John's Journal
Bright Lights, Big City And Career Goal Number One3/4/2020
Throughout the hockey season, St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Chandler Hendricks did his work. He practiced hard, learned from the coaching staff and older players, contributed and waited.

The Crusaders' fourth-line forward got on the ice in 16 of 24 regular-season games and all three section tournament games. His stat line prior to Wednesday's Class A state quarterfinal vs. Mankato East/Loyola at Xcel Energy Center was pretty simple: Zero shots on goal, zero goals, zero assists.

The defending champion Crusaders came to state with a 23-3-1 record and No. 2 seed in the Class A field. Their season included a 2-1 win over Andover, which is the No. 1 seed in the Class AA state tournament that opens Thursday.

Wednesday's Cathedral-Mankato East/Loyola game got out of hand pretty rapidly, with the Crusaders leading 4-1 after the first period and 9-2 after two. As the third period began, Cathedral’s big honchos had shown their stuff; Jack Smith had two goals and two assists while Nate Warner and Blake Perbix each had a goal and three assists.

The score was 10-1 when Chandler’s opportunity came. Senior teammate C.J. Zins fired a shot at the goal as Hendricks leaned into the path of the puck. Chandler put his stick in perfect position, nicked that baby ever so slightly and you’ll never guess what happened.

His first career varsity goal came 5 minutes, 13 seconds into the third period.

"Yeah, that was the best experience I've ever had in any sport," Hendricks said. "I'm just so happy to be on this team with these guys.

“I kind of just saw C.J. come in and take a nice low shot. I tipped it in, no one was on me.”

A young player scoring his first career goal under the bright lights of the NHL arena, with a television audience watching, was indeed special for Chandler and his teammates. It’s quite the deal for a coach, too.

“There’s nothing better,” said Crusaders coach Derrick Brown. “I thought today was awesome; we got all 20 guys on the ice to experience that.

“Chandler has been working hard, learning from these older guys, he's in practice every day. Our fourth line, swing line guys, that's a tough role as a sophomore and he's come and worked hard. … It's rewarding to see kids that have moments like that. That's what this is about.”

Hermantown 7, Monticello 1

Blake Biondi had a hat trick and two assists as the third-seeded Hawks advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Cathedral. Zach Kilen had two goals and an assist.

Monticello coach Eric Nelson said Biondi is “such a dynamic player, he’s a man among boys out there, he’s hard to stop. He had a great game and he’s a great player. The horses that they've got were probably a little bit better than our horses today.”

Warroad 9, Hutchinson 3

The top-seeded Warriors were led by senior Grant Slukynsky, who had three goals and four assists. His seven points was one short of the tournament record of eight, set by John Mayasich of Eveleth in 1951. Mayasich had seven goals and one assist in the 1951 state semifinals as Eveleth defeated Minneapolis Southwest 11-5. His seven goals remains a tournament record.

Jason Shaugabay also had a hat trick for Warroad.

Mahtomedi 5, Delano 2

The fourth-seeded Zephyrs scored the game’s final five goals to skate past the fifth-seeded Tigers, who led 2-0 after the first period.

Tournament Tidbits

Hermantown, which went to state every year from 2010 through 2018, was knocked out of last year’s playoffs by Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin in the Section 7 tournament. Now that the Hawks are back, coach Patrick Andrews said winning in Wednesday’s quarterfinals -- and not playing again until Friday’s semifinals -- is the perfect scenario.

“Oh, it's great,” he said. “Hey, you’ve got to win this first one and now they get to just take it all in. And that's what we talked about; we get to stay at the X and enjoy this. Never take this for granted.

“If we took anything away from losing, I think with our whole program and community, everyone started taking (winning) for granted. It was a long, hard summer and winter, and to get back here, now they get to enjoy it. … they're going to get to take in the whole deal tonight and AA games tomorrow and they get to just be kids. This is the greatest, bar none, the greatest youth sporting event in the country, in the world, and they get to enjoy every second of it and that's what I'm excited about.”

Boys State Hockey Tournament

Wednesday’s Class A quarterfinals

St. Cloud Catheral 11, Mankato East/Loyola 2

Hermantown 7, Monticello 1

Warroad 9, Hutchinson 3

Mahtomedi 5, Delano 2

Thursday’s Class AA quarterfinals

11 a.m.
Maple Grove vs Blake

30 minutes after completion of previous game
Lakeville South vs Eden Prairie

6 p.m.
St. Thomas Academy vs Andover

30 minutes after completion of previous game
Hill-Murray vs Moorhead

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

Boys State Hockey Matchups, TV/Webcast Info3/3/2020
Wednesday's Class A quarterfinals

11 a.m.
Mankato East vs #2 seed St. Cloud Cathedral

30 minutes after completion of previous game
Monticello vs #3 seed Hermantown

6 p.m.
Hutchinson vs #1 seed Warroad

30 minutes after completion of previous game
#5 seed Delano vs #4 seed Mahtomedi

Thursday's Class AA quarterfinals

11 a.m.
Maple Grove vs #2 seed Blake

30 minutes after completion of previous game
Lakeville South vs #3 seed Eden Prairie

6 p.m.
St. Thomas Academy vs #1 seed Andover

30 minutes after completion of previous game
#5 seed Hill-Murray vs #4 seed Moorhead

TV/webcast info

Quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games
TV: KSTC Channel 45

Consolation games

20 Years In, The Big House Hosts The Big Show2/29/2020
On the 20th anniversary of the state wrestling tournament coming to Xcel Energy Center, the Big House hosted the Big Show Saturday evening in downtown St. Paul. Championship Saturday is always memorable in wrestling, and the 2020 tournament championship round – capping three days of competition -- was no exception.

One of the marquee stars of the tournament was Stillwater junior Reid Ballantyne. Competing in Class 3A at 132 pounds, he won his fourth championship with a 6-0 decision over Shakopee senior Ben Lunn. Ballantyne remained on pace to become only the seventh wrestler in state history with five titles. Apple Valley's Mark Hall won six times, the final one in 2016, and four-time champs are Matt Nagel of Frazee (2001), Eric Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (2003), Zach Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (2007), Destin McCauley of Apple Valley (2011) and Cameron Sykora of Border West (2015).

Kasson-Mantorville senior Patrick Kennedy took home his fourth championship with a 5-2 decision over Simley junior Quayin Short in 2A at 182 pounds.

Kasson-Mantorville sophomore Bennett Berge won his third Class 2A title at 170 pounds, meaning he could become a five-time champion. He defeated ninth-grader Gavin Nelson of Simley 5-2 in the finals.

Recording their third state titles were Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie senior Craig Orlando in 1A at 285; Totino-Grace senior Joey Thompson in 2A at 120; Mankato West senior Charlie Pickell in 2A at 132; and Forest Lake junior Derrick Cardinal in 3A at 126.

Winning their second championships were …

2A 126 Chase DeBlaere, Simley
2A 145 Ryan Sokol, Simley
1A 120 Drayden Morton, Sibley East
1A 132 Charley Elwood, Medford
1A 170 Tyson Meyer, Minnewaska
1A 220 Dominik Vacura, Badger-Greenbush/Middle River

Three defending state champions lost in Saturday afternoon's semifinals. In 2A at 113 pounds, Mason Gehloff of Waseca lost to Christian Noble of Big Lake 4-3; in 3A at 126, Pierson Manville of Shakopee lost to Joey Novak of New Prague 5-4; and in 3A at 152, Willie Bastyr of Lakeville South lost to Hunter Lydon of Stillwater 3-2.

Total attendance for the three-day, six-session tournament was 50,907. Last year’s total was 47,834.

2020 MSHSL wrestling state champions

106 pounds
1A Walker Bents, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
2A Tyler Wells, Princeton
3A Jore Volk, Lakeville North

113 pounds
1A Derek Steele, Sibley East
2A Christian Noble, Big Lake
3A Blake West, Shakopee

120 pounds
1A Drayden Morton, Sibley East
2A Joey Thompson, Totino-Grace
3A Ryan Henningson, Winona/Cotter

126 pounds
1A Trevor Jansen, Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena
2A Chase DeBlaere, Simley
3A Derrick Cardinal, Forest Lake

132 pounds
1A Charley Elwood, Medford
2A Charlie Pickell, Mankato West
3A Reid Ballantyne, Stillwater

138 pounds
1A Mason Gode, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville
2A Cael Berg, Simley
3A Cael Swenson, Wayzata

145 pounds
1A Payton Handevidt, Jackson County Central
2A Ryan Sokol, Simley
3A Trey Kruse, Stillwater

152 pounds
1A Willie VonRuden, Medford
2A Payton Anderson, Fairmont/Martin County West
3A Hunter Lydon, Stillwater

160 pounds
1A Owen Bjerga, Staples-Motley
2A Bryce FitzPatrick, Mahtomedi
3A Carson Manville, Shakopee

170 pounds
1A Tyson Meyer, Minnewaska
2A Bennett Berge, Kasson-Mantorville
3A Max McEnelly, Waconia

182 pounds
1A Trevor Eisfeld, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove
2A Patrick Kennedy, Kasson-Mantorville
3A Roman Rogotzke, Stillwater

195 pounds
1A Colton Krell, Westfield
2A Kolin Baier, Mankato East
3A RJ Chakolis, Hopkins

220 pounds
1A Dominik Vacura, Badger-Greenbush/Middle River
2A Bennett Tabor, Simley
3A Isaiah Green, St. Cloud Tech

285 pounds
1A Craig Orlando, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie
2A Kaleb Haase, Redwood Valley
3A Bennett Weber, Waconia

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
3 Matches, 91 Seconds: The Two-Sport Pride Of Verndale 2/27/2020
Craig Orlando had a very brief workday Thursday. During the team portion of the state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center, the senior from Verndale High School -- who competes for the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie cooperative team in Class 1A – won three matches that lasted a total of 91 seconds.

That was no real surprise to anyone, considering Orlando's wrestling history. He's hoping to cap his career with a third state championship at 285 pounds. His all-time record is 162-17 heading into the individual competition Friday and Saturday. He was 27-13 as a ninth-grader, qualified for state and did not place. His record this season is 46-0.

That’s pretty good for a kid whose school doesn’t even have a wrestling room.

"We’ve got a cafeteria where we can throw down same mats," Orlando said with a smile.

The Raiders practice in Bertha, which does have a wrestling room, and it’s a place where Orlando dominates.

“We have to tell Craig to take it easy sometimes,” said coach Bill Wagner.

The Raiders lost to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in the opening round Thursday before winning two matches to finish fifth in the team competition.

Orlando pinned Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s Jose Posada in 22 seconds in the team quarterfinals and recorded a 36-second pin of Royalton-Upsala’s Jeremy Mugg in the consolation semifinals. In the consolation finals vs. Badger/Greenbush-Middle River, Orlando pinned Colton Gust in 33 seconds.

He’s one of six wrestlers from Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie competing in the individual tournament.

This weekend marks the end of his wrestling career, because he will play football at the University of North Dakota. He was all-everything on the nine-man football field for the Verndale Pirates, starting since his freshman year at tailback, fullback, defensive line, linebacker, anywhere the team needed him.

Mike Mahlen, who has been Verndale’s coach for 51 years and has more wins than any football coach in state history (401), called Orlando a once-in-a-lifetime young man.

“There’s no doubt he’s one of the best football players I’ve ever coached. He’s such a good kid, I can’t say enough about him. He’s not a rah-rah guy but he leads by example all the way. He’s a great leader not only on the field, but in the classroom and around the community. To me, he’s a better person than he is a football player. You’d like to have kids like that all the time.”

Football in Verndale is “really huge and Mahlen’s the heart of it,” Orlando said. “He gets you ready for the games and you want to go kick some butt when you're playing for him.”

Another Verndale tradition is the Orlando family. Craig is the third generation to play football for Mahlen; his dad Mike and grandpa Dave did the same. Ninth-grader Jaden Finck, another football player and wrestler, is the only other third-generation football player under Mahlen.

Craig Orlando said football is his favorite but wrestling is a boon for the other sport. “It helps a lot,” he said. “I feel like wrestlers are better tacklers on the football field just because they know how to get low and stuff.”

“I think the biggest thing with Craig and what makes him what he is,” Wagner said, “is he just doesn't want anybody to get the best of him. He's just mentally so tough. And then he's backing it up with lifting weights and doing all that other stuff. So when he goes out there he just kind of reminds me a little bit of MMA; it’s like, ‘You want to challenge me? Fine, I'm going to crush you.’ ”

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Sportsmanship, Friendship And Little Else Matters2/22/2020
I really never anticipated ever typing the word "Oboshinotentoten." In fact, until this weekend I had never heard the word "Oboshinotentoten." And don't you dare ask me to pronounce it.

According to a Google search conducted from the Xcel Energy Center press box Saturday evening during the girls state hockey tournament, "Oboshinotentoten" is a hand-clapping game that's played in a circle.

Now that I can confirm.

Let's retrace our steps and walk down a hallway from the Xcel Energy Center to Roy Wilkins Auditorium. That was the site of the state gymnastics championships Friday and Saturday … making the weekend quite convenient for anyone wanting to see both tournaments. A few minutes before Friday's Class A (small-school) team competition began in the 88-year-old showplace, all the gymnasts were having fun together.

Normally, you might expect to see athletes pacing, stretching, going through their routines … you know, being nervous as heck. Not these kids from Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Mankato West, Worthington, St. Paul Highland Park, Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka, Willmar, Big Lake and Perham.

Every one of them was sitting in a big circle on a concrete floor in an area that was off limits to the fans. They were all smiling and singing, "Oboshinotentoten, hey, hey, I am a boom, boom, boom, Eeny meeny oten toten, Oboshinotentoten Oboshinotentoten boom 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!" There was hand clapping and hand slapping involved, and it was quite remarkable to watch.

Then the time came for each team to be introduced, and one by one the squads walked through a gap in a big black curtain to the fans' cheers.

Now let's fast forward to about 27 hours later. The team competition was Friday and the individual events and all-around titles were decided Saturday. During the Class A awards ceremony Saturday, more remarkability was witnessed.

As the medalists were being named in each event, veteran public-address announcer Allie Cronk announced that there was a tie for second place on the uneven bars. As she said the words "From Detroit Lakes, Jackson Hegg" and "From Perham, Jada Olsen" … well, there was a sparkling moment of sportsmanship and friendship.

Jackson and Jada – like all the gymnasts, sitting with their teams in the floor exercise area – stood up and instantly gravitated to each other. They held hands as they bounced toward the podium, jumped up on the second-place spot and hugged one of the most beautiful hugs you'll ever see. They smiled the entire time.

And then came the capper. In the all-around competition, the final award of the meet, Jackson wore that same giant smile when she was announced as the second-place finisher. She returned to that same No. 2 spot on the podium and a silver medal was placed around her neck.

And then, the all-around champion was announced. It was her friend, Jada Olsen of Perham. Jackson stood on the podium and cheered, positively roared, in approval as Jada walked up to the podium. Another hug and more great big beautiful smiles followed.

In fact, everyone was smiling.

Oboshinotentoten to us all.

--See photo of the Oboshinotentoten circle on the MSHSL Facebook page.

MSHSL gymnastics individual championships

Class A top three

1 Jada Olsen, Perham
2 Jackson Hegg, Detroit Lakes
3 Becca Green, Annandale

1 Jada Olsen, Perham
2 Chloe Hughes, Winona/Winona Cotter
3 Alayna Schloeder, Rockford

1 Becca Green, Annandale
2 Taryn Sellner, Mankato West
3 Jackson Hegg, Detroit Lakes

Floor Exercise
1 Jackson Hegg, Detroit Lakes
2 Alayna Schloeder, Rockford
3 Jada Olsen, Perham

1 Becca Green, Annandale
2 (tie) Jackson Hegg, Detroit Lakes
2 (tie) Jada Olsen, Perham

Class AA top three

1 Bella Frattalone, Mahtomedi
2 Annika Lee, Park Center
3 Nadia Abid, Maple Grove

1 Bella Frattalone, Mahtomedi
2 Taylar Schaefer, St. Cloud Tech
3 Marley Michaud, Sartell-St. Stephen

1 Nadia Abid, Maple Grove
2 Kaitlyn Nguyen, Lakeville North
3 Hailey Tretter, East Ridge

Floor Exercise
1 Bella Frattalone, Mahtomedi
2 Grace Treanor, Wayzata
3 Annika Lee, Park Center

1 Anna Altermatt, Lakeville North
2 Annika Lee, Park Center
3 Marley Michaud, Sartell-St. Stephen

Girls state hockey tournament

Saturday's Class A games
Fifth place: Hutchinson 5, South St. Paul 3
Third place: Warroad 6, Rochester Lourdes 1
Championship: Breck 6, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 0

Class A Wells-Fargo All-Tournament Team
Lilie Ramirez, South St. Paul
Alex Hantge, Hannah Ladwig, Hutchinson
Sydney Phaneuf, Geno Hendrickson, Karlie Meeker, Warroad
Tenley Stewart, Taylor Nelson, Araya Kiminski, Cloquet-Esko Carlton
Olivia Mobley, Ava Lindsay, Emily Zumwinkle, Breck

Class A Herb Brooks Award winner
Taylor Nelson, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton

Saturday's Class AA games
Fifth place: Roseau 4, Hill-Murray 0
Third place: Minnetonka 3, Maple Grove 1
Championship: Andover 5, Edina 3

Class AA Wells-Fargo All-Tournament Team
Memphis Mertens, Roseau
Brooke Cassibo, Maple Grove
Hanna Baskin, Maggie Nicholson, Brynn Dulac, Minnetonka
Peyton Hemp, Jamie Nelson, Kennedy Little, Gabby Krause, Andover
Tella Jungels, Hannah Chorske, Vivian Jungles, Edina

Class AA Herb Brooks Award winner
Anika Stoskopf, Roseau

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea" wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.