By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville track and field team kicked off the spring season with an indoor dual meet victory over Little Falls.
The boys’ placed first in 7 of 11 events, defeating Little Falls in the March 22 dual 60-38.
The Knights return four boys who qualified at last year’s Class AA state tournament. Senior Brendan Sage is looking to improve on his 11th place finish at state in the 1600 meter and 14th in the 3200 meter.
His indoor time of 10:02.72 in the 3200 meter last Friday was good for first place, but fell well short of the 9:47.37 he finished with last June at Hamline.
Sage, sophomore Chase Cayo and junior Keith Jorgensen will be STMA’s top distant runners. Jorgensen qualified for state last season as part of the 4×800 relay team that also included returning sophomore Josh Tracy and the departed Kevin Hackenmueller and Ben Bridell.
Both Jorgensen (800 meter) and Cayo (1600 meter) had first-place finishes against Little Falls.
The last member of last year’s state qualifiers is senior Brian Ferry. He and Tracy will team up once again in the 4×400 relay. The duo combined with Hackenmueller and Bridell to finish seventh at state with a time of 3:27.24.
“Ferry was our MVP last year,” said STMA boys’ head coach Curt Hahn. “He competes in four events and scored the most points during the season.”
He finished first in the 55-meter hurdles (8.15) and second in the high jump (5-10.00) at last week’s indoor meet.
Hahn said other players to watch this year will be junior Tyler Zahler and senior Tyler Berhow. Berhow’s leap of 20-00.00 in the long jump was nearly a foot longer than the next best finisher against the Flyers. Zahler finished first in both the 55-meter dash (7.12) and 200-meter dash (24.96).
“Zahler is a kid that really stood out in the indoor meet,” Hahn said. “He did a lot of weight training this past year and should be a factor in the 55 and 200. We are very excited for the season to start. We have a record number 75 boys trying out this year.”
Girls return 3
The STMA girls’ track and field team returns three state qualifiers.
Senior Maddi Sjelin, junior Erin Autio and sophomore Rachel King headlined last season’s track year with both Sjelin and King scoring big at state.
King looks to improve on a breakout freshman campaign, which saw her score 10 combined points at state. Her 4th place finish in the 3200 meter (11:04.58) and 6th place time of 5:05.57 in the 1600 meter were both personal bests. Sjelin also scored at state. Her 8th place time of 5:06.40 in the 1600 meter and 6th place finish of 2:16.06 in the 800 meter, registered a total of six points.
With spring break in session, not all athletes competed at last Friday’s indoor dual meet with Little Falls. The girl’s team defeated the Flyers 66-33.
Sjelin – a Minnesota State-Mankato track and cross country recruit – didn’t participate in the event. But fellow distance runner King finished first in the 3200 (11:49.60) and second in the 400-meter dash.
Autio and eighth-grader Lizzy Heil highlighted the meet. Heil took first in both the 800 (2:40.00) and 1600-meter run (5:34.29). Autio – who placed 15th at state a year ago in the triple jump – finished first in both the long jump (16-02.50) and 200-meter dash (28.95).
Other top finishes against Little Falls were sophomore Maddie Jesser in the 55-meter dash (7.91), senior Courtney Woodis in the 55 hurdles (10.54), junior Josie Burns in the high jump (4-10.00) and eighth-grader Anna Kiefer in the pole vault (7-00.00).
Jason Massmann once again head coaches the girl’s team. Both the girls and boys will host Buffalo and Big Lake on April 2. Buffalo is the favorite once again to repeat as Mississippi 8 conference champions.
“Our goal is to try and win the conference,” Hahn said. “It will be tough. Buffalo is a very good program and they are deep in every event. We’ll try our best to make a run at it.”