John's Journal
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
Stuck Indoors, The Polars Are Working Out, Having Fun4/11/2018
While the girls and boys track and field teams at North St. Paul High School were practicing, an errant softball – thrown as players loosened their arms in a hallway -- slammed loudly against the outside of a closed gymnasium door. Such is life when rotten spring weather puts the kibosh on outdoor sports and forces everyone inside.

Like every other school in Minnesota, athletes at North St. Paul are waiting for outdoor conditions to improve so they can use the track, baseball, softball and lacrosse fields, golf courses and tennis courts. In the meantime, the Polars (their nickname is quite fitting this spring) are stuck in the school gym, teams rotating through from 3 p.m. until late in the evening.

“I guess what we really work on is trying to make it fun for the kids, keep a good, positive perspective. They didn’t sign up to run in the gym all spring,” said Polars girls and boys track coach Todd Wallert.

Baseball, softball and track teams have been practicing since March 12, with other sports beginning a week or two later. There has definitely been frustration at being stuck indoors, but coaches and athletes are making the most of it.

“I’ve been playing since seventh grade so this is not new to me. I’ve experienced the indoor practices for quite some time,” said Polars senior softball player Aidan Crotty. “I think our coaches are pretty unique in the fact that they try to make things creative and fun for us. We’ve done yoga, we’ve done laser tag; they try to find ways for it to be fun and creative because there’s only so much you can do in a gym space.”

Indoor workouts can be highly structured and organized. During a two-hour practice earlier this week, the North St. Paul softball team used two batting cages that were lowered from the ceiling, along with several other batting stations on one side of the gym and a mock field with plastic bases on the other side of a partition. The gymnasium was filled with the sounds of bats striking balls and balls smacking into gloves.

“We get a lot of hitting in, we get some fielding in, some infield, some outfield,” said Tom Nemo, the softball co-coach along with Cliff Charpentier. “It’s not like you’re outside. You can work on baserunning, sliding, but you’re limited. You’ve got to make the best of it.”

Because of the weather and what will be a rushed regular season once games begin, the executive committee of the MSHSL board of directors has approved changes for baseball and softball, allowing doubleheaders with two five-inning games (instead of the normal seven innings) and playing games with one umpire if a waiver is approved by the MSHSL.

The most important thing right now is patience, waiting for snow to melt and the ground to dry.

“For field events, it’s honestly the worst,” said North St. Paul junior Noah Hurley, a pole vaulter and triple jumper. “For pole vaulting, we don’t have an indoor pit. We can only work on certain parts of our technique. We have the pit ready to vault when the snow melts, but it keeps on snowing. Also, we can’t get out to the jumping pits because there’s still snow on the track.”

Senior Jebeh Cooke, who runs the 100, 200 and on relay teams, said, “It’s kind of hard for sprints, because these are hardwood floors (in the gym) and the floors are really slippery so you can fall because we can’t use our spikes. So to get used to the blocks and the actual sprints, it’s going to be harder to do it in actual meets. And meets get pushed back because of the weather.”

The track teams were first in the gym after school Monday, followed by softball, baseball and lacrosse. The Polars golf teams can use domes and nets to work on their game, tennis players have been using the hockey arena across the street from the school as well as the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.

“We’re fortunate,” said North St. Paul activities director Jed Helwig. “We don’t have a big space but we have gym space to be able to offer this. And of course, we use the hallways, which isn’t unique for anybody at this point in time.”

At the beginning of track practice, the athletes sat on the gym floor as Wallert talked. He presented Zebra Cakes to Hurley and Shaliciah Jones for being named “athletes of the meet” at a recent indoor competition at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. That has been the team’s only meet during a month of practice.

Wallert, who has been coaching for 33 years, said this spring’s weather ranks among the three worst he has experienced.

“Over spring break we had one day when we were out on the track and it was actually nice,” he said. “But that was before April 1. You just kind of stick with it and make it fun. They’ll get through it. Pretty soon we’ll be outside and it will be a regular year.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Longtime 'Voice Of MSHSL' Bob Reid Has Died4/5/2018
Bob Reid, the former public address announcer for Minnesota State High School League state tournaments in football, boys hockey, and boys and girls basketball as well as four other sports for 42 years, died on Friday in Wausau, Wis. He was 86.

He meticulously prepared for every tournament. “Kids are sensitive,” he once said. “They’ve worked hard to get to the state tournament. I certainly didn’t want to mar their tournament experience with mispronunciations. They deserve better than that.”

Reid was the Minnesota North Star first administrative director from 1967-72 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985.

He also worked as high school baseball umpire, as publicity director and lead statistician for the WCHA and as a statistician for the Vikings. He was a 2005 inductee into the MSHSL Hall of Fame.

A memorial service will be held for him at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Wausau.

Here is a full obituary...

Bob Reid, 86, formerly of Edina, passed away Friday, March 30, 2018. Bob loved to tell a good story, sharing (and hearing) jokes, the Chicago Cubs, and tapping his toes to Big Band and polka music. He was a "doer," and an outstanding role model with an exceptional work ethic.

He was born June 12, 1931 in Minneapolis, Minn. to the late Robert S. and Meryl Reid. Bob grew up in the Edina-Morningside neighborhood, graduating from St. Louis Park High School in 1949 and the University of Minnesota, class of 1953, earning a degree in Radio Speech. He was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He married Eleanor "Elie" Weld on Feb. 2, 1962 in Minneapolis. She claimed sharing the date with Groundhog's Day would ensure Bob couldn't forget their anniversary. Together they raised two children, Fritz and Julie.

Bob's professional career was centered on sports and entertainment management, enjoying a variety of notable roles. While attending the U of M, he worked for the Athletic Department's Intramural and Sports Information offices. After graduation, he was part of the Minnesota Centennial Commission's publicity team. He became the publicity director for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team from 1955-58, then joined Max Winter Attractions as an associate until 1963, where he provided public relations support for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hawaiian State Fair and the Midwest Auto Show. He became a partner with Padilla, Sarjeant, Sullivan and Speer Public Relations for four years, representing clients like the Grain Belt brewery and the Ice Follies. His connections led him to join the fledgling Minnesota North Stars, where he served as the team's first administrative director from 1967-1972 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985, expanding his duties to oversee the building that hosted not only the hockey team, but numerous rock concerts, the Barnham & Bailey Circus and the Ice Follies. He loved to talk about his experiences hosting the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and other major bands. During this time, he was involved with the International Association of Auditorium Managers' professional organization (now the IAVM), serving on its board of directors and on various committees. His last career move found Bob working for the Vee Corporation organizing the Sesame Street Live stage shows as its director of booking from 1985-1997.

Bob's interest in sports found him also serving for 42 years as the lead public address announcer for the Minnesota State High School League state hockey, baseball, softball, football and wrestling tournaments; as well as for the MSHSL as a baseball umpire; for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as publicity director and lead statistician, and also as a statistician for the Minnesota Vikings. He was also part of a group and one of the first coaches who started the Edina Little League organization in the 1950s.

Bob and Elie lived in Edina until 2003, when they moved to Wausau, Wisconsin, to be closer their to daughter Julie and her family. Bob's volunteer work was extremely important and fulfilling to him. While living in Minnesota, he was part of the Edina Recycling Commission, VEAP, Edina-Morningside Church, Loaves and Fishes, Edina High School PTA, Walk for Mankind, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Friends of Edina Public Library and St. Alban's Episcopal Church. After moving to Wausau, he was part of The Grand Theater board of directors, Friends of the Marathon County Public Library, St. John's Episcopal Church and Mobile Meals. As a former public relations man, he took great pleasure in collecting newspaper clippings for friends and family and keeping detailed travel diaries of the adventures he and Elie had traveling overseas to visit 46 countries and all seven continents.

Bob is survived by his son, Frederic "Fritz" Reid, partner Kim Forrest and son Forrest Hansen, Shingle Springs, Calif., daughter Julie Bliss, husband Jim, and children Reid Baker and Charlotte Bliss; siblings, older brother John M. "Jack" Reid, Seattle, Wash. and "baby" sister, Betty (Reid) Kuechle, Chanhassen, Minn, and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Elie, in 2009.

Fritz and Julie would like to thank the warm and supportive staff at Colonial Manor for taking such loving care of Bob over the past year. A funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 7 at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 330 McClellan Street, Wausau, with The Rev. Meredyth Albright officiating. Visitation with Fritz and Julie will be at 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the church, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum or St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church. To share online condolences, please visit
Spring Has Sprung A Big Joke On Outdoor Sports 4/2/2018
April has arrived, which means it’s time for warm sunshine, green grass and outdoor sporting events, right? Wrong. In much of the state we can glance out the window and see swirling snow, mushy ground and very little reason for optimism based on the weather forecast.

Spring has sprung a joke on us all, it seems.

Monday was the first official day of practice for MSHSL girls and boys lacrosse teams. Having reached this point, all spring sports are now underway … or at least they should be underway. But here we sit, with baseball, softball, track and field, golf, lacrosse, and boys tennis teams searching for indoor practice spaces.

I’ve gathered some reaction to all this from coaches and athletes around Minnesota, and it can best be summarized with two words: frustration and fun.

St. James High School softball coach Sam Baumgartner wrote in an email, “I’ve tried to be creative about mixing practice activities up. You have to make it fun and break the routines. This past week, we took the girls outside to the staff parking lot and hit fly balls in a light rain and 40-degree weather. There were huge snowbanks behind our players and a few balls drifted a little deep. The girls took those opportunities to make diving catches while landing in the snow. They had a blast! One of our B Squad players, Teresa Tobar, made three incredible catches in full layouts. Some of the balls we hit were too far back into the snow and they just sunk into the soft snow piles. We had girls in shorts trying to dig them out and several times they ended up sinking in up to their waist. It’s hard to remember most practices over the years but this one will stick with us for a long time.”

Someone sent me a photo of St. Paul Como Park assistant track coach Marv Rousse working with a hurdler on her form … in a school hallway instead of outdoors on the track (pictured here.)

Terry Sadler, softball coach at Warroad High School, posted to Twitter a short video of the Warriors “jousting” in the gymnasium, with players on all fours, teammates sitting on top of them wearing helmets and slow-speed jousting with bats at another team of “horse and rider.”

Pelican Rapids softball coach Dan Beck wrote, “With over a foot of snow on our field in Pelican Rapids, we took a break from the bats and gloves and brought out the sticks and the goals!” He added a photo of the girls in the gym, having fun with plastic hockey sticks.

On Facebook, the Moose Lake/Willow River baseball team posted a fun message about what the team is doing to have fun:

The baseball season is well under way, and after two weeks of working on just about everything that can be done in a gym practice for baseball, and with the foreseeable forecast looking grim to say the least, it was time to let loose a little...

Tonight the boys took part in the first annual Baseball Bracket Madness Challenge. The night was filled with five different competitive events, plus music, pizza, trash talk, and most importantly team bonding. The inaugural night began with brief opening ceremonies and positioning of the newly dubbed Ultimate BBMC Trophy, and later concluded with the crowning of champions and the opportunity to pose with their winning bracket of fallen soldiers as well as the aforementioned trophy. (pulled from the ashes of yesteryear).

Your 2018 BBMC event champions are:
Brendon Fogelberg and Danny Whited in the Team Bunting competition
Cooper Bexell in the One Hop competition
Brendon Fogelberg in the Think Small Miss Small competition
Ian Coil and Andrew Burn in the Team Spike Ball competition
Danny Whited in the Cage Bomb competition

The champions have won bragging rights for the entire year in their respective events.... or at least until Spring decides to show up.

Dear Spring,
Please come soon.
-MLWR Baseball

In an email, Moose Lake/Willow River assistant baseball coach Bryce Rushmeyer wrote, “The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebel baseball team is starting to hit the wall when it comes to indoor practices. We're practicing in the old school's gym (the lone occupants) and the fields and parking lots are too covered in snow to even try to take a few fly balls or long-toss sessions. This week, we had our “end of fundraising” celebration with a hot dog feed (over 150 hot dogs on a grill outside the main doors) for our 30-40 or so 7-12 baseball players (ending with attempting to send a hot dog through a pitching machine where one of our players was able to make contact).”

When the Minnesota Twins opened their season at Baltimore last week, the baseball team at Onamia High School used the televised game as an opportunity to learn and bond. Coach Jason Runyan wrote, “We watched the Twins game on a projector and talked about different situations. It was one of my better opening days! We went crazy when the Twins came back in the top of the ninth. They didn't win, but we had a fun time!”

Peyton Greve, a senior at Centennial High School, is a track and field athlete who competes in the shot put and discus. As you can imagine, training in these events is extremely difficult when you can’t use the outdoor throwing areas because of snow and cold. Peyton wrote last week…

“Let me start by saying, the struggle is real for us throwers right now. We have been inside for practice for three weeks and dedicated our practice on Thursday to shoveling the shot put and discus areas. We found our discus circle covered with two inches of ice and lots of snow. To make things even worse, we will likely not be outside all of next week due to the snow we got today. So while all of the runners go outside and run on the track, we will be inside, doing workouts and form with no shot put or disc. Hoped you enjoy hearing about our throwing struggle. Thanks, Peyton Greve.”

Hang in there, Peyton. Spring will come, the sun will shine, the ground will dry and everything will be perfect.

I hope.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
In The Wake Of Tragedy, Redhawks Stick Together 3/24/2018
Minnehaha Academy repeated as the Class 2A boys basketball state champion Saturday at Target Center, defeating Caledonia 73-60 in the title game. The Redhawks had a record of 26-5 last season and 28-4 this time around, but what happened in between those two sets of numbers was horrible, remarkable, and changed everything.

On the second day of August, Minnehaha Academy was rocked by a natural-gas explosion. Receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, and custodian John Carlson, 82, were killed and nine people were injured in the explosion on the schools’ upper campus in Minneapolis (the upper campus serves grades 9-12 and the lower campus, a mile and a half away, serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade).

The buildings that were destroyed included the gymnasium. That left the school’s basketball teams without a home for the entire season. The Redhawks boys were the most well-traveled team in the Twin Cities, for games and practices.

They played “home” games at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan and Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. One of their practice sites was the gymnasium at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station (connected to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport), where all the players and coaches had to go through a full military security clearance. There were bus rides and car pools to practices and games, often at odd hours. They had T-shirts made that read “No Gym. No Problem.”

“We had to sit around after school for about three hours (before practice),” Redhawks sophomore guard Jalen Suggs said after Saturday’s game. “We would group up and a lot of us would do homework. We’ve spent a lot more time together than we did last year, and you could tell, just by the way we played on the court. Everyone’s had each other’s backs since day one and it’s led to this moment.”

The explosion put basketball into perspective for everyone. Life is precious and basketball is a game.

“This is just basketball,” Suggs said. “There were people in the building that exploded who went through far, far worse than we did, just having late practices.”

Senior JaVonni Bickham said, “It’s bigger than just basketball, it’s bigger than all of us. We knew that and we just came out with everything we got for this season. We’re thankful that we got the chance to win the state championship for our community.”

Hustle-Smile-Ruthless Is 1A Champ

When I gave the team from Russell-Tyler-Ruthton the nickname Hustle-Smile-Ruthless in the previous installment of John’s Journal, some witty folks from those little towns ran with it. There were three signs in the stands during the Class 1A championship game -- reading “Hustle” “Smile” and “Ruthless” – and they were held up as the R-T-R fans chanted those three words several times.

The Knights defeated North Woods 59-55 to capture their third title in six state appearances. North Woods has been to state twice – last year and this year – and has finished second both times.

After the game, someone texted me a photo of the R-T-R team posing with the three signs. I love small towns.

Unseeded Delano Wins 3A Championship

On Feb. 8, the Delano basketball team had a record of 10-9. They ended the season with a record of 21-11 and owners of the Class 3A state championship. The Tigers defeated Columbia Heights 64-61 Saturday night to win their first title in three trips to state, the last one in 2013.

Their 11 defeats ties the tournament record for the most losses by a state champion. Austin Pacelli won the 1992 Class 1A title with 11 losses.

Cretin-Derham Hall Is 4A Champion

In a game that can only be described as an instant classic, the basketball season closed with Cretin-Derham Hall claiming a 79-78 victory over Apple Valley in the 4A title game. Both teams shot better than 56 percent, with Apple Valley’s Tre Jones scoring a game-high 35 points in his final high school game.

It was Cretin-Derham Hall’s third state title and first since 1993, when current coach Jerry Kline Jr. was a team member.

Tournament Tidbits

--At halftime of the Class 1A championship game, eight individuals were honored with awards by the MSHSL for their decades of service and commitment to officiating. Those honored with distinguished service awards were Becker’s Tracy Bertram, Jack Coombe of Tower, Tom Goetz from Bloomington, Bill Hafner of Maplewood, Roseville’s Roy Tutt, Jim Weinzierl from Park Rapids, Pat Whalen of New Brighton and Clark Worthington of St. Louis Park.

--At halftime of the Class 3A game, Bill Bentson of KFIL Radio in Preston and John Sherman of Sun Newspapers in the Twin Cities were honored as recipients of the 2018 MSHSL Outstanding Media Service Awards.

Wells Fargo All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A:
Travis Visser, Hinckley-Finlayson; Noah DeLapaz, Cass Lake-Bena; Garrett Tjernagel, Baden Noennig, Mayer Lutheran; Westin Kirk, Garrett Kern, Carter Hansen, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton; Cade Goggleye, Trevor Morrison, Tate Olson, North Woods.

Class 2A: Quinn Fischer, Esko; Lu’cye Patterson, Brooklyn Center; Mitchell Plombon, Michael Schaefer, St. Cloud Cathedral; Martin Morem, Owen King, Noah King, Caledonia; Jalen Suggs, Terry Lockett, JaVonni Bickham, Minnehaha Academy.

Class 3A: Sam Vascellaro, St. Thomas Academy; Duoth Gach, Austin; Tyrell Terry, Gabe Kalscheur, DeLaSalle; Calvin Wishart, Derek Techam, Keegan O’Neill, Delano; Wendell Matthews, Quentin Hardrict, Deundra Roberson, Columbia Heights.

Class 4A: Zach Theisen, Osseo; Connor Christensen, Eden Prairie; Tyler Wall, Tommy Jensen, Lakeville North; Jacob Prince, Ryan Larson, Sy Chatman, Cretin-Derham Hall; Tre Jones, Luke Martens, Zach Korba, Apple Valley.

Boys State Basketball Tournament

Class 1A

Fifth-place game: Hinckley-Finlayson 56, Rushford-Peterson 49
Third-place game: Mayer Lutheran 67, Cass Lake-Bena 51
Championship game: Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 59, North Woods 55

Class 2A
Fifth-place game: Esko 57, Breckenridge 46
Third-place game: St. Cloud Cathedral 75, Brooklyn Center 70
Championship game: Minnehaha Academy 73, Caledonia 60

Class 3A
Fifth-place game: St. Thomas Academy 68, Mankato East 62
Third-place game: DeLaSalle 82, Austin 61
Championship game: Delano 64, Columbia Heights 61

Class 4A
Fifth-place game: Osseo 64, Forest Lake 61
Third-place game: Lakeville North 63, Eden Prairie 52
Championship game: Cretin-Derham Hall 79, Apple Valley 78

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn