Editor's Note: Today, St. Louis Park Patch is running the second of two spring sports previews. Click for yesterday's Benilde-St. Margaret's preview.
The spring sports season has begun in earnest at , where nine Orioles teams either have or will soon take to competition. It's an exciting time, St. Louis Park athletic and activities director Andy Ewald said.
"We are looking forward to a good season," he said. "There are several teams and individuals that are anticipated to do well."
Baseball: Orioles Open Strong Under New Coach
After going 17-8 last season, the St. Louis Park baseball team has opened the spring campaign with a 3-0 record under new coach Aaron McEachran.
"Aaron has a good group to work with," Ewald said.
McEachran is a St. Louis Park alumnus who played and coached at the Division I collegiate and professional minor league levels.
"He has a high degree of experience and we're glad to have him," Ewald said.
The Orioles feature a senior-laden squad with 10 of 12 varsity players set to graduate this June, including pitcher Shane Boettcher, infielders Ben Gibbs, Eric Holmberg, Jack Bordewick, Scott Foltz, Ryne McNary, Derrick Keller, Bobby Otto, Christian Erickson and outfielder John Gallice.
Girls Lacrosse: New Coaching Tandem for Park
The St. Louis Park girls lacrosse team headed into this season with new leadership, as the head coaching tandem of Katie George and Kyle Sweeney took the reins.
George—a St. Louis Park alum—and Sweeney take over a team that went 12-3 last season under previous coach Bill Lubov and was ranked 13th in the final state poll.
"It's traditionally been a program that has been stronger for us," Ewald said. "It's a team that has either won or competed for the conference title for the past three to four years."
However, the team is dealing with the loss of several key seniors that graduated after last season, including six of the team's seven players to score 10 goals or more in 2010—only attacker/midfielder Lauren Bruun-Bryant (16 goals, 10 assists last season) is back from the Orioles' top seven.
"We still expect the team will be right back up there again," Ewald said.
Boys Golf: Chioski Looks for Return to State
Coached by Greg Goddard, the St. Louis Park boys golf team hits the links this spring with an ace up its sleeve in junior Matt Cichoski.
As a sophomore, Cichoski tied for 45th at the state Class AAA tournament with a score of 159. He heads into this year with the anticipation of topping that.
"We're hoping that he can not only return to state this spring, but that he can place high," Ewald said.
The Orioles return fellow junior John Burnett, as well as sophomore Nolan Rockers.
"Coach Goddard should have a strong team," Ewald said.
Softball: Squad Battling Early-Season Health Issues
Longtime St. Louis Park coach Al Wachutka, also a school alum, again coaches the Orioles softball squad this spring.
Park returns the core of a team that went 7-14 last season, including pitcher Carissa Beers, infielder Bria Evans and outfielder Rachel Waldorf.
"It's a senior-heavy team," Ewald said.
The Orioles have begun the season with a 1-1 record, despite battling the injury bug in the early going.
"Once the team is healthy, they have a chance at a real nice season," Ewald said.
Boys Tennis: Orioles Field Another Strong Squad
Under coach Justin Barbeau, the St. Louis Park boys tennis team has finished as runner-up in the conference for the past few years and the Orioles look to be strong again this season after a 2-1 start.
"It's an extremely young team," Ewald said. "But I expect them to be there competing for a conference title again."
St. Louis Park finished with a 13-4 dual meet record and returns co-captains Jon Ribnick (doubles) and Karl Switala (singles), as well as fellow seniors Zach Swanson and Austin Grove.
Track and Field: Strong Numbers for Boys, Girls Teams
The St. Louis Park boys and girls track and field teams both fielded a healthy number of athletes this spring and have finally been able to practice outside, Ewald said.
"There's strong numbers, but it's hard to project how the teams will look yet," he added.
Mara Olson, who won the state title in the 1,600-meter run as a freshman, returns for her last season with the Orioles girls team. Olson, St. Louis Park's Athena Award winner, will after this season.
Captains for this spring's boys team are: Nathan Brubaker (pole vault/sprints), Chad Green (sprints/jumps), Nolan Santosa and Dominic Reed (distance), and Trevor Rison (throws). Rison was also a captain in 2010.
Rich Keith coaches the St. Louis Park boys, with Brad Brubaker leading the Orioles girls.
Girls Golf: Rebuilding Season for Orioles
After the mass graduation of many of its top players, the St. Louis Park girls golf team is rebuilding with youth this season under coach Bruce McLean.
"It's an inexperienced group at the varsity level," Ewald said. "We had a bunch of seniors graduate."
The Orioles, who play their home matches at Theodore Wirth Park, will likely have a roster that remains in-flux for the majority of the season.
Synchronized Swimming: Seeking a Return to Dominance
The St. Louis Park synchronized swimming team—a "dominant" program in the past, Ewald said—is seeking a return to form after a few down seasons.
"We feel the numbers are on the upswing," Ewald said. "This is a program used to competing at a high level."
The team has three seniors on its roster—Katrina Albrecht, Nicole Muralt and Leah Segal—yet also boasts a wealth of talent at the freshman age and under with 24 athletes between grades 7 and 9.