John's Journal
Red Wing's Nemanich Steps Down4/29/2010
Red Wing High School boys’ hockey coach George Nemanich has stepped down. Here are excerpts from a story by Ryan Nilsson in the Red Wing Republican Eagle:

After 18 years as the Red Wing boys’ hockey coach, George Nemanich resigned to devote his attention to his profession and his family. Nemanich led the team to one state championship and six state tournament appearances.

He finished with a 331-142-15 record behind the bench. He was just the team’s second coach since the program was launched in 1974.

Nemanich has been the assistant principal at Twin Bluff Middle School for the past three years and this year he added the role of Tower View School principal to his list of responsibilities. He took a three-year leave of absence as a high school social studies teacher for the administrative position and he has elected not to return to teaching.

Nemanich became head coach in the 1992-93 season. The Wingers appeared in five consecutive state tournaments beginning in 1995. Red Wing finished second in 1996 and won it all the next year.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

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Apple Valley's Scanlon Steps Down as Girls' Hockey Coach4/27/2010
Apple Valley High School has announced the resignation of Chuck Scanlon as the head girls' hockey coach. Scanlon will continue to teach at Apple Valley and serve as the head boys' soccer coach, where he has guided the team to eight state championships.

Coach Scanlon has 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-ever girls' state hockey championship in 1995.

In 1998, his Eagles captured their second state championship, beating Hibbing in the first televised high school girls' hockey game. His overall record with the girls' program was 217-167-28.

Applications are now being accepted. Interested applicants can send a cover letter and resume to AVHS Athletics Director Pete Buesgens.
Report From the Road: Ponytails and Ticks4/27/2010
Good evening from Grand Rapids. Our three-pronged journey across northern Minnesota for MSHSL area meetings has taken us to Fergus Falls and Thief River Falls, and Wednesday morning we will host a meeting in Chisholm before motoring home.

We are spending this Tuesday night in Grand Rapids. About all you need to know – sports-wise – about this part of the state is the sign on the door of our hotel: “NO hockey sticks allowed in building.”

Here are a few other observations from the road …

--The finest radio station in Minnesota (at least in my mind) is Z103.3 FM in Fergus Falls. I don’t think they were tipped off that I was driving in their region, but everything they played – until I drove out of range – was right in my wheelhouse.

--I was zooming along a two-lane road Tuesday afternoon when I rolled up behind a mammoth tractor, pulling an equally mammoth plow. Growing up in a farming region, this was not a strange sight for me. But when I pulled up and passed the tractor, I was surprised to see what was bobbing behind the driver’s head: a big, bouncy, blonde ponytail. Whether it was a farm wife or a farm daughter, she was moving some big equipment.

--During our meeting this morning at the Best Western in Thief River Falls, another meeting was taking place in an adjoining room. The group was called “Golden Pioneers,” and the room filled with silver-haired gentlemen appeared to be having a grand time.

--If you haven’t seen the photo of the poolside sign from the Best Western on Facebook or Twitter, it’s worth a look. The sign says, “Crockpots or Potluck Not Allowed in Poolside.” OK, but can you swim with hotdish?

--On the car radio, I have heard weather forecasts for southern Manitoba as well as eastern Montana.

--I found a wood tick in my car today. Killed that sucker in a hurry.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Update From the Road … Fergus Falls4/26/2010
Happy Monday afternoon from downtown Fergus Falls. I am sitting inside Cafe 116, an outstanding coffee shop, where I am checking emails, websites, and generally plotting and planning.

Our MSHSL crew had a productive area meeting here this morning at the Best Western Falls Inn and Bigwood Event Center. (For a photographic memory of Associate Director Craig Perry speaking in front of the group, check out MSHSL on Facebook or MSHSLjohn on Twitter.)

After lunch at the hotel, the rest of the staff hit the highway for Thief River Falls. I’m staying behind to visit track practice at Fergus Falls High School. I’ll be visiting with sophomore Haylie Zenner, who already is a two-time Class AA state champion in the 800 meters.

Haylie dominated the 800 at Friday’s Hamline Elite Meet, running the fastest time in the state this spring as well as topping every performance in Minnesota from the 2009 track season.

I’ll drive to Thief River Falls later on, maybe in time to meet the rest of the contingent for dinner … and maybe not. Either way, we’ll hold another area meeting Tuesday morning at the Best Western in Thief River Falls, and then it’ll be onward to Chisholm for another meeting on Wednesday. I’m planning to make a stop on the way, to write about Bagley/Fosston track star Analisa Huschle.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a Diet Coke and a quickly disappearing scone sitting next to my laptop, so all is well in Fergus Falls.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan


Haylie Zenner Keeps Making Her Move 4/26/2010
Fergus Falls sophomore Haylie Zenner already owns two Class AA state championships in the 800-meter run. But what she did at last Friday’s Hamline Elite Meet in St. Paul has raised the young runner’s profile even higher and left one big question surrounding her: How low can she go?

Zenner, who turned 16 on January 21, made a momentous move from the back of the pack to win the Hamline race in 2 minutes, 13.89 seconds. It was a school record, a personal best and the fastest 800 time by a Minnesota high school girl in three years.

During a pre-practice team meeting Monday, Fergus Falls girls’ track coach Niki Welde told the Otters – most of them stayed home to train and missed the Hamline meet – about Haylie’s big race.

“The girls cut in right away,” Welde said, narrating her mental picture to the team. “She’s boxed in, she’s in a bad spot. The girls cut at the 100, moved in and she was dead last. I’m not kidding. There wasn’t a line of girls, it was a clump of girls and she was behind them all. She did something unconventional. She ran out and around and back in. She was out in Lane 7. She ran 808 meters. She was leading the pack. She gets to her famous 200 mark, the last 200 meters of the race, and she pulled away.”

Welde painted a perfect picture of Zenner’s big day. Her time was the 25th-fastest 800 in Minnesota girls’ high school history and the fastest since 2007, when Megan Smith of Eden Prairie ran 2:11.87. The state record is 2:08.24, set by Jeanne Kruckeberg of Blooming Prairie in 1984.

So, Haylie, how fast can you go before your high school career comes to a close in 2012?

She didn’t answer the question directly, but in a sweet, unassuming manner she made it clear that anyone who wants to beat her – fair warning: she hasn’t lost in the 800 since eighth grade – better work as hard as they can and then double those efforts.

“After the Hamline race, I felt like I could have put some more into it,” Haylie said. “So I’m going to keep working hard at practice and see what I can bring to sections and state.”

Welde said that kind of work ethic, coupled with seemingly limitless natural talent,
makes Zenner special.

“She’s just got such a level head,” the coach said. “I’ve never worked with an athlete like her. She doesn’t let things freak her out. One thing I noticed right away is that she’s the kind of kid, going into the next season [after winning the 800 at state as an eighth-grader], she was Facebooking and talking to these girls she met down at state. She makes her competition real; she always talks to them, shakes hands with them, you see her doing that all the time. If you make them real, it’s not this scary imaginary force out there. She always has a really good head about competition.

“She’s got speed, she is a closer. And that last 200 is her part of the race. She holds the school record in the 400, she can be in the 25s in the 200, she could challenge the school record in the 1,600 if she ever wanted to play with that, she has our best long jump of the season. She’s just so well-versed, she’s just an all-around athlete.”

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.”

She runs cross-country in the fall and plays basketball in the winter, where she is known as a fierce defender. She has been beset by injuries and mishaps during cross-country, which makes Welde figuratively knock on wood whenever those things are mentioned in the spring.

Haylie enjoys more about track than hitting the finish line first. She said training, competing and being with her friends is a key component of the season.

“It’s like the reason I love it,” she said. “You’re with everybody and you meet new people at track meets. Everybody’s so open with each other. I get my friend to come out for track, and that’s the fun part of it.”

As for being so talented and decorated at such a young age, she shrugs her shoulders.

“It’s being who I am and just going out there and having fun,” she said. “It’s about winning and getting a good time and making your goals, but I like to go out and just run my race, stay confident, do what I can do.”

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan