Monday, August 13, 2018

Practice Opens for Fall Sports in 90 Degree Heat

Though the temperature in much of Minnesota was in the 90s, it didn't stop high school athletic teams throughout Minnesota from beginning fall sports practice on Monday.

Football, soccer, volleyball, girls tennis, girls swimming and cross country starting preparing for their upcoming seasons, even at St. Louis Park and Benilde-St. Margaret's.  Here are the opening dates for St. Louis Park's fall sports teams.

The Oriole football team begins its season on the road Thursday, August 30 against the Bloomington Kennedy Eagles at 7 PM at Bloomington Stadium.  Their home opener is Friday, September 7 against the Richfield Spartans in another 7 PM start.

The boys and girls soccer teams also begin their season on the road Thursday, August 23 as they head to Hopkins to face the Royals.  The girls get underway at 5 PM and the boys at 7 PM.  Both teams home opener takes place on Saturday, August 24th with the boys hosting the Wayzata Trojans at 4 PM and the girls hosting the Champlin Park Rebels at 6 PM.

Also on August 23 is the girls volleyball season opener as the Orioles host the Minneapolis Washburn Millers at 7 PM.  It's also the same date the girls swimming and diving teams open their season when they head to Chanhassen to participate in the Metro West Conference meet at 6 PM at Pioneer Ridge Middle School.

The girls tennis team will be the first Oriole athletic team out of the starting gate on Tuesday, August 21 as they host the Breck Mustangs at 3:30 PM.

And the boys and girls cross country teams open their season heading down Highway 3 to run in the Rosemount Invitational.  The girls run at 10:50 AM and the boys at 11:15 AM.

Looking at the Benilde-St. Margaret's fall sports openers, the football team will also be on the road on the 30th when they make the trip down Highway 5 to face the Waconia Wildcats at 7 PM.  Their home opener is also on Friday, September 7 as they host the Orono Spartans at the same start time of 7 PM.

The boys and girls soccer teams begin their season on the 23rd.  The boys head up to the Twin Ports to face the Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers at 4 PM.Their home opener is Tuesday, August 28 against the Eden Prairie Eagles at 7 PM.   As for the girls, they host the Breck Mustangs at 7 PM.

The Red Knight girls swimming and diving teams will also participate in the Metro West Meet in Chanhassen on the 23rd.  The girls volleyball team heads to Minneapolis Washburn to face the Millers on Tuesday, August 28 at 7 PM.  Two days later on the 30th, they have their home opener against the Waconia Wildcats, also a 7 PM start.

The girls tennis team opens their season on the 23rd with a 9 AM meet at Wayzata and the boys and girls cross country teams head west to Maple Lake on the 31st for a 9 AM meet.

Whether or not it's hot, the fall sports season is inching closer to the starting line.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Richfield to Leave Metro West Conference for Tri-Metro

The upcoming school year will be the last for the Richfield Spartans in the Metro West Conference since they will be moving to the Tri-Metro Conference the following season.

The decision was made on the basis that it was very difficult to compete with conference powers Benilde-St. Margaret's, Bloomington Jefferson and Chaska.  Declining enrollment has also been a factor as well as participation numbers.  Case in point.  Last season, Richfield dropped their boys hockey program which had a number of successful seasons in the past but due to declining numbers, the program came to a close and partnered with Southwest Christian of Chaska.  On the girls side, Richfield is in a co-op with its city and future Tri-Metro rival the Holy Angels Stars.

In addition to Holy Angels, Richfield will also be joining Columbia Heights, DeLaSalle, Fridley, Brooklyn Center, Visitation, St. Agnes, St. Croix Lutheran, St. Anthony Village and Concordia Academy.  Those schools have similar enrollments to Richfield.

Will the Tri-Metro be the right fit for the maroon and white school on the corner of 70th St. & Harriet Ave.?  First they have to through a final season of Metro West action and district football that begins August 31 against a Tri-Metro opponent, the DeLaSalle Islanders.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Two Years Ago, HSGN Joins Blogosphere

Wednesday marks the second anniversary of the day HSGN joined the blogosphere, rising from the ashes of that went out of business in July of 2016.

Though the last few months have been light, due to the end of the high school sports season and the author of this blog recovering from a broken wrist suffered February 27, HSGN will be back in full force this month as it continues to write about high school sports and game shows.

And on the subject of game shows, there will be a new game show coming to the Twin Cities August 6, as Fox 9+ will be one of several Fox owned stations that will be testing a show hosted by Meredith Viera 25 Words or Less.  It's based on a popular party game that's been sold in stores for years.  Can it be successful and eventually be released to the rest of the nation?

On the high school sports scene.  The new Vikings training facility TCO Performance Center will be hosting several high school football games this fall.  The first will take place September 28 as the Farmington Tigers face the Eagan Wildcats.  If you plan on attending the game, you'll likely hear the familiar voice of Dave Giles at the public address microphone. In addition to his work announcing various state tournaments, Giles during the school year is the voice for many Eagan Wildcats sporting events.

But before the Tigers and the Wildcats meet in Eagan September 28, fall sports practice gets underway on August 13.  More on the opening day of practice and the first games for St. Louis Park's fall sports teams will be coming up this month.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Terwilliger is New Bloomington Jefferson Boys Hockey Coach

There will be new leadership for the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars boys hockey program next season as former Edina assistant coach Mike Terwilliger was named the new head coach.

Terwilliger replaced Jeff Lindquist, who retired after 16 years leading the West Bloomington school.

Terwilliger becomes the fourth head coach in Jaguar boys hockey history.  Myron Grafstrom was the first head coach, followed by Tom Saterdalen and Lindquist.

Last season, Terwilliger was the head junior varsity coach at Edina, where his cousin Tom was an assistant coach.  Another cousin Dave was an assistant to Hornets head coach Curt Giles.

Can Terwilliger lead the Jaguar program back to prominence?  And a trip to St. Paul for the first time since 2005.

Back on the Blogosphere

No.  HSGN did not go out of business.  The reason for the long gap between entries is that the day after the last post, the author of this blog was delivering flyers for a north Minneapolis company in Bloomington and he fell on the ice in a driveway and broke his right wrist.

Surgery was done in March, causing HSGN to miss the state boys hockey tournament due to recovery.  But due to a very sore wrist, it was too difficult to type stories for both basketball tournaments and the spring sports season was also time for the wrist to heal.

Now that the pain has departed, here's a list of the Top 10 Highlights of the Winter and Spring High School Sports Season.

10.  Though downtown St. Paul was hit with a snowstorm (causing the blogger to take Metro Transit), the Breck Mustangs and the Edina Hornets took home the Class A & AA girls hockey championship trophies.

9.  What a season for west metro area boys hockey.  The Orono Spartans won the Class A title and the Minnetonka Skippers sailed to the Class AA championship.

8.  Head coach Justin Morris ended his coaching career on a high note when he led the Lyle/Austin Pacelli Athletics to the Class A girls basketball championship.  Morris commuted from Omaha to Austin where his wife works and it got to be too much so he stepped down following the season.

7.  There was hope in New Hope for the Cooper Hawks as the girls basketball team brought the Class AAA championship trophy down Winnetka Ave.

6.  St. Croix Valley sports fans had reason to celebrate as the Stillwater Ponies won two state titles in a 10 day span.  First was the Class AAAA girls fastpitch softball title.  Second, played on a Monday afternoon due to heavy rain in the Twin Cities, the Ponies baseball team headed to Target Field and beat the Minnetonka Skippers to with the state Class AAAA championship.

5.  To quote a hit song by Lou Christie "Lightning is striking again."  That refers to the Eastview Lightning girls basketball team who went 32-0 to win their first Class AAAA championship since 2014.

4.  High school baseball fans who waited out a four hour 20 minute delay got to see one of the great individual performances in state tournament history when Seth Halvorsen hit two home runs and struck out 16 batters to lead the Heritage Christian Academy Eagles to the Class A title.

3.  One of the greatest dynasties in state boys basketball history came to an end in the Class AAA semifinals when the Columbia Heights Hylanders ended the DeLaSalle Islanders six year championship reign.

2.  A fabulous finish in the Class AAAA boys basketball championship game as Daniel Oturu's last second jam led the Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders to the state title over the Apple Valley Eagles.  Oturu will be wearing maroon and gold this fall since he will be playing for the Gophers.


1.  Highlight or lowlight?  April 14, 2018 will be remembered as the day of the massive snowstorm that paralyzed Minnesota.  The heavy snow put the spring sports season on hold and meant that baseball and softball teams had to play doubleheaders so that the season could be completed by the time section play began in late May.

So those are the highlights. HSGN is up and running again.

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 Class AA Girls Basketball Section Preview

Though some of the Class AA sections are already in progress, there are several that are about to begin.  Who is left and who could contend in the eight Class AA sections.

The top four seeds in Section 1 are still alive.  The top seeded Stewartville Tigers are in the hunt for their first trip to the state tournament but they have to get past the fourth seeded Caledonia Warriors or the fifth seeded Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars.  On the other end of the bracket the second seeded Rochester Lourdes, who have built a solid program under Myron Glass are now under the leadership of Aaron Berg.  They will face the third seeded Byron Bears in their quest for their 18th state tournament appearance.

In Section 2, the Norwood-Young America Raiders are three wins away from their first trip down Highway 5 to Minneapolis since 2016.  They have one 10 straight games and one of them was to a team they will likely face in the section final the St. Peter Saints.  Before they head to Mankato for the section final, Gary Lembcke's bunch could have a rematch with the Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers, who they beat 55-44 on January 20.

Down south in Section 3, the two top seeds, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers and the Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles are still in contention.  But look for the Martin County West mavericks and the New London-Spicer Wildcats, who got head coach Mike Dreier's 900th career win early in 2018.  It could be an interesting section to watch.

Now to Section 4 where the top seeded Minnehaha Academy Redhawks return several players from last year;'s state tournament team including Taytum and Terra Rhoades.  There could be a rematch with the second seeded Concordia Academy Beacons who Minnehaha beat on December 5 77-71.  The sleeper team to watch is the third seeded St. Croix Prep Lions.  Now if you're wondering where St. Croix Prep is located, it's in the home of the Ponies, Stillwater.  The Lions got off to a 5-0 start and have gone 12-7 the rest of the way.

If there's one section that's tough to forecast, it's Section 5.  There are five teams that have a legitimate shot at heading to Target Center.  First up is the top seeded Holy Family Catholic Fire.  The Fire hasn't been on fire lately, losing three of their last four games.  One of them was to the second seeded Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs, moved up to Class AA after dominating Class A under Jim Hammond and now Chris Buerman.  The Mustangs have played a tough nonconference schedule and it can prove they're ready to make a statement.  There's also the third seeded Watertown-Mayer Royals, led by Monica and Maggie Czinano.  Gopher fans could see Monica next season at the Barn because she signed with the Iowa Hawkeyes.  But wait, there's more.  The fourth seeded Minneapolis North Polars have won seven of their last eight games and the fifth seeded Annandale Cardinals, coached by Mike Dreier's son Matt.  Take a drive up I-94 to St.Michael-Albertville for the semifinals.  Which team will play for a state tournament berth March 9 in St. Cloud?

The top seed in Section 6 is the top ranked team in Class AA the Sauk Centre Mainstreeters.  Scott Bergman has another talented team led by the Peschels, Kelsey and Tori and Maesyn Thiesen.  Mainstreeter fans, before you get on your cell phone to make hotel reservations to Minneapolis, there are two other teams that can end Sauk Centre's section title reign, the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders and the Rush City Tigers, who lost to the Crusaders in overtime January 29.  The Tigers have only two seniors on their roster Abby Moe and Stephanie Braund.  Can Rush City rush past Sauk Centre for their first trip to state?

There could be a four team race in Section 7 as the Esko Eskomos are in the hunt for their 13th state tournament trip.  But on their heels are the Proctor Rails, the Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers and the Mesabi East Giants.  The Hilltoppers are the only Twin Ports area school that's never played in a state tournament.  Will it be their year?

Finally in Section 8, another four team race is possible with the Barnesville Trojans, the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Rebels, the East Grand Forks Green Wave and the defending Class AA champion Roseau Rams.  Another interseting section to watch.

Next up, the eight Class A sections.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 Class AAA Girls Basketball Section Preview

After examining the eight Class AAAA sections, here's a preview of the eight Class AAA sections.

The top seed in Section 1 is the Northfield Raiders who have gone 15-1 since losing to Beaver Dam, WI in the St. Olaf Invitational December 30.  Their Big Nine Conference rival the Red Wing Wingers are the second seed.

Over in Section 2, six of the seven teams have a winning record and this looks like the toughest section in Class AAA  The top seed and a first round bye goes to the Mankato West Scarlets.  Also vying for a trip to Minneapolis is the second seeded Hutchinson Tigers, the third seeded Waseca Blue Jays, the fourth seeded New Ulm Eagles, the fifth seeded Worthington Trojans and the sixth seeded Marshall Tigers.  Who will come out of this section?  Take a drive down Highway 169 to Mankato for the semifinals and to St. Peter for the championship to find out if the Scarlets make their first trip to state or one of the other five teams that could bring home the section title trophy.

There could be a two team race in Section 3 between the top seeded Holy Angels Stars, led by Destinee Oberg, who has committed to Arkansas and Kaylie VanDerWerf and the third seeded St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders who have moved up from Class AA to AAA.  The Crusaders are looking for their first state tournament berth.  Who will it be?  There's also the second seeded Simley Spartans.

In Section 4, the top seeded Mahtomedi Zephyrs have gone 16-1 since they lost to Chisago Lakes December 19.  The second seeded DeLaSalle Islanders have rebounded from an 0-4 start to go 15-4 and could be a threat to foil the Zephyrs first trip to state.  The third seeded Hill-Murray Pioneers are in the hunt for their 14th state tournament appearance, their first in five years.

Now to Section 5 as the top seeded Willmar Cardinals rebounded from a two game losing streak in January to finish the season 8-0.  The red hot Cardinals have to contend with the second seeded Big Lake Hornets and the third seeded Zimmerman Thunder, who is looking for their first trip down Highway 169 to The Barn.

History could be in the making in Section 6 where the top ranked team in Class AAA and the number one seeded Cooper Hawks are two wins away from their first state tournament.  There are on a 17 game winning streak and haven't lost since they fell to the Centennial Cougars December 29 in the Roseville Tournament.  Can they get past the second seeded Waconia Wildcats and the thrid seeded Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights?

Up in section 7, the top seeded Grand Rapids Thunderhawks are on a five game winning streak.  One team they beat in that run is the second seeded Hermantown Hawks, who have lost three in a row.  They will need to get back on track against the seventh seed North Branch Vikings or they won't be in the hunt to make the trip down I-35 to the Twin Cities.

And in Section 8, the top seeded Alexandria Cardinals look to return to state after they lost in last year's Class AAA semifinals to the eventual state champion Orono Spartans.  But first they have to get past the second seeded Fergus Falls Otters and the third seeded Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres.  Cardinal head coach Wendy Kohler has led eight teams to the state tournament.  could this year be number nine?

The eight Class AA sections are next.