The Park athletic program had some coaching changes and maturity from many of the athletes in each of the sports from the 2018 fall season to the 2019 fall season.
This fall will be a season of building the foundation for the future of Park athletics and many of the athletes and coaches are excited to accept this challenge.
Park girls tennis head coach Tony Townsend is excited for the upcoming season because every starter is back and the number of players doubled from last year.
Last season, the Wolfpack had 13 girls on the team and, now, there are about 25-26 girls ready for a competitive season. Townsend expects a strong team from No. 1 singles to No. 3 doubles along with a fight in each match over the next month and a half.
"We have our entire lineup back from last year and we’ve learned a lot from last season to now,” Townsend said. “I’m excited to see us compete in each match and have a fun season.”
Junior captains Caitlyn Swigart and Corinna Loshek were smiling from head to toe because they know what this team's capable of doing with the returners and the new faces. They both were happy to see a good amount of players at captain's practices as well as small hangouts between the players.
It's only the first week of official practices for the fall and the two captains believe the team chemistry is higher than ever before. As for expectation this season, it's pretty simple for the two of them.
"We want to play our best games with each match we play,” Swigart said. “We will fight for each point and hopefully that will allow us to win a few matches throughout the season.”
The Wolfpack will start their season in a triangular tournament at Park High School on Thursday, August 22, at 9 a.m. against Highland Park and Tartan. Then, Park will start individual matches the week after for the rest of the fall season.
After losing to Woodbury in the section quarterfinals last season, the Park boys soccer team was excited about the 2019 season ahead. The Wolfpack is returning the majority of their starters from last year along with a strong summer conditioning with club teams and personal workouts.
Head coach Jason Arnebeck is looking forward to the upcoming season because he can begin where they left off from last season. Every player returning from the 2018 season understands what it takes to play on varsity and competition level of the Suburban East Conference.
The main aspects Arnebeck is focusing on currently is the health of the team and how the team can make a run quickly to begin the season. He, along with three veteran players, aren't worried about the team chemistry because that communication already started last season and continues to build.
"Many of our players do club soccer during the offseason and you can see the growth just in this week,” Arnebeck said. “The main thing is we need to make sure they’re healthy to start off the season.”
The captains are excited to see what’s in store for this upcoming season because they hope to see an explosive team that works well on the field together. They learned so much from last season and built that trust and they hope it’ll translate onto the field for success this upcoming season.
The captains are especially looking forward to the defense this season as the starting goalkeeper returns and the majority of the defense comes back. They can already see the IQ for each player rising and it’s only the first week of practice.
“We have some strong trust and chemistry on the field with how much we’ve worked together,” said senior Joey Petricka.
Park will host its first two regular season games as Bloomington Jefferson comes in on Tuesday, August 22, and Hastings will follow on Thursday, August 24. The game on Tuesday will be played at the HealthEast Sports Complex due to the turf being built at Park High School.
The hope is that the field will be completely done for Saturday’s game.
“We learned a lot from last season,” said senior Femi Adewola. “We just hope to bring everything to this season and leave this program with a strong season.”
The Park girls soccer team is excited for the upcoming season because after the first week of practice they know what they’re capable of doing in the 2019 season.
Many of the players are returning from club soccer or another sport and co-head coach Stacy Paleen said she’s seen the strength and conditioning they’ve been working on all of the offseason. The strength will lead to more stamina and physicality on the field to be the most fit team each game.
“We’ve been working very hard on staying fit during the offseason,” said senior Marie Brookins. “It’s been great seeing how much we’ve grown just in this first week.”
The Wolfpack will look to have strong goal scorers because they want to score more goals and keep that momentum on their side. The veteran players also understand how strong of a defense they will have and trusts they will be able to get key stops to allow the offense to score again.
The Park players want to finish the season better than last season, so they have that as a goal. They also want to get farther in the section tournament this year and they believe they have an opportunity.
“We’re looking to have a strong season and I believe we have some great players that can really make an impact,” Paleen said.
Park will hit the road for the first couple of games before the Wolfpack hosts Henry Sibley on Tuesday, August 27.
New head coach Rick Fryklund came into this first week of practice excited for the upcoming season as well as the growth in each player with each day of practice.
Fryklund was hired to become the new head coach of Park football this offseason after Darin Glazier resigned at the end of the 2018 season. The new coach of the Wolfpack came from St. Thomas Academy, but with the new transition of plays, strategies and coaches, the players are excited for the 2019 season.
"It’s been fun having the new coaches around to teach us and learning new plays,” said senior Max Giannini. “The new coaching staff has given us a spark to the upcoming season.”
The Wolfpack finished 4-4 in the regular season last year and lost some key players like Payton Shafer, Charlie Gorres and Marshaun Campbell. Fortunately, many of these players returning to the team learned from these seniors last season and they hope it helps prepare them for the season.
Senior Jacob Langevin said the offseason focus with strength and conditioning really helped the team become stronger and it's shown in the first week. Langevin and Carson Kons agreed that the offensive and defensive lines have looked stronger and that will translate into games when defending or attacking the quarterback.
“We’re going to be a physical team on both sides of the ball,” Kons said.
Fryklund along with the four captains all agreed that fans can expect to see a physical team both offensively and defensively. They understand it’s going to take some adjusting over the next couple of weeks to fully comprehend the playbook and such, but everyone is excited to see what happens on Thursday, August 29, when the first ball is snapped in the regular season.
“It’s been a lot of fun this week at practice because these players are so much fun to be around,” Fryklund said. “They want to learn each day and I can’t wait until the first game to see how they’ve grown over the last couple of weeks.”
There’s a saying that says, “a little bit goes a long way” and that phrase defines the Park volleyball team for the 2019 season.
Head coach Kristina Jameson has seen these upperclassmen grow from their freshman year and it took little things each season to continue developing as a player and a person. She wants those little things to continue each practice, game and moment throughout the season to not only make this season special, but build the program for future years.
“I want the girls to focus on how it takes a team to fully develop and how a little bit goes a long way,” Jameson said.
The Wolfpack returns many key players from last year’s starting roster, but Jameson and the three captains are excited about the depth on this team. They see a tough defensive squad this upcoming year and Jameson hopes it can be the best defense in the conference.
Senior captains MacKenzie Husaby and Emily Thompson said the team has been focusing on different aspects of the game throughout the offseason and it’s showing in the first week of practice. There are more volleys, which is leading to strong rallies for this Park team.
Sophomore captain Emma Slusser also added that the amount of freshmen playing in the program this season is making everyone excited because they know the foundation has been set. Now, it’s just building success on that foundation.
“There have been a lot of freshmen joining the program,” Slusser said. “It’s great to see what the future holds for this program with all of this young talent.”
The Wolfpack will have a scrimmage to start off the season, but they have to wait until the weekend of Sept. 6 and 7 before starting the regular season. Park will play in Apple Valley for a tournament before hosting Hastings on Tuesday, September 10, for its first match.
Park fans can expect to see an explosive varsity team filled with strong hitters and a defense that finds ways to keep the ball off the ground.
Girls Swimming and Diving
The Park girls swimming and diving have their sights on big goals and high expectations for the season. The team is returning many swimmers, but also said goodbye to some key swimmers last season.
The coaches and captains understand how competitive this team can be this season and their sights are on winning many conference meets and sending swimmers to the state meet in the end.
“I see this team being able to compete with many teams in the conference,” said head coach Amanda Johnson. “I’m excited to see them grow because this will be a fun season.”
Johnson is excited for the diving team because Park has many young divers that are progressing fast and she could see some great scores from these girls. Many of the divers are gymnasts, so the flips and twists come natural for them which makes it easier to perfect the diving combination.
Along with diving, there are many new faces on the swimming side and that has the captains excited about the future of this program.
“We lost some key swimmers last year, but we have a lot of swimmers returning which is great to see,” said Paige Hill.
The Wolfpack will start their swimming and diving season on Thursday, August 22, in Stillwater for the conference relays. Then, their first meet is at home against Cretin-Derham Hall on Thursday, August 29.