while he was in college. Most recently, Don was the head JV coach at Lakeville North. This past season, his team compiled a 22-0-3 record. Additionally, he was a varsity assistant responsible for conditioning, drills and scouting. In addition to hockey, Don also coaches baseball at Eagan High School.
We're Nearing a Big Facebook Plateau6/4/2010
Thanks to everyone who has joined the MSHSL on Facebook. If you're not in the club, you're missing out on some great photos, videos and chat from high school activities all over Minnesota.

At this moment, 482 people have become fans of MSHSL on Facebook. It's free, easy and will brighten your day. We need 18 more humans to join us and bring that number to an even 500.

And from there, we'll keep building!

(Don't forget about us on Twitter, as well. It's another great way to stay connected.)

--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

MTMEE: Softball and Track On a Beautiful Day6/3/2010
I witnessed another exciting softball matchup this afternoon during Part One of My Thursday Multi-Event Extravaganza (MTMEE). I was on hand as Burnsville held off Eagan 1-0 to win the Class 3A, Section 3 title and move on to state for the first time since the Blaze won state championships in 2004 and 2005.

The run was scored in the top of the seventh inning. Taylor Mackey singled and was bunted to second by Abby Harazin. Pinch hitter Megan Threlkeld, a ninth-grader mind you, hit a roller to the right side of the infield, beat the throw to first base and the run scored.

Burnsville junior pitcher Kelsey Anderson and Eagan senior Sara Moulton were locked up pretty good throughout the game. Anderson struck out 11 and gave up three hits while Moulton fanned nine and gave up seven hits. Defense was strong for both teams.

(A photo of the victorious Blaze has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and video is on the way.)

It was a spectacular afternoon for a softball game. I sat in the shade with Brian Stensaas, my former colleague at the Star Tribune. We enjoyed the pleasure that is sunflower seeds and waited patiently for the concession stand’s supply of Diet Coke to be restocked. The Diet Cokes arrived (whew!) during the late innings.

I saw a woman arrive at the game and hand a tube of sunscreen to her, uh, folically challenged husband. Hubbie quickly rubbed the stuff all over his head. Better safe than sorry, right? Smoke from the grill wafted by, dogs wandered through the area leashed to their owners (or is it the other way around?) and I heard only one Jim Joyce reference when the umpires made a close call.

Now it’s on to Part Two of MTMEE. I am writing this from the top level of the press box at Macalester College, where the Class 2A, Section 3 track and field finals are under way. The windows are open, the breeze is rippling through and everything looks good.

Check back here for another update this evening ….

--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


Jessica January: What Can’t She Do?6/3/2010
As I talked with Jessica January on Thursday, I asked two straightforward questions.

Q: What is your favorite sport?

A: Basketball.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: Playing in the WNBA.

OK, then, the ninth-grader from Richfield must be a basketball star, right? Well, yes, she was the second-leading scorer for the Spartans last winter. She plays volleyball, too.

But the place where she really stands out is the track. The 15-year-old – whose birthday is in, yes, January -- will make her third trip to the Class 2A state meet next week, and she already has broken a state record … twice.

Must be nice: being a freshman, setting state records and being a heavy favorite to win at least one state championship … in your second-favorite sport.

“This is my third year with her,” said Richfield assistant track coach Beth Johnson, who coaches the hurdlers. “I can’t believe I get three more years with her.”

There’s a lot that’s hard to believe about Jessica January. She went to state for the first time as a seventh-grader and placed ninth in the 100-meter hurdles. As an eighth-grader last year she finished second in the 100 hurdles, seventh in the 300-meter hurdles and also advanced to state in the long jump (she didn't place in the top nine).

The fireworks got hotter this spring. She broke a 16-year-old state record in the 100 hurdles, winning in 14.33 seconds at the May 27 Classic Suburban Conference meet. She lowered the record to 14.30 Tuesday in the prelims of the 2A, Section 3 meet at Macalester College. The previous mark was 14.35, set by Woodbury’s Heidi Lundervold in 1994.

She didn’t set any state records in Thursday's Section 3 finals, but she did win both hurdle races and place second in the long jump.

Oh, she’s also a straight A student, a great role model and humble to the core.

“She’s amazing,” Richfield head coach Pat Burns said. “She wants to strive to do the best and be the best, and she’s extremely humble. She’s every coach’s dream.”

Burns first noticed January when she was in sixth-grade track and running as fast as the top kids on the varsity. Jessica also played softball, so the track coaches had to do some minor convincing to get her to put on running shoes.

She is gifted, certainly. “But she’s also the hardest worker you’ll see,” Burns said.

Johnson said that some early gymnastics training is part of the athletic mix for January. “Her form is very good naturally, and this year’s she running smoother and cleaner,” she said.

“And you talk about coachability; you tell her something and she gets it right the first time 90 percent of the time."

Jessica first tried running the hurdles in seventh grade.

“I just expected to get a workout,” she said. “I wasn’t really going for anything, to be good. But it was like, ‘OK, I kind of like this.’ ”

Then came that first trip to state, followed by another trip to state last spring, followed by her record-setting performances this spring.

Her favorite track event is the 100 hurdles (“I love the 100 hurdles. It’s short and sweet.”) Her goals for next week’s state track meet at Hamline University include winning the 100 hurdles and lowering the record even further.

So far in her young career, she has carried out every task and completed every assignment beyond anyone’s expectations.

Maybe the better question to ask is: What can’t she do?

She can’t fly. Can she?

UPDATING WEDNESDAY’S Journal reference to the Class 1A, Section 3 track championships in Montevideo, thanks to correspondent Joel Alvstad of the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom.

Via text message, here is Joel’s report: “Four girls moving on via standard in 100 hurdles. Defending state champion Bree Woelber of Pipestone finished third behind Katlyn Sawtell of Luverne and Jennie Romsdahl of Mt. Lake-Butterfield-Odin. Kaitlin Fell of MLBO also advanced by standard. She was fourth at state last year. Section 3 also has four girls moving on in the 300 hurdles via standard. Woelber of Pipestone took first.”

Thursday provided another fabulous setting for spring tournaments all over our state. Let's have more fun Friday and Saturday!

--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



Boys’ State Tennis Team Brackets Are Set6/2/2010
The exciting crush of spring state tournaments is almost upon us, as evidenced by the team brackets that are now set for the boys’ tennis tournament. The two-class event will begin next Tuesday (June 8) and end June 11.

Class A competition takes place at Read-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis and AA is held at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center. Team competition takes up the first two days, followed by two days of singles and doubles.

Class A team qualifiers (and quarterfinal matchups) are Rochester Lourdes vs. Breck, Luverne vs. Virginia, Mound-Westonka vs. Thief River Falls and Blake vs. Foley.

Class AA matchups are Rochester Mayo vs. Mounds View, Eagan vs. Forest Lake, Eden Prairie vs. Elk River and Mahtomedi vs. Wayzata.

Also contested next week will be state tournaments in softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and boys’ and girls’ track and field.

--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