The Wright Call

By Dave Wright

October 19 was a sunny 74 degrees that many folks may remember as the last really pleasant day they’ll see until, say, April. Brad Moening, however, is likely to remember October 19 for a different reason. Moening is the head cross-country coach at Highland Park High School. In the span of less than an hour, he watched both his girls’ and boys’ teams win their respective Saint Paul City Conference championship meets at the Highland 9-Hole Golf Course.

For the girls, winning is old hat. Moening’s daughter, Molly, was the conference champion for the sixth year in a row, running the 5K in a time of 17:57.50. And as a team, the Scots claimed their 10th straight city crown. Their 19 points were far ahead of Central, which placed second with 45 points.

The Highland boys’ triumph was almost as impressive. The Scots finished with 24 points. The individual winner was Como Park junior Charlie Power-Theisen, but Como was a distant second in the team tally with 57 points.

“They are two very different teams,” Moening said about his runners. With five seniors, the Highland girls came into the season with confidence. Their five scorers were all within the first six positions, with only Central’s Iris Guider’s second-place finish foiling the bid for a perfect score. Guider pushed Molly Moening hard all day, finishing right on her heels at 17:57.62.

“They’ve dueled a lot,” coach Moening said. “They saw each other’s face all day.”

Both Highland cross-country teams now head to the Section 3AA meet on October 28 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. The girls will be heavily favored to advance to the state meet on November 6 at Saint Olaf.

Senior Molly Moening, who is also a champion Nordic skier, pulled away slightly at the end. She is currently looking at Vermont, Northern Michigan or Montana State as college options. All three have renowned NCAA ski teams.

The Highland boys’ team took its third title in the last four years with a true team effort. “They’ve been running as a pack all year long,” coach Moening said. “At every race, the coaching staff guesses who’ll be the top runner. We’re often wrong. That was the case at the city meet.”

On that day, Davis Isom was the top Scot, finishing just 36 seconds behind Power-Theisen. Central’s Samuel Robertson placed third, with the Scots claiming the next four positions—all within seven seconds of each other. It was the sort of teamwork that a football coach could only watch with envy. “They do that in practice as well,” Moening said. “It’s a very tight group.” 

Both Highland teams now head to the Section 3AA meet on October 28 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. The girls will be heavily favored to advance to the state meet on November 6 at Saint Olaf. (Visitation also will be competing in that section after winning its ninth straight Tri-Metro Conference title on October 19. Sophomore Emily Fenlon took second overall to lead the Blazers.)

It figures to be a stickier wicket for the Highland boys. Two schools that will be gunning for them are Saint Thomas Academy and Two Rivers. Led by junior medalist Emmett Wolf, the Cadets edged out the Warriors 54-57 to win the Metro East Conference meet on October 19. Wolf led the field with a time of 16:16.3.

Undefeated STA heads into football playoffs

The Cadets remained on the run on a different field on October 20. After a slow start, the STA football team finished a perfect 8-0 regular season with a 35-10 decision over Tartan in the regular-season finale. The Cadets went into the season with high expectations. They had only one serious test all fall—a come-from-behind victory over Mahtomedi on October 8 that was decided on the game’s last play. The high-powered Cadet offense is averaging over 40 points a game.

As a result, STA earned the top seed in Section 3AAAAA. It’s a six-team section, so the Cadets get a first-round bye and will meet the winner of the Bloomington Jefferson-Apple Valley game at home on October 30. The section title will be decided on November 5.

Section play begins in prep volleyball

The volleyball sections started on October 26. Highland Park and Central tied for the Saint Paul City Conference championship with 11-1 records, and the teams split 3-1 in head-to-head matchups. In a weird twist of geography, the Scots are in Section 3AAA, while the Minutemen will play in 4AAAA.

Nova Classical Academy will take its sterling 21-4 regular-season volleyball record into Section 4AA as the second seed. Its first match is at home on October 30. To get to their first state tournament, the Knights may have to tangle with the only two teams that beat them in Skyline Conference play. League champ Concordia Academy is the top seed and Saint Croix Lutheran is the third seed.

Bad behavior on display at several levels 

Sporting events have always been an emotional experience for both the winning and losing participants—as well as the folks watching the proceedings. Add in the ability to provide commentary on social media as well as being able to review all the action in slow motion via video replay, and you have the makings for the type of mess that occurred on October 16 at Saint Cloud State University.

That night was going to be emotional anyway, as it was the first time University of Minnesota head hockey coach Bob Motzko would be returning to the building where he had worked for several years as SCSU’s ice boss. The Huskies had won a one-goal game the night before. This one against the Gophers went back and forth all night, and into overtime. That’s when SCSU’s Nick Perbix went behind his own net with the puck and started up the ice only to have Minnesota’s Blake McLaughlin poke the puck away. One pass later, the Gophers’ Sammy Walker netted a goal that brought the game to a sudden conclusion.  

The problem was how the Minnesota player got the puck that started the final scoring sequence. To hear Huskie backers—and head coach Brett Larson—tell it, it was a hook that should have been called a penalty. Gopher fans and Motzko, in a post-game press conference, insisted it was a clean play and that Perbix merely took a dive in a vain attempt to get the attention of a referee.  

Both views are open to debate. What’s not open is what happened immediately after the goal was scored. Fans littered the ice and voiced their displeasure loudly as officials and players scrambled to retire to safer spaces. The post-game press confabs were lively, as expected, with both coaches defending their players.  

That made for juicy reporting the next day and an avalanche of heated opinions on social media. The NCHC (Saint Cloud’s conference) then got into the act. The league publicly castigated the fans who threw the debris. That accomplished nothing, of course, but was necessary. The league then followed up with a public statement noting that a penalty should have been called and that “disciplinary action” would be handled “internally” with the officials in question.

Bad behavior was on display all that weekend. In Mississippi, the college football game there had to be stopped for 20 minutes because fans were throwing objects on the field—and at the Tennessee coach, who was hit with a golf ball. 

The next day, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers publicly taunted the Chicago Bears with an obscenity while enjoying his team’s win on enemy turf.  

It’s sad to say, but if you ever wonder why you see so many young athletes acting out at their various sports venues, just take a look at their role models.

Dave Wright can be reached at dwright53@msn.com.

COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE

The Villager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.