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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A wrap-up of upcoming sports events in the area.
When they started high school, Mary Turitto, Nate Roese and Kristina White were young up-and-comers with high hopes. Now, as they finish high school, the three standout student-athletes have set the bar high for the next group. Turitto: Park's two-sport star It's not easy to star in two sports, but Park's Mary Turitto has done just that. Over the past five years, Turitto has excelled in hockey and softball for the Wolfpack and certainly has led each team as a senior. Turitto said it has been "an honor" to play for Park. "I have a lot of pride in Park," Turitto said.
Though the Park girls soccer team scuffled down the stretch, a stellar regular season effort has the Wolfpack well-poised in the postseason as it looks to make a run at its first state tournament appearance since 1992. Despite going 1-3-2 over its final six games of the year, Park earned the No. 2 seed in the Section 3AA tournament - just behind top-seed Eastview, which is ranked fifth in the state with a 10-3-1 record.
Longtime District 833 educator Nathan McGuire has been hired as the new head coach of the Woodbury High School girls basketball program. Since 1998 McGuire, a Cottage Grove resident, has taught kindergarten at Armstrong Elementary. "I'm very excited to have this opportunity to work within the district and to take over this storied program," McGuire said. "There are high expectations here and it's great to be a part of this program." McGuire said he believes he's "home" at Woodbury High School.
Dylan Smallidge prefers to have the football in his hands. The senior running back carries the ball out of the backfield, catches passes, return kicks and may even throw a pass or two now and then. This year, he's also going to play defense. He's Park's Swiss army knife -- a do-it-all tool. "I enjoy it a lot," Smallidge said. "I've tried to improve in every area since I was a sophomore.
Cottage Grove's Eric Rislove and Woodbury's Joel Johnson and Greg Murphy helped Team Minnesota win the Culver's Midwest Cup Golf Tournament - a team and individual amateur tournament pairing the best players from the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. "We were all pretty pumped about it," said Murphy, the Minnesota team captain. "This is a big deal for us." The event is a Ryder-Cup Style invitational for amateur golfers, from the age of 25 and over.
For the second-straight year, the Park football team got to work as soon as possible. Park kicked off the 2012-13 season with a pep rally and "Midnight Madness" practice at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 13 - the opening day of high school football practice across Minnesota - under the lights of Park's Wolfpack Stadium. Last year, then first-year head coach Darin Glazier started the tradition of starting the season just after midnight - something similar to NCAA men's basketball's Midnight Madness.
With a 45-41 win over Simley, the Park boys basketball team is 1-0 for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The victory, on Friday at Park High School, allowed the Wolfpack to match its win total from last year - just one game into the 2011-12 season. "It was a good win. The guys worked really, really hard," Park head coach J Schwartz said. "It was very special because it was the home opener and afterwards it was fun to say to the guys that we're 1-0." On Dec. 7 of 2007, Park started 1-0 after beating Minneapolis Roosevelt 65-64 in the season opener on the way to a 9-18 record.
Roughly three years ago, Park administrators had preliminary internal and external discussions about the possibility of moving Park out of the Suburban East Conference -- its home since the 2001-02 season -- with the main reasons being a shrinking enrollment and shifting demographics. Since then, not much has changed. "It's the same thing as three year ago. We're not looking to leave the Suburban East Conference," Park Activities Director Phil Kuemmel said.
Park diver Ali Ramey finished her high school diving career in style. Ramey, a senior, finished in 25th place in diving completion at the Class AA Minnesota State High School League state meet held Nov. 17 to 19 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Ramey totaled a score of 138.8 in the diving preliminary round to place 25th out of the 32 divers at state. In the diving contest, competitors perform five dives in the prelims before cutting to 20 divers for the semifinals. Then, the top 16 divers reach the finals.