3 STMA runners earn All-State in cross country

STMA's Rachel King races in the State Meet Girls "AA" 4k.  King became STMA's first-ever "All-State" female runner in class "AA". (Photo by Rick Orndorff)
STMA’s Rachel King races in the State Meet Girls “AA” 4k. King became STMA’s first-ever “All-State” female runner in class “AA”. (Photo by Rick Orndorff)

The 2012 cross country season ended on a high note for the St. Michael-Albertville cross country program Saturday, Nov. 3, at the State Cross Country Meet in Northfield.

The Knights had a history making performance with a most-ever 3 “All-State” performances.

Senior Brendan Sage, competing in his final cross country race as a Knight, saved his best for last as he placed 8th in the boys class “AA” 5K in a school-record time of 15:36. Sage, who earned “All-State” last season by placing 25th at the State Meet, went out with the lead pack from the start, stayed close through the middle of the race, and passed a number of opponents in the final 400 meters to earn a “top 10” finish and a place on the podium. Sage becomes only the third STMA runner since STMA moved to class “AA” in 1999, to earn a “top 10” finish at the State Meet in cross country. Former Knights Dan Greeno (8th in 2005) and Jake Autio (5th in 2009) were the only previous “top 10” finishers.

 Brendan Sage, left, and Chase Cayo are surrounded by congratulating teammates following the "AA" Boys 5K at the State Meet at St. Olaf.
Brendan Sage, left, and Chase Cayo are surrounded by congratulating teammates following the “AA” Boys 5K at the State Meet at St. Olaf.

ऀSTMA coach Gregg Greeno, commenting on Brendan Sage and his final race as a Knight. “He is an amazing guy and accomplished some amazing things in his high school cross country career. He’s got some natural talent, and has worked hard to get where he is, but his mental toughness is what gets it done for Brendan. He sets a goal and puts in the preparation, then gets it done on race day. This was only his 3rd year of cross country and in that short time, he was 2-time Conference champ, 2-time Section champ, 3-time All-Conference, 3-time State qualifier, and 2-time All-State. And since he stepped foot on a cross country course as a sophomore, he’s been our team’s number one man in every race he has run as a Knight. He’s quite a kid and we’ll miss, not only his running ability, but his leadership, as well.”

ऀSophomore Chase Cayo, the other STMA male qualifier, placed 49th among the nearly 200 competitors matching his personal best time for the season, running the 5K in a time of 16:23.

ऀSince STMA moved to class “AA” in cross country in 1999, the Knights had never had an “All-State” (top 25) female runner in cross country. That all changed last Saturday at this year’s State Meet, when sophomore Rachel King crossed the line in 14th place in a time of 14:35 for the 4K. 12 seconds later, STMA 8th grader Lizzy Heil, became the second STMA female “All-State” cross country performer, as she placed 23rd in a time of 14:47. Senior Maddi Sjelin also competed, finishing 81st in a time of 15:23.

ऀCoach Greeno had this to say about the girls, “Rachel wanted to be in the “top 10”, but 14th place is a great accomplishment. She competed hard, came through and earned herself “All-State” status, our first girl ever to accomplish that. And then there’s Lizzy Heil. She had an unbelievable race, passing a host of competitors in the final 800 meters to sneak into that “top 25” and place 23rd earning “All-State”. She improved her 4K personal best time by an unheard of, 26 seconds, quite an effort.”

ऀGreeno went on to say, “Senior Maddi Sjelin ended her season and career, as our third girl in the race and didn’t have the race she wanted to have, but what a career she had. This was the first time that Maddi hasn’t been our number one or number two runner in any race over the past 4 years. But that’s explainable, because we had 2 of the finest efforts we have ever had in a State Meet by Rachel and Lizzy. Maddi has been such a tremendous representative of our program over the past 4 years, not only in her success as a runner, but in her leadership, sportsmanship, work ethic, and class.

She was a 3-time time “All-Conference” performer and 2-time individual State qualifier, and was a gutsy competitor every time she stepped to the line and ran a race.”

ऀThe annual STMA Cross Country banquet will be held Monday evening, Nov. 12, celebrating the 2013 season, at the High school cafeteria, beginning at 6:30 p.m. No advance sales for tickets, but tickets may be purchased at the door anytime after 6 p.m. that evening.