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Winter Sports Preview Thursday, December 1, 2011

2nd section

Vol. 109 No. 29 - $1.00

Reaching Higher

Left: Senior Micah McGuiness on senior Sam Anderson. Center: Sophomore Emily Peters. Right: Senior Rachel Bostrom on sophomore Bailey Norby

With a mix of young talent and veteran Leadership, the Ranger Basketball girls look to step up

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FL hopes for best from untested bunch If cohesion comes quickly, success should follow The Ranger boys’ basketball team could go in several directions this winter without it being a surprise. On one hand, Forest Lake has built its current run of six straight seasons with 15-plus wins on the premise of coaching players to step into the system and be immediately effective. On the other hand, this year’s roster bears little resemblance to last year’s 17-11 squad, and almost none to the 200910 team which went to state. Only two players who scored more than 10 field goals last winter are back, so in one way this season will be Dan Cremisino and staff’s biggest test in years. However, the sixthyear head coach sounds far from worried. “I feel we have a good system in place, and we worked really hard in the summer and fall on getting guys to play,” he said. “They’ve done a good job of getting better.” There is an unusual hurdle in the development of the rather inexperienced squad: Much of the core group has not played together over the years. One senior has been a varsity contributor for the past two years, another is new to the high school program and several others have not seen varsity action. There is a junior who was new to the program last year, while a sophomore figures to see significant action. All in all, no amount of summer and fall league play is enough to get a good feel for what will happen once they hit the floor together. “It’s an interesting group,” said Cremisino. “It’s taking a piece from here and a piece from there. They haven’t really won together. We’re teaching them how to win right now, and not accept losing. “The key will be if we can tie this all together. Generally, we’ve been able to in the past.”

Photos by TLC Digital Images

The 2011-12 Ranger basketball team is made up of seven seniors, 10 juniors, one sophomore and one ninth-grader. Left: Seniors Tyler Rosenberger, Jackson McDowell and Hunter Smith will captain the squad.

30 27

Boys basketball 24-6


The most obvious barometer of the team’s success will be the play of Tyler Rosenberger. The senior guard saw regular minutes on the 2010 state team and became one of the team’s best players as a junior, averaging 12 points. Now, he will be asked to carry a heavy load. Cremisino said Rosenberger will need to shoot from the perimeter and drive to the rim, and he will also be the primary ball-handler. Senior Matt Hultgren was often the first man off the bench last season. The guard shot 49 percent from the floor and brings hustle and toughness. Center Jackson McDowell returns after seeing time as a junior. He will split time in the

post with Noah Davis, a junior who has suited up for varsity for two seasons already. With a 6’6” frame, the coaches would love for him to realize his potential. Cremisino said Davis could be as good as any player on the team but needs to be consistent. A highlight of the off-season has been the emergence of Matt Degendorfer, a sophomore who brings an ace shooting touch. He also has the length and smarts to play the top of the team’s 1-3-1 zone. Several others from a large group will step into roles as the season goes on. Candidates include seniors Mistaki LaPlante, Hunter Smith, Andrew Wright, Taylor Gullickson and junior Anthony Tyler.

Also, three-time state tennis champ Dusty Boyer has returned to basketball after three years away. Cremisino said Boyer was the top player in his class upon quitting after eighth grade. The turnover makes it hard to project, but Cremisino believes this team has an even better upside than last year’s. Forest Lake hopes to compete with CretinDerham Hall, Roseville, Woodbury and White Bear Lake near the top of the Suburban East Conference and secure a top-two seed for the Section 7AAAA tourney. “Last year was the first time we haven’t been in the sectional final in a number of years, and it felt strange,” Cremisino said.

2011-12 Winter Sports Preview page


Girls’ Hoops

Hockey/ Swimming



21 19-10



18 15

20-9 17-11 T-4th

15-12 5th in SEC

12 9 6 3 ’06-07 ’07-08




R•anger Boys Basketball 2010-11 record: 17-11 (SEC: 10-8, T-fourth) • Head coach: Dan Cremisino, sixth year • Assistant coaches: Dan Jacobs, Kevin Keto, Kale Henry, Tim Conley and Doug Sewall • Captains: Seniors Jackson McDowell, Tyler Rosenberger and Hunter Smith • All-Conference returnees: Rosenberger (honorable mention)



Around the SEC Cretin reached the state semifinals last season, and returning senior Cortez Tillman made the all-state-tourney team



7 Nordic/



Quick Hits


• Team has intriguing mix of talent but little varsity experience


5 Boys’


Gymnastics/ Dance Team


articles by sports Editor Clint Riese

File Photo

Senior Matt Hultgren will step into a bigger role as one of Forest Lake’s few varsity members with significant experience.

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• Goals remain high after sixth straight season with at least 15 wins

By The Numbers

68.5 Team’s winning percentage in five years under coach Dan Cremisino


12/6 vs Centennial 12/13 at Cambridge-Isanti 12/15 at Roseville 12/19 vs St. Francis 12/27- Holiday Tourney 12/28 at Albert Lea 1/3 vs C-D Hall 1/6 at Park 1/10 vs East Ridge 1/12 at Blaine 1/13 vs Woodbury 1/17 at Stillwater 1/20 at Hastings 1/24 vs Mounds View 1/27 at White Bear Lake 1/31 vs Roseville 2/3 at C-D Hall 2/6 vs Big Lake 2/10 vs Park 2/11 vs Duluth East 2/14 at East Ridge 2/17 at Woodbury 2/21 vs Stillwater 2/24 vs Hastings 2/28 at Mounds View 3/2 vs White Bear Lake 3/8-16 Section Tourney 3/21-24 State Tourney

7:15 7:30 7:15 7:15 TBD

7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 TBD TBD

“The key will be if we can tie this all together. Generally, we’ve been able to in the past.” – coach Dan Cremisino

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Experienced, youthful both describe FL

Photos by TLC Digital Images

The 2011-12 Rangers include, front row: Angie Frericks, Hanna Vidlund, Abby Moeller, Kallie Welk, Rachel Bostrom, Sam Anderson, Micah McGuiness, Lindsey Tilton, Emily Peters, Hailey Knoop and Sarah Jaeb. Back row: coach Maurya Laqua, coach Roger Keller, coach Shannon Schutte, Andie Wohlk, KP Palo, Bailey Norby, Anna Eckert, Miranda Rice, head coach Jen Wagner, coach Renee Frericks and coach Chris Rupar.

Several key cogs back for team which hopes to surprise Nothing says potential like youth and experience. The Ranger basketball girls have just that, and they are shooting to get over the .500 mark for the first time in three years. The Rangers essentially return four starters, and have only three seniors despite graduating just three this spring. The whole did not equal the sum of its parts last winter, as Forest Lake lost 10 of its last 11 games and finished 7-20. However, the Rangers played competitively in their final few contests, and the younger girls got loads of valuable playing time. “We had a fairly young, fairly inexperienced team,” said coach Jen Wagner. “We also had a really hard-working group of girls who over the season I really thought developed to become better

basketball players. “Obviously in the winloss column it wasn’t as successful as we’d like it to be, but for us as a staff and talking as a team we really felt like we were able to accomplish our goals...Now, we are just hoping to build on that win-loss column with the experience that we have coming back.” The offense figures to center around two sophomores. Bailey Norby, a 6’1” post who earned allconference honors, enters her third year as a starter. Long a force on the blocks, the coaches hope she continues to develop consistency and more of an outside game. A key story line Angie last seaFrericks son was the emergence of Emily Peters. The 5’6” guard won more and more playing time off the bench as the year went on and became

a go-to player down the stretch. “She surprised me a little bit as the year went on just because you never know what y o u ’ r e going to get with younger kids,” Wagner said. “I Bailey knew she Norby was a competitor, I knew she was fearless and was wanting to be that player to help her teammates win.” Junior Angie Frericks is the returning starter at small forward, while senior Sam Anderson returns to start at power forward. Anderson, who stands 6’0”, formed a nice tandem with Norby in the post last year, and joins fellow seniors Micah McGuiness and Rachel Bostrom as captains. McGuiness and Bostrom are slated to join Peters as the primary guards. The rest of the 16-member roster is young, as well. Sophomore Anna Eckert brings another sixfoot frame to the post. One of four ninth-graders File photo on varsity, Hanna Vidlund Emily Peters looks to be a key part of the Ranger has shown potential on attack in her second varsity season. the perimeter. Most of the team

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girls basketball

24 21 18 16-11 T-5th


16-12 4TH

12 10-19 played together through summer and fall league and Wagner is impressed with the strides made. “We’re definitely a competitive group, and they’re basketball players - all of them are playing competitively in the off-season, they’re working on their game individually, they’re coming to our practices, they’re doing what they need to do to get better,” she said. The Rangers will have to come together nicely to crack the upper echelon of what has been a top-heavy conference in recent years. White Bear Lake, Woodbury and Mounds View have each won at least 17 games for at least three years running. Led by all-state guard Alexis Foley, the Bears may be favored to defend their SEC title and return to state. With three coaching changes in the Suburban East Conference, though, the door may be open. Last year, Anoka proved that Section 7AAAA can be favorable to whichever team is hot. The Tornadoes entered the postseason with a record of 2-24, then rattled off four straight wins to reach state. “If anything, it proves to teams all over the state that you have to believe and you have to keep working,” said Wagner. With many pieces in place, count the Rangers as believers.





in SEC

7-20 8th

6 3 ’06-07 ’07-08




Ranger Girls Basketball

• 2010-11 record: 7-20 (SEC: 4-14, eighth) • Head coach: Jen Wagner, seventh year • Assistant coaches: Renee Frericks, Shannon Schutte, Roger Keller, Chris Rupar and Maurya Laqua • Captains: Seniors Sam Anderson, Rachel Bostrom and Micah McGuiness • All-Conference returnees: Sophomore Bailey Norby

Around the SEC Woodbury head coach Dave Preller has retired after 32 years, 533 wins and 16 conference titles

Quick Hits • Most key contributors return • Varsity is carrying four ninth-graders on roster • Team aims for first winning season in three years

By The Numbers


The three captains are the only seniors on the varsity roster of 16

GIRLS BASKETBALL 11/29 vs Tartan 12/2 at Totino-Grace 12/6 at Chisago Lakes 12/8 at Mahtomedi 12/9 vs Mounds View 12/13 at White Bear Lake 12/16 vs Roseville 12/20 vs Cambridge-Isanti 12/27-28 Rogers Tourney at C-D Hall 1/3 vs Park 1/6 1/10 at East Ridge 1/13 at Woodbury 1/14 at Duluth East 1/17 vs Stillwater 1/20 vs Hastings 1/24 at Mounds View 1/27 vs White Bear Lake 1/31 at Roseville vs C-D Hall 2/3 2/10 at Park 2/14 vs East Ridge 2/17 vs Woodbury 2/21 at Stillwater 2/24 at Hastings 3/1-9 Section Tourney 3/14-17 State Tourney

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– coach Jen Wagner

7:15 7:15 7 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 3 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 7:15 TBD TBD

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Fourth-ranked Rangers aim to get over hump Wrestling 20 19-8 18






16 14 12 11-12 10

FL must dig deep to get through loaded section


10-8 3rd


Photos by Clint Riese

The 2011-12 Ranger wrestling team hopes to qualify for the team state meet for the first time since 1993. Below: Five seniors will captain the team. From left: Tyler Isaacson, Ben Morgan, Cody Paggen, Michael Pleski and Ryder Paggen.

Forest Lake has clearly established itself as an upper-echelon wrestling program in recent years. The Rangers have been consistent in not only sending grapplers to the state tournament, but having them succeed there. So consistent, in fact, that the question begs to be asked: what’s next? Will the program continue to develop stellar indi- will have tough competividual wrestlers only to be tion, as evidenced by his stonewalled when it comes No. 3 ranking. Top-ranked to team goals? Or will this Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud be the year the Rangers Apollo and No. 2 Dakota break through and take the Trom of Apple Valley are Suburban East Conference both multiple-time state title or even knock off the champions. Morgan could big boys in the state’s best also wrestle at 126. section? Fellow senior captains Early on in practice this Tyler Isaacson and winter, the coaches Michael Pleski are told the group of both ranked second nine seniors that and seek their first they had taken them state title. At 138 about as far as they pounds, Isaacson is could. Whether the behind Cambridgeteam would take the Isanti’s Austin next step boils down Liebel. Isaacson to a matter of heart. took third at 112 as Austin “It’s their team,” a sophomore and said head coach Boniface fourth at 119 as a Billy Pierce. “Where junior. do they want to take Pleski is ranked it? Individually and behind Cole Sladek as a team, where to of St. Michaelthey want to take Albertville at 126. themselves?” Pleski took fourth The team has at 103 as a sophothe talent and expemore and won two rience to make it a matches at state as very special season Luke a 112-pound junior. if the necessary Lennon His brother, intangibles turn up. James Pleski, is Having lost just a handful ranked sixth at 113 pounds. of seniors, holes in the line- The ninth-grader is coming up are few and far between off a breakthrough season for a squad which reached in which he went 26-16 and the finals of the vaunted reached state at 103. Section 7AAA in 2010-11. “He just has a certain Forest Lake’s potential is kind of confidence and mirrored in a fourth-place swagger to him,” Pierce ranking in the preseason said. “Not cocky, just constate poll. fident and you know when “It’s exciting, but kind he goes out there that he of scary at the same time,” is going to brawl and make Pierce said. “We have the a match out of it with anyhorses, though. We have body. He’s just a fun guy to good kids and I feel we watch.” have pretty good experiBetween ninth-gradence at every weight class. ers Dean Beggs and Luke I think we’re going to put McCord, the Rangers out a pretty solid lineup.” should be in good hands Four returning state at 106. Though both are qualifiers will lead the way. varsity newcomers, they This season is Ben Morgan’s were longtime members of final chance to again reach the Ranger youth program the top of the state podi- and had success on the um. Since winning state in state level there. 2008 he has finished third “They’ll duke it out in three straight seasons for that No. 1 spot and while becoming the pro- it should be fun to watch gram’s all-time wins lead- those two develop and er. If the future Nebraska push each other,” Pierce Cornhusker stays in the said. 132-pound weight class, he The 119 spot is likely

4th in

6 4 2 ’07-08


Ranger Wrestling

to be filled by one of three juniors: Hunter Hallstrom, Andrew Meyers or Austin Rizzo. The middle weights are full of veterans who the team is depending on to continue to improve. Cody Paggen will have a shot to emerge at 145. “He’s been about a .500 wrestler,” Pierce said. “I look to see him getting 2530 wins this year and going out as a senior and not just being part of the team but being an effective member of the team and making a statement out there.” The same expectations could go for his brother, Ryder, at 160. Austin Boniface stepped up with 25 wins at 140 as a junior, narrowly missing a trip to state. “It would’ve been great for him to win last year to give him a taste of that next level but I also think it bothered him enough, it burned him enough that he worked extremely hard this summer,” Pierce said. “He’s developing, he’s maturing very much and starting to become a leader.” Senior Mike Urban brings athleticism to the 160-170 range and has hung with very tough varsity opponents before. Forest Lake figures to be more competitive at the upper weights than it has been in a few years. Tommy Longfellow will get a crack at 182. The senior was away from the sport for a few years before returning last season and is still developing. “He’s really took to the sport and is motivated and has put a lot of hard work in,” Pierce said. “Just by doing that he should improve his ability and

hopefully that parlays into some good results.” Forced into duty at heavyweight, Jeremy McLaughlin was one of last season’s best surprises. He emerged with over 20 victories and now looks to lock down the job at 195 pounds. Pierce praises the junior’s attitude and says he could top out with 25 wins and a trip to state. Junior Aaron Calhoun is in line to see action at 215. The varsity newcomer has a big frame and is still developing. Senior heavyweight Luke Lennon is back in top form after missing a year due to injury. “Man, he feels so solid and strong and hard to move,” Pierce said. “Give him a little bit of time and he’s going to have a good season.” That lineup should be able to carve up most of the Suburban East Conference, but it may not be enough to survive Section 7AAA. St. Michael-Albertville is ranked second in the state, Coon Rapids fifth, Cambridge-Isanti seventh and Anoka 10th. A good goal for the Rangers would be to finally get past state powerhouse Hastings and win the SEC title. The third-ranked Raiders host Forest Lake on Feb. 2. Whether in section or conference play or at loaded invitationals, Forest Lake will face plenty of top-notch competition. However, Pierce believes the team should never be overwhelmed. “I feel this is a really good team in that we’re not going to give up big points,” he said. “We’ll be in every match.”

• 2010-11 record: 19-8 (SEC: 8-1, second) • Head coach: Billy Pierce, fifth year • Assistant coaches: Gordy Morgan, Joe Kunshier, Tony Harris, Jordan Kolbow and Ben Dahmes • Captains: Seniors Tyler Isaacson, Ben Morgan, Cody Paggen, Ryder Paggen and Michael Pleski • All-Conference returnees: Senior Austin Boniface. Honorable mention: Isaacson, Morgan, Cody Paggen, Ryder Paggen, James Pleski, Michael Pleski, junior Jeremy McLaughlin and senior Mike Urban

Around the SEC

White Bear Lake won the state consolation title last winter and comes into 2011-12 ranked eighth

Quick Hits • Four state qualifiers lead solid lineup • Section 7 has five teams ranked in top 10: St. MichaelAlbertville, Forest Lake, Coon Rapids, CambridgeIsanti and Anoka

By The Numbers


Years since the Rangers reached the state tournament as a team

WRESTLING 12/3 12/8 12/15 12/16- 12/17 12/22 12/30- 12/31 1/5 1/12 1/19 1/21 1/26 1/28 1/28 2/2 2/9 2/17 2/24- 2/25 3/1- 3/3

at St. Michael-Alb. 9 Invitational at White Bear Lake 7 at Mounds View 7 2 Rochester Invite 9:30 vs East Ridge 7:30 Rochester Christmas 9 9 Tournament vs Coon Rapids 7 vs Park 7 at Woodbury 7 at Cambridge-Isanti 9 vs Roseville, C-D Hall TBD vs Stillwater 9 9 Ranger Invite at Hastings 7 vs East Ridge 7 4 Team Sectional at St. Michael-Alb. Individual Sectional 3:30 at Elk River 11 State Tournament TBD at St. Paul

“We have the horses. We have good kids and I feel we have pretty good experience at every weight class.” – coach Billy Pierce

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State’s the goal for front-loaded crew

Photos by TLC Digital Images

The 2011-12 Ranger varsity roster includes eight seniors, 10 juniors, 12 sophomores and one ninth-grader. Right: Seniors CJ Franklin, Tommy Tyson and Lucas Kohls are captains.

Skilled forwards capable of scoring in droves

you put someone who sees the ice well and can get pucks to those two, they’re going to be successful.” Another returning 20point scorer, senior To m m y Ty s o n , headlines a fast and physical second line. Senior JT Jurasin Brian will center Levorson Tyson and Kyle VanTassel, a senior who emerged with 16 points last winter. Experienced junior Kyle Parker and sophomore Wes Kilpela are the third-line wings. Juniors Trevor Thompson and Cody Rogala will compete for ice time as the third-line center. Forsythe said there is no rhyme or reason to the glut of forward talent, but feels it will give the team an identity it lacked last winter, when Forest

Lake fell to 9-13-4 coming off a Suburban East Conference title in 2010. “You can’t recruit, you just get what you get,” he said. “Two years ago when we won the conference our team revolved around the blue line and this year it will be differKyle VanTassel ent.” There is some sorting out to be done on the defensive front. Sophomore Jesse Garcia and junior Brian Levorson are stride-forstride in the goalie competition coming into the season. Forsythe said he is comfortable with either but will not be afraid to ride the hot hand. Last year’s primary net-minder, Paige Skoog, moved to Duluth and will suit up with Section 7AA rival Duluth East for his senior season.

The pucks will be flying this winter at Lichtscheidl Arena, and Ranger fans should come early for a good seat. Forest Lake should be among the state’s most exciting teams to watch. A high-octane offense will be led by a deep crew of forwards that may be unrivaled in the state this year. “This is the deepest set of forwards that I’m ever aware of us having in Forest Lake, ever, and I’ve been around the program for a long time,” said coach Aaron Forsythe. “It’s almost like a situation where we can throw out a 1-A (line) and a 1-B and go. And our third line isn’t a third line, either, which is a luxury.” Two of the most accomplished scorers in program history will line up on the ends of the first line. Senior Lucas Kohls enters his third varsity season in eighth place on the career points list with 85. He needs 34 more to pass 2000 graduate Bryan Peltier for the top spot. Senior CJ Franklin is also in shouting distance. He is tied for 10th in Ranger history with 73 points. The standouts competed this fall as part of the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League. They helped Team Northeast go 10-7-4 and place fourth in the nine-team league. Sophomore Brett Gravelle will line up between Franklin and Kohls. The varsity newcomer is undersized but has vision that cannot be taught. “He’s just a little File photo play-making forward,” Senior JT Jurasin is among six returning lettermen at Forsythe said. “He sees the ice very well, and if the forward position.

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A few varsity letterwinners return to the blue line. Senior Taylor Bisbee was one of the team’s main defenders last year. Senior Eric Herbert saw time as well, and made big strides in the off-season. Junior Jack Schmidt was in the mix as well last year, but will be out until at least January with an ankle injury suffered in football. Overall, competition was fierce as the staff formed the roster of 31. Nearly 50 boys tried out. The result is expectations that are the highest in years. “There’s no question this is a team that’s going to contend for the conference title and anything less is going to be disappointing,” Forsythe said. The SEC is not getting much love in the preseason polls. At 18th, defending conference champ White Bear Lake is the lone squad to crack the top 20. It’s a very different story in Section 7AA. Duluth East tops the polls, while Grand Rapids comes in ninth and Elk River 16th. The section expands to nine this winter with the addition of St. Michael-Albertville. The Knights went 11-124 last year and fell in the second round of the Section 5A tourney. Forest Lake expects a big bounce-back season, and Forsythe liked what he saw in pre-season scrimmages. “I really believe that Grand Rapids and Duluth East, you could put both of those teams at No. 1 in the state before the season starts and not have a problem with that,” he said. “That being said, we can play with both of those teams. The goal is to be playing at the Xcel Center in March. I can’t say that every year, but that is the case.”

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Boys hockey

27 24 21 18 15


13-13-0 12 9




6th in SEC





6 3 ’06-07 ’07-08




Ranger Boys Hockey

• 2010-11 record: 9-13-4 (SEC: 6-8-4, sixth) • Head coach: Aaron Forsythe, fifth year • Assistant coaches: Chris Parrucci, Jon Loo, Matt Fenno, Bill Coleman and Dan Forsythe • Captains: Seniors Tommy Tyson, CJ Franklin and Lucas Kohls • All-Conference returnees: Franklin and Kohls Honorable mention: Tyson

Around the SEC Stillwater’s Blake Cates was fourth in the state with a save percentage of .932 last winter

Quick Hits • Offense sure to pack a punch with skilled scorers • Two goalies continue to vie for playing time • Preseason polls say SEC is there for the taking

By The Numbers


Top-ranked Duluth East pays a visit here Jan. 24 for a battle of section rivals

BOYS HOCKEY 12/1 12/2 12/6 12/8 12/10 12/15 12/17 12/22 12/27 12/28 1/5 1/7 1/12 1/14 1/19 1/21 1/24 1/26 1/28 2/2 2/4 2/9 2/11 2/16 2/18- 3/1 3/7-10

Roseville 7:30 Grand Rapids 7:30 vs St. Michael/Alb. 7:30 vs Park 7:30 at Woodbury 7:30 vs Mounds View 7:30 at White Bear Lake 7:30 at Cloquet 7:30 Schwan Cup TBD Schwan Cup TBD vs East Ridge 7:30 vs C-D Hall 7:30 at Hastings 7:30 at Stillwater 8:00 at Roseville 7:30 at Park 7:30 vs Duluth East 6:00 vs Woodbury 7:30 at Mounds View 7:30 at C-D Hall 7:30 at East Ridge 3:00 vs White Bear Lake 7:30 vs Hastings 7:30 vs Stillwater 7:30 Section 7AA Tourney TBD vs


State Tourney

“The goal is to be playing at the Xcel Center in March. I can’t say that every year.” – coach Aaron Forsythe


Page 6A – Thursday, December 1, 2011 – Forest Lake Times

Seasoned team ready to start fresh Ranger Girls Hockey

• 2010-11 record: 5-18-3 (SEC: 3-13-2, T-eighth) • Head coach: Ryan Sauter, first year • Assistant coaches: Paul Bailey, Rick Shelafoe and Kelsey Blum • Captains: Seniors Rachel Hartshorn, Sadie Nelson Katie Boleen and junior Lexi Carpenter • Honorable mention all-conference returnees: Boleen and Nelson

Around the SEC Roseville (4th), White Bear Lake (6th) and Stillwater (7th) ranked in state’s top 10

Quick Hits • Goals high as team lost only two to graduation • New coach focusing on teaching basics, fostering good work ethic

By The Numbers

-1.5 Average goal differential from last year, when Rangers went 5-18-3

GIRLS HOCKEY 11/12 vs Cloquet 11/15 at St. Francis 11/17 at Proctor 11/22 at Hastings 11/29 vs White Bear Lake 12/3 at Park 12/6 at Stillwater 12/8 at Duluth Denfeld 12/10 vs Woodbury 12/13 at East Ridge 12/17 vs Roseville 12/20 at C-D Hall 12/27- Holiday Tourney 12/29 at Roseau 1/3 vs Mounds View 1/7 vs Hastings 1/10 at White Bear Lake 1/14 vs Park 1/17 vs Stillwater 1/21 at Roseville 1/24 vs East Ridge 1/28 at Woodbury 1/31 vs C-D Hall 2/4 at Mounds View 2/9-16 Section Tourney 2/22-25 State Tourney

1-1 3-0 2-3 1-4 3:00 7:30 7:00 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 TBD 7:30 3:00 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 8:15 3:00 7:30 7:30 TBD TBD

“They’re tired of being the knock-around kids. They want to win more than they lose.” – coach Ryan Sauter

New coach likes team’s depth The Ranger girls’ hockey program is starting fresh. Record-breaking Audrey Hanmer is off to St. Cloud State, and former head coach Jeff Neidt resigned after three years on the bench. In steps Ryan Sauter and a lineup sprinkled with a good mix of ages. The new coach is going back to the basics. There is nothing fancy in his game plan, he said, and he is focusing on teaching the ins and outs of the sport, with an emphasis on situational nuances. The former Roseville girls’ assistant has good reason to want to succeed. A main reason he took the job was to secure the program’s future for his young daughters. “I wanted them to have a place to play and I saw that this program could go either way in the next years as far as numbers,” he said. In the meantime, Sauter

Photos by TLC Digital Images

inherited a squad he is The 2011-12 Ranger girls’ hockey team is off to a familiar with, as he was 1-2-1 start. Below: Sadie Nelson, Rachel Hartshorn, the JV assistant here last Katie Boleen and Lexi Carpenter are captains. winter. He also headed up the team’s summer program. So far, he likes what he sees. “We feel like we have three lines that are pretty solid,” Sauter said. “We have no qualms about putting any of the those lines out against any other team.” On the first line, sophomore Alexa Bremer centers for senior Rachel Alex White and sophomore each week are paired up to Hartshorn and senior Rachel Skoglund make remind each other of what Brittni Kelbe. The latter strides since the start of it will take to reach them. moved from Florida in the camp. Behind them, eighth“Basically, they’re tired off-season and the coaches grader Nicole Langer, soph- of being the knock-around moved her from defense omore Becca Neumann kids,” Sauter said. “They because they saw scoring and junior Karlyn Ristrom want to win more than ability. will also fight for ice time. they lose.” A determined second Forest Lake will lean on The schedule is as hard line features ninth-grader junior Abbi White for a sec- as ever, but Sauter welKennedy Crever at center ond year in the net. comes the grind. with junior Lexi Carpenter “Definitely from last “I tell the girls all the and senior Haley Huberty year to this year, I’ve seen time we’re very fortunate on the wings. just miles of work as far to be able to play against Senior Sadie Nelson as personality and ability,” these teams to get us precenters a third line along- Sauter said of White. pared for the ultimate goal, side senior Katie Boleen Sauter has implement- which is to get to that secand up-and-coming eighth- ed several efforts to keep tion final game and have a grader Kaitlyn VanTassel. the team on track mentally. chance to play in the state Sauter has seen the The girls made extensive tournament,” he said. defensive tandem of senior goals before the year, and

Rangers aim to bring back glory days R• anger Boys Swim/Dive 2010-11 record: 4-3-1 in SEC, third in section

Young team to build on momentum Last winter, a big mix of seniors and underclassmen melded together and produced a season the Ranger boys’ swim team could be proud of. Forest Lake went 4-3-1 in the Suburban East Conference, took second at the True Team section meet and third at the Section 7AA championships. Coach Barbara Vailodash did not use that to inspire the 2011-12 team during its first practice of the year on Monday. Instead, she dug deeper into program’s history, imploring the crew of about 40 to work hard to get back to the glory days where the team won three section meets and three True Team section titles from 2004-2007. The high standards will take much effort as the team graduated a big group of seniors this spring. However, as Vailodash told the team, enough talent remains in place. Most of it is young, as just two returning members are seniors. One of them, Erik Klein, is an all-conference honoree. Klein hit 58.05 in the 100 backstroke last year, good for fifth in program history. The team should be strong in the 200 IM, as Bryan Fleming and Stefan Albright paced the team with good marks on their way to honorable mention all-conference honors. Both are now sophomores. Those two join ninth-grader Corey Bahr as the top returning swimmers in the 100 fly. Fleming has finished in under 1:00 in that event. Junior Evan Woehl, another honorable mention all-conference pick, will again be counted on in the 100 breaststroke. Two more honorable mention selections head up the distance

• Head coach: Barbara Vailodash, ninth year • Assistant coaches: Kim Jones and Bob Andresen • Captains: Senior Nathan Merrier and sophomore Joel Stomberg • All-Conference returnees: Senior Erik Klein Honorable mention: Stomberg, juniors Joe Goossens and Evan Woehl and sophomores Stefan Albright and Bryan Fleming

Around the SEC

Mounds View (5th), Stillwater (9th) and Woodbury (12th) placed in state’s top dozen in 2010-11

Quick Hits • Deep junior and sophomore classes a strength of team on the rise • Veteran diving coach Bob Andresen comes on board

By The Numbers Photo by Clint Riese

Senior Nathan Merrier and sophomore Joel Stomberg are captains. events. Junior Joe Goossens and sophomore Joel Stomberg were team leaders in the 500 and the 200 freestyle. Senior Nathan Merrier should contribute in these events, as well as the breaststroke. With the graduation of program record-holder Dylan Gillespie, it’s the sprint events where the Rangers have the most uncertainty at this point. Ninth-grader Gunnar Ewert figures to play a role, along with Fleming. New diving coach Bob Andresen brings decades of experience at

the club, high school and collegiate level. He will work with a small crew led by ninth-grader Nick Burger. Vailodash has known Andresen for years. She is also the head coach for the Roseville girls, and he worked with them this fall. Overall, Vailodash feels good about most positions and thinks the team can continue its rise. “With the numbers and how spread out (the talent) is, we definitely have that opportunity,” she said.


SWIMMING/ DIVING 12/8 12/15 12/20 1/5 1/10 1/12 1/14 1/19 1/26 2/2 2/9 2/18 2/23- 2/25 3/1- 3/3

SEC Relays 5:30 at Stillwater at Roseville 6:00 vs White Bear Lake 6:00 vs Mounds View 6:00 vs Stillwater 6:00 at East Ridge 6:00 True Team Sections tbd at Coon Rapids vs Park 6:00 at Woodbury 6:00 at Hastings 6:00 vs C-D Hall 6:00 JV SEC Meet 12 at Stillwater Section 7AA Meet tbd at Coon Rapids State Meet tbd at Univ. of Minnesota

Last winter marked the first time in 16 years FL posted a winning conference record

“With the numbers and how spread out the talent is, we definitely have an opportunity.” – coach Barbara Vailodash

Thursday, December 1 – Forest Lake Times – Page


State or bust for stacked nordic teams Ranger Nordic Skiing • 2010-11 boys’ record: Third in SEC, third in section

• 2010-11 girls’ record: First in SEC, second in section • Head coach: Deno Johnson, 14th year • Assistant coach: Dave Johnson • Captains: Seniors Alex Kelley and Cassie Thobe • All-Conference returnees (boys): Kelley, senior Joe Jackson and junior Jacob Jankowski • All-Conference returnees (girls): Thobe, senior Holly Winberg and ninth-grader Rocci Wohlk

Around the SEC Roseville’s girls placed third in the SEC last season, only to win sections and take second at state

Quick Hits • Top-end talent returns for boys and girls • Roseville’s Section 4 exodus eases path to state • After placing third, Joe Jackson seeks state title

By The Numbers


2011 was first time in eight years without at least one Forest Lake team at state

NORDIC SKIING 12/6 12/9 12/13 12/15 12/21 1/3 1/7 1/10 1/16 2/1 2/9 2/16

FL Invite - 5K Skate TBD at Trollhaugen Westra Sprints TBD at Trollhaugen SEC Grade Level TBD at Les Bolstad G.C. Ranger Pursuit 10K 4 at Trollhaugen SEC Skate Race TBD at Como G.C. TBD SEC 8K Classic at William O’Brien Giant’s Ridge Invite TBD in Biwabik SEC Relay Race TBD at Green Acres MLK Pursuit TBD at Battle Creek Park SEC Championship TBD at Battle Creek Park Section 4 Meet TBD at Battle Creek Park State Meet TBD at Giant’s Ridge, Biwabik

“We’re looking at a team with a ton of talent and toughness. Smaller numbers, but they’re going to race. It’s gonna be fun.” – coach Deno Johnson

Three individual state qualifiers hope to go back with teammates

Two other varsity regulars return. Senior Holly Winberg is a hard-working leader who developed into an all-conference performer last season in just her The Ranger nordic skiers are second season in the sport. entering the 2011-2012 season Sophomore Jess Greeley missed locked in on one goal: to have the the all-conference cut-off by two boys’ and girls’ teams reach state spots. together for the first time since Johnson expects eighth-grader 2005. Kate Schaaf to score points reguThe boys went to state each year larly by finishing in the team’s top from that season through 2010, five. and the girls nearly made it last Ninth-grader Molly Meed comseason. This winter, both groups peted under Johnson in cross are poised for a return, and their country this fall and also trained in hopes are boosted by Roseville’s his Nordicwerks rollerski program departure from Section 4. over the summer. Seventh-grader Madilyn Anderson comes from a Girls riding momentum The girls enjoyed a breakout skiing family and has shown good campaign last winter, winning the form. Stillwater and Roseville have Suburban East Conference for the first time since 2005. Though long been among the state’s elite, Roseville bounced back to beat so the SEC race should be a dog the Rangers at the section meet, fight. Led by top-10 state finisher Forest Lake sent four girls to state Nora Gilbertson, the Ponies will also be a formidable opponent in individually, where they the section meet. stole the spotlight. The four “We’re going for it,” each finished in the top 15 Johnson said. “We’ve got of the skate portion. Had battles on our hands, with their scores counted toward Stillwater and Roseville in a team total, they would the conference. We’re defendhave placed second. ing conference champs, and “Everybody knows the we do have the top five to real story (of the state defend that thing.” meet),” said coach Deno Joe Jackson Johnson, adding that he has Boys aim to rebound never seen a performance For the Ranger boys, it’s like it. all about getting back on Two of the state qualithe horse. The state’s prefiers return, and while the mier team of the last decade program’s numbers are fell to third behind Roseville small, Johnson feels he has and Stillwater in the conferthe lineup to reach state as ence and section last wina team and contend. ter. “Once again, we’re lookWith four boys returning at a team with a ton of Rocci Wohlk ing to the front end of the talent and toughness,” he varsity lineup, the question said. “You have the smaller will not be if Forest Lake numbers, of course, but they’re bounces back, but how much. going to race. It’s gonna be fun.” “We kind of knew what was Just a ninth-grader, Rocci going to happen last year with Wohlk could be among the first some monster skiers graduating, to hit the finish line at the state but all the kids that are back have meet at Giant’s Ridge on Feb. 16. trained with us now and they Wohlk earned all-state honors know what’s expected of them, with a 12th-place time of 33:58 last and they’ll definitely be getting season. She is equally adept at stronger,” Johnson said. the skate and classic disciplines, Leading the charge will be Johnson said. senior Joe Jackson, a threeCassie Thobe is poised for a big time state competitor who took senior season. She excels in skate third last season with a time of races and has a knack for ris- 29:14. State champ Ben Saxton of ing to the occasion at big meets, Lakeville North was the only other Johnson said. The two-time state underclassman in the top nine, competitor has worked hard on and the two are expected to battle her classical technique and could for the top prize again. Jackson is also be in the mix for all-state hon- coming off physical therapy for a ors after placing 43rd as a junior. hip flexor, but it is not expected to

Much yet to be determined for young alpine ski squads Ranger girls may figure in postseason meets Forest Lake fans may have to wait awhile to see what they have in their alpine ski teams this winter. For one thing, the first meet has already been pushed back a week to Dec. 13 with the hope for suitable conditions by then. More importantly, however, the Rangers are minus some key parts from last year in both the girls’ and boys’ lineups. “Our team is pretty young, which is a Krista good thing, but we Kirchner lost some real big chunks of upperclassmen last year,” said co-head coach Kyle Oberg. “It will be interesting.” Last winter, Shane Sampair and Tyler Brunjes led a deep crew of seniors boys to a Kellie runner-up finish in Welch the Suburban East Conference. This year, the search is on for replacements to fill their bindings. Senior Cody Eggers is a multi-year varsity member, and eighth-grader Marty Longsdorf played a role last year, but the lineup is mostly open. Fortunately, Oberg and Grant Lindemer have over 15 candidates to sort through. Participation among the girls

File photos

Above: Cassie Thobe will try to reach state for a third time this winter. Bottom left: Alex Kelley developed into an all-conference performer as a junior. be a lingering issue. Alex Kelley emerged as a junior, placing 11th in the SEC and 12th in the section. He is the squad’s captain as a senior. Jacob Jankowski is recovering from a foot injury, but if the junior’s cross-country improvement is any indication, he could fly up the rankings this winter. His 15th-place showing at the 2011 SEC meet earned him all-conference honors. Jack Ebel was also a varsity regular as a sophomore. A wave of younger skiers is headed by Tommy Babcock, an eighth-grader for whom Johnson has high hopes. Ninth-graders Quinn Duffy and Leo Hipp could also contribute. Roseville boasts an elite trio atop the lineup, so at conference events the trick for Forest Lake will be to sneak as many finishers as possible in before the fourth Raider hits the finish line. Like always, Stillwater will be a tough conference foe, and the Ponies will be the biggest challenge in the section. “There’s going to be no letting up,” Johnson said. “Stillwater’s going to be formidable, that’s for sure, but what I like about our guys is they will not let their guard down.”

Ranger Alpine Skiing

• 2010-11 record (boys): 2nd in SEC, 5th in Section 7 • 2010-11 record (girls): 5th in SEC, 9th in Section 7 • Head coaches: Kyle Oberg, seventh year; Grant Lindemer, second year • Captains: Senior Cody Eggers, senior Krista Kirchner and junior Kellie Welch • All-Conference returnees (boys): none • All-Conference returnees (girls): Kirchner. Honorable mention: Welch

Around the SEC

East Ridge’s Elizabeth Kopiuck took sixth at state as a sophomore last year, helping the Raptors place sixth

Senior Cody Eggers will play an expanded role on the boys’ alpine ski team, which lost many seniors from last year’s talented squad. He is one of just two senior boys on the team this winter. is also solid at about a dozen. Despite the loss of a couple seniors and underclassmen, the Rangers have the potential to figure into the conference and section races. Senior Krista Kirchner, junior Kellie Welch, junior Melissa Mackey, sophomore Maddi Gemunden and sophomore Sydney Halley all have varsity experience. “As far as the core, a lot of the hard-working, talented skiers

are there,” Oberg said. “The girls’ team is going to be exciting. Last year as far as conference results, they were down a little bit (in fifth place), but they’re right there if they put everything together.” Last winter, the Stillwater boys won the SEC, along with the East Ridge girls. Centennial took the boys’ Section 7 title and Hermantown won the girls’ competition.

12/13 SEC Meet at Afton Alps


12/16 Wild Mountain Invite TBD

Quick Hits


SEC Meet at Wild Mountain


• Boys’ team hit hard by graduation


SEC Meet at Welch Village


• Girls have potential to build on fifth-place conference finish


SEC Meet at Afton Alps



SEC Skate Race at Como G.C.



Section 7 Meet at Giant’s Ridge



State Meet at Giant’s Ridge


By The Numbers File photo



Krista Kirchner took first on the team in four out of five SEC races last season

“Our team is pretty young, which is a good thing, but we lost some big chunks of upperclassmen. It will be interesting.” – coach Kyle Oberg

Page 8A – Thursday, December 1, 2011 – Forest Lake Times

FL continues to build Ranger Gymnastics

• 2010-11 record: 6-4 (SEC: 5-4) • Head coach: Ashley Brett, second year • Assistant coaches: Carol Suess, Joel-Lynn Tinklenberg and Heather Olson • Captains: Juniors Jessica Dhaene and Merina Lenz • All-Conference returnees: Dhaene

Around the SEC

Park took third in its 14th state appearance last winter, while Roseville took second in its ninth Photos by Clint Riese

The 2011-12 Ranger gymnastics team includes, front row: Shelby Conway, Alisha Richert, Kylie Hawthorne and Catelyn Dhaene. Middle row: Cassidy Baker, Zoey Torgerson, Julia Frost, Kaitlynn Thomas, Dani Sardeson, Izzy O’Neil and Sierra Barfield. Back row: Katie Dison, Merina Lenz, Jessica Dhaene and Caitlin Freer. Not pictured: Amanda Williamson. At right: Lenz and Jessica Dhaene will serve as captains.

Team with no seniors focused on development Ashley Brett’s second year as head gymnastics coach may play out much like her first. Last winter, a young group exceeded expectations and finished in the top half of its conference and section. With no seniors, this season’s crew is even younger. And with just 15 girls on the roster, the focus again will be on learning skills and improving scores while establishing a base for future success. “We didn’t have a ton of experience back (last year) and it will be kind of the same this year,” Brett said. “But I’m hoping that after we get through this year we will be building.” The team hit many goals last year, going 5-4 in the Suburban East Conference, placing third at the

Section 7AA meet and qualifying one gymnast for state. It loses just three seniors, but will be without some contributors who were eligible to return. Junior Brittany Rod, who placed eighth all-around at the section meet, is pursuing club cheerleading. Senior Kayla Suess is also not out for the team. Forest Lake’s biggest weapon will continue to be Jessica Dhaene. As a sophomore, she earned her second trip to state on bars, placing 16th. She also took fifth all-around in the section. Now the most experienced team member as a junior, Dhaene fills one of the captain positions. A diligent worker, Dhaene needed just a couple practices to round into top form after finishing her fall diving season at the state tournament. The coaching staff will need every practice it can get to sort out the rest of the varsity lineup.

Ranger Dance Team

• 2010-11 record: Seventh in section, second in SEC • Head coach: Cheryl Smoczyk, third year • Assistant coach: Katie Corrigan • Captains: Seniors Hannah Quiggle, Jackie Ohman, Angela Nesler, Ashley Moore and Shaley Bagan • All-Conference returnees: Ohman and Nesler Honorable mention: Moore

Around the SEC No Suburban East Conference teams reached the state meet last winter

Quick Hits • Team starting year with all-time high number of kick participants • Jazz routine is most demanding the program has ever put on

By The Numbers

84/80 The team hopes to average higher than last year’s season-high points totals in kick and jazz

“With a small team, a lot of girls are going to have an opportunity to do all-around,” Brett said. “We have open spots.” Girls with varsity experience include junior captain Merina Lenz, sophomore Katie Dison, junior Amanda Williamson and sophomore Caitlin Freer. Seventh-grader Izzy O’Neil is among a younger crop which could contribute. Brett couldn’t be happier with the team’s attitude and preparation so far. “This has been the best I’ve seen a team come in,” she said. “They’re either at where they were at the end of last season or slightly above. I feel like we didn’t do very much backslide at all, which is something you typically see with gymnastics - that it will take them a few weeks to kind of get in the swing of things – but that first practice was awesome.”

Quick Hits • Team improved as last season went on and exceeded expectations • With many 2010-11 members gone, squad will be young again

By The Numbers

136.7 FL’s top team score last season came at sectionals, where it placed third



Mounds View






12/14 at Hastings



vs Stillwater




at White Bear Lake







Rush City



at East




vs Woodbury




Minnetonka Invite 11



C-D Hall

Fairbault Invite

6:30 11 7


2/11 JV SEC Meet at East Ridge


2/17 Section 7AA Meet at St. Francis


2/24 State Meet 11 at Univ. of Minnesota

“This is the best I’ve seen a team come in. They’re either at where they were at the end of last season or slightly above.” – coach Ashley Brett

No time like now for FLDT

DANCE TEAM 11/19 Burnsville Invite


12/5 SEC Meet at C-D Hall


12/10 Eastview Invite


12/12 SEC Meet at Mounds View


12/17 Rochester J.M. Invite TBD 1/7

Henry Sibley Invite TBD

1/14 Blaine Invite


1/21 Wayzata Invite


1/23 SEC Meet at Forest Lake


Photo by TLC Digital Images

The 2011-12 Ranger dance team includes, front row: Shania Nelson, Taylor Emly, Aliy Heitman, Sydney Fuerst, Erin Murphy, Corryn Newville, Lilia Theisen, Ashley Fechner, Carly Drobnick, Spencer Boyd and Emily Hanson. Middle row: Jaime Hunt, Rhi Lasch, Emily Proulx, Karlee Kluge, Maggie Jeans, Angela Nesler, Jackie Ohman, Hannah Quiggle, Lindsay Bartlett, Emily Navara, Logan Opsahl, Natalie Wright and Sydney Moore. Back row: Ali Clasen, Bailey (manager), Emilie Goblisch, Caitlyn Evgen, Kelly Lukkonen, Mia Neeson, Shaley Bagan, Rachel Rue, Chandler Boyd, Aly Proulx, Shelby Benson, Hayley Waldoch, Emily Isaacson and Ashley Moore. Not pictured: Taylor Schmidt.

1/28 Mounds View Invite TBD 2/11 Section 3AAA Meet TBD at Bloomington Kennedy 2/17- State Meet 2/18 at Target Center


“We’re really excited. We lost a lot of seniors, but our replacements are fabulous. We have a strong core group.” – coach Cheryl Smoczyk

Crew revs up for 2011-12 When the green flag dropped on the 2011-2012 competitive dance season, the Forest Lake squad hit the gas on a car which has picked up speed throughout its seven years of existence. When the girls hit the checkered flag, they hope to have clocked some new all-time highs. Right out of the gate, coach Cheryl Smoczyk is utilizing 24 girls for the race-car themed kick routine, the same number the team finished with last year and an all-time high. “We’re really excited,” she said. “We lost a lot of seniors, but again our young replacements are fabulous. We have a strong core group.” The team is led by five senior

captains but also boasts a large crew of ninth-graders. This marks the first season in which each of Forest Lake’s jazz routine members have competitive studio experience. Those 12 girls will compete to The Smashing Pumpkins classic “Tonight, Tonight.” “It is the most difficult routine we have ever put on the floor and they can already do it well,” said Smoczyk. The high talent level has Forest Lake itching to shoot up the standings. At a regular-season meet last year, the Rangers outscored conference and section neighbor Mounds View, an annual powerhouse, for the first time ever. They still took second to the Mustangs in both kick and jazz at the Suburban East Conference

meet. Along with the Mustangs, Forest Lake would like to catch Irondale, Centennial and Eagan in order to place third in the section. Forest Lake will host the SEC championships at the high school on Monday, Jan. 23. Due to a rotating schedule, the chance to host a meet comes just once every two seasons. Smoczyk hopes to draw a big crowd, assuring that other teams will bring their fans. She notes that dance became the top-grossing state event on the girls’ side last year. Who knows? Home fans may just witness an all-time best performance from the maroon and gold. “We kind of feel like this is our year to make a push,” Smoczyk said.

Forest Lake Times Winter Sports Preview  

Forest Lake Times Winter Sports Preview

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