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PJ's Perspective: Newport resident shooting for Olympics, Nick Leach earns honor

Newport resident Madeline “Mimi” Wiencke, 24, is the top ranked women’s alpine snowboard racer in the country and is America’s most promising Olympic hopeful in Parallel Slalom (PSL) and Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) for 2014. A member of the U.S. World Cup Team, Wiencke was born in Minneapolis and raised in White Bear Lake. Wiencke has been competing nationally since the age of seven and internationally since her junior year in high school. The following year, she began training in Colorado with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), which has produced more Olympic athletes than any similar program in the country. Her coach, Thedo Remmelink, a 1998 Olympian and coach of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team, has been grooming her for this upcoming Olympic year. Wiencke has been invited by the U.S. Olympic Committee to register for the 2014 Olympics, and she will be heading to Europe for Olympic trials in December and January.

East Ridge senior Nick Leach was named the ASPIRE Beverages Athlete of the Week on Sept. 27 during the High School Sports Rally program on WCCO. 

“Nick is an outstanding leader in athletics as he puts forth the effort and time during the off season to improve his all-around game,” Athletic Director Jon Hinzman said. “Nick is leader in the school by showing others how to act and willing to reach out to new students.”

Each week ASPIRE honors senior athletes across the state, nominated by Athletic Directors. Winners are featured on WCCO, on the ASPIRE Athlete of the Week website and win an ASPIRE prize pack.

Nineteen students from Park High School attended the Section 3AA MSHSL Leadership Workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Students engaged in team building activities that strengthen the leadership that is already displayed within the individual activities they participate in. Presenter Craig Hillier brings all the schools together with a high energy and a great message to leave with and to implement back at each high school.

At last week’s Minnesota State High School League board meeting, the board approved the placement of Irondale, Spring Lake Park and Totino-Grace in the Northwest Suburban Conference, and Fridley and Columbia Heights in the Tri-Metro Conference. Earlier this year it was believed by some that Irondale might have ended up in the Suburban East Conference. As it stands now, with Hastings on the way out, the SEC will be made up of nine schools next year. Some have speculated St. Thomas Academy may likely be placed in the SEC by the High School League to make it an even 10 teams once again.

According to reports, it is likely the Minnesota State High School League state soccer tournament will be held at St. Cloud State University in 2014 and 2015, but it isn’t yet official.

Former East Ridge star catcher Taylor LeMay has transferred to the University of Minnesota and is playing softball for the Gophers. The 2012 grad and Cottage Grove native spent her freshman season with Concordia University in St. Paul. Last year, head coach Jessica Allister guided Minnesota to a 36-19 record and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. Minnesota is scheduled to play two more fall doubleheaders. The Gophers will take on South Dakota on Oct. 12 and Concordia on Oct. 13. Both series will begin at 1 p.m.

Former New Life Academy star pitcher Rebekah Schmidt and her Drake softball team earned some prestigious recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association recently. The 2012-13 Drake University softball team ranked 11th among Division I teams in the 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Academic team rankings. Schmidt, a 2012 NLA grad, had a 3.85 GPA last spring to help Drake Softball place 11th in the nation for all Div. 1 softball teams. On the field, she helped Drake to place second in the conference and was third overall in the conference in ERA and strikeouts.

Woodbury native Grace Todora took second at the Blazer Invite recently, leading the Saint Benedict golf team to the title, and earned Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Player of the Week honors.

Todora shot a 77 (5-over-par) on the first day and backed it up with a 79 (7-over-par) the following day to finish in second place – her best finish of the season. In a field that featured five MIAC teams and 49 total players, Todora was the highest placing player from the league, posting two of the top-five rounds of the entire tournament. Her opening round 77, was her second best round of the year, and her 156 total for the two days marked the best tournament of her career. She has now placed in the top two in each of the Blazers’ last two tournaments, and has charted top-10 tallies in four of five tourneys on the season. A 2011 graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall, Todora participated in golf for four years for the Raiders. She was All-Conference and placed in the top-10 at the state tournament.

Woodbury’s Shannon Carlson recently helped St. Scholastica Women’s Soccer head coach Dave Reyelts pick up win No. 200 in his coaching career as the Saints defeated Bethany Lutheran College 4-0. Carlson, a senior, scored the fourth goal of the game. Reyelts, who is in his 14th season with the Saints, has averaged 16.4 victories per season since 2002. Entering the season, he was ranked 30th in NCAA Division III for active winningest coaches and his 193 wins were 44th-most in the country amongst active coaches. Carlson kept her point streak alive as she scored an unassisted goal as the Saints dominated Martin Luther College 10-0 this past Saturday in the Upper Midwest Athletics Conference (UMAC) Game of the Week. CSS (8-2-1 overall, 7-0 UMAC) will host Northland College next Saturday at noon at Saints Field.

Earlier this year Woodbury’s Sharon Nollan set out to sponsor a campaign to raise awareness and donations for suicide prevention. She dedicated her next marathon and preceding training runs toward S.A.V.E., setting a goal to raise $262 before the Twin Cities Marathon. Through the overwhelming and generous donations of friends, family and coworkers, Nollan raised $450 toward her campaign.

Patrick Johnson
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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