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Saturday, March 26, 2005

2005 Track and a little Swimming news
Do you know how many varsity sports tournaments are now sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association? Come on take a guess...

Of course there are The Usual Suspects (a pretty good movie, although it has nothing to do with high school sports!): Football, Boys and Girls Basketball, Hockey, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, Hockey, Track and Field, Wrestling.

Keep going.

Here are a few articles focusing on three amazing athletes from the state of Michigan - all competing in some of the lesser covered sports: Justin Switzer, Rockford High School graduate Dathan Ritzenhein and Sho Koba.

From The Detroit News
Waterford Kettering senior Justin Switzer is on the cover of the April edition of SchoolSports Magazine. Switzer won the state title in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:09.11, the nation's fourth-best high school time last year.
This past fall he won the Division 1 state cross country championship and was seventh in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships.
SchoolSports Magazine is distributed in 4,000 high schools nationwide.

From the Rockford Squire
(Scan down the page to view this one...)
Rockford High School graduate Dathan Ritzenhein, who left the University of Colorado last fall to pursue a professional running career, was featured in the March 21 issue of Sports Illustrated. The three-page profile lays out Ritzenhein's stellar young career...
(you might need to visit your local library to read the full article, as I'm unable to guide you to the full SI article...)

Ann Arbor Pioneer's Sho Koba set new state marks in swimming at this year’s state title meet. Check out Mick McCabe's article about his journey in the Detroit Free Press. Read Rob Hoffman's coverage of the championships in the Ann Arbor News.

By the way - the answer to the question is 28. Follow the link to the MHSAA website for the full list...

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Spring Sports 2005
With the Spring sports season about to get underway, I start digging around on the Internet looking for leads on some of the top players in the state, and for athletes that may be ready to add their names to the state record book. While coverage has improved in recent years, the spring sports have traditionally been crowded out by Major League baseball and coverage of other off-season professional sports. Considering all the information that has been revealed about Major League baseball in the last few months, that's unfortunate.

Welcome to the first edition of PESCH'S SOAPBOX
I still believe the long-term survival of the smaller hometown newspapers is coverage of LOCAL news. That's why I plunk down my money for a subscription to the Muskegon Chronicle. (BTW - Do you realize that your newspaper delivery person works 365 days a year? No holidays. Can you tell me anyone else that has such a job?)

On the sports page, that means local sports coverage. If I want coverage of professional sports, the Internet, television and the major daily newspapers now provide every statistic I could ever want. But the stories that I can never get from ESPN, the networks, and the other big players is the stuff I enjoy the most. Those pieces penned on the local kid that has advanced on to college (congratulations go to the Michigan State Spartans and Drew Naymick (check out rebounds and blocked shots) on knocking off Duke) and perhaps later into professional sports. Or the local personality that worked as a high school sports official for 25 years, or maintains the grounds at the local ballpark because he loves the sport. I really don't appreciated finding every box score from every professional sporting event on the agate page instead of the box score for the local varsity game (Then being told it didn't appear because of a "SPACE" issue). People still like to read about their neighbors - and not only when something unsavory has happened.

Anyway, keep your eye on Ashli Hull of Webberville - with 158 career stolen bases, she may make a run at Lynn Hockett's total of 215 set during her prep days at Frankfort (1988-91). Ashli has racked up 158 thefts during three years of varsity play.

Here's a link to Angelique Chengelis' preseason Spring sports article published in The Detroit News.

And - here is a link to yet another list that I try to maintain. This covers Major League Baseball players who attended high school in Michigan. Please look it over and see if you can help me update some of the information. Finding details about what high school an athlete attended can be quite challenging!


Did you know that David Kool was once on the path to play ball for Kalamazoo Christian? Benton Harbor's Wilson Chandler and Jabari Currie of Detroit Pershing are both headed to DePaul next year? Some of the greatest stuff on the high school basketball season is actually reported after the season ends. Check out this example by Del Newell of the Kalamazoo Gazette This stuff used to be quite common years ago in the sports section - it is becoming harder and harder to find...

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Monday, March 21, 2005

The Epitome of Kool
First, I sat with the only other gentleman to post 43 point in a state final.

Then, I watched another junior accomplish the same thing.

Witnessing Grand Rapids South Christian's David Kool notch his place on the state final's scoring totem pole was quite the treat. And that is tough to admit when, inside, I was rooting for Muskegon Heights to take the next step and emerge from Class B with a state title. The Tigers have been to the semifinal round in each of the last four years, but have not won a state crown during that span. Their last title was in 1979.

But who couldn't get caught up in the shooting clinic that Kool put on in the final game of the weekend. His point total tied him with Detroit Pershing's Ralph Simpson for third on the scoring list. (Simpson was part of the 1967 Pershing team that was honored at halftime of the Class A game as part of the MHSAA's "Legends of the Game" program) His 20 for 20 shooting from the free throw line established an new standard for future hoopsters to gun for in state finals play. I came away very impressed with both Kool and the Sailors.

Read more in the Grand Rapids Press articles by Bob Becker and Jane Bos and the Detroit Free Press article by Krista Latham and Annette VanDeCar doing outstanding work in place of the "Son of Swami," who was off covering the Michigan State women's team. (Gee - I wonder if the Swami - Hal Schram - was ever sent off to cover MSU women rather than the Michigan High School prep finals! LOL. I wonder how Dick Mayer would have depicted that in one of his classic Free Press illustrations!)

Check out classy Dean Howe's article in the Flint Journal on the reunion of those Pershing teams that took place this weekend.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Mr. Basketball winner announced
It was no surprise when Wilson Chandler of Benton Harbor was selected as the 2005 winner of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award. Mick McCabe did his usual outstanding job in highlighting the winner in the Detroit Free Press
Benton Harbor’s Wilson Chandler was a runaway winner of the 25th annual Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, presented Monday at the Free Press.

1981 - Sam Vincent, Lansing Eastern (Michigan State)
1982 - Robert Henderson, Lansing Eastern (Michigan)
1983 - Antoine Joubert, Detroit Southwestern (Michigan)
1984 - Demetreus Gore, Detroit Chadsey (Pittsburgh)
1985 - Glen Rice, Flint Northwestern (Michigan)
1986 - Terry Mills, Romulus (Michigan)
1987 - Mark Macon, Saginaw Buena Vista (Temple)
1988 - Matt Steigenga, Grand Rapids South Christian (Michigan State)
1989 - Michael Talley, Detroit Cooley (Michigan)
1990 - Anthony Miller, Benton Harbor (Michigan State)
1991 - Chris Webber, Birmingham-Detroit Country Day (Michigan)
1992 - Kenyon Murray, Battle Creek Central (Iowa)
1993 - Jon Garavaglia, Southgate Aquinas (Michigan State)
1994 - Willie Mitchell, Detroit Pershing (Michigan, Alabama-Birmingham)
1995 - Robert Traylor, Detroit Murray-Wright (Michigan)
1996 - Winfred Walton, Detroit Pershing (Syracuse, Fresno State)
1997 - Shane Battier, Birmingham-Detroit Country Day (Duke)
1998 - Dane Fife, Clarkston (Indiana)
1999 - Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill (Michigan State)
2000 - Marcus Taylor, Lansing Everett (Michigan State)
2001 - Kelvin Torbert, Flint Northwestern (Michigan State)
2002 - Paul Davis, Rochester (Michigan State)
2003 - Dion Harris, Detroit Redford (Michigan)
2004 - Drew Neitzel, Wyoming Park (Michigan State)
2005 - Wilson Chandler (Letter of intent - DePaul)
Here is a shameless plug for one of my projects. (is it still considered a plug if you don't make any money on the content? Just curious!) If you have any additions, please let me know!

compiled by Ron Pesch and Bill Hoover

This list is comprised of players who ATTENDED high school in Michigan before playing professional basketball. The sport of basketball presents many challenges. The first professional contest is documented as being played in 1896 and the first leagues date to the turn of the century. A variety of professional opportunities existed prior to the formation of the modern-day NBA in 1946 (then known as the BAA, or Basketball Association of America). These included, but were not limited to: the American Basketball League; the National Basketball League; the Harlem Globetrotters; the New York Renaissance (or Rens for short). So - what qualifies for the list? Obviously, the alumni of the National Basketball Association and its chief competitor, the American Basketball Association.

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Wrestling's first four time individual champion
Another MHSAA record was shattered this past weekend when Brent Metcalf of Davison defeated Braden L'Amoreaux of Clarkston, 19-7, to win his fourth individual championship. David Goricki does his usual stellar job covering this extravanganza at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the Detroit News. If you haven't yet stopped by to see this spectacle, you really should. Extremely impressive...

Brent Metcalf of Davison earned his place in state wrestling history Saturday night in the Individual State Finals at The Palace.

His place? At the top of the list.

Metcalf's brother, Chase, suffered a seizure on Saturday night prior to Braden's final match. The Flint Journal gave readers an update on his condition on Monday following the tournament.

Former Davison High wrestling standout Chase Metcalf is doing well according to his brother, Brent, after suffering a seizure Saturday night during the individual state wrestling finals at The Palace.

Detroit News writer Rob Parker wrote a wonderful story on Detroit Catholic Central coach Mike Rodriguez. Another inspiring story...

AUBURN HILLS -- For years now, Mike Rodriguez has been talking about retiring and going fishing.

Most folks Rodriguez 's age, 73, wouldn't still be working, let alone working as hard as when he started in 1957.

But most people aren't like Rodriguez, wrestling coach at Detroit Catholic Central High School.

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Upset Special - USA Today's #11 ousted...
Congratulations Holt - but I was kinda hoping to see this edition of the Tigers at Breslin!

Check out freelancer Ryan Pretzer's night-of-the-game coverage of the contest for the Detroit Free Press . I found this online around midnight - I really should have been sleeping!

Benton Harbor entered its regional final against Holt undefeated thanks mainly to its all-state post players.

Now everyone knows Holt has pretty good frontcourt guys, too.

Senior forward Andy Clark scored 20 points, and sophomore center Paul Crosby had 12 points and seven rebounds as Holt stunned the state's top-ranked team in overtime, 58-54, Friday night at Kalamazoo.

Crosby, by the way, is one to keep your eye on...

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What is going on with volleyball?

The 2004-2005 season has certainly been an interesting one. The move to rally scoring, the dismissal of the state of Michigan's winningest coach and the upset of eight-time defending Class B champion Marysville in the semifinal round are but a few of the "stories" that have set this season off from the rest.

Of course, the biggest new is yet to come as the state awaits a decision on the long pending "discrimination" suit that may force the move of prep seasons for a number of sports. Most notable could be the switch of seasons for girls basketball and volleyball for the 2005-06 season. This, in my opinion, is pure foolishness, but would be mandated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision to not hear this case.

I certainly hope that is not the decision. This case deserves an audience of Justices William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, David Hackett Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. What an ideal case study this lawsuit would make for future students nationally.

Chuck Pleiness gave a nice summary covering the changes in the sport as played beginning in 2005. The article in the Macomb Daily also discussed the reaction of coaches in that area of the state. All I can say is that it made explaining the rules of the game a little easier to explain to my sons...
...In rally scoring, which was often used at tournaments throughout Michigan, points are awarded on each play, regardless which team serves, as opposed to the tradition sideout system.

All regular season matches this season is best three-of-five games. Games are played to 25 points (no cap), and the fifth and deciding game being played to 15 points (no cap).

Perhaps the most stunning news arrived early in the year when the state's all-time leader in varsity victories was fired. Here's a recap from the Associated Press.

Jack Magelssen, one of Michigan's winningest girls volleyball coaches, has been fired from his coaching job at Portage Northern High School.

During his nearly 28 years of coaching the Huskies, his teams won 10 state championships, most recently during the 1998-99 season.

Then, Marysville's eight-year reign at the top of Class B came to an end at the hands of a worthy foe. Cindy Fairfield covered the thrill of victory in her column for the Muskegon Chronicle.
All it took was a hand gesture from a volleyball official for bedlam to break loose at Western Michigan's University Arena on Thursday night.

As soon as the official signaled that Danielle McGrady's long spike had been touched by a Marysville blocker, Fruitport players stormed the court and Coach Dan Potts nearly crashed into the pole supporting the net in an effort to get to the party that was quickly developing.

Over was the winless streak against one of the top programs in the country.

Some nice photos from volleyball and the winter season are available for viewing on Mlive's site.

To wrap things up, Mick McCabe touched on the changes and challenges that may be coming our way if the seasons change in his Prep Insider column, published in the Detroit Free Press.
Except for perhaps a couple of clerks somewhere in the U.S. Supreme Court Building, no one knows for sure what the sports seasons in Michigan will look like for next school year. But that hasn't stopped anyone from making contingency plans.

While Bay City Times writer Jon McQuinn described what has happened in other states that altered their high school sports calendar - the first in a series covering the possible change in seasons.

Michigan is certainly not the only state which has recently faced a change in its high school sports calendar.

But how have other states fared? That depends upon whom you ask.

McQuinn then covered the decisions that face officials in the Times. I don't know about you, but, as much as I enjoy high school sports, on a beautiful autumn Saturday, you probably won't find me seated inside a high school gym. Especially if I have tickets to a college gridiron clash in a classic colossal stadium.

Bill Heintskill has his strategy in place for the upcoming high school sports season.

Actually, he has two strategies in place.

"I've got all my officials assigned for basketball assuming the girls season is in the fall, and I've got them all assigned assuming it's in the winter," Heintskill said.

"I've got a really good computer program at home."

He's needed it.

Mike Spencer penned a nice piece on the change from the perspective of the athlete for the Times

For Essexville Garber's Kait Harris, volleyball is her high school ticket to college athletics.

If the Michigan High School Athletic Association is forced to change its sports seasons, Harris knows she'll be stuck in a gym this fall instead of out running with the cross country team.

Tim Martin's article for the Associated Press covered the story of the women who filed the lawsuit.

Diane Madsen and Jay Roberts-Eveland hoped to help their own daughters by filing a lawsuit they said would help prevent discrimination against girls in Michigan high school sports scheduling.

It won't work out that way. Their daughters have graduated from high school, and the lawsuit - filed in 1998 - still isn't settled.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Boys Basketball at Breslin
I hope you get the chance to attend the Boy’s Basketball finals at the Breslin Student Events Center on the campus of Michigan State University next weekend. It is a prep basketball fan’s dream come true, as the 16 teams square off in 12 games over three days to determine who will wear the this year’s state crowns in the Michigan’s four classifications. This is culmination of Michigan’s version of March Madness, and the final rounds of the tournament are a real extravaganza!

Teams have battled for state honors in the state of Michigan since 1917 (but only since 1925 under the sponsorship of the Michigan High School Athletic Association). On only one occasion, the games were not held. That was in 1943, due to our country’s involvement in World War II. For a number of years, state champions were decided in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The games have been a true parade of talent over the years, and have featured some fantastic contests as well as a host of stunning upsets in both the semifinal and final rounds.

A number of additional events will be held in coordination with the games that weekend. Two deserve special mention as they are, in my opinion, a couple of the finest programs put on by the State Association.

Scholar-Athlete Award
The first is the presentation of the 16th annual scholar-athlete award winners. A total of 28 students will be honored with a $1,000 scholarship, one for each sport sponsored by the MHSAA.

According to the Association’s web site,
“students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average, and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.”

During the ceremony, each student will be called to center court during halftime of one of the Final games. It is indeed an impressive group. I only wish more schools made their students aware of this outstanding program and scholarship opportunity.

Legends of the Game
The second event honors great championship basketball teams from past. Christened “Legends of the Game,” this year’s honor squads are the 1967 and 1970 Class A state champions from Detroit Pershing. Stacked with talent, the teams were coached by the legendary Will Robinson.

The story of Detroit Pershing High School's 1967 and 1970 basketball seasons are striking illustrations of the magic of high school basketball. One is a tale of the expected: a team with budding superstars that, once it got out of its own backyard, was expected to win it all and then delivered. The second is a chronicle of the unexpected: a team of promise that stole a crown for its departing coach. Both are stories of kids playing ball in an era of racial tension for a coach who believed that his job involved more than just athletics. In his eyes, it was essential to prepare his students for a world that often only saw skin color.

In its eighth year, the Legends program promotes educational athletics by showcasing some of the great teams of past years. At least 28 members of those teams are expected to be in attendance to receive commemorative plaques during the ceremony.

Check out the full story covering these teams in a game-day article penned by yours truly….If you are a fan of basketball, you will certainly recognize some of the great names from the past.

In case you missed them, check out these two great articles by Terry Foster. They appeared in The Detroit News and I feel they capture the excitement of the tournament.

The anticipation and dreams of the fans and schools are the focal point of Terry's first feature on the tournament.
"I can't imagine anything more fun than to watch a high school basketball game," said Holt Athletic Director Rick Schmidt. "And it really is a bargain at five bucks a night."

If that's the case, Walter Michael has gotten plenty of bang for his entertainment bucks.

Before every Anchor Bay home game, players shake hands with 84-year-old superfan Michael, who will make the trek from New Baltimore to Macomb Dakota on Wednesday night to watch the Tars face the winner of Monday's L'Anse Creuse North-Port Huron district game.

Three weeks from now, he plans to attend his 60th consecutive state finals.

Michael began attending high school games in 1937 when he was a student at Lapeer High. Michael said he became hooked when that team advanced to the state semifinals.

"I try to cheer for the underdog because they don't always win," Michael said.

In his second article on the 2005 tournament, Terry visits five games in five nights.

Whether they win or lose, teams, fans find lots of reasons to believe, celebrate at this time of year.

As state basketball tournament approaches, communities rally around local teams.

There is finality to the state basketball tournament. Every night there are tears, sad goodbyes and the promise to work harder.

At the same time, winners laugh, shout, celebrate with fans ... and quickly switch their focus to the next hurdle.

Last week, 748 teams played district games at 128 sites throughout Michigan in the single-elimination state basketball tournament. We took a five-night tour of Michigan's March Madness.

To steal a phrase from a local radio disc jockey from my youth (Thank you Tony Gates for burning this one into my memory!), here is my first

"Fun Fact to Know and Yell #1"
1939 was the year the term "March Madness" was born. Henry V. Porter is credited with coining the phrase in the Illinois High School Athletic Association's magazine. The IHSAA trademarked it in the late 1970s, and CBS reporter Brent Musburger first used it in reference to the NCAA in 1982. After a court battle over the ownership of the term, both organizations were granted the right to use it in 1996. (from Sports Illustrated)

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Welcome to "For the Record"
As historian for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, one of my tasks is to update the state record books for all sports sponsored by the MHSAA. With some sports, this involves numerous categories; for others, only a few.

In the "perfect" world (as it relates to high school sports history in Michigan) all noteworthy achievements dating back to the dawn of time (or more precisely, starting around the early 1890's) in the Great Lakes state would have been captured for posterity.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Rather, the records books are a work in progress. New accomplishments are added on a regular basis. Upon occasion, statistics are stumbled upon from years past and added to the site.

And sometimes errors are made.

Just the other day, I received an e-mail, pointing out a mistake. It was a problem with a listing in the girls basketball records for career three-point scorers. 158 - Heather Seyfred, Bridgman (73 of 460) (2002-04). I had keyed it in just a few days earlier.

Instantly, I was thrown back to the moment…A tap on the shoulder, accompanied by a little voice who wondered if I could please offer some help in the kitchen.

The most important task I have to accomplish in life is that of parenting. I’m a single Dad with full custody of his sons. Sometimes they need assistance: with homework; with growing up; with suggestions on what to draw. There are other requests. On this day, the need was for assistance with the production of a piece of Peanut Butter Toast. A slice of after-school heaven for an eight-year-old on a cold winter day in Michigan. (And occasionally, a pleasant diversion for a guy my age!)

Now, the statement, “I had keyed it in just a few days earlier” from a couple of paragraphs ago is not entirely correct. The line I had actually keyed in was Heather’s mark of 73 single season treys. Thanks to the miracles of modern point-and click technology, I then copied and pasted that same information into the career area. I then altered the total at the start of the line, changed the year to indicate the span of her prep career, and her total attempts from 210 to 460.

Then came Evan’s tap. And my train of thought was changed. Just like that, an error was made in the state record book. Of course this one was minor and easily corrected. The addition had been submitted by her coach, and was discovered when he checked the site to see if it had been posted. The record was there, but it was not completely accurate. Thanks to the e-mail, the correction was made.

It is a great privilege to record the accomplishments of Michigan’s high school athletes, and an honor to carry on the work of my friend, the late Dick Kishpaugh. A graduate of Battle Creek Central, Western Michigan University, and a longtime resident of Parchment, Dick proudly wore the title of state historian for 50 years. I have handled the honorary duties for 11 seasons now. Thanks to the arrival of the Internet, the record books in their expanded form are now available to the public for inspection.

But maintaining the Record Books is a hobby. It is not my livelihood. And this is not ESPN, where the feats of athletes are updated as they happen, with a scrolling message of details playing out at the bottom of the screen.

Instead, entries to the books appear on the site as they are submitted or discovered, and have been validated by school officials and/or newspaper accounts. Sometimes, they are amazing numbers that baffle logic and boggle the mind. Other times, they are achieved in a less-than-sportsmanship like manner. The purpose is to simply record that they occurred.

The intent of this blog is, I hope, to offer some perspective on what has been achieved in the past, is about to be attained, or was recently accomplished by a team or an athlete. I hope to point out links to interesting articles that I have stumbled upon, items of historical note, and generally discuss high school athletics in the state of Michigan. Along the way, you may learn a little bit more about what I consider to be the last athletic purity in America. Ideally, so will I.

To me, one of the great joys of this hobby comes in the form of the people that I get to meet and converse with about this pageantry and purity. Upon occasion, they are very recognizable names. In general, however, they are usually common men and women, boys and girls achieving uncommon things. The great majority of the time, they are good people with their hearts in the right place and their priorities straight, providing tips, insight and corrections.

Ideally, that will never change.

My name is Ron Pesch. It is very nice to meet you…

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