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In-between the snow and rain the East Ridge boy tennis team was able to squeeze in a match. The Raptors started their season last week with a 6-1 non-conference win on the road over St. Paul Central. On Wednesday, April 4, East Ridge took down Central sweeping doubles and winning three of four singles matches. In the win, East Ridge No. 1 doubles team of junior Greg Sharrow and eighth grader Ben Van der Sman won 6-0, 6-1 over Central seniors Simon Lancaster and Jonas Toghai.
Last year, East Ridge golfers Brady Hanson and Travis Dorf represented the Raptors at the state tournament. This year, they hope to bring the whole team along for the ride. A year ago, East Ridge was the surprise team of the Section 3AAA tournament. Out of section play, only one team advances to state, along with five individuals not on the top team. In the two-day, 36-hole tourney, the Raptors held a four-stroke lead after the first day, shooting a 309 at Keller Golf Course in St. Paul.
East Ridge's second-year head coach Mark Retica has a youthful but talented group of golfers this spring. "We've had a tremendous turnout this spring, with 30 girls trying out for the golf team at East Ridge," Retica said. "Our team will be young again this year, but also experienced." A year ago, the East Ridge girls golf team finished second in the Suburban East Conference standings and had five golfers earn All-Conference or All-Conference honorable mention awards.
Competing for Minnesota Christian Athletic Association conference championships will be the goal for the New Life Academy boys and girls track and field teams this year. The Eagles are under the guidance of second-year head coach Tim Otto this season. "We have solid athletes in our upperclassmen, but we have a lot of younger athletes as well," Otto said.
Nate Roese made history for the Raptors a year ago. This spring, he'll lead the way once again for the East Ridge boys track and field team. Roese, now a senior, won the state championship in the 400-meter dash and earned fourth-place in the 200-meter dash at last year's state meet. Roese won the 400 in 47.79 seconds, edging defending state champion Austin Salargo, a 2012 graduate from Hopkins, who had a time of 47.91.
After its first year playing as a solo program in 2012, the East Ridge girls lacrosse team brings back a majority of its roster this spring in hopes of improving on what was a solid start. East Ridge went 5-8 overall in its first season, under the guidance of head coach Amy Fortney. Fortney is back this spring, along with a number of the team's top players. "We had a lot of success in our first year as a program," Fortney said. "Now the pressure is on to continue to build on that success, and continue to grow this program.
A year ago, the New Life Academy softball team celebrated a seventh straight trip to the state tournament, beating Minneapolis Washburn 5-3 for the Section 4A championship. This year, New Life is looking to make it eight in a row, which would tie Winona Cotter for the most consecutive state tournament appearances in state history. Making history is nothing new to the New Life Academy softball program. The Eagles already rewrote the record books, winning four consecutive state championship titles between 2008 and 2011.
East Ridge will return to the field this season with only a few returning starters from last year's 9-12 team, but head coach Brian Sprout says there's talent with the Raptors this season. Junior catcher Luke Ringhofer along with junior pitcher Drew Molin, senior left fielder Ryan Gregory, junior shortstop and pitcher Parker Moquist and sophomore third baseman Carter Stoehr are among the returners, but there's plenty of competition for open spots on the field. "Right now we have competition at three or four spots," Sprout said.
Despite not having as many creature comforts as some others growing up, Billy Bellmore and Nate Mauer ended up playing hockey at just about as high a level as one can play. Now, the two Woodbury residents are trying to help kids who grew up like them reach their goals on the ice. Bellmore and Mauer, who were teammates at Hill-Murray High School, run Team Combat - a AAA Hockey Club and development program - based in large part out of Bielenberg Sports Center and Cottage Grove Ice Arena.
This week, the Woodbury boys basketball team is making its second consecutive and seventh overall appearance in the Minnesota state tournament. The Royals were ousted by Hopkins in the quarterfinal round in 2012. Woodbury won its only state championship in 1983. This year, the coaches selected the top seeds in all four classes for the second time. The top four seeds' opponents were determined by blind draw. Prior to last year only Class AAA and Class AAAA seeded their top teams.