John's Journal
Class 1A Boys Tennis Rankings4/16/2018
1 Rochester Lourdes
2 St. Paul Academy
3 St. Peter
4 Breck
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Virginia
8 St. James
9 Luverne
10 Holy Family Catholic

1 Parker Law, Mounds Park
2 Logan Couillard, Minneapolis Edison
3 Drew Elofson, St. Peter
4 Max Soll, SPA
5 Rafat Solaiman, St. Peter
6 Eric Chestolowski, Rochester Lourdes
7 Jake Seitz, Virginia
8 Kevin Turlington, Rochester Lourdes
9 Victor Nelson, Mound Westonka
10 Clayton Haberman, Breck
Fergus Falls Golfers Love The Great Indoors 4/16/2018
FERGUS FALLS – During these weeks when winter refuses to loosen its frozen grip and let spring proceed with its usual array of warmth, sunshine and outdoor activities, one sport at one school is an indoor outlier amid the grumbling that’s rightfully heard all over Minnesota.

In a spot where you might least expect to see golfers swinging clubs, balls flying over green – albeit simulated – fairways and putts dropping into cups, the Fergus Falls girls and boys have been patiently prepping their skills for the day when the outdoors finally beckons. In an upstairs space at the school’s “old” gym, the Otters have an indoor golf facility that is an absolute showplace.

There are two high-tech simulator stations, where golfers tee up the ball and watch it sail into a screen, with the machinery spitting out the shot’s distance, spin and other assorted NASA-style feedback. There is a large putting green with multiple cups, as well as fake-grass mats for chipping. There are comfortable couches and a large-screen TV, with messaging on the walls denoting Otters who have played at state tournaments as well as gracious, community-minded donors who made the place possible at a price approaching $100,000 (and zero cost to the school district).

“We obviously really would like to be outside, because that’s where you get the best practice,” said girls team member Sydney Thacker. “But we love it in here and we’re fortunate that we have it.”

Golf teams across Minnesota began practicing on March 19. Here we are almost a month later and about the only golfing activity outdoors anywhere in the state has meant hitting orange balls into snowbanks or across frozen lakes. But not in Fergus Falls, where the facility opened in 2014.

“The beautiful part is, neither the boys or girls have missed a practice this year,” said girls coach Ben Jurgens. “Everybody gets the opportunity to hit balls, putt and chip. The last two springs, our local course opened in mid-March. There are plenty of days when it’s rainy and cold, and on those days we don’t have to cancel practice.”

This spring, of course, every practice has been indoors, with the girls and boys teams working out in alternating shifts after school. There are 16 boys and 23 girls, and rotating everyone through the simulators, putting and chipping areas takes some patience and organization.

“We’ve been practicing in here for more than three weeks already,” said Otters boys coach Matt McGovern. “We have kids who literally have gone from not being able to hit the golf ball, and now they’re hitting it in the air, they’re getting it on 120-yard par-3s. It’s just an enormous advantage for us because otherwise we’d be sitting inside. And we have kids who are in midseason form.”

The entire space, from the entry doors to the walls and ceilings (even overhead pipes), is festooned in the school colors of maroon and gold. A sign above the main door says, “Good is the enemy of great.” The Otter Golf Wall of Champions, listing every state participant, begins with Roy Spilman in 1938 and continues through the years to 2017, when current players Nate Longtin and Aaron Shelstad went to state.

The Fergus Falls golfers have heard from friends at other schools who have, not surprisingly, expressed some measure of envy at the Otters’ indoor palace.

“They just say they want to get in here and they think about getting one of these,” Shelstad said. “The biggest thing is money, it takes a lot of money to get this. We’re blessed to have the donors, they put a lot of money into this. Thanks to them.”

High on one wall is this statement: “Otter Golf: Family, Faith, Academics, Integrity. Discipline & Determination.” Another message reads: “Humble in victory, gracious in defeat.”

Jurgens said Bob Albers, golf coach at St. John’s University, toured the facility when the university was planning its own indoor golf center and said, “This is what we want.” Jurgens sent video of the facility to University of Minnesota men’s golf coach John Carlson “and he couldn’t believe what we had.”

The space – which in past years has been used by gymnasts and wrestlers at different times -- is reserved solely for students in the school district, no matter the age. Outside of the golf season, students can use the facility when they are accompanied by an adult.

The ultimate payoff of having the facility is this spring, when frustration at the weather is common everywhere.

“It puts us ahead of the competition, especially being in northern Minnesota with the snow,” Longtin said. “Last year we were outside on March 14, so we only spent a week, a week and a half up here. We’re in here for probably two months this year and everybody else is hitting into nets and putting on gym floors. We can see distances, side spins and hit putts with a little break. It puts us way ahead of everybody else.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Baseball/Softball Weather-Related Changes Approved4/11/2018
Due to the unseasonably cool temperatures, poor field conditions, frozen turf, and supply of
officials, the MSHSL Board of Directors’ Executive Committee has taken action to increase the
opportunities for member schools to schedule and complete contests in a condensed season. This
memo identifies a process to be used for the regular season only for the Spring 2018 baseball and softball season.

Length of Games

The length of a baseball or softball game may be amended as follows:

• By mutual agreement of the schools, two member schools may agree to play two 5 inning
games in a doubleheader format, or as currently available, doubleheaders may be played
with the first game lasting 7 innings and the second game lasting 5 innings or until a
“regulation game” is completed

• Single games must still be played under the NFHS rules requiring 7 inning games or until
a “regulation game” is completed.

• Appropriate application of the rules regarding “regulation game” and “suspended game”
is required. To review these rules, please see the softball and baseball activity pages in
the online Rules and Policy Manual.

Officiating Waiver Process

While every effort should be made to have two registered officials, the following officiating
arrangements can be used by following the waiver process*:

• Softball: One registered official is required and two are recommended. Using a single
non-registered official requires a waiver*.

• Baseball: Two registered officials are required. Using one registered and one nonregistered
official or using only one registered official requires a waiver*.

*A waiver may be obtained by sending an email to Jason Nickleby, MSHSL Coordinator of
Officials at prior to the first pitch of the contest. The waiver is in effect
upon the submission of the email. Verification of the receipt of the waiver will take place within
24 hours.
Class 1A Boys Tennis Rankings4/11/2018
1 Rochester Lourdes
2 Breck
3 St. Paul Academy
4 St. Peter
5 Mound Westonka
6 Litchfield
7 Virginia
8 Holy Family Catholic
9 St. James
10 Luverne

1 Parker Law, Mounds Park
2 Logan Couillard, Minneapolis Edison
3 Drew Elofson, St. Peter
4 Max Soll, SPA
5 Rafat Solaiman, St. Peter
6 Eric Chestolowski, Rochester Lourdes
7 Jake Seitz, Virginia
8 Kevin Turlington, Rochester Lourdes
9 Victor Nelson, Mound Westonka
10 Clayton Haberman, Breck
Class 2A Boys Tennis Rankings4/11/2018
1 Blake
2 Rochester Century
3 Edina
4 Orono
5 Wayzata
6 Rochester Mayo
7 Minneapolis Washburn
8 Mounds View
9 Minnetonka
tie 10 Eastview
tie 10 East Ridge

1 Sebastian Vile, Rochester Mayo
2 Maxim Zagrebelny, Eagan
3 Jack Barker, Blake
4 Nick Aney, Rochester Century
5 Conner Olsen, Orono
6 Gavin Young, Eastview
7 Varun Iyer, Rochester Century
8 Ben Wheaton, Minnetonka
9 Petro Alex, Mounds View
10 Ian Altenburg, Chaska