Chelsea Rachel wasn't quite a year old the last time an Irish gymnast reached the state tournament. But last weekend, she brought Maple Lake back to state after a 15 year absence.
Also back at state on Saturday was one of the last Irish gymnasts to reach that plateau 15 years ago. Nicole Glunz Green, who earned a trip to the state tournament with Mandy Fuller in 1993, was at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center guiding Annandale sophomore Jenna Woelfel in All-Around competition.
Rachel, a sophomore at Maple Lake High School, followed Woelfel in Floor Exercise competition on Saturday. In her first taste of state competition, Rachel earned a score of 9.025, which ranked her 20th in a field of 32 Class A competitors in the Floor Exercise.
"It wasn't my best," Rachel said of her performance at state. "I was so nervous."
It was a sweet Valentine's Day for Irish gymnast Chelsea Rachel, who advanced to state after taking second place in Section 5A for her floor routine at the Sections meet on February 14 in Watertown.
The team took sixth of the nine teams present with a team score of 126.575. Mound-Westonka was the only team to advance, with a score of 145.7.
To advance as an individual to the state meet, gymnasts need to place in the top four of an event (including all-around) or be a member of the highest scoring team. Rachel also came close to going to state in a second event, placing fifth in the All- Around.
Rachel is the first Irish gymnast to qualify for the state tournament since Nicole Glunz Green, now the Annandale gymnastics coach, went to state in 1993. The Irish girls' gymnastics squad was the first sports team from Maple Lake High School ever to reach a state tournament, capturing third place in 1989.
Mary McBrady, former Maple Lake Elementary kindergarten teacher and queen of the McBrady Clan has been selected by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 31st annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 15.
Although retired from active teaching for the past 12 years, McBrady continues to serve as a substitute teacher and a volunteer at the school. She is a past winner of the Minneapolis Aquatennial Commodore's Award for volunteerism, as well as an active member of the Friends of the Maple Lake Library, an Irish story teller and works to support the Zambian Children's Fund founded by her daughter, Carol. The McBrady Clan has been an annual highlight of Maple Lake's St. Patrick's Day parades.
McBrady and her late husband, Joe, have eight children, 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
It was nearly a year ago that Maple Lake honored its fallen Marine, Sgt. Chad Allen, who was killed on Feb. 28, 2007, in the line of duty in Iraq.
Sgt. Allen, 25, died while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) based in Camp Lejune, North Carolina. Allen was killed by a bomb explosion while driving a light-armored vehicle in Al Anbar Province, which is in west-central Iraq.
Both a memorial service and funeral service were conducted in March of 2007 for Sgt. Allen in the gym at Maple Lake High School, where he graduated with the Class of 2000.
Combine this with the deep appreciation felt for all of the service men and women who are now, or have in the past, served their country and you have the basic philosophy behind Honor Grounds, a coffee program designed specifically to aid veterans and their families.
Developed by John Salterio and Dan Boudreau of the Consolidated Services Group, a coffee brokerage firm, the program allows money raised by the sale of Honor Grounds coffee in each participating state to stay within that state.
Their mission is simple.
"To raise support dollars for veterans and military members who have served this great nation and their loved ones so often left behind."
Fifty percent of total revenue from the sale of each bag of ground coffee or each cup of brewed coffee goes into the newly established 'Patriot Fund' which distributes proceeds jointly to the State Veterans Administration and the National Guard.
After two tours of duty in Iraq, Cody Runke is home, but is also ready and willing to go back.
Army Specialist Runke, attached to the Delta 1-5 CAV as a tank crewman, graduated from MLHS in 2003 and enlisted that same year. Starting basic training in February of 2004, he joined his unit already in Iraq in July of 2004, returning in February of 2005. His second tour of duty began in October of 2006 and ended in January when he returned home.
Runke completed his first four-year enlistment period and re-enlisted this past November. He said he was motivated by the education benefits offered by the Army and a way of life he enjoys, especially when it comes to cruising in a tank.
"There are no speed limits in a tank," he laughed.
After 25 years of success in music, Kevin John Smith has taken his career and his faith to new heights.
Smith, the son of Lucille and the late Donald Smith of Maple Lake, has just released his first solo CD of inspirational music entitled "We All Bow Down."
Smith has been singing professionally since his graduation from MLHS in 1983. He has sung with the Minnesota Opera, Walt Disney World's "Voices of Liberty," Busch Garden's theme park, the Medora Musical and has performed as a featured singer on cruise ships. He is also one of the five founding members of "Voice Trek," a vocal jazz quintet which has won numerous awards and has recorded eight CDs to date. Maple Lake was the site of a Voice Trek concert when the group filled the Church of St. Timothy's with the sounds of Christmas just over two years ago.
The stork doesn't often make a delivery along the roadside, but that's exactly where he dropped brand new Lindsay Marie into the arms of her waiting parents, Lizabeth and Adam Minear.
Lizabeth knew as soon as she woke up that morning, that Sunday, January 20, was the big day.
"I woke up about 6:20 a.m. and started having contractions," said Liz. "Right away they were only five minutes apart."
The Minears and their two-year-old daughter, Olivia, live in rural Albion Township and as with most expectant parents, especially those who live out of town a bit, they had a plan of action.
Adam, a dairy farmer, was in the barn milking and alerted his brother, Aaron, to come and take over. Liz made the call to her mother, Jane Zeidler, who was in line to sit with Olivia while they made the trip to the Buffalo Hospital.
Leaving home about 7:20 a.m., it didn't take long for the trip to become very eventful.
"The Bat," a production of the Maple Lake Community Theatre, was first presented in Maple Lake in 1975. The new production opened last weekend in the Maple Lake High School auditorium, leaving only one more weekend to catch the final performances. Reserved seating tickets can be purchased at Security State Bank for the 7 p.m. performances on Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets will also be available at the door.
More photos from "The Bat" appear in this weeks issue of the Messenger.