John's Journal
The Biggest Victory Of The Tournament, But More Work Remains 3/2/2012
There was no celebration, no pumping fists, no backflips, no victory laps, no arms thrust toward the ceiling of Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Ben Morgan simply shook hands with Dakota Trom and walked off the mat.

Yes, it was the biggest match of the first day of individual competition at the state wrestling tournament. But it was only the first day. Morgan needs two more victories Saturday to take home a gold medal, and boy oh boy will it be a sweet moment for the Forest Lake senior if that happens.

You see, Morgan already owns one state title. That came when he was an eighth-grader, and for three years since then he has finished third at state. Friday’s 7-2 victory over Trom, an Apple Valley senior who won state championships in each of the last three years, certainly put Morgan on the right path. (They are pictured here.)

“I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” he said of coming up short of a state title. “I’ve worked too hard this year, I went through too much pain and stress to lose my last state tournament.”

Morgan is ranked No. 9 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News and Trom is No. 11. Those spots would be reversed if not for a 5-3 victory by Morgan over Trom at the Minnesota Christmas tournament. And ever since that day in December, Trom has thought ahead to meeting Trom again at state.

“The mental focus? I can’t even tell you how much, man,” he said. “It’s every other 30 minutes. Ever since the Christmas tournament, I’ve spent at least nine hours a day thinking about this moment.”

Now Morgan (36-2 this season) will focus on his semifinal match against senior Phillip Horsager (15-7) of Spring Lake Park. On the other side of the bracket, the matchup is sophomore Justin Harold-Plakut (33-8) of Woodbury and sophomore Mark Voss (37-8) of St. Michael-Albertville.

When Morgan won his first state title so many years ago, his celebration was something to behold. Fists clenched and arms raised, Morgan leaned back and roared to the heavens. With blood dripping from his forehead, he sprinted around the mat and leaped into the arms of his father (and Forest Lake assistant coach), Gordy Morgan. He received a thunderous ovation from the fans.

That was in 2008. This is 2012. Forest Lake coach Billy Pierce reminded Morgan immediately after Friday’s big win that he still had work to do.

“I’ve already talked to him about that,” Pierce said. “I said, ‘This is not a final match. Save your celebration for later. Keep it respectful and eye on the prize.’ ”

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

--Simley has a tournament-best nine individuals in the Class 2A semifinals. Eight wrestlers from Apple Valley have reached the 3A semifinals. In Class 1A, Kimball, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Jackson County Central, Wabasso and Minneota all have four individuals in the semifinals.

--At 126 pounds, three-time 3A champ Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud Apollo extended his state-record winning streak to 178. The junior will face Rosemount senior Steve Levine in the semifinals.

--In the biggest quarterfinal match in Class 1A, Mitchel Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo beat Isaac Novacek of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 6-2 at 120 pounds. Lexvold won a state title last year and Novacek did so in 2010.

--One of the biggest matches of Saturday’s quarterfinals will come in 2A at 145 pounds. Jake Short of Simley and Gabe Fogarty of Scott West, will meet to decide who advances to the title match.

--Wrestlers who lost for the first time this season on Friday: Clay LaVasseur, Rogers (3A 195); David Johnson, Roseville (3A 220); Michael Jarnot, Holdingford (1A 138) and Garrett Hoffner, Mahnomen/Waubun (1A 145); Taylor Lewandowski, Foley (2A 160); Garret Miller, Plainview-Elgin-Millville (1A 170); and Jesse Hein, Perham (1A 285).

WHERE DO THE MATS COME FROM?

My wife posed that question to me, and I did not know the answer. But after interrogating a high-ranking official – tournament manager Byron Olson – I learned a few things.

The mats used at state are brand new. They are made by Dollamur Sport Surfaces, and some of them have already been sold to Minnesota high schools before the tournament begins. That way, the schools save money on shipping because Dollamur sends them to the Xcel Center and the schools are responsible for them after the tournament ends.

Mats used this year will soon be headed to Lakeville North, Byron, Yellow Medicine East and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

AND IN HOCKEY NEWS...

These teams have qualified for next week's boys state hockey tournament…

Class 2A
Lakeville South (20-8)
Edina (23-5)
Eagan (24-3-1)
Hill-Murray (22-6)
Maple Grove (24-2-2)
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (22-6)
Duluth East (27-1)
Moorhead (21-6)

2A seedings and brackets will be announced Saturday morning.

Class 1A
Rochester Lourdes (20-8)
Breck (24-3-1)
New Ulm (17-11)
St. Thomas Academy (23-4)
Hermantown (28-0)
Little Falls (19-9)
Thief River Falls (22-4-2)
Duluth Marshall (21-7) or Hibbing/Chisholm (16-11)

Duluth Marshall and Hibbing/Chisholm play at 2 p.m. Saturday. 1A state seedings and brackets will be announced Saturday evening.

GREAT NEWS FOR NICK MANZONI

On Sept. 1, I posted a story here about Nick Manzoni, a soccer player from Orono High School. The senior, who was named a Class A first-team all-state player as a junior, is considered one of the best players in the state. Last summer Nick was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma and he was unable to play soccer last fall.

His treatments included surgery and chemotherapy, and some great news was announced via Twitter on Friday:

“Nick has finished his chemo! Time to give thanks! Prayer service March 8, 7:30, St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral. All are welcome.”

Congratulations Nick!

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 10 for the tournament, 25 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 381
*Miles John has driven: 6,523

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
State Wrestling Championship Matches Are Set3/1/2012
The lineup is set for tonight’s matches to decide the team champions of high school wrestling in Minnesota. The quarterfinals and semifinals have been completed at Xcel Energy Center, and here are the 7 p.m. title matchups…

Class 1A
Kimball (34-0) vs. Jackson County Central (24-3)
Class 2A
Scott West (25-0) vs. Simley (27-3)
Class 3A
St. Michael-Albertville (29-6) vs. Apple Valley (28-1)

The top seeds (Jackson, Simley and Apple Valley) have all advanced. Kimball and Scott West are No. 2 seeds and St. Michael-Albertville is the third seed.

Apple Valley has won the last six 3A titles and 12 of the last 13. Simley is trying to win its fifth straight championship and Jackson County Central is a two-time defending state champ.

Simley and Scott West also met in the title match a year ago, with Simley winning 39-16. In 3A last year, Apple Valley defeated St. Michael-Albertville 61-6 in the title match.

The championship matches can be seen on the web by going to www.prep45.com and clicking on “Live Schedule.” That site is also webcasting tonight’s Section 7AA boys hockey final between Duluth East and Andover at Amsoil Arena in Duluth at 7:30.

Recapping today’s wrestling action…

Semifinals
Class 1A
Kimball 35, Minneota 33
Jackson County Central 25, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 25

Class 2A
Scott West 31, Foley 21
Simley 47, Kasson-Mantorville 20

Class 3A
St. Michael-Albertville 31, Hastings 19
Apple Valley 62, Prior Lake 3

Quarterfinals

Class 1A
Kimball 55, Barnesville 9
Minneota 44, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 23
Jackson County Central 52, Pierz 15
Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 39, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 30

Class 2A
Scott West 53, Monticello 9
Foley 47, Windom 10
Simley 44, Milaca 17
Kasson-Mantorville 43, Perham 10

Class 3A
Hastings 47, Little Falls 19
St. Michael-Albertville 56, Champlin Park 7
Apple Valley 58, Willmar 12
Prior Lake 44, White Bear Lake 15

On Friday we’ll kick off the individual wrestling competition at 9 a.m.

But it’s not just wrestling on the docket today. The boys state swimming and diving meet begins its three-day run today with diving preliminariesat the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, there are seven boys hockey section finals as well as section games in girls and boys basketball.

As always, instant updates on all these events can be found by following @MSHSLjohn on Twitter, and lots of photos (especially from today’s wrestling tournament) are being posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 5 for the tournament, 20 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS *Schools/teams John has visited: 321 *Miles John has driven: 6,481

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Repeat After Me: Apple Valley, Simley, Jackson Are State Champs3/1/2012
The three teams that captured state wrestling titles on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center know all about the routine. Win three matches at the state tournament, stand in line for medals and then pose for a team photo with the first-place tropy.

Apple Valley won its seventh straight Class 3A title, Simley took home the 2A hardware for the fifth year in a row and Jackson County Central won its third 1A crown in a row.

Apple Valley’s 49-24 victory over St. Michael-Albertville in the gold-medal match gave the Eagles 13 of the last 14 big-school championships. Simley beat Scott West 36-22 in 2A and Jackson County Central held off Kimball 35-28.

Results of the third-place matches…

Class 1A/ Minneota 42, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 26
Class 2A/ Foley 32, Kasson-Mantorville 22
Class 3A/ Prior Lake 30, Hastings 21

Results of the fifth-place matches...

Class 1A/ Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 41, Barnesville 22
Class 2A/ Milaca 35, Monticello 34
Class 3A/ White Bear Lake 35, Little Falls 27

The action will resume at 9 a.m. Friday with the beginning of the individual competition.

Thursday was also a big night for boys hockey, with seven teams winning section titles and qualifying for next week’s state tourney here at the Xcel Center.

The hockey scores were …

Class 1A
Section 2A: Breck 7, Blake 5
Section 6A: Little Falls 6, Fergus Falls 1
Section 8A: Thief River Falls 4, East Grand Forks 1

Class 2A
Section 1AA: Lakeville South 7, Lakeville North 1
Section 3AA: Eagan 10, Hastings 1
Section 7AA: Duluth East 4, Andover 1
Section 8AA: Moorhead 3, Brainerd 1

Five more state hockey participants will be decided Friday night …

CLASS 1A
Section 3: New Ulm vs. Luverne
Section 4: St. Thomas Academy vs. Totino-Grace
Section 5: Hermantown vs. Rogers

CLASS 2A
Section 4: Hill-Murray vs. Roseville
Section 5: Maple Grove vs. Blaine

Finally, one game will be played Saturday …

Class 1A
Section 7: Duluth Marshall vs. Hibbing/Chisholm

--As always, instant updates on all these events can be found by following @MSHSLjohn on Twitter, and lots of photos (especially from wrestlingt) are posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

--Thursday’s semifinals and championship wrestling matches were webcast by www.prep45.com. Through the semifinals, the total number of viewers was 3,720.

--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 5 for the tournament, 20 for the winter tournaments.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 321
*Miles John has driven: 6,481

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
State Wrestling Tournament: What To Look For This Week2/29/2012
The tournament opens Thursday at Xcel Energy Center with team competition, and individuals will compete Friday and Saturday.

TOP-RANKED TEAMS SEEKING MORE GOLD

--Class 3A powerhouse Apple Valley has won the last six state team titles, 12 of the last 13 and 19 crowns since 1983.
--Simley is the four-time defending champion on Class 2A.
--Jackson County Central is a two-time defending state champ.

TEAMS WITH THE MOST INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS

--Class 3A: Apple Valley 13, St. Michael-Albertville 9, Albert Lea and White Bear Lake 8.
--Class 2A: Simley 12, Foley 10, Scott West 9.
--Class 1A: Kimball 10, Minneota, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Pierz 9, Jackson County Central 8.

STATE-RECORD WINNING STREAK

--St. Cloud Apollo senior Mitch Bengston, who already owns three state championships, also owns the the longest winning streak in Minnesota history. Bengston, competing in 3A at 126 pounds, has won 176 consecutive matches. He is 40-0 this season.

THREE-TIME STATE CHAMPIONS

CLASS 3A
126/ Mitch Bengston, St. Cloud Apollo
132/ Dakota Trom, Apple Valley
160/ Brandon Kingsley, Apple Valley

TWO-TIME STATE CHAMPIONS

CLASS 2A
132/ Joey Munos, South St. Paul
145/ Jake Short, Simley
285/ Austin Goergen, Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove

CLASS 1A
152/Curt Maas, Medford

OTHER RETURNING STATE CHAMPIONS

CLASS 1A
106/ Cameron Sykora, Border West
120/ Mitch Lexvold, Kenyon-Wanamingo
120/ Isaac Novacek, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River
126/ Oakley McLain, Kenyon-Wanamingo
170/ Cooper Moore, Jackson County Central
285/ Alex Yeager, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River

CLASS 2A
113/ Kyle Gliva, Simley
120/Pedro Delao, Simley
120/Brett Stolaryzk, Stewartville
145/ Gabe Fogarty, Scott West
152/ Nick Wanzek, Simley
160/ Taylor Lewandowski, Foley
195/ Broc Berge, Kasson-Mantorville
285/ Michael Krolls, Scott West
285/ Austin Goergen, Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove

CLASS 3A
113/ Tommy Thorn, St. Michael-Albertville
126/ Sam Brancale, Eden Prairie
132/ Ben Morgan, Forest Lake
145/ Mark Hall, Apple Valley
170/ Kyle Begin, Anoka
182/ Daniel Woiwor, Apple Valley

UNDEFEATED WRESTLERS

CLASS 1A
120/ Isaac Novacek, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River, 39-0
126/ Andy Poster, Royalton/Upsala, 34-0
138/ Michael Jarnot, Holdingford, 40-0
145/ Garret Hoffner, Mahnomen/Waubun, 38-0
145/ Larry Bomstad, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, 39-0
160/ Jordon Rothers, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, 41-0
170/ Cooper Moore, Jackson County Central, 42-0
195/ Nathan Rose, Sibley East, 41-0
195/ Christopher Zimmer, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis, 35-0

CLASS 2A
113/ Jarred Oftedahl, Benilde-Saint Margaret’s, 35-0
132/ Joe Munos, South Saint Paul, 41-0
170/ Garret Miller, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, 37-0
170/ Micah Barnes, Simley, 40-0
195/ Broc Berge, Kasson-Mantorville, 41-0
285/ Jesse Hein, Perham, 41-0
285/ Michael Kroells, Scott West, 41-0

CLASS 3A
126/ Mitch Bengtson, Saint Cloud Apollo, 40-0
145/ Mark Hall, Apple Valley, 35-0
195/ Clay LeVasseur, Rogers, 21-0
220/ David Johnson, Roseville, 27-0

Before Joe Mauer: His Mother Was An Outstanding Athlete, Too2/27/2012
If Joe Mauer believes in genetics, he thanks his lucky stars for his mom. That’s because the all-star catcher for the Minnesota Twins is not the first member of his household to achieve athletic fame. In fact, his mother was one of the pioneers of girls high school sports in Minnesota.

Teresa Tierney (now Teresa Mauer) was a co-captain of the St. Paul Central girls basketball team that was the champion of one of the first winter state tournaments in 1976. After holding a fall tourney in 1974 and a one-class winter tourney in 1975, the MSHSL went to a two-class format in 1976, with St. Paul Central winning Class 2A and Redwood Falls capturing the 1A title.

Teresa Mauer was a letter winner in basketball, volleyball and track who graduated from Central in 1976. She says she doesn’t feel like a pioneer, because she grew up as an athlete … even if high school sports for girls were new at the time.

“I grew up thinking (being involved in athletics) was normal,” she said. “I’ve talked to other ladies and they say, ‘Gosh, I was born five years or 10 years too early.’ ”

Teresa Tierney (high school photo at right), the third-oldest of nine children, was encouraged by her parents to be active and have fun in what she now calls “our little sheltered world.” She attended St. Mark’s elementary school in St. Paul, where a teacher/coach named Joe Meyer made sure girls had opportunities

“He did everything,” Teresa said. “And the neat thing was, I didn’t even realize all this until I had gotten older and served on the board of the school. We had the Catholic Athletic Assocation, and if the boys had a team, the girls had a team.

“There was always something for the girls to play and I grew up thinking that was the norm. Joe Meyer was very forward-thinking. We had intramurals on Saturday, and the older kids taught it, coached and officiated. I just grew up playing sports. My mom said, ‘Go, have fun.’ ”

When Title IX was implemented in 1972, Mauer was a ninth-grader at Ramsey Junior High. The school had limited opportunities for girls sports, or as Mauer described the format, “We practiced for two or three weeks and then had play dates. We played everybody and we had punch and cookies. I thought, ‘We need a playoff, we need to find out who the best team is.’ ”

As a sophomore she began her career at St. Paul Central. That was the school’s first year of fielding a girls basketball team and the second year of girls track and volleyball. Mauer jumped right in.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “All the coaches and teachers embraced it, they wanted all the girls to succeed.”

On the first day of basketball practice, Mauer and her friends who had attended St. Mark’s quickly caught the attention of coach Steve Studer.

“He was amazed that some of us could dribble with either hand,” she said. “Joe Meyer had taught us to shoot with our left hand if were laying it up on the left side. I look back at it now, thinking how blessed I was to grow up in that kind of program.”

Lisa Lissimore, another member of Central’s 1976 championship team and now an MSHSL associate director, remembers Mauer as “one of the most well-rounded players.

“Teresa was an excellent defensive player on that end of the floor, and once she stole the ball from you she could run a great fast break,” Lissimore said. “She was quick, she could drive to the hole or shoot from the outside and she had great court sense, she knew where everyone was on the floor. She was very unselfish.”

The 1976 Central team played an up-tempo style of basketball … at least that’s what Mauer said she remembered before recently seeing video from the 1976 tournament.

“We were a running team. We had Lisa, Linda Roberts and Deb Krengel, who were great rebounders. Lisa and Rita Burch would run downcourt, I was passing it to them and it was ‘layup, bingo, here we go.’ I watch that video and I think, ‘Holy crap, we were slow.’ ”

Central defeated Benilde-St. Margaret’s 49-47 to win the state championship at Met Center. That victory gave Central a 17-3 record and erased the taste of their third defeat that season.

“We beat them by exactly the same score they had beaten us earlier in the season at a Christmas tournament,” said Mauer (pictured with son Joe). “I remember sitting in the locker room after that loss and thinking. ‘This season is in the dump.’ We went on a tear and I don’t think we lost a game after that.”

The girls state basketball tournament was new in 1976, as were sports for girls overall.

“Everything was so new but exciting with women’s sports,” Central coach Steve Studer said. “Getting to the tourney was a dream come true. … Walking into the Met Center with over 10,000 people was sure a surprise.

“I think we all might have been a wee bit in shock because of the newness. I know I turned down a radio interview because I was so nervous.”

Teresa Mauer said her favorite sport in high school was whatever sport she was playing at the time (Joe Mauer told me the same thing when he was at Cretin-Derham Hall High School). Before Central started a girls softball program, she tried out for the baseball team in the spring of her senior year.

“Track for me was an individual sport and I liked the team aspect,” she said. Mauer was cut during baseball tryouts “and I deserved it because I was awful. I ended up running track. The next year they started softball, so my younger sisters got to play softball but I never did.”

One of her younger sisters, Jean, was named Minnesota’s Miss Basketball in 1979, was an all-state basketball and volleyball player and was the first woman inducted into Creighton University’s sports Hall of Fame.

Mauer, who was inducted into the Central High School athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, attended The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul and was a member of the basketball and volleyball teams there. She also coached grade school and junior high teams as well as the junior varsity volleyball team at St. Bernard’s High School in St. Paul.

Her opportunities to coach grew limited with the birth of her three sons and their participation in athletics. “I remember having Joe with me at JV volleyball when he was little, running around the gym and chasing volleyballs,” she said.

Like her teammates, Mauer reflects on her high school career with pride. They not only did great things while representing their school, they also went on to lead successful lives.

“The thing I am most proud of,” said Studer, “is that all of our team went on to graduate from college and be truly productive citizens and parents working with young people.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 297
*Miles John has driven: 6,439

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn