Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
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The television show "American Ninja Warrior" has sparked the popularity of a new sport in Woodbury and across the country. Just ask Lucas Paulson, a Woodbury 12-year-old who made a trip to Texas this July to compete in a national Ninja Warrior competition.
The close-knit nature of the fishing community helped unite four people three years ago with one objective: To catch the biggest fish possible. Cottage Grove's Blake Bednar teamed up with fellow Twin Cities residents Jakob Hals, Luke Hentges and Peter Warner in 2014 to create fishing videos under the name Northwoods Angling. The group met at fishing tournaments and on social media pages dedicated to the sport. Today, the group does regular YouTube videos under the channel Northwoods Angling. A quick look at those videos will explain what kind of fish they seek.
Bob Wilber grew up in a St. Louis-area household with a father who worked in Major League Baseball and a mother employed in radio and public relations. His upbringing might explain how Wilber's life has consisted of a career path found in many people's dreams. Earlier this year, the Woodbury resident published a new book, called "Bats, Balls, and Burnouts: A life of Sports, Marketing, and Mayhem" to chronicle the life he has lived while working in sports.
Woodbury's Emily Heslin and Maddie Gaffney are a year older and taking on new roles with the University of Minnesota women's soccer team this season. And they hope to help recreate the same success last fall when the Gophers won a pair of Big Ten titles. Minnesota won the Big Ten regular season co-championship after finishing with a conference record of 7-1-3, along with Penn State and Northwestern. Minnesota then won the Big Ten tournament title, ending the run with a 2-1 decision against Rutgers on Nov. 6 in Minnesota.
The Woodbury Legion Blue Post 501 baseball team needed just one more win against Burnsville Sunday to have a chance to defend its Division 1 state tournament title from last season. But Burnsville will instead be making the trip to the Legion state tournament after defeating Woodbury 6-2 in the Sub State 5 title game on Sunday, July 23 at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville. Burnsville had the advantage of coming through the winner's bracket of the double-elimination Legion tournament, which helped it throw one of its top pitchers, Henry Ristvedt, in Sunday's Sub-State finale.
Although each has one loss, the Woodbury, East Ridge and St. Paul Park Legion baseball teams have survived the first few days of the Sub-State 5 tournament in Burnsville.
Youth did not stand in the way of Woodbury wrestler Ryder Rogotzke achieving the biggest goal of his young wrestling career. In the first year that he was eligible, Rogotzke qualified for the 2017 Pan-American Schoolboy team to wrestle at the 47 kilogram weight class. The Pan-American Schoolboy Championships will be held this August in Chile.
The Junior Raptor Elementary Cheer Team is a competitive cheer team open to third through fifth graders who are interested in trying out the competitive side of cheer. The team will begin weekly practices in August, culminating in a competitive performance at the East Ridge Extreme Cheer Challenge on Oct. 14. Raptor cheer head coach Sara Mercado, along with the nationally ranked East Ridge competitive cheer teams, will teach stunts, tumbling, dance, jumps and cheer so participants are ready to perform. The team is for third through fifth graders, and practices will be held at East Ridge High School on Saturdays from Aug. 12 through the competition on Oct. 14. The team will cost $85 for the two month season, including a T-shirt and bow. Registration information can be found on the website at http://www.erhsactivities.com/page/show/1148760-cheer .
Woodbury native Brennan Menell is an offensive-minded defenseman looking for his first professional contract. The Minnesota Wild organization is searching for players to help fill its depth in the NHL and AHL rosters. Could Menell help fill that need? Menell earned some exposure with the Minnesota Wild during the organization's developmental camp July 8-13 in St. Paul. During the final camp scrimmage on July 13, Menell often skated on the same defensive pairing as Carson Soucy, a former University of Minnesota-Duluth player who has an entry-level contract with the Wild.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel grew up playing hockey at what was then known as the Bielenberg Sports Center. On Thursday, July 13, Guentzel returned to HealthEast Sports Center to give fans a few hours with the Stanley Cup. Guentzel and a large group of family and friends arrived just before 1 p.m. By then, hundreds of people were already in line for their 10 seconds of Stanley Cup glory.