John's Journal
Memories are Made at State Track Meet6/12/2010
Two years ago, an eighth-grade girl from Fergus Falls came to the state track meet as someone who was all but unknown outside her hometown. But Haylie Zenner won the Class 2A 800 meters, then did the same thing last year.

As I wrote a few days ago, I love to compile memories from high school tournaments. Another great one was added to the list at Saturday’s state track and field meet, and Haylie Zenner was part of it.

In late April, I spent some time in Fergus Falls and wrote about Haylie here on John’s Journal. Here is a short excerpt: Haylie remembers being “in shock” after winning a state title in the 800 as an eighth-grader. “I was hoping for top five,” she said with a smile. She could become a five-time state champ, and she admits to thinking about that, “but you never know what’s going to happen.”

You never know what’s going to happen. Indeed. Haylie did not win title No. 3 in the 800 Saturday. She placed second in an extremely close finish, hitting the wire a fraction of a second behind Maggie Carruth of Minnetonka.

Maggie is an eighth-grader, putting her right where Haylie was two years ago. The best part of the race, however, came a couple of steps after the two runners hit the wire. Still striding, Haylie looked to her right and Maggie looked to her left. Their eyes met, and they each flashed a smile.

It was a remarkable moment. For 800 meters the two athletes had battled through the pack of nine runners, fought their way around the curves and put themselves in prime position coming down the stretch in front of the cheering crowd at Hamline University’s Klas Field. It came down to the last couple of strides, and the youngster from Minnetonka got to the finish line first, with the veteran – albeit still only a sophomore – coming up short in an effort to win title No. 3.

And they smiled at each other. And then they hugged each other, the two-time champion congratulating the new champion, and the new champion realizing what she had just accomplished.

That one will be remembered for a long time.

ANOTHER GREAT SIGHT came after an injury. During the Class 1A boys’ 4x200 relay, a runner from Cannon Falls was injured. In order to help get him to the medical tent, a teammate propped up one of the injured runner’s shoulders and walked beside him … and a competitor from St. Croix Lutheran aided the runner on the other side. That is sportsmanship at its finest.

AFTER A GREAT stretch of spring weather – especially early in the spring – the conditions were not ideal Saturday at Hamline. Cool, rainy weather does not usually equate to great performances, but several athletes and relay teams made headlines. Two Class 2A girls won two events and Hopkins set state records in winning two 2A girls’ relays…

--Richfield freshman Jessica January tied her own state record of 14.33 seconds in winning the Class 2A 100-meter hurdles. She also won the 300-meter hurdles.

--Park Center’s Sasha Davis won the 2A girls’ 100 and 400.

--The Hopkins 4x200 girls relay team of Elise Anderson, Mary Tanoe, Kirsten Anderson and Bridget Sweeney set a state mark of 1:40.62, breaking Minneapolis Washburn's 2004 record of 1:40.76. Hopkins set another state record in the 4x400. Mariah Witt, Sweeney, Stephanie Rouse and Hannah Borowsky finished in 3:51.28, breaking the record of 3:52.13, set by Apple Valley in 1997. Hopkins also won the 4x100.

January is a freshman, Davis is a junior and Kirsten Anderson is the only senior on those two Hopkins relays teams. In other words, we may be hearing more from those athletes.

THE CLASS 1A portion of the meet was held during a continuous light rain, but that didn’t stop some wonderful performances.

--Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston – a three-time state champ last year -- repeated her titles in the long jump and triple jump.

--Luverne’s Katlyn Sawtelle won the 100-meter hurdles and anchored the Cardinals’ winning 4x200 relay team. Also on the team were Alyssa Stegenga, Liberty Robinson and Britton Dyer.

--Calvin Clark of St. Paul Humboldt was another double winner, in the 100 and 200.

--Jordan Jarland of Lanesboro/Fillmore Central won gold in the long jump and 300 hurdles.

--Shawn Johnson of Eveleth-Gilbert swept the boys’ shot put and discus.

THANKFULLY, MY UMBRELLA – which spent Thursday night on the grounds of the state softball tournament in North Mankato – came in handy during Saturday’s track meet. Call me an eternal optimist for wearing short pants during a day in which the temperature never got above 60 degrees.

SATURDAY WAS A GOOD day for John’s Journal subjects. This spring I visited, interviewed, photographed and wrote about (among others) Jessica January, Analisa Huschle, Mubarik Musa (who won the 1A boys' 1,600) and Haylie Zenner.

THE TRACK MEET was another opportunity to rub elbows with some of the fine scribes who write about high school sports in Minnesota. Tom Elliott of the St. Cloud Times, Pat Ruff of the Rochester Post-Bulletin and Mike Bialka of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch … they all care about the kids and the teams and the communities they cover. Good guys one and all.

--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


Updates and More ... All Day Long6/11/2010
For the fastest, quickest, hop-to-it-est updates on the four state tournaments being held today, keep one eye on the MSHSL Facebook page and the other eye on MSHSLjohn on Twitter.

I am in Mankato for softball, while track and field, boys' tennis and boys' lacrosse are taking place in the Twin Cities. I'll be at lacrosse this evening at Mounds View.

I'm connected to all the events and I'm throwing updates on Facebook and Twitter as soon as I have 'em.

For example, this was posted on Facebook earlier today: "In the 2A boys' triple jump, Eden Prairie's Mike Sandle won with a meet record of 49-5 1/2. The state record is 50-4, and Sandle is only a junior."

--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

Celebrations That Are Hard To Beat6/11/2010
Friday was a day of celebrations, and I saw four great ones. During the state softball tournament, Burnsville, Park Center and New Life Academy all won state championships in one-run games, and the joy was evident.

Later in the day at Mounds View High School, the boys’ lacrosse team from Benilde-St. Margaret’s recorded a 7-3 victory over Totino-Grace in the state title game, and the Red Knights capped the day with an exuberant celebration.

(To see video of each and every one of these celebrations, along with photos from the tournaments, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

Friday was a long day for all of us in the Media Specialist profession, starting with the first Tweet around 9:30 a.m. and ending around midnight. I wasn’t able to attend the boys’ state tennis tournament or the opening day of the state track meet, but I have spies at all these events and was plugged in from my perch in Mankato.

We’ll be back at it Saturday morning, with the first event of the state track and field meet at 9 a.m.

As I neared Mankato on Friday morning, I hit the “scan” button on my radio and landed on New Ulm’s KNUJ – one of the premier radio stations for high school sports in our state – and listened to coverage of New Ulm Cathedral’s victory over Cherry/Cotton in the Class 1A fifth-place game.

Later in the day, when the three softball state title games began, we took a leap from radio to the internet. The championship games were all webcast live on 45.grandstadium.tv, with the camera crews and on-air talent doing a very professional job.

Next Saturday’s state championship baseball games also will be webcast on 45.grandstadium.tv, and Channel 45 will pick up the webcast for live television coverage from Target Field.

The softball championship teams will be honored during the baseball championships, as well, with all three gold medal softball teams being recognized on the Target Center field.

That will be a fitting end to the school year, but first things first: the second day of the state track meet on Saturday and next week’s tournaments in baseball and golf.

INTERESTING T-SHIRT: An older fellow at the softball tournament was wearing a black shirt that in big gold letters read “Burnsville Braves.” The nickname was changed to the Blaze several years ago, but traditions often linger.

BUSIEST PERIOD OF THE DAY: Four tennis matches and two softball games all ended within a few minutes of each other between Minneapolis and North Mankato. The Tweets, texts and emails were arriving in my lap rapidly, and fingers were flying on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to keep the information flowing to the rest of the world.

(And speaking of Facebook and Twitter, the number of folks who are following those sites is growing rapidly. This has quickly become a wonderful way to spread news in the fastest way possible.)

BEST QUESTION OF THE DAY: Someone I saw at the softball tournament said, “Is it true that you left the Pioneer Press?” False. I left the Star Tribune to join the MSHSL staff.

BEST DOUBLE PLAY: In the bottom of the sixth inning of the 1A softball title game with New Life Academy leading 2-0, Barnum had a runner on first with no outs. A dangerous sinking liner was hit to right-center, and New Life center field Andrea Peterfeso raced in to not only make the shoestring catch, but she then threw to first base to double up the runner. That was a big-league play.

BUDDY SYSTEM: Having working in the prep sports media world for so many years, I have come to know many of the other scribes from around the state. At tournament time, we all catch up with each other. In Mankato, it was nice to see good guys like Rick Weegman of the Duluth News-Tribune, Aaron Hagen of the Worthington Daily Globe and Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press. It’s a great little fraternity to be part of.

BEST SPORTSMANSHIP: After a tough defeat in the lacrosse championship game, the boys from Totino-Grace shook hands with the officials. In most sports, the officials quickly leave the field of play as soon as the game ends. In lacrosse, they stick around. It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if coaches and players in all sports lined up and shook hands with the officials after every game.

--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
Softball, Rainfall, Graduation Plans, Lacrosse6/10/2010
Ah, the sweet smell of Diamond Dust. In other words, the state softball tournament and rain both arrived in North Mankato on Thursday.

I wrote on Wednesday that “I may attempt a long-distance doubleheader Thursday, driving to North Mankato in the morning and heading to Mounds View for Thursday evening’s boys’ lacrosse semifinals.” I indeed motored on down to the first day of softball, arriving shortly before play was suspended due to the trifecta of weather troublemakers: Rain, thunder and lightning.

The fields were cleared at 12:15 p.m. and everybody went into siesta mode for a couple of hours. Most of the fans were under umbrellas, but the teams, coaches and umpires were plenty wet. “This is a good time to find a laundromat,” one guy said as his team headed back to its hotel to wait out the delay. I also saw an enterprising fellow find a novel way to remove the moisture from his clothing: he held them under a hot-air hand dryer in the men’s restroom.

Later on, I saw two dads of players use the same method to dry out their daughters’ batting gloves. Good thing they didn’t have to put in quarters to keep the things running.

BEST JOKE I HEARD during the rain delay: “What’s the latest we could play today? 11:59.”

The Diamond Dust – a substance spread on wet infields to help remove the moisture – arrived in the backs of several Caswell Park maintenance vehicles. Watching the grounds crews rake the stuff in once the rain stopped, it was amazing how quickly they got the fields back into playing shape.

With all the spring tournaments come conflicts with big events, especially graduation ceremonies. Graduation at Forest Lake High School was held Thursday evening, so after the Rangers lost to North St. Paul in the Class 3A quarterfinals -- followed by the rain delay – their consolation-bracket game with Richfield resumed earlier than the others. That was done in order to let the Forest Lake folks get home in time for the ceremony.

The Richfield-Forest Lake game began at 2:30 and the darn thing lasted until 4:30, when Forest Lake scored in the bottom of the 11th inning to win 4-3. Had the game still been tied, it would have been suspended in order to allow the Forest Lakers to get home for graduation.

COOL MOMENT: During the final stages of the Forest Lake-Richfield game, the Forest Lake players chanted over and over (at a very rapid pace), “I Believe! You Believe! We Believe!”

I left North Mankato around 4:45 and scooted up Highway 169 toward the Twin Cities; specifically Mounds View High School and the semifinals of the boys’ state lacrosse tournament. By the time I got home around 10:30 p.m., I had put 190 miles on my car. I’ll do the same on Friday ... weather permitting, of course.

My lacrosse experience is limited, but here’s what I know: This is a very entertaining sport. It’s a mixture of football, hockey and soccer. Benilde-St. Margaret’s defeated Wayzata 19-4 in the first game and Totino-Grace got past Eagan 4-3 in a thrilling nightcap, setting up Friday’s 8 p.m. title game.

The Mounds View stadium is a great venue, with a backdrop of trees and terrific views of the action. Just the slightest mist fell late in the second game. No weather delays, no suspended play, no problem.

Oh, wait a minute. There was one slight problem: I forgot my umbrella in Mankato.

I’ll get it on Friday.

--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



Apple Valley Coach Receives National Honor6/9/2010
Chuck Scanlon, whose Apple Valley boys’ soccer team captured its eighth state championship under his guidance last fall, has been selected by the National High School Coaches Association as the National High School Boys Soccer Coach of the Year for 2010.

The Eagles had a perfect record of 24-0 last season, including a 4-0 victory over Wayzata in the Class 2A state championship game at the Metrodome.

A letter from the NHSCA informing Scanlon of his award said in part, “this is a tremendous honor for you, your team, and your school, and signifies that you are one of the best of the best in the coaching profession.”

Congratulations to Coach Scanlon and everyone at Apple Valley.