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Analisa Huschle: Dancer, Singer, Track Champion
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/30/2010 10:39:34 AM

As you enter Bagley High School, one of the first things you see is a large banner that reads, “State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” The banner, courtesy of Gatorade, designates Analisa Huschle as Minnesota’s top female track athlete for 2008-09.

The folks in Bagley better make sure there is enough room for a couple more banners, because Huschle’s fame continues to grow.

The 17-year-old junior won the long jump, triple jump and 200-meter dash at last year’s Class A state track meet for the Bagley/Fosston cooperative team. She set an all-time state record in the long jump, going 19 feet, 2 ¼ inches.

Huschle is the favorite to win those events again at this year’s state meet, which will be held June 11-12 at Hamline University in St. Paul. She captured her first state title in the triple jump when she was a ninth-grader, and if she can win three events again this spring and do the same in her senior year, she would become a 10-time state track champion.

Her coach says we have yet to see the best from his young star.

“She actually has a long ways to go yet,” Doug Carlson said. “She has a lot of natural ability but it’s something we’re constantly working on, the technique in the jump events and things. Basically the sky’s the limit.”

Huschle realized as much in February when she worked out in front of former Gophers jump star and Olympian Shani Marks, a former Apple Valley High School athlete.

“She watched my form and she told me what I was doing wrong,” Huschle said. “Basically, I was doing everything wrong.”

That’s says something about Huschle’s athletic talent: she was “basically doing everything wrong” and still set a state record in the long jump.

“Shani kind of gave her some pointers,” Carlson said. “It was probably a little bit of an awakening, too, because she can do much more.”

Analisa already does a lot, on the track and off. She is a member of her school’s dance team during the winter (Question: Does dancing help make you a better track athlete? Answer: “I think so. We’re always kicking, doing leaps and stuff”) and she dreams of becoming a recording artist; she sings country music and plays the guitar.

Huschle won the long jump, triple jump and 200 at the recent Hamline Elite Meet, competing against athletes from some of the largest schools in the state. Bagley’s high school enrollment is only 258 and Fosston has 170 students.

“That was awesome,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to do that well. There are bigger schools there, everybody’s there.”

Bagley/Fosston won last year’s Class A state team title, with Huschle's three titles accounting for 36 of the team’s 47 points (she teamed with Maria Berg, Kyli Day and Lynsey Bardwell to finish second in the 4x200 relay). It was the first team championship in any sport for Bagley, and the accomplishment by Huschle and her teammates is even more remarkable considering the track facilities in Bagley.

The track is little more than a wide gravel path. If it had lanes, there might be four of five of them. The athletes don’t wear spikes when running on the track. “You could, but there’s no point,” Huschle said.

Analisa, who has four older brothers, lives on a farm near Bagley with her parents, Dan and Kim. The farm is also the home of beef cattle and two horses.

As Huschle’s profile continues to rise, Division I colleges are showing interest in her. If she feels any pressure, she doesn’t show it. She just smiles and says her goals for the rest of this season are simple.

“Basically, I just want to keep improving,” she said.

That should not be a problem. In other words, prepare for more banners,

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Red Wing's Nemanich Steps Down
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/29/2010 10:13:05 AM

Red Wing High School boys’ hockey coach George Nemanich has stepped down. Here are excerpts from a story by Ryan Nilsson in the Red Wing Republican Eagle:

After 18 years as the Red Wing boys’ hockey coach, George Nemanich resigned to devote his attention to his profession and his family. Nemanich led the team to one state championship and six state tournament appearances.

He finished with a 331-142-15 record behind the bench. He was just the team’s second coach since the program was launched in 1974.

Nemanich has been the assistant principal at Twin Bluff Middle School for the past three years and this year he added the role of Tower View School principal to his list of responsibilities. He took a three-year leave of absence as a high school social studies teacher for the administrative position and he has elected not to return to teaching.

Nemanich became head coach in the 1992-93 season. The Wingers appeared in five consecutive state tournaments beginning in 1995. Red Wing finished second in 1996 and won it all the next year.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Report From the Road: Ponytails and Ticks
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/27/2010 11:12:57 PM

Good evening from Grand Rapids. Our three-pronged journey across northern Minnesota for MSHSL area meetings has taken us to Fergus Falls and Thief River Falls, and Wednesday morning we will host a meeting in Chisholm before motoring home.

We are spending this Tuesday night in Grand Rapids. About all you need to know – sports-wise – about this part of the state is the sign on the door of our hotel: “NO hockey sticks allowed in building.”

Here are a few other observations from the road …

--The finest radio station in Minnesota (at least in my mind) is Z103.3 FM in Fergus Falls. I don’t think they were tipped off that I was driving in their region, but everything they played – until I drove out of range – was right in my wheelhouse.

--I was zooming along a two-lane road Tuesday afternoon when I rolled up behind a mammoth tractor, pulling an equally mammoth plow. Growing up in a farming region, this was not a strange sight for me. But when I pulled up and passed the tractor, I was surprised to see what was bobbing behind the driver’s head: a big, bouncy, blonde ponytail. Whether it was a farm wife or a farm daughter, she was moving some big equipment.

--During our meeting this morning at the Best Western in Thief River Falls, another meeting was taking place in an adjoining room. The group was called “Golden Pioneers,” and the room filled with silver-haired gentlemen appeared to be having a grand time.

--If you haven’t seen the photo of the poolside sign from the Best Western on Facebook or Twitter, it’s worth a look. The sign says, “Crockpots or Potluck Not Allowed in Poolside.” OK, but can you swim with hotdish?

--On the car radio, I have heard weather forecasts for southern Manitoba as well as eastern Montana.

--I found a wood tick in my car today. Killed that sucker in a hurry.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Apple Valley's Scanlon Steps Down as Girls' Hockey Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/27/2010 1:03:25 PM

Apple Valley High School has announced the resignation of Chuck Scanlon as the head girls' hockey coach. Scanlon will continue to teach at Apple Valley and serve as the head boys' soccer coach, where he has guided the team to eight state championships.

Coach Scanlon has been the only girls' hockey coach in the history of Apple Valley High School, starting as the ringette coach in 1992 and leading the transition to hockey in 1994-95. His team captured the nation’s first-ever girls' state hockey championship in 1995.

In 1998, his Eagles captured their second state championship, beating Hibbing in the first televised high school girls' hockey game. His overall record with the girls' program was 217-167-28.

Applications are now being accepted. Interested applicants can send a cover letter and resume to AVHS Athletics Director Pete Buesgens.

Haylie Zenner Keeps Making Her Move
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/26/2010 11:18:48 PM

Fergus Falls sophomore Haylie Zenner already owns two Class AA state championships in the 800-meter run. But what she did at last Friday’s Hamline Elite Meet in St. Paul has raised the young runner’s profile even higher and left one big question surrounding her: How low can she go?

Zenner, who turned 16 on January 21, made a momentous move from the back of the pack to win the Hamline race in 2 minutes, 13.89 seconds. It was a school record, a personal best and the fastest 800 time by a Minnesota high school girl in three years.

During a pre-practice team meeting Monday, Fergus Falls girls’ track coach Niki Welde told the Otters – most of them stayed home to train and missed the Hamline meet – about Haylie’s big race.

“The girls cut in right away,” Welde said, narrating her mental picture to the team. “She’s boxed in, she’s in a bad spot. The girls cut at the 100, moved in and she was dead last. I’m not kidding. There wasn’t a line of girls, it was a clump of girls and she was behind them all. She did something unconventional. She ran out and around and back in. She was out in Lane 7. She ran 808 meters. She was leading the pack. She gets to her famous 200 mark, the last 200 meters of the race, and she pulled away.”

Welde painted a perfect picture of Zenner’s big day. Her time was the 25th-fastest 800 in Minnesota girls’ high school history and the fastest since 2007, when Megan Smith of Eden Prairie ran 2:11.87. The state record is 2:08.24, set by Jeanne Kruckeberg of Blooming Prairie in 1984.

So, Haylie, how fast can you go before your high school career comes to a close in 2012?

She didn’t answer the question directly, but in a sweet, unassuming manner she made it clear that anyone who wants to beat her – fair warning: she hasn’t lost in the 800 since eighth grade – better work as hard as they can and then double those efforts.

“After the Hamline race, I felt like I could have put some more into it,” Haylie said. “So I’m going to keep working hard at practice and see what I can bring to sections and state.”

Welde said that kind of work ethic, coupled with seemingly limitless natural talent,
makes Zenner special.

“She’s just got such a level head,” the coach said. “I’ve never worked with an athlete like her. She doesn’t let things freak her out. One thing I noticed right away is that she’s the kind of kid, going into the next season [after winning the 800 at state as an eighth-grader], she was Facebooking and talking to these girls she met down at state. She makes her competition real; she always talks to them, shakes hands with them, you see her doing that all the time. If you make them real, it’s not this scary imaginary force out there. She always has a really good head about competition.

“She’s got speed, she is a closer. And that last 200 is her part of the race. She holds the school record in the 400, she can be in the 25s in the 200, she could challenge the school record in the 1,600 if she ever wanted to play with that, she has our best long jump of the season. She’s just so well-versed, she’s just an all-around athlete.”

Haylie remembers being “in shock” after winning a state title in the 800 as an eighth-grader. “I was hoping for top five,” she said with a smile. She could become a five-time state champ, and she admits to thinking about that, “but you never know what’s going to happen.”

She runs cross-country in the fall and plays basketball in the winter, where she is known as a fierce defender. She has been beset by injuries and mishaps during cross-country, which makes Welde figuratively knock on wood whenever those things are mentioned in the spring.

Haylie enjoys more about track than hitting the finish line first. She said training, competing and being with her friends is a key component of the season.

“It’s like the reason I love it,” she said. “You’re with everybody and you meet new people at track meets. Everybody’s so open with each other. I get my friend to come out for track, and that’s the fun part of it.”

As for being so talented and decorated at such a young age, she shrugs her shoulders.

“It’s being who I am and just going out there and having fun,” she said. “It’s about winning and getting a good time and making your goals, but I like to go out and just run my race, stay confident, do what I can do.”

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Update From the Road … Fergus Falls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/26/2010 2:02:08 PM

Happy Monday afternoon from downtown Fergus Falls. I am sitting inside Cafe 116, an outstanding coffee shop, where I am checking emails, websites, and generally plotting and planning.

Our MSHSL crew had a productive area meeting here this morning at the Best Western Falls Inn and Bigwood Event Center. (For a photographic memory of Associate Director Craig Perry speaking in front of the group, check out MSHSL on Facebook or MSHSLjohn on Twitter.)

After lunch at the hotel, the rest of the staff hit the highway for Thief River Falls. I’m staying behind to visit track practice at Fergus Falls High School. I’ll be visiting with sophomore Haylie Zenner, who already is a two-time Class AA state champion in the 800 meters.

Haylie dominated the 800 at Friday’s Hamline Elite Meet, running the fastest time in the state this spring as well as topping every performance in Minnesota from the 2009 track season.

I’ll drive to Thief River Falls later on, maybe in time to meet the rest of the contingent for dinner … and maybe not. Either way, we’ll hold another area meeting Tuesday morning at the Best Western in Thief River Falls, and then it’ll be onward to Chisholm for another meeting on Wednesday. I’m planning to make a stop on the way, to write about Bagley/Fosston track star Analisa Huschle.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a Diet Coke and a quickly disappearing scone sitting next to my laptop, so all is well in Fergus Falls.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

A First-Timer Visits the State Speech Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/24/2010 12:37:40 AM

Shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell kicked off the second round of his league’s annual player draft at Radio City Music Hall by declaring, “Let’s get this party started.”

A few minutes later, in a much quieter venue – a second-floor classroom inside Olin Hall at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. -- a judge at the MSHSL State Speech tournament opened round three of Humorous Interpretation with the same invocation: “Let’s get this party started.”

Speech is not sports, and it’s certainly not football. We all know that. But there are similarities. There are scores. There are timers. There are fans. There are defending champions and future hopefuls. It was all on display Friday when the Class AA state qualifiers gathered at Gustavus. The Class A competition followed on Saturday.

I have attended and written about professional sports drafts. Speech? I was a newbie at this event, although several people – students and well as parents – asked me for directions to various buildings and rooms Friday. I was wearing a jacket and tie, along with my official-looking MSHSL staff ID around my neck, so I must have looked like I knew what I was doing … even though I didn’t.

Here’s a quick primer: Speech is split into 13 categories, from Creative Expression to Original Oratory to Extemporaneous Speaking to Serious Interpretation (the latter is split into subcategories of Drama, Poetry and Prose). Each contestant performs three times in the preliminaries, before a different judge each time. The top students in each event advance to the finals (with three judges), after which awards are presented.

It is intense at times and bust-a-gut funny at times. But most of all it is a testament to students who work hard and aspire to the heights, guided by the hands of talented and committed adults.

Here are few random observations from a rookie’s first visit to the State Speech tournament …

--This is a formal event, with everybody predominantly dressed in black suits and/or black skirts. I didn’t think of this at first, but the everyone-in-black theme tends to make the clothing immaterial. All the students are dressed alike, which made it easier for me to zero in on what they were doing and forget about what they were wearing.

--When I saw my first defending champion perform, there was an overflow crowd in the room. It was Eastview High School’s Lindsey White in Humorous Interpretation. I walked into Olin room 220 about 15 minutes before the round was scheduled to begin, and no seats were left. All the chairs were taken and people were standing around the back of the room … some were sitting on the floor. Lindsey performed a piece titled “Fat Kids on Fire” by Bekah Brunstetter and she was phenomenal. Funny does not begin to describe it, and it’s no wonder the audience was so large.

--Timekeepers are present, sitting close to the judge. The timekeepers – officially known as Room Managers because they keep everything running smoothly – hold up a big card that says “2” when two minutes are left in the allotted time for each performance; others cards follow, designating one minute and, finally, 30 seconds.

--One student I watched ended his performance with about a minute left in his time. Did he go too fast? I’m clearly no expert, but I didn’t think he rushed it. As he sat down he appeared none too pleased, though.

--Another student ever so slightly stumbled over some words at the beginning of her performance and again near the end. She was not smiling, either.

--Sitting in on Serious Interpretation, you could hear pieces written by Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Mary Shelley, Tennessee Williams and Joyce Carol Oates. For you baseball fans, that’s similar to a lineup that includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Henry Aaron.

--I didn’t know if parents attended State Speech, but they do. Not a huge number, but parents do come out, as do school administrators. Good for them.

--If you want to see the best examples of sportsmanship, go to a speech event. I saw kids wishing each other luck beforehand and congratulating each other afterwards. I saw a student whisper to someone who had just finished a performance, “That was awesome.”

--While sitting in one classroom watching students perform, you could hear applause from nearby rooms as other students finished. Once, we could hear the extremely loud voice of a competitor coming from a room down the hall.

--I heard several kids employ British accents in their pieces, and I swear I heard one young lady do a dead-on perfect impression of one of Marge Simpson’s sisters (I couldn’t tell if it was Patty or Selma, but it was one of them; this came during a very funny Humorous Interpretation piece by Jenifer Gilpatrick of Sauk Rapids-Rice titled “Mary Choppins.”

--On the serious side, I saw presentations that dealt with racial injustice, politics, cancer and relationships. Back on the non-serious side were performances based on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Alice in Wonderland” and yes, even “Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants.” The range is unbelievable, topped only by the talent.

--In one of a countless number of wonderful moments, a girl saw a friend in a corridor and screamed “You made finals!” They hugged, and I think I saw some tears.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Worthington's Mubarik Musa Knows How to Move
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/22/2010 12:41:18 PM

Distance running is all about going from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Mubarik Musa knows quite a bit about getting from place to place, and that holds true on the track, on the cross-country course and on a map of the world.

Mubarik, a 16-year-old sophomore at Worthington High School, was born in Ethiopia. He came to the United States in 2005. His first taste of high school athletics came at Park Center High School in the Twin Cities, where he competed as an eighth-grader. Since then he has lived in Luverne and now Worthington.

As I chatted with the laughing, smiling Mubarik at the track in Worthington on a bright, warm Wednesday afternoon, I got the distinct impression that no matter where he is, he goes with the flow and has fun.

“I like it here,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’m willing to accept whatever it is.”

While running, “it” usually means fast times, no matter the location.

He lives with his older brother Roba, who works at the Swift & Co. meat packing plant, Worthington’s largest employer. After Roba was hired at Swift, he and Mubarik were unable to find housing in Worthington so they moved to nearby Luverne.

As a freshman at Park Center, he placed eighth in the Class 1A state cross-country meet. After moving to Luverne during the school year, he finished fifth at the 1A state track meet in the 1,600 and ninth in the 3,200. And after moving to Worthington last summer, he won the 1A state cross-country championship in November at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

So here he is, a 10th-grader who already is marked as one of the top distance runners in Minnesota.

“Mubarik is a very competitive person,” said teammate O.J. Ojullu, a junior who finished sixth at the state cross-country meet last fall. “He’s good as a teammate, he pushes me every day.”

Musa specializes in the 1,600 and the 3,200 in the spring, while also running on the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.

“It’s like he dropped out of the sky,” said Worthington coach Ken Henkels, laughing. “He’s just a little guy. He’s probably not going to get a whole lot bigger, I wouldn’t think.

“And he’s really a good kid. He gets along with everybody so well. He’s got all kinds of friends in Luverne and other schools, and all the kids like him.”

One of the biggest competitions of the spring for Musa will come be at the upcoming Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls, S.D. The featured race will be the 1,600, an invitation-only event bringing together some of the top runners in the region. Musa will run the 3,200 early in the day and the special 1,600 in the evening.

If he does well, it will surprise no one. Musa’s cross-country state championship was certainly no shock to his coach.

“Not really, when you watch him run,” Henkels said. “He and O.J. train together, and we’ve got some other good kids, too. It’s a good deal because Mubarik doesn’t have to do workouts by himself, he’s got guys who push him.”

Mubarik said he likes cross-country more than track because runners have better control of their destiny on the cross-country course.

“In track, if you mess up the pace, if you go out really hard, you cannot really make it up,” he said. “In cross-country, if you mess up the first mile you can make it up, you’re more in control.”

Like every spring athlete in Minnesota, Musa is enjoying the tremendous weather. Warm temperatures have helped make up for a brutal winter in southern Minnesota.

“Winter was really bad,” he said. “It did a lot of damage but I was still able to run on treadmillsand talk to the coaches about what I should be doing.”

And now, with the sun shining and warm breezes blowing, Musa is all smiles.

“I’m just taking advantage of it,” he said. “I’m just trying to go fast.

And off he went. Fast.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

A Quick Note From Worthington
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/21/2010 2:51:56 PM

Hello from beautiful Worthingon, Minnesota. Technically, I’m sitting inside McDonald’s in Worthington (thanks to their wireless internet).

We wrapped up this morning’s area meeting in Marshall shortly after noon. While the rest of the MSHSL traveling crew headed back to the Twin Cities, I hit Highway 59 for the trip south to Worthington. I’m going to be at track practice at Worthington High in a few minutes, working on a Journal entry about distance runner Mubarik Musa.

The weather is absolutely spectacular – this is a recording – and I have yet to see any snow or ice on the roads, so maybe winter is over after all (cross your fingers).

During this morning’s meeting we had another informal gathered in regards to our new Student Sports Information Director program. Pipestone Area High School English teacher Andrea Hoyum and ninth-grader Jaden Carlson came to Marshall to learn about the program, and they are perfect examples of what will make this program special: A committed, energetic teacher and a student who enjoys writing about her school’s activities. Howard Voigt snapped some photos, and I’ll try to post one on our MSHSL Facebook page; that will probably happen tomorrow.

I better finish my Diet Coke, pack up the laptop and head over to the home of the Trojans!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

A Beautiful Day in Minnesota
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/20/2010 5:35:42 PM

Goodness gracious sakes alive, what a wonderful day to be driving across Minnesota.

I left the Twin Cities at 7 a.m., bound for Mankato. This morning’s area meeting there went very well and the approximately 60 athletic/activity directors in attendance shared an excellent lunch afterwards.

Before leaving Mankato I stopped in at Minnesota State University to see my old friends Paul Allan and Scott Nelson in the media relations office. I’ve known Paul since my long-ago days covering college hockey, and Scott grew up in the metropolis of Ringsted, Iowa, which is just down the road from my hometown, the metropolis of Graettinger, Iowa.

I headed west from Mankato at 2 p.m., stopped at Dairy Queen in New Ulm, at Casey’s in Tracy and arrived safely here in Marshall. I saw farmers in the fields, tractors, plows and planters on the highways and beautiful scenery in every darn direction.

I’m flying solo while the rest of our MSHSL traveling crew – Dave Stead, Kevin Merkle, Jody Redman, Craig Perry and Howard Voigt – is car-pooling in two vehicles. I believe some of my colleagues are attempting to keep golf balls in the fairway right now. Me? I’m going to connect with another J. Millea while I’m in Marshall.

His name is Jon Millea, he's my nephew and a graduate student at Southwest State, as well as a grad assistant coach with the men’s basketball team. We’ll try to find some dinner tonight.

After Wednesday morning’s area meeting here, the rest of the crew will head home. I will drive south to Worthington to meet up with star runner Mubarik Musa. He is the reigning Class 1A state cross-country champion and is off to a strong start on the track. I’ll do some interviews, shoot some photos, drive home Wednesday night and post a story about Mubarik here on John’s Journal on Thursday.

That’s all the news from southwestern Minnesota, where the sun is bright, the winds are warm and everything is looking good.

NOTE: For photographic evidence from this morning’s gathering of Student Sports Information Directors, be sure to click on the MSHSL page on Facebook.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Area Meeting This Morning in Mankato
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/20/2010 9:08:24 AM

Good morning from Mankato. Much of the MSHSL executive staff has arrived at the Best Western Garden Inn, where an area meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

The area meetings are held every spring and fall around the state as a way for MSHSL staff to keep schools updated on what’s happening. The meetings generally last a couple hours, followed by lunch.

After today’s meeting and lunch we’ll head to Marshall for another area meeting tomorrow. Next week we’ll be in Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls and Chisholm for a back-to-back-to-back tripleheader, and the first week of May will find us in Brainerd and Rochester.

Part of my duties at the area meetings are to help kick off our Student Sports Information Director program. We’re expecting a number of students and English/journalism teachers to accompany their athletic/activity directors to the area meetings, where we will explain the program, get some feedback and possibly even hand out some gifts to the students.

It’s a beautiful day in Mankato!

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

St. Cloud Apollo Coach Mike Gregory Passes Away
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/19/2010 11:20:12 AM

St. Cloud Apollo baseball coach Mike Gregory, who was severely injured in a fall earlier this month, passed away Sunday night at St. Cloud Hospital.

His family posted this message on Mike’s CaringBridge website: “Mike died tonight, Sunday, April 18 at approximately 11:44 p.m. surrounded by his family. As the past weeks have shown us, he was loved by many. He is at peace now, but has left an ache within our hearts too big to measure. On behalf of my entire family, thank you for your thoughts and prayers throughout this ordeal. - Sheila Gregory.”

Mike was a 1977 Apollo graduate.

The MSHSL, along with everyone associated with high school activities in Minnesota, extends it sympathies to the Gregory family.

Monday Ticker: A New Track Record, A New Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/19/2010 8:22:43 AM

Let’s kick off the week with news of a new state record and a new head coach…

Moorhead senior Macauley Spandl set a state record in the boys’ pole vault on Friday, clearing 15 feet, 8 inches at the Moorhead Athletic Association Invitational held at Concordia’s Jake Christiansen Stadium track. The previous record was 15-7, set by Anoka’s Tim Koupal at the 1997 Class 2A state meet.

Spandl comes from a pole vaulting brood. His sister Jacenta was a four-year letterwinner as a pole vaulter at the University of Minnesota and his brother Brock is a junior pole vaulter for the Gophers. Macauley has also committed to compete for the Gophers. For a full accounting of the new record,written by Kerry Collins of the Forum in Fargo-Moorhead, copy and paste this into your browser: http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/275827/publisher_ID/1/

And in coaching news, Steve Morse, previously an assistant coach at Park High School in Cottage Grove, has been hired as the new girls’ hockey head coach. He takes over for Darren Reiter, who resigned from that position last month. Darren was the head coach at Park for the past four seasons. He stepped down for health reasons.

“Darren worked hard to build and develop our program, from the youth association up. I appreciate all that he has done for Park athletics. He will be missed,” said Phil Kuemmel, activities director.

Steve takes over the role of head coach after serving as an assistant coach for the past four years. He has been very involved in the Cottage Grove Hockey Association and is currently the District 8 ACE (Association Coaching Education) Coordinator.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

A Ballgame, A New Friend and Great Memories
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/16/2010 9:14:10 AM

I love to tell people that I can spend a few minutes with any team in any sport at any high school in Minnesota and find a great story. Turns out all you have to do is sit in the bleachers and the same thing can happen.

I went to a baseball game at Osseo High School on Thursday afternoon. The Orioles played Champlin Park on a lovely sunny day. I went to the ballgame with a couple of future story possibilities in mind.

There were Osseo’s Windle twins, Tom and Sam. Tom, who throws and bats lefthanded, has signed to play baseball with the University of Minnesota. Sam, who throws and bats righthanded, has signed to play baseball with North Dakota State. Both twins play hockey, too.

There was speedy Champlin Park center fielder Brandon Marquardt, a running back and Mr. Football finalist who will play football at Minnesota State Mankato.

And then there was Harry Beier. (That's him in the photo).

Osseo athletic/activities director Ray Kirch had sprung for hot dogs, and as we walked to the bleachers he said, “John, do you know Harry Beier?” I did not, so Ray introduced me to an older gentleman sitting in the first row. Ray had other things to attend to, but Harry and I chatted for the rest of the game.

Harry graduated from Osseo High School in 1941. Sixty-nine years ago, he played baseball on the same field the current Orioles use. He was a multi-sport athlete -- also playing football and basketball in high school – providing another link to current athletes like the Windle twins and Brandon Marquardt.

Harry was a pitcher who relied on a fastball. At the plate, he tried to hit the ball where it was pitched, spraying hits all over the field.

You could see the sparkle in his eye as we watched the kids from Osseo and Champlin Park play the game. There are people similar to Harry at almost every high school in America; alumni who have strong ties to their school and their community and love nothing more than remaining connected.

Champlin Park senior Tyler Ockuly pitched a two-hitter in the Rebels’ 11-2 victory, striking out the side in the fourth inning. When Osseo athletic trainer Lindsey Geesaman came onto the field to tend to an injured Champlin Park player, a mom sitting nearby said with an air of awe, “She’s at every game.” A young girl replied, “She is so cool.”

Harry and I took it all in as we chatted. He was drafted into the Army shortly after graduating from high school and spent two and a half years stationed in England. “I bought myself a bicycle and saw all the towns around the area,” he said.

One of his high school coaches always told the kids – remember, this was back in the 1930s and 1940s – that smoking was a bad idea. “I never did smoke, even in the service,” Harry said. “I saw that coach at reunions and thanked him for that.”

Harry, who was an employee of the University of Minnesota for 42 years, has seen every Gophers home football game since 1947. He knows almost everybody at the university, from President Robert Bruininks on down. He likesTCF Bank Stadium, but he liked the Metrodome, too.

Between innings, music was played on the P.A. system. The baseball field was well-manicured, the sunshine was warm and the breeze was sweet.

It was a perfect day to be at a high school event.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Minneapolis Schools Team Up For Turf
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/15/2010 1:34:22 PM

Minneapolis Public Schools have begun efforts to raise funds in order to install turf fields at two high school football fields. The program is called “Team Up For Turf: Funding Fields For The Future.”

The Minneapolis Public Schools have committed to raising $1.25 million to convert the football fields at Washburn High School and Patrick Henry High School to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields to suit football, soccer and lacrosse games. By 2013, MPS hopes to raise enough additional funds to cover the cost of at least one more synthetic turf project. All fields would be available for the use of schools, parks and Minneapolis youth.

Why turf fields?
The current MPS high school natural grass fields are difficult to maintain.
• High costs for maintenance and equipment
• Athletes and teams have limited use of fields during upkeep process
• High traffic areas of the field are worn and have difficulty sustaining new grass
• Uneven ground may cause impact injuries

Benefits of synthetic turf:
• Reduced maintenance costs - no watering, mowing, fertilizers or pesticides required
• Safe and uniform playing surface
• Multiple opportunities for a variety of field events (football, soccer, lacrosse)
• Increased field usage (no down time)
• Enhances the reputation of MPS athletics

A special fund for the Team Up for Turf campaign has been established at
AchieveMpls. AchieveMpls is the Minneapolis Public School’s authorized and
designated intermediary foundation and handles donations and grants for MPS
students and programs. Contributions toward Team Up for Turf are tax deductible.

For more information about the campaign, please contact the Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Resource Development & Innovation at 612-668-0214 or at rdi@mpls.k12.mn.us

To make an online donation, go to www.achievempls.org/getinvolved/donate. Click on “Donate Online Now,” select “A school, program or fund” and type “Team up for Turf” in the description box provided.

The Team Up for Turf campaign will begin with a kick-off contest on:
Tuesday, May 4
3-4 p.m.
Patrick Henry High School football field
4320 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis

Join other members of the community and the school district as we ‘kick off’ our efforts with a football, soccer and lacrosse kick-off contest. Children and adults are welcome, and prizes will be awarded to all who participate.

--John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook; simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan

Park High School to Dedicate Softball Field
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/14/2010 11:38:11 AM

Here’s an announcement from Park High School …

Charlie Whitbred, who retired as the softball coach at Park High School in Cottage Grove in 2009, will be honored Monday when the school’s softball field is dedicated in his honor.

The Park Wolfpack softball team will play East Ridge at 4:15 p.m. Monday. A short ceremony honoring Charlie, including the unveiling of the dedication sign naming the field after Whitbred, will be held at 4 p.m.

Whitbred, a 1968 graduate of Park, coached softball at the school for 29 years. During that time he compiled a record of 525 wins and 165 losses. His teams won 13 conference titles and 13 section titles. Whitbred led Park to a state championship in 1993. During Park’s 13 state tournament appearances, Whitbred’s teams also finished with four second-place finishes, three third places, one fourth place and one consolation title.

Charlie was voted the Minnesota Coach of the Year in 1993 and was the section coach of the year 12 times. He retired after the 2009 season with the most wins ever by any Class AAA coach in the state. To put it into perspective, a coach would have to win more than 20 games every year for 26 years in order to reach Whitbred’s total. “Whit” will be inducted in to the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame this year.

There will be an informal reception after the game at the American Legion Post in St. Paul Park.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Ben and Logan: Our Test Pilots
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/13/2010 1:16:10 PM

Ben Arens and Logan Suko, both ninth-graders from Rockford High School, are the first “test pilots” for a new program at the MSHSL. The program is called Student Sports Information Directors, and Ben and Logan helped the program take its first steps this morning.

Spring Area Meetings – in which MSHSL staff updates school representatives at gatherings held around the state – began this morning at Edinburgh USA Golf Course in Brooklyn Park. Athletic/activity directors from schools in the Twin Cities area gathered for the meeting, and Ben and Logan came to the event with Rockford activities director Mike Tauber.

A small number of schools were invited to bring students to the area meeting; similar invitations are being issued for the rest of the upcoming area meetings, which will be held in Mankato, Marshall, Rochester, Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls, Brainerd and Chisholm. Ben and Logan accompanied Mike Tauber to today’s gathering, and MSHSL Director of Information Howard Voigt and I sat down with Ben and Logan in the Edinburgh USA café while the area meeting was held in a nearby conference room.

We talked very informally about the Student SID program. Logan and Ben are both multi-sport athletes who are interested in journalism, writing and sports, so they are a perfect fit for the new program. One of the goals of the Student SID program is to have students from every high school in Minnesota write about their school’s athletic and activity programs, with their bylined stories appearing on their school’s homepage on the MSHSL website.

We hope to find students who enjoy writing and show a talent for journalism, along with teachers who will guide and encourage them.

Ultimately, we hope schools will have Student SIDs in each class, ninth through 12th grade, providing continuity and peer training as the program continues year by year.

At this point, we are taking the first small steps to get the program off the ground. No high school governing body in the nation has a program like this, and we are very excited about what began this morning with Ben and Logan.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Travel Policy: Further Explanation
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/12/2010 2:42:05 PM

Here’s some further clarification on the changes to the MSHSL travel policy that were approved at today’s board of directors meeting. There is some confusion about the “600-mile limit” and just what the situation looks like as we move forward.

GAMES: For games, the 600-mile limit remains in place. Teams are still allowed to play games anywhere in the states and provinces that border Minnesota, but any other destinations for games must be round trips of 600 miles or less.

SCRIMMAGES/JAMBOREES/ Teams can travel anywhere they wish for scrimmages and jamborees. However, they are limited to a maximum of three scrimmages or two scrimmages and one jamboree while on each trip. For example, if a Minnesota high school baseball team travels to Florida over spring break, that team can hold scrimmages on no more than three calendar dates. No official games can be played under this circumstance.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

An Important Final Note
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/12/2010 12:57:20 PM

The MSHSL board of directors heard presentations on possible – repeat, possible – changes to the boys’ and girls’ state basketball tournaments and the format for regular-season football scheduling.

In both cases, the studies are very, very preliminary. The basketball discussions center around what is called a “super regional” concept and corresponding changes to the state tournament scheduling format.

The football discussions deal with scheduling issues as most surrounding states play in-state games only and schools have a harder time finding opponents. No changes are imminent on either issue.

Final Note: One of the highlights of today’s meeting was the very first item on the agenda. Each meeting begins with a board member offering a “reflection,” and Osseo athletic director Ray Kirch had that duty this morning. He spoke about professional baseball scouts watching one pitcher during a recent game but ignoring every other player on the field. He referred to the scouts’ job as choosing between the haves and the have-nots. And, he added, people associated with high school activities in Minnesota do not have to make those kinds of decisions, because – thankfully -- there is room for everybody.

The meeting has adjourned.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

11:55 Update: Travel Policy Changed
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/12/2010 11:53:11 AM

After a lengthy discussion of the travel policy, centering on a proposal to make it a local issue and leave travel decisions for scrimmages and jamborees up to individual school boards, the board of directors approved the proposal.

This, in essence, makes travel a local issue, as it was before the MSHSL board of directors placed the 600-mile limit on schools last year.

The proposal, which was presented by Osseo athletic director Ray Kirch, says a series of steps are required for teams to travel. They include, but may not be limited to 1) a school board resolution approving travel for a team; 2) a copy of the itinerary; 3) a cost accounting of how the funds will be received by the school and the anticipated expenditure of funds by the school; 4) the manner in which the school will comply with Title IX relative to team travel for each gender; and 5) other items that may be requested by the MSHSL Board of Directors.

*The board also approved a contract with the Twins to hold the 2010 state championship baseball games at Target Field.

The meeting rolls on...

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Board Meeting Update...10:50 A.M.
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/12/2010 10:51:19 AM

The board meeting is moving along, with the normal flow of reports from board members, legal counsel, lobbyist, executive director and executive committee.

Minneapolis Patrick Henry athletic director Dave Wicker, along with a parent from Minneapolis Southwest, spoke to the board early in the meeting about the travel policy.

The policy limits out-of-state travel to round trips of no more than 600 miles unless sanctioned by the MSHSL.

In a few minutes, the travel policy will be discussed by board members as the meeting reaches the “action items” portion of the agenda.

*The board just approved a request from Wayzata High School to play a home football game this fall against a Florida team that is not a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Live Updates from Board of Directors Meeting
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/12/2010 8:31:15 AM

The MSHSL board of directors will meet this morning, with the gavel dropping at 9:30 a.m.

I'll be providing live updates from the meeting.

The agenda includes a discussion -- and possible action -- on the new travel policy and final approval of the state championship baseball games being played at Target Field.

The discussion items include possible changes in the tournament format for Class 4A state basketball and an update from the Football Task Force.

Chaska Names Boys' Hockey Coach
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/10/2010 8:41:14 PM

Here is a press release from Chaska High School athletic/activities director Troy Stein...

I am excited to announce that Chaska High School has hired Mike Johnson to be our new head boys hockey coach.

Mike grew up in Minnetonka and played college hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst from 1998 to 2002. He then signed with the Greensboro Generals until an injury forced his retirement. He has served on the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Development Committee, collegiate scout and Bantam A head coach at Minnetonka in recent years.

Facebook and Twitter; Get Connected
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/8/2010 9:41:21 AM

If you haven’t joined the MSHSL on Facebook or Twitter, now’s the time.

On Facebook, simply search for “MSHSL” and become a fan. We post news and other updates on Facebook, which is a great way to keep in touch with what’s happening with the MSHSL and schools around the state.

On Twitter, my home base is MSHSLjohn. I post all manner of things on Twitter… in 140 words or less. It’s an art form.

If you have news from your school that you’d like to share with others around Minnesota and the universe, send me an email (the address is at the top of this post) and I’ll act as town crier.

Have a great day.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Coaching News And a Personal Plug
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/8/2010 9:01:53 AM

We’ve got some coaching news today from one of the state’s newest high schools, but first let me put in a plug for something that will happen on Friday in St. Cloud.

The Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association is holding its annual conference today through Saturday in St. Cloud, and I have been invited to take part in a workshop session titled “Teaching Coaches to Work with the Media.”

We’ll talk about lots of issues and ways in which coaches and the media can work together. Statistics, interview procedures, trust … we’ll hopefully cover a whole bunch of ground. We’ll have two sessions, and I look forward to seeing a room filled with administrators.

Now, on to some coaching news. Here’s a press release from East Ridge High School in Woodbury…

East Ridge High School is proud to announce that Mike Pendino has been hired as head football coach. Mike brings more than 25 years of coaching experience and educational leadership to the Raptors. He served as a collegiate level assistant coach for 15 years, including six years at the University of Minnesota. He was also the head football coach and a business education teacher at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield for eight years.

During his tenure, Holy Angels won two conference titles and advanced to two state tournaments. Mike was instrumental in the development of future collegiate and professional players that included Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. (Arizona Cardinals) and John Stocco (University of Wisconsin).

Most recently, Mike served as assistant coach/offensive coordinator at East Ridge in the inaugural 2009 season. He is also director of security on campus. Mike is described by colleagues and students as passionate, organized, and a great motivator.

A meet-and-greet event with coach Pendino will be held on Thursday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. at East Ridge High School. Refreshments will be served, and details about the summer calendar will be discussed.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Inside the MSHSL: Sports Medicine
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/7/2010 1:05:44 PM

It’s amazing how much activity there is here at MSHSL World Headquarters. I sat in on another interesting gathering this morning as I continue to learn more and more about the administration of high school activities in Minnesota.

If you’re thinking that these programs take place with little behind them other than whistles and scoreboards, think again buckaroo. So much happens behind the scenes in order to provide the best possible experiences for student-athletes, and safety is a big part of it.

Which takes us to this morning’s meeting of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. The committee includes physicians, athletic trainers and coaches; the medical professionals’ affiliations include the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State University. The committee is chaired by Dr. William O. Roberts from the University of Minnesota.

As with Tuesday’s region secretaries meeting, the agenda for the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee was full. The topics ranged from the MSHSL "Anyone Can Save a Life" program to injury surveillance to pre-participation physical exams and beyond.

Each committee member began the meeting with a large packet of information in front of them, and the committee paid full attention to every item on the agenda. It was an impressive process to watch.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Inside the MSHSL: Region Secretaries
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/6/2010 1:14:00 PM

Most people don’t have a good sense of everything that goes into maintaining and improving school athletic and activity programs in Minnesota. I was certainly one of those people before I came to work for the MSHSL a few weeks ago. I’m learning more every day, including a new experience this morning.

The MSHSL region secretaries met today here at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center. This group of 16 men and women meets with MSHSL staff at regular intervals each year; each of the state’s eight regions has a person who represents the small (A) schools and another person who represents the big (AA) schools.

The group met for about three hours this morning, covering an agenda that included more than two dozen items. MSHSL staffers Dave Stead, Rich Matter, Chris Franson, Kevin Merkle, Jody Redman and Craig Perry briefed the group on many items and answered questions from the region secretaries on a wide range of issues.

I spoke to the group briefly about my new position with the League, my duties and some of the goals I hope to accomplish. They asked some good questions, which I hope I answered to their satisfaction.

The meeting agenda ranged from financial reports to rule discussions to tournament dates and beyond. The region secretaries are a key link in the chain that connects all the schools in our state with each other as well as the MSHSL.

The gathering of region secretaries is more informal than meetings of the MSHSL board of directors. The secretaries sit around the six-sided board table, with Class A representatives on one side and AA folks on the other side of the table. They sit next to each other in order, from Section 1 through Section 8.

Throughout the group’s wide-ranging discussion, one thing was clear: student-athletes – and providing them with the best possible experiences -- are always the focus of the region secretaries as well as the MSHSL.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Whither the Weather? It's Perfect
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/5/2010 1:33:57 PM

It’s a quiet day here in Minnesota, with many schools closed on this Monday for an extended holiday weekend. But whether school is in session today or not, there is one theme that spring sports participants around the state will agree on: this is the finest weather imaginable.

Winter retreated early this year as spring came in like a lamb and has remained all warm and fuzzy.

“I can’t remember a spring this great,” said Bucky Mieras, athletic director and baseball coach at Orono High School. “It’s been fun, we’ve been outside.”

Most spring sports teams were able to practice outdoors as soon as the season began, rather than working inside while waiting for the weather to improve. Most teams are already involved in competitions; Thursday is the first available competition date for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse.

This weather is a far cry from 2008, when the spring was cold and wet across Minnesota.

“It’s going fantastic here,” said Minnewaska Area athletic director Bill Mills. “It’s as good as I’ve seen, especially relative to two years ago when it was something like Armageddon every day.”

Orono and Minnewaska both are home to defending state team golf champions; Orono has won the past two Class AA boys’ titles and Minnewaska is a four-time defending girls’ champion (A in 2006 and 2007, AA in 2008 and 2009).

“They were out pretty much right away,” Mills said of the Minnewaska girls’ golf team. “The course here opened March 27. The last time I remember that happening, I was in high school and that was more years ago than I care to remember.”

If there is any weather concern today, it’s a lack of rain. The state has been dry for an extended period, and concerns about forest and grass fires are growing.

“That’s our only issue,” Mieras said. “It’s too dry. That sounds crazy but it’s honestly the truth.”

Rain is forecast to fall beginning tonight, and no one would be overly upset with some precipitation at this point.

“It’s incredible for me to say this and I’ve never said this before and maybe I never will again, but we need rain,” Mills said. “It is bone dry. If we get a little over the next couple days, that’ll be fine with everybody.”

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Arizona Boys' Volleyball Report
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 4/1/2010 11:24:07 PM

I had a great time today watching the Sunrise Mountain Mustangs defeat the Williams Field Black Hawks 3-0 in a varsity boys' volleyball match.

As I wrote here on John's Journal yesterday, Arizona -- where I am spending some time off this week -- does indeed have boys' volleyball as a spring sport. The regular season starts in early March and ends in late April. The Arizona girls' volleyball season is in the fall, as in Minnesota.

The two teams I watched today (including a relative who plays for Sunrise Mountain; nice job, Erik) are far apart geographically in the Phoenix area. If there are no traffic concerns, it takes about an hour to drive between the two schools. Sunrise Mountain is in Peoria (northwest of Phoenix) and Williams Field is in Higley (southeast of Phoenix).

I picked up a Williams Field springs sports calendar while paying my admission at the gym. The school's spring sports are baseball, softball, boys' volleyball, boys' and girls' tennis and boys' and girls' track. Those seasons start as early as Feb. 19 and the last regular-season competition is May 7.

There clearly are no Minnesota-like spring weather concerns in the Phoenix area. But on the flip side, the temperature in Minneapolis as I write this is 70 degrees; in Phoenix right now it is 60 degrees. Go figure.

John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/stribjohn

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