Recognize Minnesota

Updated: February 17, 2009, 1:52 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

Boys' Lacrosse - Eastview


The Lightning had high hopes entering last year's state championship, especially as the tournament's No. 2 seed against first-round opponent Eden Prairie. Eastview had already beaten the Eagles once in the regular season. Unfortunately, the second time around wasn't quite as sweet. But a new season calls for renewed optimism, particularly as coach Tim Roche's squad returns 18 of its 24-man roster. "That experience will help us in the long run,"Roche says. "Two years ago we were really young. We started four freshmen. Now we have some seniors." Speed and a relentless attack are the keys to the Lightning's success. Senior Matt Garin, a speedy defenseman, is one of the team's most important players. "He's probably the most athletic guy on the team," Roche says. "He understands what we're trying to do, and he's a team leader."Fellow senior captain Andy Freeman, an outspoken player, has led the team in goals for two seasons. "He's an amazing finisher," Roche says. "He always finds a way to be open." Senior midfielder Rex Sanders, who has committed to play at Johns Hopkins, shores up the center of the field. "He's somebody you want on the field at the end of a game," Roche says. Other seniors, including midfielders Blake Kleven and Matt Moras, attacker Matt Durand and defenseman Kevin Soderholm, make Eastview one of the deepest and most dangerous teams in the state.



Girls' Track - Providence Academy


Moving from ninth place to first in one season is no small feat, but that's exactly what the Lions accomplished last season. Led primarily by relay teams, Providence scored 55 points, besting second place Lake Park-Audubon by seven points. The team looks equally as strong this season, as relay specialists such as seniors Leighton Lerum and Samantha Zopfi and junior Rebekah Dyrud will attempt to win another title. Zopfi is also the state runner-up in the 100.



Boys' Track - Woodbury


With both last year's Class AA state champ (Rosemount) and the runner-up (Irondale) losing a number of point-scorers to graduation, the door is open for Woodbury to become the state's new elite team. Seniors Cooper Wahlo, Wesley Birkemeier and Ernest Dorset return for the Royals, while junior Marty Joyce, one of the state's top milers, looks to break into the top nine. Another threat to score, senior high jumper Jack Reisner, also returns.



Softball - Eagan


It will be tough for the 2009 season to have the luster of the 2008 season, which ended with a hard-fought Class AAA state championship, but some of the key players from last year's squad return this year hopeful for another shot at the state crown. Junior pitcher Sara Moulton, who earned the win in last year's championship game, returns to give the Wildcats a dominant presence in the circle. Juniors Kelly Wood and Bree Blanchette bolster Eagan's gritty offense.



BREAKOUT TEAMS


BASEBALL  JORDAN
All-State senior pitcher T.J. Oakes could be the state's best hurler.

GIRLS' GOLF  ALEXANDRIA
Junior Maggie Leland is capable of shooting some low numbers at state.

BOYS' GOLF  CHASKA
Seniors Alex Robb and John Pavelko will challenge each other for the individual crown.

GIRLS' LACROSSE  TOTINO-GRACE
Jennifer Zandlo, a junior goalie, led the Eagles to a third-place finish last season.