John's Journal
Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings2/7/2018
From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods 18-0
2. Springfield 18-1
3. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 19-0
4. Cass Lake-Bena 20-1
5. Mayer Lutheran 17-3
6. Hinckley-Finlayson 18-2
7. Sacred Heart 18-1
8. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 17-1
9. Hancock 16-1
10. Minneota 17-2
11. Wesrbrook-Walnut-Grove 17-3
12. Wrenshall 16-1
13. Southwest MN Christian 14-4
14. Rushford-Peterson 16-6
15. Nevis 16-3
16. Parkers Prairie 16-2
17. Cleveland 15-4
18. BOLD 16-4
19. New Ulm Cathedral 16-5
20. Ortonville 15-4
Waseca One-Act Play Honors Hometown Soldier’s Memory 2/7/2018
Barry Erickson wants his son Caleb, who died way too young, to be remembered. Caleb Erickson, a 20-year-old Marine who was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2014, was a graduate of Waseca High School, and the school’s theater department has been paying tribute to Caleb in a special and very personal way.

The one-act play “Booby Trap,” which Waseca students have been performing this winter, is a work of fiction in which a soldier accidentally sits on a landmine and cannot move.

The play “kind of shows him reliving his past, and his future, which he hasn’t seen yet. And him having to cope with maybe giving his own life up,” said Waseca senior Garrett Natysin, who plays the soldier in the school production.

“Booby Trap” also was performed this spring by Springfield and Jordan high schools in Minnesota, and has been performed by hundreds of other schools around the country since 2001. It was written by Ed Monk, a longtime high school theater teacher and playwright in Virginia.

After rehearsals had begun, Waseca theater director Karen Pfarr Anderson had an idea. One of her friends is Rue Erickson, Caleb’s older sister. Karen contacted Rue with an idea: “We should do this for Caleb. I talked to Rue first and said I didn’t want to do it without their blessing. We talked about raising money and we thought we might get a couple hundred bucks because not many people come to the play.”

What happened was amazing. People heard about the play and the efforts to raise money, and they came to see the play in droves. There is normally no fee for one-act plays at school, but donations were accepted and the dollar figure has reached nearly $2,000.

“Besides Caleb being a humble guy, we are not, as a family, going to let his memory disappear,” said his father after the play was performed at Lakeville South in the Class 2A Section 1 finals. “We may be a little arrogant about that once in a while, but that kid deserves to be remembered. When I heard about this play and that they were doing it in honor of Caleb and his memory, and to raise a few bucks to help out other Marines, it just wound me up completely.”

Natysin and Allison Dufault, who portrays the soldier’s wife in “Booby Trap,” are Waseca seniors who were in junior high when Caleb was killed. (Caleb is pictured.)

“We have received so much support from our community,” Allison said. “It’s been incredible to be able to do something for people who give so much to us. And it’s really opened our eyes to what being in the military means.”

The donations have gone to the Caleb Erickson Memorial Fund, which is dedicated to helping veterans in need. Veterans from Waseca and beyond have seen the play, and the high school students are aware of the impact they have had on the wider community.

“We’re usually doing comedies and slapstick,” Allison said. “So it’s really amazing to be able to do something that has a lot of substance and means a lot to people. It’s been an incredible experience.”

Most of the students involved in the play didn’t know Caleb personally and some were not fully aware of the sacrifices made by members of the military and their families.

“This is a great opportunity for them to learn about this hometown hero,” Pfarr Anderson said. “To not only understand the sacrifice that he gave, but that all military men and women give. Whether they come home or not, that’s the price they put on the line.”

When Barry Erickson attended rehearsal and saw the performance for the first time, it was emotional for everybody. He spoke to the students, telling them, “I see Caleb in each one of your faces.”

“That touched my heart,” Pfarr Anderson said, “it touched the kids’ hearts, and that made them want to do the best they possibly could. They would do that anyway, but it added something that you almost can’t describe. It added a different element.”

One-act play is an MSHSL activity, and this year’s season will culminate with the state festival Thursday and Friday at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium on the campus of St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Waseca did not advance to state, but the competitive side of the activity was almost an afterthought to them.

“When we started talking about competing, they were like, ‘I haven’t thought about that,’ ” Pfarr Anderson said. “They were so focused on ‘This is for Caleb. This is for his family.’ Because this story is not just about the man, the soldier, it’s about the people they leave behind. That really meant a lot to the kids.”

Garrett and other actors wear military uniforms on stage, with the uniforms and patches donated by Waseca area veterans. Among the service members who have seen the play is the soldier who delivered Caleb’s dog tags to his family. (Pictured are the cast and crew with Caleb's family.)

Before the play was performed in Waseca, Caleb’s dad spoke to the audience.

“I explained the anger I felt that he is not with us anymore and he deserves to be,” Barry said. “He deserved to see this play. He deserved to have babies. It wasn’t meant to be. He was not scared of dying. He was a Marine and that’s the Marine spirit.

“These kids do this with all their heart. You can tell they’re determined to do a good job, whether they knew him or not.”

Pfarr Anderson said, “While we are saddened that this show is ending, we know that what we've done with it will last. I know and every one of my cast and crew members know that we accomplished infinitely more than we ever dreamed with this show. We put together a wonderful show that was powerful, purposeful, and performed with attention to detail and reality.

“We made new friends in the Erickson family and the contingent of veterans and supporters that came to see us and our show. Most importantly, we learned about, remembered, and honored a wonderful young man, Caleb Erickson, and raised almost $2,000 for his memorial fund. That gift and the lessons about bravery and service these kids learned will go on to do far more than winning a trophy.”

For more information and to donate, go to

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Honoring A Hometown Hero At St. Paul Como Park2/5/2018
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter was standing at center court in the gymnasium at St. Paul Como Park High School on Monday evening, speaking about an athlete who has and is inspiring countless young people in the community.

It was halftime of a St. Paul City Conference girls basketball game between Harding and Como Park. Halftime stretched a little longer than usual, with a 17-minute ceremony that was equal parts celebration and inspiration. The star of the show was Andrayah Adams, a 2016 Como Park grad who is a sophomore basketball player at St. John’s University in New York.

The objective was to do something that had never been done before: retire the jersey number of a Como Park girls basketball player. And during the halftime ceremony, it became very clear how much Andrayah means to the Como Park and wider St. Paul community.

“This is beyond Como,” Carter told the cheering crowd. “This is the whole city of St. Paul celebrating right now.”

He turned to face Andrayah as he said, “Athletic accomplishments are very important, because young people in our community, people of all ages, are looking to you and seeing an example. When they look at how you pushed yourself to heights and greatness, it’s an example of what we can do ourselves. What’s even more important than the athleticism that you show is the leadership that you’ve shown in this community. You’ve inspired people to be their best selves, starting with your teammates.”

During the first half of Como Park’s 67-36 victory, Andrayah sat on the bench with the Cougars. After the halftime ceremony, she spent the second half visiting with friends in the bleachers, posing for photos and signing autographs. She seemed just a little bit overwhelmed … and who wouldn’t be?

“I used to be in the gym all the time,” she said. “I lived here. This is pretty cool.”

It also was pretty cool that she and St. John's coach Joe Tartamella were able to get away from their Division I season for one day. The Red Storm won a home game against Xavier 70-36 Sunday in Queens, and don’t play again until they go to Villanova in Philadelphia on Friday.

“I’m glad I was able to get away to be here,” Andrayah said. “We had a day off today and go back tomorrow.”

Monday’s victory gave the Como Park Cougars a record of 13-7 this season, including 9-0 in the City Conference. Adams played a large role in helping build the program. The Cougars are chasing their fourth consecutive conference title and they have a conference record of 43-1 in that time, winning 36 consecutive conference games.

Other halftime speakers included Como Park coach Alexis Gray-Larson, principal Theresa Neal, former and current teammates, Andrayah’s siblings Raiyne and Robert and parents Patrick and Leigh. Raiyne is a senior on the Como Park girls basketball team and Robert is a senior on the boys team.

Surrounded by players, coaches, family and friends, Andryah was handed a beautifully framed Cougars jersey bearing her famous No. 15. No one on the Como Park girls basketball team will ever wear that number again.

But No. 15 will live on for Andrayah … it’s also her number in college.

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Class 1A Gymnastics Rankings1/31/2018
From the Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association.

1 Detroit Lakes 8A 151.025
2 Willmar 6A 146.675
3 Mahtomedi 4A 145.925
4 Sartell-Saint Stephen 7A 145.808
5 Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 1A 145.508
6 Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 5A 145.275
7 Worthington 3A 143.983
8 Perham 8A 143.700
9 Big Lake 7A 142.450
10 Monticello 7A 141.317
11 Melrose Area 6A 140.700
12 North Branch 7A 140.583
13 Waconia 2A 140.525
14 Becker 7A 139.967
15 Jackson County Central 3A 139.825
16 Chisago Lakes 7A 138.983
17 New London-Spicer 6A 138.667
18 New Ulm Public/NUACS/MVL 2A 137.292
19 Austin 1A 137.250
20 Mankato West 2A 137.125
21 Hendricks/RTR 3A 136.783
22 Fergus Falls 8A 136.159
23 Alexandria 8A 135.767
24 Breck 5A 135.425
25 Benson-KMS-Montivideo 6A 134.975
Class 2A Gymnastics Rankings1/31/2018
From the Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association.

1 Owatonna 1AA 148.058
2 Stillwater 4AA 147.842
3 Lakeville North 2AA 147.717
4 East Ridge 3AA 146.858
5 St. Cloud Tech 8AA 146.758
6 Lakeville South 2AA 146.600
7 Cambridge-Isanti 7AA 146.033
8 Maple Grove 5AA 144.908
9 Anoka 7AA 144.200
10 Rosemount 1AA 142.617
11 Apple Valley-Eastview 3AA 142.383
12 Eden Prairie 6AA 142.200
13 Champlin Park 5AA 141.475
14 Eagan 3AA 141.292
15 Rogers 5AA 140.517
16 Prior Lake 2AA 140.433
17 Wayzata 5AA 140.342
18 New Prague 2AA 139.458
19 Farmington 1AA 139.308
20 Northfield 1AA 139.208
21 Saint Francis 7AA 139.142
22 Forest Lake 7AA 139.108
23 Roseville Area 4AA 138.325
24 Buffalo 8AA 138.233
25 Brainerd 8AA 138.192