STMA cross country teams seek to improve depth

After last season’s stellar season-end individual performances, the STMA boys and girls cross country teams seek to improve upon their season-end team finishes.

“Improving depth will be the key to improved team standings”, commented STMA head coach Gregg Greeno.  A year ago the Knight boys finished a mere 1 point behind Conference champion Buffalo, while the lady “Knights” were Conference runnerups to Monticello.  At last year’s Section Meet, the boys were 5th and the girls 4th among the 15 Section 5AA teams.  But, last season saw the most-ever individual State qualifiers for the STMA harriers, as the “Knights” sent 5 individuals to the State Cross Country Meet.

Graduated are 2-time All-State runner, Brendan Sage and 2-time State qualifier, Maddi Sjelin.  Sage will compete in cross country this fall at South Dakota State and Sjelin will compete for Minnesota State-Mankato in cross country this fall.

Returning for the Knights are All-State girls, junior Rachel King(14th at State) and freshman Lizzy Heil (23rd at State), STMA’s first-ever All-State females in class “AA”.

King was also the individual Conference champion last season.  Junior Chase Cayo returns for the boys after qualifying for State last season, as an individual.  Other returning varsity letterwinners, besides King and Heil, for the girls include: sophomore McKenna Rogers and juniors Bobbi Brendefur and Abbie Herbst.  Returning letterwinners for the boys besides Cayo, include: juniors Alec Birk, Christian Eiynck, and Jake Monseth, and seniors Jason Colgrove, Jeremy Goude, Luke Pelant and Dominic Shovelain.

The Knights have a record-number out for cross country at the high school level as 99 boys and girls showed up for practice in the first week.  Kevin Crocker and Heather Strait are, again, assistant coaches for the team.  Matt Venaas and Kelsie Lungstrom have joined the squad as volunteer coaches.  Greeno commented, “Our biggest goal is to work hard and get better as the season goes on.  We’ve got a real good returning nucleus of runners to build on and we have excellent team leadership among our juniors and seniors for both boys and girls.”

This year the Conference will have 10 teams compared to last season where there were 6 teams at the Conference Meet.  The Knights will again compete in Section 5AA.  The Conference meet will be held at St. Francis and the Section meet at Anoka High School.

The team opens their season with the “Earlybird Invitational” at Milaca Monday, Aug. 26, at the Milaca Country Club Golf Course.  Varsity girls compete at 4:30 p.m., JV girls at 4:50, Varsity boys at 5:10 p.m., followed by JV boys at 5:30 p.m..