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From Minnesota To Iraq, Strong Ties Between Team And Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:33:06 PM

OKABENA – There were some interesting angles to a Red Rock Conference girls basketball game played here Tuesday night. One example: The visiting team, the Fulda Raiders, are spending the season under a replacement coach because their head coach, Sam Voss, is on maternity leave. Her assistant coach, Jon Curry, took over the team.

Sam, who teaches math, is never far from the team here in southwest Minnesota. The head coach of the home team, the Heron Lake-Okabena Wildcats, is also absent this season but she is much farther away.

Anna Brandt, 25, took over as the Wildcats coach last season. Having joined the Iowa National Guard in 2013 while a student at Morningside College in Sioux City, she is currently serving in Iraq … which is nine time zones and more than 6,000 miles from home.

Anna’s replacement provides another intriguing angle to the story. She is the daughter of a coach; her father Neal was her coach in high school at Harris-Lake Park, Iowa, and Neal is back on the bench leading the Wildcats this season. (Pictured are Neal and Anna.)

“I had helped her last year, volunteered a little bit,” Neal said. “The girls kind of knew me. We thought it would be an easy transition and the school thought it would be a good idea.”

Neal, who also coached at Jackson County Central, was busy with cattle, hogs, corn and soybeans on the family farm when Anna received news of her deployment as a Specialist with the 248th Aviation Support Battalion, which during this deployment is attached to the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade. Anna’s battalion includes helicopter maintainers, helicopter test pilots and logistical support personnel.

“Anna and I have the same coaching style for the most part, but it’s still different,” said Neal, who is the team’s fourth coach in four years. “There are challenges.”

Thanks to technology, Anna is able to stay updated with the team, including two video chats so far this season (once while the team was on the bus returning home from a road game). Assistant coach Mara Eichenberger provides Anna with regular messages.

“I talk to Anna all the time,” Mara said. “She’s my best friend, and we talk about everything. I know how much she misses being here with the team and we can’t wait until she comes home.”

In an email exchange, Anna told me, “I get updates after games, follow how practices go, and have even been able to FaceTime.

“People here know I'm a basketball coach, and I was actually able to play some basketball myself while in Texas for my training. The support here, as well as back home, has been great.”

Her deployment started in September and could last more than a year. After pre-deployment training, she has been stationed in Iraq since early December.

Her parents, Neal and Mary, have four other daughters, Sarah, Melissa, Alicia and Lydia. (Pictured, left to right, are Neal, Sarah, Melissa, Anna, Mary, Alicia and Lydia.)

“Anna had kind of let everybody know she was going to be deployed,” said Heron Lake-Okabena athletic director Jason Fisher. “She brought it to my attention, and it sounded like she wanted to come back when she was done. She had already talked to her dad about it and wanted to keep the same system for the girls.”

As far as scores go, the Wildcats have not had the easiest time. Tuesday’s 46-38 loss to Fulda gave them a record of 1-16 (they finished 8-19 last year). Five seniors form the core of the team, along with a junior, three sophomores and two ninth-graders.

“It’s a great group,” Neal said. “They’re very positive and hard-working.”

Here’s one more interesting angle to Tuesday’s game. Starting next fall, Fulda and Heron Lake-Okabena – the high schools are 23 miles apart – will form cooperative teams in all sports other than boys basketball, volleyball and cross-country.

There are lots of decisions to be made, such as what the merged teams will be called and who will be part of the coaching staff for each team.

No matter what the future holds, the Heron Lake-Okabena players miss their coach but they know she is doing important work.

“It’s very odd,” said senior guard Abi Fest.” It’s just different because she came in here last year and she inspired us so much. But her dad has stepped up and done a great job, influencing us to do better, and we know that Anna is coming back next year and she’s going to want us to work hard.”

Junior forward Claire Rasche said, “It’s just kind of hard because we used to see her every day and she is a really good coach and she really pushed us to do our best. Her dad’s really good and he also inspires us and pushes us. I can see the resemblance between them and the way they coach.”

The players also had a message for their coach. It’s a message that resonates strongly despite nine time zones and more than 6,000 miles of distance: “We love you, Anna. We miss you. We can’t wait for you to get back.”

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:27:31 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods 16-0
2. Springfield 16-1
3. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 18-0
4. Cass Lake-Bena 19-1
5. Mayer Lutheran 14-3
6. Hinckley-Finlayson 16-2
7. Nevis 14-2
8. Southwest MN Christian 13-4
9. Sacred Heart 15-1
10. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 16-1
11. Minneota 16-1
12. Wesrbrook-Walnut-Grove 15-3
13. Hancock 14-1
14. Wrenshall 14-1
15. Parkers Prairie 16-1
16. Cleveland 14-3
17. BOLD 15-4
18. New Ulm Cathedral 14-5
19. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 11-6
20. Ortonville 14-3

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:27:05 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minneapolis North 12-4
2. Minnehaha Academy 15-3
3. Caledonia 16-2
4. Perham 17-0
5. Brooklyn Center 12-6
6. Holy Family Catholic 13-3
7. Lake City 15-3
8. Melrose 16-2
9. St. Cloud Cathedral 14-3
10. St. Charles 16-3
11. Annandale 13-3
12. Esko 13-4
13. Byron 13-5
14. Breckenridge 18-2
15. Virginia 14-2
16. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 15-1
17. Jordan 14-4
18. Maple Lake 13-3
19. Eden Valley-Watkins 14-1
20. Cristo Rey Jesuit 14-2

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:26:31 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 12-3
2. Austin 15-1
3. Columbia Heights 13-1
4. Mankato East 15-2
5. Marshall 14-3
6. Orono 13-5
7. Willmar 16-0
8. Mahtomedi 12-5
9. Northfield 12-5
10. St. Thomas Academy 10-7
11. Sauk Rapids-Rice 12-6
12. Waseca 14-3
13. Fridley 10-5
14. Delano 10-7
15. Bemidji 12-5
16. St. Paul Johnson 12-4
17. St Croix Lutheran 14-2
18. Princeton 14-3
19. Minneapolis Roosevelt 10-6
20. Monticello 14-4

Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:25:58 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Cretin-Derham Hall 15-1
2. Hopkins 19-1
3. Lakeville North 15-2
4. Eden Prairie 15-2
5. Apple Valley 13-4
6. Park Center 14-3
7. Osseo 13-3
8. Edina 12-5
9. Rochester John Marshall 15-2
10. North St. Paul 13-3
11. Tartan 14-2
12. Chaska 12-4
13. Woodbury 11-7
14. East Ridge 12-5
15. Wayzata 11-5
16. Forest Lake 13-5
17. Owatonna 12-4
18. Prior Lake 13-3
19. Maple Grove 12-5
20. St. Cloud Tech 13-5

Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:25:19 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Lyle-Pacelli 19-1
2. Mountain Iron-Buhl 18-1
3. Hayfield 17-3
4. Goodhue 15-4
5. Menahga 17-0
6. Ada-Borup/Norman County West 15-1
7. Stephen-Argyle 17-1
8. Bigfork 18-2
9. Southwest MN Christian 14-2
10. Minneota 16-3
11. Lac qui Parle Valley 17-3
12. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 14-5
13. Grand Meadow 16-4
14. Red Lake 17-3
15. BOLD 17-4
16. Mayer Lutheran 12-6
17. Pelican Rapids 10-5
18. Wabasso 14-3
19. Parkers Prairie 15-2
20. Sleepy Eye 15-4

Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:24:50 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Sauk Centre 18-0
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 17-1
3. Maranatha Christian 13-3
4. Minnehaha Acadeny 11-5
5. Roseau 14-4
6. Rush City 15-1
7. Holy Family Catholic 13-5
8. Norwood-Young America 18-3
9. Stewartville 16-4
10. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 18-1
11. Eden Valley-Watkins 16-2
12. Barnesville 14-2
13. Watertown-Mayer 15-5
14. East Grand Forks 15-4
15. New London-Spicer 13-6
16. St. Peter 12-6
17. Caledonia 15-4
18. Rochester Lourdes 13-7
19. Annandale 11-6
20. Duluth Marshall 16-2

Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:24:20 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Robbinsdale Cooper 15-2
2. Mahtomedi 16-1
3. DeLaSalle 12-4
4. Holy Angels 17-3
5. Northfield 15-3
6. Willmar 16-2
7. Hutchinson 15-5
8. Waseca 18-2
9. Red Wing 13-3
10. Alexandria 14-3
11. Fergus Falls 14-4
12. Hermantown 20-2
13. Chisago Lakes 11-6
14. Grand Rapids 14-6
15. Waconia 13-5
16. Marshall 15-4
17. New Ulm 14-5
18. Mankato West 12-6
19. Hill-Murray 10-8
20. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 12-6

Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:23:49 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Eastview 17-0
2. Wayzata 20-0
3. Hopkins 19-3
4. Lakeville North 14-5
5. St. Michael-Albertville 15-3
6. Centennial 16-3
7. Cretin-Derham Hall 13-3
8. Park Center 13-6
9. Maple Grove 15-4
10. Roseville 14-4
11. Champlin Park 14-4
12. Park-Cottage Grove 15-4
13. Moorhead 11-8
14. Minnetonka 9-8
15. Minneapolis South 15-2
16. Apple Valley 11-8
17. Farmington 12-7
18. Anoka 12-8
19. Stillwater 12-8
20. Eden Prairie 11-8

Class 2A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:23:06 PM

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

Class 1A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/31/2018 4:22:36 PM

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

Pine City Boys Basketball Is One Of A Kind
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/29/2018 1:56:07 PM

PINE CITY – Kyle Allen is a social studies teacher at Pine City High School, but mathematics is a major part of his job as head coach of the Dragons boys basketball team. That’s because everything is measured and charted: not only the typical things like shooting percentages and rebounds, but also talking.

Yes, the Dragons keep track of talking. And that’s just the start of what makes this basketball team unlike any other. The most visible example: They rarely shoot two-point shots other than layups, and focus on firing from outside the three-point line. It’s all based on math.

“I think numbers make a lot of sense to me and they always have,” said Allen, whose team takes a record of 12-5 into a home game Tuesday vs. Braham. “We want to put numbers to everything. That lets us measure everything.”

The Dragons attempt and make three-point shots at a rapid pace. In fact, they set a state record by making 348 threes in the 2015-16 season (nearly 13 per game). When the ball is in the area of mid-range shots, it almost always is passed to the perimeter for a three-point attempt or tossed to an open man under the basket for an easy two. It’s a remarkable thing to watch.

“It’s pretty fun playing on this basketball team,” said senior captain Jake Rademacher. “Who doesn’t want to shoot a lot of threes? Coach never yells at us for taking a bad three, and we just go crazy all the time.”

Allen, in his seventh year at Pine City – which is between the Twin Cities and Duluth on Interstate 35 -- has instituted a style of play that is also based on conditioning, hectic full-court defense and rebounding. In an 80-54 win over East Central last week, they had a season-high 54 rebounds. Their average score this season is 76-48.

“We didn’t shoot a great percentage (against East Central). We talk about that a lot,” Allen said. “We really try to focus on the rebounds. It’s the purposeness of it. The variable is, does the shot go in or not? We try to make the constant variable be our rebounding.”

Allen designed the offense after learning about similar concepts used at Grinnell College in Iowa. He is a 2005 graduate of Black River Falls High School in Wisconsin, which also produced former Grinnell player Jack Taylor, who set an NCAA single-game record in 2012 by scoring 138 points.

Pine City doesn’t do everything Grinnell does – the college team, for example, substitutes players five at a time for short, fast-paced on-court shifts – but the Dragons focus on defense as a way to kick-start their offense.

“We feel real confident with our depth and we like to play lots of kids,” Allen said. “I love coaching defense. Offense is just running to the right spots, while defense is effort and motivation. We really tried to take it (from Grinnell) and make a model for it at the high school level.”

The players work hard on defense, which can lead to an outpouring of fast breaks and layups.

“One of our big things is the other team has to take every step we take, so we pride ourselves on being in condition,” said senior captain Clay Logan. “We incorporate it into every drill and we also do free throws, which if we miss we start running.”

When it comes to talking, team managers keep charts during practices and games.

“It can be an out-loud positive statement to an individual or it can be a boy going to another boy and having an arm-around-the-shoulder kind of thing and helping them out,” Allen said. “Jack Taylor did a camp here and one of his insights was every time a player shoots a three, the bench is supposed to erupt. He talked about a positive mindset.”

In the game against East Central, the Dragons’ first points came on a three and their next basket was a layup. It quickly became apparent that this isn’t a typical basketball team.

“As much as we as a coaching staff believe in us and in what we do, I think sometimes there’s human error,” Allen said. “We try to be as non-biased as possible. The numbers give you a fuller story. We’ve worked hard to do anything we deem important, we want to put a number to it.”

The team’s statistical methods are also atypical. Shot charts pinpoint shooting percentages from five different locations outside the three-point line. This season the Dragons are shooting 57 percent near the basket and 45 percent from the right corner, for example. In 17 games they have attempted fewer than four shots per game outside of five feet but inside the three-point line.

The shooting statistics also can be viewed as line graphs, bar graphs and pie charts. It’s all math and probabilities, but more goes into it.

“When the coaching staff gets together, and the captains, the word we use is purposeness,” Allen said. “We don’t want to do things just to do them. We looked at everything and said, ‘Why are we doing this?’ ”

The Dragons received national publicity last season when a reporter from the Wall Street Journal came to town and wrote about them (headline: “The Basketball Team That Never Takes A Bad Shot”). That has led to a steady stream of emails to Allen.

“I’ve heard from hundreds of other coaches from around the world,” he said. “It’s kind of cool. It’s fun to talk basketball with people who want to talk about it. I’m able to connect with hundreds of coaches.”

Allen isn’t aware of any other Minnesota high school teams playing a similar style. If coaches are thinking about it, he has some advice.

“The big thing is, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. You have to have 100 percent buy-in. Whatever you do, as long as you believe in it and teach your kids how to do it, it’s all about buy-in.”

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

A Big Night For Wrestling In Southeast Minnesota: No. 1 vs. No. 1
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/25/2018 11:27:17 PM

KASSON – A high school gymnasium is a special place. It’s where contests are contested, where work is rewarded, where goals are reached, where communities gather. Two hyphenated school communities from southeast Minnesota gathered in the spacious and space-age Kasson-Mantorville gym (technically it’s Home Federal Arena) on Thursday to watch two of the finest wrestling teams in Minnesota test the theories stated above.

The Kasson-Mantorville KoMets are the two-time defending state champions in Class 2A. The Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars are the defending champs in Class 1A. Adding to the pre-match interest in the dual between Hiawatha Valley League teams: both are ranked No. 1 in their respective classes.

So, a few days after everyone had successfully dug out from the largest snowfall of the season, it was time to gather.

The evening had been designated as Military Appreciation Night, and the pregame pageantry was special. After the varsity teams entered the gym, the PA announcer asked all retired and active-duty service members to stand and be recognized, saying “We are honored to spend this evening with these brave men and women.”
Grandparents and dads and moms and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters stood as everyone applauded and cheered.

A group of veterans, most sporting gray hair and some who are decades from gray, carried out the colors as everyone stood in silence. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, and KoMet alum Cori Kennedy, now a standout softball player for the 2017 NCAA champion Minnesota State Mavericks, sang a beautiful anthem.

And then it was time for wrestling. The lights were dimmed and a single bright spotlight, hanging like a full moon over the center of the mat, was switched on (it had been installed earlier in the day). A little light bled into the gym from doors leading to the hallways, but the focus was on center stage, where each match began with two young men shaking hands while standing over the K-M logo.

There were few delusions about which team would come out on top. Kasson-Mantorville hasn’t lost a conference match in 10 years … and the streak didn’t end on this night. That was made fairly evident after the first three matches, all wins by the KoMets, including a fall by Jared Johnson at 113 pounds.

Halfway through the 14 weight classes, the KoMets led 23-7. The Cougars had won two of the opening seven matches and the ratio was the same in the second half of the contest. Falls by the KoMets’ Garsen Shore at 220 and Brett Paulson at 285 closed the book on a 45-14 win for Kasson-Mantorville. Consolation for the Cougars was this fact: before Thursday the KoMets had defeated their opponents this season by at least 40 points; so a 31-point deficit was at least something.

This was an exquisite evening. KoMet cheerleaders sat matside on pillows, slapping the mat in unison as they recited their cheers. Inside the dark gym, cell phone screens illuminated faces. These fans proved how knowledgeable they are, reacting with roars to the slightest turn of a set of shoulders and eliciting in unison that magical wrestling-specific “ooooooh” at spectacular moves, followed by a wave of applause.

One corner of the mat carried a simple message about the KoMets’ pedigree. In white was the shape of our state carrying this message: “State Champs 2015 2016.” The title from 2017 has not been added, but there is plenty of room to add 2017 and maybe another year or two.

There was blood time. There were fans who questioned the wrestling intellect of the two officials. Every time a period ended and the horn blew, a ring of red lights surrounding the basketball backboards lit up, even though the hoops had been raised and were wildly cockeyed, tilted within a few feet of the ceiling.

After the last winner’s hand was raised, the lights were turned on and life returned to normalcy. Fans lingered to see their sons and grandsons, offering hugs and smiles. Young boys shook hands with World War II veterans. Little kids, some wearing singlets and some relatively new to ambulating on two legs, wrestled with each other on the big-boy mat and giggled.

As everyone departed for the giant piles of snow, the slippery streets and home, there was no doubt where they all hoped the season would once again come to an end: Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul and the state tournament. That’s where the biggest roars are heard.

Kasson-Mantorville 45, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 14
106: Logan Vaughan, KM, def. Michael Majerus, ZM, 11-0
113: Jared Johnson, KM, pinned Beau Jurrens, ZM, :43
120: Robby Horsman, KM, def. Cole Poncelet, ZM 15-3
126: Mike Vath, ZM, def. Matthew Harfmann, KM, 6-3
132: Tanner Paulson, KM, vs. Connor Heitman, ZM, 23-8
138: Bennett Berge, KM, def. Spencer DeFrang, ZM, 4-0
145: Luke Tupper, ZM, def. Jacob Keller, KM, 18-3
152: Sam Nordquist, ZM, def. Niclas VanOort, KM, 8-3
160: Dalton Andrist, KM, def. Hayden Stensland, ZM, 10-5
170: Ethan Shea, KM, def. Hayden Voxland, ZM, 7-1
182: Patrick Kennedy, KM, def. Caden Steffen, ZM, 13-4
195: Jacob Bennett, ZM, def. Jimmy Paulson, KM, 7-4
220: Garsen Shore, KM, pinned Jarrett Haglund, ZM, 1:48
285: Brett Paulson, KM, pinned Luke Dahlen, ZM, 1:59

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:55:06 PM

1 Detroit Lakes 8A 149.883
2 Willmar 6A 146.492
3 Sartell-Saint Stephen 7A 145.508
4 Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 1A 145.025
5 Mahtomedi 4A 144.692
6 Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 5A 144.192
7 Worthington 3A 143.983
8 Perham 8A 143.700
9 Big Lake 7A 142.242
10 Monticello 7A 141.317
11 Melrose Area 6A 140.700
12 North Branch 7A 140.642
13 Jackson County Central 3A 139.825
14 Waconia 2A 139.192
15 Chisago Lakes 7A 138.983
16 Becker 7A 138.842
17 New London-Spicer 6A 137.283
18 Austin 1A 137.250
19 Mankato West 2A 136.608
20 New Ulm Public/NUACS/MVL 2A 136.225
21 Fergus Falls 8A 136.159
22 Alexandria 8A 135.508
23 Breck 5A 135.425
24 Hendricks/RTR 3A 135.283
25 Benson-KMS-Montivideo 6A 134.975

Class 2A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:54:43 PM

1 Stillwater 4AA 147.842
2 Lakeville North 2AA 147.717
3 Owatonna 1AA 146.897
4 St. Cloud Tech 8AA 146.183
5 Lakeville South 2AA 146.100
6 East Ridge 3AA 145.983
7 Cambridge-Isanti 7AA 144.800
8 Anoka 7AA 144.200
9 Maple Grove 5AA 143.917
10 Rosemount 1AA 142.617
11 Apple Valley-Eastview 3AA 142.383
12 Eden Prairie 6AA 142.200
13 Eagan 3AA 141.242
14 Champlin Park 5AA 140.683
15 Prior Lake 2AA 140.433
16 Wayzata 5AA 140.183
17 New Prague 2AA 139.458
18 Farmington 1AA 139.308
19 Rogers 5AA 138.650
20 Roseville Area 4AA 138.325
21 Northfield 1AA 138.308
22 Buffalo 8AA 138.233
23 Bemidji 8AA 138.000
24 Forest Lake 7AA 137.783
25 Saint Francis 7AA 137.742

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:53:49 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods 15-0
2. Springfield 13-1
3. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 15-0
4. Nevis 13-1
5. Mayer Lutheran 12-3
6. Cass Lake-Bena 16-1
7. Cleveland 11-1
8. Hinckley-Finlayson 14-2
9. Southwest MN Christian 13-2
10. Sacred Heart 13-1
11. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 14-1
12. Minneota 12-1
13. Wesrbrook-Walnut-Grove 13-3
14. Hancock 12-1
15. Wrenshall 12-1
16. Parkers Prairie 13-1
17. BOLD 13-4
18. New Ulm Cathedral 13-4
19. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 10-5
20. Ortonville 11-2

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:53:15 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy 13-2
2. Minneapolis North 10-3
3. Caledonia 12-2
4. St. Cloud Cathedral 11-2
5. Perham 16-0
6. Brooklyn Center 9-6
7. Holy Family Catholic 12-3
8. Lake City 13-3
9. St. Charles 14-2
10. Annandale 11-2
11. Esko 10-4
12. Byron 11-4
13. Breckenridge 13-2
14. Melrose 15-1
15. Virginia 12-2
16. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 11-1
17. Jordan 12-4
18. Maple Lake 10-3
19. Eden Valley-Watkins 12-1
20. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 12-3

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:52:21 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 11-2
2. Austin 13-1
3. Columbia Heights 11-0
4. Mankato East 13-2
5. Marshall 13-3
6. Orono 11-5
7. Willmar 15-0
8. Mahtomedi 10-4
9. Northfield 10-4
10. Sauk Rapids-Rice 10-5
11. St. Thomas Academy 7-7
12. Waseca 13-3
13. Fridley 10-2
14. Delano 10-5
15. Bemidji 10-4
16. St. Paul Johnson 11-4
17. St Croix Lutheran 12-1
18. Monticello 13-3
19. Minneapolis Roosevelt 10-6
20. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 8-6

Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:51:50 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Cretin-Derham Hall 12-1
2. Hopkins 16-1
3. Lakeville North 11-2
4. Eden Prairie 13-2
5. Apple Valley 11-4
6. Osseo 12-2
7. Park Center 12-3
8. Edina 12-4
9. Rochester John Marshall 13-2
10. North St. Paul 10-2
11. Tartan 12-2
12. Chaska 10-4
13. Woodbury 9-7
14. East Ridge 11-4
15. Wayzata 10-5
16. Forest Lake 12-4
17. Owatonna 10-4
18. Prior Lake 10-3
19. Maple Grove 10-4
20. St. Michael-Albertville 8-5

Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:51:11 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Lyle-Pacelli 16-1
2. Mountain Iron-Buhl 17-1
3. Hayfield 15-3
4. Goodhue 14-4
5. Menahga 14-0
6. Ada-Borup/Norman County West 13-1
7. Bigfork 15-2
7. Stephen-Argyle 14-1
9. Southwest MN Christian 12-2
10. Minneota 14-3
11. Lac qui Parle Valley 16-3
12. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 13-4
13. Grand Meadow 13-4
14. Red Lake 15-3
15. BOLD 16-3
16. Mayer Lutheran 9-6
17. Pelican Rapids 8-4
18. Wabasso 12-3
19. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 11-3
20. Sleepy Eye 13-4

Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:50:37 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Sauk Centre 16-0
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 14-0
3. Maranatha Christian 10-3
4. Rush City 14-0
5. Minnehaha Academy 9-4
6. Roseau 11-4
7. Stewartville 15-3
8. Holy Family Catholic 12-4
9. Norwood-Young America 15-3
10. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 16-1
11. Eden Valley-Watkins 14-2
12. New London-Spicer 12-5
13. Barnesville 12-2
14. Watertown-Mayer 12-5
15. East Grand Forks 14-4
16. St. Peter 11-6
17. Caledonia 13-4
18. Rochester Lourdes 11-7
19. Zumbrota-Mazeppa 12-5
20. Annandale 10-6

Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:50:10 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Robbinsdale Cooper 13-2
2. Northfield 14-2
3. Mahtomedi 13-1
4. DeLaSalle 8-4
5. Holy Angels 15-3
6. Willmar 15-1
7. Hutchinson 14-5
8. Waseca 16-2
9. Chisago Lakes 10-5
10. Red Wing 11-3
11. Alexandria 11-3
12. Fergus Falls 11-4
13. Hermantown 17-2
14. Grand Rapids 13-6
15. Waconia 12-5
16. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 12-4
17. Marshall 14-4
18. New Ulm 12-5
19. Mankato West 10-6
20. Hibbing 11-6

Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/24/2018 4:49:42 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Eastview 15-0
2. Wayzata 18-0
3. Hopkins 17-2
4. Lakeville North 13-4
5. St. Michael-Albertville 13-3
6. Champlin Park 14-2
7. Centennial 14-3
8. Cretin-Derham Hall 11-3
9. Roseville 13-3
10. Park Center 11-6
11. Maple Grove 14-3
12. Moorhead 11-7
13. Minnetonka 9-7
14. Farmington 11-5
15. Park-Cottage Grove 14-3
16. Edina 11-6
17. Minneapolis South 13-2
18. Apple Valley 9-8
19. Woodbury 9-7
20. Anoka 10-8

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:40:45 PM

The story below is very important, and it has become a hot topic in Minnesota and beyond via social media (including the MSHSL Facebook page, with more 56,000 views as of this posting). Written by Jeremy Millsop of the Brainerd Dispatch, the story details issues with parents that Brainerd boys basketball coach Scott Stanfield -- a former police officer -- cited as the reason he chose to resign at the end of the season.

By Jeremy Millsop
Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Warriors head boys basketball coach Scott Stanfield is a retired police officer, and with one comment may have summarized the feelings of many high school coaches across the state.

"I go from being a cop to this, and it's one stressful job to another and it's time for a break," Stanfield said. "Coaching was worse. Coaching has been way worse.

"If you win, it doesn't matter. If you lose, it doesn't matter. If their kid doesn't get enough playing time—look out."

Stanfield's frustrations are nothing new in the high school sports world. For the man in his seventh season as the Warriors' head coach, and 22nd season coaching in the program, those frustrations reached a climax.

At the end of last week, Brainerd High School activities director Charlie Campbell sent out a letter explaining this would be Stanfield's last year. Stanfield and his entire coaching staff will resign following this season.

The reason—some parents.

According to the letter: "It is hard for any of our coaches, including coach Stanfield, to find joy in this vocation when met with a general dissatisfaction, anger and/or hostility from an increasing number of parents."

Stanfield said it started last year and has spilled over into this season.

"It was after an away game, and over the year it just kind of hit a boiling point, and it was time to re-evaluate what we're doing as a school, maybe as a staff, and maybe as a parental community," Stanfield said. "We're not on the same page as far as what we want our kids to get out of the experience. A lot of times with high school sports, we're running two different roads with the AAU ball and the school ball.

"Unfortunately, one side wants things done one way and the other wants it the correct way, which is about educating our kids for life beyond a sport. That's what we've tried to do."

Stanfield stressed it was just some parents, and the majority of parents he's dealt with have been great.

He said despite his many years in the program, and his immense pride in helping student athletes become better in their sport, the decision wasn't hard.

"The difficult part was with the kids coming back next year," Stanfield said. "The difficult part was telling them that, physically and emotionally, I'm drained. I need to look at things and take care of myself and ... maybe be involved somewhere else."

In his first six seasons, Stanfield accumulated a 99-66 career record, including his second season, which resulted in a 28-2 record and a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.

Brainerd suffered only two losing seasons in Stanfield's tenure, including last year's 11-16 mark.

"On the basketball side, I think we changed the culture player-wise," Stanfield said. "Unfortunately, the parental culture the last couple of years hasn't come with us and that's been very difficult.

"I want to make sure I say that the backing of the majority of the parents is real. They are behind me 100 percent. Over the last week, I've felt that from parents whose kids I coached in the past to this year's parents. The bulk of the parents are very supportive. It's just kind of a group over the last couple of years that have weighed on my mind.

"As far as playing time for a kid, it's a battle and it's unfortunate that in basketball you can't play more kids."

Campbell said he's taking this resignation personally. He likes that his programs haven't seen much coaching turnover, but when something like this occurs it is frustrating and creates a time for self-evaluation.

"The hardest part for me is just the sense of professional failure that in some ways I have failed to create an environment where coaches want to take part in," Campbell said. "I know this is one coach and his staff so I need to be careful, but it's really a personal thing. What could I have done differently? What should I be doing to create an environment that is more conducive to keeping people?

"If this doesn't beg those questions, then I wouldn't be doing well in my position."

Stanfield said he's talked to coaching friends and many feel his frustrations. This is a problem across the country, however, and the answer is elusive.

"I don't know what it will take, but unfortunately, I think it starts at a very young age," Stanfield said. "Parents feel invested once they pay their way through the AAU experience and the travel experience. They have a lot of time and money invested in that. When the kids reach high school, and they become varsity players no matter what grade—you're basically bringing ninth- through 12th-grade players together—all four classes together and when they see their investment in time and money not paying off, I think they get a little upset. They see it as wasted time, when in fact, if they could take a step back and look at school-based athletics and the great things a kid can get out of it."

Campbell is hoping to change the narrative and to better educate players and parents about what high school sports are for.

"Over the course of this school year we have really identified some core values for our department that we want to be the focal point of our programs," Campbell said. "We are going to hone in on these core values and we need to talk about this more often. We need to talk to kids about it with greater frequency. We need to talk to our parent groups with greater frequency. I need to get in front of our school board and talk to them and our administrative teams across the district about these core values and what are teams are doing for kids beyond the sport itself.

"Sports are our platform, but we are an extension of the classroom. I don't think we say that enough. This is part of a growing-up process."

After a 5-1 start, Brainerd is suffering through a five-game losing streak. There are 15 games left on the schedule and Stanfield said he's all in for those 15 games. He believes his players are as well.

"I gave it everything I got," Stanfield said. "This year, we're not done. The kids know that and I know that. We're going to keep fighting, but I haven't felt good for a month because of it.

"It's just not worth it. If this can help bring some attention to the fact that something needs to change, then it's worth it, but the vast majority of parents are very supportive."

Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:14:22 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Lyle-Pacelli 14-1
2. Mountain Iron-Buhl 15-1
3. Hayfield 13-3
4. Goodhue 12-3
5. Ada-Borup/Norman County West 10-1
6. Menahga 12-0
7. Bigfork 13-2
8. Lac qui Parle Valley 15-2
9. Stephen-Argyle 12-1
10. Cromwell-Wright 10-4
11. Southwest MN Christian 10-2
12. Minneota 12-3
13. Red Lake 14-2
14. Sleepy Eye 13-3
15. Badger-Greenbush-Middle River 8-2
16. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 9-2
17. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 11-4
18. Pelican Rapids 6-3
19. Grand Meadow 11-4
20. Mayer Lutheran 8-6

Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:13:56 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Sauk Centre 13-0
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 12-0
3. Maranatha 9-3
4. Rush City 12-0
5. Minnehaha 8-4
6. Holy Family 12-3
7. Roseau 10-4
8. Stewartville 13-3
9. Norwood-Young America 13-3
10. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 13-1
11. Eden Valley-Watkins 12-2
12. Watertown-Mayer 11-4
13. New London-Spicer 10-5
14. Barnesville 9-2
15. East Grand Forks 13-3
16. Rochester Lourdes 11-6
17. Annandale 9-5
18. St. Peter 10-6
19. Thief River Falls 11-6
20. Caledonia 12-4

Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:13:27 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Robbinsdale Cooper 12-2
2. Holy Angels 15-2
3. Northfield 12-2
4. Mahtomedi 12-1
5. DeLaSalle 7-4
6. Willmar 14-0
7. Chisago Lakes 9-4
8. Red Wing 11-2
9. Hutchinson 12-5
10. Waseca 14-2
11. Fergus Falls 11-3
12. Waconia 11-4
13. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 12-3
14. Alexandria 9-3
15. Mankato West 10-5
16. Hermantown 14-2
17. Grand Rapids 11-6
18. New Ulm 12-4
19. Marshall 12-3
20. Hill-Murray 8-6

Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:12:57 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Eastview 14-0
2. Wayzata 17-0
3. Hopkins 15-2
4. Lakeville North 11-4
5. St. Michael-Albertville 11-3
6. Champlin Park 12-2
7. Centennial 12-3
8. Cretin-Derham Hall 9-3
9. Roseville 12-3
10. Minneapolis South 11-1
11. Park Center 9-5
12. Maple Grove 11-3
13. Minnetonka 8-7
14. Farmington 10-4
15. Park-Cottage Grove 12-3
16. Edina 10-5
17. Woodbury 9-5
18. Moorhead 10-6
19. Prior Lake 8-7
20. Apple Valley 8-7

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:12:23 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods 13-0
2. Springfield 11-1
3. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 14-0
4. Nevis 10-1
5. Mayer Lutheran 10-3
6. Cass Lake-Bena 14-1
7. Cleveland 10-1
8. Hinckley-Finlayson 11-2
9. Red Rock Central 11-2
10. Sacred Heart 11-1
11. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 11-1
12. Minneota 12-1
13. Wesrbrook-Walnut-Grove 10-3
14. Southwest MN Christian 10-2
15. Hancock 9-1
16. Wrenshall 11-1
17. Parkers Prairie 12-1
18. BOLD 12-3
19. New Ulm Cathedral 11-4
20. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 9-4

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:11:52 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy 12-2
2. Minneapolis North 7-3
3. St. Charles 13-0
4. Caledonia 11-1
5. St. Cloud Cathedral 10-2
6. Brooklyn Center 9-4
7. Perham 13-0
8. Holy Family Catholic 12-2
9. Annandale 9-2
10. Esko 10-3
11. Byron 9-4
12. Lake City 11-3
13. Breckenridge 11-2
14. Melrose 12-1
15. Virginia 10-1
16. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 11-1
17. Jordan 11-4
18. Maple Lake 8-3
19. Eden Valley-Watkins 10-1
20. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 11-2

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:07:24 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 9-2
2. Austin 12-1
3. Columbia Heights 10-0
4. Mankato East 13-1
5. Marshall 10-3
6. Orono 9-5
7. Willmar 13-0
8. Mahtomedi 9-4
9. Northfield 9-4
10. Sauk Rapids-Rice 9-4
11. St. Thomas Academy 7-6
12. Waseca 12-2
13. Fridley 10-1
14. Delano 9-5
15. Robbinsdale Cooper 5-3
16. Bemidji 8-4
17. St. Paul Johnson 8-4
18. St Croix Lutheran 10-1
19. Monticello 12-2
20. Bemidji 8-4

Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 5:06:48 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Cretin-Derham Hall 11-1
2. Hopkins 15-1
3. Lakeville North 11-2
4. Eden Prairie 12-1
5. Apple Valley 9-4
6. Osseo 10-2
7. Park Center 10-3
8. Edina 10-4
9. Chaska 10-3
10. Rochester John Marshall 12-2
11. North St. Paul 9-2
12. Tartan 11-2
13. Woodbury 9-5
14. East Ridge 9-4
15. Wayzata 9-5
16. Forest Lake 10-3
17. Minnetonka 9-4
18. Prior Lake 9-2
19. Owatonna 8-4
20. Maple Grove 8-3

Class 1A Wrestling Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 2:46:56 PM

Provided by The Guillotine.

1. Zumbrota-Mazeppa (1)
2. Frazee (8)
3. Goodhue (1)
4. West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville (6)
5. Sibley East (4)
6. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove (3)
7. Minneota (3)
8. LPGE-Browerville (5)
9. Ottertail Central (6)
10. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (5)
11. Kenyon-Wanamingo (2)
12. Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena (7)
Lean and Mean
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (5), Westfield (2), Wabasso/Red Rock Central (3), Maple River (2), Badger/Greenbush-Middle River (8), Fosston/Bagley (8), Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (4), Minnewaska Area (5), Blue Earth Area (2), New York Mills (6)

Class 2A Wrestling Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 2:46:28 PM

Provided by The Guillotine.

1. Kasson-Mantorville (1)
2. Simley (1)
3. Scott West (2)
4. Foley (6)
5. Perham (8)
6. Hutchinson (2)
7. Waconia (2)
8. Delano (2)
9. Fairmont/Martin County West (3)
10. Litchfield (6)
11. Totino-Grace (5)
12. Mora (7)
Lean and Mean
Annandale/Maple Lake (6), Grand Rapids (7), Marshall (3), Pierz (8), Princeton (7), South St. Paul (4), Thief River Falls (8), Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran (2)

Class 3A Wrestling Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/17/2018 2:45:58 PM

Provided by The Guillotine.

1. Apple Valley (2)
2. Anoka (7)
3. St. Michael-Albertville (5)
4. Albert Lea Area (1)
5. Willmar (8)
6. Shakopee (2)
7. Forest Lake (7)
8. Prior Lake (2)
9. Owatonna (1)
10. St. Francis (7)
11. Cambridge-Isanti (7)
12. New Prague (2)
Lean and Mean
Maple Grove (5), Mounds View (4), Faribault (1), Hastings (3), St. Cloud Tech (8), Coon Rapids (7), Little Falls (8), Farmington (1)

Looking For A Team And Finding New Friends
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/15/2018 2:35:32 PM

Our high schools are separated by distance, but sometimes the barriers can seem higher and stronger. There are rivalries between schools, certainly, especially schools that are in the same conference and in close proximity. One example: South St. Paul and Henry Sibley.

The schools are less than five miles apart. From South St. Paul, home of the Packers, you drive down Marie Avenue onto 7th Avenue South and then Interstate 494 for a short jaunt to Highway 110, then Delaware Avenue before arriving at Henry Sibley in Mendota Heights, home of the Warriors. The school bears the name of Minnesota’s first governor.

Both schools are in the Metro East Conference and when their teams compete against each other it is a real rivalry. All of this gives Tessa Laska an interesting perspective on schools and barriers and rivalries, as well as friendships.

Tessa is a junior at South St. Paul who competes on the Packers cross-country team in the fall and track and field in the spring. She played basketball for a while but repeated issues with injuries made her think about a different winter sport. Knowing that lots of cross-country runners also compete in Nordic skiing, she began wondering about giving that sport a try.

But there was a giant obstacle: South St. Paul does not offer Nordic skiing. Here’s where Tessa took a big leap over those barriers standing between schools. She knew that Henry Sibley had Nordic skiing, so was it possible to be part of their team? It was a little bit complicated, but the answer was yes.(Pictured, left to right, are Emma Forouhari, Anna Klein, Tessa Laska, Allie Prokosch, Bella Nelson.)

She talked to South St. Paul activities director Chad Sexauer, who signed on. They contacted administrators at Henry Sibley and Warriors Nordic coach Eric Friberg, who recalled this week, “She kind of reached out and said ‘Hey, we’re interested in doing this.’ I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ ”

Tessa is now in her second year as a Nordic skier, training with the Warriors. She paid the standard activity fee at her school, which provided racing uniforms in the school colors of maroon and white. But she trains with the skiers at Henry Sibley, who wear red and gold. She competes as a Packer, but she is grateful to the Warriors for allowing her to train with them and making her part of their team.

“I’m very lucky because it’s nerve-racking coming from a different school,” Tessa said. “They’re just really inviting, really nice people. They helped me grow as a skier, and almost as a person. I look up to how nice they are. I think about if we were to have someone from a different school come to South St. Paul, I would want to treat someone as well as they treated me.”

Friburg, a Henry Sibley alum who teaches biology, said, “A lot of kids overlap from cross-country to skiing, so a lot of them knew who she was already because they competed against her. It was kind of fun to turn that on its head, and now she’s our teammate. The kids really kind of ran with that.”

The Warriors have truly embraced Tessa. At the end of last season, she was named the team’s rookie of the year.

“On the first day of practice we kind of just flocked to Tessa because she was this new person and we were all excited to meet her, and that’s kind of continued,” said junior Allie Prokosch. “She always brings in some cool stories from her own school and her experiences. It kind of brings in a new perspective.”

Junior Laura Skemp said, “I think everybody was like, ‘Oh, this is so weird. It’s a different person from a different school.’ But she’s really part of the team and last year she got Rookie of the Year and everybody else was so surprised but we were all like, ‘Well, obviously, because she was the best person that came in.’ It’s not that odd. She just feels like one of us and it’s really nice.”

Logistically, there have been few problems. The South St. Paul school day ends at 2:30 p.m., while the last bell at Henry Sibley rings at 3:04. That gives Tessa time to make the 10-minute drive to Sibley and greet her friends as they come out to ski on the roomy school grounds.

Last year Tessa came within a few seconds of being named all-conference honorable mention. She has finished among the leaders at some races this winter. She would like to receive all-conference status this season and finish among the top half of the field at the Section 3 championships.

“I think she was a little hesitant to start but now it’s clear she loves these girls and they’re all friends,” Friberg said. “It’s worked out just great. Competitively, she’s a great athlete. It was fun for her, too, I think to struggle at something. That can be hard for a good runner to switch to skiing and not be good right away.”

Tessa said she had no idea what to expect last season, because she was with an unknown group of athletes and she had never been on skis.

“Coach Friberg says in the first year you’re learning how to stay up on skis, the second year you’re getting the feel of how to race, and the third year is when you’re competing well. I was able to learn pretty fast along with a couple of other teammates who were new,” she said.

Tessa competed in some junior varsity meets early last season and did very well. By late in the season she was skiing at the conference and sections meets. She missed the early part of training this winter because of an ankle injury suffered during cross-country. But now she’s at full strength and looking forward to the rest of the winter.

“It’s fun going over to Sibley every day, getting to hang out with that team,” she said. “It’s really been an exciting experience. It’s cool to say I ski for South St. Paul and I made this team. It’s a really fun sport and a cool experience.

“Sibley is great. They’re really nice.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

The Great Debate And The Two-Time State Champion
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/13/2018 8:17:36 PM

A big game was held Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota. It had nothing to do with basketball or hockey and there weren’t thousands of wild-eyed fans going nuts. But it was an important event with competitors giving it everything they had after working hard to reach the highest level of their activity.

This was the state debate tournament, the oldest event on the MSHSL calendar. It all began when the LeSueur High School trio of Michael Doherty, Alice Currer and Henry Currer claimed the first Policy Debate state championship in 1902, and it’s still going strong all these years later.

Policy is the longest-held category, with Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum being added as the years went by. A fourth category was added to speech in Minnesota this year: Congressional Debate.

The state qualifiers kicked things off Friday morning and the championships culminated with final rounds and awards ceremonies Saturday evening. By the time all the results had been tallied and the awards distributed, a senior from Apple Valley named Kenan Anderson was standing tall.

Kenan (pictured) won his second consecutive state title in Lincoln-Douglas, becoming the third person to do that in the last six years. Andrew Urevig of Armstrong won back-to-back crowns in 2013 and 2014, and Edina’s Arvind Veluvali did the same in 2015 and 2016.

With seven judges scoring the final Lincoln-Douglas round in General Purpose Classroom 10 inside Blegen Hall, Kenan won the state title with a 6-1 result. He argued the negative side of this question: “Resolved: Plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system.” Arguing on the affirmative side was Maggie Wuollet of Armstrong.

The other state champions were …

Public Forum: David Ma and Richard Zhu, Edina.

Congressional: Nautica Flowers, Eagan.

Policy: Alex Dresdner and Grace Klage, Minneapolis Washburn.

Maggie and Kenen were sitting at tables in front of the lecture room, with seven rows of seats occupied by judges and spectators. Kenan and Maggie had laptops, note cards, sheets of paper, water bottles and small electronic timers on their tables. Between the two tables was a podium that bore the University of Minnesota’s block M logo.

The round began at 4:22 p.m. with Maggie starting her timer and her argument. She talked fast to pack as much information in as possible before the timer beeped. This was the formula: talk fast, use your notes and knowledge, convince the judges. Back and forth it went: affirmative construction followed by cross-examination; negative construction followed by cross; rebuttals from both sides; and prep time built in for the students to look at their research.

Debate is much like sports: strong preparation leads to strong performance.

Kenan said he might do research for 10 to 20 hours per week, especially early in the season.

“And then you also have to include that you’re just at tournaments for so long, and travel and whatnot,” he said. “It definitely adds up.”

At 5:06 p.m., the final round of Lincoln-Douglas ended with Maggie’s closing argument to the judges: “You have a chance to do something today. You have a chance to abolish plea bargains.”

As she finished, everyone stood and applauded. It was a wonderful scene.

In last year's final round Kenan argued the negative on this Lincoln-Douglas topic: “Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.”

It all began when he was sitting in a ninth-grade English class. Older students on the speech and debate teams pitched the activities to the younger kids.

Kenan said, “I was planning on joining speech and wasn’t interested in debate, and the debate captain said, ‘You should just try it for one year.’ And I did. I was absolutely hooked.

“I think debate has taught me a lot of things. First of all, research. I have learned how to research different topics. Some people say debate is bad because you have to debate both sides of a topic and so it weakens your moral views. But I think actually what helps more is empathy. So I find myself, even in reading political articles or positions that I used to not agree with, being more understanding of why someone may hold the views they do and looking at them from both sides.”

He’s in the process of selecting a college, where he plans to study economics. The University of Minnesota – through which he already takes PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) classes – is in the mix. His dream school is Princeton.

He has another dream, one that involves high school debate. Actually, he referred to it as a “mini-dream that someday, someone in a debate will read a card that I wrote. I think that would be cool.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 4A Boys Basketball Is Anybody’s Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:29:46 PM

Can you name the team to beat in Class 4A boys basketball? That’s not an easy question, simply because there are so many teams that could make a run at the state championship this year.

In the words of Apple Valley coach Zach Goring, whose teams won state titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017, “It’s as wide open as I’ve ever seen it.”

Apple Valley lost a conference home game for the first time in nearly six years Tuesday night, falling to Lakeville North 73-67 in the South Suburban Conference. It was a prime matchup, with North holding the No. 3 spot in the Minnesota Basketball News rankings and the Eagles at No. 5.

The top spot in the weekly rankings has provided a strong barometer of the uncertainty of 4A, with four teams being No. 1 in the first four polls. In the late-November preseason rankings, Apple Valley was No. 1 before losing to Minnehaha Academy (No. 1 in 2A all season) and Edina. That win by Edina helped the Hornets grab the No. 1 position for a week, and then it was Eden Prairie’s turn in the top spot for the next seven days.

On Dec. 20, Cretin-Derham Hall became No. 1 and the Raiders have held that position.

“In my opinion Cretin’s the best, I would say, that we’ve played,” said Goring (the Raiders beat Apple Valley 80-69 on Dec. 30). “When they get everyone going full bore they’re really good.”

Cretin-Derham Hall is 10-1 after beating Forest Lake 84-48 on Tuesday; the Raiders’ loss was to Edina. Hopkins is No. 2 in the rankings with a 13-1 record; the Royals lost to Cretin-Derham Hall in their season opener. Lakeville North, Eden Prairie and Apple Valley round out this week’s top five ranked teams.

No one questions the parity at the top of 4A, including Lakeville North’s John Oxton, a Hall of Fame coach whose teams have won more than 500 games and the 2014 state championship.

“Absolutely, absolutely. There are really a lot of good teams,” he said. “I think we’ve proved that we’re one of them. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played and it’ll be good basketball, and competitive.”

North’s win at Apple Valley ended an 11-game, five-year losing streak to the Eagles and also halted the Eagles’ six-year home winning streak in league play. Apple Valley has won five consecutive South Suburban championships, going 91-1 in conference games.

The Eagles held a 13-point lead with nine and half minutes to play before North outscored them 34-15 the rest of the way. The Panthers were led by 6-foot-7 Tyler Wahl with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while the 6-6 Tyler Lewko scored 17. For Apple Valley, Duke-bound Tre Jones had 22 points, Ely Hendrickson came off the bench to hit seven of 10 three-point shots for 21 points, and Zach Korba scored 12.

“When we got down, they did a great job of persevering and sticking with it,” Oxton said. “We had so many kids step up and make big plays, so that was pretty cool.”

Apple Valley had some matchup problems with North’s size. The Eagles have played the entire season without 6-4 senior Luke Martens, who is expected to return soon from an injury.

“Like I told our kids, I didn’t have a problem with our effort or our energy tonight,” Goring said. “(North) just got really hot late. And without Martens we really struggle without a matchup with Wahl. If we have Luke, he can guard Tyler and we’re in better shape there.”

Jones was fouled and fell hard with 7:40 left in the first half. Bleeding from his mouth and complaining of a headache, he left the gym with an athletic trainer and missed the rest of the half. He played the entire second half.

Apple Valley will have a different look next season without Jones or his older brother Tyus, who also played at Duke and is now with the Timberwolves.

“It’ll be super different and I have to admit it’s not going to break my heart,” Oxton said of the end of the Jones era at Apple Valley. “But it’s been an honor to play against them. And obviously there’s still lots of basketball left to be played, for sure.”

That is for sure.

“I think a lot of teams have really stepped up, we’ve got a lot of quality coaches and a lot of quality players,” Goring said. “Everyone’s knocking everyone off.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:17:49 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Lyle-Pacelli (12-1)
2. Goodhue (11-2)
3. Mountain Iron-Buhl (13-1)
4. Bigfork (11-1)
5. Hayfield (11-2)
6. Ada-Borup-Norman County West (9-0)
7. Lac qui Parle Valley (14-1)
8. Stephen-Argyle (12-1)
9. Menahga (10-0)
10. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross

Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:17:28 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Sauk Centre (11-0)
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (10-0)
3. Maranatha Christian (7-3)
4. Rush City (11-0)
5. Minnehaha Academy (6-4)
6. Holy Family Catholic (11-2)
7. Watertown-Mayer (10-3)
8. Norwood-Young America (11-2)
9. Stewartville (12-2)
10.Roseau (8-4)

Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:17:04 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Robbinsdale Cooper (10-2)
2. Holy Angels (12-2)
3. Northfield (11-2)
4. Red Wing (10-1)
5. Mahtomedi (11-1)
6. DeLaSalle (5-4)
7. Willmar (11-0)
8. Waseca (13-1)
9. Waconia (10-3)
10.Chisago Lakes (8-4)

Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:16:41 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Eastview (12-0)
2. Wayzata (15-0)
3. Hopkins (14-1)
4. Lakeville North (10-3)
5. St. Michael-Albertville (10-2)
6. Champlin Park (10-2)
7. Centennial (10-3)
8. Cretin-Derham Hall (9-3)
9. Roseville (10-3)
10.Minneapolis South (10-1)

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:16:07 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods (10-0)
2. Springfield (10-0)
3. Nevis (9-0)
4. Cass Lake-Bena (13-0)
5. Cleveland (7-1)
6. Mayer Lutheran (7-3)
7. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (11-0)
8. Hinckley-Finlayson (9-1)
9. Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal (11-0)
10.Red Rock Central (8-2)

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:15:44 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy (10-2)
2. Minneapolis North (5-2)
3. St. Charles (11-0)
4. Caledonia (9-1)
5. St. Cloud Cathedral (8-2)
6. Brooklyn Center (8-3)
7. Perham (12-0)
8. Holy Family Catholic (10-2)
9. Annandale (7-2)
10.Byron (7-3)

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:15:21 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle (7-2)
2. Austin (11-0)
3. Columbia Heights (9-0)
4. Marshall (9-2)
5. Mankato East (10-1)
6. Orono (6-5)
7. Mahtomedi (8-3)
8. Willmar (12-0)
9. Delano (8-3)
10.Northfield (9-2)

Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 3:14:57 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Cretin-Derham Hall (10-1)
2. Hopkins (13-1)
3. Lakeville North (9-2)
4. Eden Prairie (10-1)
5. Apple Valley (7-4)
6. Osseo (7-2)
7. Park Center (5-4)
8. Edina (8-2)
9. Chaska (9-0)
10.Rochester John Marshall (10-1)

Class 1A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:33:31 PM

From the Minnesota Gymnastics Coaches Association.

1 Detroit Lakes 8A 147.358
2 Willmar 6A 146.133
3 Mahtomedi 4A 144.000
4 Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 1A 143.483
5 Sartell-Saint Stephen 7A 143.275
6 Worthington 3A 143.133
7 Perham 8A 141.992
8 Watertown-Mayer/Mound-Westonka 5A 141.758
9 Monticello 7A 141.233
10 Big Lake 7A 141.067
11 Melrose Area 6A 139.000
12 North Branch 7A 138.933
13 Jackson County Central 3A 137.958
14 Becker 7A 137.942
15 Waconia 2A 137.100
16 New London-Spicer 6A 136.350
17 Austin 1A 136.200
18 Mankato West 2A 135.200
19 Chisago Lakes 7A 134.850
20 Hendricks/RTR 3A 134.817
21 New Ulm Public/NUACS/MVL 2A 133.542
22 Alexandria 8A 133.300
23 Byron 1A 132.633
24 Benson-KMS-Montivideo 6A 132.533
25 Fergus Falls 8A 132.458

Class 2A Gymnastics Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:33:01 PM

From the Minnesota Gymnastics Coaches Association.

1 Stillwater 4AA 146.142
2 Lakeville North 2AA 146.125
3 Lakeville South 2AA 146.100
4 Owatonna 1AA 145.672
5 St. Cloud Tech 8AA 145.433
6 Cambridge-Isanti 7AA 144.800
7 East Ridge 3AA 144.492
8 Anoka 7AA 143.992
9 Maple Grove 5AA 143.442
10 Rosemount 1AA 141.150
11 Eden Prairie 6AA 140.967
12 Champlin Park 5AA 140.683
13 Wayzata 5AA 139.958
14 Eagan 3AA 139.650
15 New Prague 2AA 139.133
16 Forest Lake 7AA 138.733
17 Northfield 1AA 138.308
18 Rogers 5AA 138.225
19 Apple Valley-Eastview 3AA 138.187
20 Farmington 1AA 138.142
21 Prior Lake 2AA 138.100
22 Roseville Area 4AA 137.167
23 Brainerd 8AA 136.925
24 Buffalo 8AA 136.475
25 Minnetonka 6AA 135.633

Class 1A Girls Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:32:01 PM

From Let's Play Hockey.

1. Thief River Falls 12-1-2 2
2. Warroad 12-2-2 1
3. Breck 7-8-1 3
4. Alexandria 11-6-0 4
5. Red Wing 12-4-0 5
6. South St. Paul 13-3-1 7
7. East Grand Forks 10-4-1 6
8. St. Paul United 10-6-0 8
9. Duluth Marshall 12-5-0 9
10. Proctor/Hermantown 9-9-0 10
11. New Ulm 14-3-0 11
12. Delano/Rockford 10-7-0 12
13. Rochester Lourdes 10-8-0 14
14. Hibbing/Chisholm 6-9-2 13
15. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 6-7-1 15
16. Hutchinson 8-7-1 16
17. Orono 6-11-0 17
18. Totino-Grace 6-10-1 18
19. Fergus Falls 10-9-0 19
20. Mahtomedi 9-7-1 20

Class 2A Girls Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:31:26 PM

From Let's Play Hockey.

Class 2A
1. Blake 16-0-1 1
2. Edina 12-1-1 3
3. Hill-Murray 14-3-1 4
4. Centennial 14-2-1 2
5. Forest Lake 12-2-2 6
6. Blaine 11-3-1 7
7. Maple Grove 11-4-2 9
8. Minnetonka 10-4-3 8
9. Andover 10-5-0 5
10. Brainerd/Little Falls 14-3-0 10
11. Eden Prairie 12-6-1 11
12. Eagan 13-4-1 12
13. Wayzata 9-6-1 15
14. Lakeville South 10-6-0 19
15. Roseau 12-4-0 16
16. Farmington 12-4-0 18
17. White Bear Lake 12-5-2 14
18. Elk River 6-8-2 13
19. Grand Rapids/Greenway 10-5-2 17
20. Cretin-Derham Hall 8-6-1 20

Class 1A Boys Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:30:39 PM

From Let's Play Hockey.

1. Hermantown 6-3-2 1
2. Mahtomedi 9-2-1 2
3. Greenway 10-4-0 3
4. East Grand Forks 7-5-1 4
5. Orono 7-4-1 5
6. Mound Westonka 11-2-1 7
7. St. Cloud Cathedral 10-4-0 6
8. Sartell-St. Stephen 9-4-0 9
9. Delano 6-6-0 10
10. Virginia/Mountain Iron-Bruhl 10-5-0 11
11. Minneapolis 9-6-0 14
12. Breck 3-8-0 8
13. Alexandria 5-7-1 12
14. Monticello 10-2-1 13
15. Northfield 8-4-0 15
16. Simley 10-3-1 17
17. Crookston 7-6-0 16
18. Luverne 9-4-0 18
19. South St. Paul 7-4-0 19
20. Providence Academy 8-5-2

Class 2A Boys Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/10/2018 2:30:10 PM

From Let's Play Hockey.

Class 2A
1. Duluth East 9-0-3 4
2. Minnetonka 11-1-2 1
3. St. Thomas Academy 9-1-1 2
4. Edina 13-1-0 3
5. Holy Family 12-2-1 6
6. Cretin-Derham Hall 10-2-1 8
7. White Bear Lake 8-2-2 5
8. Duluth Marshall 10-3-1 11
9. Centennial 8-3-2 7
10. Moorhead 10-5-0 9
11. Elk River 10-4-0 12
12. Wayzata 6-6-1 15
13. Andover 10-3-0
14. Eden Prairie 5-6-1 10
15. Brainerd 8-4-0 14
16. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 9-5-1 13
17. Eastview 10-3-0 18
18. Hill-Murray 5-4-4 19
19. St. Michael-Albertville 7-4-0 17
20. Maple Grove 4-5-3 16

Two Broken Arms, One Inspirational Athlete
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/8/2018 1:25:09 PM

Saturday was big for the Detroit Lakes High School gymnastics team. The Lakers are the three-time defending Class 1A state champions, and Saturday they proved to be the top team in the state regardless of school size by winning the Minnesota Girls Gymnastics Officials Association Classic.

In the meet at Park Center, Detroit Lakes finished ahead of the top two teams in Class 2A, Lakeville North and Lakeville South. The all-around champion was Detroit Lakes sophomore Jackson Hegg.

Most people may not have noticed one member of the Lakers team who didn’t really stand out unless you looked closely. Kennedy Hegg, Jackson’s twin sister, did not compete Saturday because she had been fighting an illness, but she was in uniform as she stood with her teammates and cheered.

Her right arm was different, however. Kennedy wore a large apparatus that extended from her wrist to her upper arm. It affected her mobility somewhat, but nothing can limit her desire to be with her teammates and compete … not even two broken arms.

The story began when Kennedy was a seventh-grader in her first year on the Lakers team. She had won the all-around title at the first two meets of the season, and was warming up on the uneven bars during the third competition when she fell. She extended her hands to protect her head, and bones snapped in both arms.

Immediately, it was clear that her right elbow was out of whack. But her left arm was also hurting.

She said to the people who had rushed to her aid, “ ‘Would you hold my arm?’ And they were like, ‘We ARE holding your arm.’ I said, ‘No, my other one.’ And as soon as they grabbed it, they knew it was broken, too.”

She had a severe fracture to the right forearm and both bones were broken in her left forearm. The worst spot was the right elbow; it was fractured, ligaments were ripped. It was bad.

“She was a mess there for a while,” said her mother, Monessa Hegg.

Four surgeries followed, along with nearly three years away from gymnastics. Kennedy’s left arm is back to normal but the right arm remains a work in progress. The bones in her right arm had to be re-broken and reset after the initial cast was removed, pins and other assorted hardware were inserted, and a section of the radius bone was removed from the elbow to allow more movement and less pain.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Lakers coach Steve Zamzo.

Kennedy is unable to put much weight on her right arm. That means no bars, no vault, no floor exercise. She’s back to competing on the beam this year and has hopes of someday doing floor exercise. Her beam routine includes one-armed cartwheels, which she hopes to upgrade to a more difficult cartwheel back tuck.

“I’m planning on working harder to do a better series,” she said.

“I can’t do anything with two arms, really. I can do my hair and stuff like that. I can still do beam and I’m so blessed that I can still do beam.”

And then she added with a smile, “It could always be worse. My left arm is perfectly fine.”

Kennedy (and her sister) also competes in diving as well as track. Kennedy is basically a one-armed diver, tucking her right arm in as she comes off the board and into the water. She has been a competitive gymnast since second grade, and being back with the team this year has been an important step.

“My teammates are my best friends,” she said. “They’re all there for you whenever you need them. They’re an amazing team.”

Doctors said the damage to her right arm is permanent, and Kennedy cannot lift anything heaver than 40 pounds or she risks more fractures.

“It’s scary, and it’s hard to keep her out of the gym,” Monessa said. “The doctor said, ‘If it’s this important to you, you can go on the beam.’ She wanted permission to do floor as well, but the doctor said with the impact of flipping it would be hard to withstand the blow.”

Zamzo called Kennedy “a very talented athlete, and the sky was the limit for her. She understands her limitations. She knows she isn’t able to do things with her arms. That just pushes her. If she sticks the routine, it’s phenomenal.”

Kennedy indeed stuck the routine in her first competition this season after all that time away from the sport, scoring a 9.4 on the beam at the Jackie Mann Invitational in Perham.

“That was really huge for the team, it really brought them together,” Monessa said of Kennedy’s return to competition.

“There were lots of hospital stays and recovery time. I can’t say enough good things about Gillette Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, and her doctors and nurses.”

Kennedy knows she is providing inspiration to others who face setbacks.

“People say that they’re so happy that I’m doing this, that I’m so inspirational. For anyone who gets hurt, it’s motivation to come back. You can still do it, even after what happened.

“I had no doubts. I wanted it, I just wanted to do it. I saw my teammates all succeeding through state and stuff and I wanted that, too. That just pushed me more.”

And if Kennedy should finish this season by competing at state? The answer is easy.

“I’d be so happy.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Hockey History Is Made In Downtown St. Paul
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/5/2018 11:52:09 AM

The Minnesota Wild played host to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday evening in downtown St. Paul, but that was not the only hockey game in town.

A few blocks away, several members of the St. Paul Johnson ROTC unit were in an elevator, attempting to reach the top floor of what used to be a department store. They were there for a hockey game, as odd as that may sound.

Where a Dayton’s store once stood (followed by Macy’s when the outfit changed hands and names), the Wild have constructed a new practice rink on the fifth floor of the old store. It’s a showplace that was christened on the high school level when the St. Paul Johnson Governors boys team met the North St. Paul Polars in the first MSHSL game on the site.

TRIA Orthopaedic Center bought the naming rights and the place is called TRIA Rink. There is a large Wild logo at center ice, scoreboard on one end and large windows on the other, with a view of the streets below. There is a good amount of seating, bright lights and modern amenities … albeit with a layer of dust here and there as finishing touches on the facility are completed.

The ROTC kids made it safely to the arena and did their job very well during a pregame ceremony. It was Military Appreciation Night, and players from both teams had the names of military branches on the backs of their jerseys. That means there were plays that went like this: Army passes to Navy, who flips the puck to Air Force as Coast Guard and Marines move in on defense.

The jerseys will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the United Heroes League (formerly Defending the Blue Line), which helps cover the cost of sports participation for families of active-duty military.

In another neat touch, both teams had the logo of the St. Paul Fire Department stitched onto the shoulder of their uniforms.

As the ROTC students stood on a red carpet before game time, holding flags and sabers, Larry Walker -- Vietnam veteran and grandfather of Johnson senior A.J. Austin -- dropped a ceremonial puck. There is no flag hanging on the walls of the new rink, but that’s probably one of the as-yet uncompleted tasks.

Austin made playing in the arena part of a class project, working in tandem with North’s Kearby Larson. Many players from the two teams grew up playing youth hockey together, making them familiar opponents on the high school level.

For the historical record, North St. Paul’s Jake Edmunds scored the first high school goal at TRIA Rink, knocking one in at 5:15 of the first period. He added another chapter to the record book a couple minutes later when he scored again. That sparked the Polars to a 6-2 victory. Larson and Nathan Conroy also scored twice for the Polars. Caleb Cunningham and Alex Campbell scored for the Governors.

The atmosphere was festive and after the final horn the players went through the traditional handshake line, after which many of them remained on the ice to chat with their buddies from the other team.

It was a grand way to end a night of history.

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

900 And Counting For New London-Spicer’s Dreier
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:15:10 PM

NEW LONDON – John Vraa, the activities director at New London-Spicer High School, has grown accustomed to presenting girls basketball coach Mike Dreier with commemorative plaques. Dreier, who has won more games than any girls basketball coach in Minnesota history, has been on the receiving end of handoffs from Vraa marking his 700th, 800th and 900th victories.

No. 900 came Tuesday night when the Wildcats defeated Montevideo 65-41. In a brief postgame ceremony, Vraa handed Dreier a small plaque as a memento and joked that after doing so for three big milestones, he looked forward to doing so again when Dreier gets to 1,000 victories.

Vraa also likes to joke about part of Dreier’s coaching career that receives no recognition. When Dreier came to New London-Spicer in the fall of 1978, he coached the seventh-grade football team on which Vraa was a player.

“I give him grief about how he should be known for the seventh-grade football team he coached,” Vraa said with a laugh.

Details of Dreier’s football coaching career may be lost to the ages, but there is no question about what his basketball teams have accomplished during his 40-year career. He has been the state leader in girls basketball coaching victories since 1994, has taken 17 teams to state tournaments and won state championships in 1997 and 2002.

His only losing season was his first, when the team went 3-15 (followed by two 10-10 seasons). His teams won at least 20 games in 30 of the past 33 seasons, including 21 in a row at one point; the other three years they won 19, 19 and 18 games. Tuesday’s win gave him a career record of 900-169 and a winning percentage of .842.

Dreier’s 900 victories not only make him No. 1 among girls basketball coaches, he ranks third among all girls and boys coaches (and No. 1 among active coaches). Chisholm boys coach Bob McDonald retired in 2014 with 1,012 victories and Rocori boys coach Bob Brink retired in 2012 with 936 wins. Third on the boys list is current Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. with 828 victories.

On the girls coaching list, five retired coaches follow Dreier: Myron Glass, Rochester Lourdes, 719; Ron Gunderson, New Prague, 684; Randy Myhre, Barnum, 626; Dick Simpson, Barrett, Brandon, Brandon/Evansville, 605; and Brad Atchison, Clara City, Midwest Minnesota, MACCRAY, Willmar, 589.

Gary Lembcke of Norwood Young America ranks second among active girls coaches with 589 wins, followed by Bill Gottenborg of Hawley at 562.

If you’re thinking that Dreier might be considering retirement, forget it.

“I really haven’t thought about it,” he said. “I love coaching. We’ve had pretty good success the last few years and we’ve gotten kind of rejuvenated. The ninth-graders are really into it. Why wouldn’t you want to keep doing it?”

No kidding. Co-captains Shea Oman and Courtney Caskey are the only seniors on the current varsity roster, which includes four sophomores and six ninth-graders. The Wildcats have gone to state in Class 2A the last two years; in 2016 they lost to Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the title game and last season they fell to eventual champion Roseau in the state semifinals.

After graduating from Burnsville High School in 1969, Dreier embarked on a circuitous college path. He started at Winona State, transferred to Bemidji State, then the University of Minnesota and finally Hamline for the last two years of his undergraduate education in physical education and health.

“I was on the seven-year plan and got through in six and two-thirds years,” he joked.

He worked as a substitute teacher for a year before returning to college to become certified to teach social studies. He was 26 years old when he was hired at New London-Spicer. He was an assistant girls basketball coach but was thrust into the head job when the coach took a leave of absence a week before the season started.

He and his wife Vonnie were married in 1984 and they have three sons. Vonnie has been the team’s official scorekeeper for years, and Tuesday night their son Tim (visiting from his home in Las Vegas) ran the clock. Their son Matt is the head girls basketball coach at Annandale; his team and his father’s team are both in the Wright County Conference. Youngest son Joey is a senior at Wisconsin-Eau Claire who is student teaching and working as an assistant coach to his dad this season.

“She’s just been wonderful in many ways,” Mike said of Vonnie. “She was a super mom for our three boys. She never missed anything that they did, and that made it easier if I had to miss something.”

Tuesday’s victory, which gave the team a record of 8-3, was watched by many of Dreier’s former players. They were invited to take the court at halftime for a shooting contest and they posed with their coach for a group photo after the game. After all the cameras had been clicked, the players gathered around Dreier, raised their hands in the middle of the huddle – just as in their playing days from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond -- and shouted, “Together!”

“That was exciting,” Dreier said. “It’s been a great trip, it’s been so much fun.”

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:12:15 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Lyle-Pacelli 10-1
2. Goodhue 10-1
3. Mountain Iron-Buhl 11-1
4. Bigfork 9-1
5. Hayfield 8-2
6. Ada-Borup/Norman County West 7-0
7. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 6-0
8. Lac qui Parle Valley 11-1
9. Stephen-Argyle 9-1
10. Menahga 8-0
11. Cromwell-Wright 7-4
12. Southwest MN Christian 6-2
13. Minneota 7-3
14. Mayer Lutheran 5-4
15. Grand Meadow 8-2
16. Red Lake 9-1
17. Sleepy Eye 8-3
18. Badger-Greenbush-Middle River 6-1
19. Sacred Heart 8-4
20. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 10-1

Class 2A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:11:55 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Sauk Centre 10-0
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 7-0
3. Maranatha Christian 5-2
4. Rush City 8-0
5. Minnehaha Academy 6-4
6. Holy Family Catholic 10-2
7. Watertown-Mayer 8-2
8. New London-Spicer 8-3
9. Barnesville 8-1
10. Eden Valley-Watkins 8-1
11. Norwood-Young America 9-2
12. Stewartville 10-2
13. Roseau 6-4
14. Pine City 9-1
15. Rochester Lourdes 7-5
16. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 9-1
17. East Grand Forks 10-1
18. St. Cloud Cathedral 9-1
19. St. Peter 6-5
20. Winona Cotter 9-4

Class 3A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:11:25 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Robbinsdale Cooper 8-2
2. Holy Angels 10-2
3. Northfield 9-2
4. Red Wing 8-1
5. Grand Rapids 9-3
6. Mahtomedi 9-1
7. DeLaSalle 4-4
8. Willmar 9-0
9. Fergus Falls 8-2
10. Waseca 11-1
11. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 8-2
12. Waconia 9-3
13. Hill-Murray 5-4
14. Hibbing 8-2
15. Hutchinson 7-5
16. Chisago Lakes 5-4
17. Alexandria 6-3
18. Mankato West 7-4
19. Hermantown 10-2
20. Simley 5-4

Class 4A Girls Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:10:58 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Eastview 10-0
2. Wayzata 12-0
3. Hopkins 12-1
4. Lakeville North 8-3
5. St. Michael-Albertville 8-2
6. Champlin Park 7-2
7. Cretin-Derham Hall 8-2
8. Roseville 8-2
9. Centennial 7-3
10. Moorhead 8-4
11. Minnetonka 6-5
12. Park-Cottage Grove 10-1
13. Minneapolis South 10-1
14. Park Center 5-4
15. Maple Grove 8-3
16. Farmington 8-2
17. White Bear Lake 7-4
18. Edina 8-5
19. Anoka 7-4
20. St. Francis 6-3

Class 1A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:10:30 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. North Woods 9-0
2. Springfield 8-0
3. Nevis 6-0
4. Cass Lake-Bena 11-0
5. Cleveland 4-1
6. Mayer Lutheran 6-2
7. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 8-0
8. Hinckley-Finlayson 7-1
9. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 5-2
10. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 7-0
11. Mountain Lake 6-3
11. Red Rock Central 6-2
13. Spring Grove 5-2
14. Sacred Heart 8-1
15. Minnesota Valley Lutheran 6-3
16. Ada-Borup 6-1
17. Southwest MN Christian 7-1
18. Minneota 9-0
19. Wrenshall 7-1
20. Hancock 5-0

Class 2A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:10:05 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Minnehaha Academy 8-2
2. Minneapolis North 3-1
3. Caledonia 8-0
4. St. Cloud Cathedral 7-2
5. Brooklyn Center 7-2
6. Perham 9-0
7. Lake City 8-2
8. Holy Family Catholic 8-2
9. Annandale 5-2
10. Esko 8-1
11. Pequot Lakes 7-1
12. Jordan 7-2
13. St. Charles 10-0
14. Eden Valley-Watkins 7-0
15. Breckenridge 7-2
16. Melrose 8-1
17. Rochester Lourdes 6-3
18. Proctor 7-1
19. Virginia 8-1
20. Byron 5-3

Class 3A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:09:31 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. DeLaSalle 6-2
2. Austin 9-0
3. St. Thomas Academy 4-5
4. Columbia Heights 6-0
5. Marshall 8-2
6. Orono 6-3
7. Mankato East 8-0
8. Willmar 10-0
9. Delano 7-2
10. Mahtomedi 7-2
11. Northfield 8-1
12. Waseca 9-2
13. Fridley 6-1
14. Robbinsdale Cooper 3-3
15. St. Paul Johnson 6-2
16. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 4-4
17. Sauk Rapids-Rice 5-3
18. St Croix Lutheran 7-1
19. Bemidji 5-3
20. Waconia 6-3

Class 4A Boys Basketball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 2:09:04 PM

From Minnesota Basketball News.

1. Cretin-Derham Hall 8-1
2. Hopkins 10-1
3. Lakeville North 7-2
4. Eden Prairie 7-1
5. Apple Valley 6-3
6. Park Center 6-2
7. Edina 5-4
8. Chaska 8-2
9. Rochester John Marshall 9-0
10. Wayzata 6-3
11. North St. Paul 6-2
12. Woodbury 5-4
13. East Ridge 5-3
14. Chanhassen 4-4
15. Osseo 4-2
16. Forest Lake 7-2
17. Tartan 8-0
18. Cambridge-Isanti 7-2
19. Farmington 7-2
20. Minnetonka 7-2

Class 1A Girls Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 11:25:46 AM

1. Warroad 10-2-2 1
2. Thief River Falls 11-1-2 2
3. Breck 6-7-1 5
4. Alexandria 9-6-0 4
5. Red Wing 12-4-0 3
6. East Grand Forks 9-3-1 6
7. South St. Paul 12-3-1 7
8. St. Paul United 9-6-0 8
9. Duluth Marshall 9-5-0 9
10. Proctor/Hermantown 9-8-0 10
11. New Ulm 12-3-0 12
12. Delano/Rockford 9-7-0 11
13. Hibbing/Chisholm 7-10-2 13
14. Rochester Lourdes 10-8-0 16
15. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 5-7-1 17
16. Hutchinson 7-6-1 19
17. Orono 6-10-0 15
18. Totino-Grace 6-8-1 14
19. Fergus Falls 10-8-0 18
20. Mahtomedi 9-6-1 20

Class 2A Girls Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 11:25:25 AM

1. Blake 15-0-1 1
2. Centennial 13-1-1 2
3. Edina 11-1-1 3
4. Hill-Murray 12-3-0 4
5. Andover 10-5-0 6
6. Forest Lake 10-2-2 8
7. Blaine 10-3-1 5
8. Minnetonka 9-3-3 7
9. Maple Grove 10-4-2 9
10. Brainerd/Little Falls 13-3-0 10
11. Eden Prairie 10-6-1 12
12. Eagan 13-2-1 14
13. Elk River 6-6-2 13
14. White Bear Lake 12-4-1 11
15. Wayzata 8-5-1 15
16. Roseau 10-4-0 17
17. Grand Rapids/Greenway 11-5-0 18
18. Farmington 11-3-0 20
19. Lakeville South 9-6-0 19
20. Cretin-Derham Hall 9-6-0 16

Class 1A Boys Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 11:24:59 AM

1. Hermantown 5-3-2 2
2. Mahtomedi 7-1-1 1
3. Greenway 9-3-0 3
4. East Grand Forks 6-4-1 4
5. Orono 6-3-1 5
6. St. Cloud Cathedral 10-2-0 6
7. Mound Westonka 8-2-1 9
8. Breck 3-6-0 7
9. Sartell-St. Stephen 8-3-0 8
10. Delano 6-5-0 10
11. Virginia/Mountain Iron-Bruhl 9-4-0 12
12. Alexandria 5-6-1 11
13. Monticello 9-1-1 13
14. Minneapolis 8-6-0 14
15. Northfield 8-3-0 15
16. Crookston 6-4-0 16
17. Simley 9-1-1
18. Luverne 8-3-0 17
19. South St. Paul 7-4-0
20. North Branch 8-3-0

Class 2A Boys Hockey Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 1/3/2018 11:24:36 AM

1. Minnetonka 10-0-2 2
2. St. Thomas Academy 8-1-1 3
3. Edina 10-1-0 1
4. Duluth East 5-0-4 4
5. White Bear Lake 8-0-2 6
6. Holy Family 10-2-1 7
7. Centennial 6-2-2 5
8. Cretin-Derham Hall 8-2-1 9
9. Moorhead 9-4-0 8
10. Eden Prairie 5-4-1 11
11. Duluth Marshall 8-3-1 12
12. Elk River 8-4-0 15
13. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 9-4-1 13
14. Brainerd 7-3-0
15. Wayzata 5-5-1 10
16. Maple Grove 3-3-3 16
17. St. Michael-Albertville 7-3-0 17
18. Eastview 6-3-1 18
19. Hill-Murray 4-4-4
20. Stillwater 6-2-0 14

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