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Girls' Swimming and Diving: East Ridge, Woodbury look for growth and fun

The Woodbury and East Ridge girls' swimming and diving programs were represented by a handful of individuals last year at the state tournament.

For Woodbury, it was Gabby Vitela in the 500-yard freestyle. For East Ridge, it was Chloe Wangensteen in the 100-yard breaststroke and Callie Kunz in freestyle.

The goal this year is simple.

Bring these swimmers back to state once again, but also bring back other individuals as well as the team.

"We were so happy to have Callie and Chloe represent our school last season," said Kathy Madden, East Ridge girls swimming head coach. "Now, we just hope to have more swimmers and divers qualify for state."

For East Ridge, Madden will have more kids to choose from as 62 individuals have practiced with the team. She will have 52 swimmers and 10 divers, which is more than tripling her size of divers from last season.

The Raptors finished in second place at sections last year, while breaking two school records throughout the season. Madden said she's excited for this season because the Raptors are bringing back many returners from each grade.

The biggest class size is from the eighth graders, which means the future looks bright and Madden is hoping it translates to this season. She believes the team has experienced enough from last season to form a better mindset and build into a stronger 2018 season.

"We hope that new girls on the team learn from the ones with experience from last year," Madden said. "This group of girls not only excels in the swimming pool, but also at school with grades and in the community as people. It's great to see them grow this way."

Last year, the Woodbury team was a family, figuratively and literally. The Royals has many pairs of siblings on the team.

Even though some of those sibling pairings broke up due to graduation, the family mentality is still there for the team as a whole.

The team is hoping for more participants at state and to qualify as a team. There's a mixed age of leadership with experience coming from many different grades.

If these leaders from last years team are able to help these new faces on the team, the team chemistry will rise. The hope for the Royals is that the team chemistry will lead to a strong run in the regular season that will ultimately help them in the section meet.

It will take leadership from not only the coaches, but the experienced girls on the team to lead these two teams to their ultimate goal at the end of the season: A state title.

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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