John's Journal
Nine-Man Football Rankings9/27/2017
School Total Points Prv
1. Spring Grove (2) (4-0) 64 2
2. Cromwell (3) (4-0) 60 1
3. Houston (1) (4-0) 54 3
4. Stephen-Argyle (1) (4-0) 45 4
5. Nevis (4-0) 35 5
6. Cleveland (3-1) 26 7
(tie) Verndale (4-0) 26 9
8. Red Rock Central (4-0) 24 8
9. Grand Meadow (3-1) 18 NR
10. Sleepy Eye St. Mary's (4-0) 16 10
Others receiving votes: Rothsay 11, Westbrook-Walnut Grove 5, Ely 1.
New Prague’s New Pool: ‘For The Rest Of Forever’9/27/2017
NEW PRAGUE --- Abby Nielsen is one of the senior captains on the girls swimming and diving team at New Prague High School. I was chatting with Abby and fellow captains Abigail Estep and Madelynn Vulcan shortly before the Trojans met Dassel-Cokato in a dual meet.

We were standing inside one of the most spectacular high school sporting venues in the state. The New Prague Aquatics Center is a showplace, a partnership between the school district and the City of New Prague that will be the home of the Trojans swim team for, well, for a very long time. Abby explained…

“Everything is so professional and new,” she said. “And just to come in here and see everything that we could ever want is so amazing. I’m so happy for our team and our girls and that they’ll have this facility for the rest of forever.”

For the rest of forever. The Trojans, along with everyone in New Prague, have been waiting and waiting to have a water-based home of their own. Until the aquatics center opened this fall, the swimmers and divers used a pool in Montgomery. That’s only eight miles away, but riding a bus to practice in another team’s pool is not great fun.

“After school we don’t have to get on a bus and drive 15 minutes to a pool that’s not even in our district,” Vulcan said. “We get to come to a pool that has ‘New Prague’ on the walls and that we’re able to call it home.”

New Prague has never had a boys swimming and diving team, but the new facility has put that possibility into play. The girls team saw a big increase in athletes with the new pool, starting well before it was finished.

“Our (girls) numbers have gone up the last two years, I think with anticipation of the pool,” said Trojans activities director Brad Skogerboe. “The excitement level has really increased a lot. I think at some point (having a boys team) will be something we’ll look at. With that beautiful facility, we might as well use it.”

The pool opens to the public at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and stays open until 9 p.m.; weekend hours are a bit shorter. People in the community can swim laps, kids can play in a shallow pool, a hot tub is available, as is an outdoor patio.

The competition pool has eight lanes with a movable bulkhead and diving well with two one-meter boards. That adds great versatility to workouts for the Trojans. The Montgomery pool has six lanes, so swimmers could only practice in three or four lanes while divers used the other lanes. In Montgomery, the Trojans sometimes had to pack 12 kids into each lane for workouts, but in the new facility they only need to have five swimmers per lane.

“It has been a dream come true,” said Trojans coach Tracy Torgerson. “We went from having really nothing to having the best of the best. Our numbers increased by about 13 kids, so it’s helped our program a lot.

“I think it’s really helped our community, too, and we feel so much a part of the community. We almost feel a little bit spoiled. We have such a great training facility; we’ll travel to other places now and divers hit the bottom of the pool and girls don’t feel so fast.”

The pool is either the third- or fourth-largest aquatic center in the state, behind the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, the pool at the Rochester Recreation Center … and maybe the University of St. Thomas Aquatic Center in St. Paul.

“My favorite thing about this pool is that once we built this pool we had a lot of newcomers come in,” said Estep. “We were able to build a brand new team with a lot of energy. A lot of girls were excited to get on the pool deck, a lot of girls were ready to get in the water right away. That was really exciting.”

Torgerson said the excitement continually built from the day voters approved funding the pool until the doors were opened.

“When we first did the building process, working with the architects, I got to be part of that,” she said. “It was fun to see it on paper. I had the blueprint with me all last year and showed it to every coach. As it got built, I can’t even express how that felt. It was watching your dream come true right in front of your eyes. It came together so fast and so well. It really is amazing.”

And it’s there for the rest of forever.

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Class 3A Volleyball Rankings9/25/2017
1. Eagan (9) - 135
2. Lakeville North - 126
3. Champlin Park - 114
4. Lakeville South - 106
5. Stillwater - 92
6. Shakopee - 85
7. Prior Lake - 74
8. Hopkins - 57
9. Minnetonka - 45
10. East Ridge - 42
Others Receiving Votes: Maple Grove - 28, Moorhead - 28
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Eden Prairie, Northfield
Class 2A Volleyball Rankings9/25/2017
1. Maple Lake (14) - 210
2. Stewartville - 189
3. Marshall - 179
4. SW Christian - 166
5. North Branch - 141
6. Rocori -114
7. Hill-Murray - 84
8. Concordia Academy - 76
9. St. Cloud Cathedral - 75
10. Kasson-Mantorville - 55
Others Receiving Votes: Norwood-Young America - 52, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 51, Kenyon-Wanamingo - 42, Roseau - 13, Holy Angels - 11. Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Park Rapids, Jordan
Class 1A Volleyball Rankings9/25/2017
1. Mayer Lutheran (14) - 210
2. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton - 195
3. Bethlehem Academy - 159
4. Minneota - 149
5. Hayfield - 124
6. Wadena-Deer Creek - 119
7. Caledonia - 114
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 96
9. Mabel-Canton - 87
10. Rush City - 70
Others Receiving Votes: Canby - 66, MACCRAY - 56, Wabasso - 18. Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Stephen-Argyle