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PJ's Perspective: Lauryn Morris to coach at Mankato, East Ridge boys basketball team wins academic state championship, and more

Former Park standout softball player Lauryn Morris is now an assistant student coach with the Minnesota State University-Mankato softball team. The 2009 Park grad, who will primarily work with the Maverick’s outfield, played centerfield for Minnesota State University-Mankato for four years. She will graduate this May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in social and behavioral science from the School of Law Enforcement and will graduate from the Police Academy this June. At Park, Morris was a four-year starter and letterwinner for the Wolfpack. She was also a five-year starter for the Park girls hockey team. She was all-conference as a junior and senior, and was named all-section and first-team all-state and first-team all-metro.

East Ridge graduate Leah Robinette helped the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women’s gymnastics team finish in seventh place out of eight teams in a closely contested WIAC Championship/NCGA West Regional at UW-Whitewater recently. Robinette, a sophomore from Woodbury, had Eau Claire’s best finish, taking third on the uneven bars with a score of 9.575, a career-high. The Blugolds took seventh with 184.250 points while UW-La Crosse won its 22nd WIAC title with 188.200 points. UW-Whitewater came in second with a score of 188.075. The third through seventh place teams were separated by just 1.325 points. The Blugolds’ point total this year was the second highest score they have ever achieved at the WIAC Championship, topped only by last year’s total of 186.650, which was a school record. At East Ridge, Robinette was a three-time letterwinner in gymnastics and two-time letterwinner in track. She was all-state in gymnastics three times and was the state champion in the vault her senior year (2012).

Woodbury High School grad Ryan Fritze picked up his first win of the season on a three-hitter for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) baseball team. Des Moines ran its record to 4-3 for the season with a three-game sweep of Kansas City Community College on Feb. 22-23 in Kansas City. Fritze, a sophomore who worked seven innings, allowed both KCCC runs, struck out four and walked five.

PWER (Park, Woodbury, East Ridge) Nordic skiing coaches Joe Wacker and Matt Maher earned some big postseason honors. Wacker, the head coach, and Maher, who re-joined the program this season as an assistant, were voted the section coaches of the year. In addition, East Ridge’s Dale Thompson was voted volunteer of the year for the section.

Woodbury senior Justin Herold-Plakut ended his wrestling career with 215 wins, which is the Woodbury High School record and puts him in the top 30 all-time in the state of Minnesota. Herold-Plakut earned third place in the state at 152 pounds this winter, in his fourth consecutive state tournament appearance Herold-Plakut placed at state, earning all-state honors, for the third straight season. He owns two third-place finishes and a fifth-place finish.

Woodbury wrestlers Justin Herold-Plakut and Ty Johnson earned spots on the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association All-State Academic Team. The Royals duo became the first-ever Woodbury wrestlers to make the team, which spans all three classes of wrestlers across the state. The 28 honorees, who were awarded plaques during the state tournament, were chosen on a point system based upon their grade point average, their record as a wrestler and performance at the state tournament. Herold-Plakut had the highest score of all the wrestlers nominated. This year’s team consists of 28 student-athletes with a combined GPA of 3.74 and over 3,800 career wins with a combined winning percentage of 71 percent. “These young men are truly the ‘cream of the crop’ and a great example of the caliber of student-athletes we have involved in wrestling state-wide,” said Dean Jennissen, MWCA All-State Academic Chairperson.

Park juniors Ethan Berube and Meghan Kuemmel were selected as two of the Minnesota State High School League’s 2014 ExCEL award recipients. The ExCEL award (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, who show leadership qualities, and who volunteer in their communities. The League honors a total of 32 students from throughout the state with the award. Each of the ExCEL award recipients will be recognized in an on-court award ceremony which will take place during the girls basketball state tournament at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Williams Arena. Award winners are also being recognized on KSTC-TV (Channel 45) during the broadcast of the 2014 winter tournaments.

Park’s Maggie Katzenmaier was selected to the Minnesota Association of Dance Teams all-state dance team. Katzenmaier will perform with the all-state kick team at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Wayzata High School.

A “1,000 point club” has been implemented at East Ridge High School. Basketball players who reach the milestone at East Ridge will have plaques hung on the wall near the gym entrance. The first two players to join the club are Justin Pahl and Jamie Swanson.

New Life Academy graduate and Carleton College senior Jenny Ramey was recognized all-conference honorable mention basketball player in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). Ramey, of Cottage Grove, was All-MIAC in softball the past three seasons as well. The guard averaged 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists this year. Ramey appeared in all 100 games of her career, making 97 starts and became just the second player in team history with at least 800 career points, 300 assists, and 200 steals.

The East Ridge boys basketball team won the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Team Academic State Championship. East Ridge, coached by Paul Virgin, won the Section 3AAAA championship, then went on to win the Class AAAA state title as well. The team’s accomplishment will be on display at the Target Center throughout the entire course of the state basketball tournament and certificates of achievement will be awarded to the participants of the state championship team.

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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