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PJ's Perspective: LeMay belts Gophers-leading ninth homer, Knupp earns academic all-state, and more

University of Minnesota freshman Nate Roese, a 2013 East Ridge High School grad, helped the Gophers men’s track and field 1600-meter relay team take second place at the Baldy Castillo Invitational at Arizona’s State’s Sun Angel Stadium to open the outdoor season. The team of Roese, Jacob Capek, Goaner Deng and Bradley Johnson finished second in 3:11.70 – just behind Long Beach State at 3:11.63. Roese, a two-time state champion and Minnesota’s all-time record holder in the 400 in high school, also took sixth place with a time of 48.75 in the 400 at the invite for Minnesota.

East Ridge senior guard Jake Knupp was named Academic all-state for Class AAAA/AAA. He was one of 10 players in Class AAAA in the state selected. Knupp is involved in National Honor Society, Captains Council, is a volunteer for the Raptor Reading Program, is a Link Crew Leader and an East Ridge Ambassador. During his high school career he participated in football for three years and basketball for four. He was voted as the captain of the Raptors basketball team his junior and senior years, was named MVP for the 2012-2013 season, and also received all-conference honors in the Suburban East Conference for both years. Off the court, Knupp’s academia honors include recognition as a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction and Student of the Term. He has also earned an Academic Letter every year at East Ridge. He plans on playing basketball in college and major in biology and then attend medical school.

University of Minnesota sophomore and 2012 East Ridge High School graduate Taylor LeMay belted her team-leading ninth home run of the season as the No. 14 Minnesota softball team split a doubleheader with Big Ten foe Wisconsin Sunday in the team’s first games at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium this season. The Badgers won the first game, 2-1, before the Gophers rebounded to win the second game by a 3-0 score. LeMay provided the lone run in the loss and also had an RBI single in the win. With the result, the Gophers moved to 28-5 on the season with a 6-2 mark in the conference.

Woodbury 11 year-old freestyle skier Cayden Wood recently placed first in his age group in Slopestyle at the USSA Junior Nationals in Park City, Utah. Wood also placed first in his age group in Big Air at the Junior Nationals.

The East Ridge girls basketball team celebrated its season at its end-of-the year banquet last week. Seniors Dai Mixson and Jamie Swanson each earned all-conference awards and freshman Mariah Sexe earned honorable mention. Mixson also received the team’s Outstanding Player Award. Swanson, who was a nominee on the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association for All-State and the All-Star game, received the team’s Free Throw Award at 81 percent for the year. In addition, Sexe received the teams Rebounding Award, freshman Emma Stoehr received the team’s Hustle Award, sophomore Taylor Persche received the team’s Most Improved Player Award and junior Amanda Robinson earned the team’s Raptor Award (a combination of assists, steals and offensive rebounds). East Ridge must now say good-bye to five seniors - Hannah Bloomquist, Kara Curtis, McKenna Karas, Mixson and Swanson. 

“These five seniors should be proud of their accomplishments and should take great pride in taking the East Ridge girls basketball program to a higher level,” East Ridge head coach Glen Wurm said. “They will be missed.”

Denison senior Natalie Lugg of Woodbury and a Woodbury High School graduate finished her college career posting five more All-American finishes, highlighted by winning a national championship at the 2014 NCAA Division III Championship held at IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind., from March 19-22. Denison finished with 374 team points, which landed them in fourth-place in the overall standings. Lugg’s first-ever national title came in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time 1 minute, 2.27 seconds. Additionally, Lugg posted an eighth place finish in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:07.86 and a fourth place finish in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:16.29. She also helped Denison post a fourth place finish in the 200 medley relay and in the 400 medley relay with the times of 1:43.59 and 3:25.41, respectively. Lugg ends her Denison career with a total of 17 All-American performances.

Park 2012 graduate and University of North Carolina sophomore R.J. Alowonle posted a top-five national time in the 400-meter hurdles and set a new collegiate best at 50.44 seconds at the Florida Relays on April 4. Alowonle also put his name in UNC’s record books by recording the third-fastest time in the event in history. 

“The guys in the 400-meter hurdles ran really well,” North Carolina head coach Harlis Meaders said. “RJ set a new collegiate best in a very good field of runners …”

Alowonle also helped the Tarheels’ 1600-meter relay team ran a 3:05.46 at the Florida Relays to place eighth overall and record the fourth-fastest time in UNC outdoor history. The relay team of Alowonle, Sean Sutton, Javonte Lipsey and Ceo Ways earned All-American honors in the indoor season with a time of 3:06.49, but beat it by more than a second outside and were the third-best collegiate team, only behind Baylor and Florida, at the meet.

“The men’s 4x400 team ran an excellent race and should be ranked among the top eight teams in the country at the end of the weekend,” Meaders said. “The team of one freshman, two sophomores and one junior are still only touching the surface of what they are capable of doing.”

The Woodbury High School archery team placed sixth out of 16 teams at the state tournament held at Champlin Park High School on Saturday, March 29. Logan Brown, a Woodbury sophomore, placed fourth as an individual in the High School Male Division.

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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