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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Park senior guard Sydney Lamberty continues to join rare air. Lamberty, Park’s all-time leading scorer, was selected as one of only 40 players from across the state to take part in the 2014 Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Series, to be held April 25-26 at Carleton College in Northfield. Lamberty averaged 21.7 points per game this past season for Park, leading the Wolfpack to a third-straight Section 3AAA championship game. The All-Star Series is for seniors only.
The South Washington County Thunderbolts adapted softball team has reached the state tournament the past two years. This season, the ‘Bolts hope to make it three in a row. The Thunderbolts, led by head coach John Culbertson, finished in fourth place in the state in 2012 and earned the consolation championship title last season.Culbertson is in his second year as head coach of the Thunderbolts after being an assistant coach for the past 10 years under Denny Larson.
Under the guidance of second-year head coach Dave Darr, the New Life Academy baseball team returns all but one player from last year’s squad, which went 14-6 overall and had a nice playoff run. “We hit well, and I think we will continue to do so,” Darr said. “We have some pitching depth, provided everyone stays healthy.
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 team is also vying for a fifth state championship in the past seven years. A year ago, in its eighth-straight trip to state, New Life Academy finished as the state runner-up in Class A after falling to Blooming Prairie and their senior pitcher Shelbi Swenson 3-1 in the championship game at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
Like he did in Minnesota, R.J. Alowonle is now making history in North Carolina. Alowonle, a 2012 Park High School graduate and one of the greatest Minnesota high school track and field athletes ever, helped the University of North Carolina men’s 1600-meter relay earn All-America status for placing fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday, March 15, in Albuquerque, N.M. It was Alowonle’s first indoor national championship meet. “It was a really, really good experience,” Alowonle said. “The environment was awesome.
East Ridge cheer tryouts April 15-25 Tryouts will be held April 15-25 for the East Ridge competitive cheer squads. Girls of all experience levels are needed for this nationally ranked team. Varsity and Junior Varsity squads along with a Middle School group will be available. Middle schoolers are encouraged to go through the tryout process. A mandatory parents meeting for all participants will be held April 14 at 7 p.m. in the East Ridge High School Media Center.
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 Allen Swenson, who was a two time all-state po
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.
As an eighth-grader, Evan Bonneson gave Park head track coach Mike Moran a phone call and told him he wanted to run for the varsity team that spring. Moran didn’t let him. “I hope he regrets it,” joked Bonneson, who is now a senior. “I wanted to run varsity track as an eighth grader, because I knew I could. I felt like there would be better people to chase in high school and I wanted that opportunity.” Bonneson had to wait, but joined the varsity cross country and track teams at Park as a freshman.