There were plenty of happenings with EPHS sports in the spring. Here’s how everything went down. Photos by Ryan Williamson and Rick Olson.
Despite near triple-digit heat on the first day and rain on the second day, members of the EP boys’ and girls’ golf teams found success at the Class 3A state golf meet at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Coon Rapids from June 14-15.
For the second consecutive season, the girls’ qualified for the Class 3A team competition. The Eagles did not top last season’s third-place finish but did rally from a slow start to finish fourth as a team.
All the golfers dealt with temperatures in the high 90s on the first day. Many teams struggled, including Eden Prairie. The Eagles found themselves in sixth place after day one of competition with a team score of 344. They were three shots behind fifth-place Edina and 26 strokes behind the leader, Alexandria.
On the individual front, Emma Davies sat tied at 15th after 18 holes. The Ms. Golf finalist finished the round with a 79, 14 shots off the lead.
Heading into the second day, things looked up for EP. The team managed to move up two spots and finish fourth with a two-day score of 659. The Eagles made that move by improving their team score by 29 strokes from day one to day two.
With the team qualifying, all six EP golfers were also in the individual state competition. Davies led the way and moved into the top 10 to finish 8th, largely thanks to a day two score of 70.
Rose Baynes was the next highest individual finisher. She had a two-day score of 166, good enough for 35th. Katelyn Zick was close behind in 43rd place.
The boys’ team came close to qualifying as a team but came up short as the Eagles finished second in the Section 2AAA meet behind Chanhassen. However, a pair of individuals — Brady Baynes and Pranay Singh — performed well enough to qualify for state as individuals.
The boys avoided some of the near 100-degree temps with their morning rounds and saw their scores sit at a lower level. Baynes sat in 10th place after an opening-round 73. Singh finished with an opening-day score of 80.
Like the girls’ tournament, the boys’ scores went down on the final day. Baynes finished with a 70, tying for the day’s lowest score. That put him in fourth place, three shots behind three players who all tied for first place at the meet. Singh finished 50th after improving his score by two strokes on day two.
Boys’/Girls’ track and field
EP athletes’ names were scattered across many of the boys’ and girls’ state track meet events on June 9 and 11 at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
On the boys’ side, the 4×200-meter relay team of Benjamin Macheledt, Michael Gross, Takhi Vaughn and Nick Heckman stole the show as the group won a state championship while also setting a school record.
Gross, along with Stephen Kone, set a positive tone early on the first day of competition for the Eagle athletes as Gross qualified for the 400-meter dash with a fifth-place prelim finish while Kone finished seventh in the 110-meter dash.
In their preliminary race, the boys of the 4×200 relay finished third and set a school record with their finish.
Shortly after, the 4×400-meter relay team of Macheledt, Liam Berndt, Heckman and Gross took to the track and also finished third in the preliminary round, which sent the group to the final.
As for the field events, Devin Jordan was the lone Eagle representative on the opening day as he finished ninth in the triple jump competition.
On the second and final day of competition, Gross kicked things off by finishing 4th in the 400-meter final. Kone, meanwhile, finished 7th.
Then, it was time for the 4×200 team to shine. They captured the state championship by improving their collective time by exactly one second and finishing .31 seconds ahead of second-place Minnetonka.
The 4×400 relay team did not quite match that magic but finished 5th.
Jordan continued his way through multiple field events as he posted his best finish of the day in the high jump as he had the third-highest jump. He also competed in the long jump, where he finished 11th.
When all the events wrapped, EP found itself in a three-way tie for seventh place in the team competition.
The girls, meanwhile, had their own set of competitors led by Nia Holloway. The now-graduated senior competed in multiple relays while also capturing her second consecutive state high-jump championship.
Holloway was the big story of the day with her win in the high jump. She beat out her competition once again, finishing with a final height of 5 feet, 8 inches.
Meanwhile, other Eagles took the stage. Vanessa Jordan competed in the 400-meter dash prelim and finished 11th.
In between high-jump attempts, Holloway joined her 4×200-meter relay teammates — Kennedy Houston, Jordan and Emma Nguyen — in the preliminary, where they finished 5th, qualified for the final and broke a school record much like their male counterparts.
The 4×400-meter relay team of Nguyen, Jordan, Holloway and Linnea Berndt qualified for the final after finishing eighth in the preliminary round. That all led to the girls’ team sitting in 8th after the first day of competition.
On the second day of action, both the 4×200 and 4×400 relay squads took to the track for the final relay. Both ended up finishing third, with the 4×200 team finishing less than 2 seconds behind state champion Rosemount.
The second day was also big for EP’s field athletes. Madelin Kaufman, a sophomore, finished 8th in the pole vault competition, while her teammate Katie Ose finished 11th.
Holloway wrapped up her high school career in the shot put, where she finished 9th. That all led to the Eagles finishing 9th in the girls’ team competition.
After making the state tournament for the first time since COVID-19 shut down its season in 2020, the EP boys’ tennis team rallied from an opening-round loss to claim the consolation championship in the 2022 Boys’ Class 2A state tennis tournament.
The Eagles took down Mound Westonka, Shakopee and Minnetonka on their way to a section crown. Unfortunately for EP, that did not guarantee the Eagles a top-five seed as EP ended up as a random draw taking on Edina in the first round. The Hornets were the best of the best in the Lake Conference and the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament.
Edina made quick work of EP with a 7-0 win in the quarterfinals. The Hornets eventually made it to the Class 2A final before losing to eventual state champ Orono.
Following the loss to Edina, the Eagles competed in the consolation bracket. EP made easy work of Becker with a 6-1 win against the Bulldogs.
Playing for fifth place, the Eagles battled with Eagan and EP eventually came away with a 4-3 win as the Eagles claimed the consolation championship, also known as 5th place.
The only non-team Eagles were the doubles duo of Maneesha Dharmadasa and Ani Vadrevu. The duo won its first-round match against a duo from Elk River before falling to a pair from Rochester Mayo.
For the first time since boys’ and girls’ lacrosse were sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League in the mid-2000s, neither the EP boys’ or girls’ team qualified for this year’s state tournament.
After Will Foster’s top-tier season in 2021 where he took home Mr. Lacrosse, the Eagles’ boys’ team had lots of work to do to fill his void and other openings.
The duo of Connor Whitley and Daniel Burke tried their best to will the Eagles to victory, but they struggled and finished in the middle of the Lake Conference with a 3-3 conference record.
Whitley, a senior midfielder, shined for EP. That included a five-goal performance against Blaine on May 17. Burke, a sophomore attacker, had his top performance against St. Michael-Albertville on May 19 when he tallied 6 goals in a 12-7 win.
Heading into the Section 2 tournament, the boys were the No. 4 seed in a loaded section that featured three teams ranked in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll. Going up against Lake rival Minnetonka in the quarterfinal, the Eagles rolled to a 7-3 win.
The semifinal matchup against top-seeded Shakopee was sure to be a tough one and was. EP fell behind 9-1 at one point and could not recover as the Sabers ended the Eagles’ season with an 11-4 win.
The boys finished the season with an 8-7 record. Burke looks to be one of the EP players to watch next season as he returns as a junior.
As for the girls’ team, the Eagles missed the state tournament for the first time despite another year spent near the top of the state rankings.
EP finished the regular season in second place, just one loss behind conference champion Edina. The Eagles’ leader was Josie Lillquist, who finished the season with 100 points (65 goals, 35 assists).
In 2021, EP was an underdog in Section 2 and stunned top-seeded Chanhassen to advance to state. After the Eagles’ section wins against Shakopee and Minnetonka, EP and the Storm met again. This time, Chanhassen held its own as the Storm defeated the Eagles 13-10 as Chanhassen ended EP’s long-running state tournament streak.
The girls finished the season with a 10-6 record. Lillquist and defender Ellie Pearson were named first-team All-State. Midfielder Taylor Kotschevar-Call was named to the second team.
Both the EP baseball and softball teams had regular seasons worth celebrating as they each finished near or at the top of the Lake Conference. However, both squads saw their seasons end in early and disappointing fashion. Here’s what happened.
Finishing just a game short of state in 2021, there was plenty of hope for the Eagles’ softball team. They returned a litany of senior players ready to get EP back to state.
During the regular season, the Eagles turned heads and won the Lake Conference with a 10-2 conference record. Their efforts were good enough for the No. 3 seed in the Section 2AAAA tournament.
Playing in familiar territory at Miller Park, EP opened section play against Chaska, a team the Eagles had rolled past in the season opener. This time was different, however. It was a back and forth battle for the ages as Chaska eventually won, 18-15.
Facing the end of its season in this double-elimination format, the Eagles took down Bloomington Jefferson in 8 innings, 5-4.
EP continued its trek back to the section final with a 7-2 win against Prior Lake. Unfortunately for EP, that journey was halted by Shakopee as the Sabers ended the Eagles’ season with a 10-2 win.
EP finished with a 16-8 record. Piper Lange, a senior shortstop, finished the team as second-team All-State.
The Eagles’ baseball team followed a similar path after a 2021 season where EP struggled and finished below .500.
Though the Eagles did not win the Lake Conference crown like their softball counterparts, EP finished second with a 9-3 record, made its way into the Class 4A coaches’ poll, and earned the No. 2 seed in the Section 2AAAA tournament.
The Eagles’ regular-season magic did not make its way to the postseason. First, it was a 3-0 loss to Minnetonka in the opening round. With its season on the line, EP lost to Waconia 6-5 in 11 innings. After a successful regular season, the Eagles saw their season end in two games.