Four swim and dive members smiling at the state swim meet

With six winter girls’ sports, six winter boys’ sports and 44 student-based interest clubs and co-curricular activities at Spring Lake Park High School, there were abundant opportunities this winter for students to find connection, belonging and purpose. These opportunities allow students to participate – and pursue excellence wherever they go.

“At SLPHS, the first step is providing students with the wide-variety of opportunities to get involved,” says Will Wackman, Director of Athletics and Activities. “Once they find their place, the next step is pushing our students to give it their all and be the best they can be – both in their respective sport or activity and also in the classroom and community. We had a very successful winter season, and I’m proud to say our students were world-class in all areas.”

There were many shining moments this winter season from high school students involved in athletics, co-curricular activities and fine arts. Check out some highlights.

Athletic team and individual highlights

  • Adapted Floor Hockey – The Centennial/SLP team placed 4th in the state tournament
  • Boys Basketball - Head coach, Grant Guzy, retires after 30 seasons at SLPHS
  • Boys Hockey – Senior Blake Lueck broke the SLP single season goal record with 42 goals
  • Boys Swim & Dive
    • Placed 9th at the MSHSL State Swim and Dive Meet (highest finish in school history)
      • Braden Ripken, Nick Starcevich, Will Privratsky and Sam Clark placed 6th in the 200 Medley Relay and broke their own school record
      • Ripken, Starcevich, Privratsky and Clark also placed 6th in the 200 Free Relay, had an All-American Consideration and broke their school record
      • Starcevich placed 8th in the 50 Free
      • Clark finished 12th in the 200 Individual Medley
      • Privratsky finished 9th in the 100 Breast
    • Placed 2nd at the Section 5AA meet
      • Ripken, Starcevich, Privratsky and Clark were section champs and set a new school record in the 200 Medley Relay
      • Ripken, Starcevich, Privratsky and Clark were also section champs and set a new school and section 5AA record in the 200 Free Relay
    • Coach Greg Kugler was named Co-Head Section Coach of the Year
    • Northwest Suburban champions
    • Panther Invite champions
  • Girls Hockey – Section 5AA runner-up
  • Gymnastics – The STA/SLP gymnastics team placed 2nd in section 5AA
  • National Signing Day - Student-athletes Nate Litke and Nick Ojile signed their national letters of intent to continue their education and play football at the University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • Nordic Skiing
    • Replay team duo Collin Lief (SLP) and Milo Keyes (St. Anthony Village) made it to the state competition
    • Kirsten King and Collin Lief earned individual academic all-state awards
    • The SLP/St. Anthony Village Nordic boys’ team won the gold academic award, and the girls’ team won the silver academic award
  • Pantherettes Dance Team – Went to state for the 20th year in a row
  • Wrestling - 13 wrestlers from the SLP/Irondale co-op team received medals at sections

Clubs and Co-curricular team and individual highlights

  • DECA – 23 students competed at the DECA District Competition with eight students placing in the top four
  • FCCLA – Seven students are advancing to the state competition in April
  • Figure Skating - SLPHS Figure Skating Club member Ava Privratsky and her team, the Northernettes, took second place at the Neuchatel Trophy Synchronized Skating competition in Switzerland
  • Knowledge Bowl – Two teams competed at the regional tournament
  • Math Team – Finished the regular season second in section 7AAA and 14th overall in the state. They head to the state tournament on March 14 (Pi Day)
  • Panther Mentors – Hosted a Respect Retreat for freshman students where they led small group conversations and fun activities

Fine Arts highlights

  • Northwest Suburban Music Festival – SLPHS hosted 14 schools for a music festival where band and choir students had the opportunity to pursue excellence in music performance, listen to music with understand and celebrate the artistic achievements of other student-musicians with the help of national guest conductors
  • One Act Play competition – The SLPHS theater department won the 4AAA sub section One Act Play competition and placed 4th in the section

The pursuit of excellence

This winter season, athletic and activity coaches, advisors and students worked hard to take the sense of connection, belonging and purpose they created and elevate it to the next level.

Head Panther boys’ swim and dive coach Greg Kugler said his team became a tight-knit family this season and that sense of belonging and purpose they felt as a team allowed them to work together towards a common goal – becoming the best team they can be.

At the beginning of the swim and dive season, each student set individual and team goals.  They wanted to win the conference championship and send as many people to state as possible. The team set their goals and the achieved them.

“Swimming is not an easy sport and the comradery that the guys get from each other every day at practice and at meets make them feel special and like they are in integral part of the team success, which in turn allows them to push and improve themselves to be the best they can be," says Greg Kugler. "I have also received compliments about our team sportsmanship which exemplifies the kind of young men they have been this winter.”

Senior Ava Privratsky who is a member of the SLPHS Figure Skating Club, knows all about the focus it takes to purse excellence.

In early February, she and her team, the Northernettes, represented Team USA and competed at the Neuchâtel Trophy Synchronized Figure Skating Competition in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. They competed against teams from Europe and Asia for an international medal and took second place overall.

To prepare for this event, Ava and the team trained three to four times a week for 3-4 hours per practice. She also spent time outside of practice to help herself improve individually. All of that hard work, willingness and dedication ultimately led her to a medal.

Ava says the lessons she has learned throughout her skating career has had a direct impact to her life both within and outside of sports.

“Whether it is learning how to work with a group, being productive and efficient in what I am doing or stepping up and becoming a leader, skating has taught me how to work through adversity and achieve my goals.”

On to the next season

With the winter season winding down, spring athletics and activities are right around the corner.

“I truly believe we have a world-class operation at SLP, and I look forward to what the spring season brings,” says Will. “If you haven’t done so already, make sure you check out an athletic or activity event this spring and see what our Panthers are all about.”

Check out winter highlight photos

Winter 2021-2022 Athletics and Activities