2010 Year in Review: A year of firstsA look back at some of the most notable events in area sports from 2010.
Each and every year on various playing fields dreams are fulfilled or destroyed, records are shattered or withstand the test of time and hopes can be realized or crushed. But no matter the outcome, memories are most definitely made.
For many of the area’s sports faithful, 2010 was a year to remember.
For a select few, those memories from the past 365 days will last an entire lifetime. However, others may need a reminder.
Here’s a look back at some of the most notable events in area sports from 2010.
Royals’ Miller named Mr. Soccer
After his final high school soccer season, in which he led Woodbury to a 14-4-1 overall record and a trip to the Section 4AA final, Eric Miller was not only honored as an All-Conference player and an All-State player for a second-straight year, but was also named Minnesota’s Mr. Soccer by the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches Association.
Every year, prior to the state tournament, the MSHSSCA awards the Mr. and Ms. Soccer Award to a recipient who is deemed the best overall player in the state.
Miller was a four-year starter for the Royals. As a senior, he tied for the team lead in scoring with 31 points on 16 goals and 15 assists from his midfield position.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever coached in every aspect of the game,” said Woodbury head coach Joe Quintavalle, who has been the Royals’ head coach since 1992. “He has talent, leadership, work ethic and attitude. He’s got it all. He’s a great player on the field and off the field he has a lot of respect from his teammates. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, but I’m sure I’ll miss him.”
This month, Miller is heading to Omaha, Neb., where he will begin playing spring soccer for Creighton University. After signing with Creighton as a junior, Miller sped up his prep academic curriculum and took college courses at Century Community College in order to be able to join the Bluejays early. This past fall season, Creighton ended the year ranked 17th in the nation with a 13-6-1 record out of the Missouri Valley Conference and appeared in its 18th NCAA Tournament in the past 19 seasons.
Miller said the recognition he has received is a little
“It’s pretty amazing,” Miller said. “I don’t think you can ever expect to win something like that. You just do whatever you can to get wins for your team. During the year, you don’t really focus on that stuff. You’re focused on getting to sections and getting to state, things like that.”
Gaede selected by Sharks in third round of NHL draft
Max Gaede made Woodbury High School history in 2010, as he became the first Woodbury graduate to be drafted into the National Hockey League.
Gaede, a three-year varsity forward for Woodbury, was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the third round of the league’s entry draft on Saturday, June 19.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Gaede, who was picked 88th overall. “It’s a lot to take in.”
Gaede, who finished his Woodbury career with 43 goals and 58 assists for 101 total points, said he expected to be drafted, but was surprised when he got the call.
The Woodbury alumn said he nearly missed his name being called with the 88th pick during the televised live-draft coverage.
However, shortly after Gaede’s name was announced at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, he was called by family advisor Dan Plante before one more ring of the phone made it all very real.
“I got a call saying, ‘we just selected you in the third round, welcome to the San Jose Sharks,’” Gaede said. “I was celebrating then.”
Gaede is currently with the Sioux City Muskateers of the United States Hockey League, and was one of 22 USHL players selected to the U.S. Junior Select Team that competed in the World Junior A Challenge in British Columbia from Nov. 8-14.
Eagles win third straight state title
The Eagles won their third-straight Class A state championship with a 2-0 defeat of Barnum in the final on Friday, June 11, at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
“It feels amazing,” pitcher Rebekah Schmidt said at the time. “Back in January, we didn’t know if we’d even have enough girls to have a team — and now we three-peat? Just amazing.”
Schmidt, who carried an 0.60 earned run average into the state tournament, dropped that number, tying a state tournament record with three consecutive shutouts.
Among those pitchers that Schmidt tied in the record book was her sister Danielle, who threw three-straight shutouts in helping New Life to its first state title in 2008.
The Eagles earned a trip to the Class A championship game after beating Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 1-0 in a nine-inning semifinal game and walloping Wabasso 8-0 in the opening round.
Schmidt, catcher Natalie Schad and outfielder Lauren Anders were named to the Class A All-Tournament team.
Karrow is East Ridge’s first state champ
Sophomore Jenna Karrow earned East Ridge’s first-ever state title, winning the Class AA state diving championship at the state meet on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
“I’m really excited and kind of shocked, too,” Karrow said at the time. “A lot can happen at a meet, so I wasn’t sure until the very end.”
Karrow, the leader after the preliminary and semifinal rounds, scored a meet-best 453.10 points to win the state title — edging her friend and fellow District 833 diver Emily Bonfig from Woodbury.
Leading with 397.20 points with one dive remaining, Karrow uncorked a 55.9 on her final dive to all but ice the state championship.
After the first day’s five dives Karrow held a 3.35-point lead heading into the finals.
With three dives remaining, Karrow had a score of 307.15 and led Ramberg, who was in second place with a score of 303.80.
After the prelims and semifinals, Bonfig was in third place with 283.75 points, Kohlbeck was in fourth place with a score of 282.50 and Meyer was in 16th place with 242.35 points.
Karrow was the Section 3AA champion, scoring a 425.10 to earn the section title.
In addition to Karrow, East Ridge senior Bailee Meyer finished ninth in the state meet with a score of 364.10 in the diving competition.
Shock and claw: Raptors sink talons into state tournament, take fifth place
The East Ridge volleyball team clawed its way to the state tournament with an emotional 3-2 win over Hill-Murray in the Section 4AAA final on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Hastings High School.
Down 2-1 after losing the third game 25-15, East Ridge outscored fifth-seeded Hill-Murray 40-27 down the stretch, including 25-15 in game four and 15-12 in game five, to win the match and qualify for its first-ever state tournament.
“It feels fantastic,” East Ridge senior captain Dale Hoeffel said at the time. “This feels so great right now. It’s a dream come true. It’s just awesome. This is an experience that not everyone gets to encounter. I’m so glad I have this opportunity to go to the state tournament.”
At the state tournament, East Ridge won two games and claimed the Class AAA state consolation championship with a 3-1 win over Andover on Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
With the win, the Raptors became the school’s first team to place at a state tournament.
At its first-ever state tournament, Section 4AAA champion East Ridge — in only its second year together — fell to top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Lakeville North in the first round, but rebounded with a 3-2 win over Rochester Mayo in the consolation round semifinals and a 3-1 win over Andover in the fifth-place game.
Ashburn said when she took over the team last summer, she believed the girls could compete for a state title.
“These girls had that goal from day one and believed in it,” Ashburn said at the time. “I had no doubt.”
Royals girls swim team wins section title, sends eight to state meet
Woodbury won the Section 3AA girls swimming and diving championship held Nov. 10 and 12 at Cottage Grove and Richfield middle schools.
Woodbury had a meet-best 416 points and sent eight swimmers and divers to state in eight events.
For the Royals, swimmers Britta Sortland, Mikayla Mayer, Kasey Bosch, Cassie Cedarholm, Mara Miller and Marina Rizzo, along with divers Erin Kohlbeck and Emily Bonfig qualified for the state meet.
Standouts Sortland and Mayer led the way for the Royals at the section meet. Sortland, a senior, and Mayer, a sophomore, each qualified for the state meet in four events.
At state, Woodbury finished in ninth place as a team with 94 points. Edina won the Class AA state championship with 247.5 points, edging second-place Eden Prairie, which had 223 points. Stillwater was third with 220 points.
Bonfig and Sortland were state-meet stars for the Royals. In her final high school swim meet, Sortland took second place in the 50 free with a Woodbury High School record 23.68 in the finals. Sortland also took home All-State honors with her sixth-place finish in the 100 free with a time of 52.20. Additionally, alongside sophomores Miller and Mayer and senior Cedarholm, Sortland helped the Royals’ 200-yard freestyle relay team earn All-State with a sixth-place finish in the event.
Bonfig, a junior, scored 425.65 to take second place in the diving competition. Additionally, in the diving contest, Kohlbeck took fourth place with a score of 402.40 for all-state honors. Also, Woodbury junior Bosch reached the consolation final in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing in 13th place overall with a time of 1:07.85 in the finals.
Woodbury ‘A’ Bantams win state championship
The Woodbury Area Hockey “A” Bantams won the first state title in the history of the program by claiming the MAHA championship on Sunday, March 21, at the Richfield Ice Arena.
Woodbury put together a 47-4-2 record over the season and placed first in both the MAHA District 8 Tournament and East Regional playoffs to advance to its inaugural state bracket after also winning regular season tournaments in Eden Prairie and Edina.
WAHC Bantam A also qualified for its first-ever State VFW Tournament after winning the District 4 championship and plays for that crown March 26-28 in Thief River Falls.
Team members were: Tyler Guck, Luke Featherstone, Jake Guentzel, Logan Delaney, Tanner Antolak, Hayden Shaw, Josh French, Evan Broadbent, Shane Finnegan, Alec Albright, Danny Johnson, Ryan Winter, Brett Gaustad, Ryan Karrow,Tyler Hart, Jack Greeley, Tyler Fitzsimmons, head coach Bo Nickoloff, asst. coaches Dan Engesser, Ryan Helgason, Jason Hespen, manager Erin French.
Hays takes fourth place at state wrestling meet
Woodbury senior C.J. Hays finished up his high school career as the fourth-place finisher at the Class AAA State Wrestling Tournament after a 4-2 showing in the 189-pound division that ended on Saturday, March 6 at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Hays, who entered the title bracket with a spotless 39-0 record, earned win No. 40 over Hastings’ Jake Swenson on Wednesday but was felled by a 7-1 score in Thursday’s second round by eventual second-place finisher Kraig Schumm of St. Michael-Albertville. Schumm came into this year’s tourney as the runner-up finisher at 189 pounds in Class AA (STMA moved up to AAA this season).
Dropping to the consolation bracket, Hays rebounded with three straight wins, topping Brainerd/Pillager’s Sam Pagel (7-3), Mounds View’s Jeremy Hill (5-3) and Apple Valley’s Matt Hechsel (13-4), before being defeated 6-3 by Cambridge-Isanti’s Scott Gifford (6-3) in the third-place match.
Hays was the last Woodbury wrestler of the original five Royals in the tournament. Of his four teammates that also took part in the Class AAA field — Justin Herold-Plakut (103), Ben Donnelly (119), Brandon Borchardt (135) and Dan Tyler (140) — only Tyler was given a wrestleback after an opening-round defeat on Wednesday.
Tyler, who’s first-round opponent, Timmy Ruter of Buffalo (41-0), won his second-round match to open a consolation bracket spot for the Royals senior. However, a match against Irondale’s Derek Weinmann on Thursday would prove to be Tyler’s last in a Royals uniform as he fell 14-0 to be eliminated from State competition.
The initial opponents for Herold-Plakut, Donnelly and Borchardt all lost their respective second-round matchups, leaving the WHS trio also out of the competition after just one match.
Norsten ends season with pair of medals
Woodbury’s Greg Norsten concluded his sophomore season by medaling twice at the Class AA State Boys Swimming and Diving Meet on Saturday, March 6 at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
Norsten earned All-State and All-American status for placing second in the 200-yard individual medley, coming in .44 seconds behind Burnsville’s Thomas Elling with a runner-up swim of 1 minute, 52.59 seconds. Norsten had already claimed an All-American berth with his preliminary swim time of 1:53.34, which was the top time in the event heading into the final.
After taking second in the 200 I.M., Norsten returned to the medal stand with a fourth-place turn in the 100-yard butterfly — finishing the championship heat in a time of 50.91, which was good for another All-State nod as well as All-American consideration.
Norsten was one of three Royals competing in this year’s State meet.
WHS sophomore Victor Lugg placed 15th in the 100-yard freestyle with a finals time of 49.37, while senior diver Andy Dixon took 21st. Dixon, the Section 4AA champion, just missed out on qualifying for the finals after accumulating 132.95 points in the preliminary competition on Thursday, March 4.
Royals soccer not represented at state for first time since 2001
The fall soccer season came to a close in Woodbury at its earliest point since 2001 as both the Royals boys and girls teams were defeated at Stillwater in back-to-back Section 4AA championship matchups on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Neither of the Royals teams, each seeded second in sections, could score a goal against the top-seeded Ponies boys and girls as both Stillwater programs denied Woodbury representation at the state tournament for the first time since 2001.
“It certainly is a disappointment,” Royals boys head coach Joe Quintavalle said at the time.
The Royals girls were the first to fall, as a 2-0 loss gave the section championship to the Ponies for the first time in a decade.
In the boys game, Stillwater scored the eventual game-winning goal in the fifth minute and made the tally stand in a 1-0 decision that completed the sweep and made for a celebratory night in St. Croix Valley.
The losses closed out the Woodbury boys team’s record at 14-4-1, with the Royals girls finishing up at 15-4-1.
Woodbury did not end its season on the floor of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome after the Royals girls took second at state and the boys placing third the year before.
Summing up the scenario for both teams, Quintavalle said, “A lot of teams would have loved to have had the type of season we had, but by our standards, it’s a disappointment.”
Raptors win first-ever football game, 47-27, over rival Woodbury
The East Ridge football team earned its first-ever victory in the opening game of its second season by overwhelming Woodbury, 47-27, at Royals Stadium on Friday night.
“It’s a great first win,” said East Ridge coach Mike Pendino at the time. “You’ve got to be excited for this one. The kids have been ready for this game for a year.”
After going 0-9 last season, a campaign that included a 34-7 inaugural game loss to Woodbury, the Raptors thundered out to a 27-0 lead and never looked back.
In the game, East Ridge quarterback Brandon Johnson threw a touchdown pass to fullback Austin Fischer and also ran for a score on East Ridge’s first two respective possessions, Dayo Idowu hurled a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeff Kuss, Val Huerta ran for a touchdown and running back Ezekiel Okeleye ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
En route to a 321-yard passing game, Woodbury quarterback Jake Quast hooked up with wide receiver Mike Policano for three consecutive Woodbury touchdowns that sliced the visitor’s lead to 41-27 with five minutes to play.
Yet, the Raptors had one left back-breaking drive left in them, driving the field and converting on a fourth-and-nine pass play deep in Royals territory before Fischer logged the final touchdown of the night on a one-yard scoring plunge that brought the score to its concluding count of 47-27.
Raptors girls cross country runs into history
It was their goal, eventually, but they didn’t think it would happen this soon.
The East Ridge girls cross country team earned a trip to the state meet after winning the Section 4AA championship on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the University of Minnesota’s Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul.
“This is pretty neat,” East Ridge head coach Chad Cronin said at the time. “The girls talked about doing this before they graduated, but most of them have at least two years left. It was our long-term goal, so it’s really great to do it right now. It’s a special team.”
A week after edging perennial powerhouses Roseville and White Bear Lake to earn the school’s first ever Suburban East Conference championship, the youthful Raptors again topped the Raiders and Bears to take the section title.
Led by freshman runner Bailey Ness, who won the individual section championship, East Ridge totaled a meet-low 52 points to beat defending Section 4AA champ Roseville by one point. White Bear Lake finished third with 81 points. At sections, the top two teams and the top 10 individual runners in the boys and girls race earn trips to state.
The East Ridge girls runners weren’t the only ones going to state, however, as East Ridge sophomore Nate Roese finished in fifth place overall to earn a trip to state.
At state, the East Ridge girls team took eighth place as Ness earned an All-State selection by placing 13th in the overall standings with a time of 14:55.8.
Betton out, Pendino in
After only one year was in the books, East Ridge High School suddenly found itself in search of a new head football coach after Ray Betton informed the school on Friday, Feb. 12, that he would be resigning.
“I guess you could say that it took me by surprise,” East Ridge activities director Trent Hanson said at the time. “He had just begun building the foundation for the program and now he’s leaving.”
Betton, who went 0-9 in his year as coach, left East Ridge to be the head football coach at the Academy of the Holy Angels in Richfield, where he had been an assistant coach before moving to Simley High School, his previous stop before coming to Woodbury.
After casting a wide net in search of a new football coach, East Ridge found Betton’s replacement on its very own sideline, hiring offensive coordinator Mike Pendino as the successor to Ray Betton.
Pendino spent 15 years as a collegiate assistant coach, including six with the University of Minnesota. At the high school level, he was the head coach at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, where the Stars advanced to two state tournaments and won a pair of Missota Conference championships.
In his first year, Pendino guided the Raptors to a 7-3 record that included wins over rival Woodbury — the first win in team history — on Friday, Sept. 3, a beating of Park on Friday, Oct. 8 and the team’s first-ever playoff win, which came over Hastings.
Lutes breaks Eagles’ all-time scoring record
Records were made to be broken. Cara Lutes proved that true in 2010, surpassing former teammate Jenny Ramey as the New Life Academy girls basketball team’s all-time leading scorer on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. Ramey held the record since Dec. 22, 2008.
Lutes, Ramey’s teammate on the Eagles’ state tournament teams for two years, broke the longtime New Life star guard’s record of 1,518 points as she recorded 17 points in her a 40-17 beating of Meadow Creek Christian on the Curt Wetsel Court at NLA.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Lutes said at the time. “It’s nice, but not huge — it’s not like I did it all by myself, you need teammates to pass you the ball.”
Lutes, who committed to play collegiately at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, wasn’t the only one to hit a milestone in the game.
Lutes’ teammate and co-captain, Rebekah Schmidt also scored her 1,000th career point early in the contest.
Both Lutes’ and Schmidt’s personal achievements came on free throws as Schmidt hit 1,000 on an attempt from the charity stripe just over six minutes into the contest and Lutes hit her “and one” after being fouled on a basket in the lane 1:11 into the second half.
Other top stories from 2010 included:
—Woodbury resident Donovan Fellows was the first Minnesotan to cross the finish line in the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 3. Fellows, 31, finished ninth overall out of a field of 8,212 finishers in a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 4 seconds, just under four minutes behind the pace of marathon winner Sergios Reyes, 28, of Palmdale Calif.
—Mike Blumel, a 2005 graduate of Woodbury High School, was named to the U.S. World Cup long-track speed skating team.
—East Ridge’s Leah Robinette led three Raptors at the Class A state gymnastics meet, held Friday, Feb. 26, at the University of Minnesota. Robinette, who qualified for state in four events — including the all-around — had the Raptors’ best finish at state, taking fourth place overall in the vault with a score of 9.60.
—Less than a year after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, East Ridge senior defenseman Emilio Rodriguez returned to the ice for the Raptors.