The Wright Call

By Dave Wright

Less than 24 hours after his team’s season had ended, Central boys’ volleyball coach David Albornoz was already looking ahead to the 2023 campaign. “We’re going to play beach volleyball this summer,” he said. “I want the kids to have fun and stay together as a unit.”

The day before, the team had a busy day at the boys’ tournament held on June 15-16 in Shakopee. Central opened with a two-set victory over Rochester Mayo. That earned it a match against second-seeded Champlin Park. Central was competitive, but lost 15-25, 17-25, 26-28. After a quick respite, it took on Mounds View in a consolation bracket and dropped a three-set match.

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“There’s a lot of potential to work with,” coach Albornoz said. “I’m excited to see what we’ll do this summer and next year.”

“It was remarkable just to get this far,” Albornoz said afterward. “Totally unexpected. Most of these kids had never played competitive volleyball before. They had only been together for five months.”

Albornoz is also the boys’ soccer coach at Central, and he previously coached boys’ swimming there. He relied on those connections to recruit players for this season. He’s hopeful this year’s success has laid the foundation for future teams. “Word spreads quickly at a school like ours,” he said. “When the kids see others having fun and being successful, they want to be a part of that.”

Central finished third with an 8-3 record in the East Conference during the regular season of the Minnesota Boys’ High School Volleyball League. They upended first-place Como Park in the postseason and advanced to Shakopee for the 22-team state tournament. Getting there gave Albornoz an idea of what Central will need to work on to advance farther in the future.

“There’s a lot of potential to work with,” he said. “I’m excited to see what we’ll do this summer and next year.”

central volleyball
Quinn Tange is at the net for Central, backed up by libero Vince Nayman. Photo by Greg Nayman

Scots shine at state Class AA track meet

After a spring where the Highland Park girls’ track and field team spent more time indoors than out, coach Emily Klatt wasn’t sure what to expect when the Scots trekked up to Saint Michael for the state track and field meet on June 9-11. The newly expanded three-class field meant Highland would compete against schools its own size at the AA level rather than trying to outrun the large suburban schools. Despite finishing second to Central at the City Conference meet in late May, Klatt felt she had a lot of talent competing, since many members of the Scots’ successful cross-country team were running this spring.

“It wasn’t an easy spring,” she admitted, “but I felt we had a chance to score high at the state meet.”

The Scots did just that, finishing fifth overall with 45 points. Freshman Ellie Moore provided the brightest light, winning the 400-meter dash in 57.61 seconds. Sophomore Luna Scorzelli, who set a City Conference record when she won the 1600 and 3200 runs last month, came in a close second in the same events at state. Junior Delia Johnson, who won the conference’s 800-meter run, bettered her time by four seconds to finish fourth at state.

The Scots also claimed eighth-place finishes in the 4×400 (Johnson, Scorzelli, senior Molly Moening and Moore) and 4×800 relays (eighth-grader Ingrid Haaland, seventh-grader Zoe Moore, freshman Samantha Palm and Moening).

Klatt was particularly thrilled with Scorzelli’s gritty effort in the 1600 meters. Considering the fact that Scorzelli and Moore are so young, the Scots’ future on the track looks bright, indeed.

Visitation senior Ella Sukup made her last state meet one to cherish. She was fourth in the 200 and fifth in the 100 in AA. Each time, she was less than a second from the top time. The Blazers finished 20th with a dozen points.

On the boys’ side, Saint Thomas Academy junior Mark Rogalski was a busy fellow in the AA meet. The junior was sixth in the 200. He then paired up with a trio of Cadets for a fourth-place effort in the 4×200 (with sophomores Nikoli Vargas and Luke Markert, and junior Michael Thompson) and sixth in the 4×100 (with Vargas, junior Jonny Miller and sophomore Savion Hart). The Cadets placed 15th overall with 23 points.

Two Rivers got a pair of yeoman efforts from sophomore Jon Wollan and senior Carl Strohoffer to claim fifth-place finishes in the 4×400 (with seniors Xander McFaul and Magnus Herschbach) and 4×800 (with sophomore Kiran Sharma and Herschbach).

In the first ever Class AAA meet, Saint Paul City Conference boys’ champ Central placed 27th with 10 points, thanks to sophomore Carlton Mukurazita’s 46-8½ effort in the triple jump. Central senior Lily Hammacher earned three points for the girls’ team with a seventh-place finish in the 300 hurdles.

Nova wins boys’ Class A track & field crown

Thanks in part to a junior sprinter named Sebastian Hoiland, Nova Classical Academy ran to a first-place finish in the boys’ Class A state meet. Hoiland got things going in the direction with a fifth-place effort in the 100-meter dash. He went one better by taking fourth in the 200. Later, senior Finn McCormick finished second by a hundredth of a second in the 1600, with junior teammate Henry Karelitz taking sixth in the same race. Those four performances accounted for more than half of the 47.5 points Nova totaled to top the field.

Minnehaha Academy senior Cullen Moore led his boys’ team effort when he finished sixth in the 800. The quartet of juniors Cadence Mitchum and freshmen Imani Sullivan Glen, Liza Timm and Grazina Troup won the 4×100 relay and took fifth in the 4×200 to guide the Redhawk girls to a 16th-place finish with 17 points.

Denning is in the baseball record book

As noted in the last column, with 901 career wins, Dennis Denning already has his name etched among the Minnesota prep and college coaching greats. He also was part of pro baseball history during his days as a minor league prospect. In 1966, he was batting leadoff and was stationed at third base for Miami in what is still the longest uninterrupted game in professional baseball history.

Miami, the Florida State League affiliate of the Orioles, was at Saint Petersburg (managed by Sparky Anderson). The teams tied at 2-2 after nine innings. Each team scored a run in the 11th frame. The game then remained deadlocked until the Marlins scored in the 29th inning for a 4-3 victory that took a minute shy of seven hours to complete. Denning almost won it in the 22nd inning, but his fly ball was caught at the left-field fence.

He finished the game 2-for-11. When he finally got home, his wife was skeptical of the explanation for the early morning arrival. The boxscore—a souvenir Denning later framed—proved to be convincing evidence to his wife that he did not spend the night out on the town.

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

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