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2020 Seniors Get One Last Chance To Play Ball
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 7/27/2020
I did the math Monday afternoon to figure out exactly how many days had elapsed since the last time I attended a sporting event. I knew the key date was March 12, which was Day Two of the girls state basketball tournament. That also was the final day of that event as well as the final day of MSHSL competition during the 2019-20 school year, as Covid-19 wiped out spring activities.

Nineteen days in March. Thirty days in April, 30 more in May, another 30 in June and 27 days in July. The total: 136 days without sports. I did the math while sitting at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul on a spectacular summer day … watching high school athletes compete. Even though I'm on vacation this week, I had to go.

It wasn't an MSHSL-sponsored event, but that mattered very little. The St. Paul Saints, who are playing their American Association baseball games in Sioux Falls for the time being (thus making CHS available), worked with the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association to put together the Senior Salute as a way for 2020 seniors to get on a ballfield again. Twenty-four teams are entered, placed into pools with round-robin play going on now. The top teams will advance to elimination play, with a champion scheduled to be crowned Aug. 2.

"The idea that these kids are getting a chance to play on a great field, how can you go wrong on that? It’s very fun to be there," said Minnetonka High School coach Paul Twenge, who is among the coaches for a team with seniors from Minnetonka and East Ridge.

Players sign waivers stating that they understand the risks of Covid-19 and fans -- who buy tickets online in advance at www.saintsbaseball.com -- have their temperatures checked upon entering CHS Field.

Monday’s schedule included three games at CHS. The first game, starting at 2 p.m., was between teams labeled as Southeast Conference and Tomahawk Conference; most teams in the Senior Salute have seniors from two or more teams.

Southeast Conference, which lost 10-4 Monday, has players from Spring Grove, Caledonia, Rushford-Peterson and Randolph. They went 0-3 in round-robin play and will not advance, but that was pretty meaningless.

“I think this is probably one of the coolest experiences I've ever had playing baseball,” said Carter Bratland of Spring Grove. “I mean, we went 0-3 but this is bigger than winning or losing. We got our season taken away from us and I think just getting to play one last time with these guys that had the same thing happen to them, it was a good thing to just get something over with, get some sort of closure to what happened in our season.”

Most of the players didn’t practice or even get together before their first game. Southeast Conference coach Chris Strinmoen (head coach at Spring Grove who was the school’s male athlete of the year in 1996), said the players from his town, Caledonia and Rushford-Peterson could have stopped in Randolph for drills on their way to St. Paul, but it was unnecessary.

“We’re not using any signs, either,” he said. “We told them, ‘Steal if you wanna steal, just go out there and play.’ ”

A team that includes seniors from St. Anthony Village and Litchfield (and one from Columbia Heights) does use signals from the bench, and most players knew those signals long before the Senior Salute began. That’s because St. Anthony Village coach Troy Urdahl is a 1996 Litchfield grad who played for coach Jeff Wollin, who still coaches there.

“Litchfield is running the same signs and systems as when I was there,” Urdahl said. “We’re able to run through the same signs; we even called a pickoff from the dugout and the Litchfield guys knew what it was. It worked, too. It’s the same timing play, the same system I was taught by Coach Wollin.”

Opponents at the Senior Salute don’t shake hands before or after games. High fives and fist bumps between teammates are not uncommon, however.

“They’re so used to being around each other, they still want to high five,” Strinmoen said. “It’s human nature, they kind of gravitate toward each other. We only have 12 players on the team, so guys are always playing. The dugout isn’t packed and there’s room to spread out.”

Music is played between innings, a stadium announcer recognizes each batter, and one concession stand is open at CHS. All Senior Salute games are streamed for a fee on https://prepspotlight.tv/MSHSL

Spring Grove senior Chandler Bergrud was busy Monday, playing every position except catcher in the seven-inning game against the Tomahawk Conference team. After the final out, players on both teams tipped their caps toward the opponents. The Southeast Conference players posed for photos before leaving the field.

“It was a great experience with the boys,” Bergrud said. “We couldn't have asked for more beautiful days, it was a lot of fun getting back out on the field. And one of the nicest fields I've seen or played on, for sure.”

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.

More of John's Journal
MSHSL Connect
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League announces 2020 Triple 'A' Award recipients
Triple 'A' Award Image Four Minnesota high school students have been selected as the 2020 Triple ‘A’ Award state scholarship recipients.

Established in 1988, the award, popularly known as the Triple ‘A’ Award, recognizes high school seniors from across Minnesota for their achievements in the classroom, the arts/activities and athletics. To qualify for the award, students must have a 3.0 or better grade point average and participate in League-sponsored athletic and arts/activities program. League member schools are invited to nominate one boy and one girl for the award. Award recipients are selected through a multi-level process involving the League’s administrative regions and a committee of educational, athletic, and arts/activities leaders.

The 2020 Triple ‘A’ Award state scholarship recipients are Christopher Borash, Royalton; AnnaGrace Nelson, Cambridge-Isanti; Oliver Paleen, St. Paul Highland Park; and Kindra Peterson, Underwood. Each student will receive a $4,000 scholarship.

“We are proud to recognize and honor these well-rounded student achievers,” says Jody Redman, the League associate director that oversees the program. “They have demonstrated excellence, hard work, and commitment in academics, the arts/activities and athletics and are leaders in their schools and communities.”

Since its inception 1988, more than 15,000 students have represented their schools in the Triple ‘A’ Program. M Health Fairview and the Institute for Athletic Medicine sponsor the program, which is now in its 32nd year.

Here are the 2020 Academics, Arts, and Athletics Award winners and finalists:
Region 1A --- Carter O’Reilly, Pine Island; Kailee Malone, Stewartville
Region 2A --- Isaac Grev, Mountain Lake; Bergen Senf, Fairmont
Region 3A --- Patrick Green, Windom Area; Shelby Erickson, Windom Area
Region 4A --- Andrew Karpenko, Minnehaha Academy; Nalia Petersen, Heritage Christian Academy
Region 5A --- Christopher Borash, Royalton; Bailee Schiefelbein, Kimball
Region 6A --- Carter Grove, Osakis; Kindra Peterson, Underwood
Region 7A --- Jonah Giermann, Chisholm; Ava Hill, Mesabi East
Region 8A --- Nathaniel Thompson, East Grand Forks; Olivia Ellingson, Fertile-Beltrami
Region 1AA --- Mark Mosser, Lakeville South; Kaia Elstad, Owatonna
Region 2AA --- Adam Koller, Worthington; Katelyn Flatgard, Mankato East
Region 3AA --- John Deneen, South St. Paul; Ingrid Anderson, Bloomington Kennedy
Region 4AA --- Oliver Paleen, St. Paul Highland Park; Isabella DiGiorno, Roseville Area
Region 5AA --- Adam Johnson, Fridley; Iva Hammitt-Kess, Irondale
Region 6AA --- Ronan Brew, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Evelyn Villalobos, Robbinsdale Cooper
Region 7AA --- Adam Boeckermann, Elk River; AnnaGrace Nelson, Cambridge-Isanti
Region 8AA --- Jacob Keller, Monticello; Amanda Bittmann, Alexandria Area

State Tournament Photographs
State Tournament Photographs Image The Minnesota State High School League now offers the opportunity for member schools, participants, fans and media organizations to purchase photographs of state tournament events. To view the galleries of League events, follow the link below.

Enjoy reliving the state tournament memories.


State Tournament Photo Galleries
Board of Directors Meeting Synopsis
Board Synopsis Image Tuesday, July 14, 2020

• Board President Bonnie Spohn Schmaltz called the meeting to order
• Board member and president-elect Blaine Novak introduced the video reflection
• The meeting agenda was approved as presented by roll call vote
• The board meeting minutes from June 1, 2020 were approved by roll call vote
Lobbyist Report
• League Lobbyist Roger Aronson reported the State Legislature convened for a second special session on July 13
• A provision in a proposed tax bill supports a one time provision to apply up to $500,000 of MSHSL Foundation to be used to offset losses due to COVID-19 for League operations
Legal Counsel Report
• Legal Counsel Kevin Beck reported there is one pending case. A hearing date to dismiss is scheduled for July 24. A decision is expected within 90 days.
Executive Director’s Report
• Executive Director Erich Martens welcomed incoming Board Members Gary Revenig, activities director at Monticello High School, Regions 7-8AA and James Smokrovich, East Ridge High School principal (MASSP). Tracy Area activities director Bill Tauer (Regions 3-4A), Rockford’s Dawn Engebretson (Girls Sports Representative) and St. Paul’s Ceil McDonald (Speech) were introduced at the June 1 meeting.
• Shared an update on the League being a part of the Youth Sports Roundtable led by Minnesota Commissioner Tarek Tomes
• Thanked Heather Mueller, the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, for her strong communications role with the League during discussions and planning on returning to learning and participation.
• Shared information related to participation in board meetings with MASA, MSBA and MASSP
• Provided an update on conversations with venue partners as the League considers what state tournament events might look like
• Recognized the Principals Advisory Committee that has completed two years of service. The group will continue to meet four times annually and will be an advisory part of the Activity Advisory Process.
• Thanked League staff for their work in establishing the LEAD network and growing this critical aspect in communicating with member schools.
Executive Committee Report
• Approved the personnel actions to discontinue the positions of receptionist and graphic designer
• Discussed employee agreements and potential recommendations for board of director’s discussion. Current agreements stay in place until new agreements are ratified.
• The committee reviewed the financial position of the League, the conversation during the Board workshop and discussed the challenges ahead facing the MSHSL and member schools.
• School Space Media is preparing a rate-fee proposal for the live streaming of state tournament events.
• The committee reviewed a request for an independent review of a fair hearing held at the local level. After reviewing the fair hearing, the committee denied the request for the independent review.
• The committee discussed surveying member schools regarding the challenges and needs of member schools. Information may be sought regarding the communication and leadership provided by the League and ways the MSHSL can provide additional services.
• The board of directors approved by roll call vote the Executive Committee report as presented
Action Items (Roll call votes were used on all Action Items because of virtual meeting protocol)
• 9A: Pre-Participation Physical Forms

The board of directors approved by roll call vote a recommendation from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the Eligibility Committee to grant the extension of pre-participation physical clearances that expired after March 13, 2020. The clearance extends to the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year.
9B: Community Media Systems
The board of directors approved by roll call vote a recommendation to allow Community Media Systems the opportunity to provide live, audio-only streaming of League events at the section and state tournament levels to be used over the social media platforms and websites. Community Media Systems will be required to pay an annual registration fee and would not be assessed any additional rights feed unless they desired to provide live video as well.
Community Media Systems is the identifier for local, non-profit cable television stations, including public television outlets and school designated media systems.
Discussion Items
• 10A: Return to Participation

The board of directors approved by roll call vote the moving of this Discussion Item to an Action Item
The board of directors approved by roll call vote the creation of a Return to Participation Task Force to create potential models based on the Return to Learn models that are expected to be announced the week of July 27 by the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
10B: 2020-2021 Preliminary Budget
The board of directors approved by roll call vote the moving of this Discussion item to an Action item
The board of directors approved by roll call vote the creation of a Finance Task Force that includes members of the League’s Finance Committee and representation from throughout Minnesota to prepare feasible and sustainable financial models for the League due to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19.
10C: Music Advisory Committee Recommendation
The League’s Music Advisory Committee is recommending the League move to online adjudicating courses through the NFHS Learning Center. Because the League is a member of the NFHS, there is no fee for applicants to take the online adjudication courses. This will be an Action Item at the August 4 board of directors meeting.
10D: Uniform Modification and Special Recognition
The League has prepared updated language and information regarding approved special recognition options for member schools. These would be shared with both schools and officials to provide clarity and assist member schools.
Committee Reports
Eligibility Committee (conducted by virtual platform on July 8, 2020)

• The board of directors approved by roll call vote the committee meeting minutes
Audit/Finance Committee (conducted by virtual platform on July 13, 2020)
• The board of directors approved by roll call vote the financial statements from May and June
• The board of directors approved by roll call vote a committee recommendation that allows the 16 Administrative Regions to carry more than the board policy allowed 20 percent of operational expenses in the fund balance due to expected funding challenges in the 2020-2021 school year.
Marketing and Communications Committee (conducted by virtual platform on July 13, 2020)
• The committee recommended an Action Item for the August 4 meeting that will address moving to an all-digital format for souvenir state tournament programs
• The board or directors approved by roll call vote a partnership with Select Sports America in a five-year agreement that will provide soccer balls, apparel and other related equipment
Education and Leadership Committee (conducted by virtual platform on July 13, 2020)
• League Staff provided updates on the LEAD Network, InSideOut Initiative, Coaches Education Requirement and the MNHCC
• The Officiating Recruitment Forum on June 23 had 110 participants
• New board member orientation meeting, via virtual platform, July 21, 9 a.m.
• Workshop: August 3, time and location, TBA
• Next board meeting: August 4, via digital platform, 9 a.m.
• Recognition for departing board members: Dr. Joel Boyd, Governors’ Appointee; Rob Carpentier, Regions 3-4A; Kris DeClerk-Thompson, MASSP; Eric Lehtola, Regions 7-8AA; Jill Johnson, Girls Sports Representative; Bonnie Spohn Schmaltz, Speech;

2020 ExCEL Award Recipients
ExCEL Award Image
The Minnesota State High School League and Wells Fargo will recognize the 2020 ExCEL Award recipients during the halftime of the Class 2A girls’ basketball championship game on Saturday, March 14. ExCEL—Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership—is a unique recognition award that’s presented annually since 1996 to high school juniors that are active in League-sponsored activities, are leaders in their schools and demonstrate a strong commitment to community service.
“These student leaders are making a difference in the community they call home,” said League Associate Director Lisa Lissimore, who oversees the program. “Their approach to volunteerism inspires others to make service a central part of their lives.”
Among the 2020 ExCEL award recipients:
• St. Paul Central’s Georgia-Rae Plathe, who met with lawmakers in Washington, D.D., to advocate for protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
• Jack McNamee of Nevis, who is a coach of a Special Olympics basketball, track and swimming teams
• Rochester Mayo’s Annie Wu, who is an accomplished violinist selected to perform with the Rochester Symphony
• Orono’s Hadley Stephenson, who volunteers as a board member for Letters of Love, an organization whose members spread joy to children receiving care in Minnesota hospitals by writing anonymous letters of kindness.
“Wells Fargo is proud to sponsor the ExCEL program,” said Laurie Nordquist, Wells Fargo Minnesota CEO. “We congratulate this year’s award winners for demonstrating excellence in community, education and leadership.”
Awards recipients are selected through a multi-level process that involves League member schools and an independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota. The recipients will be recognized on Saturday, March 14 during halftime of the Class AA girls basketball championship game at Williams Arena.
Here are the 2020 ExCEL Award recipients:
• Kaylee Arndt, Fillmore Central
• Faith Balstad, Fosston
• Halle Bemmels, Le Sueur-Henderson
• Kaitlyn Bot, Lakeview
• Maggie Bruns, Blooming Prairie
• Jackson Burdorf, Sibley East
• Cole Christopher, Jackson County Central
• McKenna Coughlin, Ely
• Gracia Elias, Adrian
• Daniel Erlandson, Breckenridge
• Mya Hanson, St. James
• Gavyn Jensen-Scheider, North Branch
• Lauren Johnson, Belle Plaine
• Morgan Kisgen, Hancock
• Aubrey Kosters, Alexandria
• LaRae Kram, Morris Area
• Zya Lueders, Kimball Area
• Maxwell Kurken-Tvrdik, Melrose
• Logan McGee, Lakeville North
• Jack McNamee, Nevis
• Torii Nienow, Staples-Motley
• Jeremy O’Connor, Fillmore Central
• Georgia Rae-Plathe, St. Paul Central
• Jack Richards, Lake Crystall-Wellcome Memorial
• Allison Rients, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown
• Eli Schlangen, Two Harbors
• Landon Schomer, Pierz
• Tyler Smith, Norwood-Young America
• Hank Stechmann, Edina
• Hadley Stephenson, Orono
• Cade Sundgaard, Apple Valley
• Sierra Thomson, Mora
• Sophia Tobin, Elk River
• Adam Tonsfeldt, Barnesville
• Jenna Vasek, Fisher
• Annie Wu, Rochester Mayo
2019-20, 2020-21 Section Assignments
Competitive Section Assignments Image Below this message, you will find a link to the Competitive Section Assignments for 2019-20 & 2020-21 school years. The link will take you to a landing page where you will find the following:

Competitive Sections – There are 3 menus at the top that are universal to both the list and the map; 1. Activities, 2. Year, and 3. Schools. To view the section assignments for 2019-20 & 2020-21, make sure the year drop down menu in the middle says “2019-2020, 2020-2021”. You will need to click on the ‘+’ sign to expand any of the lists below to view all the schools within a section.
1. The Activities menu will allow you to see a list of all schools that are registered in that activity
2. The school menu will allow you to see where that school is listed in the activity you have selected.
3. If you leave the school the same and change activities to “Activities”. You will see a list of all the activities that the school is registered for and what section they are in.
4. You can drill down even more if you want to look at a section or class in an activity be using the controls just underneath the drop-down menus.

Section Map – The same menus and control listed above are also available on the map.
1. Select an activity first and make sure 2019-2020, 2020-2021 is selected in the year menu.
2. You can find a school by selecting it in the “School” Menu. It will show on the map with all the locations of the schools in that section. The school you selected shows larger than others.
3. Note that the school locations have a number on them. This identifies the classification not the section.
4. Section locations are hosted on the side of the maps. The number indicates how many are in each section and is located above the number of the section
5. You can drill down even more if you want to look at a certain section in a class by using the controls below the menus at the top.
6. One additional control on the map is the “Show Coop Teams”. By selecting this you will see additional schools that are in a coop but not the Host School. You will also notice gray arrows starting with the host school and pointing to each additional school in the coop.

Competitive Section Assignments
Be the Light Video
Be the Light Video Image View the Be the Light video here!
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Officials Registration
Officials Registration for 2020-2021 is now open!

Use the links below to register, view the online store, and find additional information about registering and FAQs for the Officials Program.
Register Here Online Store FAQs and Registration Help
League News
MSHSL Behavior Expectations
Board Agenda July 14, 2020
Board Workshop July 13, 2020
Executive Comm Agenda June 17, 2020
Board Agenda June 1, 2020
Board Exec Comm Wksp 5-20-20
Board Notification 6/1/2020
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