John Molene / contributor
The question now is what the East Ridge Raptors are going to do for an encore. At their best last season, East Ridge scored a 143.375 — a mark that earned them seventh at state. In their season debut Thursday, Dec. 7, the Raptors threw a 145.55. That score would have placed the team fourth at state last season. So it's safe to say the Raptors got the 2017-18 season off to a rousing start, easily vaulting past a good visiting Forest Lake team, 145.55 to 138.475.
Similar to crosstown rival East Ridge, the Woodbury Royals lost a lot of talent off last year's girls basketball team. Unlike the Raptors, however, the Royals have a star to build around in do-everything 5-10 all-star guard Rachel Hakes. Hakes may be called upon to carry an even heavier load for the Royals this season, a year before she departs to play basketball for Fairfield University. Woodbury was 15-13 overall and 9-7 in the Suburban East Conference last year, tying for fifth.
Almost all of the chips were stacked against the Thunderbolts. Their goalie was a rookie, senior offensive leader Bryce Smith was out with a broken toe and North Suburban had just scored a demoralizing goal to force overtime. But then there was little-used freshman Jack Swedahl, who happily came to the rescue with a game-winning goal in overtime that gave South Washington County a 3-2 victory. "I just kicked it and it went in," a modest Swedahl said. "And it was a good shot."
East Ridge ninth-grader Chloe Wangensteen led area swimmers and divers in the 2017 Girls Class AA swim and dive championships Saturday. Competing at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Wangensteen finished 13th in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:06.52. She swam a 1:06.77 in the prelims Friday, then bettered that time in the finals. Woodbury sophomore Gabby Vitela finished 15th in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:11.83.
East Ridge’s Chloe Wangenstein and Callie Kunz, Woodbury’s Gabby Vitela and Park’s Kylie Doty all qualified for the state swimming championships with top performances in the eight-team Section 3AA championship meet Friday, Nov. 10.
Fourth-seeded going into the sections, the New Life Academy Eagles ended the season fifth at state. Playing in their first Minnesota State High School girls volleyball state tournament, the Eagles capped a remarkable post-season run with a 3-1 victory in the Class A consolation championship game Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Xcel Energy Center. The Eagles dropped Cook County 25-19, 27-25, 25-22 to finish a season which defied all expectations, except perhaps their own.
New Life Academy rolled to its fifth victory in six post-season games Friday, this time knocking off Pine River-Backus. The Eagles advanced to the Class A consolation championship in the 2016 girls volleyball state tournament Saturday with a 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 25-14 win. And the Eagles did it mostly without the services of one of their best players. Star middle hitter Mackenzie Roettger sat out most of the match with some sore muscles in her lower back.
Four of Woodbury's best signed National Letters of Intent Nov. 8 in ceremonies held at Woodbury High School. Softball stars Amanda Dickmeyer and Kaitlyn Rocco and basketball ace Rachel Hakes all signed letters of intent. Woodbury student Lucia Rizzo, who competes for the Riptide Swim Team, also signed a national pledge. Hakes will attend Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., next season. Dickmeyer will play softball at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. Rocco signed with Northern Kentucky. Rizzo will swim for Iowa State University.
Trailing two sets to none and 12-3 in the third set, the New Life Eagles Academy looked set to be beaten. Instead, the Eagles regained their championship form and battled back first to 21-16 and then to 22-9 on a kill by Elliana Wiertsema. The second-seeded Minneota Vikings had just enough to survive, however, winning 25-20 to advance in the Class A girls volleyball state tournament Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Xcel Energy Center. Minneota, ranked No. 3 in Class A, won in straight sets, 25-20, 25-10 and 25-21.
The South Washington County Thunderbolts wrapped up the regular season with another easy win Monday, Oct. 30, as they prepare for the playoffs. The Thunderbolts dispatched visiting St. Paul Johnson 15-2 to finish a perfect 9-0 in the adapted soccer CI South Division. South Washington County will get a first-round bye then play the winner of first-round game for the right to return to the state tournament. The Thunderbolts will host a section finals game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at East Ridge.