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Johns journal's
By: John Millea

Everybody Wins When Perspective Is Proper

Gratefulness. Appreciation. Pride.

Win or lose, those were prominent themes during three big days of high school football at U.S. Bank Stadium. The state semifinals, 14 games in all from Thursday morning to late Saturday night, are always an amalgam of tiny schools from tiny towns and great big schools from great big towns and everything in between.

Itandapos;s no surprise that the winners were thrilled and the losing teams were disappointed. But if someone eavesdropping on Saturdayandapos;s postgame interview sessions had been confused about who won or who lost, it would have been understandable.

One coach ended a lengthy opening statement with these words: andquot;I'm going to walk out of here and go talk to my kids with my head high because they deserve it.andquot;

That was Browerville-Eagle Valleyandapos;s Wayne andquot;Ribsyandquot; Petermeier. His Tigers lost to BOLD 56-7 in Class 1A but he seemed for all the world like a coach whose team had just won. And they had ' maybe not on the scoreboard but in more important ways.

'I couldn't be prouder of a group of kids,' Petermeier said. 'At the beginning of the year we weren't even supposed to be in the top four in our district. You know, they were talking about a whole bunch of other teams and andapos;watch out for this team' and 'watch out for that team' and not once was our name in any of those thoughts. And we just kept getting better and better and better. We had a group of seniors that didn't play a whole lot last year and they stepped up and they just played outstanding. I couldn't be prouder of a group of kids that gave everything they had.

'At the beginning of this year our mantra was to be committed. Be committed to the team, be committed to yourself, be committed to the guy next to you and be committed in school. And they took that to heart. Every one of our kids got better in the classroom. Every one of them got better on the football field.'

A few hours later, a winning coach was nearly brought to tears when asked about the team's clinching of a long-dreamed-of Prep Bowl berth. The coach was Chad Gimbel of Blooming Prairie, which defeated Ada-Borup 41-0 and will meet BOLD in the state championship game on Nov. 29.

This is the fourth time an Awesome Blossoms team coached by Gimbel has been to the state playoffs, but this will be their first appearance in the Prep Bowl. Gimbel stopped to gather himself when talking about the significance of that achievement.

'I've been doing this for 23 years and this is our fourth time so it's a big breakthrough with this group of guys, and that's awesome,' he said. 'It's a great group of senior leaders and stuff but, you know, as a coach and player that's been through it for so many years, to finally break through and get that opportunity; that's a huge step for us and for our program, and for our kids. I'm super happy that they get to experience this, because I haven't gotten to this point in 23 years so hopefully they take the message that this is quite a step and not everybody gets to do this.'

Before Gimbel became coach, Blooming Prairie also went to the state playoffs three times in the 1970s and once in the 1980s. The current Blossoms are aware of what came before them.

'This isn't just our accomplishment,' said senior Jarrett Larson. 'This is for all the great football players before us that have carried on the Blossom way, taught us tradition, taught us how to play Blossom football the right way.'

Dassel-Cokato plays with a purpose

The Chargers of Dassel-Cokato, who defeated Annandale 24-14 in Saturday's Class 3A semifinals, know about loss. And that knowledge has nothing to do with football.

Two years ago Jacob McDonald, a multi-sport athlete, died from a freak peanut allergy incident. His classmates are now seniors and they have his No. 34 jersey with them on the bus, in the locker room and on the bench.

'He was a terrific leader,' said senior Sanders Asplin. 'That's why he's our honorary captain this year. He's been an inspiration for all of us to play our hardest, because you never know what could happen.'

Chargers coach Ryan Weinandt said his team has learned lessons about facing adversity.

'We have been in these (close) games before, and these guys have shown a ton of resiliency,' he said. 'This group went through a lot and showed a ton of resiliency. We've kind of seen the worst and we know losing a football game isn't that. We've learned that no matter what happens, we're going to stick together and we're going to fight, and they've got to believe.'

Girls state swimming and diving

--Visitation won the Class 1A girls swimming and diving state title Saturday at the University of Minnesota Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. The Blazers scored 318 points, followed by Hutchinson with 250 and a tie for third between Delano and Sauk Centre at 145. New 1A state meet records: 50 freestyle, Grace Hanson, Hutchinson, 22.79 (tied previous record); 100 backstroke, Emma Kern, Delano, 54.95; 400 freestyle relay, Hutchinson, 3:26.4.

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John Millea | | John's Journal