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As Woodbury football coach Andy Hill looked around the cafeteria overflow lounge at Woodbury High School Feb. 4 for the Royals National Signing Day ceremony, he saw a few more bodies than he was expecting. “We’ve done a signing each year, and we’ve never had this many people present for this event,” he said. “It’s actually slightly intimidating,” he joked. The large crowd of parents, teachers and fellow classmates came out to support the four Royals who were signing their NLIs to lockup their collegiate scholarship offers to continue to athletic careers at the next level.
East Ridge’s soccer programs went to the next level last fall, with the Raptor boys delivering an undefeated regular season en route to Suburban East Conference and section titles and a third-place finish at state, while the Raptor girls were in the thick of the conference championship race into the final week of the regular season and battled eventual state tournament entrant Cretin-Derham Hall to a 1-0 loss in the section semis.
Woodbury senior Ben Donnelly has reached a mark not many wrestlers in Minnesota will ever hit. Donnelly eclipsed the 200 win plateau Jan. 30 at the Lakeville North Panther Duals. But he doesn’t really know what the achievement means to him -- not yet, anyway. “I haven’t really thought about it too much. You just wrestle and, I don’t know, I guess you just accumulate the wins after a while,” he said. “It doesn’t really mean much to me.
PWER’s finishes at the Suburban East Conference meet provided some good feelings for the now, and some excitement for the future. That much was evident in the performance of the East Ridge girls. The Raptors placed fourth at the conference meet -- their highest finish ever. And it was their youth leading the way. Sophomore Megan Schiferl placed 13th to lead the way with a combined time of 34:50 between the classic and skate races.
Kent Getzlaff donned a pair of pinstriped black pants for the Royals contest versus North St. Paul Jan. 29, clearly dressing for success. Which is exactly what Woodbury had, topping the Polars 59-58. Does Getzlaff have a new pair of lucky pants? “I guess so,” he said with a chuckle. They didn’t seem lucky from the opening jump, as Woodbury fell behind 29-21 at the break as the Royals shot 0-for-10 from deep in the first 18 minutes. “We got decent looks,” Getzlaff said.
All good things must come to an end. That was the case for the Eagles girls basketball team, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Barnum as New Life fell 41-27 Jan. 31. But the loss came a day after New Life extended that streak to its final point of four games via a tight 39-35 victory over Trinity. Valerie Hohol led the way in the win for the Eagles, dropping 21 points.
Don’t expect much scoring when East Ridge and Woodbury meet up on the ice. Not this season, anyway. After East Ridge won the initial matchup 1-0 between the two teams earlier this season, the Raptors and Royals duked it out to a 1-1 tie Jan. 30 at Bielenberg in front of a packed house. “Two evenly matched teams,” Raptors head coach Wes Walz said. “Obviously the intensity level gets ramped up. There was probably 1,500 people watching. It’s a great atmosphere for the kids and I’m proud of the kids.
The Royals made history Jan. 29, then brushed the accomplishment to the side shortly after. Woodbury clinched at least a share of the program’s first Suburban East Conference title via a 34-25 win over Mounds View at Woodbury High School. “It means a lot,” Royals senior Ben Donnelly said. “Doing that for the first time is pretty cool. It’s always nice to make history.” “We’re not satisfied, though,” senior Ty Johnson added.
Jaron Kittelson’s first attempt to collect books for his Eagle scout project was a flop. He asked parents to donate books at a picnic between his troop and an adjoining cub scout pack. “I got 12 books,” Kittelson said. “I was like ‘Well, I don’t know if this was going to go very well.’ I was kind of having my doubts.” But he kept at it. Kittelson placed hangers on doors, traveled to different garage sales and asked family and friends for donations.
Six weeks ago East Ridge blew Park out of the gym, topping the Wolfpack by 31 points. It was a different game this time around. But the victor remained the same, as the Raptors held off a scrappy Park squad for a 67-55 win at Park Jan. 27. “I thought our defense stepped up,” Raptors head coach Paul Virgin said. “That’s what we hang our hat on and that’s what pulled us through.” In the second half, that is. In the first half Park found holes in the Raptors’ normally stingy defense and created good shot opportunities.