It was a memorable fall season in 2018 for the Woodbury Royals and many of the teams are hoping to defend their titles and continue improving from the following season.

Football

Woodbury had one of its best football seasons in program history last year as the Royals earned the Metro East subdistrict title and reached the state quarterfinals. That’s the goal once again this season and there are no hesitations about that goal after the first week of practice.

They want to defend that title and they want to play at U.S. Bank Stadium at the end of the season in November. The Royals are returning some key players on their offense and defense, but they also bring back players from injuries last year.

“It feels nice getting back on the field this past week and working with our offense,” said senior Jake Wenzel. “I learned so much, while handling my injury and I’m hoping to learn more as the weeks continue.”

Wenzel was on the sidelines the majority of the season due to a foot injury, but now he’s focused on the quarterback position and using what he learned while watching last season. He said he’s happy with the pieces for offense both running backs and receivers as well as the offensive line.

Senior captain Parker Theis is the leader of that offensive line and he’s happy with the strength this line has shown early in the season. Theis is hoping that will grow in the coming weeks and Wenzel will be fully protected during the football games each week.

“We really focused on strength and making sure we can protect the quarterback,” Theis said.

Head coach Andy Hill and the captains have enjoyed the brotherhood and family that’s been formed over the summer and during this week of practice. They know that close bond will be needed, especially closer to the end of the season when playoffs and such begin.

Senior captain Joe Frommelt said he’s looking forward to a strong defense that will balance the offense. There will be a handful of positions open from last year’s seniors and he thinks they will be replaced by some dominant pass rushers and high IQ players.

“We had a strong defense last season and I’m hoping that tradition continues this year,” Frommelt said. “I’m looking forward to the first game and using everything we’ve learned these first couple weeks of the season.”

Woodbury will play at home to start the 2019 season as the Royals host Lakeville North on Thursday, August 29. The following week, they will head to Eden Prairie on Friday, September 6, to start the season with two of the top teams in the state.

The players wanted that challenge to see where they rank amongst the best right away. Hill is glad the players took on the challenge and he’s looking forward to seeing how the team handles it each week.

“The players wanted to play the best teams,” Hill said. “We’re excited to defend our title this season and I’m already seeing that brotherhood between the players which is great to see.”

Girls Soccer

The effects of club soccer have shown early on to start the 2019 season for the Woodbury girls soccer team and head coach Pat Malicki is happy with what he’s seen for the first week of practice.

The Royals had a strong season last year finishing third in the conference with a record of 5-1-2 in the conference and 9-2-3 overall. They reached the semifinals of the section tournament and fell to Stillwater, who eventually reached the state tournament.

“A lot of them play in club soccer and they’ve been developing this offseason,” Malicki said. “We have some depth on the team and it’s great to see the skill from each of the players at each position.”

For the captains, they are excited to see who steps up into the roles that are open from graduating seniors. They’ve seen some strong competition amongst those positions, which shows the depth this team will have all season long.

They’re also ready for the tough conference schedule as each game in the Suburban East Conference is never easy. The captains learned from former captains about how to approach each game and prepare for each opponent.

“We’re hoping to provide some leadership to the new girls on the team as captains,” said senior Adela Ashby. “I’m excited to see what this team can do this season.”

The Royals will start their season at Duluth East on August 23 and 24 for a two-day tournament and invitational. After that, they will return home and host two of their opening games. The first is on Friday, August 30, against Eastview and the second is on Tuesday, September 3, against St. Paul Academy and Summit.

Girls Tennis

The expectations are high for Woodbury girls tennis this season as they come start the season as one of the best teams in the Suburban East Conference. The players are ready for those high expectations and are excited about what the 2019 season has in store.

The Royals finished the season one win short of reaching the state tournament. They lost to Eagan in the section final and they are ready for a rematch this year.

“Our sights have been on State this entire summer and we want to reach the state tournament this year,” said senior Delaney Schurhaner. “I truly believe we have the team to do some great things this here.”

Eagan lost two of its top players due to graduation last year, so Woodbury believes this is the season to reach the state tournament and compete for a state title. The Royals has Schurhaner as their No. 1 singles player and she’s ranked one of the top five singles players in the state.

Head coach Brandon Heath has been looking forward to this season ever since the loss to Eagan last year. He knows what this team is capable of and the amount of energy and confidence heading into the season has allowed the girls to work hard during this offseason.

“These girls are a very close team and I’m hoping it shows in their matches this season,” Heath said. “I’ve been looking forward to this fall season all summer long. It should be a fun couple of months.”

Along with all the veteran players, Woodbury has many new faces to the program that will help build the future of this program. Schurhaner and senior captain Natalie Mercill are both looking forward to teaching these younger players and building them into strong players for the upcoming years.

The Royals will start their season off on Friday, August 23, as they travel to Hastings for an invitational. The biggest conference match for Woodbury will come on Thursday, September 5, when the Royals host Mounds View, who is also one of the top teams in the conference this season.

Girls Swimming and Diving

It’s been a productive offseason for the Woodbury girls swimming and diving team as head coach Liz Rodgers has been growing her numbers for the program. There are many new faces on the team, but that’s exciting for Rodgers and the rest of the swimmers.

Last year, Woodbury had two participants at the state meet and both came from diving. Gabby Mauder, who will be an eighth grader, and Caitlyn Greenwalt, who will be a freshman, are the two that made state and both had strong performances.

“We have a lot of new swimmers and I’m excited to have them a part of the team,” said head coach Liz Rodgers. “We have a strong base of veterans that can help guide these younger girls and build the foundation of this program.”

The Royals are anticipating some strong meets and capturing some wins in the conference before heading to sections. The hope is to bring more girls to the state meet at the end of the season and the captains are excited to see the amount of progress everyone has made so early in the season.

“I’ve been looking forward to this week to see everyone in the pool again,” said Lindsay Lutton.

Many of these swimmers have been focusing on building stronger starts and developing more stamina to push harder throughout an event. Whether it’s a 100-meter or 500, a swimmer wants to use all of their energy to get that top finish in their respective event.

The Royals will start the season with their conference relays at Stillwater Middle School on Thursday, August 22. Then, Woodbury will take on district rival East Ridge on Thursday, August 29 at Oltman Middle School.