SPORTS & SCHOOL
Journal-Press Internet Sports & School - March 23, 2017 Rob LaPlante
Journal-Press Sports Editor
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Buffalo setting foot on new grounds
By Rob LaPlante
This past fall featured the much anticipated debut of the new Bison Field West complex at Buffalo High School.
This spring, it will be Bison Field East’s turn for the lights to shine bright.
After 20 seasons competing at Cumming’s Field at Buffalo Community Middle School, the Buffalo track and field squads will officially open their new track at 4 p.m. when Cambridge-Isanti, St. Francis, and St. Michael-Albertville join the Bison on Tuesday, April 11 in the Buffalo Quadrangular.
Bison head coach Scott Palmer has multiple reasons to be excited about the new track.
“It’s beautiful. It’s got a little firmness to it, but we’re hoping it will be a fast track,” Palmer said. “Where we’re really going to get the benefits is just every day training. It was always difficult in the past. The start times for practice never was on time, because we had to wait for a shuttle bus to pick us up each day of practice to get to the middle school. We can also utilize the weight room a lot more than we did.”
The Bison boys’ squad had 77 participants show up for the opening week of practice. Among the notables not present was senior Jayson Gorton, who is the 2-time defending state champ in both the 100 and 200-wheelchair dash.
Palmer was unsure, but remains optimistic that Gorton will return to the boys’ team. Gorton and sophomore Isaac Basten were two of six members to qualify for state in 2016. Basten is the lone returning member of a 4x800 relay team that finished 15th at the state in a time of 8:11.96. Henry Lemp, Luke Smith, and Jake Kluver were the other members. Also gone is Jordan Thielman who finished 11th at state with a distance of 11-feet, 6 inches in the discus.
“We lost some key members on the boy’s squad,” Palmer said. “We’re young, but we have a lot of talented sophomores. Brett Hanson (sophomore), Alexei Hensel (sophomore), and Joey Anderson (sophomore) are a few guys we’re hoping can take the next step.”
Basten, Hanson, Anderson, along with freshman Nick Oak, sophomore Ryan Russek, junior Braden Benson, senior Landon Tourville, and senior Zac Lane were key members on last fall’s cross country team that qualified for the Class AA state tournament. Expect most to compete in distance and sprints.
Buffalo also returns three members from a 4x400 relay team that finished fourth (3:29.31) in last year’s section meet. Senior captain Nick Hanson was a key member from that relay, along with seniors Tyler Johnson and Carter Patnode. Smith was the fourth member.
The same holds true for the 4x200 relay. Hanson, Patnode, and Johnson teamed with Matt Montplaisir for a fifth-place finish (1:32.83) at sections.
Hanson is optimistic that both relays can compete for a top-2 spot this season.
“We have a lot of good sophomores, and freshman,” Hanson said. “We’re not sure who will take that fourth spot, but I could see Treyton Welch (freshman) step into that role.”
Welch is one of the newcomers to this year’s track squad. He spent the past fall making a name for himself as a wide receiver on the football squad, and this past winter playing hockey.
Palmer is excited to gain an athlete of his caliber.
“Treyton wants to get faster for football, so he’s going to run sprints,” Palmer said. “He’s a really good addition.”
Hanson also has state aspirations in other events.
A year ago he finished sections seventh in pole vault, clearing a height of 12-feet, 3 inches.
“My PR (personal record) was 12-6,” Hanson said. “Last year I set a PR, and the year before I increased my height by two feet. I definitely think I can get to 13-feet.”
Other key returners include: senior Justin Durr (high jump), senior Blake Gleason (4x100), junior Joey Farniok (4x100), junior Ben Ruhr (pole vault), senior David Hanson (shot put), and senior Connor Boster (hurdles).
The boys’ team finished fourth in the conference and eighth at sections a year ago.
Buffalo graduated its lone girl state qualifier in pole vaulter Rachel Bertram. They also suffered a blow with a few upperclassmen not returning to the team.
“Those are some big losses, but we’ll focus on the girls that are here,” Palmer said. “With the girls, they have a lot of youth, but we have a good freshmen group that had a lot of success in middle school, so hopefully it will carry over to high school.”
Palmer said 53 girls came to the opening week practices that started Monday, March 13.
Among the notable faces returning are junior Amanda Montplaisir, who will be the Bison’s top female distance runner. She finished sixth at last year’s section meet in the 800-meter run (2:23.86), and qualified for last year’s state cross country meet.
Sophomore Emily Kern (400 dash) returns as one of the team’s top sprinters. Senior Hailey Sorenson competes in both long and triple jumps. Her distance of 32-06.75 at sections a year ago was 11th best.
Along with Montplaisir, junior Kari Zumach has a legitimate shot at reaching state in the high jump.
She finished sixth at sections a year ago, clearing a height of 5-feet. Last year’s second-place finisher cleared 5-feet, 4 inches – a height she feels she has a good shot of reaching this season.
“My PR was 5-3, which was an inch short of our school record of 5-4,” Zumach said. “I think this year I can break that. My vertical has improved, and I’ve grown. I really want to get to 5-5, but I’ll have to work for it.”
Like a lot of track and field athletes, Zumach has bigger hopes in another sport – she is a Division-I volleyball commit at Colorado State. With volleyball in her future, her immediate goal is to make state in track and field.
“I’ve been in track since middle school, so I’m competitive with it,” Zumach said. “It helps me train for volleyball as far as strength and agility. But I obviously want to break the school record and make state.”
Buffalo girls’ finished eighth in the conference and 10th at sections last season. With such a young team, Palmer isn’t sure what to expect with this year’s group.
“I’m hoping we can move up, but we’re really green,” Palmer said. “The biggest thing, I’m really looking forward to growing and developing as a team.”
Both teams kick off the season with a 5 p.m. indoor meet Friday, March 24 at the University of Minnesota.
Cardinals make it five straight
By Rob LaPlante
The Annandale boys’ basketball team clinched its fifth consecutive state tournament berth with a 74-60 victory over Breck in last Friday’s Section 5AA title game in Halenbeck Hall at St. Cloud.
Senior forward Jarod Wilken followed up a career-high 43-point performance in Annandale’s 82-76 triple-overtime semifinal win last March 14 over Watertown-Mayer with a double-double in Friday’s victory over Breck.
Wilken scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Junior guard Trenton Peterson scored 17, including three key 3-pointers late in the first half that opened up a 36-19 halftime lead.
Peterson’s hot hand, mixed in with a strong defensive game from junior AJ Hinz, gave No. 3-seed Annandale the boost it needed after both teams struggled early.
“We had a sluggish start,” said head coach Don “Skip” Dolan, referring to their slim 7-5 advantage six minutes into the contest.
Breck advanced to the section finals as the No. 5 seed in Section 5AA thanks to Josh Roddy’s 3-point buzzer beater in a dramatic 62-61 semifinal win March 14 over No. 8-seed Holy Family Catholic. The Fire had earlier defeated top-seed Brooklyn Center in the quarterfinals.
Knowing the top team in the section was upset, Dolan and the Cardinals rode into Friday’s finals feeling good about their chances.
“We felt the Watertown-Mayer game was our biggest matchup,” Dolan said. “Those are some big rivalry games playing in the Wright County Conference. They have won some – we’ve won some. I think we would have met in the section finals had they been in the opposite bracket of us.”
The Mustangs were the only one of the final four teams left in the section not to compete in the Wright County Conference. Holy Family finished 1-9 in Wright County’s East Division. Annandale finished first at 13-1, with Watertown-Mayer second at 11-3 in the West Division.
While his team was confident, Dolan was particularly happy how his team responded against a Breck team they have faced and defeated each of the last three years in the section finals.
“In our heads, we felt going in we would go to state,” Dolan said. “Credit to the kids for coming out focused in a trap game and grabbing control.”
The Cardinals found their game midway through the first half going on a 12-0 run capped off by a Wilken dunk, followed by a Hinz 3-pointer, which opened up a 19-5 lead.
The 3-pointers became a common theme. After a mini 6-0 Breck run to start the second half, Annandale junior Nick Bieniek restored order by hitting two threes to open a 44-27 lead.
Breck put up one last fight cutting Annandale’s lead to single digits, 64-56, with 1:28 left. David Roddy scored seven of his game-high 25 points after Hinz had fouled out late in the game.
Annandale sealed the deal hitting a number of key free throws down the stretch. The Cardinals finished 28-for-38 from the charity stripe.
Bieniek, Hinz, and Wilken are the three remaining players left from last year’s state tournament team. Wilken has played in the state tournament every year since joining varsity his sophomore season.
“Making state is huge,” Wilken said. “Especially being my last go at it my senior year. I know this team can make a run at state. We’ve played the best teams and we’ve played them close or beat them this year.”
Annandale received the No. 4 seed in Class AA. The Cardinals (26-4) opened state with an 8 p.m. quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday, March 22 against the No. 5-seeded Jackson County Central Huskies (26-4) at Target Center (see next week’s Journal Press for full recap).
JCC was last year’s Class AA state runner-up.
“That first game is the important one,” Dolan said. “They eliminated us a year ago, so this is a big one.”
Section 5-2A Championship
(Friday, March 17 at St. Cloud)
Mustangs 19 41 - 60
Cardinals 36 38 - 74
Mustangs (60): David Roddy 25
Cardinals (74): Jaron Wilken 20 (11 rebounds); Trenton Peterson 17; Nick Bieniek 14; Leo Healy 9; AJ Hinz 8.
Braccini named finalist for Youth Hockey Hub Bantam Player of Year
Shortly after suffering a 7-4 loss last Feb. 11 at Eden Prairie, Buffalo freshman Jake Braccini received some good news.
His father, Bryan Braccini – head coach of the Buffalo Bantam AA team, gave him the news that he was one of five finalists for the 2017 Youth Hockey Hub Bantam Player of the Year.
“I think it’s pretty cool to have someone from our town be named one of the finalists,” Jake Braccini said.
Buffalo Bantam AA finished 24-20-1 overall, but failed to qualify for this year’s state tournament, despite cracking the state’s top-10 poll in early February, and defeating six teams throughout the season that were ranked in the top-10.
Jake, and his twin brother Tyler Braccini, along with Devin Huebner made up one of the state’s top scoring lines. Tyler centered the line and finished with 42 goals, 75 assists, 117 points, and was a plus-57. Huebner (40-27—67) played right wing and was a plus-32. Jake played left wing and put up career-best numbers of 78-62—140 and was a plus-70.
“It’s really neat for Buffalo to get recognized,” Bryan Braccini said. “Jake is a lot of fun to coach and works really hard. None of this would happen, though, if not for his teammates.”
Jake credits his father for a lot of his success, particularly his skating ability.
“My dad is big on skating, which Tyler and I work a lot on,” Jake said.
Youth Hockey Hub’s Tony Scott will present the award, which has previously been won by Moorhead’s Ethan Frisch in 2016, Grand Rapids’ Gavin Hain in 2015, Eden Prairie’s Casey Mittelstadt in 2014, and Edina’s Ryan Zuhlsdorf in the inaugural year of 2013.
Frisch and Hain are commits to the University of North Dakota. Mittelstadt was this year’s Mr. Hockey Award winner and University of Minnesota commit. Zuhlsdorf is currently a freshman for the Gophers and 5th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Knowing the elite company to come out of the previous four years, Braccini knows being a top-5 finalist will strengthen his goal of someday playing Division-I hockey.
“This is a good opportunity for me as a player,” Jake said. “Even if I don’t win the award, it will make me push that much harder.”
The winner should be announced sometime in April.
Like so many top prospects, Braccini is getting offers to play elsewhere. But he says his immediate goal is to join the Bison varsity squad next year.
“It’s important to me to play with my buddies and my hometown team.”
BHS students to perform ‘Saw the Musical’
From a worldwide franchise to a small town stage in Buffalo, Minnesota, “Saw the Musical” is a senior Capstone project created recently by co-directors Emily Twardy and Brandon Bednarek. This unique show is a comedic parody of the horror movies “Saw.” It was created to make fun of the movie while also being a loving tribute.
It all started as a joke about what Emily’s Capstone was going to be. Various crazy ideas floated around, including “Urdahl the Musical,” based on a popular math teacher at Buffalo High School. Twardy eventually decided to create “Saw the Musical.”
“We started on it last spring – it started as a joke,” Twardy said. “People said, Saw the Musical would actually be really cool.” Twardy’s response was; “No, I was kidding! It was a joke. But they told me I should do it – so I did.”
Twardy and Bednarek met through their Arts Foundation class their freshman year at BHS, and have been friends ever since. When they decided to do a show together, it went very well. Whenever someone got stuck or lost their train of thought, the other was there to pick up where the other left off.
“What really got me unstuck was bringing Brandon in and saying, ‘Alright you gotta help me,’” Twardy said. “When we were working together it was a lot easier to get stuff done – to get that momentum rolling.”
The process of creating a musical takes more than two people. It takes a lot of hands-on effort in and outside of school. Creating the musical not only took the hands of the cast and crew, but also those of the family members that had students involved in the show.
Twardy and Bednarek’s parents were the biggest help and support when it came to creating the set. Twardy, her father, and her grandpa took time throughout their day to help build and pay for the set. According to IMDb, “Saw” was created on a $1.2 million budget, while most movies in the early 2000s had an average budget of $100 million, according to Investopedia. “Saw” and “Saw the Musical” both have a tight budget in common.
“Our families have been incredibly generous – financially and emotionally,” Twardy said. “It’s been our parents, it’s been our own pockets, and a little bit from our cast.”
Stage Manager, BHS junior Grace Happe, is a friend to the directors. She has lent a helping hand throughout the process of creating the musical.
“We built the sets,” Happe said. “The materials were provided by Emily’s family and Brandon’s family. They have really pooled all the funds together.”
The physical aspects of the show included a lot of time, money and hard work from the cast and crew. The creative aspects and the actual writing of the show had a similar process.
“Whenever I had time, I would be writing the script or writing the music – before school, after school – whenever we could fit in a few minutes to tweak this or that,” Twardy said.
Not just the directors have put time and work into this show, but also actors. BHS senior Carson JS Reichardt also dedicated his time to this passion project.
“I like to think of commitment as help,” Reichardt said. “Unless I have an ongoing conflict – which I’ve had just one – I’ve always been there when I’m needed for rehearsals. I think just being there and putting in the effort, and being willing to do it, to make that effort makes any situation better – not just a show.”
Although “Saw the Musical” has been written and is being performed by growing actors and actresses, those involved are more than qualified. Twardy and Bednarek have been part of the theatre life since they were both kids. Happe has been part of theatre, both on and off stage, for 12 years. Reichardt did theatre in middle school, and then picked it up again his junior year for BHS’ musical “West Side Story.”
They all have an incredibly strong passion for the arts, and they all feel at home when they walk into the auditorium and stand on the stage.
Happe loves doing what she is doing for “Saw the Musical” so much that she plans to major in stage managing in college! “I’m thinking Minnesota-Duluth,” Happe shares excitedly.
Reichardt has been cast in “Saw the Musical” as one of his final shows at BHS. In the musical, Reichardt plays Francis who is the “behind the scenes guy” for Jigsaw, the main antagonist. Theatre for Reichardt is a way to have fun, learn, and not worry about how he’s a high school student heading to college.
“My favorite part of theatre is ‘playing pretend’ and forgetting about all the stress of high school,” Reichardt said. “I’ve really learned the value of self-motivation, and how being committed plays a big part in creating a show.”
Reichardt and Happe’s passion for the arts is matched by their devoted directors.
“I want people that come see our show to get a good laugh and know that they made a good choice of coming to see our musical.” Reichardt shares passionately.
According to IMDb, the movie “Saw” took only 18 days to film. Unlike the movie, “Saw the Musical” rehearsals have been in motion since the fall of 2016. “Saw the Musical” actually took about a year to write, two days for the casting and auditions, and many months of practice before it made its debut.
As “Saw the Musical” is preparing to take the stage for its final show, the cast is very excited to perform. The last performance is at the BHS Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. for the Arts Magnet Showcase on Monday, March 27. Tickets are $1 for kids and seniors, and $2 for adults. Twardy, Bednarek, Reichardt, and Happe are all overjoyed with how the musical is coming together. They want everyone to enjoy the show that they have worked so hard on.
“You can see our efforts when our cast is performing their parts, and we see how much passion they have for the piece,” Twardy said. “Brandon and I are just off stage waving our hands and fanning our faces, silently screaming with excitement! Of course the cast thinks it’s hilarious. They make fun of us for it, but it’s really cool to see something that we created to come to life like this. I couldn’t be more excited!”
Buffalo KB qualifies for state
By Doug Voerding
The Buffalo High School Knowledge Bowl team knew they had their work cut for them. They knew they would be facing tough competition.
After placing fourth in the large-school subregion back on March 8, they knew they had to score enough points to get themselves into the top three at the large-school region if they planned to compete in the state tournament.
The team of Tyler Dirks, Sophie Lefebvre, Max Nagel, and Travis Wolden, joined by Jayde Hoppe for the written round, was ready for the competition on Monday, March 20, in Sartell.
And, according to Coach Hanna Mahan, “They did great!”
After a written round of 60 questions and five intense oral rounds of 45 questions each, the team took second place in the region tournament and will be heading to the Knowledge Bowl state tournament April 6 – 7 in Brainerd.
Joining Buffalo at the state tournament will be teams from Sauk Rapids and Big Lake. The top three large schools and the top three small schools in the Central Minnesota region participate in the state tournament. The top three regional small schools attending state are a team from St. John’s Prep and two teams from Melrose.
The team started the meet in third place after scoring 51 in the written round. A strong score of 17 in the first oral round put the team in second place. The team moved into first place after scoring 13 in the second round and held first place with a score of 14 in the third round. A difficult fourth round dropped the team to fourth, but a strong finish in the fifth round brought the team up to its second place finish.
The top positions fluctuated throughout the day with the Buffalo team and teams from Sauk Rapids, Big Lake, Sartell, and Rogers. The final ranking at the region was Sauk Rapids, Buffalo, Big Lake, Sartell, and Rogers. At the subregion, the end ranking was Sauk Rapids, Rogers, Big Lake, Buffalo, and Sartell. Throughout the season, there was intense competition among those five teams.
“We knew it would be close,” said first year coach Mahan. “The five teams were jockeying for position throughout the tournament. Now we are all super excited to be going to state!”
Two students represent BHS in major culinary competition
Two students, freshman Katie Dismang and senior Kenny Pecarina, represented their school in a first-time event for Buffalo High School, the Minnesota ProStart Invitational, a culinary and management competition sponsored by the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation and Sysco Minnesota.
The event took place at Sysco Minnesota in Mounds View on March 9, and Dismang and Pecarina took part in the culinary competition.
Julie A. Mundahl, Family and Consumer Sciences educator at BHS, said the event offers good training for developing restaurant and food service skills. Dismang would like to own her own bakery someday, and Pecarina is considering a food service industry career path.
BHS offers a Hospitality Foods class, and a Culinary Boot Camp was conducted last November. Students served dinner for the School Board, Mundahl mentioned.
As Dismang and Pecarina prepared for the culinary competition on March 9, they worked with a chef mentor, Brent Preppernau, who works for Cargill in Monticello.
“They spent Monday and Thursday evenings preparing for the competition since Jan. 5,” Mundahl said.
During the competition, they had one hour to prepare a three-course meal. Their starter was fried zucchini batonnet with roasted red pepper aioli dipping sauce. The entrée was lemon chicken piccata risotto with butternut squash and pancetta steamed and marinated asparagus. For dessert, they made classic Italian tiramisu.
“We were never able to get it under an hour during practice, but we had five minutes to spare in the competition,” Pecarina said.
“I kept wondering, ‘What did we miss?’” Dismang added.
The pressure was on during the competition. Fourteen teams each worked in a ten-by-ten-foot space, with staggered starts. Buffalo and Elk River both started at the same time, but Dismang and Pecarina didn’t notice; they were too focused on what they were doing.
“I was incredibly nervous,” Dismang said. “We hadn’t burned anything in practice, but while I was cutting ingredients, I forgot about the risotto.”
She was allowed to restart the risotto, and the results were surprisingly good.
“All three judges said it (the risotto) was the best item on the plate,” Dismang recalled with a smile.
Only the first, second and third teams were recognized at the end of the competition, so Dismang and Pecarina do not know where they placed, but they received helpful feedback from the judges. Pecarina recalled hearing the knife cuts were performed well, but sanitation between cuts could be improved. Suggestions were offered for the sauce on the chicken. The layers of the dessert could have been more defined.
Mundahl is building a team for next year, and Dismang is already being called Captain Katie.
Mundahl mentioned that the competition included costing out each ingredient and setting a price for each course (including a profit). The prices were $14 for the starter, $25 for the entrée and $10 for the dessert.
Elk River and Sauk Rapids-Rice took top honors. The Elk River team prepared sautéed sea scallops, seared beef tenderloin and goat cheese panna cotta.
The top teams are advancing to a national competition April 28-30 in Charleston, S.C.
Several acclaimed chefs served as judges.
BHS’ Night Out for Music coming March 25 to PAC
This tradition, which has been going on for over 30 years, is a wonderful evening of music, delicious desserts, and a fabulous silent auction to support the music department and students.
The event takes place on Saturday, March 25 in the BHS Performing Arts Center. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with Silent Auction check in and items on display. Entertainment will begin at 7 p.m. provided by Jazz Ensemble I, BHS Singers, Treble Singers and Chamber Strings I, and will include such well known tunes as “A String of Pearls,” “If I Loved You, I Could Write a Book,” and “Night and Day.” During the extended intermission, guests will enjoy a gourmet dessert buffet and flavored coffees while placing final bids at the Silent Auction.
Again this year, you can purchase tickets and bid on silent auction items online. Check out the electronic bidding site sponsored by Bid Partner of Buffalo at www.bidpartner.net/nofm/. Bid on approximately 100 silent auction items, including hotel and entertainment packages such as Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, as well as a large variety of gift cards, baskets, handcrafted items, etc. Nearly $5,000 in silent auction items has been donated to support the BHS Music Department. Now it is your turn to benefit from those donations and support the outstanding music at BHS. You do not need to be present to participate in the silent auction, but you won’t want to miss the music or the desserts.
Tickets may be purchased in advance online at the above website, at Buffalo Books & Coffee, or by contacting Jill Starr at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 763-682-8129. Tickets are available in advance or at the door for $12/Adults, $10/seniors and $8/students. Activity passes are not accepted as this is a fundraiser. See you at this marvelous community event.