As the distance of races lengthened from a typical 4K to a 5K this season, girls cross country runners have been mentally preparing for the change. They couldn’t prepare for the temperatures in the upper 80s and and high humidity that came with the opening meet of the season on Sept. 4. Both girls and boys teams from East Ridge, Park and Woodbury competed in the St. Olaf College High School Showcase in Northfield. That annual meet draws 20-plus teams and 400-plus runners. “The girls did great in the heat,” Woodbury coach Stacy Otto said.
In terms of execution New Life Academy turned in the kind of defensive performance it wanted against Simley on Aug. 27. At least until the last 10 minutes of the game. New Life Academy was strong on the defense and goalkeeper Kayla Binsfeld kept the matchup scoreless until late in the game. Fortunes changed in the waning minutes as the Spartans scored two goals on penalty kicks to beat the Eagles 2-0.
East Ridge moving out of Section 4AA has teams excited, and Woodbury’s squads certainly concur. The move opens the door for multiple Section 4AA cross-country teams this season, including the Royals. Woodbury returns a wealth of talent on the girls side of the competition, while the boys team also has quite a bit of experience. “We are looking strong,” Royals girls coach Stacy Otto said.
East Ridge is switching sections this fall. Since 2012, the Raptors have been the champions of Section 4AA.
After tying for the lead on a rainy first day of the Section 3AAA girls golf tournament, Woodbury found nothing but sunshine on Day Two. In a solid second-day performance, the Royals captured the section crown. The Royals shot a 355 as a team on Day Two, six strokes lower than the next closest finisher.
New Life Academy came just short of sending an athlete to a state event following the Section 4A meet. Abbey Bakken was the only athlete on the Eagles roster to finish in the top three of an event at the Saturday meet. As it looked like the throwing events and the 4x100-meter relay provided the best chances at New Life Academy qualifying for the state meet. An injury put a damper on that opportunity on the 4x100.
While he hadn’t played in a tournament since early May, senior Luke Berger came up big at the Section 4A meet. Berger shot a 157 in 36 holes at the Section 4A meet May 26 and May 28 to advance to the state tournament on June 9-10 in Becker, Minn. Berger finished fifth overall at the Section 4A meet. “He has a solid all-around game,” coach Nick Novak said. It looked promising early for Berger when he carded a 75 onMay 26 in the rain at Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine.
In a season that began with high expectations, New Life’s boys golfers have yet to find their stride. The Eagles took second in a Minnesota Christian Athletic Association meet April 20 and dropped to third in their MCAA meet April 23. Part of the Eagles’ problem have been strong performances from Legacy Christian. “Legacy has a strong team and is playing very well right now,” Eagles coach Nick Novak said. “We are off a little trying to find our legs. It will be an interesting season.” In the April 20 meet at Rum River Hills, New Life (169) finished 10 strokes back of Legacy (159).
A couple of event victories and four more top-five finishes marked a successful day for East Ridge boys track and field team at the University of St. Thomas Invitational April 24. Junior distance runner Noah Wondimu won the 1,600-meter run in four minutes, 38.73 seconds. Windomu is now just 10 seconds away from the school record. “I feel like if he keeps working hard, he should be able to break that anytime soon,” Raptors coach Shannon Rainey said. He also helped the 1,600-meter relay team take second place with a time of 3:37.13.
Karina Joiner went up against the state's best in hurdles for both Class A and Class AA in the annual Hamline Elite Meet April 24. Joiner clocked 14.55 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles for second place in her first hurdles event on a rain-soaked evening at Hamline University's track. The East Ridge junior then took third later in the meet at 45.39 for third place in the 300-meter hurdles. Joiner also helped the Raptors 800-meter relay team take eighth in one minute, 49.28 seconds.