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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The New Life Academy boys golf team hits the course this spring under the direction of third-year head coach Nick Novak. Though Novak said the team was “young and inexperienced,” the Eagles fared well in 2013, taking fourth place in the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association. Novak is hoping for more this year. “The team is poised to make a run at the conference,” he said.
The New Life Academy softball team is hoping to make even more history this spring. New Life, won a Minnesota-record four consecutive state championships between 2007 and 2011, is looking to reach a state-record ninth straight state softball tournament in 2014.
The East Ridge boys track and field team may be without its frontrunner in 2014, but it doesn’t mean the Raptors won’t make headlines. East Ridge graduated Nate Roese, who broke a 20-year-old Minnesota all-time state meet record with a time of 47.56 seconds in the 400-meter dash to win his second state championship in the event, last year. Roese, who is now running at the University of Minnesota also garnered all-state in two other events — the 200-yard dash and in the boys 1600-meter relay — a year ago. East Ridge also is without 2013 graduate A
The fleet-footed East Ridge girls track and field team won’t look much different from the one that made serious strides last season. East Ridge brings back a majority of competitors from last year’s team, which finished in second place in Section 4AA and sent 11 athletes to the state meet.
It’ll be kind of a new start for the Woodbury boys lacrosse team and second year head coach Jason Wowra this season. The Royals graduated over 20 seniors from last year’s team, which finished 10-5 overall and was fourth in the Suburban East Conference standings with a 6-3 record. “We will be a young team but we also have a lot of talent returning,” Wowra said.
The Section 4AAA championship has haunted Kelsey Ihns since last season, but it’s also been a source of motivation for the East Ridge senior pitcher. “I’ve actually dreamt about it a couple times,” Ihns said. “I think about what I could have done better. It eats me up inside and what’s driving me this season.” Last year the East Ridge softball team reached its first-ever section championship, but couldn’t get past Stillwater and 2013 graduate Heather Heacox. East Ridge, the third seed in the section tournament, beat second-seeded North St.
The East Ridge boys tennis team is expected to be one to watch this year. The Raptors return their entire lineup from last year’s squad, which went 10-3 overall and 7-2 in the Suburban East Conference, finishing in second place behind Mounds View. “With no graduates from last year the team’s confidence is up, but it also means the pressure is greater,” said Suzie Heideman, who is in her third year as head coach of the East Ridge boys. Last season, East Ridge defeated Simley in the first round of the Section 3AA team tournament with a
The Woodbury golf team is down one state-entrant golfer, but brings back the majority of top players this spring. “I am very excited about this year and the next few years,” said Woodbury head coach Mike Anderson, who is entering his fourth season with the Royals.
The Woodbury girls golf team will be focused on the little things this season in hopes of improving on a solid 2013. “We are looking to improve our short game,” said Cortnee Den Herder, who is in her fifth season as head coach of the Royals.
The East Ridge boys golf team should be a contender this spring, but it does have some shoes to fill. Last year, East Ridge won the Suburban East Conference championship tournament and finished second in the final SEC standings and in the Section 3AAA tourney. But, the team graduated three of its top golfers, including one of the best golfers in the state in Brady Hanson. “I have some strong players this year again,” said Bret Brookins, who enters his fifth year at the helm of the Raptors.